/ VIDEO INTERVIEW: Indian Face (Johnny Dawes & Nick Dixon)
This interview was expertly filmed and edited by Hotaches Productions.
In this UKC Exclusive video, Johnny Dawes and Nick Dixon (2 of the 3 people to have climbed The Indian Face) chat openly about their experiences on the route. Johnny describes the tenuous nature of the moves, Nick tells how he convinced himself that the RP runner was trustworthy, even though he knew it wasn't.
Full size video (with intro text): http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1481
News item: http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/
Brilliant, gotta love it - especially the end!
"i dont even smoke!"
...what a legend.
UKC has always been improving and I've really been enjoying the reporting and articles over the last few months.
Thank you and keep up the good work
"You're not on the edge, you're on the edge of the edge..."
Brilliant stuff Jack!! Thanks a lot for posting this :-)
And the main thanks have to go to Johnny and Nick - amazing climbers. Great interview.
Indian Face - Whoa!
"The successful leader, even though he be of a modest disposition, may relax, and justifiably award himself a 'pat on the back'."
These are two climbers who, in my opinion, deserve a pat on the back. They've contributed a lifetime's worth of new routes.
> And the main thanks have to go to Johnny and Nick - amazing climbers. Great interview.
> Indian Face - Whoa!
> "The successful leader, even though he be of a modest disposition, may relax, and justifiably award himself a 'pat on the back'."
> These are two climbers who, in my opinion, deserve a pat on the back. They've contributed a lifetime's worth of new routes.
And correctly graded routes too. Has there ever been a route as blatantly undergraded as IF? Or are most new routes of this grade overgraded? ;-)
Agreed, he should be in charge of moderating the forums!
That was brilliant and with some great quotes. Love the one about having a climate in your head, I can relate to that.
Possibly the most interesting climbing interview I've ever seen. Nick is interesting, but Johnny completely steals the show with a whole series of really sharp comments, and some fascinating asides. The most coherent I've ever seen him on some of those aspects of climbing that can scarcely be put into words.
If JD can get that sort of thing down on paper, I'll buy his book, and no mistake.
Very lucid, you sensed the adrenaline was flowing as he talked about it. An experience he carries with him all the time - probably.
I think with that interview, as an exclusive, UKC really came of age. All credit to Mick and Nick (who have really stuck with it) and you (for a huge accelleration in output and quality) and the team.
As far as the interview itself - inspired. The setting and balance are perfect. JD is the most coherent I think I've ever heard him.
Unless you're a dyed-in-the-wool top-roper or only do clip-ups, that sensation of weighing the consequences and continuing is glimpsed by all climbers, but at the cutting edge it's stark and in your face.
Magnificent - thank you.
Neil Greshams article in Preposterous Tales is a great read.
Dave Brown and Paul Diffley of Hot Aches need a huge thank you too. It is their film.
And Al Lee of Posing Productions of course, and the Upside Down Wales crew, Alun Hughes, George Smith and Ray Saunders, Dave and Neil Gill at SteepMedia, Kevin Jorgeson and all those who provide video to UKClimbing.com
There's no going back from Video, that's for sure.
What a refreshing change to hear climbers talking openly, honestly and with such depth of feeling about their experiences. Great stuff Johny and Nick!
This is what inspires me to get out there and climb - not all the bickering and sniping that seems to dominate at the moment.
Congrats to all involved.
"What does my arse feel like?..."
Who amongst us has never asked that of themselves when on the sharp end of some gnarly VDiff or other?
Great interview. Great to hear Johnny articulating the real reason why we climb; it certainly puts 'Because it's there.' in it's rightful place... I'm away to feel my arse right now.
News just in. Buggles protest and announce contract on Mick Ryan's life.
> If only there was no going back from cassette! :(
I feel your pain and have emailed you with a solution. I thought it best not to further clog up this thread debate on Johnny's arse with such stuff...
