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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 24, 2005 - 02:48am PT

Jay Anderson

-"Lucille has messed my mind up, but I still love her." Frank Zappa, from Joe's Garage.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 24, 2005 - 02:50am PT
pulled this from :'s1.htm which is a very cool site... in the end it was easier to extract the text and paste it back in here.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Oct 24, 2005 - 06:21am PT
Wow! It is almost the most inspiring climbing article I've ever read! Ed, thanks for posting.

And I just realized who Jaybro was.

Jaybro, it took you nine years to send Lucille, but it in my view is the proudest send ever -- a send in the full, classic, yo-yo, ground up, traditional style that happened in the hangdogging era.

That being said, I, being a pussy, will make sure to be equiped with a ropegun and a wire brush if I ever go near it :) Just out of curiosity, do you think the climb might be easier for a smaller person? I was just wondering about that today while looking at (the 108th time) the picture of Andy Johnson having fun on it in that Climbing mag article.

Sport climber
Nada (yeah. it is), KY
Oct 24, 2005 - 09:44am PT
Sweet! One of my all time faves.

Trad climber
Providence, RI
Oct 24, 2005 - 12:38pm PT
(happy sigh)

Oct 24, 2005 - 01:08pm PT
Lucille is a real beauty, that can strike both fear and attraction at the same time, you can't escape.

I've never tried it but I totally understand what you're saying jaybro.

A proud send and a testimonial to your great mastery of one of the most difficult disciplines in rock climbing.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Oct 24, 2005 - 01:42pm PT
An homage to JayBro out on the Tablelands in Bishop.


Phoenix, AZ
Oct 24, 2005 - 04:20pm PT
Hey J, I've been meaning to ask you... is Improbability Drive that sort of roofy slot lookin' deal down below the big face that you can see from the Front Porch at GM?

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
Oct 24, 2005 - 04:29pm PT

Oct 24, 2005 - 04:43pm PT
Its a big roof on a boulder Below Granite Mountain .Dont remember if u can see it from the Front Porch.

Social climber
The West
Oct 24, 2005 - 06:03pm PT
thanks all.

That photo on Climbing sez it all, I saw that and it took me back there , across the years and the miles. You can't imagine how I identify with that pic, I got that close so many times ... That picture shows Andy right at what I found to be the crux, and it looked to me, when I first viewed it, that he was just below where he needed to be. He told me in an e-mail that he fell on that attempt, but got it on the next one. Today's kids are untoppable.

Ed- I'll have to see what else lurks on that site, spasibo

Werner, Fish, when I climbed that I envisioned you guys on a road trip, with Schneider tagging along, as the next ascent party. Oh well, it's still there. You'll like it, I promise.

The size thing, again. Hard to say, Mei, It could be easier, once your'e inside it, if you're smaller. However, lack of vertical extent is going to be a factor against you when working out the footrail. I'm just under 5'11." When doing that section I had my toes on the rail, and the tops of my shoulders on the other side cantilevered back well over a foot- if that makes any sense. Mr Scarbelly, infinitelly stronger but almost five inches shorter than I, found that section even more problematic. But from your posts, I know you've dealt with being the 'odd 'size, maybe you'll do it with you arms straight overhead, or just tunnel up sooner. There's other ways to do this (or any) thing.

Not in touch with Fred anymore, but he has ties in Laramie, owns the Swell, is a go to guy for the desert, and a good scource for newer, related, climbs.

s-monk , probably not, you can see the rock it's on from there, but you gotta know where to look.
Leroy discovere of I-drive, it's is waiting for a tape free ascent, I think.

right near the beach, boyeee (lord have mercy)
Oct 24, 2005 - 06:31pm PT
Awesome. When I try to grovel up o dubs like Galen's crack and generator (still haven't sent either but came close on Galen's) I always look to the future with anticipation, when I'm a wide master, and that stuff doesn't make me puke. I respect that you did the fa in an awesome style, Jaybro. I bet Chuck Pratt ever go out there?

Trad climber
los arbor
Dec 26, 2010 - 12:50pm PT
Noticed the original text has gone missing, but I found it over at widefetish

Hope you don't mind my reposting it here Jay, if so lemme know:

Lucille, By Jay Anderson

"Lucille has messed my mind up, but I still love her."
Frank Zappa, from Joe's Garage.

