/ FRI NIGHT VID: Rock Athlete - First Ascent
With climbing out of the question for most of us, a bit of nostalgia wouldn't go amiss. Our Friday Night Video this week takes us way back to one of the first classics of the genre; the film responsible for giving us the phrase 'come on arms.' The original Rock Athlete, Ron Fawcett, takes on the project at Dinas Cromlech which would become Lord of the Flies; an accomplishment that Climber and Rambler described as 'a significant breakthrough.' The route is still giving people nightmares to this day.
This has to be one of the greatest historical first ascent videos ever. Only marred by some crap cutaways.
> Only marred by some crap cutaways.
In which Ron doesn't actually seem to have moved an inch...!
Yup, they're really dire, dishonest and misleading.
I met Chris Gibb shortly after this on Mt Kenya. His main comment was the ball ache of lugging the sound gear up there a couple of times a day!
It’s actually a pretty poor film. Do think the latter part will resonate with most climbers though - nearly off, hoping the gear will go in, talking to it etc.
Check out Steve Bancroft's belayer for London Wall on the first rock athlete programme - In Search of New Summits. Cool as ...
In the intro, Pete Livesey is credited as adding Right Wall in 1964 - never noticed that before.
Blummin love that film, I watched it again just recently. My most used local trail run is called ‘come on legs!’ in its honour.
Rock Athlete was also responsible for me flooding my first flat in the late 80s. I used to drag the washing machine across the floor and clamp the hoses on the sink taps. Word had got around of a rare repeat on tv (you youngsters wouldn’t understand!). In my excitement I set the washing off and rushed downstairs to watch the tiny portable in the lounge under the kitchen. Half an hour later water was streaming down the walls as I’d forgotten to put the drain hose down in the sink too. Blummin Ron
> Check out Steve Bancroft's belayer for London Wall on the first rock athlete programme - In Search of New Summits. Cool as ...
I loved the way Bancroft had a couple of crucial runners clipped direct into his shirt for rapid access in that clip, he places them at about 15min50
As kids just starting off my mate and I were so impressed with that film we went out to a charity shop and bought suit jackets and flares to train in.
Ron yes hes still a legend and still cranking!! No primordal roaring with Ron after a historical ascent!! "Me arms are knackered"
Thats UK climbing right there he he!
As someone who climbed in 'flares' at the time it was a bu**er trying to spot footholds, on White Slab for one!
Ron didn't have that problem as he climbed in shorts.
> Only marred by some crap cutaways.
1. What's a 'cutaway'?
2. Who is Chris Gibb, and what is/was his climbing record, apart from seconding Ron Fawcett on routes like this?
Thank you. And to make it perfectly clear: I intend no disrespect to anybody at all here - these questions merely reflect my own ignorance.
Don't know details but if you think of Ron being A-team, then Chris Gibb would be B-team; i.e. not cutting edge but still a damn good climber, and would have done early ascents of many hard new routes but without the publicity.
I remember an account of French climbers in the camp site at La Palud in the Verdon looking on amazed as Chris Gibb did one-arm pull ups from a tree with a fag in his mouth and a bottle of beer in his spare hand.
It's actually not a "pretty poor film". It's a gripping record of an historic ascent, and even if you know the outcome, it's palm-sweatingly tense. And given the technology available in 1979, it's amazing.
I've just re-read Ron's book. Full details of the filming in there.
By the way: whereabouts on the route was the peg that was placed, and did it get used on the ascent? (I didn't see it being used in the film.) I assume it is long gone - correct?
What a great bit of nostalgia and an example of understatement. Always enjoyed reading of Ron’s and other exploits in the late 70’s & into the 80’s when starting my own rock adventures.
thanks for posting!
Lots of Sid Perou's climbing and caving films on his YouTube channel , including the Fingertip Phenomenon etc.
I drove down from Scotland to make what would become the 5th OS of Right Wall (1979), only to be confronted by Ron who politely asked if I would hang on until Sid had finished filming. If you look closely you can see Ian Duckworth and myself twiddling our thumbs on the screes below while Paul Williams darted around capturing the day on a stills camera. So we did Foil as a warm up and waited and waited....! As the sun started setting we eventually got on Right Wall - a climb with a massive reputation in those days and requiring considerable Psyche. On the headwall I strayed off route onto Lord and the crux of the day was linking back up with RW, probably on unclaimed ground. On reflection I should have gone for the 2nd ascent, but that would take place some years later.
Of course the infamous catch phrase for the year was "come on arms, do your stuff"
Oh Cubby, that could have been Wrong Wall
Amazing what was done in EBs with woolly socks, a waist belay and a lack of extenders.
Of course, much the same could be said of previous generations doing their cutting edge routes in plimsolls or big boots,with a pipe, a hemp rope and effectively no runners.
> Lots of Sid Perou's climbing and caving films on his YouTube channel
I'll have to check these out. Back in the day when I was starting out as a caver, Sid's films were an absolute must. I recall one about Pippikin Pot and trying to explain to the rest of my family how great caving was ...
This video was very old, alot things have changed already.
> Amazing what was done in EBs with woolly socks
This ( plus vest and skimpy shorts) was the Big Ron look so many of us aped. A mate of mine went for the baker boy white baggy trousers (was that John Allen?). Pity the talent couldn't be aped as well.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the climbing competition calendar - including the postponement of multiple IFSC events and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - the IOC has approved an appeal by the IFSC to switch Speed climbing for...