Climbing 1957-style

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Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 10, 2006 - 02:05pm PT
Sorting through old files, this image turned up. It's my brother Mike belaying his younger siblings (that would be Greg in the middle and me at the bottom). Mike's using an old (useless) over-the-shoulder belay, and Greg and I are moving together. That's Dad (Ralph) rappelling down past his boys, making sure they're using "proper" technique!? He's also using an over-the-shoulder technique to rap. How did we not die?
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
Dec 10, 2006 - 02:19pm PT
Nice photo Jello! Very cool.

Ken
matty

Big Wall climber
Valencia, CA
Dec 10, 2006 - 02:21pm PT
Bad ass family jello, what did your mom think of this?
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2006 - 02:31pm PT
Thanks, Chicken.

Dad had Mom convinced it was safe, Matty, so Mom never seemed too concerned for us.
Ropeboy

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Dec 10, 2006 - 02:43pm PT
I would be proud of a family photo like that. Sure, rock climing techniques gets better with each decade and we welcome the improvements. The photo is also a strong reminder that chalk, harnesses, and rock shoes are NOT essential for rock climbing.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Dec 10, 2006 - 02:43pm PT
Very cool! kinda Spencer Tracy/Robert Wagner

Was that on one of the Ogden crags? Looks metamorphic.

In 1957 I was trying to heelhook out of my playpen.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2006 - 02:49pm PT
I agree, Rope, you don't actually need much gear to go rock climbing. It's nice that it has become safer, though.

That's Ogden limestone, Jay, but we have a lot of quartzite as well, in the area.
Mimi

climber
Dec 10, 2006 - 03:00pm PT
Jello, cool photo and story. Did your dad pursue climbing actively before taking on family life? Did you (and your brothers) climb with your dad as you got older and more accomplished?

Cheers,
Mimi
ground_up

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
Dec 10, 2006 - 04:17pm PT
" How did we not die?"

That is too funny ! I'm sure a guy of your experiences has said that more than a few times over the years...classic stuff , thank you for sharing Jello! It's stuff like this that make ST worthwhile..
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Dec 10, 2006 - 04:18pm PT
Man, Jello, that photo was taken the year I was born. Your Dad looks kind of like my Dad did when he was mowing the lawn (except that...well...your Dad isn't pushing a lawn mower, and my Dad didn't have rope over his shoulder)! No stylin' climbing clothes in those days, but everything must have seemed like it was new, unexplored, and all adventure. Great pic!
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 10, 2006 - 04:33pm PT
Very nice! A lot of stuff in the picture looks familiar - wish I had similar photos from when I started. Not until the early 70s, when I was barely a teenager. It was with a mountaineering club, and given that, as well as that B.C. was a bit of a void then in terms of equipment and techniques, there weren't a lot of differences. Body (Dulfersitz) rappels, laid (twisted) ropes, hip belays, tie in with bowline on a coil, etc etc. Though we knew enough not to do overtheshouldernottiedononthebrinkoftheprecipice belays - that was something the guides in the Rockies supposedly did.

Well, techniques and equipment were still better than before, and soon got a lot better.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2006 - 04:46pm PT
Hi Mimi-

Dad pursued everything at once, all the time. Back in the 'thirties, when he was 16 and his brother, George was a little older, they worked and lived on a ranch near St Anthony, Idaho. One day, they hitched up a buggy and drove over to the Tetons. The next day they climbed the Grand in cowboy boots, using a lariat as a rope.

During the war, Dad was commander of a Navy fighter squadron.
He met and flew with some guys who were good climbers, like Dick Pownall. Some of these guys worked for Exum in the summer, and after the war, Dad would spend some time every year, climbing in the Tetons. Any of his kids were allowed to go along on these trips, and climb if they wanted to. Dad took me up the Exum Ridge on the Grand when I was seven. He carried a 100' length of 1/4" nylon rope, to keep me safe. I was fully prepared to catch his fall, should he take one, on that little string!