I liked the "I wasn't on the edge bit but on the edge of the edge". :)
Also I found the bit about the optimum level of tightness for his shoes. :)
And the bit which Neil was talking about when the rope drag prevented him using his normal sequence on lead.
Makes me wonder when its first onsight ascent will happen.......
> News just in. Buggles protest and announce contract on Mick Ryan's life.
Further Breaking news - John Shuttleworth points out that "You can't go back to Savoury"
P.S. Brilliant interview
Makes we wonder when the 4th ascent will be - it will still be newsworthy
> Makes me wonder when its first onsight ascent will happen.......
I'm dreading that someone will kill themselves trying it.
Excellent stuff, well done UKC.
He really is in his own section of the venn diagram of world climbers.
<for 24 fans only>
Was that filmed in CTU, Los Angeles? (listen to the phones in the background...)
Effectively yes, it was the Lazy Trout, Meerbook, Staffs. As far as I'm concerned, one and the same.
Good - now that's sorted out can anyone tell me what he's done on grit?
It'll watch that one several times more.
Gave me chills.
Thanks. I was trying to think of the name of the pub. They did give permission for filming, but I couldn't remember the name. We started the interview at the crag (Roaches) but the midges descended and then we sought shelter in what turned out to be a noisy pub.
Almost spellbinding. I'm going to watch that again...
Excellent interview, thank you very much.
And nick ! nick still looks 25 ! good stuff!
Excellent video but I'm worried about Mr.Dixon.Couldn't someone feed him some burgers and fries ?
I enjoyed it though.
A nice parody of Johnny's poetic style that beguiles but makes no sense whatsoever.
> A nice parody of Johnny's poetic style that beguiles but makes no sense whatsoever.
I thought it was aiming more for Perrinesque pretentiousness.
If everyone else simply wants to post 'nice interview', 'enjoyed that. thanks', then fine.
> If everyone else simply wants to post 'nice interview', 'enjoyed that. thanks', then fine.
Don't worry about it. Most people think erudite and pretentious are synonymous.
i think a few more watches will help
That interview was so good it makes me want to get a Thesaurus out!
> That interview was so good it makes me want to get a Thesaurus out!
Don't get me wrong, I love dinosaurs as much as the next man but I fail to see the connection!?!?
Yeah good stuff
Johny's still the man
Without doubt, the best footage that has been posted on UKC so far. Fantastic interview, will be recommending it to all my friends - climbers and non-climbers alike.
Go Johnny Go!
Illuminating stuff, thanks.
i enjoyed watching it but thought johnny seemed totaly unintrested in nick and his ascent. nick was trying to share and johny was just saying I I I.
did anyone else get this impression
> i enjoyed watching it but thought johnny seemed totaly unintrested in nick and his ascent. nick was trying to share and johny was just saying I I I.
> did anyone else get this impression
Thanks to UKC. Really glad I saw that.
Are you serious???!!
"I don't even smoke" is my new catchphrase
duel? Or have I not heard of some new cycling craze?
: What happened to me was: I was on the ledge, and I looked across at my
: friend Clive, um, who was on Great Wall ... sort of ... mixture of
: things you know, "check it out Clive, I'm doing this route, don't you
: think it's amazing?" - one thought. Er, I don't necessarily think
: these thoughts are mine, you know, it's like having a climate in your
: head. And er, that's the first thing to do is to leave your thoughts
: as not being you, er anyway, that's nothing to do with the route. Um,
: so I looked across from Clive, across from me, who was on a, um, ...
: on Great Wall, and it just pricked the bubble of my concentration, and
: er... I remember... just basically, just switching off completely,
: and standing there, physically, so I was just... "what does my arse
: feel like?", "what's the feeling of the air on my face?"'
Thanks for bringing us that guys.
JD's passion for climbing is just so tangible and his flow of thought mesmerising. I loved that, early on in the interview he had his hand on the wall of the pub, as though he couldn't bear not to be touching some rock!!
Insightful and an excellent ending.
That's funny, the beautiful psychpathic women (that's not that rare) comment, and the smoking.
