Telluride Mountaineering School

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deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Topic Author's Original Post - May 18, 2013 - 12:40am PT
Friends (John Summerlin and John Ely) have recently sent me (John Middendorf) nostalgic pics from when we were campers and guides at the Telluride Mountaineering School. We were interested to see if any Supertopians who might be, or know, folks in the group photos:

Telluride Mountaineering School, 1974
Telluride Mountaineering School, 1974
Credit: deuce4

Telluride Mountaineering School, 1979A
Telluride Mountaineering School, 1979A
Credit: deuce4

Telluride Mountaineering School, 1979B
Telluride Mountaineering School, 1979B
Credit: deuce4

Cancer Boy

Trad climber
Freedonia
May 18, 2013 - 01:04am PT
Count me there summer of 76. Just turned 14. I remember many people - Farneys, Greg Davis, Mongo, Figis (endless Python)... Sherry bread and the Wilsons. Held my first leader fall there for one Richard Levithan. Met Richard again later in life when he turned out to be my brother-in-law's best friend. Small world. Barber was sadly not there when I was, so never met him, or you - were you a guide?

Bob Beach
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 18, 2013 - 09:46am PT
Break out the old Ophir Wall photos deuce.
gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 18, 2013 - 10:23am PT
I was there in 78, I believe second session. Those pics of 78 may be in wrong order? I could go on and on about the whole summer.It didn't get better than that, back then and now! I was 15 and came home and the next step was to learn ice. Salute to everyone who was there.
Gill James, Clio, Ca.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 18, 2013 - 11:00am PT
Gill and Bob,

Tell us some of your memories . . . what routes did you guys do back then?
deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Topic Author's Reply - May 18, 2013 - 06:38pm PT
Bob and Gilly

Good to hear of fellow Telluride Mountaineers on site. It would be good to share some stories of our experiences there.

Did you know about the big reunion they had last Fall? I couldn't make it from Australia, but heardmsome goodmthings about the event.

I recall doing one of the Y-cracks on Ophir during one of the breaks between sessions (and getting spanked on the other wide one), but I recall doing harder routes on the wall across from our camp on the Silverton-Durango line across the river. Got a few routes in with Henry Barber when he made his occasional appearances in the years from 74-78.

1978 was the last year of the school. It was a tough summer, we lost Kevin Dippy and Dan on the Ophir wall, and Dave Farny got badly injured during one of the ropes course events.

Mostly I recall doing wonderful long rock routes in the San Juans and of course the great 14,000' peak bagging that was part of every adventure. Oh, and of course the desert canyon trips, and the Lake Powell 3-day holiday were highlights as well.
gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 18, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
Who could forget jumping in the lake on day one! Everyone has to swim across. Coldest water anyone had ever been in. What was the name of that lake. Sunshine? I do not remember specific climbs with names. Just rock and snow school. I do remember Ophir quite well. Desert trips were just as incredible as the high mtns. More to come class mates!
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 19, 2013 - 08:53am PT
Thanks for the stories guys.

I had heard about the 1978 Ophir Wall incident you refer to Deuce . . . are you willing to discuss what happened?
deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Topic Author's Reply - May 19, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
On Ophir Wall, Dan and Kevin went to climb Honey Pot, but we think they might have gotten off route. They both fell, roped together, off the big ledge on the top of the first pitch of Post Office Crack.

It was a sad day for the school, it happened in between sessions during the break. I was working as one of the guides, and we all were hit hard by the tragedy.

gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 19, 2013 - 09:05pm PT
I spent more time with Kevin than any other instuctor. We climbed, hiked backpacked and all the rest together. He was the one who sent me off on my solo. Remember the solo with no gear except matches? Great guy with a great attitude, I remember him very well.
John Ely

