Alan Al Harris (1944-1981)
He was well over the limit
Like many layabout rock climbers in the swinging North Wales scene of the ’70s, Harris probably thought he literally was a rock star, along the lines of Robert Plant or Jimi Hendrix judging by the hedonistic lifestyle he vigorously pursued. Infamous for his hard partying and disrespectful attitude towards reputation (he famously seconded the then technically avant garde Tremadog route Zukator in winklepickers and cow-gown to take the piss from leading activist of the day Pete Crew»), many sought to match his enormous capacity for self-indulgence. Few came near: he was the climbing bum to end all climbing bums. Climbers initially thought to be too square by their peers, such as the visiting American Henry Barber, were sent along to Bigil, Harris’s cottage at Dinorwic, to be ‘unstraightened’ by a protracted session in his ‘unhealth farm.’ Ken Wilson» painted a vivid picture of this den of decadence: ‘Music blasted constantly and all the sundry paraphernalia of hedonism was close at hand. Visiting Americans could always be found there, Bigil to them being the equivalent of Carnaby Street…(Harris) was the wild prankster, the joker, the darer, the raconteur, the malingerer, the rebel whose activities always managed to tinge the scene with a colouring of high farce. He had an uncanny ability to trigger other people’s pent-up wildness, allowing them to drop for a period the conformist bonds of life, and immerse themselves in a fantasy world of fun.’