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Interview: Dave Jones
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Date: 25th Jan 2005
Intro: Dave Jones a man with a quiet voice and supernatural shoulders has a reputation for bold, run out, trad horror shows, including one such ascent captured on film during the making of the well known climbing movie "Hard Grit". With first ascents that include the hardest route at Mt Arapiles, Punks Addition (32), some scary stuff on Taipan Wall and a wealth of bold FA's and repeats throughout the world, it's a wonder Dave has time to earn a living. As a film maker/multi-media designer Dave runs a company called
Transience out of Natimuk, a handy 10mins from Mt Arapiles. Many of his creations have reached a worldwide audience both on the big screen and via the internet in the form of on-line games and animations. So sit back and relax as Chockstone finds out what indeed lies within Davey Jones' Locker!

Notable First Ascents
* Punks Addiction (32) 1998 One of the hardest routes at Araps! Mt Arapiles
Leaps and Bounds (30) 1998 Pitch 1 freed by Dave 14 years after pitch 2 Mt Arapiles
* Mr Chicken (?) 1996 Ungradeable squeeze chimney slithers behind the Watchtower Mt Arapiles
** Samosa (32) 1999   Sandinista, Grampians
Academia (31) 1998   Grampians
Mother Of God (30) 2001   Victoria Range, Grampians
* Tourniquet (30) 1997 Hardest technical route on the wall Taipan Wall, Grampians
*Naja (30) 2001 (Unrepeated) Probably harder than Tourniquet Taipan Wall, Grampians
*** Feather Boa (28) 2001 Two pitches of 28. Dave's vote for best route on the wall. Taipan Wall, Grampians
**The Mule (30) 2001 Takes prime real estate up the front face of the bluffs Mt Arapiles
Stop Motion (29) 2001 Also up in the bluffs Mt Arapiles
** Daedelus (28) 1997 Originally climbed by Saunders with 1 aid Taipan Wall, Grampians
*** The Seventh Pillar (28) 1997 The first route up the cliff. Originally 18M2, freed via variants. Taipan Wall, Grampians
* One Bed To The Left (27) 1997 Gritstone like climbing with a wicked finish Clicke Wall, Grampians
Shai Hulud (25) 1997 Scariest route on the wall? Spurt Wall, Grampians

Q: First memories of climbing are often cherished. We recall the excitement and newness as the sport draws us into it's challenging but rewarding world. Can you recall your first trip, the people and events that lured you into this beloved recreation?

I used to do a lot of hiking with friends in the Grampians and did quite a bit of climbing in the name of getting to the top of a pinnacle, without knowing that it was a sport that people did in its own right with ropes and rules and numbers. I think the first time I became aware of that was on a school trip to Arapiles when I was about 15. It all seemed like a pretty good thing and after that I would try and get back out to Arapiles whenever I got the chance…the bush-walking just fell by the wayside.Dave Jones, Leaps (30), The Bluffs, Mount Arapiles, Victoria, Australia.

Q: I believe you camped out at Arapiles for long periods of time early on in your climbing life. I'm guessing late 80's, early 90's? What was the scene like back then? What sort of climbing goals were you pursuing at the time?

I spent a lot of time camping out there in the early 90’s. I think I enjoyed just hanging out there and living in the dirt. The scene at the time was great. There were new people coming through all the time, from all over the world and all passionate about what they did….Even the wasters were passionate about what they did. There was something about of living out there….building up a permanent camp and gradually furnishing it with mattresses and old car seats from the tip that you don’t get when you’re just weekending. Some of my fondest memories of climbing were searching through the bins for food on a Sunday evening. Climbing goals…not really….I just wanted to do everything…I wasn’t working on routes so much then so I didn’t have long term goals, I’d just wake up in the morning, find someone to climb with, pick a route or two, go out and do them and then do the same thing again the next day and the next. It sounds kind of monotonous when you say it like that but it was probably the most enjoyable climbing I’ve done.

Q: Apparently there is a story floating around about your attempts to lead Skating Away (19) at Ben Cairn in bare feet during your first weekend climbing trip, resulting in repeated monstrous plummets... Is this true?

Yes …Its true…I fell off skating away. There used to be a small tree growing at the base of the route but I landed on it and squashed it dead. I used to climb in bare feet all the time. I didn’t have a lot of spare cash in those days and things like harnesses and ropes seemed like more important bits of equipment than boots. On steeper things it makes a lot less difference (your Monkey Puzzles and Angular Perspectives are probably almost easier in bare feet) but it was climbing on granite slabs at places like Ben Cairn and the You-Yangs which convinced me to invest in a pair of boots.David Jones, Feather Boa (28), Taipan Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photos By: Simon Carter.

Q: You are described in the Grampians Select Guide as "Taipan's Heir Apparent" and judging from the worthy list of FA's at this shining jewel of a crag it's not hard to be convinced of the title. Your FA of Tourniquet (30) was heralded as the hardest technical route on the wall. It straightens out the 2nd pitch of Venon (28). What's the story behind this ascent? Did you tag Venon too easily and thought it could be made harder?

I think when Simey wrote that he was needing a bit of padding to fill out his guide. Tourniquet seemed like an obvious line to me when I did it (still does). Venom takes the right hand side of one of those classic Taipan water grooves and Tourniquet the left (just like if there had been 2 cracks sitting next each other). Nothing wrong with Venom, that’s a great route…so good that the similar looking line to the lefts was obviously going to be good too. I don’t know about “hardest piece of technical climbing on the wall though”. When it was done there wasn’t anything there much harder than about 28 but there have been a few things done since which are probably harder. Naja is probably harder than that and the first pitch of Cardigan Street certainly is.

Q: On Taipan's Spurt Wall you put up Shai Hulud (25) which the Gramps Select guide claims to be "the first all free route on Taipan Wall to be led ground up" and the "first route to breach the sandy nonsense above". It rates three skull and crossbones and is entitled the scariest route on the wall! What thoughts were going through your mind while freeing this run out horrow show?

Well at the time I was red-pointing the fuck out of Academia (31), also on spurt, so doing Shai Hulud (25) was a good thing to do for a bit of balance at the end of the day. Dave Musgrove and I had talked about doing it on several previous trips. That afternoon we decided we would go up Kaa just to check the line out… then we decided the only reason we were doing Kaa was to put off actually attempting the route itself so we just did that instead. Its funny we were convinced that once we’d done a route up there that “the dam wall would break” and that everybody would be putting routes up through the sandy nonsense. As it turns out nobody has even repeated that one let alone any of the other exciting lines there (If anyone reading this is looking for a new route there are a bunch of them there).

Q: You have a "futuristic" ongoing project to the right of Spurt Wall too I understand? Or have you ticked this one?David Jones, Milupa (28), Wall of Fools, Summer Day Valley, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photo By: Simon Carter.

I’ve got futuristic projects all over the place. Some of them more futuristic than others…That one to the right of Taipan is possibly one of my more futuristic projects (maybe even a little bit too futuristic). I’m still convinced it will go but if someone wants to go and do it now I’ll be happy to content myself with the “coveted second ascent” when I get a bit fitter.

Q: I believe you also created some boulder problems in the Stapylton area of the Grampians. (Eg Ammagamma standing start V8 at the Citadel, A v10 at Trackside, etc). Would you consider yourself a pioneer within this realm?

For years Gordy and I used to walk up through the boulders at the base of Taipan to get to the crag and then be too exhausted at the end of the day to even think about having a boulder on the way out. Then one day we went out there just to boulder…and it was great. For the next couple of years we did a lot of bouldering out there and Gordy even made up a little guide book. After that a few people from Sydney started to come down on bouldering trips (Paul Westwood did quite a bit of stuff around then). At some point after that, Klem Loskot and Tony Lamprecht came over and did a lot of hard problems and had lots of magazine articles written about it and then suddenly everyone was into it.

Q: In 1998 you led the FA of Punks Addiction (32) which combines the crux's of both Pretty In Punk (31) and Punks In The Gym (31) at Mt Arapiles to form possibly the hardest route at Australia's most iconic climbing destination. How long did this impressive achievement take? Was it something you set out to do, or something that came together as a result of working the other two routes?David Jones takes the fall from Punks in the Gym (32), Mount Arapiles, Victoria, Australia. Photo By: Simon Carter.

