Stonemaster Stories; Part 7-More of the same, only different

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rmuir

Social climber
the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 21, 2006 - 12:37pm PT
This here is the continuing saga of Old Dads spinning yarns and toughening their few remaining calluses on their burley keyboards... (Memory is such a tragic thing.)


The original Stonemaster Stories thread by John (Largo) Long started here:
[url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=145850&f=0&b=0"] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=145850&f=0&b=0[/url] (208)

JL: Anyone out there with old (before, say, 1975) Stonemaster stories, I'd love to hear them as I'm slowly trying to put something together. Hearing other perspectives might help trigger some long lost memories. The Stonemasters were always as much a frame of mind as anything else, but what folks remember--especially in terms of anecdotes, or what they thought the Stonemasters actually were, or stood for--might help give some little shape to what feels like a very amorphous subject.



Stonemaster Stories (Part II) can be retraced here:
[url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=150211&f=0&b=0"] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=150211&f=0&b=0[/url] (171)



Stonemaster Stories Part III can be retraced here (Many nice photos in this part):
[url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=155821&f=0&b=0"] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=155821&f=0&b=0[/url] (129)



It was requested to continue onward here from Part III. It was getting
too long again (very rapidly actually). Stonemaster Stories Part IV:
[url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=157408&f=0&b=0"] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=157408&f=0&b=0[/url] (125)



We continue onward with the epic saga "Stonemaster Stories" (Part V):
[url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=161148&f=0&b=0"] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=161148&f=0&b=0[/url] (150)



We continue further onward with the epic saga "Stonemaster Stories" (Part 6):
[url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=164782&f=0&b=0"] http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=164782&f=0&b=0[/url] (126)



And when we last visited our heros, the slander so eloquently spewed was:

bvb: yeah, those knuckleheads keeping that mussy thread alive are a pretty competative bunch, i tell ya. "hey man, lets drag race the stonemasters thread...!" buncha crackhead post whores is what they are. shameless, indeed. no respect whatsoever for sacred bandwidth.
rmuir

Social climber
the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 21, 2006 - 05:15pm PT
Now, in some other forum threads there has been discussion about those little-done classics and some of the other Idyllwild hotties. All, which used to really get our hearts racing!

I think it all comes down to aura. And, I'm not talking the faint dayglo haze that surrounded some that were habitually dipping into the D-kit. (Remember that?)

No, the aura thing hung over quite a few of the routes to which we aspired. For me, those routes were the fearsome, then unrepeated routes by Callis, Raymond, Couch, Higgins, Kamps & Powell, etc. The REALLY old dads. I'm thinking about stuff like Chingadera, Jonah, and of course, in the early Seventies, THE aura route, Valhalla.

When we were sneeking peeks around the base of those aura routes--wondering if we could measure-up--very little was known. I remember that Hoagland and I pretty-clearly felt that to play on the big routes, we should work up to 'em. Find the lower-rated hard dudes, and progress up through the ranks.

I honestly don't remember a thing about it now, but one of the "easier" test pieces for us to tick-off first on the Sunshine Wall was The Iron Cross. Valhalla wasn't even mentioned until we had bagged a few on the progression upwards. In 1971, the Cross was still a mixed route, but the crux was reputedly very hard. When Hoagland and I slinked over there, we got slapped pretty hard the first time.

So, "training" time back at Rubidoux... We imagined how the Iron Cross sequence would go, and we were SURE that there was some improbable iron-cross move. So, Jim found this dime problem over on the North side of Rubidoux that would be EXACTLY like the move we'd need to do. And we bouldered that problem for weeks, before we eventually could drop that Raymond/Callis route in the sack. And, of course, we never did find the supposed iron-cross move on that route! (Still can't figure that name.)

And, slowly, the aura started to break down on the other lines too.

I'm pretty sure that that "Iron Cross" boulder problem was too obscure to have even made it into any guidebook. Still, I can't help but remember that solution everytime I've walked along the road above Rubidoux's Far North...


