Remembering Walt

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kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 13, 2005 - 06:50pm PT
I've been thinking it might be cool to start a thread wherein people could contribute stories of times with Walt Shipley that are memorable and/or meaningful to them. I was thinking also of referring the thread to his folks, Mary and Karl as something perhaps uplifting.
For me Walt was not only a great friend but also a huge inspiration to climb my best. I thing that's probably also true for a lot of the people who tend to post here.
WBraun

climber
Dec 13, 2005 - 08:07pm PT
Yes Kevin

We all sure miss our great brother Walt.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 13, 2005 - 08:12pm PT
Walt was an amazing multi-faceted wild and unique being who was wired to 240 while every body else was running on 120.

He was hilariously funny, sharp as a knife, and full of life.

He knew all the beta for all routes and could reenact the moves for you with pantomine and running commentary.

The thing was, Walt was too smart and felt things too intensely for his own good. His mind was working so fast that he had to cook up trouble to stay interested. His heart was big enough to torment him as well, and sometimes he couldn't take the pain. Sometimes all that intensity he felt spilled out in harsh ways but lots of folks understood and loved him anyways.

I remember him telling me once about a trip to Soviet occupied Afghanistan. He was working for a news agency and had to help evacuate a coworker who got sick "behind enemy lines." Sounded like they were under fire too. I realized she was an old friend of mine from college. She didn't make it. Walt had seen too much.

I would be easy to focus on all the spices of his bold personality, but there was a lot of other faces beneath the surface. He was an engineer. For awhile he had a particularly sweet girlfriend and they seemed to love each other.

The guy was pretty indescribable.

It's a tragedy that Walt's dead. We miss him and the deli is not the same. I feel like I'd be doing him a disservice here if I didn't speculate that Walt, strong as he was, was also a little too sensitive for this world. I like to believe that he left us the way he wanted to leave us, going full on wild and extreme out in nature, and that everything is clearer and brighter for him now.

Fly high Walt

peace

karl
elcapfool

Big Wall climber
hiding in plain sight
Dec 13, 2005 - 08:38pm PT
Very well said KB.
Can't type more, suddenly very sad.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Dec 13, 2005 - 10:35pm PT
I can think of a bunch of stories, but I don't know that any of them really convey the feeling of what it was like to be around Walt. Talking, climbing, drinking coffee or old E, it felt like anything could happen. I would always come away thinking about, something, in a different light.

We could pick up the same conversation at the same point after a year's interuption.
he never forgot anything.

I think about him all the time.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 13, 2005 - 10:43pm PT
There was a thread dedicated to Walt about a year ago.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=54414#msg56522

Peace

karl
Dog

climber
Dec 13, 2005 - 10:59pm PT
..."I think about him all the time".

Me too.

When in the ditch, I always expect to see him riding around on his bicycle, at the deli or telling some wild ass tale at van side.

Upon meeting him through my climbing partner and old buddy of his,he learned that I was a BMW motorcycle owner and
I remember how excited he was to tell of his BMW motorcycle. He had a photo is his van and went on forever of all his antics as we all know and believe.I only remember thinking that this guy was sure full of energy. Little did I know.

Over the years I got to know Walt and enjoyed listening to his raving stories, epics and other adventures.

Are his parents still living in Sacramento? I believe he said they resided there.

People come and go it seems.

Walt seems to remain.
T2

climber
Cardiff by the sea
Dec 13, 2005 - 11:10pm PT
Walt (along with the author of this thread,) I really looked up to in my fledging years as a wall climber in Yosemite. I had the pleasure of knowing Walt on a limited basis. Sometimes you would cross paths with Walt and make a distinct effort to stear clear because of his abvious Old E intoxication. Other times you would want to make an extra effort to hang around and pick his brain about any topic of conversation he was willing to have with you. I had just finished an ascent of Lunar Eclipse (Which at that time in 88' or 89' was not considerd a trade route) Walt had givin me a sincere complement in regards to my acomplishment. He had made me feel like I had actually done something. (Duece you may not remember but you had done the same thing for me and my partner Jim Erdman that same day. You may have even bought us a beer) Even though I had climbed El Cap 4 or 5 times by this time, the kudos from these two climbers I looked up to, finally made me feel like I had climbed something. Thanks Walt and Duece!