I’m not really sure how many days I spent on it. The start of Pretty in Punk is quite tricky and I used to just go and dabble on those first moves every now and then. Just have a quick play on the way past once every few months or so. On one of those dabbles I worked out how to do the start and then got all keen on the link up. It probably only took me a few days from there to put the whole thing together. I never actually did Stuarts original version but had certainly put a fair bit of time in on Punks. I first did Punks about 5 years before that but was Pretty solid on it by the time I was trying the link up. I remember one day where I fell off the top of Punks 4 times on the link up (which is a fair bit harder than doing Pretty in Punk) and then did a lap of Punks from sitting on the first bolt of Stuart’s route (which is a fair bit harder than doing Punks) at the end of the day. So putting it all together was quite a bit harder than just doing one or the other.

Q: The consensus grade of Punks in the Gym has fluctuated between 31 and 32, and many of late seem to have been claiming it as 32. What are your thoughts on that? Also, if you agree that Punks in the Gym is 32, what do you make of the suggestion that your Punks Addiction could then actually be 33? Is it possible you under-graded it? That would have been the first 33 in the country in that case.

Hmmmm….There are a lot of bean counters in the climbing world. There's always someone who wants to add a grade or take a grade off every route in the guide. Since the grading system is all relative this has always struck me as a bit of a  pointless exercise. Punk’s Addiction is a good solid grade harder than either of the other routes. If I’d done it a few years earlier when Punks and Pretty in Punk were 32 I would have given it 33. If Punks is 32 at the moment then I guess it is 33…It will no doubt continue to go up and down with every new wave of climbing secretaries. I did work out a system around this which was to only grade routes with even numbers (26,28,30,32) that way routes would just oscillate between say “hard 28” and “easy 28” and people wouldn’t have to rewrite the guide books all the time. There was a time when I was doing odd numbers routes too (27,29,31) but the concept was basically the same.

Q: Lord of the Rings (31), also at Arapiles, seems to see fewer ascents than Punks, why's that do you think? Is the Rings actually harder?

For me it was definitely harder. I’ve always been pretty bad at pulling on small holds and the Ring route is just one small hold after another. Punks is all smears and sidepulls. The holds themselves are all pretty big, they just face the wrong way. You can go a long way on Punks just putting your feet  in the right places. I don’t think any of this has anything to do with the popularities of the two route. Punks blasts straight up the middle of a lovely orange face and Lord of the Rings is tucked away in a grotty little gully. If you were a strong young German tourist, where would you choose to spend your time?

Q: Based on the aforementioned FA of Punks Addiction, would it be safe to say that thin face climbing is your strength? How do you perform on run out slab or over-hanging sport?

God No! Thin face is absolutely the thing I do the worst. If I had any sort of strength in climbing it would be finding good easy sequences for routes. The routes which are just good honest hard pulling like The Ring Route, Academia (31) or Slinking Leopard (28) are the ones I have had the hardest times on. I am strangely drawn to these kind of routes though. I’ve spent a lot of days up in dogger’s gully trying to get better at holding little things.
David Jones pulls off a coup ascent of Somoza, his new 32 near Nicaragua, on the war torn Sandinista Cliff in the Grampians, Victoria.David Jones pulls off a coup ascent of Somoza, his new 32 near Nicaragua, on the war torn Sandinista Cliff in the Grampians, Victoria. Photo By: Simon Carter.
Above: David Jones pulls off a coup ascent of Somoza, his new 32 near Nicaragua, on the war torn Sandinista Cliff in the Grampians, Victoria. Photo By: Simon Carter.

Q: While we're talking about Araps, can you tell us what you were thinking when putting up Mr Chicken the hideous squeeze chimney that slithers behind the Watchtower? Apparently you had to exhale the air from your lungs just to slide through?

I did this one with Wayne (from Wodonga). We’d scrambled up Tip toe ridge for one reason or another and there was a spot there where you could see the light shining though the gap (sounds almost religious doesn’t it). It just seemed immediately obvious to both of us that we should go and make an attempt to squeeze through there. I tried it a couple of times from the Watchtower Chimney side and the second time I got pretty stuck and it took me about half an hour just to extract myself again. While this was happening Wayne has wandered around and was attempting to do it from the other side. He was actually looking pretty good and I remember thinking it was going to be a shame if he got through the hard but couldn’t finish it because I was lodged in the middle of the whole thing barring his way.

