The Vertical Century

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Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 17, 2013 - 07:49am PT
The Vertical Century - article by Ed Douglas in Climber January 2000. An excellent article with an English twist.
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Steve Bancroft climbing Strapadictomy at Froggatt
Steve Bancroft climbing Strapadictomy at Froggatt
Credit: Bernard Newman
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Feb 17, 2013 - 08:25am PT
A strange, almost arrogant headline 'Ten British rock climbers who changed the world'! However, it seems bizarre to me that Pete Livesey is missing from that list. To my mind Livesey changed the face, certainly of British climbing in the 70s, as much as Brown had done in the 50s. He was also very active in Europe and the US, often with the younger Fawcett. Surely he figured more on an international level than Menlove Edwards? Or am I just reading more into '... the world'?
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2013 - 11:49am PT
Jaaan

I'm praising the article for what is there, not for what is missing. Let's add what is missing.

An obituary by Stephen Venables - Pete Livesey - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-peter-livesey-1150794.html

"Peter Livesey drove British rock climbing to new standards during the Seventies.
His speed, strength and stamina were developed young as a Yorkshire schoolboy running at national champion level. The seniors in his club included Derek Ibbotson, who had the current record for the mile, and the young Livesey developed the same kind of competitive dedication. He also had a natural talent for other outdoor sports, branching out into canoeing, rock climbing and caving. For a while he concentrated his efforts underground, becoming one of the best cavers in the world, joining expeditions to Jamaica, Greece and Ghar Paru, in Iran. It was only in his late twenties that he turned seriously to rock climbing.

His impact on the climbing world was almost immediate, starting in 1971 in the intimidating gorge of Gordale Scar with the first free ascent of Face Route, previously climbed only with the aid of steel pegs. That was the first of many bold, strenuous routes up fiercely overhanging limestone. As his close friend and climbing partner, John Sheard, put it, "For Pete to apply the definition `rock climber' to himself, it had to include the unspoken prefix `best'; anything else was playing around." A few might niggle over "best" but all would probably agree that Livesey brought a whole new attitude to the sport."
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Feb 17, 2013 - 12:07pm PT
Ah, that's better! I was just surprised at the omission, that's all. Let's put the rest of the obit up for completeness sake:

PETER LIVESEY drove British rock climbing to new standards during the Seventies.
His speed, strength and stamina were developed young as a Yorkshire schoolboy running at national champion level. The seniors in his club included Derek Ibbotson, who had the current record for the mile, and the young Livesey developed the same kind of competitive dedication. He also had a natural talent for other outdoor sports, branching out into canoeing, rock climbing and caving. For a while he concentrated his efforts underground, becoming one of the best cavers in the world, joining expeditions to Jamaica, Greece and Ghar Paru, in Iran. It was only in his late twenties that he turned seriously to rock climbing.

His impact on the climbing world was almost immediate, starting in 1971 in the intimidating gorge of Gordale Scar with the first free ascent of Face Route, previously climbed only with the aid of steel pegs. That was the first of many bold, strenuous routes up fiercely overhanging limestone. As his close friend and climbing partner, John Sheard, put it, "For Pete to apply the definition `rock climber' to himself, it had to include the unspoken prefix `best'; anything else was playing around." A few might niggle over "best" but all would probably agree that Livesey brought a whole new attitude to the sport.

First there was his athletic background. The stamina, strength and speed developed as a schoolboy gave him a natural edge, which he honed by systematic training on the then new indoor climbing walls, particularly during his exile for a year's teacher training practice in the lowlands of Scunthorpe. That dedicated approach to training was new, but mere athletic skills were not enough to succeed hundreds of feet off the ground on steep, potentially dangerous, rock, following incipient lines of tiny holds which others had never tried to link before. Here mental control was everything.

John Sheard, who followed him up countless routes, observes: "Pete was totally competent and safe on things which would have killed the rest of us. He had an amazing ability to hang around and rest - and place fiddly protective equipment - on overhanging rock. When you got there you just couldn't see how he had done it."

