Clean Dan Stories


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Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 20, 2006 - 01:14pm PT
I'm relatively new to ST and just recently saw Russ's 2004 post on Dan Grandusky RIP. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed by the relatively few posts, however, I realize that Dan lived in Boulder from 1980 on, and it would seem that relatively few Coloradans participate in ST.

Having said that, Dan was such a larger-than-life character, who touched so many other climbers' lives, I'm hoping there are some more stories out there about him - particularly from the Yosemite years, roughly 1976 through 1980.

During those years, Dan would drive out from Buffalo, NY with a contingent of climbers from Buffalo and adjacent areas of Canada. Danny, a great cook, would invariably cook every evening for as many as 15 people in Camp 4 including several of the Poway Mountain Boys, Dick Cilley, and Yabo. Now Danny wasn't the greatest climber back then, but he was absolutely the king of the Valley social scene. He'd have been a better climber if not for his penchant for quitting the climbing day early to get to the Ahwahnee Sweet Shop before it closed in the mid-afternoon.

I wish I had a better memory and was a better story teller (Danny was a master in both departments), because I was witness to dozens of interesting episodes. Danny was so friendly and truly interested in other people, that just waiting in line at the Yosemite store would invariably result in him telling stories to and yucking it up with people he'd just met (in line).

Danny moved to Boulder in 1980 and started a window washing business. I moved to the Boulder area in 1988, and immediately started climbing with Danny. He showed me all of the great climbing areas and introduced me to dozens of climbers living in the front ranges - most of who worked for him as window washers at one time or other. Through Danny I became friendly with Tom Dickey, Henry Lester, George Lowe, Derek Hersey, Adrian Burgess and a host of other climbers.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Danny was in his best climbing shape and was a solid 5.11 climber. Among other things, we did several routes in the Black Canyon together, including fast ascents of Air Voyage and the Stoned Oven. We also did some first ascents on the Black Wall at Mt Evans.

Following a divorce, I moved from Boulder in 1994, and it would seem that Danny began climbing less and less. When I returned in 1999, things weren't quite the same. Danny's old motivation for climbing wasn't there anymore. Things in his life really took a turn for the worse around 2001. The one drug he'd never abused, alcohol, he took to with a vengeance.

I think about Danny nearly every day. I may have been the bolder climber, but Danny was bolder in every other aspect of his life. I admired him immensely.


Social climber
Feb 20, 2006 - 02:52pm PT
Greg, I remember Dan he was sure outgoing. sadly I don't don't have a story to tell.

Feb 20, 2006 - 05:03pm PT
I first met Dan, probably 1980-Lodge Lot; he was quite game and very compulsive. I say this, perhaps incorrect to the meeting but so in the long run, because he asked Yabo seemingly out of the blue, "Hey Yabo wanna go to the Gunks?"

This was said in the same tone others might say "Wanna go see what's up at the Deli?" As it happens, being from Buffalo NY, he was probably heading home for a visit. Nevertheless my first impression was rewarded many times over.

I'll think of some Clean Dan stories in a bit, but check this out: last week I switched my phone message service back to what I had about 4 years ago and here's this buried/archived voice mail message, long drawn out and full of love, from Granduski.

I listen to it every couple days for kicks.

(BTW Grug, I live just over the hill up here in Nederland, I'm guessing you are Greg Cameron)

Feb 20, 2006 - 05:28pm PT

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Which is to say, Bein the ST n00b over here, heck: forum greenhorn period, do I have to Lurk left and right to draw a bead on your tru ID?

Feb 20, 2006 - 05:57pm PT
oops, guess i'm goin way down the bunny hole now.
but I digress, back to Clean Dan.

Feb 20, 2006 - 08:06pm PT
Grug, not an earlier Dan story:

When I got to Boulder after the second snowbird comp, I hooked up with Dan quite often. He always had a come one, come all spirit, much like the characterization I drew about the Stone Masters over on that thread. Particularly, Dan liked to draw in total greenhorns or even non climbers to his exploits.

4th of July, 90/91 or so he decides to carry on a tradition he'd born of getting up onto the Maiden in the Flatirons with a full BBQ set up, watching the fireworks and spending the night on top of the spire.

Dan roped in his two roomates for the festivities, who'd never tied into a cord, and myself. (I had eventually managed to tie in correctly on a few occasions)

A lot of Dan activities were ambitious fiascos, which tended to work out fine in the end. We completed the approach burdened with 2 big coolers full of food and beer, an actual Hibachi and various other props.

His job was to guide the newbies out the vertical, traversing 5.7 standard route on the N Face. Mine was to ferry loads out the spine into the crows nest, be ground man for the haul when they topped out and then free Jug out of the Crow's Nest up the path of the standard overhanging rappel to join them for the fireworks.

Er, there may have been some trouble with the roomates clawing there way out the side of the spire in the twilight, in any event by the time I started Jugging up, the show was in full tilt. Though I had been hollerin' loud for them to get the tackle up the lines so I didn't miss out on the summit view of the 9 county fireworks display, It turned out that I was doing the jugging with a birds eye view and it felt as though the fusillade was lighting up all around and beneath me.

