“Je suis un Rock Star” - so proclaimed Big Ron to an admiring (female) onlooker at the end of a shoot for a climbing filming in the Verdon in the early Eighties – or at least so the story goes!


The story of the filming, and Fawcett’s (alleged) proclamation, were recounted in High #4, published August/September 1982, by Fawcett’s then wife Gill. By then, Fawcett had been at the top of his game for close on a decade and had changed the face of British climbing forever. Ron, widely acclaimed as the UK’s first professional climber, and his profile were bolstered by starring appearances in such TV action documentaries as Pennine Rock and Rock Athlete. His legacy, as we know, is a string of brilliant, and often still highly challenging, routes and problems to say nought of a string of immortal sayings including such fine offerings as “Give me rock man, rock” and “Come on arms, do your stuff”. Agh, the stuff of hero’s...


I first met Ron in 1973 on an early-season weekend climbing foray to the Lakes. My school climbing mate Dave and myself were scamming climbing trips away with Chris and Steve, members the Burnley Caving Club. The main objective for this particular weekend in question was Pillar Rock in Ennerdale. I climbed with Dave, Chris climbed with Steve and Ron climbing with Gibby, his usual partner. Dave and myself were newbie’s to the high mountain action and in awe. I recall clearly that Ron picked the place clean doing many of the routes including some graded extreme – an almost unheard off achievement at that time. He was a veritable whirlwind; seemingly unstoppable – he was 18 and unknown at that time.


And the whirlwind continued throughout the Seventies and early/mid Eighties. Ron’s achievements from that time were world-class and well documented although now we have the inside story from the man himself in Ron Fawcett, Rock Athlete, penned with Ed Douglas and printed by Vertebrate Publishing.


As a Sheffield resident and Peak climber I see Ron every now and then. It’s always a pleasure to stop and have the crack with such a top bloke. I’ll openly admit that I’m biased; I’m a fan of Ron –have been every since that weekend in 1973. So I say get a copy of Ron Fawcett, Rock Athlete and be prepared to be inspired. I’ve gonnen my copy and I’m finding it hard to put down. Stories of climbing legends don’t come along every day…


Ron, in typical late Seventies garb – Helly Hanson wear which for Ron meant his trade-mark orange sweater, cranking Artless (E5 6b) on the Great Slab at Froggatt



The ‘Ron and Ed’ show at SHAFF 2009.



SHAFF 2009 again; Ron has just admitted, under pressure from Ed, to wearing marigolds in the bath to avoid getting soft skin on his fingers!



Ron Fawcett, Rock Athlete – available from all good bookshops or direct from KSP here...