Anyway, we both managed to back off that time and I went around to try it from the other side inspired by Wayne's efforts. Wayne had a pair of silky smooth tracksuit pants on that day and we thought perhaps that’s what gave him the edge so we did a pants swap up on the ledge there and then I had another go. It was easier coming through from the watchtower crack side because you were going slightly downhill so you could kind of gravity feed yourself through it. It was pretty tight. I almost lost Wayne’s pants (by the time I finally got through they were hanging from my ankles). Strangely enough, Mr Chicken is possibly the most popular new route I have ever established. For a while there it was the only thing I had ever done that had had a repeat (now days everybody just does Academia though). I don’t know of anyone as big as me who has repeated it though…I was always trying to convince Jon Muir to do it but he never did.

Q: You also climbed Punks In The Gym (31) during the Australian climbing movie "Low Gravity". Presumably the producers called upon you to run up the thing months or years after you'd originally repeated it? Did you find it hard to jump back on and make it look good for the cameras?Dave Jones on Brail Trail (E7)

It may surprise you to hear this but doing a route for the cameras is a hell of a lot easier than doing it for yourself. You can sit on every bolt, pull on every draw and they just edit that stuff right out. Whether it actually looked good for the camera’s is another matter entirely.

Q: You also starred in that most famous "must have" of the climbing movie world "Hard Grit", quite possibly the best trad climbing video ever. In this you lead "Brail Trail" (E7), protected by a number of pence nails pushed into little holes by hand - and you fell off ripping out the gear! Was this the wildest climb you've ever done?

The wildest climb? Not really….I had top roped it a bunch of times before I did it. Actually I was surprised to have fallen off it (If I'd known I was going to come off I probably wouldn’t have done it). I had been there a few days earlier in good conditions and done it on a top rope fairly easily but not had the necessary gear to lead it. When we came back a few days later with the relevant nails it was a lot warmer and greasier. I probably should have gone away and come back another day … but I was just too keen.

Right: Dave Jones on Brail Trail (E7) while starring in the movie "Hard Grit".

Q: What was it like working with the Slack Jaw crew? Did you need to re-climb routes or sections for the camera? On Slack Jaw's site there's a write up in which it mentions you getting concussed during the filming of a route. Is this true?

In contrast to something like Punks where you can have as many sits and take as many falls as you like along the way the Gritstone routes are actually quite dangerous. Its pretty rare that someone would do one of those routes twice, certainly not for the cameras…That would just be stupid. I think that’s why the Hard Grit worked so well. All the footage was of actual ascents. There was no concussion though …Rich probably just said that to try and sell more copies.

Q: I understand in 2001 you did the 1st ascent of a natural gear route Mother of God (30), near The Gallery. Apparently its a 60 degree overhanging off-width / squeeze chimney. What draws you too 'unusual' routes such as this, that most climbers would avoid like the plague?

It’s a good line…That always appeals to me so much more than something which is just a line of bolts…a real feature. I guess it was also the concept of having a route like that just next to the gallery that made it appealing as well. I must be one of the only people who’s actually carried a rack up that hill.

Q: In an era where sport climbing is gaining greater influence over here, can you explain the admirable hard core trad ethic that surrounds these bold UK ascents? David Jones, Kodak Tart (26), White Stack, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia. Photo By: Simon Carter.

There is a rule in England that you don’t put bolts in gritstone. Those routes are just the result of working within that rule. I’m not sure if its even especially bold. Almost without exception those routes have been established after massive amounts of top-roping. Some of them have been onsighted by subsequent ascentionsts but on the whole people top-rope them until they have them absolutely wired and then go for the “headpoint”. I think its much more impressive when people just head off up an unclimbed line just hoping that there will be gear or that they wont fall off. There were a lot of impressive ascents like that at Arapiles back in the eighties but you don’t see much of it now. That is proper bold.

Q: What other epics has climbing brought upon you? Or have you managed to climb so hard for so long without ever getting in over your head?

I’ve been pretty lucky really. My worst injuries have been niggling fingers and a shoulder which I hurt in New Zealand a year ago.

Q: Do you have a preferred style of climbing (boulder/trad/sport/aid/mountaineering/etc). When doing an FA would you rather put up a totally new route, free an old aid route, or create a more natural variant to an existing contrived line?

