the "golden age" of the Tahoe area~~


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 598 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 12, 2010 - 02:36pm PT
While talking with John Jackson about his upcoming guide awhile back,, a mention of the "golden age" entered the conversation....I was telling him how wvwn on a week end you wouldnt see many folks at the leap or any other crags.! You could have the pieshop or eagle lakes and certainly the butress all to yourself...I can remember even pulling up to parking areas and go crap! theres two rigs here already,, and off we would go to another destination.....I NEVER once waited for a route--- LOL.... When Eric Beck came out with the first guide to the region,,, only five or six 5.10 s existed! Very classic lines still waited for an the early to mid seventies, clean climbing was introduced to the area and began a whole new era for Tahoe. Aid climbs were being done clean, and the ring of pitons were getting very scarce!!!

The notable explorers were many in those days as there was simply too new stuff available to bother with repeats... Gene Drake Mark Hudon, Max Jones,Banny Root, Mark Rogers, Bill Price , Jay Smith, Pual Crawford,
Bill Storchien, Sigi Vogle and Bill Griffin, Bill Todd, Greg Dexter, Rick Sumner, Rick Cashner and John Taylor ,,,,Dan Osman, Tom Sullivan, Bill Nagel and many others were the guiding forces of those Golden days in the tahoes...

THere were no gyms no plastic holds and bolts on the rock were far and few between. THe use of a bosch would have resulted in dire consequences back then as well....Remember, CLEAN climbing had taken root to save the non renewable resource....

Buildering was the rage back then done mostly at night to avoid the authorities! I have personnal knowledge of multi story soloes back then throwing in speedy retreats with security guards in chase!

There was also a short lived fad of SWAMI BELT ONLY climbing where we would wrap wide belt nylon around us for a harness....It only took one or two falls to grab the leg loops outta the pack though!!!! I remeber going into Jay Smiths little store in myers when the new fangled gadgets known as "freinds" arrived.... There was much talk of these new magicaL DEVICES so we had to get a couple for ourselves! When we walked into the liottle shop, a "heady" aroma greeted our nostrils and some how, we knew we were in a good place LOL!!! We promptly took those new gadgets out and drop tested them,, they seemed to work although confidence was not high, as a good placed hex was what we wanted back then!! I remember seeing an article in climbing mag about 1976 about stacking hexes, and used the techinique to get off the east wall at LL during a mid winter alpine attempt... stacked two and three hexes together for a rap anchor!! now that was dedication to the clean climbing he he he.....

Now granted there have been may new developements in later times as sport climbing began to be accepted, but the popularity of climbing also exploded and it just isnt as "golden" as those times of the seventies.....If ONLY we would have had sticky rubber back then LOL!

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 12, 2010 - 02:41pm PT
jay smith.
paul crawford.

props to those artists.

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 12, 2010 - 02:46pm PT
steve miller too.
love his routes.

North Carolina
Mar 12, 2010 - 02:47pm PT
dimitri barton as well.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 12, 2010 - 03:00pm PT
The Leap was where I did my first serious lead climbing. I really only knew what I had read in books as far as protection goes. Luckily, I had some climbing skills and I wasn't falling a heck of a lot. I remember running in to guys like Sumner and Cashner that gave me a few tips on things. If it wasn't for the fact that I was solid at bouldering they probably wouldn't have even talked to me. Those were the noob days.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 12, 2010 - 03:48pm PT
Indeed Dimitri and others as well hard to remember them all off the bat!! Feel free to include any Ive missed!!!

In that decade, the ratings went from 5.10 to the worlds first 5.13... Chit was happening!

Mountain climber
Mar 12, 2010 - 03:52pm PT
Tony Yaniro, Hiddetaka Suzuki, Richard L
Credit: Royce Rumsey
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 12, 2010 - 03:54pm PT
How could I have forgotten to mention the anorexic ninja!!!!!(jk)

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 12, 2010 - 06:00pm PT
tm herbert put up a few classics in the area.

Credit: Norwegian

Trad climber
Nor Cal
Mar 12, 2010 - 06:09pm PT
I think I have that old Eric Beck guide kicking around. Was it for Donnar Summit area?
adventurous one

Trad climber
Truckee Ca.
Mar 12, 2010 - 07:45pm PT
Nice post Ron. Hope others will continue to post up about the Golden Age (1970s) of Tahoe climbing.

I started climbing at Donner / Tahoe in 1982, just at the end of the Golden Age. Even then I still remember seeing many of the , now, classic cracks on Snowshed Wall packed with dirt and plants and there were large bushes along the base. Now the base looks like a park and it's hard to believe the same cracks that have been "scrubed clean as a new carabiner" from thousands of ascents were once dirty.