Clean Dan was the man with the plan.

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2006 - 09:08am PT
Nice story Roy. Very typical of Danny.

Here's one that I heard second hand. Now, Dan was absolutely unafraid to approach anyone and engage in conversation, no matter how famous. He also had a fantastic memory to go with his eclectic interests. Turns out, Marlon Brando was at the Ahwanhee in Yosemite once when Dan was there. Mr. Brando was sitting at a table talking with some friends when Dan approached him and said something to the effect "Mr. Brando, I've loved your movies!. Before Mr. Brando could wave him off, Danny went on, rattling off, "and I've seen 'On the Waterfront', 'The Appalossa', 'Night of the Following Day', 'The Ugly American', 'Mutiny on the Bounty', Julius Caesar', 'The Wild One'...". He ended up naming nearly all 40 or so movies that Mr. Brando had been in.

Now Mr. Brando was so impressed, that he ended up talking with Dan at some length instead of dismissing him like he would so many other fans. I've personally seen Dan do the same thing with rock stars at some of the concerts I've been to with him.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
boulder, co
Feb 21, 2006 - 12:06pm PT
I first met Dan in the early 80's. He was a kind soul with upbeat energy and wonderful smile.

He would on occasion tell me about how Kevin and Barbra Bein (he knew I was good friends with them) save his life in the Gunk's one fall.

Seems Dan got really sick, didn't have anywhere to go and no money for a doctor visit, Kevin and Barbra took him in, took him to the doctor and paid for his medicine and nurse him back to good health.

The last time I saw Dan was a few months before he died. I was out taking early morning photos and stopped by the Eldo store for coffee. He was on his way to Eldo to climbed and meet some friends. He looked happy.

right here, right now
Feb 21, 2006 - 12:06pm PT
Wow. Brando.

There was an entire James Joyce Poem which he committed to memory and could recite on demand.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Feb 21, 2006 - 12:07pm PT
I got a bogus ticket from the Boulder Police (that's a whole other was eventually dismissed) but, I had to go to court to plead not guilty to get the legal ball rolling. Well, for those of you here on ST who don't know the drill, they call your name and you come up and enter a plea then they set a court date.

I was waiting to hear my name when the judge called out, "Dan Grandusky, Dan Grandusky". No response from anybody so he called out Dan's name a couple more times. Finally, in frustration he says, "if anybody out there knows this guy please tell him to get in here to court. This is serious!"

Dan, we miss you!


Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2006 - 04:46pm PT
Where are you Leroy? You've got to have a story or two!

right here, right now
Feb 21, 2006 - 08:03pm PT
No Doubt.

right here, right now
Feb 21, 2006 - 11:49pm PT
since Leroy hasn't resurfaced from some skirt just yet, I'll tell another CLEAN DAN story.

COMPULSION: an irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act.

Wait a nano second, that sounds like climbing!

I'll have to try again:
In Road & Track, an MD posited that addictive behavior, if staved, often expressed itself as COLLECTING. (Said MD curbed his substance abuse and began collecting ferraris).

Dan had a wikked book collection: towering, wall to wall, growing daily, bursting at the seams! He loved books, reading. He heavily collected movies. He went on a three year Dole popsicle binge, (very healthy popsicles, as the pop goes he assured me), saving every one of the sticks. We are talking a one, two pack a day habit at the least -on the low end.

When I first got to Boulder, before I made my first $million$ bustin' out Fish portaledges on my sewing machine, and bought my second Lamborghini, Danny moved out towards Eldo, a few blocks from where my shop (and bed) was set up in Paul Sibley's Garage.

I used to go and check up on Dan (on my bike), hang out with him while he was watching movies. He always seemed to nod off in the beginning, middle, and end of these great movies (Clean had the best sourcing books on movies), owing to the methadone habbit he'd collected. But sure enough, any time I nudged him or said anything- Dan Would Answer.

Dan said hey, we got a spin by Denver and get my stuff at the clinic. Which we did. I let Dan drive, cuz I'm warm, fuzzy, luving, and NUTS.

When he opened up his first methadone bottle and knocked 'her back,(while holding it with both hands between the steering wheel, in the middle of an intersection in downtown Denver)I thought: OK. I'm fine. I'm cool.

Never been an enabler. Any hoo, too spooked from the stigma and general bad rap associated with Opiates, their derivitives, by- products, synthetic stand-ins, and what not, I figured I better check it out, just to see what, I mean ya know, keep tabs on what Dan was up to. 'Speshly cuz he was drivfin g.

Well, we stopped off a few times on the drive to Utah, cuz, well, um, -Danny had to meet some people along the way.

We had a fantastic climb. The double overhung fist crack is sooperb. Hic-umf. We swung leads, I got the good pitches, Dan got to place the oversize friends he carried. The route went without incident and the summit view was stellar.

