Johnny Dawes, one of the influential rock climbers in history, and a true living legend in certain circles, has been getting a lot of attention in recent years for his no-handed climbing feats.

Dawes, aka the Stone Monkey, the Leaping Boy, the Dawes, has always been famous for his dynamic rock climbing style and bold ascents, but his most recent endeavors are probably the most impressive, at least to the untrained eye. Now in his late 50s, the English rock climber has dedicated himself to the esoteric discipline known as no-handed climbing, which as the name suggests, is all about climbing steep rock faces without using your hands. It sounds crazy, but it looks even more so.

“It’s a bit like climbing’s like lager or wine, and no-hands is really like a liqueur or sprit,” Dawes says. “It’s a lot stronger coordination medium.”

As you can imagine, essentially walking up a steep rockface that most us couldn’t climb even if we had four arms requires some real-life Jedi movements and control. Watching Dawes do it, you’d think it was just a walk in the park, but you actually need ninja footwork, sound knowledge of physics, not to mention courage and a bit of craziness to pull this off.

“It is such a preposterous and brilliant idea, and delivered with such British aplomb, that I keep thinking it might be the world’s greatest climbing put-on,” Steve Casimiro, of the Adventure Journal, writes. “Watch it as if it’s totally fake and you’ll find yourself cracking up; watch it as if it’s real and you’ll be nodding your head and saying, ‘Yeah, Johnny!’ It could go either way.”

But there’s nothing fake about Johnny Dawes no-handed climbing, just a clever use of his body and a lot of guts.

 

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