Stonemaster Lore


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Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 21, 2006 - 01:26pm PT
At Rox's (great!) suggestion, I am starting a new thread on this topic. It was orginally a post on the Lynn Hill thread but I do believe it merits a thread of its own. OK so here is my cut and paste of that posting. Rox and Jeff could you please consider cutting and pasting your very informative comments here as well so we have everything in the same place.


Tell me something, Tarbuster, how exactly did you all support yourselves during this great climbing era of yours during the 70s. Also for the sake of the unenlightened amongst us (like me!) can you tell us (me) more about this whole thing. Here are some points for starters

1. How many of you were there in this now famous "group"

2. Were you all about the same age and from the same area e.g. S California

3. Was this just a summer thing or did you folks do so all year round - if so where did the money come from?

4. Approximately when did all of this take place? Was this a full time "thing" you all did when you actually did it.


5. What was it about this era and this particular group which made you so unique and garner such a place in "history" as it were. Obviously there were men who climbed before you in the 40s 50s 60s - Obviously men (and now women, even!) climbed after you 80s, 90s etc. So what was it then which gave you all such fame and "grandeur?" How exactly did you garner this lore which now seems to surround you regarding those time.

BTW, I am addressing these comments to Tarbuster and I very much want his input. I am also interested in the input of any of the others of you who are part of this "phenomenon" and want to share your comments, as well. I want to hear from Tarbuster, to be sure but I also want to here from any of the rest of you.

Truth be told, I am not even sure who you all are - best I can figure is that it is Werner, Tarbuster (who until now, I did not know was part of the "crowd"), Longo, Bridwell, Yabo, Eastlake, Kath (who had the unique distinction of being a lady amidst you), Breedlove, Ed (I think so), some guy here named Klaus (who gets very touchy and uppity at times about this whole "thing" - BTW to, you, Klaus, "excuse me for living, Sir") and that is it.

That is the sum total of who I know about as being "there" as a result of my now year here. I am sure there are others I missed (mia culpa, mia culpa - no hate mail please!). So any or all of you (including the very miffed ones I left out because I don't even know about them) TELL ME (US) MORE!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:37pm PT
John Long (aka Largo) one of the original Stonemasters and masterful writer has penned a fine piece about the Stonemasters in the last edition of Rock & Ice. It pretty much says it all.

If you are really curious about the subject, read the article -- it will answer your questions and give you an insight I sincerely doubt can be matched through posts on this thread.

right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:40pm PT
Yes that was pretty funny ROX and fairly right on.

I'll have to spool up on this one Lois.

Keep in mind the core Stonemasters was a small tight knit group and in many ways represented the cream; ROX is correct insofar as many others were essentially striving and doing neat stuff in the same manner.

I was influenced but not core, as I am just now soon to be 46, started climbing in '73, but really began to hit my stride in '77.

More later.
I'll post the Stonemasters link in the forum as well.
Sketch is pretty much correct.

Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2006 - 01:42pm PT
great, Tarbuster, I will be looking forward to this post

right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:43pm PT
Here's a current thread relating to Largo's Stonemaster Article:

Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2006 - 01:44pm PT

thanks for the info. Jeff mentioned it on the Lynn thread and I think it is an excellent idea. I still want to here from those who were there and those who are "in the know" This is a VERY fascinating topic

PS I am almost here one year now - you all have put up with me for *that* long. Who would have ever guess it. And I was just trying to find a climbing video by Peter Kern - another ghost of the stonemasters, as it were.

right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:49pm PT
Here Lois, is the original post by John Long.
This would be a proper place to start.
All the other threads roll out from here:

Jun 21, 2006 - 01:51pm PT
LEB, most of the info you are looking for can get found in the stonemaster stories threads here:

Social climber
The West
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:52pm PT

Also, remember that the stonemasters were, are, just one group of loosely granfalloned climbers. Albeit a high profile and influential one. All groups are influenced by their times and available personnel.

There are many local scenes at any time, most don't have names, but there are always aggregations of climbers living some version of the Itinerant climber life style.

See; The Poway Mtn Boys, DLFA, Vulgarians, the Kachinas and the Banditos, just to name a few such groups ...

