"Big Jim" Jewell

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Jimbob 16 Sep 2003
Was amazed by some photos of Mr Jewell in the Cloggy guide, one soloing Shrike, another soloing some loose overhanging E3.

Does anyone know where I can find out more about him? Did anyone here meet or climb with him?
 Adam Lincoln 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:

Buy the video Total Control - Awesome

Have you seen the pic of him in the Paul Williams Snowdonia guide leading The Mau Mau? Ripped to f**k
Carnage 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob: He died soloing. Not whether there's any books about him. He has a brekkie named after him in Petes. I suspect its not available anymore, but theres an old vid (can't remember what its called, but a mates got it) just featuring him soloing Left Wall, Silly Arete and some other stuff. Not the best quality and terrible music, but fantastic footage.
 Lizard 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:
see my old thread about the big man...

...bit of a legend. That overhanging arete is the axe and it's E4!! I was at Cloggy on saturday and couldn't believe anyone could solo anything that intimidating!!
OP Anonymous 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:

Check out the thread and, in particular, the story of how the famous 'low-calorie breakfast snack' got its name ...
In reply to Jimbob:

I met him a few times. He used to be quite an ordinary weedy guy who climbed with the Ceunant. Then I think he moved to Wales and seemed to disappear for a while. When he reappeared he had either been bitten by a radioactive spider or had spent a lot of time working out because he had turned into the sort of guy who could light up an entire room simply by moving away from the window. He was massive and proceeded to crush every hard route in Wales into submission.

A real character and a sad loss.
OP Cloggy 16 Sep 2003
Jim was a family friend and so I new him quite well. All you need to know about him is that he was really modest, massively focussed on climbing and utterly composed when in the most ludicrous of (climbing) positions. He used to throw solo laps on Pincushion wearing a diving belt. Nuff said!
OP C_dude 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob: Back in the eighties, I knew Ron Fawcett through my father and we went to visit him in Eyam. Ron was in stressed about somthing and had decided to vent his frustration by attempting to do 1000 pull-ups in a day (I seem to remember him doing sets of 25-50). That afternoon we drove to Wales to see Jim Jewell (another friend of my dad's) and on hearing this news immediately began to pursue the same goal. I have done about 200 pullups in a day but that was my lot. Ron and Jim were both FCKNG hardcore in their day!
OP Stu Tyrrell 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob: Have a look in a book called -
Clmbing Fit by M. Hurn and P.Ingle, lots of photos of Jim in training.

That reminds me must do some.........

johncoxmysteriously 16 Sep 2003
In reply to C_dude:

I remember it being said in the climbing press that Leigh McGinley and Stevie Haston had been very into pull-up competitions at one time, to the extent of (from memory) 2,000 in a day. Shortly after this some very serious powerlifter type wrote in and said that these (presumably grossly exaggerated) feats would have been world records and could he please have some verification. Nothing further ever made it to the mags that I noticed, but it would have been pleasing to hear Stevie H’s reaction to the situation.

‘Climbing Fit’ also has some pictures of Davinder Sodhi training. Something of a contrast.
 John2 16 Sep 2003
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: You omit to mention the fact that Leigh seriously buggered his elbow as a result of this activity.
 Bob 16 Sep 2003
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I seem to remember Leigh telling me that the number was around 1500 in a day.

