Vuarnet Fellow Dave Watson is a Himalayan mountain climber and skier, father of three amazing children, and Seeker of Fun. His background lies in rock, ice and ski guiding as well as outdoor education. Dave’s personal climbing pursuits have taken him around the world, including three summits of Mount Everest and the first ski descent of the infamous Bottleneck Couloir on K2.
Tell us a little bit about the work you do generally in the Nepalese Himalayan region.
I work as a mountain guide on Mt. Everest in the spring season and on Manaslu in the autumn season. I train climbers and take them to the tops of the tallest mountains in the world, and more importantly, get them back down safely.
How do you prepare for these types of expeditions?
My guiding and teaching work is happening all year so I stay pretty fit from simply working. I also rock climb and practice yoga to enhance strength and mobility.
What challenges do you face in these environments?
The challenges faced while working on 8000 meter peaks are plentiful. Of course there are objective hazards like avalanches, rockfall, icefall and crevasses, but there are also high winds, cold temperatures and deep snow. The physical and mental health of the climbers can be the greatest challenge. Each climber is different and requires individualized attention to keep their body fit and healthy. Keeping a climber's mind focused and excited can be very difficult. Fear and lack of motivation can creep in, especially if the body is feeling weak or ill.
What is your decision-making process? My process for decision making is always focused on safety, that is my top priority and consideration. Next is the achievement of the goals and having fun. I strive to have all my team members feeling looked after and safe, on track with their goals and smiling.
What is it about the Himalayas that draw you year after year?
I feel at home there. The mountainous landscape, the Culture, the people. It all just feels really comfortable and I feel very fortunate to be able to visit regularly.
Go-to eyewear for these expeditions and why?
I have always been a big fan of the Legend 03, it's full coverage and lightweight. I use the Skilynx™ lens often. Vuarnet made me a couple of pairs of custom 03's, one for night climbing with the Nightlynx™ lens and another for super bright days on snow that has a category 4+ lens. For my goggle needs I've been using the Medium frame with the category 3 Grey Silver Flash as well as a photochromic category 1-3 lens. I am grateful to be working with a brand that is so receptive to new ideas, requests and feedback.