A South African Climbing Legend
by Hilton Davies
pic by Tony Dick
Dave Cheesmond was born in 1952 and grew up in Durban, where he did a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Natal. It was during these varsity years, in the early ’70s that he began climbing. And he went on to do a staggering amount of hard climbing in a short climbing career that ended when he was just 35 years old.
In 1973, Dave was becoming known in South Africa as an emerging hard rock climber. He began making trips to the Cape and did new routes with Pete du Preez, Ed February and his young wife Gillian. He left varsity and went up to Kilimanjaro where he put up the Breach Wall Balletto Icefield route in April 1975. He then went to Mt Kenya where he summitted Batian and Nelion multiple times by many different routes. From there he hitch-hiked his way north and got himself to Chamonix. There he began an incredible partnership with Tony Dick. Dave and Tony climbed the West Face of the Dru and the Walker Spur on the Grande Jorasses, amongst many other routes.