Both (especially the interview) reminded me why I love climbing. I found them both utterly inspiring.
Which one is djViper?
Finally got chance to see this. Brill. Thanks for making this available.
Well, I will risk being in contradication with most of the comments so far apart from DEvans.
I have heard of Indian face and of these 2 guys names but I have no idea what the place look like and what they look like so unless you assume they are so famous they don't need introduction, it would have been useful to have a pic of Indian face (preferably under the snow!) and their names clearly marked when they start chatting.
I cannot find the news item now, maybe it's because it's Sun morning and I am not switched on yet, so apologies if it's already there but who was the 3d person who climbed it?
So that's for the video format and content, and the bit of context that was missing in my opinion.
Regarding the 2 protagonists, I watched the video once, not knowing who was who and found the guy on the left terribly pompous and pretentious! And why is he not having a dialog with the other guy who seemed 10 000 times more modest and approachable? The mention of 1/2 a bottle of scotch the night before and not being in the best shape the next morning was so irritating I switched off to whatever he said after that.
It's only because I read the reactions on this thread that I realised who was the guy on the left! Oops, I had, perhaps a bit quickly, dismissed a climbing god. Back to the video and listening more intently, I must admit he can be quite poetic at times, which is rather redeeming in my view. :)
I liked the idea of a "climate" in his head for example, and also the plan he had in case he fell.
Now I wonder who Clive is? Whether Johnny/Nick are doing some training at the moment (no mention of that in the interview?), sorry I have been out of touch with climbing news for while...
i think that if you are a bit of a knob then being a bit poetic does not redeem this fact.
> Brilliant, gotta love it - especially the end!
Have to say I don't get the cigarette thing...
So does he smoke or doesn't he?
Oh! Dear, 20 years! Again, I could have done with that mentioned somewhere: it would make the whole interview/exploit even more relevant since only 2 more followed.
And also, something about what's next for both of them?
Scene: The Fox House car park.
Dramatis personae: A motley
cast of climbers.
The play? A hybrid of Six
Characters in Search of an
Author and Waiting for Godot,
entitled Waiting for Johnny.
We’ve all sent off our cheques
and our questionnaires with
answers to ‘Your Favourite
Route’, ‘Your Favourite Move’
and ‘What do you hope to learn
from the session?’ Now we await
the maestro to cast and direct us.
Our thoughts glide from the
external question ‘Where’s
Johnny?’ to the internal question
‘Why are we here?’
Some have heard good things
about his indoor wall workshops,
others want to improve their
grade. Another reason we’re
here is just to climb alongside
one of the heroes of British
climbing. You’re an artist:
Wouldn’t you want to see Picasso
at work? You’re a Grand Prix
enthusiast: Wouldn’t you love a
day at the racetrack with
Schumacher? I suspect another
reason we’re here is to compare
the man with the myth. The myth
is powerful: JD the Zen master
of pure climbing – the Galahad
rescuing us from the powermerchants
crimping away at their
fingerboards – the exemplar of
Huizinga’s ‘primordial quality of
Time ticks on. Where’s Johnny?
My gaze shifts from the road’s
horizon to the sky and the trees. I
half expect Johnny to parachute
in or leap from the treetops
wearing a flying squirrel zip-up
suit. But, no, he’s not that
eccentric. Here’s Johnny. A
shaven-head pops out of a wounddown
car window and asks
disarmingly, ‘Been waiting long?
Annoying, isn’t it? Anyone fancy
a cup of tea?’ We follow the Pied
Piper to Grindleford Café.
