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John Dawes strolling up White Slab on Cloggy, July 1990
© Gordon Stainforth, Jul 1990
Route: White Slab (E2 5c)
Climbers: Johnny Dawes and Ros Townsend
Camera used: Wista 45DX field view camera, 300mm Rodenstock lens
5*VOTING: number of votes 70
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This was one of the 5 x 4 plate shots I took for my first book, Eyes to the Hills (long out of print - so I'm putting a few up here now.) I can't scan a whole 5x4 plate on my transparency adaptor on my scanner, but just a central strip. I'll be uploading some panoramas soon.
The photo. I got Johnny Dawes to do this on a midsummer evening so that we could get the west buttress bathed in evening light, and hopefully the crag to ourselves. Johnny chatted up a girl in The Heights the night before and got her to second him. She had never climbed more than VS, and he took her up Octo first, before doing White Slab, which he made spectacularly light work of. Ros was absolutely euphoric when she descended - she had never had a climbing day remotely as good before.
Unfortunately, although it was a fine evening the sun went into some haze just at the moment Johnny reached this position, so the shot wasn't quite as wonderfully orange as I had hoped - in fact it turned quite gloomy.
Gordon Stainforth - 13/Feb/07
I cant imagine Ros was too happy seconding the first pitch if she had never climbed harder than VS!
The Pylon King - 13/Feb/07
Stunning, and (although I'm mad keen to do this route anyway so slightly biased!) extremely imspirational. the light looks fine to me...
Si dH - 13/Feb/07
Re. light looking fine. About 20-30 minutes before that it was all yellowy-golden...
Gordon Stainforth - 13/Feb/07
In answer to Pylon King: She was fine. Johnny is just so inspirational that just about anyone climbing with him will immediately lose a lot of their fear and climb about two grades harder. After that first experience (I think) of seeing Johnny climbing - absolutely mesmerising, the ease and the flow - made it look about like a grade one scramble with megajugs - I often used to say to myself when leading and getting all tense and nervous: 'Think Johnny', and immediately started climbing about ten times better.
Gordon Stainforth - 13/Feb/07
Another point worth making. Johnny climbs very fast, yet this shot conveys none of that. The reason is (my fault, but partly to do with the extreme problems of taking a series of shots with a 5 x 4 view camera) that I almost certainly told him to pause there while I took the frame. We were in contact by walkie talkie. He had his on the whole time, tucked into the front of his shirt. The most memorable moment was when he got to the famous rope move and started going straight up the groove on the left (Ghecko Groove). I screamed to him over the radio to stop. He knew almost nothing about where the route went, had'nt read the guidebook at all etc, and was just charging on. 'So where does it go?' he asked. I had the guidebook with me, and read it out to him over the walkie talkie. There was about one sentence on the normal pendulum and then the direct free version, another sentence, which I started to read out. He interrupted: "Do you mean like this?" I looked up, and saw that he was already almost at the top of the 6a? free version.. He was even more astonishing above that, where he went past a belay by about 40 feet, and I'm screaming at him over the intercom, and he just comes zooming down backwards, faster than I could go downstairs backwards, I think. I have never seen anyone more 'at home' on the rock.
Gordon Stainforth - 14/Feb/07
Dawes is da bomb!
Mutl3y - 18/Feb/07
The comments are as good as the pic, awesome!
Greg Kirkpatrick - 23/Feb/07
A great photo and fantastic comments though i think Ros doing Octo was the biggest achievement!
mike lawrence? - 27/Feb/07
woah i thought i was looking at some close up shot, but then i saw the tiny person! great photo!
RockyRob - 01/Mar/07
I must say this is an amazing photo Gordon, The sense of scale is outstanding.
wushu - 28/Aug/07
I like Stilton
Tom Eagle - 27/Sep/08
my favourite photo
GuyVG - 06/Oct/09
This still works for me though Gordon.
halo - 08/Jan/10
This is an incredibly atmospheric picture of Cloggy. I have been living in the Alps since 1975 and had forgotten how foreboding the Welsh crags can be. We did the route in perfect weather in 1971 I think, but this picture evokes more memories of that time than the memory of doing the routs itself.
rod42 - 14/Dec/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.