Great shot Klaus and thanks for the thought Kevin
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2005 - 08:35am PT
The last time I climbed with Walt was around Jan. '99. Along with Pete Takeda, we went down to Santaquin canyon to climb some ice. Walt was way out of shape, probably about 15 lbs. overweight but was psyched to lead the second pitch of Automatic Control Theory, a grade 5 pillar. I don't think he'd ice climbed in a few years but he got up there and in classic Shipley style barely made it risking a huge fall. At one point in the lead he pulled his glove off to place a screw or something and the liner completely inverted. We could hear him up there snapping and were wondering what was happening. He later said it was ironically fortuitous because he was forced to find an unlikely stance in order to deal with the glove and he sort of depumped in the process enabling him to finish the lead. Way funny.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 14, 2005 - 12:29pm PT
Didn't know him but very few people come to Zion and do a big NEW route on their first trip. Shipley put up Forbidden Corner, and during the hot weather too.

Impressive.
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Dec 14, 2005 - 05:57pm PT
Remember, the next time you have any doubts about ANYTHING at all, ask yourself this simple question.

"What Would Walt Do?????"
WBraun

climber
Dec 14, 2005 - 06:42pm PT
Well? ...... what would he do?
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 14, 2005 - 06:44pm PT
Whenever someone got dumped, Walt would love asking, "Whaddaya expect, special treatment?" On the other hand when he got dumped he would go on a multi-month bender where the name of his former beloved could not be spoken (by anyone else). One time after he broke up with a woman named Tanya who worked at the Mountain Room Bar, her soloed a bunch of wild stuff in Red Rocks. Couldn't believe his stories. But Walt never lied. Then he came to Flag and I suggested a multi-week desert adventure to take his mind off things.

It worked sproadically. He didn't once mention Tanya on our ascent of Organ Rock, the most horrible rotten tower I think has ever been seen by humans. But on the top, after a while, the memories of Tanya came back, along with a continual string of unrepeatable comments about her, ending our summit moments.

By the time we did the Radiator in Zion together, things had calmed quite a bit inside dear old Walt Bipley (thank goodness).
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 14, 2005 - 06:49pm PT
Then there were those Valve Stems. On another trip, to Utah, Walt had gotten his tires replaced. One of his tires was installed with a truck valve stem (about an inch longer). Boy, he was so torqued about it he actually drove 100 miles out of his way to return to the scene of the crime to get the valve stem replaced.

I have never known such a perfectionist as Walt.
WBraun

climber
Dec 14, 2005 - 06:49pm PT
Hehehe just remember that sorid Tanya affair, eh Ducey.
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 14, 2005 - 06:51pm PT
You know, it was Walt who came up with the idea of having a "hole count" chart on first ascent topos. I think it represented his high level of integrity. For the first time, first ascent bolts documented without any doubt, in a time when people would often claim fewer bolts than actually used. Before it was mostly guesswork and estimates on how many bolts were used.
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 14, 2005 - 06:55pm PT
How about the time when Walt learned how to breathe fire. He did it sucessfully to a small crowd in the parking lot one day. Then, of course, moments later, people heard that Walt was breathing fire and a larger crowd gathered to see it again.

Hesitant at first, Walt finally announced another round.

But it didn't go well. He failed to breathe hard enough (I guess, I've never tried it), and the flames returned to his face, burning his scraggly beard off.

Of course everyone was laughing and Walt just jumped on his bike and took off.

No one saw him for quite a few days. Turns out his face was really burned and his chin turned into a big Gobi. He didn't turn up in any of the public arenas (Cafe, Deli, Bar) until it all healed.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 14, 2005 - 07:22pm PT
Funny story, and don't want to hi-jack, but we need "hole counts" for piton placements. They are more rock altering than bolts.
Mike.

climber
Dec 14, 2005 - 07:55pm PT
"Stopperheads"


Never met nor spoke with Walt, but I might never have heard this term if not for him. One of his bros was warning a friend of mine "you don't want to do a wall with Walt...he's the king of the stopperheads." It was an endearing criticism in context; WS was sitting right there. I mentally salute the dude anytime the pick of my hammer touches a nut.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 14, 2005 - 07:58pm PT
Walt did have intregrity, and I hate to mention it here, but when folks pass we tend to think of them as perfect when they were inconsistent like the rest of us.

I was surprised to hear it on good authority that Walt actually added a bolt to the East Butt of Middle (since chopped) to make it easier to guide it.

Like I said, good authority, but If I'm wrong, I'll be the first to grovel.

There's a story like that for every golden character out there

peace

karl

Edit: There is some doubt. Singer said that the bolt in question was on the East Butt of El Cap.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=77289
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