unusual buildering


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dont make me come over there
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 25, 2011 - 10:56pm PT
Buildering - weve all done it. When my climbing partner was my roomate back in the 70s we would get so psyched to climb that we would walk down El Cajon boulevard, climbing the fronts of buildings. Of course when youre liebacking a window frame at 1am, you look alot like a burglar, and we got stopped by the cops more than once, but always talked our way out of trouble. I was traversing a big stone building in St Petersburg, Russia once, and drew the attention of machinegun toting police. It was grim for a minute, then they saw my climbing shoes and gave a hearty thumbs up and let me go.

How about you? Any buildering stories?

Trad climber
So Cal
Nov 25, 2011 - 11:00pm PT
Back in the 70's we called that "Buildering". Did a few routes on the UCLA campus and got mostly odd stares.

I heard rumors of a climber trying to pound a piton at Berkeley, using a Chemistry book for a hammer. Smart guy, finally found a good use for chemistry.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Nov 25, 2011 - 11:12pm PT
HmmmmYes,,,i have one or two buildering advenutres,, like the fa of the original ORmsby House in downtown carson city,,done by Tom Sullivan, Bill Nagel, and moi..Only problem was some rather over weight security guards happened along, catching Bill near the second floor level...Dashes were made and escapes effected..Used to do the library wall at the UNR campus regurlarly too. Told my new climbing partner Steve Yasmer about it when we first stated climbing as he was attneding the UNR at the time. I thought about it after he left that night to return to reno thinking all the while that he was going to go straight up there and nab the route himself and that worried me terribly...THE NEXT day, I get a call from Steve whom is at the hospital- as he had done exactly what i had thought, and fell at the crux at the very top of the three story building...He cratered on his feet breaking an ankle and bouncing his head of the dirt- also shattered a perfectly good pair of Muai-Jims....

Then, of course, theres that bolt aid route i put up on the old V&T roundhouse that used to be in carson.....
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 25, 2011 - 11:19pm PT

Boulder climber
San Diego
Nov 25, 2011 - 11:44pm PT
I remember us being checked out for quite awhile before being released after buildering on the stone facade of the Cal 1st bank at night on El Cajon Blvd.
Hell we had to climb anything that was in front of us back then.
I remenber the X pillers at the La Jolla Museum of Art as being a flashy looking solo back then too! Got a lot of attention from the tourist!

I got the worst ankle sprain of my life when I came off that liquor store
window in Pacific Beach.

Fun stuff for sure Ron!

Boulder climber
Nov 25, 2011 - 11:58pm PT
My bro-in-law got a couple floors up the Ahwahnee Hotel when some guests freaked, and threw wine glasses at him from thier room.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Nov 26, 2011 - 12:41am PT
There is the classic Climbers Guide to Cal Tech

This link leads to a 3.2MB PDF of the guide:

Nov 26, 2011 - 12:45am PT
Years ago, my little brother & I were buildering the front of the Safeway store in Bishop and got thrown off the property. Renegades, that's us.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Nov 26, 2011 - 01:15am PT
There was an old building at the intersection of stewart street and highway 50 in Carson city years ago. It was the "round house" for the virginia truckee railroad, but had fallen into obscurity and was nothing more than a home to pigeons and the occasional homeless person. It was constructed out of smooth sandstone and granite blocks.

The climbers of the area were into buildering much to the dismay of several over-weight security guards at the local casinos! The round house remained a virgin plum due to the fact that it was at the cutting edge of climbing standards, and the height of the "south face" would insure injury if one flew.

Two local climbers, lets call them Reinhold and Pablo decided they would go for it- reconning the wall at night. They decided it would go at A 1, and set the plan in motion... They purchased the needed 1/4 " bolts (yes, those from that killer leeper batch!), and a few extra bits for the rawl. Etriers were checked and all was ready!

They decided that the cover of night would aid greatly in accomplishing the task and it was winter, which meant darkness would come sooner giving the route better "conditions". They started at 700 pm, and found right off that the drilling was going to go slower than expected. Seemed as if the sandstone had petrified! The two swung the lead to keep the pace fast and allow recovery time. Headlamps were used momentarily as to avoid detection.

Somewhere near the planned three step traverse, Pablo lowered to the ground to swap the lead with Renhold. As Pablo touched down, Reinhold spotted a CC sheriffs unit pulling into the area!! CRAP!! The two sunk down to their bellies and remained frozen in the dark. The car pulled up to about fifty feet from the ropes and parked...Pablo and Reinhold then dashed to the cover of some near by culverts and hid behind them on the ground. Soon, ANOTHER sheriff's car arrives...The two start thinking that someone may have spotted them- and panic began to build! The two deputies then walked over nearer to the ropes- just thirty or so feet away. THe two were thinking of making a dash for freedom when the deputies strolled back to their cars and drove off into the night!

Reinhold and Pablo jumped up laughing at their successful dodge, and got back to work. Reinhold jumped up to the last bolt and began drilling! Nothing was going to stop them now!! At nearly 1:oo am, Reinhold concluded the drilling with a final mantle move onto the summit which had all the stability of a thin over-hung cornice. The two sat on the summit and celebrated their route and the last "plum" of carson buildering was put to rest.

Years later, the two talked about that route, wondering if, after the buliding was torn down piece by piece to be rebuilt somewhere in CAL, someone didnt wonder about that line of steel loop things that went up the side of the wall....

FA of da "roundhouse" A1 Rienhold and Pablo 1976

The Alpine

Big Wall climber
Nov 26, 2011 - 01:26am PT
This buildering is unusual if not paradisical...

