Wings of Steel Part III

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the Fet

Trad climber
Loomis, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 30, 2006 - 08:38pm PT
"Wings of Steel (Continued)" the thread was getting long too, so here's the third installment in one of our SuperTaco land favorites.

First, to answer Lovegasonline's questions from the end of the last thread.

"Was your Valley Name "The Madbolter"?"

The mad bolters are what they were derisively called during the ordeal. Very cool and funny screen name for Richard.

"I recall my first season in the Valley hearing about a wall that was 'chopped behind itself' as it was ascended."

Porcelain Wall on Half Dome by Harding perhaps?

Ok, on with what ended up sounding like an 8th great book report...

I have finished reading Wings of Steel – A record 39 days on the face of El Capitan. A fascinating adventure and powerful spiritual odyssey.

First off I thought it was excellent. Well written, engaging, fun to read. Like a long trip report with some explanations of climbing for the layman and some relevant spiritual discussions. Once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down and finished it in a couple days.

I started reading the forward and thought “Wow that sounds like Warren…” Of course it was, who could mistake that intelligence and wit. “Perhaps this could explain the rather atavistic behavior of some of the resident climberfellows who, mentally don’t appear to be very far removed from the caves! They were simply defending “their” turf.”

The first chapter explains climbing to the layman, but it’s a fun read even for experienced climbers, IMO. It’s a much better summary of what climbing is than in most “Instructional” books I’ve read. Statements such as “You don’t like to drill the rock, because the whole idea in climbing is to accept the situation that the rock presents naturally and to adapt to it.” Give a good idea of Richard’s ideas of ethics and style.

“There was a can of chili rubbed through the pile with the can on top. But I could tell that the odor wasn’t chili…” I’ve got to hand it to Richard and Mark for the amount of tact they displayed dealing with this situation, in this thread, and in the book. I would have wanted to rip someone’s head off. And props for the perseverance needed to overcome the ‘external’ challenges of this climb. Just like Batso again. Maybe everything you are supposed to face in your chosen challenge doesn’t just take place on the rock?

Although I’m not Christian, I could relate to most of the religious parts. They weren’t overdone at all. The ideas were easily applicable to my beliefs and an inspiration.

This review doesn’t do this fine book justice. It’s a worthy read.

Although the book and the climb weren’t perfect, what is? They’ve gotten enough criticism, so I’m not going to bother to try to think of anything negative.

And although I thinks it’s the most overused, clichéd word used by climbers today, I just gotta say to Richard and Mark if you're listening:

PROUD!!!
Rhodo-Router

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Jan 30, 2006 - 08:46pm PT
Well Fet, you'll obviously never be one of the cool guys.
pc

climber
Eastside
Jan 30, 2006 - 08:48pm PT
Nice post Fet. Thanks for the tip.
pc
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Apr 25, 2006 - 03:17pm PT
Well, Fet, you've brought me out again, not particularly because your review was complimentary (although I do thank you for that), but because you are obviously a thinking person, which again arouses my hope for what these threads could become. I have really appreciated your thoughtfulness in past posts, and your most recent post is just a continuation of that trend.

What I had hoped for in these threads is that we could quickly get past the criticism/defense mode and move on to a much more generally fruitful and interesting discussion of big-wall and aid climbing ethics. In particular, certain questions interest me:

1) What relation (if any) exists between "modifications" (including everything from traditional nailing to full-on bolting) on an aid route and the value of the route?

2) Must a route be "repeatable" in order for its first ascent to have been valid/respectable?

3) What is the nature of "climbing" itself? I take genuine risk to be an integral part of it, but why should it be? The answers to this question should tease out what makes aid climbing actually "climbing," while (horrors!) perhaps sport climbing is something more akin to gymnastics than to "climbing."

4) HOW should the climbing community "regulate itself," which is to ask: how should we treat each other in the face of controversial climbers/ascents? This issue also involves the question of how the climbing community properly evaluates new and potentially "cutting edge" advances in tactics/equipment.

I have other ethical interests, but these seem most pressing. Of course, discussion of these issues has been started elsewhere, and such discussions will continue in many venues long after we're all dead, but the the WoS debate does provide a compelling context for these issues.

Regarding my choice of handle, I do have a Ph.D. in philosophy, so to my rabid critics: in future criticisms, you shall refer to me as "Dr. Mad Bolter," or "Dr. Butcher," etc. :) Seriously, though, I do hope that future discussions can be a bit more elevated and worthwhile now that the criticism/defense phase seems to have passed.

To Fet, thanks again.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Apr 25, 2006 - 03:20pm PT
Also, as a public post, several people from the previous threads asked Mark and/or me to email them an original topo of the route, and we agreed to do so. Mark and I have scoured our files in vain for the original topo we had, which showed the exact location of every drilled placement.