In Vedauwoo I found the ultimate Wide Crack challenge. It seemed like the place to look. The words Vedauwoo and offwidth go together like coffee and climbing. Even some of the face climbs there have token offwidth sections. It's not true that all the climbs at Vedauwoo are wide and mean. Dogmatic wide crack avoiders see the large fissures that lurk there and imagine "Jaws"-like scenarios of being trapped inside. Scenarios become rumors, rumors become stories and the tale they tell is of nasty five inch cracks with pointy teeth and caustic venom. Most Vedauwoo climbers don't even like offwidth. They just have to do it more often to get up various lines. They don't search it out. But I do.

Ever since I learned that you could get inside 'em ( a back to the womb thing) I've been afflicted with a gluttonous offwidth Jones. At a certain point I realized that although Vedauwoo may have the most offwidths per acre, it didn't, until recently at least, have the hardest ones.

In the Eighties, Bob Scarpelli upped the ante as far as hard Vedawide climbs are concerned. His climbs Squat, Pretzel Factor, Bad Girl's Dream, Muscle & Fitness and others represent probably the largest concentration of modern wide climbs in a single area. These, as well as some of the older easier classics, pioneered by Gary Issacs, John Garson, Doug Cairns, Layne Kopischka and others in the seventies, have made Vedauwoo a necessary destination for the aspiring offwidth hardperson. But, there are harder wide cracks in California, Arizona and Colorado, respectively; The Owl roof, Paisano Overhang, Improbability Drive, and Animal Magnetism, others as well.

Still, there was this one crack in Vedauwoo that I imagined would prove to be harder than any of those... The first time I saw the roof that would become known as Lucille, was in August of 1979. I couldn't believe it. How could a line so beautiful have remained unclimbed? A magnificent forty foot roof with a squeeze chimney running through it in the corner where it meets a vertical wall. With the bulging, smoothly rounded lines of a Henry Moore sculpture, the chimney turns the roof and the offset slides from the North side to the South side, from a vertical to a horizontal orientation, while the the crack goes from horizontal to vertical. We looked up at it and tried to imagine what it would be like. It looked like you'd be tunneling sideways through a chimney with one foot low on a foot rail.
Hard five ten or so, we guessed, easier if hidden holds turned up. Little did we know.

First we had to put up a pitch to access the cave beneath the roof. Even this got us in trouble. Bill Roberts and I attempted the crack directly beneath the big roof. It sported it's own four foot fist crack roof. Our first attempt was brought to an end when we had to do a lichenectomy on Bill's eye. That night we watched TV and drank beers. A commercial for a record collection of Blues came on and we had a name for the first pitch "Best of The Blues".

The next day we went back up joined by Bob Scarpelli. Bill lead the pitch and Bob and I followed. Being either ignorant or insecure, we underrated (if inflammatory letters to international climbing magazines can be believed) it at 5.10a. Finally we were in the cave looking at the big roof. To say it was intimidating, especially in those days of E.B.'s and tube chocks, is like saying El Cap goes up for a ways. Here we were, isolated in the bowels of a dark, dank, chill belay cave, the uneven floor paved with vermin poop, while before us, the roof swept out above and off into the blazing sunlight. The crack flared downward like an elongated cross section of an inverted funnel, threatening to disgorge would-be ascentionists. We worked on the roof for the rest of the day. Over a period of several hours each of the three of us tried it several times. After the exhaustive effort of trying to tunnel sideways, we discovered that we could use the foot rail and do a sort of a five ten 'walk' out to near the end of the roof.

I finally made it most of the way out the roof, with the psychological protection provided by tipped out tubes. That got me out to the hard part. Where you have to move up, after going sideways, is where the puzzle starts. Your toes are on a sloping edge that you can't see. Your shoulders are in a bomb bay chimney that starts at mid chest height and is offset from the the foot-rail by almost two feet. You lean back over the abyss. Somehow you have to move your body into a chimney that is so flaring that you have to hoist yourself up to a horizontal orientation to get your lower leg to a point narrow enough to jam the flare knee to heel, and yet two feet higher, it's too narrow to turn your head. You could either look back at the tube chalk, rocking on it's tips, or alternatively, out through blinders, into the abyss. In either case, you can't see the part of the crack where your arms, legs and body are trying to make unlikely jams. You have to do them blind, looking ahead at how far you have to go. After a few feeble attempts we ran away and tried to plan a better protection system.

Late that summer my Father died and I went to California. When I got back to Wyoming it was winter and nobody was climbing cracks, wide or thin.
"Any Girl that looks that innocent just got to be called Lucille" -George
Kennedy, Cool Hand Luke, as recalled to by Paul Piana after last call on 25 beernight in "The Operating Room.".

