It takes balls to use nuts...

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Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 18, 2006 - 06:29pm PT
At least that's what we used to say back in the late 60's/early 70's, when we were making the transition from using pitons to protect free climbs, to stoppers and hexes. Here's Rob Keisel on the first ascent of the North Rib of Mt Slesse in the North Cascades, in 1972. We did the climb without hammers or pitons, 27 pitches of moderate climbing up to 5.9. As you can see, Rob has quite a big set of hexes between his legs.

Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 18, 2006 - 06:38pm PT
cool, the North But of Slesse is on my top 10 hit list.

these days you could say it takes balls to use Aliens, Belay Loops, Dynama slings, ropes, rivet hangers and just about anything else. All have broken on people under body weight within the last year.
Blinny

Trad climber
NorthWestMontana
Nov 18, 2006 - 06:41pm PT
HolyShizzleJelloMan. . . reminds me of a time when I was leading something or another in the ValleyOfTheHardBodies. . . and my belayer bellowed:

"BROCKMAN! There's a perfect foothold right by your nuts!"

To which I replied:

"I don't have nuts!"

Then he said:

"YOUR HARDWARE, DamnIt!"

:-)

HILARIOUS!

eKaterinaBallerinaCoolitaOrcalitaHumpBackValdezOldDadBrockmanTheUnBlinny
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 18, 2006 - 06:52pm PT
You're lucky you never had the experience of stepping on your own nuts, eKat. It's really awfull for a guy as well equipped as Rob was.

-JelloBallsCushionFalls
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 18, 2006 - 07:00pm PT
Sobering thought, Lambone. Maybe climbing was actually "safer" back when it was less gear intensive?
dirtineye

Trad climber
the south
Nov 18, 2006 - 07:27pm PT
Looks like a good spot for nuts to me.

Ekat you slay me AGAIN.
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Nov 18, 2006 - 07:37pm PT
Back in the day we didn't know it took balls to use nuts. We climbed "trad" because that's all we had. We used nuts because we were poor (as in "cheap") n00bs who couldn't afford Friends, which was the only slcd available.

For my first two summers in Yosemite, we had ONE Friend between my partner and myself (a #2 1/2 that I usually "saved" for the anchor).

I'm glad we didn't start out with double racks of cams. We learned to eyeball good placements on the fly, something I'm not sure would have happened if we had unlimited cams to plug in.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 18, 2006 - 07:43pm PT
Lowe Balls! Good on you Jeff for coming up with those little things. The crux 3-hour placement on the first hammerless ascent (25th anniversary ascent) of the Muir took a medium. After watching the sun go down, working by headlamp, for no particular reason, on the umpteenth try, it bit enough in this horrible little flare to allow me to keep climbing and get to the belay. Some guys heads these days would probably explode after 20 minutes! Working away in the dark and looking down into 2500 feet of gloom was memorable to say the least.

The old adage, you get out of it what you put into it really applies to climbing. The old days of simple but primitive climbing gear required so much more attention and awareness to locate and arrange pro. It took some real nerve to trust in providence and your ability to get up and really push your limits. I used to remember the individual placements long after the routes were done.
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 18, 2006 - 07:57pm PT
Steve, I though in the "old days" people just whacked in pitons. Seems clean gear is pretty new, and the technology hasn't changed that much since it was first invented.

I thought C-Mac did the first clean ascent of Muir?

But yeah, Lowe Balls are the ticket! scary little bastards. They seem totaly unpredictable when they will hold or pop, especially in the smallest sizes!
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 18, 2006 - 08:13pm PT
Lambone - my gawd, Man, you're not supposed to actually trust your bodyweight to those little suckers! They're for free-climbing only. The kind where you don't fall...

Steve although I agree the Lowe Balls are good, we didn't invent them. We simply helped with the final production design and marketed them. Thanks for the compliment though. It should go to the actual inventor. Unfortunately, old-timer's disease has stolen his name from my memory. Does anyone here know him?

-HydraulicJelloBallsExpandTightInCracksAndStopFalls
leinosaur

Trad climber
burns flat, ok
Nov 18, 2006 - 08:22pm PT
The days of leading on just a set of nuts and a few hexes are far from gone. Many of us had to build our rack gradually, even in the 21st century. I remember my accountant (i.e. my wife) saying, "yes, you can have a rack - you just have to pace yourself." Teacher's salary,kid to feed, you know. But once you score some pro, you gotta go lead SOMETHING, right? I was just thinking this week, how that may be the most dangerous time in a climber's career. Tempers the blade, I guess.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 18, 2006 - 08:50pm PT
I've posted this sequence before... my climbing partner Mike leading p1 of Baby in the 'Gunks, 1980.

The rack is stoppers, nuts and tied slings.

He gets about 3 pieces in on the first pitch. That's how we climbed back then...

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 18, 2006 - 08:57pm PT
Cheapness rules, always has. The first nuts were just machine nuts snagged from the railway lines by some old dads in Britain to supplement the natural stones they carried in their pockets to use as slung chockstones. Can you imagine the traffic jam that a nice selection of stones would become in the old trousers? Anyway, I still carry small hexes and there are lots of situations where the larger ones are desirable due to soft rock or weight considerations. I love that old gear.
Aya

Uncategorizable climber
New York
Nov 18, 2006 - 09:04pm PT
Ed - for some stupid reason, Baby was the second climb I ever led on gear... and at the time my rack consisted of nuts, tricams and two metolius TCUs (00 and 03). I placed mayve 4 piece... and I think one of them stayed in.

I got to the GT ledge and swore never to do something so dumb ever again! Freaked myself out... probably a good thing. I'm never climbing that thing again.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 18, 2006 - 09:29pm PT
You'd have to be nuts to use ball-nuts.

Who invented those pieces of crap, anyway?
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Nov 18, 2006 - 09:35pm PT
I thought the marketing tagline went...."BallNuts ~ Because you need balls to climb above them and have to be nuts to take a fall on them!"
maldaly

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Nov 18, 2006 - 09:36pm PT
Balls (Lowe Balls and BallNutz) were invented by Steve Byrne. When I was working at Lowe with Jeff and Greg, we licensed the patent from Steve and did the engineering and development on them. Steve also gets credit for the Slider and the TCU/FCU idea with the flexi cable.
Mal
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 18, 2006 - 09:57pm PT
Aya - that was our first route in the 'Gunks... we were graduate students at Columbia at the time.

I think we weren't aware of the ratings... but it was always fun (and still is) to climb there. Easier now than then... for some reason.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 18, 2006 - 10:01pm PT
I've still got some of Byrnes TCUs.

Ball nuts were all that Alison Sheets could get in for pro on the FA of a crack we did in Valley of Fire.

The route name;
Great Balls of Fire
WBraun

climber
Nov 18, 2006 - 10:05pm PT
"It takes balls to use nuts..."

You really think so?
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