I have no interest in aid climbing whatsoever other than as a means to possibly climbing something free. I used to consider all the old AID lines at the mount as a bit of a call to arms and made a concerted effort to try and free them all (To my knowledge there's only one left at Arapiles now, "The Inquisition" up in the bluffs and I've done all the moves on that one. Someone should definitely come and do that). The old aid routes don't always make for the best climbs but there is more of a sense of history involved which makes the whole thing a worthwhile experience.

As far as the type of climbing I like, really large scale features have always appealed, something where its not just a line of edges so much as one big thing (like and arête or a watergroove) where you've really got to work out what to do with your body in order to get yourself up it. Sometimes its not so much a question of using the best hold so much as using the thing that's in the best position for you. That always makes for the most interesting climbing. There are a lot of good routes on Taipan like that...And "One Bed To The Left", the arête out at Clicke wall is another good example. [Pictured below]. When I named that route just about everybody in Natimuk and about half the people I knew in Melbourne thought it was a direct reference to them. I was fielding complaints for months after that. So many people came up to me and said "That was unnecessary" or "You didn't have to do that"... I think it was as much a self reference as anything else. David Jones, One Bed To The Left (27), Cliché Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photo By: Simon Carter.David Jones, One Bed To The Left (27), Cliché Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photo By: Simon Carter.

My limited mountaineering experience has lead me to believe that it is something I should avoid if I don’t want to get into trouble. My one dalliance with mountaineering I soloed off up the Aguille De Midi in Chamonix. I didn't know jack about snow or ice. I basically just took my rock boots and chalk bag and had some plastic bags to put on my feet if I needed to go in the snow and a couple of butterknives I'd stolen from the aeroplane in case I needed to do any ice climbing. It was all going well until about 3 in the afternoon when the afternoon clouds descended on the mountain. I just remember shuffling my way off a snow filled offwidth (in my plastic bags) with absolutely zero visibility just thinking that as long as I stayed in the offwidth and kept going, I would end up at the top. Eventually the clouds lifted and I did make it to the the top but I had missed the last cable car which I had been hoping to catch down the mountain. So I then had to shuffle my way back down the mountain then walk another 4 hours to get back down to camp at the bottom. It was some time around then I decided that the mountains probably look better from the cafe down in the valley than they did when you were half way up them....And that was it for mountain climbing for me. Perhaps when I'm old I'll get someone to push me up some mountains in my wheelchair but I'm fairly content in the mean while.

Other than that I’m pretty keen on all sorts of climbing. I’ve really just been bouldering for the last few years but lately started doing a few routes again. My shoulder finally seems to be coming good and I can head off up a route now fairly confident that my arm isn’t going to fall off half way up.

Above Right: David Jones, One Bed To The Left (27), Cliché Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photo By: Simon Carter.

Q: Actually I hear tell that you've done your share of soloing, possible as high as grade 26! Is this true? Can you elaborate on the motivation and reward of such feats for you personally?

I used to do a lot of soloing it was probably one of my favorite ways of climbing…people rave about sport climbing being “just about the moves” but still stopping to climb bolts ever few meters. When you’re soloing there’s no ropes, harnesses or any of that nonsense, I enjoy bouldering for the same reason. Its nothing to do with fear or anything like that…I never soloed anything I thought I was going to fall off.

Q: What is your opinion of the style/ethics of climbing in Australia today as practiced by the big name climbers?

Dave Jones, On The Prowl (28), The Bluffs, Mount Arapiles, Victoria, Australia. Photo By Simon Carter.I’m not sure who the big name climbers are at the moment. I’ve never been that fussy about ethics really and have always found climbing talk a lot more annoying than someone doing an ascent in bad style. Some people spend way too much of their time talking about the styles of other people ascents. I tend to side with the people who are actually out there doing the climbing than the ones who’s sole involvement with climbing these days is wanking on about what other people do. Obviously onsighting a route placing the gear is more of an achievement than red-pointing it with all the gear after ten days work and leading a bold route with no prior knowledge is more of an achievement than top roping in the shit out of it first but all of these things will only effect the individual concerned and they are all more valid forms of climbing than sitting at home in your arm chair whinging about what other people are doing (or writing heated posts to climbing forums for that matter). I used to get a bit disappointed to see people top-roping some of the bolder lines at Arapiles because there are only a handful of scary routes at Araps and it seemed like a shame to waste them by top-roping them first when they could have just gone and done a more cushy route…but these are people who were probably never going to do it anyway so they weren’t really depriving themselves of any opportunities. One thing I don’t like is any damage to the cliff (chipping over bolting, deforestation etc) because that is permanent damage that does effect other people.

