Second up the Arrow Chmney Bob Swift SCB 1955


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 28, 2013 - 05:14pm PT
I was going through my copy of Ordeal by Piton and came across this gem originally found in the 1955 Sierra Club Bulletin.

Bob spoke at the Oakdale Climbers Festival last year about this classic ascent and has a great sense of humor as Roper notes. He graces our forum with his stories from time to time.

The ultra classic story of the first ascent here.

I am trying to get used to a new scanner so bear with me folks!
steve shea

Sep 28, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
That is a great retrospective. Not only one of my all time favorite Yosemite routes, and the history as well. But the photo, showing up to sort in your XK120 Jag, top down at the bottom of the hill. Awesome! Climbing with style in the 50's. I remember Rowell driving around in a Vette and Bragg in a new BMW. But an XK120 takes the cake. Who owned it? I think Batso was driving a black '59 El Camino the last I saw of him.

It is interesting that a significant number of VW mechanics were spawned of necessity because of ownership, poverty and John Muir, the savior for shade tree VW work. I think quite a few climbers were car guys BITD. Thread drift. I could not help myself.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 28, 2013 - 08:26pm PT
Steve- The Jag was Warren's baby.

I drove a 71 VW bus for many years and loved the simplicity but not the constant need for tinkering. The things have a soul and I began to sense that my ride was malevolent and replaced it with a Toyota snub nose (with REAL HEAT!). LOL

Sep 29, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
Nice Steve, yet another classic account of a classic climb that i had never heard. Thanks man!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 29, 2013 - 01:45pm PT
I still have plenty of signed copies of Ordeal by Piton for sale here:
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 29, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
Ken has a clean scan of that last photo:
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 29, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
Thanks Clint!

Classic hardware selection in that amazing photo!

I wonder what the pliers were about? Must have been to extract broken or jammed drill bits.

We will have to get Bob to chime in.
steve shea

Sep 30, 2013 - 11:02am PT
Those shoes look like espadrilles with a Kronhofer Kletterschue type sole. Pretty trick! The pliers could also do double duty to help troubleshoot electrical issues with the Jag. Most British cars had Lucas electrical systems which were bad. Lucas was always referred to as the "prince of darkness". Heh Heh
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2013 - 12:20pm PT
Bumping in the Light...

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 15, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
Too freekin' cool.

I've done the spire so many times, always wanted to do that chimney, always thought I would.

Still haven't gotten around to it......
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
Never too old for adventure Brother!

John Salathé was in his forties the first time he tied into the rope and fifty by the time he did the Steck-Salathé.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 15, 2013 - 01:54pm PT
"Anchor slings and waterproof coveralls were brought into use. Each might
have boasted substantial merits had the question of futility been raised.
We closed our eyes and waited.

The first light of dawn revealed that Warren had abandoned the sharp rock
assigned to him in favor of a more comfortable alternative, standing on a
pair of footholds with one hand grasping a fixed rope."

"On this occassion Warren favored a bosun's chair which he spent half of the
night rigging and the rest of the night cursing."

Now that there is some GUD SHIZZ!

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 15, 2013 - 02:00pm PT
Thanks Steve, yes, it's still on the radar.

I think Cragman is going to do it with me in preparation for my 35th anniversary ascent of the DNB, right Dean?


Dean? Hello Dean?.......

Trad climber
Feb 20, 2014 - 05:11am PT
BUMP for JAG-ed out climbing content.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Feb 20, 2014 - 07:21am PT
Look at that car! It's a far cry from the dirt-bag PB VWs in the C4 parking lot of the 70s!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 28, 2018 - 08:27am PT
I am going to interview Bob Swift today.
This has to be the most entertaining account of a significant Valley climb ever written and I am looking forward to reliving it with Bob along with his adventures on Rakaposhi in 1957 and Gasherbrum in 1958.

Trad climber
crack addict
Dec 28, 2018 - 08:49am PT
I talked to Frank Tarver a few years ago. Didn’t think to ask him about the Lost Arrow climb. He was pretty clear on some things but not so much on others.
Alan Rubin

Dec 28, 2018 - 08:54am PT
Getting to meet and chat with Bob was one of my personal highlights from Oakdale 2018. A fascinating guy who still has a great sense of wit despite current physical issues, exemplified by the t-shirt he wore at Oakdale "Live Long, Die Quickly".
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 28, 2018 - 09:50am PT
great to meet Bob at the most recent Oakdale event

I had email communications from him regarding Harris' Hangover that I asked in a "Welcome" thread 10 years ago:

his reply was classic,

I believe the first (I also hope LAST and ONLY) ascent of Harris Hangover was on Memorial Day 1949. Oscar Cook invited Dunmire and myself to finish off the route he had started with Morgan Harris and possibly others.

It was rainy, I believe we bivvied beneath the Hangover itself (which I remember as a huge chockstone cemented in place with loose dirt and assorted vegetables.)

Best part was spotting Phantom Pinnacle during the descent.

Bob Swift

this elicited a number of delightful thoughts, the first being that Harding thought Bob was old when he wrote Downward Bound, yet here I had an email from Bob decades later, the email was yet another of those thoughts, and finally, the climb was apparently as horrendous as it looked from the descent.

I hope that every effort is made to record Bob's experience as a member of our tribe. "Live long, die quickly" indeed, but not yet.

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Dec 29, 2018 - 12:25am PT
The account mentions that on the beginning of the third day "we placed a succession of bolts." Do they really mean pitons or did they have to add a bunch of bolts to the climb on the second ascent?
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