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John Stainforth, belayed by John Syrett, leading The Sloth on sight, January 1970
Unknown, Jan 1970
© Gordon Stainforth collection
5*VOTING: number of votes 24
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This is my brother leading The Sloth on his first visit to the Roaches on a Leeds University climbing trip on a winter's day in 1970. I wasn't there (I was then at Cardiff University), but I'm putting it in as a historical record. John used only one runner - tape round the block at the back of the roof. He is being belayed by John Syrett, who had never climbed on real rock before (though a star at the Leeds wall), so this was Syrett's very first rock climb! John Syrett was John's main climbing partner in 1970-71
Gordon Stainforth - 13/Feb/07
Yes, this was my first visit to the Roaches and the first climb I did there, a few minutes after getting off the coach from Leeds.
This did not seem like poor protection at the time: what could be better than a number 3 hawser-laid sling over a block?! Remember, cams had not been invented at this time. Nor had belay devices - note that John Syrett is using the classic waist belay and belay gloves. John was a very bold leader, but also a fantastically solid second; absolutely nothing casual about his belaying. Notice his attention and just the right amount of slack in the rope.
Note the socks inside the EBs, and the waist belts; no leg loops.
John Stainforth - 13/Mar/07
Some of climbings rich history. I like it a lot
Dan-gerMouse - 12/Jun/07
John Syretts first rock route. I feel as though I've just been emailed the lost first draft of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
wire - 06/Aug/07
Brill. Thanks for posting this up, guys.
Jon Read - 19/Dec/08
My god Gordon, I think that's me on Black and Tans! I'll have to look out my old photos and diary...
jon - 26/Jan/11
That would be truly fascinating.
Gordon Stainforth - 26/Jan/11
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This picture is copyright. If you want to reproduce or otherwise re-use it, please email the photographer direct via their user profile. Photo added February 13 2007.