Stevie 5 bellies! 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob: In reply to Jimbob: my dad climbed with him a lot in the early days with the Cave + Crag club (B'ham) where he was a member. When we got back from South Africa in 87 Jim was known worldwide within the climbing community. I remember him best for his 1 arm pull ups on 90 degree pinches, and the outrageous speed he could solo up blank looking slabs at Tremadog.
He died in 87 when he slipped off Poor Mans Peutrey at Tremadog whilst soloing in trainers. though i was only 13 at the time i thought about this a lot over the next few yrs as i got into climbing properly. It just seemed ridiculous that he could have fallen off a Hard Severe when u consider the routes that he had previously soloed!
Clearly Jim paid the ultimate price his misjudegment of the situation. His decision to solo up Craig Pant Ifan in trainers, whilst his m8 took the sensible option and walked up the gully, reflects that for just a brief moment he lost respect for the rock and he paid for it with his life.
What was he like as a climber - Obviously he was incredibly talented (I have climbed E7 + haven't managed to toprope 1 particular slab that i once watched him solo effortlessly!). He perhaps summed up his ability better than anyone when he was quoted as saying "I can't pull up on the smallest of holds but those that i can pull on, i can pull on all day!" + he could he was like a climbing machine.
And as a person; quite simply he was one of the nicest guys u could wish to meet and nobody had a bad word to say about him. We all miss him lots - RIP Jim
OP dave j 16 Sep 2003
In reply to Stevie 5 bellies!: I climbed and trained with jim when he lived in chester he was an inspiration to me at the time. I will always rememeber the sessions we had in the gym cranking out endless pull ups . I remember one trip we had to Dove Dale we climbed endless routes when we got to the top of one we had to run and i mean run to the next route no stopping this went on all day by the end i could hardly walk.
 Simon Caldwell 17 Sep 2003
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
I'm sure that Stevie H made the 2000-per-day claim himself on one of those BBC climbing programmes. I thought it related to one-arm pull-ups too but my memory may be letting me down here as usual.
OP C_Dude 17 Sep 2003
In reply to Stevie 5 bellies!:
Who was your dad? Was he on the N Wales scene?
Richard Jewell 17 Sep 2003
Heard a good story from a guy who helped film total control before the days of small portable camera's. To get shots on Tremadog - I think Vector - they had to position the camera - Jim soled it, then they moved the camera - Jim soloed it again....etc. In the end I think he soloed it half a dozen times (and probably some other routes too)!!!!

No relation by the way.....
OP Cloggy 17 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:

His real first name was Phil!
Stevie 5 bellies 17 Sep 2003
In reply to C_Dude: My dad's Pete Wright, he wasn't in the North Wales scene, but was in a scene that revolved around the Cave + Crag, Ceunant (both B'ham based ) and the Rock + Ice during the 60's and 70's. Its wierd to b reading about Total Control after so many yrs, my Dads just been out running with his m8 Jock who is on the video with a little collie dog just after Jim tops out on T Rex. Incidently Jock was also a good m8 of Jim's + was the guy i mentioned who was with him on that unfortunate day.
Colin Wells 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:

Anyone know Jimmy's date of birth by any chance? We need it for a 'Hall of Fame' feature shortly to be published. If anyone who knew Big Jim well, perhaps they could have a quick look through the draft, be good enough to let us know of any errors or other clarifications.


(Philip) ‘Jimmy’ Jewel (*-1987)
Alone again, naturally

Jewel was – probably still is – Britain’s best known exponent of hard soloing. The Brummie brick outhouse, nicknamed after a popular comedian of the post-war era, started off climbing in a conventional way but soon became addicted to hard solos. By the early 1970s he was already soloing routes like Cemetery Gates, Suicide Wall and Diagonal in Llanberis Pass. Like many soloists, he was a jolly chap, clearly finding that the Russian Roulette of life on the edge enhanced his appreciation of the mundane, and was a popular regular on the North Wales scene. His appetite for food matched his appetite for life, evidenced by the fact that the large meal available on the menu of Pete's Eats called a 'Big Jim' (consisting basically of most of the menu) is named in his honour. The story goes that The Big Jim breakfast came about after the first time Jewel entered the hallowed portals of went into Pete's, and asked, in incomprehensibly deep Brummie, for a full cooked breakfast. Pete thought he asked for 'four', and cooked them all, merely assuming Jewel's hungry compadres would soon be showing up. 'I said FULL, not FOUR', Jewel insisted when Pete served up four wholesome plates of lardy meat, eggs and beans. 'Oh, well, eat what you can, and I'll throw the rest away,' said the peoples' restaurateur resignedly. Jim ate the lot.
Paul Williams' famous photograph of Jewel soloing Cloggy’s The Axe, bare chested wearing yellow trousers and front-lit by late evening sun against a void of blackness, became an iconic image, epitomising both Jewel’s panache and capturing the daredevil spirit of the 1980s North Wales climbing scene. It made both the front cover of the Cloggy guidebook and a large poster which adorned many an aspiring climber’s bedroom wall during the late 1980s and early 90s. The picture was an example of Jewel’s rare ability to perform to order for the media. This was taken further in the pant-wetting film of jewel’s soloing exploits made by Alun Hughes and aptly titled 'Total Control'. A measure of Jewel's stamina was indicated by the fact that for the purpose of filming sequences on Left Wall (E2 5c) - he climbed the route three times, using identical climbing movements and chalking up in the same places each time.
He was a right pro, was Big Jim.
Jewel met his end doing what he did best, but with terrible irony he slipped from an easy route, downclimbing the Tremadog Severe Poor Man's Peutery in the wet in trainers.

