/ VIDEO INTERVIEW: Indian Face (Johnny Dawes & Nick Dixon)

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UKC are proud to present a video interview with Johnny Dawes and 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/
lummox - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Excellent stuff
David Turner - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Love it, especially the ending.
Jus - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Brilliant, gotta love it - especially the end!

Dom Whillans on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
good work!
Silum - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

"i dont even smoke!"

...what a legend.
wannabe on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

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
iain
TonyG - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
"You're not on the edge, you're on the edge of the edge..."
Brilliant stuff Jack!! Thanks a lot for posting this :-)

Tony

In reply to TonyG: Thanks have to go to Hotaches - great job.

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.

Jack
Cragdog al - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: thats brilliant, insightful and hilarious, hes a frikkin fruit cake.
Enty - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
> (In reply to TonyG) Thanks have to go to Hotaches - great job.
>
> 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.
>
> Jack

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? ;-)

The Ent

silo - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Johnny's an old school hero He's such a breath of fresh air.Can't you find him a job at ukc?
Sam Mayfield - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to silo:

Agreed, he should be in charge of moderating the forums!

Sam ;0)
Matt Vigg - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

That was brilliant and with some great quotes. Love the one about having a climate in your head, I can relate to that.
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

PHENOMENAL!

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.
Marc C - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Very entertaining - though for some reason I was reminded of Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse in their Self-Righteous Brothers sketch! :)

http://www.funny-videos.co.uk/videotheselfrighteousbrothersharry21.html
Peter Walker on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Great stuff.

If JD can get that sort of thing down on paper, I'll buy his book, and no mistake.
Henry Iddon - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Very lucid, you sensed the adrenaline was flowing as he talked about it. An experience he carries with him all the time - probably.
John Lisle - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Jack

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.

J
Henry Iddon - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Peter Walker:

Neil Greshams article in Preposterous Tales is a great read.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Michael Ryan - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to John Lisle:

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.
jameshiggins - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to John Lisle:

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.

Jim
Darren Jackson - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

"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.
Darren Jackson - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
>
> There's no going back from Video, that's for sure.

News just in. Buggles protest and announce contract on Mick Ryan's life.
Marc C - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Darren Jackson: If only there was no going back from cassette! :( Several boxes of 'em in my garage (T'Pau, Kajagoogoo, Brotherhood of Man, Rubettes etc) and I haven't got a cassette player that works...
Darren Jackson - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Marc C:
>
> 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...
James Oswald - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
Very interesting.
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.......
Chris the Tall - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Darren Jackson:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
> [...]
>
> 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
Chris the Tall - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to james oswald:

> Makes me wonder when its first onsight ascent will happen.......

Makes we wonder when the 4th ascent will be - it will still be newsworthy

Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to james oswald:
> (In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC)

>
> Makes me wonder when its first onsight ascent will happen.......

I'm dreading that someone will kill themselves trying it.

James Oswald - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Chris the Tall:
Very true.
petejh on 02 Dec 2008 - host86-175-32-33.wlms-broadband.com
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: That's just very very good and funny.
JamieAyres on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Excellent stuff, well done UKC.

He really is in his own section of the venn diagram of world climbers.
Nic on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:


<for 24 fans only>

Was that filmed in CTU, Los Angeles? (listen to the phones in the background...)
andi turner - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Nic:

Effectively yes, it was the Lazy Trout, Meerbook, Staffs. As far as I'm concerned, one and the same.
Nic on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to andi turner:

Good - now that's sorted out can anyone tell me what he's done on grit?
Sean Kelly - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Yes, that was as epoch shaking- as Livesey doing R. Wall. Everyone was talking about it afterwards. The big difference is the number of repeat ascents since...that says even more about Dawes's achievement. Good interview.
Kurt on 02 Dec 2008 - 216.123.208.30 whois?
Thank you for that. Fabulous interview.

It'll watch that one several times more.

Gave me chills.
davebrown3 - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Andi turner

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.
Dave B.
bullybones - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
Almost spellbinding. I'm going to watch that again...
ads.ukclimbing.com
Mr. K - on 02 Dec 2008
That was absolutely spot on. Thanks to everyone who put that together.
john howard 1 - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Amazing, thanks so much to all involved.
fimm on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Excellent interview, thank you very much.
Ed Booth - on 02 Dec 2008
In reply to davebrown3: Ha nice one Dave, that was a good day!
ianinnz on 03 Dec 2008 - 121-72-160-202.dsl.telstraclear.net [121-72-160-202.dsl.telstraclear.net]
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: thanks, loved it, well done JD
justin c - on 03 Dec 2008
Yeah we all love jonny! legend !
And nick ! nick still looks 25 ! good stuff!

