Supported by

Full size version is only available to registered users

Please Register as a New User or Login as Existing User to gain full access to all the photos on this site. Registration is quick and completely free.
Unregistered users can only view full size photos that have been added this month.

Joe Brown repeating The Right Unconquerable, Stanage, 47 years after making the first ascent, belayed by Claude Davies
© Gordon Stainforth, Sep 1996
Camera used: Fuji GA645
Date taken: 7th September 1996
Supported by
VOTING: from 401 votes
Login as Existing User
to rate this photo.

User Comments

This took a lot of setting up, because Joe really doesn't like publicity much. Also, he'd sprained his shoulder. Basically he said he would ring me, if and when he felt he could do it. I had the whole thing set up for weeks, then suddenly he rang, and said, OK, I'm coming up tomorrow! It was a Saturday morning, all done in great secret. I had breakfast at Outside, and thought, most people here would just love to know what's going to be happening in about two hours time. When he arrived, very fast and quietly, up the side of the Plantation, he said: 'I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do this, Gordon', but the moment he was in this first crux layback position, moving so strongly, I knew it was in the bag. And, as he climbed, this big grin spread across his face.
Gordon Stainforth - 08/Aug/06
A great Story Gordon...... i loved this photo as soon as i saw it in your "The Peak" book. So much so that i copied it (sort of)!!!
Any more books in the pipeline Gordon?
The Pylon King - 08/Aug/06
Awesome photo Gordon, truly inspiring. Love Joe's big grin.
Paul Phillips - UKC and UKH - 09/Aug/06
Congratulations! This photo was chosen as Photo of the Week, based on votes by registered users over the past 7 days.
Charles Arthur - UKC - 13/Aug/06
pep - 17/Aug/06
In reply to Paul P: actually he's not grinning very much there, is was higher up, the further he got the happier he looked, and he was positively beaming at the top. And started telling me a whole lot of climbing stories while he was belaying, more or less ignoring Claude Davies who seconded it rather slowly. Every few minutes, almost like a piece of punctuation during his storytelling (mostly about some epic on Thor's Cave), he would take in a bit more slack.
Gordon Stainforth - 17/Aug/06
Congratulations! This photo was chosen as Photo of the Week, based on votes by registered users over the past 7 days.
Charles Arthur - UKC - 20/Aug/06
Is it the photo peeps are voting for or the person?? This photo, is at best a 3! Sorry!
Padraig - 20/Aug/06
Most people decide whether a photo is a 5, 4, 3, etc based on how much enjoyment they get out of the scene. It would be very dull if it was purely on technical merit. I certainly give this a 5 - yes because of who it is - repeating such a famous climb nearly 50 years on.
The Bantam - 20/Aug/06
In reply to Padraig: A 3? i.e. average? No way! Wonderful richness of colour and sharpness of detail. Even if it wasn't Joe, it would be 5.
Marc C - 21/Aug/06
Padraig - 3? THREE? Shame on you. Maybe because he's not Scottish or in Scotland?? The man is a legend, I'd give it 5 if it was taken on my little sisters mobile phone. Now shut up.
Jonny2vests - 23/Aug/06
Congratulations! This photo was chosen as Photo of the Week, based on votes by registered users over the past 7 days.
Charles Arthur - UKC - 27/Aug/06
Just a phenominal photo. What an inspiration to the rest of us.
pingate - 29/Aug/06
In answer to Pylon King:
Yes, two books in the pipeline, but still no definite contracts. Very close to a deal on the major book I've been working on, very irregularly, for seven years now. This will really be my 'magnum opus' (intellectual rather than photographic, btw)
Also now working on the Lake District episode of a big BBC TV series on Mountains with Griff Rhys Jones.
Gordon Stainforth - 30/Aug/06
What's Griff Rhys-Jones ever done on grit?
A 5, by the way...
BrianT - 07/Sep/06
Just sums up climbing on grit. Awesome picture. Shame on anyone who gives it less than the 5 it deserves!
MartyT - 07/Oct/06
This was the cover sot of the first climbing mag I ever bought, and the first I saw of Joe Brown! Definately gets a 5 for that alone, very nice shot.
sam the man - 12/Apr/07
Never mind the quality, even though it is highly competent. The subject matter is much more important. Joe Brown is a genuine climbing icon. I would love a couple of hours climbing with him.
bremner8 - 12/May/07
What, he placed gear and took cams up? ;-)
