Working as a contractor side-by-side with mates in NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, well loved local climber, Dave Gliddon died in November last year aged 36.
Gliddon was working on a section of the popular National Pass walking track.
Friends describe him as ‘a beautiful soul’ and ‘strong as an ox and calm as a monk’. In Dave’s own words he wrote: “I started the love for the outdoors at the age of ‘before I was born’.”
Raised in Katoomba by parents Colin and Aine, a family that was passionate about bushwalking, Dave spent pre-birth onwards immersed in the bush with his family. Finding his outdoor niche aged 12 when he started to climb, he first made it to Mount Arapiles at 14 and went on to clock up over 150 routes on this climber’s Mecca, including six routes at 28.
At 15 years old, he became the youngest person to ever make a winter ascent (56 hours) of 300-metre high Ozymandiasat Mount Buffalo, with good friend Julian Bell on an Australian Geographic sponsored expedition.
Their efforts at the time prompted Lincoln Hall to comment: “For these two young men to complete the ascent in such atrocious conditions is a remarkable achievement.”
Setting his sights on bigger things, Dave etched out a climbing career taking in big wall adventures including Yosemite’s Jesus Built My Hotrod, South Seas + Pacific Ocean Walland a 16-hour ascent of Half Dome’s Regular Route.
Drawn to the untouched granite of China’s remote peaks, he worked as an outdoor educator and head guide with ChinaClimb for some years, where he completed many first ascents and competitions, along with scouting and bolting missions. It was here that he continued to work in the training and mentoring of young professional climbers.
One of his many expeditions was in August 2006 and saw him undertake the ‘Wall of Dreams’ project in Kyrgyzstan, to raise money for youth charities. People donated money based on the number of hours he and his team (Julian Bell, Steve Anderton and Kent Jensen) spent on the pink granite cliffs. The project resulted in the first free ascent and first Australian ascent of Asan Usan Goes Free, a 25 pitch (many at 60m) grade 27 and him becoming the unofficial world record holder for time spent on a big wall climb. It was 42 days and was reported in the American Alpine Journal 2007.
From trad to sport to bouldering; across Australia, China, USA and Europe along with working in Australia as a climbing and canyoning guide, rope access technician and rigger, Dave spread his infectious calm, giant heart, ability to make people laugh, along with his deep respect for nature and everyone he met.
His longtime climbing partner and friend, Julian Bell, says this of him: “Dave wasn’t the hardest climber around, but one of the most solid. He was somebody you could trust. Somebody you knew had your back. He was the most genuine soul I ever met.”
There are communities of climbers and people all around the world who mourn him, along with his parents Colin and Aine, sister Rebecca and his young twins, Phoenix and Claudia and their mum, Jacinda.