PODCAST: Factor Two - S2 Episode 1: More Than a Dream

In this second Factor Two podcast series, Wil Treasure continues to share stories from the climbing world through interviews with both well-known and lesser-known characters. In-depth, personal accounts that aren't read from a page on a variety of themes. Settle down with a cuppa and have a listen...

The young Dave Thomas was motivated by one thing above all others – soloing. In his own words he's "Never climbed a hard route", but anyone looking at his climbing C.V. would beg to differ.

Dave Thomas soloing the first ascent of Terra Cotta, E6 6b, The Old Redoubt.
© Frank Ramsay

In 1989 he soloed Lord of the Flies at Dinas Cromlech. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing. He'd been putting the miles in on the Rubicon traverse in the weeks leading up to the day. In his mind he had set a date with destiny. He'd decided he wanted to do it, so he would. The logic here might seem strange to some; Dave had led the route 3 years earlier so he knew he could do it. That was enough. He showed up on Easter Sunday, waited for the streak of water running down the wall to dry, and flowed up the route. The experience has lived with him ever since as a joyful memory to draw upon.

But Lord wasn't Dave's most impressive ascent. The year before, on the back of a conversation with Crispin Waddy, he set out on what still stands as one of the most audacious solos the world has seen. He took in the first two, crux, pitches of Caveman at the Old Redoubt in Devon before veering off to create a new direct version, Terra Cotta.

John Redhead talked of having Authentic Desire in climbing dangerous routes. It was the thing which kept you safe, the honest reflection on your own motivations. I wanted to know if Dave experienced Authentic Desire for his ascents. The answer was a lot more complicated that I thought.

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Forums 17 comments

Thanks for the comments on this (and a massive thanks to Dave for taking the time to share the story). This was probably the most difficult episode to put together for a number of reasons, the main one was a sense of...
Clearly I'm biased, but I thought this was a truly exceptional episode. Obviously a huge amount of credit to Dave for opening up on what were clearly very emotive topics for him to explore, but also to Wil for...
Fascinating stuff - thanks. I agree with others. It's a kind of new and developing taboo to talk about how climbing is anything other than fun, inclusive, sociable and (usually) safe, with every aspect somehow...
Great stuff. I think Dave's relationship with soloing is probably so personal that it may be difficult to learn from, though I found it interesting when he was talking about 'climbing without thinking'. Usually this is...

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