Q: I also believe you've done some bouldering at Fontainebleau while on a trip to France to accept an award for one of your animation films. Where else in central Europe have you climbed? Any favourite locations? Most memorable climbs from that part of the continent?

Fontainbleau is great. Completely amazing. It's one of the few climbing areas in the world where I’ve thought “Yep, I could live and climb here exclusively and I would be happy”. Other than that I’ve done the obligatory few trips to southern France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain etc and always had a good time. I tend not to find any of the climbs that memorable though for some reason or another. I’m still not really sure why that is. Maybe its because most of the routes are just lines of bolts rather than striking natural lines up major features and maybe it is something to with the fact that the route names don’t really mean anything to you so you tend to go to a crag and warm up on a few 7as and then do the 8a+ and then the 7c next to that. It all kind of blends together….I always enjoy it but the routes themselves don’t stand out as much as some of the ones here.

Q: And what about other hard ascents in Australia. I know you got up the thin crack of Whistling Kite (31) at Frog Buttress in QLD. What are some of your hardest repeats here at home?

I Had a great trip up to Frog one year. Had 3 weeks there and it was kind of a rematch since I'd been there years earlier when I hadn’t been climbing that long and been completely spanked on a route called Deliverance (23). The first thing I did when I got back there was go and do that one. After that I spent the rest of the first week doing all the “big number” routes like Whistling Kite (32), Brown Corduroy Trousers (28), Debrilla (28) and a good new direct finish to Pokomoko which was probably 31 as well. The next week I did all the mid-grade 24s and 25s. The last week I spent flailing on all the classic grade 19 off-widths (some of which were completely desperate). I never felt vaguely like I was going to fall off any of the 24s or 5s but some of the trenches were desperate and took me a few shots to do.

Q: Training for climbing. Us mortals would dearly like to know how you got to be freeing such hard grades, and whether the secret lies in a replicate-able formulae; some kind of training and diet regime. Or is all just genetics? Do you spend a lot of time in the gym?

When I was in Melbourne I used to spend a lot of time at the climbing gym but now I live out here I just go climbing.

Q: Lets get a bit off route here and talk about your career. In 1994 you completed a post graduate course with Animation & Interactive Media (AIM) after having done a Maths & Physics degree with Melbourne Uni. After that you were doing contract work for a while which enabled you to take 3 month climbing trips overseas before finally setting yourself up permanently in Natimuk. Was there any point during this transition from formal education to career, where your climbing took second place or was even temporarily abandoned?

When I was studying at the start it was pretty full time…There was about a 6 month period where I didn’t climb at all…just went to school seven days a week. And just lately I’ve had a few work type deadlines which have kept me from climbing for a week or two at a time but living in Nati, it's usually possible to at least sneak out for a boulder in the afternoon.Summer Daze Bike, by Dave Jones. (Click To Enlarge)

Q: You're an artist/animation filmmaker/multi-media designer running a company you started in 1999 called Transience that operates out of Natimuk, a handy 10 mins from Mt Arapiles. You've created many films that have screen all over the world, as well as interactive games. Can you tell us a little about your company and your work?

You described it pretty well yourself. Transience makes games and animation, mostly stuff to be distributed on the internet. The reason for that being that files for the internet are small and very easily emailed to wherever they need to be…So if you’re making them, you can be anywhere with a phone line. So it was more a lifestyle choice than anything else. The flexibility of being able to work from just about anywhere. One job we we’re doing, I was here for some of the time and in France for some of the time whilst the sound guy was off in Italy and the states at one point or another.

Q: I understand this job provides you with considerable freedom. In an interview with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) you said "I can just be working on a laptop absolutely anywhere (one of the music videos I did was made while I was camping in a cave in the Grampians)". I'd be interested to hear how well your business and climbing share your life? Do you ever have to sacrifice one for the other?