The spring of nineteen eighty I spent in Yosemite, riding earthquakes and big walls. I didn't get back into offwidth shape till the fall. I placed a bolt at the end of the foot-rail and it began to snow. I tried the moves a few times before lowering off. Winter came and I called it a year. Eighty one was like eighty with the difference being that when I finally got to the climb and clipped the bolt, it broke off in my hand. Remember the defective bolt episode of the late seventies/early eighties?

In eighty two I moved four hundred miles away, to Utah, commuting was getting impractical. I didn't return to Vedauwoo until the Fall of eighty four. Mike (Fred) Freidreichs and Greg Waterman and I went out and tried the climb this time armed with big camming units. ("Friend" is a registered trademark that I wouldn't want to compromise). The BCU's worked perfectly. I was able to safely fall more times than I really wanted to. Cold reality hit me in the face like an old diaper, a realization came over me, I knew then that it would never go.

"That's it, I'm tired of this damn thing, I don't ever want to see it again! I'm never coming back here!"

A few months later I was in Laramie for a wedding. I visited Bob Scarpelli. "Are you going back on that climb? Because if you're not, I want it." "It's all yours Bob." I said.

It was three years before I came back. I climbed in Vedauwoo for three weeks before even thinking about the big roof. Even though I'd abandoned it, we'd named it. It was now known as Lucille, after B.B. King's guitar, continuing the Blues motif started with best of the Blues.

Somehow word of this route got out. People I'd never met before in Yosemite, Paradise Forks, Joshua Tree,even far flung gravel piles in the Desert were asking me how Lucille was going. With all this commotion we decided to give it another shot, just for laughs.

We set out armed with tunes. We soloed up Walt's Wall, the blaster in Fred's pack sending out a sonic wall infringing on some nearby, athletic slabin' greenies' wilderness experience. For the nth time Fred lead best of the Blues. We left the booming boom box at the base of the Crag. I tried a few times and at my high point came within less then a body length from the summit. This was real progress! It changed my whole view of things. Fred was still skeptical, but hopeful. Just then Little Richard's memorexed voice wailed from below, "Lucille!"

"That's the first time I ever thought this thing could go." Fred said
when we got down. We decided to take a break and get rested before the next
attempt. We rapped down to get into the sun; did I mention that this thing is always in the shade and it's always cold, no matter what? Even on ninety degree days in August? Unfortunately we found the University of Wyoming Norwegian exchange students having a many keg, generator-run-stereo-party. We stayed for "a beer" but after a few beer relays, keg spout sucking marathons, etc it was late. The next day was the last chance to try the route before I had to take off to Arizona (I'd moved again).

When I tried the climb, the efforts of the previous day appeared to have created more Lactic acid then I could push through. We'd also climbed pretty hard for the previous weeks with too few rest days (At least for an old guy like me.) I got into the hard section and just hurt too bad. I needed everything and could muster nothing. Rats! For over a year an armbarring wound on my left elbow would make it too painful to rest that elbow on the armrest of the car. [as we approach the millennium, twelve years later, that pain is still with me]

Nineteen Eighty Eight. This thing had clearly gone on way too long. Visions of it were invading my dreams at night, I was dating events in my life relative to attempts on this climb. I was going to be in Wyoming for other reasons and decided that my only goal in Vedauwoo this time was Lucille. I was completely invested, I wanted nothing more than to do that climb. I I talked to Fred and he was psyched too, he wanted this thing over with as much as I did. He spent $150 on wide pro. After a day of warmups Fred and I went up to the Hatbox, I'm not sure if that's
the day he lead Best of the Blues blindfolded or with one hand tied behind his back. I lead out the roof and toped my previous high point, but still didn't make it. Then Fred tried it (The first time in all these years anybody else had, after the very first attempt!). Ten years of climbing fierce offwidths had honed him more than he'd thought. He made it into the hard moves before being launched into space. All of a sudden this was something within his sphere. We decided to rest and do some easier climbs and come back in a week.

That week we got some rest and did some early ascents; pretzel Factor- 3rd ascent, Muscle & Fitness-2nd? (5.11? Bob? really?) in an effort to "Think Wide." The drive built. When the bolt broke in '81 Will Gilmer, my comrade on that attempt, and I considered toproping it. I wasn't completely sure why we didn't.; I was so frustrated at not being able to continue right then that it seemed like the only thing to do. But for some reason we held back. Likewise, as this project dragged on into the more conservative era of Reagan, Thatcher and top to bottom climbing, somewhere along the line we realized that we could have saved a lot of time (years) in the long run by employing the hangdog rehearsal strategy. A strategy
that by 1988 was hardly controversial. But we didn't. It wasn't so much that we felt as strongly against these styles as in " the old days", But that I'd started this climb in one style and it seemed important enough to finish it that way.