Tangentially, there are also more formal groups like The CMC, Iowa mtneers, AAC, The RCS of the Sierra club, Harvard mtneers ad nauseum, which can at times, be influential as well.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:58pm PT
Jaybro, don't forget Craig Frys "Sheep Buggerers", perhaps the most important group after the Stonemasters.

Trad climber
Degnan's Deli
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:59pm PT
Ok, Here are the reposts;

Given that many of us are at work and cannot spend all the time with those questions that they will engender, I will put up just a piece of my life for about the appropriate, core, 5 years.

Money. Winter savings. $90 took me more than 3 months to spend.

Sell gear. Enter the park after hours.

Find tourists leaving the valley and talk them out of all their leftover supplies and food. Fix someones car and charge them too much.

Go to the Caf and scarf (steal or divert food)

Do an odd job or sell a ride to somewhere.

NEVER pay camping fees. Hitchike everywhere.

Don't get seen by the rangers, they have a memory for faces.

Steal gas. Steal food. Dumpster dive for cans ($.05 deposit! is this still happening?) and food. Slip into wedding receptions and park events, make like John Belushi in Animal House until security evicts you.

Live in holes or on ledges or in cars in hotel parking lots (not the lodge), hide your gear. Kill something and eat it. Lie to your parents and get them to send you something. Anything.

If you cannot find a good place to car camp where you wont be seen, sleep in your trunk. (Remember those 60's cars all had trunks. Its not illegal to park overnight, just to get caught sleeping).

Mail yourself some weed general delivery and sell it. Find a girl or boyfriend who works for Curry and mooch or sell yourself into sexual slavery (...please?).

Work for Curry or the NPS - rescue campers. Sell space in the bear boxes. Sell campsite space. Sell parking spaces. Sell somebody elses stuff.

Live on the walls, just visit the valley floor for resupply. This is even legal, sorta. Keep your eyes open and SCAM.

Was it full time? THAT WAS MY LIFE. 16 hours a day plus whenever I got to sleep.

KAth was not unique. Several women/girls were usually around. Just not around me so much. Someone once told me he thought they were all sluts. I replied that I LOVED slutty women. And condoms and pennicillin were cheap back then, unlike now; and AIDS hadnt been invented, yet.

There are at least a hundred core Stonemasterii, at my guess, and a couple hundred more like myself who were hangers on and supporters, or just co-Facilitators. The life expectancy of this group has proven to be very short for average. Lots of the guys are missing. Hurts my heart, but I can understand it. Sometimes I wonder when my time will come.

Many of us know each other by sight or reputation or mutual friends, and it doesn't usually take long to reaquaint ourselves. In general many of us feel like we can trust each other still. "Dont trust anyone over 30" has become "don't trust anybody under 50".

It was a unusual time in America. We were becoming a liberal, eduacated nation, united against the wars and rednecks and developing a conciousness about racism and equality. You could walk up to a stranger and ask if he would like to share a smoke, and not expect any response except yes or no. We had honor and decency for the most part, along with a tolerance for poor hygiene and scruffy looks. Times sure have changed.

If you really want an answer in full, then this will require a new thread. I had some fairly unique single opportunity income boosters, too, but they would take a while for me to sort out, what with my memory.

And the blacker one.

I am afraid I wasn't talking much about natural causes. Its our lives and our own hands that are the fearsome killers. Many of us already have not had the luxury of a lingering death. No time to reflect, say goodbye, get things sorted out. I dont know what the arcturial statistics say, but of this group, I am sure there is a statistical anomily.

MANY of our guys are bipolar. I may be. I self-medicate (?) and my wife tells me I am naturally bitchy and depressive and she IS qualified to say so. Depression is NOT uncommon among us. Suicide is a preferred way for a bunch of us adrenaline junkie types. After being who I was, can I accept what I may eventually become? And if not, will I be allowed to fix it? My choice, dammit, (I decided).

Wonder how you could do a study on this? Much interesting stuff recently in Phycol. today reguarding the motivation and drives of extreme sportsters. How would you track the lives and deaths of the stonemasters?


right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 01:59pm PT
Craig should be so proud.
the Fet

Jun 21, 2006 - 02:17pm PT
Here's my post from the Lynn thread.