What he said: 'All you need is chalk and balls man - it's the purest way to cruise.'

What they said: 'In a sport where risk and romance have been almost eradicated by the leading protagonists… Jim was a Cavalier, a "breath of fresh air", a man who lived for climbing, and climbing alone, seldom courting the limelight.' (Paul Williams flags up that Jewel was one of the good guys)
'Axe one week, chop the next.' (Stevie Haston's off the cuff remark on hearing Big Jim had soloed The Axe was unfortunately prescient)

Further viewing: Total Control, dir. Alun Hughes
Kipper 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Colin Wells:

> .. first time Jewel entered the hallowed portals of went into Pete's..

'went into' needs removing

OP C_Dude 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Colin Wells:
I have Jim's copy of the '86 Llanberis guide - containing some notes about his soloing exploits. If you want I can dig out a few of his other achievements - not looked through it for years, but last time I did, there were several 'on-sight solo' entries next to big E-numbers! Scary reading!
Colin Wells 18 Sep 2003
In reply to C_Dude:
> (In reply to Colin Wells)
> I have Jim's copy of the '86 Llanberis guide - containing some notes about his soloing exploits. If you want I can dig out a few of his other achievements - not looked through it for years, but last time I did, there were several 'on-sight solo' entries next to big E-numbers! Scary reading!

Yes, that sounds great. A list of soe of his standout onsight solos would make gripping viewing.

Thanks for that
OP C_Dude 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Colin Wells:
Will try to remember to dig details out tonight!
Colin Wells 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Kipper:

The entries haven't been proof-read yet, thanks for spotting that. Any factual errors that need correcting would be gratefully received.
Cheers Col
johncoxmysteriously 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Colin Wells:

I might be wrong, but I thought he had two 'l's.

And you need to say 'both epitomising', not 'epitomising both', and capitalise Jewel(l) somewhere.

Are you sure that shot of The Axe is the evening light? I'd have said the morning.
Peter Walker 18 Sep 2003
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Are you sure that shot of The Axe is the evening light? I'd have said the morning.

I'd go along with that; in fact, I dimly recall the tagline on the ad that used the photo being something along the lines of "Cloggy; 6:45am; just me and my....."

Total accuracy may have been blurred by age though.....
 FedUp 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:
I reckon the new Cloggy guides front cover shouldn't have a new photo on the front.
How can you improve on perfection?
Colin Wells 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Peter Walker:

Ta to you and JCM; almost certainly correct, much appreciated
OP C_Dude 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Colin Wells:

I can confirm that the shot of Jim on The Axe was taken in the morning.
OP Cloggy 18 Sep 2003
In reply to Jimbob:

Just remembered - Jim featured in an advert for DMM/Sportiva 'Mega' climbing boots. He was standing next to a pile of skulls in the slate quarries (part of the set for the film 'Willow'). The tag line was 'Some people don't climb with 'Mega's'. Strangely enough Jim died 'not wearing Mega's'.

