Portrait of a Rock Climber

Dynamic movement is the theme of this exciting portrayal of one of Britain's best young climbers, Johnny Dawes. Early boyhood influences are traced and the programme moves on to document some of Johnny's unrepeated routes on the Derbyshire gritstone edges. Then to Wales and the spectacular Quarryman Groove...

Original Idea - Johnny Dawes
Producer - Alun Hughes

Winner of five international film festival awards.

"...had my palms sweating - a powerful film. - perhaps the best pure rock climbing film I have seen." - Leo Dickinson

S4C 1988 25min

This film blew my mind. I watched this man doing things that were impossible, I was captivated, and the sound-track, my god the music fit the climbing, you could see that in his head there was nothing outside of the rock that he was climbing. That was before I ever climbed and years later i made my pilgrimage to some of those places that he had climbed. North wales, the coast the mountains and the slate. I saw that groove that he had climbed. The guidebook described it pitch by pitch. The section that he had climbed for the film was 16 meters with only 4 hand holds. The guidebook says that it is apparently best done by using a random sequence of karma-sutra like movements. At the time it was written Johnny was still the only person to have climbed it. I remember watching him on that film, getting to a point on the groove where he was suspended by having his hands outstretched, pushing against the opposing sides of the groove, body hanging free, some kind of voluntary crucifixion. Still for a moment and then his body began to swing, rotating his torso and in a movement of magic he had kicked his feet to where his hands were, spread-eagled. He threw his body up hands grasping the next holds and upwards. Reading the guidebook I realised, that was not even the hardest part of the climb.

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