Trad climber
DC
May 20, 2013 - 03:11am PT
Guides TMS 1979 Second Session Top John Ely, Greg 'Mongo' Anderson; Mi...
Guides TMS 1979 Second Session Top John Ely, Greg 'Mongo' Anderson; Middle Neil Beidleman, John Middendorf, Bottom Hal Kingsbury, Dave Farny (Director)
Credit: John Ely
John &#40;pre-Deuce-sildorf&#41; Middendorf and Andy Atkenson at TMS c...
John (pre-Deuce-sildorf) Middendorf and Andy Atkenson at TMS climbing school together with omnipresent black painted pith hat.
Credit: John Ely
Andy Atkeson belays Neil Beidleman TMS style with bowline on a bight o...
Andy Atkeson belays Neil Beidleman TMS style with bowline on a bight on the rope for anchoring the belayer and bowline on a coil for the climber. No 'biners or other extraneous stuff necessary.
Credit: John Ely
Greg 'Mongo' Anderson on Ranch front porch
Greg 'Mongo' Anderson on Ranch front porch
Credit: John Ely
Neil Beidleman from Aspen with John Denver look.
Neil Beidleman from Aspen with John Denver look.
Credit: John Ely
Sherry and Dave Farny, Sherry Carleson
Sherry and Dave Farny, Sherry Carleson
Credit: John Ely

Here's a bunch of pictures from the last year (Summer 1979) of the Telluride Mountaineering School. Neil was super fit, a peak runner and a excellent skier, but had climbed little, and one would hardly have guessed he would later become an Everest profi & movie star. The boss, Dave, had fallen on the rope course and hurt his back really badly, and there had been another serious accident that summer, so Dave stopped the program and focused on his failed project to build 'Little Annie' ski hill on the back of Ajax in Aspen. John M. went on to become a YOSAR dirt bag under a different alias. Greg Anderson was the only staff member that year who had previously been a guide there more than once; Kevin had guided the year before. John M. and I, John Ely, had been campers ('74 &'75 for M, '76 for me), and had both crashed the climbing school on our way from Eldo to the Valley the year before (summer '78) to 'audition' for a guide job. (We were both just 18, and had managed to climb half dome, dragging along my father's US Army issue duffle bag with our water in gallon milk cartons, the summer before - just after our 'audition'.) Henry Barber, who had been a guide for several past years, popped in to teach climbing school that year (he worked for Chouinard back when it was also a gear company), and I remember being awestruck driving over the Ouray-Silverton hiway with him in his van.

The serious accident was the death of Kevin Dippy and Dan Hampton (sp last name ? from Aspen) when their belay anchor failed while Kevin fell trying to lead Barber's Honey Pot on the Ophir Wall. (My assumption that Kevin was leading as he was the only party member with leading experience, though I understand Honey Pot to be one pitch, so maybe Dan fell on second and pulled Kevin off, or Kevin was actually trying one of the y-cracks above?) Both can be seen near John M. in the middle of the group picture (Dan standing with the glasses in his sweater, and Kevin kneeling with the bandana in his head). I had fallen earlier that summer, pulling out a chockstone on Post Office Crack, with John M. belaying. I remember doing 'Choo Choo Train Crack' (5.9) with him as well that summer in the Animas River canyon where TMS had its climbing school. I remember a day before climbing school when we were just visitors. We were 18, had just done some Eldo classics and smoked some of that famous lake weed from a blond yosemite guy in Eldorado who had paid for his van with the stuff, and I had Rebuffet-induced visions of 'needles'. We hiked up from the Alta Lakes road to the gullies on the south-west side of the Ophir Needles, which you could see above, a continuation of the Ophir Wall rocks. We roped up and climbed at least two-three pitches of shale 4th class with absolutely no anchors until we could get into the snow, leading us, gut clutching, up to the only Ophir Needle big enough to use a rope, a largish flat-toped thing a pitch or two in height. But we were afraid we would have to rappel down in some dodgey fashion, and found a less terrifying walk down than our way up. Ophir Wall, indeed the entirety of the San Juans, has a deserved reputation for really bad rock of every possible sort.

The Ranch is now owned by Meg Whitman, yes that one everyone has heard of, which seems a real shame to me, as I doubt it is used for much. (Indeed, the google earth picture of the place shows the water bodies, including what was indeed called 'Sunshine Lake' and the pond in front of the ranch visible in the second group picture, but all the buildings have been razed.) It made a great place to run an 'outward bound' style program from, with a view of the Wilson group and the Ames Ice Hose cliff half way up the hill to Ophir from Telluride.

