Saturday 30 October 2010

More adventures like this...

Thanks to everyone (there was a LOT) who sent me a message to say you really enjoyed the 5 Climbs, 5 Islands programmes. Episode 2 is still on BBC iPlayer for a few days. If you miss it, it’ll be on DVD soon so don’t worry.
Watching it myself reminded me how much this type of adventure is really what I like and hope I can keep doing them as long as I’m still around. A lot of folk commented about how I did like to try as hard routes as possible on this type of thing - that’s totally true. I totally need to feel that I might not be able to do it, or even more that I actually can’t do it, but learn along the way how to figure out how to make it work. 
That process of focusing in and getting really absorbed in the task in hand seems to be hardwired in me. I don’t know exactly where it comes from. I get very frustrated and wrestless when there is a barrier between me and focusing properly on the task. I find it pretty hard to accept that things upset progress and take that in my stride. I tend to respond by going even deeper into the obsessive zone. Climbing yields really well under this approach, which is pretty much the core reason why I got better at it slowly. Up to a point it works really well in other fields too, but at a big cost.
It leads to a funny situation in that as a climbing coach I spend most of my time trying to encourage people to adopt this approach, but a lot of my adult life has been spent trying to blunt it myself. The Triple 5 programmes and The Great Climb I hope gave a decent insight into how these things work out in climbing. On that day my normal focus was totally destroyed every time I put my mashed up ankle on a foothold. Half of me wanted to give up and half of me wanted to shut it out and keep climbing. So ‘machine’ mode won out and I just went a bit quiet and kept grabbing holds til we were on top. It seemed to me that Tim had pretty much the same experience on the soaking wet finishing pitch. It would have been very very easy to admit defeat then.
The experiences of this summer made me think again about the big one - my project of freeing the original aid line of the Longhope Route on Orkney. If ever there was a climb that demanded and would reward the obsessive approach it’s that one. Perfect really. After this year’s shortlived trips up there I realised I probably wasn’t good enough to do it last year, or this. But I’m still learning a lot about the tactics and training needed to make it work. Looking forward to standing underneath it again next summer with fresh energy to throw at it.


  1. I was interested to see that the bothy at Screaming Geo was built by the Norgroves.

  2. Dave,

    I'm a big fan from canada and enjoy your blog and find your coaching and writing both informational and helpful. Thanks for all the hard work you put into it!!

    I've got a question that you may not feel comfortable answering here (you can email me, too) or at all, as it may be to personal (no hard feelings if you don't answer). But here it goes.

    You write, "Climbing yields really well under this approach, which is pretty much the core reason why I got better at it slowly. Up to a point it works really well in other fields too, but at a big cost"

    I am wondering, specifically, about what it's cost your family. Specifically the type of relationship you have with your wife. Is it worth it?

    Thanks brotha for any insight you can offer...we all appreciate it.

  3. Oh, Orkney is where Victor Frankenstein fully discovered his demise. Very thankfully, though, climbing tends to present healthy obsessions for its practitioners ;)

  4. A lot of things were good about this series

    It was good to see climbing on the TV again, there isn't enough of it, at least not the sort that makes you want to go out and hit the rock.

    It also proved that there are still great unclimbed lines to be found, that the thrill of adventure can be found on UK shores.

    Be good to see another round of climbs done in a similar fashion in the northern isles, we've got lots of lines in Shetland that look scary and no-ones touched ... yet

    Fully sympathise with the sea sickness tho, its just not good.

  5. Dave

    Cracking programmes. Any plans to do highlights of the Great Climb as DVD?


  6. Cheers on a great program Dave,the same to Tim,as well as my best wishes to you both for any future ventures.

    Have either of you considered doing a program with a less experienced climber/s with a view to showing challenges at all levels?It would be interesting to see how and what knowledge two climbers like yourselves would choose to impart upon us mere mortals.

  7. Many many thanks to Dave, Tim and the entire crew for making such an entertaining and inspirational set of programmes. I absolutely loved it all.

  8. To the ultimate climber cool list.

    Does this mean Dave will be moved off the "un-cool list" on your site then lol.

  9. Dave - When are we going to see images of these routes you have been doing recently - the Big roof and the savage slab or is it a secret?