Entity Type:
Syrett , John (1950-1985)
Syrett , John (1950-1985)
Superficially, the climbing legacy of John Syrett might not seem that impressive. The record shows a constellation of hard 1970s gritstone routes that he made in Yorkshire, but little else of note. However, like most influential movers and shakers in the climbing scene, it was Syrett’s revolutionary approach to climbing which made the most profound impact. He is widely credited with being one of the pioneers of intensive systematic climbing wall training as an athletic aid to improving rock climbing standards. When he arrived at Leeds University in 1968 he had scarcely climbed before but, for some mysterious reason, felt drawn to the then state of the art ‘mountaineering wall’ at the university (basically a slightly adapted brick wall). In an uncannily prescient manner, he anticipated the obsessive training addicts of today by a couple of decades, spending 12 months assiduously training indoors, and becoming a master brickwork gymnast. He rarely ventured outside. But in the summer of 1970 he sprang forth in the Yorkshire cragscape and engaged in an orgy of route bagging, climbing just about every worthwhile gritstone line in the county, mostly solo. His concern for an ethical approach was greatly admired, and helped influence a change of attitude in a 60s climbing scene still obsessed by artificial aid climbing. Unfortunately Syrett’s personal life was troubled and he suffered from bouts of depression. He gave up serious climbing in the mid-70s, and tragically, committed suicide in 1985.
Standout climbs: Many 1st free ascents and solos of grit routes in Yorkshire and elsewhere, especially Almscliffe Crag. Several first British ascents of ‘big wall’ routes in Yosemite, U.S.A.
Further reading: John Syrett –climbing iconoclast, supernova and enigma. Peter Livesey (1985) Climber & Rambler, 24, 9.

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Syrett , John (?-1985)