Episode 1: Nina Williams and James Lucas — Charting New Territories

The top of Ariana after their first trip up the Diamond. "We didn’t send. Nina went back and fired it a week or so later. I did Turning Point the night after we talked," according to James.

The top of Ariana after their first trip up the Diamond. “We didn’t send. Nina went back and fired it a week or so later. I did Turning Point the night after we talked,” according to James.

Episode one, touch down.

On Thunderpod’s inaugural episode, we speak with Nina Williams and James Lucas, Fidi and I in a living room in Denver, Nina and James sharing a couch in Boulder. It’s pretty romantic. Nina and James charted entirely different trajectories through the climbing world. James lived out of a broke down Saturn wagon for about 200 years, cutting his teeth and putting up new routes in Yosemite. Nina came up through the comp scene but soon broke out on her own, ticking off some of the scariest, hardest highball boulder problems in the nation.

But, as you’ll hear, transition is the name of the game for this duo. James blew up the Saturn with a detonator and sixteen sticks of dynamite and slid behind the desk at Climbing Magazine. He has a toilet. He has a closet. He no longer must pee into a Gatorade bottle. And he’s one of the most interesting and engaging climbing writers scribbling for coin. He’s also allowed his rack to take a back seat to a crashpad, recently spending a ton of time honing his skills as a boulderer.

Nina, hunting for something meaningful and sustaining, headed back to school. She also pumped the brakes on those sweat-inducing, leg-snapping, possibly career ending highballs in favor of allowing her intuition to guide her through the climbing universe. She’s picking up a trad rack more often, becoming more intimate with the national climbing community, and basically blossoming into one of the most impressive and thoughtful ambassadors that our sport has.

We talk about all that good stuff and more, including James’s soloing fall (and it’s aftermath) in Joshua Tree, a wee bit of politics, how James and Nina met, how the hell Nina manages her fear on highballs like Ambrosia out in Bishop, micro-penises, and a tiny toe dip into “Free Solo.”

As mentioned during the pod, here are some interviews with Nina and James from other podcasts. You should listen to them, too.

Nina on Training Beta here and Basecamp here and The Enormocast here.

James on The Enormocast here, here, and here.

Finally, thank you to Ryne Doughty for the rad music! Check him out…or become a musical pariah…here!

Notes: Originally recorded in early October, 2018. James, to my knowledge, has never fiddled around with dynamite.


Mac Gaugh

I thought the podcast was very well done. A lot of comedy, a little seriousness, and an overall good vibe! I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the series,..

Dave McAllister

Thanks for the feedback, Mac. We got a fella who works in the gym industry next up, climbs .14d and V13, former Youth World Cup athlete, and a helluva setter and gym industry visionary! A mouse also almost killed him once. Or mice. He’s not sure if it was plural or not…


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