1970s Climbing Fashions


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Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 14, 2011 - 11:43am PT
These photos are a small collection of climbing paraphernalia from Yosemite and the Winds in the early 1970s. The focus is on our ropes. The son of an old climbing partner has a company called Farm Tactics that is using our old ropes to create designer tote bags for Leviís high-end stores. After he used up his dadís old stash, I sent him 50 pounds of old ropes. Go to Farm Tactics for Leviís Tote Bags to see or even to buy yourself a nice ďpurse of a guyĒ for about $50.
Perhaps for publicity, they also asked me for photos of the ropes in use. I searched notebooks of slides from the early 70s, and put together images that drew the eye to the ropes, rather than our usual climbing hero and landscape shots.
But when I looked at the photos, however, I loved the knickers, knee-length socks, hand-sewn haul bags, PAs and Blue Boots. For some of us, these were the motifs of the time, as much as tie-dyed Ts, bellbottoms, and platform shoes.
A few of you may enjoy the recollections - or like me, be mortified by our de rigueur climbing costumes. Yes, we really believed that you needed knickers to climb. Some, like Gary Lane in these photos, made his own; I bought mine from Chouinard Equipment. The sharp-eyed will note the absence of harnesses, except one home-made one.
Iíve reconnected with Vern Muhr and Paul Moss, but havenít heard from Gary Lane or Eric Ahola in 35 years. Regrettable, and I wish I had kept some of the gear. Those Chouinard cord knickers were still primo when I gave them to a friend in Jackson a few years ago. My B.A.T. haul bag is now with Ken Yager for the YCA Museum. I recall that it was used on at least two first ascents, Never Too Late to Rappel (West Face of Mount Watkins), II, 5.8, and Shaboom Tower (NorthEast Face of Tower Peak, YNP), IV, 5.9.
I have kept only a Chouinard cagoule. What can the trendsetters made from that?
Armando Menocal
S cole

Social climber
Urban hell
Apr 14, 2011 - 12:23pm PT
I always preferred the knicker socks with shorts look

Topic Author's Reply - Apr 14, 2011 - 12:31pm PT
Those were tube socks with the shorts, Scott.
And in 70s none of us had the guns for muscle shirts - or at least didn't know that is what we needed for the look.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Apr 14, 2011 - 12:59pm PT
Oh Mamma Mamma roof 5.10c (pic taken looking straight up, he's horizontal, on toprope), Taylor Canyon Gunnison 1976 - Notice EB's, Whillan's harness and painter's pants.

Comeback Crack 510b - Castle Rock, Boulder Canyon 1972 - Notice the RD's and homemade harness made from webbing.


Apr 14, 2011 - 01:08pm PT
ron gomez

Trad climber
Apr 14, 2011 - 01:37pm PT
Nice shot Dana...you look JUST like you did in high school, funny how were doing the same thing in the same place at the same time and never hooked up or even heard of each other then. Wasn't till our 25th reunion and I saw yer picture in the brochure, somewhere on El Cap!

Topic Author's Reply - Apr 14, 2011 - 05:11pm PT
Dana, nice knicker socks, thick and pulled down for comfort, but still wearing them in 1980? Hand me downs? Thatís why we switched to painter pants, shorts and knee pads. But the RRs, with steal shanks, were just right on Dihedral wall. I even resold my RRs after sticky rubber to keep for wall climbs.
And Ron, painter pants and EB are practically modern, donít ya think?
thanks to all for adding your pixs.
Gorgeous George

Trad climber
Los Angeles, California
Apr 14, 2011 - 05:53pm PT
Funny, BITD in Colorado we didn't have harnesses, just wrapped the rope (goldline to be sure) around three times and threw in a bowline. Hurt the ribs a little when we'd fall. Lenny Coyne (age 16) and I used to go to Turkey Rock before we knew what a topo was. He was famous for telling me (try to mimic a Jewish twang) "That crack looks tenable, do you want to lead it?" Knickers and knee socks were de rigour, but I bought all my stuff from Army surplus stores, including my first down sleeping bag. Still have my original frameless tube backpack. I always challenge people to name the manufacturer as a trivia question: Great Pacific Iron Works, the precursor to Chouinard.

Just remembered, in 1978 I moved to el lay to go to law school and sold my entire rack (hexes and wedges) and rope for $125 and a 4 finger bag of dope, no stems or seeds.

Topic Author's Reply - Apr 14, 2011 - 06:27pm PT
GG, my first two yrs, 69 and 70, it also was using the bowline on a coil, and we'd debate w/n you could survive more than an 8 minutes hang. Worst, the RCS would make us take real leader falls to learn the so-called dynamic belay.
And I don't know about you, but by 78, my rack was a mix-mash of different nuts, and years later only the stoppers survived, eg, remember the blue plastic Forest stoppers? so selling your rack and starting over was a good deal, even w/o the MJ.

Apr 14, 2011 - 06:34pm PT
Hi Armando, I did the Dihedral Wall with one of the Zeek bros. They were climbers from the early 60's and climbed with wool knickers in cool wet whether and cotton corduroy knickers in dry warmer whether. And since that time as you know, synthetics have replaced wool.

Great pics and Matt's stylin' with that turtle neck longsleeve and those striped polyester bellbottoms.

Thanks Ron G.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Apr 14, 2011 - 06:36pm PT
What were the mid-80s fashions for hitch hiking across southern Utah with a bag of hardware?
this just in

north fork
Apr 14, 2011 - 06:36pm PT
Pretty good thread. It's cool to think that in forty years the gear and clothing today will look funny.

Trad climber
e350 / Bishop
Apr 14, 2011 - 06:50pm PT
In the Valley 72' or 73'



Trad climber
Apr 14, 2011 - 06:54pm PT
Gunks 1978.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 14, 2011 - 06:59pm PT
I don't have any vintage fashion shots at present, but ...

Can you tell me more about the route?
Maybe draw a line on the photo where it goes or describe it and I'll draw a line?
This could go in the guidebook.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Apr 14, 2011 - 07:05pm PT

Apr 14, 2011 - 07:10pm PT
Doh. 1970's awesome stuff.

Trad climber
East Coast US
Apr 14, 2011 - 08:56pm PT
Great shots! I was just in the local Sherwin-Williams paint store and they're selling painters pants for $16. I'm serious thinking about getting a pair for climbing. I used to love those things and have 70's pix of me in them and wearing a Hot Henry Barber cap while struggling on some Gunks 5.6. I should scan those images... or maybe not :) I did have a pair of knickers and high socks, too. Fortunately, no one ever recorded me wearing that fashion on Kodachrome or Polaroid.

Circa 1982 with the painters and a 'Fight Gravity' tee-shirt, that some skanky GF ran off with a few months later. I really liked that shirt.


Trad climber
Somewhere near Red Rocks
Apr 14, 2011 - 09:38pm PT
Jay Wood

Trad climber
Fairfax, CA
Apr 14, 2011 - 09:51pm PT

Pics from '68-'71

Indian rock- goldline, bowline on a coil, brake bar, tied aiders, dulfersitz rap (off one 1/4" bolt)

Yosemite- wool knickers, frostline kit widbreaker, wool balaclava, wool sweater, fishnet undershirt

North palisade- homemade wind pants, home made pack, front-pointing, cotton parka over frostline down jacket, double gloves (cold!), wood ice axe, boot- axe belay
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