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. I wanted to know if Dave experienced Authentic Desire for his ascents. The answer was a lot more complicated that I thought.
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 the best way for worked solos (headpoints), though I would say it's generally regarded that when onsight soloing you still want your mind to be working overtime to deal with the situation, but at the same time control the fear. It would take a special talent to climb difficult routes as though on a top rope when onsight soloing, but it sounds as though that's sometimes what he did!
I can't access the podcast. The page says I have to click to change consent but nothing happens when I click it. This happens on both my work and home laptops. What's going on?
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 knowable and risks managed in a 'rational' way. However, this really brings out the ways in which climbing is sometimes an exploratory journey into danger, fear, the unconscious, the traumatic, the ludic and the surreal. The image of DT leaning out on a leg jam, laughing to himself, whilst his horrified mate looked on, really stood out; along with him treating a hold like a pack of cards to shuffle, whilst he tried to calm his nerves before the next pitch...
Nice editing, too! Will be listening to others.
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 capturing these moments and putting it all together, which can't have been easy.
Looking forward to the rest of the series!
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 responsibility to Dave to make sure that it was saying what he meant. There's also a lot of material which doesn't get included, or details which get left out to try to keep a clean thread and keep the pace of the story.
Dave is slightly mortified by my hyperbole in the description, and he might be right. To me it is completely astonishing that someone would venture onto this first ascent with so little preparation. Anyone who has done Moonraker or Dreadnought and glanced across would surely feel the same. Dave points the respect at Mick Fowler and Andy Meyers for the first ascent of Caveman - he made the second ascent before doing Terra Cotta. In Dave's eyes Terra Cotta is just a minor variation, which I suppose it is, but when I was looking through similarly hard ascents made during the 1980s I felt that Dave's really held its own against them. We saw Jerry in the first episode taking on a similar minimal-inspection-balls-out ascent. We were starting to get into the realms of lots of practice and sport standards shooting up by the time of Dave's ascent, but it still ranked up there in my mind.