Interview with Andy Cave

Following the release of his latest book Thin White Line, we caught up with Andy Cave for a quick chat to try and find out more about his approach to the book and the man behind the pen. 

Thin White Line is the sequel to Learning to Breath, Andy Cave’s bestselling debut book which was joint winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize in 2005 and winner of the Adventure Travel Award at the Banff International Festival.  You can read our review of Thin White Line in full in the reviews section of this site.

Interview

MD: What made you decide to start writing it all down?

AC: I was approached by a publisher in 1997, but I was busy with my PhD then, hence things didn’t get going until that was finished.

MD: How soon after the release of your first book Learning to Breath, did you start on the second?

AC: I took about a year out and then started formulating ideas.

MD: I’m sure there were lots of climbs and/or expeditions that you could have included in the book but didn’t.  How did you decide which to include?

AC: I knew the beginning of the book and the end. I wanted to select climbs that gave the narrative momentum and showed the emotional ups and downs.

MD: There is lots of background and historical information in your book, that must have taken a lot or research.  Is this a reflection of what you would usually do on your travels or did you make a conscious effort for the book?

AC: I made a conscious effort, I saw this as a new challenge, integrating research in to my own narrative. It was also an excuse to learn more about the places I had climbed in and to draw parallels between visiting climbers and local inhabitants.

MD: What is it that attracts you to tackling hard lines in such remote locations?

AC: The ultimate test is the test of yourself and team mates. Such objectives are just the natural progression. There is something special about pioneering new routes away from crowds.

MD: You have climbed with so many of today’s well known and successful climbers and mountaineers, many of whom you talk about in the book.  How would you describe your perfect climbing partner?

AC: Some one with integrity, open, honest and with a sense of humour. You have to feel absolute trust. Someone who didn’t talk about climbing all the time.

MD: In the book you talk about the base jumpers you meet in Norway and Leo Houlding’s fascination with them.  We all know that he has since taken up the sport.  Have you tried a base jump yet?

AC: Not yet.

MD: You have a wide and varied career, with your work as a guide, your academic work, journalism and a successful author to name a few.  How do you find the time for all this and what is your primary focus these days?

AC: The academic work has taken a backseat. The writing and speaking are big and I guide and climb for myself with any spare time I have.

MD: You’re well known as one of Lowe Alpines sponsored climbers.  What does this role entail for you?

AC: I also work with Asolo and Thorlo now. I promote the brands, test new designs, give feedback as well as helping maintain links within the trade. We try and run fun retailer events in the mountains.

MD: A bit of a desert island type question but if you had to pick only one mountain which you could look at or climb for the rest of your life, which would it be?

AC: Buchaille Etive Mhor, Glencoe.

MD: Describe your perfect mountain day?

AC: Up early, to see sunrise, hard exhilarating climbing, easy descent, wonderful meal on the terrace with friends, followed by a long sleep.

MD: What’s next for you in terms of climbing or expeditions?

AC: I’ve just got back from Morocco – brilliant walls up to 500metres hich. And We climbed Fitzroy in January which was superb. I have a few things up my sleeve!

MD: Finally, any plans for a third book?

AC: Yes, but I’d have to kill you if I told you what it was about…

Andy Cave was born into a mining family and is now a cutting-edge alpinist with several formidable first ascents to his credit.  He has a PhD in socio-linguistics and is an IFMGA international mountain and ski guide.  You can find out more about Andy at his website http://www.andycave.net.

Thin White Line can be purchased directly from Random House for £18.99.

Article written by Giles Thurston on June 20, 2008

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