Greg Davis was my hero the year I was a camper. I remember him leading me up a chimney in the Ophir Wall called the 'slot' which he put up a couple years before, and talking about how to do a big wall with me. He was the senior guide, but I think was weary of working for Farny that summer, and didn't return to the program after one more year.

Greg Anderson and I met on the east coast a couple of times afterwards and skied at Waterville Valley, where his folks had a place. He was older by '78, already making good money as a financial wonk, and drove a turbo-saab. Dave son Mike was on the US Ski Team pay roll as a downhiller, and drove a BMW.

I have very fond memories of adventures in the San Juans, on the Yampa-Green, and in the box canyons around Lake Powell and Nat Bridges Monument.

Questions for Gill and Bob. Gill, you must have been there in '78. Do your remember John and I showing up at climbing school? I actually have the roster for '79, and you're not listed in the either first or second session, which is why you may have the pictures confused. The second session is noticeably missing Dan and Kevin so there is no mistaking the order!

Bob, I'm not sure I remember you from '76. Did you do the first session, with the Yampa-Green trip? or the Second? Do you have the group picture from that session. I certainly remember the roster of guides, including Sigi. I was the guy with the red climbing shoes (PAs) who followed Greg Davis around like a lost puppy.

John Ely
John Ely
Credit: John Ely


(Note the group pictures from the last year are indeed 1979 not 1978. Some YoYo gave deuce4 bad information.)
gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 20, 2013 - 09:47am PT
John, thanks for the great pics and info. I think you are correct that I was the summer of 77.(been pondering that)
I have my original black and white group shot and need to have it scanned so I can post it. I also have a few snaps of ophir wall as well. More to come.....G. I do remember some guys showing up for sure. Have to dig deep to recall specifics!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
May 20, 2013 - 09:54am PT
In the very 1st pic, is the guy with the young girl's arm on his head one of the Gaskills (Steve?), he definitely looks familiar to me?

Bottom row, 3rd from right, Ken (Manning?).
gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 20, 2013 - 10:20am PT
A fall visit in October 2008 and we were surprised to learn that EBay's Meg Whitman was the new owner. But she put the TMS back into its original shape before she razed it, taking away the new buildings that were put up for the Guest Ranch. I stayed at the Guest Ranch in 2001. On my visit in 2008, I was able to wander through the entire property including a visit to my old room. Very nostalgic.
Original Bunk House
Original Bunk House
Credit: gilly
The Barn
The Barn
Credit: gilly
The View
The View
Credit: gilly
My Room
My Room
Credit: gilly
gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 20, 2013 - 10:33am PT
Credit: gilly
Summer of 77 - I believe 2nd session? Going from right to left - Greg Davis is 4th from right, Kevin Dippy is 6th from right, and I am 7th with white cap from right.
John Ely

Trad climber
DC
May 20, 2013 - 10:35am PT
The 'young boy' is little Betsy Farny!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
May 20, 2013 - 10:43am PT
Oops! my bad.
Geo.

climber
May 20, 2013 - 11:42am PT
John Ely, thanks for posting pictures to the Telluride Mountaineering School Alumni Facebook page and pointing me to this string here on SuperTopo. Great to see the pictures. I still have my original photo and address list from 1979, First Term... John, you were there then, and the group picture with Sunshine pond in front is from 1979. Dan and Kevin died about a week before the end of that first term while climbing together during a day off. As I recall, Dan was only 16, the youngest guide. I was only a year younger, but years behind him in mountaineering skills and maturity. Dave had also broken his back on the rope course right about that time, and so the Second Term never happened that summer. It's too bad, as it was a great program.

I have a couple of recipes from my packet: "Sherry Bread" and Granola. Haven't tried either one, but I remember they were both fantastic. I'll post if anyone's interested.

gilly

climber
Mohawk Valley,Ca
May 20, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
Geo, please post the recipes, I am a chef. Did you guys ever go in the kitchen after hours and raid because you were so hungry? Canned peaches and chocolate sauce! Thanks Gill
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 20, 2013 - 03:12pm PT
Thanks for sharing your photos, recollections and stories you guys! I moved to Telluride in 1989 and never heard much about the TMS era . . . many influential climbers passed through during that period.

I know there are more tales . . .
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