I was 14 when Johnny Dawes kicked the shit out of the British climbing status quo via his ascent of this route.
It mesmerised me then, and it mesmerises me now.
I admired and still admire Johnny immensely for his brilliance on rock, the originality of his thought, and for the fact that he doesn’t give a flying **** what the climbing community or the wider public think about him.
His management of the “headspace” issues around climbing at that level are inspirational.
He was also the very best rock climber that was never sponsored (although he did get those rather unique jumpers for free back in the day !).
James “Caff” McHaffie is the best all-round rock climber in the UK.
A professional instructor at the National Mountain Centre he is a very unassuming bloke imbued with a precocious talent.
And he climbed Indian Face yesterday, the 5th ascent ever.
Bold and brilliant as the ascent was, the headgames required to try the route following a very near death experience there a dozen years ago must have been immense.
On his blog he wrote a very telling sentence;
“The word unjustifiable was in my mind a good deal of the time”.
So the first ascent when i was 14 and the 5th ascent 26 years later.
The write up by Johnny of the first ascent of Indian Face is here:
The write up by Caff is here:
and an apt quote from Steve McClure to close with;
“What’s your best quote from another climber?
“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…..” Johnny Dawes describing his ascent of Indian Face, the first E9 in the UK and one of the most important ascents in British climbing history.