Johnny stops his car and emerges
holding a clipboard – ‘My
attempt at professionalism’, he
jokes. We kneel before a
scrawled mandala. Johnny’s
providing an explanation at
subliminal speed. Apparently the
climber’s consciousness should be
like that of a leaf. The sense of
self should disappear. I flippantly
ask him if one should retain
sufficient sense of self to claim
new routes. I think Johnny’s
already cast me in the role of
We walk to the café. I’m
‘redeeming’ myself by regaling
JD with the weird Zen
experience I had climbing alone
at a local quarry; a loss of selfawareness
and a feeling of total
harmony with the rock. He seems
interested in this, as though I’ve
had a sighting of a fabled
creature. Over a cup of tea, JD
explains that he’s had a heavy
night, that he’s not really in the
mood for climbing, he’d rather be
watching the Grand Prix
qualifier, and that he’s strained
his shoulder attempting a onehanded
ascent of Master’s Edge.
Then he’s babbling away about
his idea of a board game for
climbers (something about a
pulsating planet, a character
called Io, and a 3-D board). As
he free associates, his hands and
arms accompany his ideas with
climbing gestures. We strain with
rapt attention to distil and
capture the coded wisdom. Now
we’re turning Grindleford Café
into the set of West Side Story.
First Johnny, then all of us, jump
and pirouette against the café
wall, leap across gaps, and hop
on one leg (all under the
bemused gazes of tourists and
cyclists). First lesson (about
balance, weight transfer and
dynamic movement) over, we
head for Lawrencefield.
Thankfully, someone’s brought a
rope, because Johnny suggests we set
up a troprope on the Gingerbread Slab. The hot,
midge-ridden afternoon passes in
a series of exercises – the script
for which JD seems to be writing
as he goes along. Some of us are
climbing one-handed, then nohanded
up the slab; some are
building precarious towers of
pebbles; and others are
attempting balancy boulder
problems that Johnny has
identified. In between, we’re
chatting to Johnny about his
climbing experiences, and
offering him food and drink. He’s
charming and enthusiastic, and
concerned to know what we all
want to do or learn. I ask him if
he can show me how to dyno.
Then Johnny’s climbing the slab
with no hands. Picture a giant
rabbit hopping from one leg to
another, performing subtle
switches of body weight, before
failing on some outrageous nohands
dyno. We gasp and laugh
at this bravura exhibition. One
chap from another group of
climbers asks with acerbic
humour, ‘And you’re paying to
watch him do this?’
Drizzle descends in the late
afternoon, we decamp to some
blank wall that JD once toproped.
Johnny’s buzzing with
remembered excitement as he
lists the sequence of moves and
holds. The day ends in the early
evening under the Embankment
at Millstone. Johnny’s pointing
out routes and answering our
questions, but I sense he’s
becoming restless. He’s given of
himself all day and now wants to
move on to new toys. For the first
time I catch a glimpse of another
aspect of the man; the playful,
ebullient, mercurial spirit
mutates into a more pensive,
darker, restless persona. JD
cadges a roll-up from some
acquaintances. Then we walk
back to the car park and the
curtain falls on our Climbing with
Johnny Dawes workshop. I bid
farewell to the others. As we say
goodbye, our eyes and faces seem
to say ‘That was... interesting.’
As I drive back, classical music
soaring amidst the beauty of the
Peak District, I reflect on what
I’d learnt. I’d asked JD about
what certain exercises were
teaching us. He found the
question rather mystifying, and
simply asked in return, ‘What do
YOU think it’s teaching you?’ As
a teacher myself, I found the
absence of structure, aims and
objectives slightly disconcerting.
JD wasn’t the clearest expounder
of his ‘philosophy’. Or maybe it
was his ideas that were fuzzy?
Maybe geniuses don’t make the
best teachers? Perhaps they
don’t know how they do what
they do, and therefore can’t
communicate it? Or are they
reluctant to analyse their gift for
fear it might desert them ? And
yet, everyone on the workshop
had expanded his or her horizon
of possibility; all had gained some
new personal climbing wisdom.