LEB wrote "5. What was it about this era and this particular group which made you so unique and garner such a place in "history" as it were. Obviously there were men who climbed before you in the 40s 50s 60s - Obviously men (and now women, even!) climbed after you 80s, 90s etc. So what was it then which gave you all such fame and "grandeur?" How exactly did you garner this lore which now seems to surround you regarding those time."

There were a number of eras important in Yosemite climbing history. The Stonemaster era is just more prevalant here (and is also probably the last "age" that had a disctintive local group of high caliber climbers, who often lived in the Valley).

Here is my biased summation:

The 1930s bringing modern roped climbing, and ascents like Royal Arches and Higher Cathedral Spire.

The 1940s Further refinement of big wall climbing and ethics, Lost Arrow Chimney, Steck-Salathe route.

The 1950s to 1960s (The Golden Age) The most impressive walls first done, Half Dome, El Capitan, and an increased move towards free climbing goals.

The 1970s (Stonemasters). Even more free climbing at an amazing new level. First free ascents on previous aid climbs (Astroman) and in a day ascents of big walls (The Nose).

The 1980s. Lycra and sport climbing come about. A little bit of climbing's soul dies. LOL. But Bachar and Croft do The Nose and Half Dome in a day.

The 90s and beyond. diversification, bouldering, hard aid. First Free ascent of the Nose and more.

They are all standing on the shoulders of giants. Each generation is inspired by the previous one.

There are some good books on other eras (e.g. Camp 4 about the golden age). But my favorite book is The Vertical World of Yosemite by Rowell. Articles and photos from many great ascents starting with the second ascent of Half Dome in 1884 and ending at the end of the Golden Age in the early 1970s.

As I mentioned earlier, I'd love to see Largo dedicate a whole book to the Stonemasters, ala Camp 4.

right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 02:20pm PT
So you see Lois,

With Looking Sketchy and Jaybro's comments, "The Stonemasters" indeed circumscribes a particular set of individuals. As I stated earlier in our discussions about Yabo, I was not a Stonemaster per se, but picked up on their heels and had direct opportunity of influence. I bet you could boil that actual original Stonemaster group down to about 20 or so people.

You've sort of walked into a tribal dynamic and will find some protectionist measures at play, which is perhaps appropriate to the actors at hand and their specific contributions and alliances.

If you look at gang culture, they have many tight knit and intertwined groups, all sharing similar styles but with unique apsects which may or may not strictly define them as independent groups, depending upon your criteria.

The life style in general bares a common thread and aspects of that can be adressed by many of us.


Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Jun 21, 2006 - 02:21pm PT
I started in 1980, so lets refer to the 80's as the Juanmaster's.

We got fire shoes, and Valhalla was never the same again.
I cannot imagine doing Ten Carrots with EB's.


Social climber
The West
Jun 21, 2006 - 02:27pm PT
"Sheep Buggerers"
hmm? there was a group with that M.O. out of Pinedale, climbed with "Pablo and the First Ascents," what Was that guy's name ...


right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 02:32pm PT
Sheep Buggerers is a group which Russ championed, or not, as the case may be depending on what that leads to...

They were LA boys.
Russ is nattily throwing Craig under the bus with them to get his goat!

Social climber
The West
Jun 21, 2006 - 02:45pm PT

I knew that.

I was sort of, equally disingenuously, comparing speed bumpee's.

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Jun 21, 2006 - 02:50pm PT
Wasn't Craig Fry the leader of the Sheepbuggers? Or did he just supply them with booze and weed so he could boulder with them.

Jun 21, 2006 - 03:30pm PT
Cry Fry didn't supple booze or weed to no flunkies. Cry did his own thing, and dragged anyone else along who could keep up with him.. He was always ready to lead anything, put up new routes on the lead too. If you didn't climb or hike fast enough or good enough, Cry was impatient. He was super motivated, super talented, strong and bold........(He's a mellow tame pussycat now-a-days.....). He didn't have anything to do with the Sheepbuggerers.....who were a bunch of immature, loud, stick-fighting, bunkweed-smoking, rude, obnoxious, sophomoric, junior college-type, B-Team, dirty, young, silly, dweebs/doofus L.A. climbers who never had girl-friends,....were always at the crags, doing something noisy, stinky, rude, dangerous, and out-there.....the types you would NOT want your daughter hanging out with.........good climbers... but climbing with them was like hanging out with a bunch of junior high boys at a sleep-over.
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