The picture was pretty memorable.
OP C_Dude 19 Sep 2003
In reply to Colin Wells: Looked through the ('87!) guide and realised I oversold the 'onsight' concept...still an impressive list though. Lots of the solo entries are in the VS to E1 category. I have picked out the Extreme entries and given the year where I can. Reckon you need to find the owner(s) of his other guides for further details as his solo activities extended all over North Wales:

Clogwyn Y Grochan
Spectrum E2 1986
SS Special E2
Slape Direct E1
Corruption E3
Surplomb E2
Hangover E1

Careg Wasted
Overlapping Wall E1 1976
Erosion Groove Direct E2 1978

Dinas Cromlech
The Thing E2 1979
Curfew E1 1979
Foil E3 1986
Epitaph E3 1984
Left Wall E2 1985
Cenotaph Corner E1 1978
Right Wall E5 1986
Cemetry Gates E1 1977
The Cruciix E2 1984
Crucifix Direct E4 1984
Ivy Sepulchre E1 1984
Grond E2 1987

Dinas Mot
The Toad E3 1978
Superdirect E1 1980
Zeta E3 1980
The Link E1
Black Shadow E3 1976
Black Foot E2 1975
Ten Degrees North E2 1975
Nexus E1 1976
The Windmill E3 1978

Cyrn Las
Subsidiary Grove E1 1980
Lubyanka E3 1987
The Great Buttress E2 1986
The Grooves E1 1986
The Overhanging Arete E2 1986
johncoxmysteriously 19 Sep 2003
In reply to C_Dude:

A very impressive list. I've lost the plot a bit though - are you saying all those were soloed on sight (and lots of others presumably not on sight) or that those are just ones he soloed.

('just' to be taken with pinch of salt here, obviously)
 220bpm 19 Sep 2003
In reply to C_Dude:

Falmin' heck, thats mighty impressive. R Wall.....solo...

Any ideas on where to fing this Total Control vid, sounds like a definate purchase??
johncoxmysteriously 19 Sep 2003
In reply to 220bpm:

Others had soloed Right Wall before, first I believe Phil Davidson, second PD again for photos (!!), and third probably Sheffield's very own Jerry Moffatt. Tho' of course there may have been other, shyer, soloists.
OP C_Dude 19 Sep 2003
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

The list is purely what he has soloed. I am not sure which if those in the list above he did on-sight (if any).

Sorry for the confusion.

Anyone got a free weekend coming up and fancy repeating this list?
johncoxmysteriously 19 Sep 2003
In reply to 220bpm:

Do a search on the site: someone published a link to the chap who made it (who is called Alun Hughes, I think, but don't quote me). He's still selling them apparently, and you see them in outdoor shops as well.
OP Stevie 5 bellies 19 Sep 2003
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Drawn a blank on his DOB - The following may b usefull. Came from Ferndale, Rhonda Valley, South Wales. His father used to work in one of the pits in Maerdy (?spelling). Moved to Birmingham in early 70's, where he worked as a tool maker for IMI in Witton. He joined the Birmingham Cave + Crag club where he statred climbing proper! A decent sprinter he ran for Birchfield Harriers (400m runner). Some of his best feets not mentioned in mid 80's: Removed the bolt on the Cad + then soloed it effortlessly, soloed 25 extremes in a day at Tremadog, Laps of soloing Vulcan @ Tremadog (strenuous E3 layback crack)
dozens of times with a weight belt attached + abbing down to discard the harness and solo bak up. He had a spell working in Stuttgart in 70's, and on one occasion whilst skiing in Austria he jumped over a challet roof and landed in a heap + broke his leg.
In reply to Jimbob:

I've suggested a few times that the website has a profile on climbers - a bit like The Q magazine where are they now. Taking into account Jim Jewell's sad death I thought the responses were great reading and very informative for any new person to climbing. If the website doesn't start something like it then perhaps similar discussions can be kept going every now and then on other great climbers.

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