Postmanpat on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Excellent video but I'm worried about Mr.Dixon.Couldn't someone feed him some burgers and fries ?
Ed Booth - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Postmanpat: Think it may partly be the contrast against Jonny ;-)
Marc C - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to boothy: Yes, JD did look rather thick-set, and, though the conversation was stimulating, thoughtful and playful, the subdued lighting of the pub also captured a poignant sense of the lengthening career-shadows cast by two great climbers indulging in a spot of 'nostalgic reminiscence therapy'. One senses for them 'Indian Face' is so much more than a climb, it is a fabled life-framing journey etched deep into their very being.
Stu Tyrrell on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: I was disappointed - smoking, I ask you!

I enjoyed it though.

Stu
Mike Highbury - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Marc C:
> (In reply to boothy) Yes, JD did look rather thick-set, and, though the conversation was stimulating, thoughtful and playful, the subdued lighting of the pub also captured a poignant sense of the lengthening career-shadows cast by two great climbers indulging in a spot of 'nostalgic reminiscence therapy'. One senses for them 'Indian Face' is so much more than a climb, it is a fabled life-framing journey etched deep into their very being.

A nice parody of Johnny's poetic style that beguiles but makes no sense whatsoever.
Serpico on 03 Dec 2008 - 82-70-37-198.dsl.in-addr.zen.co.uk
In reply to Mike Highbury:
> (In reply to Marc C)
> [...]
>
> A nice parody of Johnny's poetic style that beguiles but makes no sense whatsoever.

I thought it was aiming more for Perrinesque pretentiousness.

Marc C - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Serpico: I know exactly what I'm trying to say (and the style's my own, not Dawes' or Perrin's)- simply that when they talk about Indian Face they become powerfully animated - each recalling their own very personal experience of a climb (their climb) that has a special significance in their lives. Watching them re-live their experience (as if it was yesterday) and become so illuminated and intense, is very moving.

If everyone else simply wants to post 'nice interview', 'enjoyed that. thanks', then fine.

justbrowsing2 on 03 Dec 2008 - 194.75.129.200 whois?
In reply to Marc C:
> (In reply to Serpico) I know exactly what I'm trying to say (and the style's my own, not Dawes' or Perrin's)- simply that when they talk about Indian Face they become powerfully animated - each recalling their own very personal experience of a climb (their climb) that has a special significance in their lives. Watching them re-live their experience (as if it was yesterday) and become so illuminated and intense, is very moving.
>
> 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.
sam@work - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: brilliant . .. bit blown away with it . ..
i think a few more watches will help
mattjam - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

That interview was so good it makes me want to get a Thesaurus out!
Darren Jackson - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to mattjam:
>
> 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!?!?
Marc C - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Darren Jackson: And Johnny did a route called Hardback Thesaurus! The crux being a 'dyno soar' move (groan) :)
The Pylon King on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Yeah good stuff

Johny's still the man
Kurt on 03 Dec 2008 - 216.123.208.30 whois?
Brilliant stuff. Thanks for posting that
ads.ukclimbing.com
orge - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
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.

J
Tom Last - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Go Johnny Go!

Illuminating stuff, thanks.
DEvans - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to all

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

dan
Steve Parker - on 03 Dec 2008
In reply to DEvans:
> In reply to all
>
> 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
>
Yeah, but I think he's got a right to that somehow as it was his route years before anyone else got near it. Anyway, I love the sheer level of lateral thinking and activity going on in his head, and just the degree of interestedness and engagement he has with life and climbing and humanity. Huge respect to Nick too, though. Awesome climber.

Thanks to UKC. Really glad I saw that.

Marc C - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to DEvans: Very much so! That was why I made the comparison with the Harry Enfield/Paul Whitehouse 'Self-Righteous Brothers' sketch. Watch it and you'll see! But,as Steve says, that's part of JD's charm.
samsamsam - on 04 Dec 2008
something i always wondered after watching committed was if anyone knew what all the strapping was on nick dixons wrists? has he injured them through all those years of kranking? an awful shame if he has. thought the footage of him at the beginning of committed was brilliant...
Ed Booth - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to samsamsam: He fell off his bike in a jousting jewel with is mate and broke it. He could still climb with it though and re-soloed A Fist Full Of Crystals.
samsamsam - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to boothy:
Are you serious???!!
Ed Booth - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to samsamsam: Yes. It was a minor break but some part of bone got done in nevertheless.
blindedbyscience on 04 Dec 2008 - cpc2-stok6-0-0-cust962.bagu.cable.ntl.com
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
Brilliant!
"I don't even smoke" is my new catchphrase
In reply to boothy:
> (In reply to samsamsam) He fell off his bike in a jousting jewel

duel? Or have I not heard of some new cycling craze?
rogpeppe - on 04 Dec 2008
Johnny said
: 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?"'