G_Gnome

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Mar 21, 2006 - 05:58pm PT
I kind of came at it from the other end I guess. I started bouldering at Stoney (with Mr. Kamps) and never even did a real climb till I could climb 5.10. At the time I had no idea that Kamps, Wilson, Bachar, etc. were anything other than my bouldering buddies (well, we knew Bachar was different). So, we went to the crags and just did routes. I didn't even know that Valhalla was an entrance exam until after I had led it. I think we (Mike Waugh and I) did New Gen a couple weeks later and wondered what all the hoopla was about. Us outsiders were evidently just not well informed on the traditions at the time. I think the fact that I was a dedicated college student and didn't work in a climbing store kept me from being as involved in the scene as some of the rest of you.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 21, 2006 - 06:16pm PT
I have a question about SoCal climbing history and I'm sure the answer varies by crag/area. Giant City in SoIll was a small hollow and there was a small group of us that put up the routes there. The chronological order of FA development unfurled as we developed the ability to both perceive and do routes. To those of us that put them up, that order seemed the "natural" order in which someone should learn them in. But that knowledge was lost when we left and on visits it would be interesting, and sometimes comical, to see what order routes folks had been choosing to jump on given in our "natural order" each climb had something to teach you for the next.

So my question - These SoCal crags seems like they had lots of independent development going on and I'm wondering if anyone really even knows the true chronology of routes at most of these areas. I can imagine it's more likely at someplace like Stoney Point than at JTree. Also, given there was an established "scene" and routes - was there any commonly held ordering of routes someone new should tackle?
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Mar 21, 2006 - 06:49pm PT
Not sure if I really understand your question, but routes at Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks were very well chronicled, even from the get go. The first guide was done in 1937. What I think Robs and Jan were relating is that there was not as much communication between the different generations of climbers which lead to holding (or not) the prior generation of developers in a rather exhalted position. Hence the routes were often the subject of some reverence as well.

Joshua Tree had a pretty well recorded history from about 1967 onward, but there was a huge disconnect with climbers who developed many of the climbs in the Park from 1949 to the late 1950s. In fact, many of the routes done in the 1950s as free climbs were later "first climbed" again in the middle and late 1960s, sometimes on aid, then later "freed" a second time.

The difference was two fold: Tahquitz had a long series of guidebooks from its earliest days and a pretty regular contingent of "local" climbers. Joshua Tree had no real guidebook until 1971, no real "locals" [people who took the area seriously] until the mid 1960s, and little communication between the prior and later generations. By the early 1970s, that all changed.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 21, 2006 - 06:57pm PT
I guess part of my question was that you folks all seem to have entered and merged into an existing scene and routes and I'm curious how you knew what to tackle first and then next. Was it haphazard or was there some accepted order everyone agreed you should learn them in.
G_Gnome

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Mar 21, 2006 - 07:56pm PT
I put a few routes up at Joshua Tree during the 70's, 80's and 90's so maybe I can answer some of that.

A. Josh now has over 8000 routes. There are so many routes and choices at each grade that there is no 'set' path to take from grade to grade. Obviously there are very popular routes but no one works their way up the grades by doing a set sort of progression. Most of the people who put the routes up were the top climbers of the day so if a 5.8 got put up it was probably done by 5.10/5.11 climbers. I have put routes up anywhere from 5.8 to 12c.

B. When we came up, most of the older climbers were either no longer climbing, or were not associating with us radical young hippies. There were some exceptions, but this means that there wasn't as much tradition handed down as you would think. We did mentor new climbers into the sport but the good ones usually got a trial by fire deal and the weak ones were weeded out.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 21, 2006 - 08:14pm PT
ShortTimer, thanks for the post. I was thinking more of back when you guys started rather than now though I think you answered that as well. When we first ventured forth from our little hollow to Boulder/Eldo in '75 we were just blown away by how amazingly established, "serious", and structured the whole "scene" was. On top of that the only folks we could get to go climbing with us and get high while we were at it were climbers from the Gunks (not to out anyone, but hi Hardy Truesdale if you ever lurk) and Seneca. Sounds like SoCal was yet a different deal altogether, interesting - particularly the generational spreads/issues...
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Mar 21, 2006 - 08:19pm PT
I think many of us who started to climb at Tahquitz in 70-71 were in awe of the FA'ists, and we were too deferent to their concept of what was difficult. I learned to climb with one older guy who said he was content to be able to climb 5.9!