Summer Daze Dive, by Dave Jones. (Click To Enlarge)Generally you have to focus on one or the other of these things at any one time. I don’t think about climbing when I’m actually animating and I don’t think about animating while I’m actually climbing. Luckily, it only takes a few seconds to shift from one to the other. I often take a sketchbook out to the crag and draw while I’m resting up between climbs. I have even lugged a laptop in to the Rave Cave and done some animation work up there in between having shots on some of the problems up there….generally though going out climbing is a good opportunity not to be looking at computers.

Q: This on-line game Chasm that you produced is rather fun and I understand was inspired by a climbing trip to Spain? Does climbing permeate your work in other areas? And while we're on the topic, how was Spain?

El Chorro was an amazing place…There’s this huge gorge straight through the middle of a mountain with this little concrete walkway running down the side of it. Some time around the 1920’s the King of Spain demanded that this walkway be built so that he could go and have a look at his new dam being built. The whole thing was built by condemned prisoners…loads of them died (don’t think OHS was much of a force in Spain back then) and then, when it was all done, the king refused to walk in it because it was plainly too dangerous. So now, eighty odd years later….you can go and walk down this thing to access a bunch of routes in the gorge. The concrete is decaying and the whole thing feels like it might just collapse at any minute…Getting to the routes seemed a lot more involved than actually climbing them. Spain, like France, was great…loads of great crags, great routes good food and crazy old winding streets but once again, none of the routes particularly stand out like some I can think of back here.

Above: Images from Dave's Chasm game. (Click To Enlarge).

Q: Any chace of a rock climbing game in the future?

Almost none! I spend enough time climbing that I don’t need to draw pictures about it as well. When I was about 16 I placed a ban on myself…”No drawing pictures of climbing  for pleasure” …and I haven’t had a good reason to go back on that yet. I guess if someone plonked a big bag of money on my desk and said “We’d like you to make a game about climbing” then I would be interested but its not the sort of thing I would go out and do for pleasure…I’d rather just go climbing.

Q: And the dreadlocks.... They got the chop! What's the story there?

Not a long story really …It was summer…it was hot…I was hot….off they came.

Q: Okay, generic question time, what's your favourite crag in Victoria, and all time favourite climb?

Easy, Taipan is definitely my favorite crag in Victoria…and the world for that matter. Not sure about a favorite route though…There are a bunch of routes on Taipan which would be in my top ten. The second pitches of Daedelus, Cardigan Street, Feather Boa and Serpentine are all amazing. Those are really the four big 28s on the wall...And I think Feather Boa is probably my favourite of those.
David Jones, Feather Boa (28), Taipan Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photos By: Simon Carter.David Jones, Feather Boa (28), Taipan Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photos By: Simon Carter.
Above: David Jones, Feather Boa (28), Taipan Wall, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia. Photos By: Simon Carter.

Q: Do you have a climbing hero/heroine?

No. I’ve never really been into heroes (or heroin either since you asked). I used to go out of my way to avoid the people who had big flocks of groupies following them around everywhere (Mostly I think it was the groupies I had the problem with rather than the person they were following).

Q: What does your future hold in terms of climbing? Any projects you're working on, trips planned?

I’ve got a few things on the boil out at Arapiles at the moment actually ….I did a great new route out there a week or so ago and I’ve got another one still to do. (amazing how it keeps turning up gems even now). No real trips planned overseas at the moment…doesn’t mean they won’t happen they’re just not planned yet.

Dave Jones on World Party (27), Taipan Wall, Grampians. Photo By: Glenn Tempest.Dave Jones. Photo By: Glenn Tempest.
Above Left: Dave Jones on World Party (27), Taipan Wall, Grampians. Photo By: Glenn Tempest. Above Right: Dave Jones. Photo By: Glenn Tempest.


Further Reading:   Push For The Summit
Hard Grit & Low Gravity - Climbing movies staring Dave Jones as reviewed on Chockstone.
Transience - Dave's Animation company, operating out of Natimuk 10 mins from Arapiles.
ACMI - An interview with Dave regard his animations.
Alumni - Another interview with Dave.
Five Ten - Five Ten Sponsor page over on Spelean's website.
Chasm - Award winning on-line game created by Dave using Flash.


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