Credit: The Alpine
Sierra Ledge Rat

Social climber
Retired to Appalachia
Nov 26, 2011 - 01:30am PT
We used to do a lot of buildering on the campus at Stanford University back in the 1970s. Eventually there was so much chalk everywhere on the pink sandstone blocks that the adminstration ordered us to clean up the mess or they would ban buildering altogether. So there we were with our toothbrushes and buckets of water...

In Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley) I used to go buildering on the rock wall of a semiconductor manufacturing plant. It was such an incredible finger and forearm pump. One day the guard came by and asked, "What are you guys doing, practicing for El Calpitan?"

"YES!" we replied.

At San Jose State University there were some PUNISHING vertical/parallel fist cracks in concrete, and some very high but easy chimney climbs on the SUB. I always fantasized about finishing the climb by chimneying out under the overhang and mantling onto the roof, but I never got the balls to do it: http://blogs.sjsu.edu/today/files/2011/04/student_union5_web.jpg

Social climber
Nov 26, 2011 - 01:41am PT
A couple of unnamed Squamish climbers were climbing on the pre-climbing-gym "Eaton's Wall" located in Park Royal South - a shoppin' mall - at the same time a jewel heist was going on in a store situated in the mall.

Of course our fine friends had found themselves at the vaguely illicit wall in the wee hours of a Sunday a/m after the buses had stopped running. ( you could climb there when stores were closed - e.g. on Sunday or at night ) ( This was over 30 years ago when Sunday closings still happened ) The boys both hoped to builder for a bit to stay warm & pass time until the buses started up again.

The local constabulary picked up our fine friends. This local constabulary, the West Vancouver Police Dep't notorious for nasty behaviour towards human beings ( which has continued to this millennium )

So our friends were incarcerated and grilled extensively about the robbery. They were denied contact with their families. They were told fibers from the carpets in the store where they did the job were found in the treads of their shoes. If they'd cooperate with the fuzz, they'd find themselves better off when it came to sentencing.

Sometime Sunday evening the police got the idea they had indeed captured the wrong chaps, let them call their parents and, sent them on their way.

ron gomez

Trad climber
Nov 26, 2011 - 09:18am PT
The Big A at Anaheim Stadium, So Cal.
The Cross chimney at Pepperdine University
The Viterbi School of Engineering Cracks at USC
The old Mountaineering Shop mantles in Laguna Beach
BofA in Bishop, Ca


Trad climber
Washington DC
Nov 26, 2011 - 11:29am PT
K-man and I used to do a ton of buildering at Sonoma State University....
K-man and I used to do a ton of buildering at Sonoma State University. There were some really good problems there, this one is around an 11a finger crack. Somewhere I have some pics of Kelly topping out on the library, mounting an overhang four stories up
Credit: martygarrison

Social climber
Nov 26, 2011 - 12:00pm PT
Thanks Tami! Great story.

Similar thing happened to me, circa 1977. One of the finest buildering walls in downtown Cardiff, Wales happens to be the exterior wall of the prison. They used high quality stone, excellent for finger-training. It's about 25 or 30 feet high. The best part of the wall is right on the sidewalk. Lots of people walking by, all day. Spent an hour there, traversing to and fro (I never got my feet more than a few inches off the ground, seemed harmless enough....), and was just putting my regular shoes back on, when the cops arrived. Uh oh.

I was expecting a quick two-minute what-were-you-doing interview. Instead, I spent about four hours in the local police station. It did not help that the section of wall I was on housed the high-security section. Nor that I was living in Newcastle on Tyne at the time, and that one of the prison's prize, most violent, high-risk-of-escape prisoners, just the other side of said wall, was from Newcastle.

It slowly dawned on me that they took this very seriously. They were patient, polite, but relentless in their questioning. As was I in my answers. Finally they sent someone around to the local climbing store, Outdoor Action, where Pat Littlejohn and whoever else was there (once they picked themselves up off the floor, where they'd collapsed in laughter) vouched for me being just a stupid climber, and probably not trying to break out anyone.

They finally let me go. But, ahem, be warned: stay away from prison walls, however alluring the buildering possibilities may be.

Nov 26, 2011 - 07:44pm PT
During my first quarter at Georgia Tech in the fall of 1954, I would climb out of the upper dormitory window about 11 pm, sometimes with a friend, carrying a rope, and go up on the hill to climb on some of the buildings and the football stadium. Great fun. One time I was doing a free rappel off the stadium down to a narrow road below when the area lit up as a campus cop car approached. I stopped about 30 feet up and pulled up the remaining rope which had been hanging directly in the cars path, waited until it passed, then completed the rappel. Fond memories. I used a little gymnastic chalk at the time, possibly the first time ever that chalk was used buildering, although some of the "human flies" before my time may have chalked up. No one knows - one of the little mysteries of the past.

Hobart, Australia
Nov 26, 2011 - 08:43pm PT
Dartmouth had some good ones...
Midddendorf on computer wall
Midddendorf on computer wall
Credit: deuce4
Pete Keller &#40;?&#41; and Neil Cannon
Pete Keller (?) and Neil Cannon
Credit: deuce4
me pulling the lip
me pulling the lip
Credit: deuce4
Cannon on the leap of faith
Cannon on the leap of faith
Credit: deuce4
awesome pumper routes
awesome pumper routes
Credit: deuce4

May 13, 2013 - 01:28am PT
Credit: T H
Credit: T H
Credit: T H
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 13, 2013 - 01:39am PT

From Marc Jensen's 1988 Bay Area guide, Berkeley photo

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
May 13, 2013 - 01:40am PT
Two words; Jamboree Wall

all the holds on the ceiling.

twas awesome
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