Livesey left his mark far beyond the microcosmic world of Yorkshire climbing, particularly in 1974, when he discovered the tenuous, improbable line of Footless Crow, on Goat Crag, in Borrowdale. Later that year he travelled to Snowdonia to leave his signature on a cliff redolent with history - Dinas Cromlech. This was the scene of Joe Brown's great Fifties climb, Cenotaph Corner. Twenty-two years on, Livesey tackled the seemingly blank right wall of the great square-cut corner, linking a complex series of moves up tiny flakes of diorite. Right Wall is now an exhilarating classic enjoyed by hundreds of competent climbers, reared on a hundred gyms and armed with sophisticated modern protection devices. Twenty-four years ago it was an imaginative step into the unknown.

Beyond the parochial confines of British climbing, Livesey sought the scale of grander cliffs. In Norway he made the second ascent of the 5,000ft- high Troll Wall. In the Dolomites he free-climbed some of the great walls climbed originally with artificial aid. In Austria's Kaisergebirge he amazed the locals with his speed and stamina. In Provence, he showed what could be done in the stupendous Gorge du Verdon; where local experts rested on in situ steel pegs - and pulled up on them when things got a bit tough - Livesey climbed free, relying on ingenuity and the strength in his fingers.

His most elegant and celebrated new route here was Piche Nibou, although his own knobbly-kneed climbing style was more effective than elegant. He also dressed in the kind of stylish hand-me-down rags which would appal today's lycra-coordinated Gallic athletes.

Livesey also left his mark in California's famed Yosemite Valley. A partner on the first ascent of "Carbon Wall" recalls that, unknown to the rest of the team, Livesey made a recce the day before the climb, abseiling down the 500 feet of the route to inspect the difficulties. "It was typical of Livesey: he was always one step ahead of everyone else, particularly Ron Fawcett - he had to find ways to outwit Ron, because Ron really was the best climber in the world."

The young protege, Fawcett, eventually surpassed the master and, after climbing his Cheedale swansong Golden Mile in 1981, Livesey more or less quit rock climbing. He turned to orienteering, excelling at that pursuit just as he had done at all the others.

Pete Livesey directed the well-respected outdoor pursuits course at Ilkley and Bradford Community College and served on several committees of the British Mountaineering Council, but his greatest legacy is the actual climbs he created and the impact he made on rock climbing. He took his own climbing very seriously but the inner intensity was masked by a mischievous sense of humour and by moments of inspired theatricality, such as the time he made one of the first free ascents of the famous Welsh climb Tensor, solo, in Hush Puppies.

Peter Michael Livesey, mountaineer: born Huddersfield 12 September 1943; married Soma (one daughter); died Malham, North Yorkshire 26 February 1998.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Feb 17, 2013 - 12:13pm PT
Jeez, you should know better than to post that stuff here.

If it ain't in California, 99% of the people here couldn't care less about it.

Oh, but the article does mention Royal Robbins...
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Feb 17, 2013 - 12:25pm PT
Lighten the f*#k up china.

DMT
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2013 - 12:41pm PT
Randisi.

That might very well be true. My motivation is that I think there is one, three or ten alien(s) out there who are able to share the pleasure of reading the article with me. It's a possiblity of reading, not a duty...
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 17, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
Really good job posting the pages, Marlow. And a milestone article, obviously about milestones. Thanks too, Jaan for Pete's obit. No question, Pete was terrifically pivotal in his era and a great character. No mistake, there are many here on ST that will find this material very interesting. No need to anticipate anything negative here.
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Feb 17, 2013 - 05:15pm PT
Marlow,

As one of the one, three, ten, I wholeheartedly concur.

It's a sad fact that most of you should 'get out more'. There's more to climbing than the good ol 'US of A' and contrary to belief you don't have to be in uniform to visit them ;-)

Sorry I couldn't resist.

Anyways, a very interesting piece that I hadn't come across before. Thanks for posting up.