By observing JD in action – and
by responding to his enthusiasm –
we had deconstructed mental and
physical barriers. We had learnt
to see our bodies and the rock
afresh. As Carlyle wrote of Great
Men, ‘You will not grudge to
wander in such a neighbourhood
for a while.’ Being in the
company of a great climber
unleashes some trapped potential
within lesser climbers. So much
so, that the next time I climbed
I’d catch myself thinking – as I
did some stylish move – “Johnny
would have done it like that.” To
cap it all, I leapt like a circus
acrobat onto a foothold on a
blank slab, landed it, shifted my
body position, balanced, and
stood up. Now, Johnny would
have been proud of that! Bugger
never did show me how to dyno
(with hands), though!
Wonderful - thank you.
Correct me if I am wrong. Perhaps I have overestimated Johnny or underestimated climbers in general.
Let me clarify tribal consciousness though, thats the mechanism where you see yourself as part of the tribe of climbers, and so nature rewards your attainment of e grades through pleasure chemicals, perhaps you get more sex or recognition. You seek to strengthen that sense of self through a portfolio of climbs attained and achievements earned. The emphasis is on the self and the mind. Little tribal groups and couples seem to be an insinctual part of the climbing here. Also people will repeat routes in groups of more than one person because they are tied together in a tribe like clan of if you do it so must I.
By contrast, a warrior seeks only recognition in their own sense of impeccability, and pleasure comes from knowing they are being true to themselves, and through spontaneous enjoyment in the moment, and their path is not one of self serving pleasure seeking its rather a path of self discovery on an endless adventure into the unknown. The emphasis is on the SELF. A spiritual state of selfless consciousness. Such a man may walk away from a route that others are doing, and pick another one, and not even look at the grade. Just because it looks good or feels right.
The advantages of the first choice is that you can always have a comfortable safety net of people around you and feel good about the self you have built up. The danger is that when faced with the unknown, you lose control because without the continuity of that self you are weak. You are also prone to the actions of other people that can make you depressed or sad or violently angry. Imagine if some git nicks your route or your g/f then you would have to attack him or his reputation etc. Or like my friends dog you can help except to growl when someone comes near your bone.
The advantages of the second choice are that you are totally flexible and spontaneous, and your joy doesnt come from goals or achievements it is prior to them. So people wonder why you are happy, and they marvel at your creativity. Its lonely though, warriors walk a lonely path. And its hard as hell, most people are not built for it and it seems to require self challenge ie the Indian Face. You are put on a tangent to other people and that becomes excitement and fear, loneliness and love. And you get called a poet.
Now I know why engineering was a good choice!
btw Why don't you spend some time over Christmas here in the Polysyllabian Isles? Sesquipedalian Slab is THE classic of the area :)
That is a fantastically interesting summary of a dual aspect of human life that applies to just about everything in life i.e. not just climbing. Most thought-provoking.
If we all smoked they probably would not.
> This interview was expertly filmed and edited by Hotaches Productions.
> In this UKC Exclusive video, Johnny Dawes and Nick Dixon (2 of the 3 people to have climbed The Indian Face) chat openly about their experiences on the route. Johnny describes the tenuous nature of the moves, Nick tells how he convinced himself that the RP runner was trustworthy, even though he knew it wasn't.
> Full size video (with intro text): http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1481
> News item: http://www.ukclimbing.com/
Try going up there and climbing the first 10 meters.
A classic. Mr Dawes is a gentleman, a philosopher, and an autistic genius.
He would out climb most of those viewing this communication with one hand ;o)
Odd though - Johnny reminded me of Ricky Gervais...
Thanks for that, a most useful addition for my understanding of the person.
To call someone a poet is a compliment in my view. I am not convinced JD is a true warrior who fits your definition: he seeks recognition from Clive and also from us via this video he agreed to do instead of being satisfied with the impeccability of his climb. Do we know how impeccable that was anyway? (I am asking because I really haven't seen him climb at all).
Also it is obvious that he is proud of what he has done, and still find pleasure reminiscing (he closes his eyes at some point), long after the event.
I agree he has a sense of SELF, for sure...
"I don't even smoke!"
A morbid fear of fresh air, perhaps?
Great video, loved every word, what a man.
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