Another time, in the mid-fifties, Dad decided to climb Rainier. At 5pm on a Friday afternoon, he locked the door to his law office in Ogden Utah and climbed into his newly acquired Hudson Hornet, and began the 1,000-mile drive, pre-interstate system. When he arrived at Paradise the next day, the mountain was enveloped in a storm cloud, but the party he planned to join, had started up anyway, so Dad took off after them, arriving at Camp Muir about the same time they did. After a few hours' sleep, the team got up and climbed to the top in really rough weather, but still made it down to Paradise by mid-afternoon. This allowed Dad just enough time to drive back home, and appear freshly showered and shaved to present a case before a county judge at 9am. His old flying buddies used to say that when Dad drove on those long trips, he was really just "flying low". The speedometer would register over 100mph for long stretches at a time, day or night.

My brothers and I did pretty quickly surpass Dad in our climbing abilities. Greg and I took him on a new variation to the Jensen Ridge on Symmetry Spire in 1965. The variation was about 5.9, and it was more than Dad wanted, although he got up it OK. From that time on, he mostly lived vicariously through his boy's adventures. His very last climb, was in 1979, when he went to Ama Dablam with us. He had heart disease and wasn't supposed to go above basecamp, but I wasn't too surprised to see him arrive at camp 2 at about 20,000' one afternoon. After I chastised him for jeopardizing the expedition by this stunt, we spent a special night, along with Greg, who was filming the trip.

Dad had a fatal heart-attack a few years later, while skiing with his daughter, Lil, at our local area, Snowbasin. After the ski patrolmen had loaded him into the tobaggan, Dad, knowing he was dying, begged them to take him over the old Porqupine gelande jump, which was just below where they were at the time. Of course, despite Dad's entreaties, they could'nt really grant his wish. He set a high bar for his kids, and helped us gain the skills and strength to make it over.
Mimi

climber
Dec 10, 2006 - 04:55pm PT
Awesome Jeff! The fine family fruit didn't fall very far from that excellent tree.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Dec 10, 2006 - 05:06pm PT
What a great photo, Jeff. Do I see leather shoulder pads to protect from the Dulfersitz?

That's considered aid nowadays, don'cha you know?

Roger
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2006 - 05:06pm PT
Mimi- you called me a fruit! LOL! I resemble that statement.

-FruitJello
Mimi

climber
Dec 10, 2006 - 05:11pm PT
hahaha Jeff! I was going to point out that the Jello still had the marks of the original mold, but I changed it.

What fine FruitJello!

How many other fighter pilots in your extended family?
N0_ONE

Social climber
Utah
Dec 10, 2006 - 05:18pm PT
Right on Jeff! That's funny stuff! What a great picture!

Yeah, you've been watched over buy some higher power!


Edit. I don't know how I missed the story the first time I read through. Cool, great story!

pc

climber
East of Seattle
Dec 10, 2006 - 06:13pm PT
Very cool Jello! Do you happen to remember what you were using for anchors?

pc
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2006 - 06:19pm PT
Thanks eKat, Roger and Steve. It's fun to reminisce with people who can get it, and give such positive feedback.

Mimi- Dad was the only fighter pilot in the family, but here's another story about him:

Back in the 'Fifties again, Glenn Exum told Dad about his plans to build a more permanent hut for his guides and clients, on the the Lower Saddle. Dad had the brilliant idea to help Glenn out by way of dropping the needed bags of cement on the saddle from the belly of a C-130 transport plane, that he "borrowed" from the Navy during one of his reserve officer training sessions. To make a long story short, only a few of the bags actually landed on the saddle, the rest merely flying over it near ground-level at 150 mph, absolutely terrifying the guides that were up there to recieve the gifts from heaven. Of course, those bags that actually hit the saddle bust into huge balls of dust, resembling small bombs exploding.

I wish that event had been caught on film...a truly brilliant hair-brained scheme! There is still today a rock up there that closely resembles the solidified remains of a burst bag of concrete. Take a look around next time you're there - you'll find it.
Mimi

climber
Dec 10, 2006 - 06:31pm PT
Holy moly Jeff! What a wild tale. I will look for that historical cairn marker next time I'm up there.
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