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Eric Jones (born 1935) is a Welsh solo climber, skydiver and BASE jumper.

Eric Jones
Eric Jones (solo climber).jpg
Born1935
NationalityWelsh
Known forsolo climbing, skydiving, BASE jumping.

He is best known for the first British solo ascent of the north face of the Eiger in 1981, and for his climbs on the Matterhorn and South Col on Mount Everest.[1] In 1986, he became the first person to BASE jump from the Eiger.


Early lifeEdit

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 whilst on his two-year National Service.[2]

Jones took up skydiving in 1961 and a year later, at the age of 26, began climbing.[3] 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.[4]

ExploitsEdit

 
Leo Dickinson (left) and Eric Jones (right), lecturing in 2019 on their shared adventures.

In 1969, Jones ascended the Bonatti Pillar on the Dru solo,[5] and in 1971, he was the first person to climb the Central Pillar of Brouillard on the south ridge of Mont Blanc.[citation needed] Many of his exploits, such as the Eiger ascent [6] and the Matterhorn ascent,[6] have been filmed by award winning cameraman Leo Dickinson. Jones and Dickinson, with two 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",[7] and wrote a book called Filming the Impossible) also worked with Jones when he filmed Ice Climbing with Eric Jones in Switzerland.[8]

Skydiving and basejumpingEdit

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 Mount Everest, an exploit which gained three entries in the Guinness Book of Records.[5] Jones had made an earlier attempt in 1978 on Everest, as part of a team that included Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, but had to turn back because of frostbite.[citation needed]

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.[4] Combining jumping with his other interests, his first BASE jump was off the Eiger, the first person to do this.[5] 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.[9] 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).

Jones worked side by side with Sean Connery on the film Five Days One Summer, where fellow climber Paul Nunn worked as a stunt double for Connery.[2]

His self-proclaimed motto is "Life is adventure or nothing at all".[10]

Personal lifeEdit

 
Eric Jones' cafe at Tremadog (a former filling station), viewed from Craig Bwlch y moch.

He is married to Ann, and has two children. Featured in the Lifestyle section of The Independent in January 2008,[4] he said :

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.

For three decades he has owned and run a small cafe (Eric Jones' Cafe) and campsite at Tremadog, near Porthmadog, which is popular with climbers and bikers alike. Some of his exploits can be seen in photos on the walls.[1] In 2016 he put these properties up for sale.[11][12]

Later lifeEdit

Jones is regarded by many of his peers as Britain's most successful solo climber.[13] An unassuming man, he still walks, climbs, skis and jumps,[14] and a recent documentary by S4C screened in 2007/8 called Alpau Eric Jones saw him revisiting the Alps.[15] He also still gives occasional lectures on his experiences, and has in the past co-presented with Dickinson.

In 2015 he published his autobiography, entitled A Life on the Edge.[16]

In August 2019 a BBC2 documentary entitled The Last Climb: Eric Jones, recounted much of his life, and featured his dreams, aged 82, of one final solo climb, namely the Delago Tower, part of the Italian Dolomites, which he had first climbed in the 1960s.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "The Man who jumped beneath the Earth".
  2. ^ a b "Nothing found for Xlid 2". Archived from the original on May 16, 2008.
  3. ^ "Adrenalin Fix; ALPAU ERIC JONES, S4C, Wednesday, 9pm. English and Welsh Subtitles" - Daily Post (Liverpool, England), January 5, 2008 | Online Research Library: Questia Reader". www.questia.com.
  4. ^ a b c "The man who went up a mountain... and jumped". Independent.ie.
  5. ^ a b c "Heason page - biography". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Adventure Eye website Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "'The best picture on Earth': Mount Everest captured from a mile above in British balloonist's breathtaking panoramic shot". Mail Online.
  8. ^ "AdventureArchive.com". Archived from the original on November 20, 2008.
  9. ^ "Aerialfocus website". Archived from the original on February 23, 2009.
  10. ^ "BBC website transcript".
  11. ^ Hughes, Owen (26 July 2016). "Legendary climber Eric Jones puts Tremadog cafe and campsite up for sale". dailypost. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  12. ^ Jones, Elfyn (4 August 2016). "For sale: iconic Tremadog climbing cafe". www.thebmc.co.uk. British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  13. ^ "PosingProductions Eiger Solo". Archived from the original on February 20, 2011.
  14. ^ S4C website[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Ffeithiol | S4C". www.s4c.cymru. Archived from the original on May 27, 2008.
  16. ^ A Life on the Edge, Eric Jones, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2015
  17. ^ [1] www.aberystwyth-today

External linksEdit