Chuck Wilts, who cut his teeth in the 1940's (I think) and who wrote the Tahquitz guides we first bought, reluctantly put Valhalla in a supplement with the tentative grade of 5.11, like it was an affront to the established order, not really legitimate, and subject to withdrawal later. It was as if an open ended grade system would knock the earth off its axis.

Then these young turks came along who did not bother to climb and master every lower grade. They just went for it. The harder the better. And some of these guys were extremely bold. Rick Accomazzo, just to name one, inspired admiration for his willingness to run it out, fall, and go back up until he made it or was too tired to try. They were at the vanguard of a major paradigm shift.

Very quickly the game shifted from repeating the old test pieces, to freeing aid routes, then out onto unclimbed faces. By the mid-70s they'd raised the bar from hard .10 to hard .11 (ground up hand-drilling), and made the place their own. The next guide nearly doubled in size, and voila, Brave New World.
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Mar 21, 2006 - 09:12pm PT
well put, john. that pretty much summed up my exprience and my perceptions at the time.

i'd also add that, at least with the san diego crew, as soon as we started ticking the hard routes of the preceeding generation (the original stonemasters, in our case) we felt liberated to try anything.

there was a day -- "big wednesday", we later called it -- early in '77, when watusi and i went up to woodson with nothing but water, e.b's, and chalkbags, and just worked our way up the hill ticking all the hards. we'd done them all at least once, but this was the first time we enchained them all, ropeless, with little effort.

after that, we had the same mojo going that the stonemaster crew must of had after doing valhalla -- we felt like we could climb anything. it was a magic time. and so it goes, from generation to generation.....to everything, turn, turn, turn....
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Mar 21, 2006 - 11:13pm PT
Indeed, world turnin'. Now you're influencing me. I've done more pull ups . . . and drank more scotch . . . in the last two weeks than all last year! I swear you could sell those pics of the bottles. Toasted you last night with the last of my Laphroaig. Cheers graybeard!
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 22, 2006 - 12:40am PT
bvb: "i'd also add that, at least with the san diego crew, as soon as we started ticking the hard routes of the preceeding generation (the original stonemasters, in our case) we felt liberated to try anything."

It was similar for us, only it wasn't just a matter of being liberated to try anything so much as we had literally done all the existing routes. We were either doomed to endlessly repeat them or cluelessly shuffle into the unknown on our own. Given our impaired capacity for rational thought we opted for the latter and plunged drug-first into the void. Much hilarity ensued before we got it all more or less sorted out.

Thanks again for these remarkable threads. I suspect you're all pretty damn lucky to still have so many of you around and that a couple of you were so prolific taking photos back then - none of us were and so next to no photo evidence exists of that period for us.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 22, 2006 - 02:21am PT
Healyje,
I think you've pointed to an interesting facet of the group dynamic aspect of any growing sport. My sense is, there's an eb and flux to the usefulness or poignancy of a "standard progression" with which up and comers reconcile there grit.

You were asking specifically after that reconciliation with a standard progression in terms of the Stone Masters time frame. My sense is, there are periods where breakthrough in gear or movement skills, perhaps most importantly coupled with an unusualy strong cadre of actors, allows a bold jump. At these times, the griddle is hot and people don't have time to go through standards- they just get after it and wild things happen. Standards get pushed, not consolidated. Often, to do that, you need to pay your dues and usually that's the case to a greater or lesser degree, yes. But coming up on their heels, I felt that the Stonemasters set standards more than they followed them.

I was learning when the StoneMasters were burning brightest, so I don't know how they leaped. But my two cents says, they made a big shift and romped over standards to do it. I felt that the the next generation (late 70's/early 80's) was consolidating and for us there was more of that type of thing happening. So, we did these 5.9's, then those 10's, 11's and so on. It was really like that in the Yos Valley. Astroman and all that cool stuff, all the way to Tales of power had been done by '77. Breaking new ground, without hangdogging, was a tall order. Bachar did by soloing- few could follow.

So we entertained that kind of progressional thing that you asked after, then started finding other areas, doing bold runout stuff with drills in our hands, sometimes from stances, other times from hooks on steeper ground...


