Steck-Salathe In Winter With Kor-1963


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Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 7, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
Camp 4 and it’s early am and I am wedged in the back seat of my 1948 Chevy trying to stay warm and attempting to sleep. Ever since Foott and BBA made an ascent in 1960, this climb had been on my list of must-do.

Somehow Kor had roped me into attempting a winter ascent of the classic Steck-Salathe route on Sentinel. Although in reality it was spring, the conditions suggested the depths of winter

There was to be little sleep that night. High school was a difficult period in my life. I hated it, especially after discovering from climbing the freedom and endless summers spent roaming the Sierras. But torn between the reality of life and the expectations of the era I was at a loss as far to what to do after high school.

Then again there was the anxiety of going up on a notorious climb in winter conditions with the forever amped and driven Kor. I had done shorter routes with Kor and always had a good time. As anyone who has ever climbed with him knows you have a good chance of success when you climb with Kor.

Perhaps it was to be my redemption. Two years earlier I had passed up an offer by Steck to do the climb in favor of a hot date with my high school squeeze. 13 years oId, of Portuguese descent, beautiful olive skin and a body to die for it seemed like a no brainer as we all know what rules the actions of a young lad. If Kor and I were successful I could waltz into the Ski Hut and tell Steck that Kor and I had just pulled off the first winter ascent. Heck, I might even get a raise. Dream on, Guido.

As anticipated, the approach was difficult and slow. We took one ice axe and little else in the way of winter climbing gear. No ice pins, ice hammers or crampons. Goldline was the “rope de jour.” Down jackets for bivouac but no sack for protection. It was cold. Once on the route the challenge became all too apparent. After 300 feet of difficult and ice- filled cracks, we bailed back to the warmth and sanctuary of the Valley.

I went off the college and Kor went off to the Eiger.

The rest is history.

Kudos to Peter Haan for his superb effort at restoring these slides. Thanks also to Andrew Kee for use of his recent, Feb 2011, dramatic photo of Sentinel.


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:13pm PT
Yer fukkin Gweedometer was off that day!!

Thanks man.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:14pm PT

Trad climber
Bay Area
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:14pm PT
Good on you guys having a go at it.
the forever amped and driven Kor
Kor doesn't look amped and driven in that first pic!

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:21pm PT
Wow, I remember the approach dry in hiking boots, and trying it covered in ice and snow would be spicy! Just getting to the base of the climb is itself a decent achievement.

Nice pictures!

Is there still a place to register prior to launching on climbs? I've heard about this before but never done it.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:22pm PT
Yous guys was hard dudes to even hike up there and give it a go at all.

Quite the contrast to the tales Steck tells of the FA, no water, July heat, etc.
"Oh Allen, if I could chust have a little water..."

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:25pm PT
What a nice tale. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kor was core! Hardcore that is!


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
Good effort, I'll bet the approach wasn't much fun in those conditions.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:34pm PT
Is there still a place to register prior to launching on climbs?
I believe it was a requirement in the '60s. When I started climbing in the early 70's it was optional and I did it a couple of times before big days out. Noob rationale being there weren't a lot of climbers around, didn't know anyone in C4 who'd notice if we didn't come back, no wife/steady gf at home to notice if we didn't come back. There was a sign out book and Ranger at the Visitor Center. I'm pretty sure there's no such formal arrangement now.

Apr 7, 2011 - 04:52pm PT
Too freaking cool Guido. That was the year after LK did the Finger of Fate on the Titan. The man likes red caps, huh?

this just in

north fork
Apr 7, 2011 - 04:55pm PT
Sheeeeeeet Yeah. Great adventure that has stuck with you and now you have photos.

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
Apr 7, 2011 - 07:33pm PT
Ye Ha! Thanks Guido for posting this great tale daring do and didn't do.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Apr 7, 2011 - 07:48pm PT
Pretty wintry, for late May.
Captain...or Skully

My ready room
Apr 7, 2011 - 07:48pm PT
I'd echo Nutjob. Just gettin' to the base would be kinda desperate.
Right on!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Apr 7, 2011 - 08:19pm PT
NICE! And I thought my knickers were baggy BITD. Whoa!
Layton coulda carried a couple of extra ropes in those things, in each leg!

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Apr 7, 2011 - 08:46pm PT
And you were hiding this until now because...

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 7, 2011 - 09:06pm PT
Geeeeeze Simon give me a break. Have the boat hauled out right now and needed some distraction from my distraction. Should have our Coonyard posting up by 2061. Be patience.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Apr 7, 2011 - 09:22pm PT
Maybe this has something to do with guido's interest in the south seas, boats, and other warm things.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Apr 7, 2011 - 11:07pm PT
I'm not sure when this took place, but Kor lost a lot of weight in the early 1960s from some crud he caught. It must have been while I was still in the Army? He was still on his lettuce diet when we climbed the Northcutt-Carter in 1961, but we were powered up by a load of food from Mickey D's, courtesy of Tex Bossier.

Big Wall climber
Apr 7, 2011 - 11:07pm PT
killer thread!

thank's Guido!
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