Dave 'Cubby' Cuthbertson
Dave ‘Cubby’ Cuthbertson has been described as a legend in Scottish climbing with many ground breaking first ascents to his credit. He was born in Edinburgh in 1958. With little more than a few o-levels he left school at the age of seventeen to pursue his uncompromising passion for climbing. One could say naively, for he had neither trade, nor formal training to fall back on. But for the young Scot nothing could have felt more natural than that of a career in the outdoors. Initially he was drawn to the world of mountain guiding, though inexperienced in this type of work, his personal climbing achievements provided the necessary confidence and initially he served something of an apprenticeship with Mal Duff in the Alps. It was here that he met veterans Geoff and Brede Arkless, who took the young Cubby under their protective wing. Geoff suggested that he should start the vigorous training programme to become an International Mountain Guide. He qualified in 1987.
Guiding and climbing is a way of life, a life often described by the non climbing public as non conformist and hedonistic, and even a pastime for the mentally deranged! The life of the professional mountaineer is a chosen route. It can be a frugal existence and a role where the financial rewards are modest. The real rewards come from the commitment and participation of climbing itself.
During an early trip to the Himalaya Cubby discovered, with near fatal consequences, his inability to acclimatise effectively, and so turned to a less glamorous side of climbing – the competition circuit. He had already embraced sport climbing with a respectable level of success, and the competition scene which was very much in vogue in the late 80’s and early 90’s, could be seen as a logical progression. Cubby secured a position in the British Team, competing both at home and in other parts of the world, and often against young climbers half his own age. Giving the ‘young guns’ a run for their money might be good for ones ego but climbing at this level and the training required was gruelling.
By the late 90’s 25 years at the cutting edge, was beginning to take its toll. To alleviate some of the physical stress, Cubby turned to photography, both as a passion and as an alternative source of income. Self taught he is now widely regarded as one of the most accomplished outdoor photographers in the UK.
The new millennium saw the birth of Cubby Images, run by Cubby and Joanna George. They published The Climbing Calendar annually, The Climbers Logbook, and in addition they continue to supply the popular outdoor and climbing magazines with images and articles. Much of their work also appears in company brochures, tabloids and on various websites.
Cubby is also part of a small team of very experienced mountain guides who provide specialised safety and consultancy to the TV and film industry. Prestigious recent assignments include Touching The Void (in which Cubby is Joe Simpson’s climbing double and performs stunts such as the famous fall sequence), and more recently The Beckoning Silence.
So now after 35 years in the outdoors, Cubby can say quite happily that he has slipped into ‘has-been’ status as a climber and his photography is now taking front stage. You can visit their website at www.cubbyimages.co.uk
A word from Cubby
Scotland is a country very close to my heart and it is true to say that much of my photography is motivated by a sense of pride. To some degree it’s about putting something back into a country that has given me so much over the years, and so it will come as no real surprise that a climber in a landscape accounts for a large number of my images. The infinite variety of Scotland’s rock and mountains, and the outstanding landscape, within which they are found, makes for compelling photography. I hope you enjoy the photographs.