It’s 1 p.m. in Dubai, the temperature, as ever, has moved past 40 c ( 104 f).
After that it is better not to look outside, or even go outside for that matter.
John is in Inverness, a world away from me in more ways than one – I’m looking out at a Camel and an Orex, his view has the Loch Ness Monster rearing its head from the Lake.
John is well known in the U.K., from his fascinating one man play on Mallory’s climbs on Everest, to more recent interviews extending from Mick Fowler and Matt Dickenson, to Bernadette McDonald on her latest book on Winter 8000, about the climbers who have done the tallest peaks in the world in winter.
What makes John’s interview distinctive is he quickly moves past the ‘what,’ to the ‘why’ of mountains and why we climb them. Mountains are really just a setting for us all to play out our lives on, and it is the human dynamic that makes them fascinating.
So while we start by discussing the ‘how’ of starting climbing, we quickly move to the why; the magic I discovered the first time I saw people scaling sheer cliffs, my own first climbs on a rope and experiencing the joys of the beginning of a vertical life.
Perhaps too, a conversation with John is aided by a relaxed but confidence inspiring demeanor with which he approaches a conversation. He knows the mountains, he knows writing, having written many excellent books himself, from Bothy Tales to The Last Hillwalker. He likes exploring and bringing to life the human emotions set amongst the hills and his own many experiences in Britain.
So his questions are framed around his own interests, which so many of us share, and those topics we would find ourselves in conversation about should we be next to the fire in the pub after a long windy day out in the hills of Scotland.
John is certainly one of those people that it would be enjoyable to have that experience with. In the meantime, there is always our podcast.
Nine Lives – Expeditions to Everest is now available for pre-order in the U.K. Shipping is free, and while my opinion in this instance may be considered just slightly biased, a signed copy for under 12 British Pounds, seems very reasonable.
You can read the intro for Nine Lives here.