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Dawes, John Andrew George (1964-), known as Johnny
Dawes, John Andrew George (1964-), known as Johnny
Johnny Dawes arrived on the scene at a transitional time in British climbing development. The Peter Livesey/Ron Fawcett training-inspired rise in ‘traditional’ standards was faltering and commercial pressures to adopt the Continental Bolt were increasing in the wake of this. Into this arena leapt, literally, avante-garde rock poet Johnny Dawes, the boy wonder who invented the ‘dyno’. In a stunning and innovative series of bold climbs, he revivified the Peak District gritstone scene and was immediately hailed by the climbing press as the latest Last Great Hope of Traditional British Climbing. Transferring his skills to slate and thence to Welsh mountain rock Dawes played a major part in promoting the grim glamour of the Llanberis quarries and his Welsh escapades culminated in the famous Indian Face on Clogwyn d’ur Arddu. Dawes is, however, much more than just a talented and unusual climber. His creative ability spills over from the rocks into artistic projects, particularly film. Alun Hughes’ Stone Monkey, which is said to be ‘95% influenced’ by Dawes, undoubtedly changed the way the sport was filmed, and was a huge hit with its mixture of semi-surreal images, documentary style voice-overs and carefully selected cool tunes. Many other climbing videos have subsequently aped aspects of the approach, but none can ever repeat the splendid freshness of the original. The film epitomises what makes Dawes unique; it wasn’t just his climbs that were different, he brought a completely new perspective to bear on the way the sport was practised and perceived.
Standout climbs: Indian Face (Clogwyn d’ur Arddu), The Quarryman (Llanberis), Gaia, (Black Rocks, Derbyshire)
Further viewing: Stone Monkey, dir Alun Hughes & Johnny Dawes, Best Forgotten Art, dir Johnny Dawes.
Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Dawes, John Andrew George (1964-), known as Johnny