/ almscliffe jack geldard
On my last visit to Almscliff a bunch of really decent climbers, fellas who cruise up Demon Wall, were working the crux of Big Greeny. They were coming off time after time at the pocket. Watching JG cruise one E3 solo after another is pretty amazing to this punter who can't imagine seconding the bloomin' things any time soon.
Not done big greeny but have done the other routes and they are bloody hard! Seriously impressive bit of climbing there
In my experience of seconding Big Greeny the pocket isn't the crux. It was standing there with my chin over the top and trying to find something, anything at all, to pull up on for the elephant's bum finish. I've done the other two but never had the slightest temptation to go back on the Greeny. As Jack says in his voice over, Western Front is pumpy and a bit reachey, at least the way I did it, but it all feels pretty positive. The Greeny on the other hand feels so precarious it must be a very worrying solo and in scores of visits I don't think I've ever seen anyone go on it without a rope.
Great video. Geldard is far too cool, good-looking and good at climbing for my liking though...
I feel the need to go watch him cacking himself and getting rescued in onsight now!
A pity Jack Geldard doesn't appear to know much about John Syrett. He pronounces his name Syrit (like syrup) and implies that he was from Yorkshire, when in fact his name was pronounced Sire-ret, and he came from Dartford in Kent. He was at Leeds University from 1968-71, and this was when he left his mark on Yorkshire grit.
There's more on John Syrett here: http://footlesscrow.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Syrett
Glad people have enjoyed the video. We made it over a year ago now. Literally it was raining very hard in the morning, and we sat in the car and as soon as the rain stopped we nipped out and made the video in about an hour or two. It was on UKC here last year:
And I did an Almscliff destination article here too:
And thanks Gordon for your input on John Syrett, great, interesting and very important stuff in that link to the article from 1996.
Big thanks to Ian Burton for filming this and editing it.
Syrett's Roof, FA 1972, Big Greeny, FA 1973...
Forgot to say what a great video it is … I used to climb like you did … (in my dreams / not :)) BTW, have you ever heard Stevie Haston's great story about taking his father climbing? His father was a very tough, strong guy (I think a London taxi driver and a boxer), and was intrigued hearing about his son's climbing. Wanted to have a go himself, because he'd got it into his head that it couldn't really be that hard. Stevie happened to be going up to Yorkshire, so took him to Almscliffe. He wanted to show his father that it is actually quite difficult and strenuous. I think the idea was to do Great Western. But his father looked at it and said something like, 'that doesn't look very hard, how about trying to the left?' So Stevie led his father up Western Front as his first ever climb! … and, incredibly, he cruised it. Didn't need a tight rope at all, had no trouble jamming etc. When he got to the top he said something like 'Is that all there is to it, son?' Rather unimpressed. That's the gist of the story, anyway, but to hear it told by Stevie, it's one of the funniest climbing stories you're ever likely to hear.
Ah, yes, Mick. Have just looked it up myself … got the date span wrong. I think my brother was there amongst the crowd of friends watching while John did first ascent of Big Greeny.
… of course, he continued living in Leeds after leaving University, and never returned south. But after injuring his hand in late 1973 (cut tendons opening a beer can at a party) he never climbed at the same standard again.
Just gently trying to make the point that we all get stuff 'not quite right' and Jack was doing his best. The difficulty for people mentioning climbing history in videos etc must always be that they may get something 'not quite right' - particularly if it's from a period from before their time. So it must be highly tempting not to have it at all! But I'd far rather the history mentioned (I'm sure you would too) and, if there's the odd detail amiss (as there often will be), well we can always sort that out afterwards.
Libby Peters did an excellent article a few months ago about doing lots of classic hard Tremadog routes in a day. Mentioning the history behind some of them really contextualised things.
Thanks for the link to Steve's great article.
great video; even when watched covertly at work, with the sound off!
In my experience of leading Big Greeny, having watched the video I was well chuffed with myself once, after a bit of procrastination, the moves up the pockets went quite smoothly. Then it became there clear that were no more holds and I had no choice but to lay one on for what might have been the top if it was nearer. Big, safe fall (well safe-ish, my belayer was light and she ended up higher off the ground than me).
And that has to be the most indiscernible(?) pronunciation of his surname imaginable. I think I'll still with the simple northern version if and when I have cause to mention him.
You can't just change the pronunciation of someone's name! i.e how they themselves pronounce it. It's a very long i sound like bite, not a short i like bit. BTW, how many people know the very similar (but reverse example) that Eric Byne was not pronounced Bighn but Bin.
It's a bit like people (including myself, until it was pointed out to me) saying Dow crag (as is How) when it's actually pronounced Doe.
My post didn't come across with quite the tone I intended. I thought Jack's video was great. I was just expressing a general regret that the details of John Syrett's life were not (generally) better known. So i wanted to point people to that excellent article by Steve Dean.
> ¡K of course, he continued living in Leeds after leaving University, and never returned south. But after injuring his hand in late 1973 (cut tendons opening a beer can at a party) he never climbed at the same standard again.
I climbed with John in 1978 and he was climbing at the same standard E3 and when he moved to Newcastle he did new routes up to E4.
Thanks for correcting me on this. I hadn't re-read Steve Dean's article closely enough. Certainly a rather different picture from what I was told years ago through the grapevine. But things certainly seemed to go v badly for him, once he was working on the oil rigs in the early 80s.
I got to know John very well on a trip to the Alps in 1972 (it was just the two of us). We would talk for hours and hours about everything under the sun. Although our climbing abilities were vastly different, he seemed to like to confide in me.
John continued to live in Leeds right up to the time I left in June 1974, except for few months 73 or 74, when he lent me his bedsitter while he was away in Yosemite.
I was not at Almscliffe when John made the first ascent of Big Greeny in May 73. For the record, he cut the tendons in his hand at a party (which I did attend, at John Porter's cottage in the Lake District) on the w/e of 10th May 1974.
Don't worry Gordon, I was only teasing anyway. Re John Syrett's climbing grades after the accident, I didn't want to mention Stella (E4 5c) at South Yardhope, his last FA, as far as I know. But, as Steve Webster noted, he could still climb pretty well (though maybe not as well as he wanted). I think he did the second ascent of Giggling Crack (circa 1976/7). Jim Perrin reckoned that, by the time of his death, the tendon injury had resolved itself - but, of course, he'd lost a decade.
Obviously John, Steve and you all knew him well. I didn't. To me, he was the most charismatic climber I've ever seen. I was so much in awe of him. I remember going to Leeds wall for the first time and getting hopelessly lost. Eventually I bumped into John coming down the stairs and asked him. He looked at me and smiled and nodded, "It's up there..." It's as though he totally understood my search for the Holy Grail, the hallowed ground.
Many years later, I wrote a short piece, 'Anthracite Eyes' about him, coupled with another, 'Ashes' about Neil Molnar (Noddy) (There seemed similarities - and differences - between them/their fates.) Although I was writing a lot for the climbing mags at the time, I never sent in either piece. They were too painful. At the time I consoled myself, thinking they'd be the most painful writing I'd ever do. But I was wrong. When Will Perrin died, it was like an exploding galaxy of pain - giving birth to a third piece, 'A Child of Light'. Perhaps they were all children of light, giving so much of themselves on the rock, yet struggling vainly in a too harsh world.
Yet the sun continues to shine. The stone beckons. And we who remain come out to play again.
How can I follow that, Mick?
I just wanted to say that I am rather disappointed. Watching that, I convinced myself that I could probably get up a couple of those E3s. But I was forgetting how good Jack is. Perhaps I could manage one of the HVSs.
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