genius.
Ed Booth - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to rogpeppe: He says what do my arms feel like?
rogpeppe - on 04 Dec 2008
i listened to it a few times, and could only come up with "arse"... he definitely says "does", so maybe he's being ungrammatical and saying "what does my arms feel like"? i'd prefer to think my earlier interpretation was right... whatever, i love this monologue.
mick o the north on 04 Dec 2008 - 5ac531ed.bb.sky.com
In reply to blindedbyscience: Another great jd quote " Not smoking is for wimps ! "
jonnie - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

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.
Samu - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Quality. Thanks UKC. This is worth a read:

http://www.johnnydawes.com/Indian_Face.htm

Fidget - on 04 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

That's funny, the beautiful psychpathic women (that's not that rare) comment, and the smoking.
tommyzero - on 05 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:Thanks for posting that. It was genuinely moving. I followed the link and watched the Committed vol 2 trailer as well.

Both (especially the interview) reminded me why I love climbing. I found them both utterly inspiring.
Chris Owen - on 05 Dec 2008
In reply to DEvans: I hate to say it, but I kept getting flashbacks to the on camera interviews that the fictional character David Brent gave on The Office - yeah?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Which one is djViper?
Jon Read - on 06 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
Finally got chance to see this. Brill. Thanks for making this available.
Sandrine - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

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...

DEvans - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to Sandrine: you don't need to apologise for being out of touch with climbing news as all this new routing happened about 20 years ago.

i think that if you are a bit of a knob then being a bit poetic does not redeem this fact.
johnj on 07 Dec 2008 - 79-72-12-123.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to DEvans: A poetical knob has to be more redeeming than a plain knob? No.
DEvans - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to johnj: maybe it makes him more of a knob. i don't have the rule book infront of me sorry.
johnj on 07 Dec 2008 - 79-72-12-123.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to DEvans: I met Johnny once, I thought he was great!
petestack - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to Jus:
> (In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC)
>
> 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?

DEvans - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to johnj: i would like to do one of his courses as i like the way he thinks about climbing. i would liked for him to have talked with the guy in the video a bit more and share some thoughts.
Sandrine - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to DEvans:

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.
Sandrine - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to DEvans:
> (In reply to johnj) i would like to do one of his courses as i like the way he thinks about climbing. i would liked for him to have talked with the guy in the video a bit more and share some thoughts.

And also, something about what's next for both of them?
Marc C - on 07 Dec 2008
In reply to Sandrine: Here's an article I wrote about 5 years ago, giving my experience of a day's climbing woirkshop with Mr. Dawes.


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
play’.

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
sceptic.

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!
johncoxmysteriously - on 08 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Wonderful - thank you.

jcm
raphael - on 10 Dec 2008
Johnny must be the most misunderstood man on the planet. This because he is teaching spiritual warriorship to people who are generally speaking only cognisant of tribal consciousness. So they confuse the two, and he is seen only as a poet.

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.

In reply to raphael: you got all that from watching him smoke a ciggie?
a lakeland climber on 10 Dec 2008
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat:

Now I know why engineering was a good choice!

ALC
Marc C - on 10 Dec 2008
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat: Or while SMOKING a 'ciggie'? ;-) Anyway, Raphael's post receives my Flesch-Kincaid seal of approval.

btw Why don't you spend some time over Christmas here in the Polysyllabian Isles? Sesquipedalian Slab is THE classic of the area :)
John2 - on 10 Dec 2008
In reply to Marc C: I preferred Antidisestablishmentarianism Arete myself.
Gordon Stainforth - on 10 Dec 2008
In reply to raphael:

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.
raphael - on 10 Dec 2008
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat: Yeah all the warriors smoke I've hung out with them before.(not Dawes) Its because they arent wanting to avoid the subject of death and they cant stand social conditioning, they are a bit rebellious you see. They also like to contradict us, they enjoy it immensely.

If we all smoked they probably would not.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Tomsk on 11 Dec 2008 - client-82-26-212-110.glfd.adsl.virgin.net
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
> UKC are proud to present a video interview with Johnny Dawes and 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/

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)



The Bantam on 12 Dec 2008
In reply to Tomsk:

Cracking video.

Odd though - Johnny reminded me of Ricky Gervais...
Sandrine - on 12 Dec 2008
In reply to Marc C:

Thanks for that, a most useful addition for my understanding of the person.
Sandrine - on 12 Dec 2008
In reply to raphael:

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...
Solaris - on 14 Dec 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

"I don't even smoke!"

A morbid fear of fresh air, perhaps?
Dave Musgrove Jnr on 02 Jan 2009
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Great video, loved every word, what a man.
Steve Perry - on 02 Jan 2009
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Johnny Dawes - Brilliant!!

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