Johnny Dawes

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Johnny Dawes

Johnny Dawes (born 1964) is a British rock climber. He is famous for his dynamic style and often very bold ascents. His influence on British climbing was at its peak in the mid to late-1980s. Among his contributions is the introduction of two new grades to the British grading system for rock climbing (E8 and E9), and several new routes that are today still well respected. In 1986 he introduced the grade E9 to the British grading system with a first ascent of the route "Indian Face" [1]on the Welsh crag Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, about which he wrote:

I went for the crux, the motion startling me like a car unexpectedly in gear in a crowded parking lot. I swarm through the roundness of the bulge to a crank on a brittle spike for a cluster of three crystals on the right; each finger crucial and separate like the keys for a piano chord. I change feet three times to rest my lower legs, each time having to jump my foot out to put the other in. The finger-holds are too poor to hang on should the toes catch on each other. All those foot-changing mistakes on easy moves by runners come to mind. There is no resting. I must go and climb for the top. I swarm up towards the sunlight, gasping for air. A brittle hold stays under mistreatment and then I really blow it. Fearful of a smear on now-non-sticky boots I use an edge and move up, a fall fatal, but the automaton stabs back through, wobbling, but giving its all and I grasp a large sidepull and tube upward. The ropes dangle uselessly from my waist. Arthur Birtwhistle on Diagonal, I grasp incuts and the tight movement swerves to a glide as gravity swings skyward.

Other notable ascents include:

  • 1986 Gaia, Black Rocks E8 6c (first ascent)
  • 1986 End of the Affair, Curbar Edge E8 6c (first ascent)
  • 1986 The Quarryman, Twll Mawr E8 7a (first ascent)
  • Smoked Salmon, Bamford Edge E8 7b (first ascent)
  • Face Mecca, Clogwyn Du'r Arddu E9 6c (second ascent)
  • Angel's share, Black Rocks E8 7a (first ascent)
  • 1990 The Very Big & the Very Small 8b+/8c slab (first ascent)[2]

He is featured in the films Stone Monkey (1986), Best Forgotten Art (1994) and Hard Grit (1998). He published his autobiography Full of Myself in 2011.

Dawes has also claimed in several lectures that he has given that he is a descendant of the famous Medici family of Florence, Italy, through his mother's side of the family.

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