'Did all our raps with perfunctory ease,cleaned old slings from the stations, replaced them with new ones.

Funny thing was, even at the base just after doing the route, in fact any time I wanted during the weekend with Dan and his state funded stash, I could take these really

RIP Danny Boy
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Feb 22, 2006 - 02:53pm PT
Dan and I had much in common but we only crossed paths on rare occasion. Working a video crew, shooting guns at Sibley's, once long ago in the Valley; the last time was at the Derek Hersey memorial party in Eldo.

It was a stones throw from where I first met Derek. It was the morning after his Diamond threeplay and I was walking by with his close friend Kyle Copeland.
Kyle asked Derek what he'd been up to and Derek said he had just done some Diamond routes. I asked which ones and Derek said ,"Do you know Pervertical Sanctuary?"
Kyle cracked up.
It had taken Derek but an hour to climb a route that took me more than four days to put up!

The candles that burn brightest also burn quickest.

Social climber
The West
Feb 22, 2006 - 03:29pm PT
The last time I saw Dan was in Hueco '90? It could have been a Cheech and Chong movie and I was woefully out of shape for it. A bunch of us piled into my new trooper to go get mexican food. I drove, oh the horror. Under the peaceful serenade of blasting Public Enemy music he told me about his window washing company going into literal legal bankruptcy. He was so mater of fact about it I had to admire his cool, meanwhile I was being overwhelmed by thc-induced paranoia.
Later we talked about mutual friends and I realized the extent to wich he was able to accept the truly bizare at face value. We talked about a guy in Laramie who Dan had mentored into starting his own yard care cottage industry. Said guy had realized at about age 40 that he was unlucky with women, but wanted a family.

"What if you got to the end of your life and had never had a kid, wouldn't you fell kind of incomplete?"

So, said guy (for whom I have ultimate respect) took it upon himself to go first to Thailand and later the Pillipines in search of 'mailorder brides'. His story has a happy ending involving love and a family.

"Maybe mailorder brides aren't for everyone, but w-- did what it took, found happiness and I have to admire him for that," said dan.
I agreed.

Mr Cilley was with us and he just shook his head. "Mail order brides? You guys are too much."

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 22, 2006 - 04:00pm PT
Here's another second hand story that Mark Rolofson told at Danny's "wake".

To help his window washing business through the slow winter months, Danny bought a snow plow, and would contract with some small businesses.

On his first night with the plow, he was on acid. It was at a restarant and it was snowing like crazy. Mark was in the restaurant drinking coffee while Dan was manically going forward and then in reverse, barely missing parked cars.

Mark overhead one of the patrons, watching this scene say in a slow drawl, "Man, I've never seen anyone plow snow like THAT before!"

right here, right now
Feb 22, 2006 - 04:50pm PT
Sadly-Proudly, I may have contributed in my own small way to that window biz bankruptcy:

My first trip to to Boulder, '86, driving all night from the Valley after end of guiding season, (using shrooms, not to blast off, but more as a step up from bad road coffee), I get in and Dan, Strappo, Skip, Cilley are pretty much my contacts.

I choose Dan right out of the chute; he takes me to breakfast, gets me wickedly stoned.

The entire time we're at B-fast, unbeknownst to me, he's had his dot matrix printer churning out invoices.

We get back- Dan hands me the stack of invoices- says, wanna tear those for me? Huh? Yeah Man, tear em. So I did, right down the middle like a weightlifter practicing on phone books.

Feb 22, 2006 - 05:56pm PT
I met Dan and climbed with him in the early 90's in the Flatirons one time. He was as friendly as could be and I always looked forward to seeing his quick smile and chat when I saw him around.

I seem to also recall him throwing a giant, raucous Halloween party up the canyon, Lee Hill maybe. I'm certain Roy M was there, Hank Caylor, maybe Jim Beyer. Even with those characters around Dan stood out. I didn't know him too well but I miss him anyway.


Social climber
The West
Feb 22, 2006 - 06:05pm PT
So it's your fault, Tar. The thing about that is, I can only imagine Dan took that tear in stride. At least in an overall sense.

"hmm, roy tore up my invoices, now what?"

right here, right now
Feb 22, 2006 - 06:43pm PT
Yes you are absolutely right Jaybro-
I mean, the man has this rap, very well deserved in the best sense, of doing hairbrained things and I walk in and do some errant paper shredding: a total bone-head maneuver and ya know what? I recall he made me lunch also. Something with Tofu.

Then, he loans me his Eldo guidebooks, like, the cool blue Rossiter book of topos + Erickson guide, which end up going back to Cali with me (what an ass i'm thinking of myself at this point); Danny, totally patient but getting impatient, leaving messages for me. Of course I mailed the books back.

We are talkin' 'bout a guy with an absolute heart of gold.
Then, Yes, that Halloween Party was tops.
'Gonna have to think about that one fer a span...

I'm trying to get a hold of John Baldwin and Steve (Turtlehead) Sangdahl as we speak.
I know they'll chime in big.
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