Bit of a contrast to the FA picture in the 1989 Stanage Guide, but just as good.
slacky - 02/Apr/08
Yes, the just took a set of Friends (Claude Davies' advice!) and placed about three i.e. far sparser protection than most people use on this route.
Gordon Stainforth - 02/Apr/08
Great picture and the purple top adds to it.
in addition to bremner's comment, i wouldn't mind a couple of hours chatting to him, let alone climbing!
chris fox - 15/Sep/08
Haha the shoes joe is wearing are the same as the centre shoes that we have at the climbing i work at!!
MorganPreece - 17/Jun/09
What a fantastic picture! A living legend.
mcdougal - 13/Apr/10
a photos is a great photo when it tells a great story... this tells an amazing story!
Bloodfire - 07/Dec/10
Gordon , you need to update the info on this one now that it is Joe Brown CBE!
Sean Kelly - 22/Jan/11
Except that would imply that he was a CBE when I took the shot ...
Gordon Stainforth - 22/Jan/11
Quite simply, The Master!
johnstuartross - 13/Dec/11
There is only one thing missing Joe!! Where is the cigarrette??? This is a 5, he is a 10!
Maria - Spanny - 21/Jan/12
Pure magic to see Joe with that mischevious smile..rock on
Ouncepounce - 02/Aug/12
Awaiting the new Peak Rock book with baited breathe - on my mind for years.... sure Joe "the main man" will feature strongly, and some more shots of him to boot? 6 out of 5 for the pic & the man himself - a true leg end!
Alan Blakeman - 21/Oct/13
No accounting for taste. the Climber great, the Climb great, the colour scheme awfull. So sorry, not a great photo., and Joe will ,no doubt thank me for saying it.
But then again!!!!
Removed User - 19/Aug/15
What a peculiar comment. As if I could do anything about the 'colour scheme'. I didn't have the cheek to tell Joe or Claude what to wear or what harnesses to use - that was how they turned up. And I had no control over the colour of the grass or rock, either. Sorry. For the record I think it's a quite good photo of a special moment with a very special climber - no more. Of course the key point of the shot is Joe's right foot coming towards us at the moment of commitment - and the panache with which he did it, for a man of c.65, was quite astonishing.
Gordon Stainforth - 19/Aug/15
The link beneath the image leads to the wrong climb.
neil3965 - 13/Sep/17
I feel I should add some extra comments, because it seems that rather surprisingly few modern 'photographers' have any grasp of the technical problems that were involved in getting a shot like this on a medium format film camera. It was shot, handheld, hanging from jumars on a static line, on a Fuji 645 camera using Fuji Provia 100 transparency film - which gave me a sum total of 15 frames. I was operating the camera manual, tweaking the exposure slightly (by instinct and experience) as Joe climbed very fast. Mostly I was concerned about focus and depth of field, as I had deliberately chosen to take the pictures at a very wide exposure of f4.8 to throw the background very slightly out of focus. But I wanted not to take the picture at too fast a shutter speed because I didn't want to freeze the action - a decision that paid off well because Joe's crucial right foot movement in this shot was blurred by just the right amount. I remember taking a long time (well, a few seconds after I'd taken the last separate exposure reading on my spotmeter), given the options on that overcast day, to decide on f4.8 at 1/90th as about the safest bet. It was really scary because, of course, I had to get it right first time. I couldn't take multiple frames, and winding on took almost a second between frames. I think I took 12 frames in all (am away from home at moment, so can't look), possibly fewer. Then, of course, once I'd taken the pictures, I had no idea exactly how they'd come out until I got them back from the labs the next day (everyone nowadays forgets that little bit :). What would I have done if I'd screwed up technically? I could hardly have asked Joe to come back again. It was all about 1000 times more difficult, frankly, than an equivalent modern photo shoot using a digital camera. Virtually a different hobby/profession.
Gordon Stainforth - 07/Dec/17
Extra note. On top of everything else, I was jumaring up the static line as Joe climbed. And he did the whole route in c. 5 minutes.
Gordon Stainforth - 07/Dec/17
Historic picture! Well done!
masa-alpin - 18/Apr/20
Login as Existing User to add your comments
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 August 08 2006.
Loading Notifications...