Eric Jones (climber)
He is most well known for the first British solo ascent of the north face of the Eiger, and for his climbs on the Matterhorn and South Col on Everest. He has also climbed the Central Pillar of Brouillard on Mt Blanc and Bonatti Pillar on the Dru.
Raised on a farm near Ruthin in north Wales, he attended Ysgol Brynhyfryd and as a boy was interested in parachuting and skydiving, and later wanted to sign up with the Parachute Regiment. However, an earlier injury - a result of a motorbike accident - led to his joining the Military Police.
Jones took up skydiving in 1961 and a year later, at the age of 26, began climbing. He climbed extensively in Snowdonia and the Lake District, followed by climbs in Italy. He took up solo climbing when his climbing partner became less available, and found that it gave him the freedom to move quicker, though also brought greater risks.
Many of his exploits, such as the Eiger ascent  and the Matterhorn ascent, have been filmed by award winning cameraman Leo Dickinson. Jones and Dickinson, with 2 other climbers, made the first complete film of the Eiger climb in 1970, with Jones' first British solo ascent following in 1981, resulting in the acclaimed film "Eiger Solo".
Dickinson (who in 1991 became the first to fly in a balloon over Everest, taking what has been described as "The best picture on Earth", and wrote a book called "Filming the Impossible") also worked with Jones when he filmed "Ice Climbing with Eric Jones in Switzerland".
As a skydiver Jones jumped onto the North Pole and down the east face of Cerro Torre in Patagonia. In 1991, as a member of a four man team, he flew two hot air balloons over Mt Everest, an exploit which gained three entries in the Guinness Book of Records. Jones had made an earlier (1978) attempt on Everest as part of a team that included Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, but had to turn back because of frostbite.
Having jumped from balloons as a skydiver, Jones started BASE jumping (jumping from a fixed object - natural or man-made) at the age of 50 having met renowned jumper Moe Villetto. Combining jumping with his other interests, his first BASE jump was off the Eiger, the first person to do this. He made a number of spectacular jumps from buildings and bridges in the United States, but is renowned for his jump off the Angel Falls in Venezuela, shown in the documentary film "The Man Who Jumped To Earth" (UK, 1998) directed by Steve Robinson. At the age of 61, he is the oldest person to have done this. His jump into the Cave of Swallows in Mexico, directed by Llion Iwan, was shown in the documentary "The Man Who Jumped Beneath The Earth" (2003).
His self-proclaimed motto is "Life is adventure or nothing at all".
An unassuming man, he still walks, climbs, skis and jumps, and a recent documentary by S4C screened in 2007/8 called "Alpau Eric Jones" saw him revisiting the Alps. He also still gives occasional lectures on his experiences, and has in the past co-presented with Dickinson.
- After we had kids, people would ask if I wasn't being irresponsible for doing all these things but my take is that everything in life involves risk and it's about weighing up those risks. When people go into climbing, they can start out with a macho attitude but you learn to be humble and realise you're there on nature's sufferance. You don't conquer a mountain and if you go out there with that attitude, it will bite you back.
Jones is regarded by many of his peers as Britain's most successful solo climber.
- The Man who jumped beneath the Earth
- Heason page - biography
- Extreme Dreams biography
- Highbeam.com site
- The Independent Lifestyle article
- Adventure Eye website
- Daily Mail article
- Aerialfocus website
- BBC website transcript
- S4C website
- S4C Factual site
- PosingProductions Eiger Solo