We have both moved repeatedly since WoS, and neither of us can find that topo. What we both have now is the one we submitted for the Meyers guide, which doesn't give more detail than what can be found there. We will keep looking, and eventually some obscure box will be found to contain the original. Until that time, however, the Meyers topo is the best we have.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Same place as you, man...... (WB)
Apr 25, 2006 - 04:11pm PT
I'll make the popcorn.....
bringmedeath

climber
la la land
Apr 25, 2006 - 04:12pm PT
Russ are you suppling the beer??? Does the title of this thread mean there is two more pages full of bullshit like this???
Russ Walling

Social climber
Same place as you, man...... (WB)
Apr 25, 2006 - 04:14pm PT
Yo turnip truck.... you MUST read the other two. They were really something. A vibrant piece of history was diseceted over and over and over in part I and II.

edit: part 1:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=72849#msg131929

part 2:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=114602#msg116278

was there more???
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 25, 2006 - 04:25pm PT
I would like to read Wings of Steel – A record 39 days on the face of El Capitan

How and where do I get a copy?

Anyone want to make the second ascent? I have a bit of time this spring.....
JIMB

Trad climber
Apr 25, 2006 - 05:36pm PT
No second ascent. How many years has it been?

Must be that the topo isn't any good:

I'm sure some of the hard men on this site might want to do it.....if they had a good topo.

Sigh.........most unfortunate.

Someday:..........sigh.......someday....someday we'll find that damn topo. Or maybe some hardman can head up with a bunch of bolts, rivets, drills and hangers.....just in case.
JIMB

Trad climber
Apr 25, 2006 - 05:38pm PT
Wait, what's this, eh? A champion?

Go Pete, go!



Wonder when was the last time Fish did a wall? Hmmmm, wondering.

Hey Pete, maybe Fish would be interested.
JIMB

Trad climber
Apr 25, 2006 - 05:39pm PT
Wait, Fish doesn't climb any more does he really?
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 25, 2006 - 06:07pm PT
A second ascent could be tricky. Apparently there are crumbling hook placements that may no longer be useable. I have not waded through the previous two threads, and I suffer from CRS. Are there bathook holes to use?
Russ Walling

Social climber
Same place as you, man...... (WB)
Apr 25, 2006 - 06:30pm PT
Sorry JIMB'o,
but I would Prefer tO Spend my time other ways.
Read them there threads to find out why I ain't going with Pete.

edit: Pete: try http://www.bookfinder.com
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Apr 25, 2006 - 06:32pm PT
Russ, remove those threads before Pete can read them.

Pete, the glorious second ascent awaits you!
JuanDeFuca

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Apr 25, 2006 - 06:34pm PT
Russ, I am not happy about not being included in the group picture.
SueV PHD

climber
San Diego
Apr 25, 2006 - 06:35pm PT
even if i had done as many captain routes as Pete, I can still think of 20 or 30 better routes than wings on a pig, er.. pile of steel, er... rope coiled at the base covered in feces
Elcapinyoazz

Mountain climber
Anchorage, Alaska
Apr 25, 2006 - 06:37pm PT
the Fet

Trad climber
Loomis, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 25, 2006 - 06:49pm PT
IMO:

1) What relation (if any) exists between "modifications" (including everything from traditional nailing to full-on bolting) on an aid route and the value of the route?

With everything else being equal, less modifications = more value.

2) Must a route be "repeatable" in order for its first ascent to have been valid/respectable?

No/repeats will possibly help garner respect

3) What is the nature of "climbing" itself? I take genuine risk to be an integral part of it, but why should it be? The answers to this question should tease out what makes aid climbing actually "climbing," while (horrors!) perhaps sport climbing is something more akin to gymnastics than to "climbing."

I don't think climbing needs risk. Risk can add respect/style to an ascent, but it's not an integral part of climbing. Risk adds thrill and challenge and has it's place, but I've had a lot of fun on climbs with very low risk and that's good enough for me sometimes.

4) HOW should the climbing community "regulate itself," which is to ask: how should we treat each other in the face of controversial climbers/ascents? This issue also involves the question of how the climbing community properly evaluates new and potentially "cutting edge" advances in tactics/equipment.

I think for the most part the community has done the right thing. It needs people who are willing to chop bolts that shouldn't be there (e.g. retro-bolts), but it also needs people who are willing to think outside the box (e.g. use cams). It needs that give and take to help come to a rough community consensus of what is acceptable.

However, there is a line that is crossed on occasion, which shouldn't be. And that is VERY LAME e.g. crapping on ropes, starting physical violence, stealing gear. But everyone makes mistakes, especialy when they are fired up about something, hopefully they can be big enough to realize it and to apologize some day.
aldude

climber
Monument Manor
Apr 25, 2006 - 07:05pm PT
Hall of Mirrors.....5.13

Wings of Steel......5.16???
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