Another compromise presented itself. When I almost had it, on the last few attempts, slimy lichens caused falls. It seemed almost stupid not to wire brush these on rappel, I've certainly done this on other climbs.. This time a war council with Fred decided against it. This climb had already turned into a nine year epic, since we'd already gone so far doing it , we figured we might as well persevere and go the full, classic, yo-yo, ground up, traditional style. We weren't making an effort to sway anybody else's views of how to climb. It was more that we were going to get the full value, for ourselves. It could at least be a lasting footnote to a passing style and a tribute to the climbers who thought
enough about style to climb that way.

I remember thinking; "Today it has to go. This is the the third day on the route." The third day on the current trip, that is, I didn't even know how many times I'd tried this climb in the last nine years. " It has to go today. " I had put back my travel plans a day for not getting the day before. "I've got to climb this climb get in my car and drive a thousand miles." "Yesterday was so close, my chalk marked hand had marked a spot I'd once put my foot on when downclimbing from the summit. It had to go. I couldn't be that close and not do it. "

Fred tells me the belay's ready and I go. The five ten lieback seems shaky in the cool morning eight thousand foot air. After ten feet of lieback I'm at the start of the forty foot roof. I reclip the #4 Camalot ( in 84 it was a #4 friend, in 1979 an #11 Hex) left from yesterday. Now I'm squeezing through the first constriction, my feet below me on a toe-rail, my upper body jammed over space in a downflaring bombay chimney. I rest and get my breathing under control before I continue out sideways, clipping the next two pieces, bigbros. Now I'm in a position that seems like a rest only because it's easier than where I've been and what's to come. I clip the last piece accessible from the dwindling toe-rail, a
six inch big dude. Lichens grind into my scalp, I blink chalk out of my eyes. I'm losing strength here.

Fred reminds me that the pump meter is going.

I start the first five twelve sequence. " I went up and almost got it.
Fred went up and I expected him to get it. "I'll be so glad to have it over that I won't go psychotic by the thought that I worked on it all these years and then still didn't lead it first," I though/believed/rationalized. Fortunately I didn't have to test this rationalization. Fred came close, but not close enough. Lucille squished him out into space in the middle of a particularly difficult and insecure sequence.

We took an hour off for stretching and meditating and previsualisation after the first attempt. As it turned out I previsualised it all wrong, but I hung on long enough to be at the top finally, screaming and crying with Fred screaming at the belay below me, and Alobar the Dog barking at the base of the crag. After all those years, all the changes in techniques and equipment, finally I knew where the hardest wide crack was.

On my second attempt I lead the crack and it became a climb. To my knowledge it is the very first 5.13 Squeeze Chimney, one of a small number of five thirteens put up in traditional style.

When it was Fred's turn to follow he got going and climbed the hardest squeeze chimney in the World in perfect form.

The next day Alobar and I drove home to Arizona. We took the long way, East through Cheyenne before heading South, so that I could see the climb one last time from interstate eighty. Appropriately enough, just as we saw it, KTCL played Stone Free by Jimi Hendrix. -"Play it, Lucille." B.B. King.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 26, 2010 - 12:58pm PT


Trad climber
los arbor
Dec 26, 2010 - 01:09pm PT
So how many ascents has this thing seen and what's the timeline?

1st- Jay Anderson 1988
2nd - Craig Luebben 1996???
3rd an onward???

Andy Johnson did it in ???

Pamela Pack Varco (Shanti) got an on site in 2008

Steve Su - onsight??? 2008 shortly after Pamela


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 26, 2010 - 01:50pm PT
I think there are couple others I can't think of right now.
Also, Craig did it at least twice, as has Pamela, and I've done it three times.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Dec 26, 2010 - 01:53pm PT

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Dec 26, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
That's unholy.

Props, Jaybro!
goatboy smellz

Dec 26, 2010 - 02:07pm PT
Elcap, I asked Jason in August if he has and he said not yet.

Is it still an ow if you can get your hips in?

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 26, 2010 - 02:11pm PT
It is what it is...

Though most of us don't get our hips in as far as Shanti does.
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