Over on that morass of silliness known as the Mussy thread, you asked after the west coast training focus. I took some time to answer that more thoughtfully, you might check it out. Aside from all the boozing and frollicking, I do find this sport, its evolution and it's syncretic aspects immensely intriguing.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 22, 2006 - 03:31am PT
Tar,

Thanks, for the posts in both threads. It's interesting to hear how it went down in waves in such an established place. We stood on some proud shoulders in SoIll, but fortunately we didn't have to claw our way up onto any as broad and tall as John's or the rest of the Stonemasters'. We made the same breakthroughs into the .12+ range in the mid-70's, though not on anything remotely as sustained as the stuff you folks got on in the Valley and my partner Tangen-Foster who did rings before coming to SoIll was as close as we got to a Bachar. Most of the training he and Doug Drewes did was on heavy gauge guitar strings learning to flatpick, though that was pretty effective.

All and all I now see I never really understood the depth of the SoCal / Valley relationship until these threads and overall it is an interesting contrast to what [little] I know of how Eldo / Longs developed. In some ways the SoCal scene sounds almost like it might have had more in common with what went down in the Gunks / Cannon - but I suppose parallels and contrasts can be found across the board in any two large areas.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 22, 2006 - 11:21am PT
HealyBra,
Hmmm, I've been in Boulder now since 1990 and have had occasion to meet and climb with a few of the seminal Eldo figures: Breashers, Ericcson(sp), Steve Mammen, Duncan, Weiss, Goss, Logan, Wilford, Lowe.

Logan still climbs 12+ and maybe even 13...

If you look at Godfrey and Cheltons B&W "Climb", (which really inspired me to run the rope among other things), and talk to those guys, I think It's fair to say a very similar ground shift-sea change-rennaissance was happening here in the 70's as well, replete with the training, brawling, way hip fun social dynamic as well.

So, to appreciate the nuance of your distinction, are you stipulating the Cali/Gunks parity as sharing a training/bouldering centered engine, as opposed to what was perhaps different in CO? One thing we know for sure, the Eldo Protagonists were super purists.

Again Healyje, my question abides your historical interests, which are mine as well- Any one else have a more directly informed comparative perspective?
hashbro

Trad climber
Not in Southern California
Mar 22, 2006 - 12:15pm PT
Speakin' of training. Though this may sound like an echo (or flashback) from an earlier post, and I'm sure you don't remember the day (due to massive resin blockage on the synapses), but Largo you and I did what you termed the "clean sweep" at Mt Roubidoux one day back in the mid to late 70's.

With only a little water, a bag of mid-grade pot, and out EBs, we started at the top of Mt. Roubidoux and bid every friggin problem we knew of til we were down in the barrios at the base of the mountain. Our bloodsugar levels had plummeted, our fingers shredded, our attitudes psyched, and egos bloated.

Remember?
WBraun

climber
Mar 22, 2006 - 12:21pm PT
You guys still here? I thought you'd be dead by now?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 22, 2006 - 12:42pm PT
Tar,

I was thinking more of the history/cultural/generational (Vulgarians, et al) aspects of the LA / NY with a lot of contributors city-bound having to make do (Stoney Point, Indian Rock, Central Park, etc.) until they could get to the "real thing" and then yet another drive to get to the "big stone". Denver/Boulder on the otherhand had an embarassment of riches on their doorstep. That and the Colorado scene seemed somehow more "structured" back then, which is something I suspect CO in turn shared more with the Gunks than with SoCal. But again it could just be my impressions and I wish I had better words for the different "feel" I get from reading these threads versus the time I spent in CO back then. I do agree most places went through a sea change in thinking and abilities in the '70s and that Eldo/CO was one of the more amazing and pure ones. We were also fanatically LNT / no bolting / no dogging / pull the rope ourselves in SoIll; hell, we were even dead set against chalk on the beautiful river sandstone in the hollows. Anyway, as I said, the differences are probably more in my head and all three have no shortage of parallels. The CO folks need a history forum or thread like this on MountainProject, ditto for the Gunks - all would be fascinating reading.
G_Gnome

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Mar 22, 2006 - 12:47pm PT
We're waiting for you to lead the way Werner, as usual.
hashbro

Trad climber
Not in Southern California
Mar 22, 2006 - 12:55pm PT
Werner, we would be dead if we tried to do taht same sh#t now.

How's yer health?
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