As a further balance to the omission of Livesey, here is an article from Crags Magazine written by John Sheard. I've posted it up before, but it is worthy of an internal 'bump'

Henry Barber on Dream, Bosigran's Great Zawn - John Cleare
Henry Barber on Dream, Bosigran's Great Zawn - John Cleare
Credit: Blakey

Livesey on what he thought was a new route - Mud Flat Wall, Yosemite.
Livesey on what he thought was a new route - Mud Flat Wall, Yosemite.
Credit: Blakey

Credit: Blakey

Credit: Blakey

Credit: Blakey

Credit: Blakey

Steve
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
Blakey
Great story - stunning climbs, trips to court and Florrie drinking... yes you know... TFPU!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2013 - 09:48pm PT
Marlow: thanks for the effort scanning and posting!
I'm not seeing the continuation of the second page, following "20th Century: The Best Five".
The text breaks in the middle of Messner and there is no fifth climber bio for that section that I can find in the remaining pages?
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Feb 18, 2013 - 12:50am PT
Bump for awesomeness. This one should sit on the front for a bit longer, thanks Marlow. You always come up with awesome sh#t I've never seen before!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 18, 2013 - 02:20am PT
Tarbuster.

Thanks for washing my eyes. The third page is now in place. The timeline is complete and Lynn Hill has got her place in Ed's vertical history.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 18, 2013 - 10:25am PT
Thanks Marlow!
The mystery fifth is revealed.
I wouldn't have guessed it would be Lynn. Shame on me. Heh.

Now how about posting up the rest of the picture at the start of the article which presumably spans two pages.
This would perhaps be page 40, with the completion of the photograph of Herford on Great Flake.
I know, I'm fussy. Great stuff.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 18, 2013 - 11:29am PT
A stellar effort, Marlow, I just wish it was easier to read. Takk takk!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 18, 2013 - 12:32pm PT
Tarbuster

Here's the picture:
Siegfried Herford Great Flake Central Buttress Scafell 1914
Siegfried Herford Great Flake Central Buttress Scafell 1914
Credit: George Sansom
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Feb 18, 2013 - 02:35pm PT
And here are the successful party just below the top of the Great Flake

Herford &#40;top&#41; and Sansom about to complete the Great Flake pit...
Herford (top) and Sansom about to complete the Great Flake pitch.
Photo: Eric Byrom collection.
Credit: Blakey

Sansom wrote about the day - success in addition to some hair raising combined tactics drew on a measure of luck, While Herford was puzzling out the moves off Sansom's shoulder, Sansom's hand began to give way. Had he released things would have got very nasty.

Imagine; pretty much a hanging belay, direct tie in, waist (or shoulder belay)and your leader is standing on your shoulders.......

But, lady luck came along, in adjusting his foot Herford stood on the slipping which gave Sansom time to adjust and reset himself and advert disaster.

Sansom "He used my shoulder as footholds. Directly he vacated them I climbed three feet higher and hung by my hands from the top of the chockstone, whilst he again employed me as footholds, which are most sorely needed at this point, for the crack is practically holdless and overhangs about 20 degrees.A minute or two of severe struggling and he reached the top to the great joy of all members of the party."

So 19 April 1914.....

I recall doing CB back in the early 70s when it was a standard tick on the way to the 'extreme' grade. Free it's Solid HVS, so about 5.8/9 depending on your mood. It was freed by Menlove Edwards, who laybacked the entire flake unprotected. Hmmm.

Great stuff all expanded upon in:

Credit: Blakey

Trevor Jones and Geoff Milburn's excellent account of climbing in the Lakes. I believe it's out of print now, which is a shame.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 18, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
Great stuff, Blakey, much appreciated.

What follows is American vertical history from the 70ies and onwards (Fred Knapp in Rock & Ice no. 81)
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 18, 2013 - 04:30pm PT
You guys rock.
I love this Great Flake history, with Samsom ratcheting himself into better support position:
Sansom "He used my shoulder as foothaolds. Directly he vacated them I climbed three feet higher and hung by my hands from the top of the chockstone, whilst he again employed me as footholds, which are most sorely needed at this point, for the crack is practically holdless and overhangs about 20 degrees.A minute or two of severe struggling and he reached the top to the great joy of all members of the party."

You can tell by looking at that photo of the two of them that they're likely pressing into 5.9ish territory. 1914.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 18, 2013 - 04:46pm PT
"Though many climbing areas are now well known and documented, there is still plenty of new ground to explore, as well as whole new generations to teach about the value of the world's high places. The truth is still out there."
 Ed Douglas

"Inspired, you want to drop whatever you are doing and go to a crag. An emotional connection has been made. That's what good climbing photography is all about."
 Ray Wood


For me, quote of the century, by Ed Douglas:
"The truth is still out there."
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