As for "Friends" being the new fangled thing at the end of the 70s/early 80s, most of the Tahoe "dirtbag" climbers I remember could barely afford a handful of nuts and hexes let alone "friends". And forget about placing any un-needed bolts (placed strictly ground up of course), could use that money for food or the one thing that you rarely found Tahoe climbers of the Golden Age without. (On Donner routes from the 70s you would be hard pressed to find a truly un-needed bolt) Definately not a yuppy crowd back then. Wasn't until the late 80s that most local climbers had friends on their rack. I couldn't justify spending money on those fancy things until the early 90s, lol. (heck, those old
"Golden Age" climbers didn't need them for the routes we were climbing)

Speaking of pioneer climbers from the "Golden Age" of Tahoe / Donner, a couple of prominent climbers are conspicously missing from the above lists:

John "The Pope of Donner Summit" Hoffman
Karl Hammer
And the "Fred Becky" Of Tahoe/Donner/Northern Nevada, Alvin McClain (RIP)

After the new guidebook comes out maybe the youngsters will have a new "Golden Age" as it's going to point the way to lots of new stuff and totally blow away the misconception that the Tahoe region is climbed out.

Keep this thread alive, as there are a bunch of worthy stories out there.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 12, 2010 - 08:44pm PT
Hoffman Hammer Mclain and TM absolutly!!! Of course Harding and Royal occasionaly bee bopped the area too!!! I remeber the first time I met Gred Dexter, he was sitting on lunch rock at the pie shop putting on the MOST TATTERED EBs i had ever seen still on a foot! LMAO!! toes poking out holes through the soles and up he went soloing the 10 b .....

Yet another venture to the loaf found me and my climbing buddy watching with wrenched guts from the trrees as some crazeee mofo lead up a steep blankish wall the belayer eventually just dropping the rope as the guy kept going and going and going. We were sure we would soon be witnessing a fatality before our bewildered eyes..... at about 110 of the deck he took a stance on some knobs and tapped in a bolt...... It was Bill Todd on the FA of Tapestry......It was kind of un-nerving for the rest of the day!!!! Now that i think on it I never did do that one !!

Mar 12, 2010 - 09:06pm PT
In the 60's a good friend kept telling me I had to go to Lover's Leap. I never went and never will go.

Do I wonder?

You get up in the morning and success consists of one and only one thing.

To be able to draw in a breath of cool fresh air.

Nothing else is as important.

Then or now.
Stewart Johnson

yo mama
Mar 12, 2010 - 10:15pm PT
gee ron,
tapestry is now crushed velvet with nine bolts...

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Mar 12, 2010 - 11:32pm PT
There was also a short lived fad of SWAMI BELT ONLY

fad? short lived??
Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Mar 13, 2010 - 10:45am PT
Who's bouldered in Olympic Valley? I found some excellent problems in Shirley Canyon.

Tahoe is in no way climbed out.
the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Mar 13, 2010 - 11:07am PT
good thread. I grew up in tahoe and i have many fond memories.
Ken Ariza, Bob Baldwin, Tommy T (T2), Rick Lovelace and Dave Hatchett were my partners from 1979 and later years..

Dave still lives there and is putting up new bouldering areas every year.

Here are some memorable days of yore...
1982 karls over hang- swami belt anyone..

bouldering with kenny

first solo of manic depression- 1986- bachar took this photo and then soled it after one TR burn!



A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Mar 13, 2010 - 11:11am PT
My Folks were climbing at the Leap almost every weekend through the 70s. Wonder if any of you guys crossed paths with them and their climbing partners.

My dad tells me the good ol' stories about Lovers Leap back when it really kicked ass, no camp ground, drive up, find a place, talk to friends, everyone pitch in for dinner. The same small group all the time..

..Its a bigger community now for sure...Good stories thanks for sharing them.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Mar 13, 2010 - 11:22am PT
I first climbed at the Leap in 1972. There was not a soul around, bar my climbing partner and myself. Same thing with Castle Crags in 1974. I'd hate to see what those areas are like now, especially the Leap.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 13, 2010 - 11:38am PT
Kool shots Kurt!!!!!! manic depression solo yeeeehaw!!!!!

and Yes the leap has changed......Hows about five or six parties on corrugation at the same time!! LMAO!!!!!Eight parties watiting for haystack or the line,,,,climb overs etc etc...... Almost makes ya weap !!!
Messages 1 - 20 of total 598 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews