Pre-1964 Shawangunks Guidebooks

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Kligfield

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 19, 2018 - 02:42pm PT
I have dug through my old climbing guidebook collections and located two rare guidebooks to the Shawangunks that pre-date the 1964 Art Gran guidebook. This latter is generally considered the first guidebook to the Gunks. To be precise, it was the first guidebook published by the American Alpine Club that appeared in book format.

The first of these guidebooks is from 1962 and was written by Dave Ingalls, who was a prominent climber in the Gunks during the 60s, both within the Appalachian Mountain Club circles as well as in independent circles. Besides his eastern rock climbing career, Dave went on to climb throughout the US and Canada, and did the first ascent of Catenary Ridge on Mt. Logan. This guidebook by Ingalls is entitled "CLIMBING LIST OF THE SHAWANGUNKS" and has a column that compares different grading systems for the time. The first column is for Art Gran rating (prior to his publishing his 1964 guidebook), the second column is for the IOCA rating (this was the Intercollegiate Outing Club), and the last column is for the AMC rating (Appalachian Mountain club). The latter was dominated by the members from New York area but New Englanders also participated in the Gunks activities at the time.

As an example, the climb Yellow Ridge has a 5- rating from Gran, a G rating from IOCA, and a 6f rating from the AMC. Similarly the climb Jackie has an 5, F and 5- ratings, respectively. Also of interest in this guidebook are the names of some climbs, which apparently were either lost to posterity in the subsequent guidebooks, or had name changes. Examples include "Green Grunge," "Crimson Corner," "High Suspension," "Bee Bit," "Cathedral South," "Adam's Preamble", "Lemon Squeezer," "The Move." Also of interest, some of the names of climbs were spelled differently than in the current generation of guidebooks (from Gran through Williams' series of guidebooks"--examples are "Gene,", "Madame Grunnebaum's Valtze", "Schnuki's Return." Afficionados of Gunks trivia may find this information entertaining!

The Willy Crowther guide was included in the latter part of the IOCA Gunks Rockclimbing Bulletin #6 with a 1964 date. Willy was a prominent rock climber of the day, and also bounced between the IOCA and AMC membership. Besides the route drawings, this bulletin contains he names of "approved" leaders and seconds who were "qualified" to climb in the Gunks. Current climbers may not realize but until the Vulgarians and other Independents came along, it was only possible to climb if you were a pre-approved leader or second, having taken and passed safety classes with either the AMC or the IOCA. Times have certainly changed!

The Crowther route drawings are most likely the earliest examples of rock climbing topos, at least in the American east coast. They illustrate the names and route paths of climbs superposed on line drawings of the cliffs. Included are the Near Trapps, the Trapps and Mohonk. Some of the routes drawn include an IOCA style grade: typically a letter grade of difficulty. Remember that these were the days prior to the accepted 5.0 to 5.10 (at the time) Yosemite Decimal System that later became widely adopted and used in the Gunks.

Again, groupies of climbing histories will find a treasure trove of information in this guide also. For example between Miss Bailey and Baby is identified a climb called "Double Chimney"--I don't believe this appeared ever in subsequent guidebooks.

I will do my best to put some of this material in illustrations, here on this site. However, if anyone wants copies of the entire set of material, I am happy to forward pdf files of them--just email me on this site and I'll follow up.

I hope that the uncovering of this material will stimulate many pleasant memories for those active during this time frame, and for those current climbers, perhaps this material will provide a glimpse into the early development of the gunks as a climbing area. Happy reading!
Kligfield

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2018 - 02:47pm PT
First page of Ingalls 1962 guide
First page of 1962 Ingalls guide to Gunks
First page of 1962 Ingalls guide to Gunks
Credit: Kligfield
Kligfield

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2018 - 02:48pm PT
Page from 1964 Crowther Gunks guide
Page from 1964 Crowther Gunks guide
Page from 1964 Crowther Gunks guide
Credit: Kligfield
Roots

Mountain climber
Redmond, Oregon
Mar 19, 2018 - 02:54pm PT
Great stuff!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 19, 2018 - 02:55pm PT
Wow...great stuff...thanks!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Mar 19, 2018 - 03:07pm PT
Very cool. I love this type of early guidebook material.
DanaB

climber
CO
Mar 19, 2018 - 03:19pm PT
I have a copy of the Ingalls guide, but I'd never seen or heard of the Crowther one. Thanks.
Ledge Rat

Trad climber
Michigan
Mar 19, 2018 - 03:29pm PT
Very cool, thanks for sharing!

Jeff
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Mar 19, 2018 - 07:36pm PT
Cool finds. I had a copy of the IOCA guidebook around 1961-2 but the mimeographing was often too faint to decipher. Naturally, many epics ensued, partially because it was hard to read, and partially because Crowther didn't always know where the routes really went. (The diagram for Miss Bailey is an example.) We certainly had no idea what the letter grades meant, and of course there was nothing to indicate protection or lack of it.

I find it a wee bit sad that we are now awash in so much information, and there are so many people around anyway to offer advice, that such adventures are almost entirely a distant memory.

As for climb names, Crowther's Double Chimney is now the Big Chimney. As Roy notes, Gene is no longer Gene, it has been detransgendered back to the original Jean. But Crimson Corner is still alive in all its 5.1 splendor.
the idle rich

climber
Estes Park, CO
Mar 19, 2018 - 09:41pm PT
Roy...I have a reprint of a guide from Appalachia in 1960 by Fritz Wiessner if you want a copy. It's not all that long (6 pages) so I can post here if you like or email it to you. I don't have the Crowther guide but it looks very cool.

Credit: the idle rich
Evel

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Mar 19, 2018 - 09:53pm PT
WOW!This is gonna be good.
Thank you Roy.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 19, 2018 - 10:22pm PT
Page from 1964 Crowther Gunks guide
Page from 1964 Crowther Gunks guide
Credit: Willie Crowther / Kligfield
Very cool - thanks for sharing.
Here is a more readable version of Willie Crowther's topo.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Mar 20, 2018 - 05:28am PT
Hi Roy, Great stuff. I remember climbing with the IOCA crew during my early, pre-Gran guidebook, visits to the Gunks and they were utilizing a graded route list--perhaps one of those you mention, though my very dim recollection is that it was simpler in format than either of them. I'd love copies of what you have (byastream@aol.com).

I also well recall sharing some of those pre-guidebook "epics and adventures" at the Gunks with rgold. Those memories are definitely more enduring than those of most subsequent 'guidebook-aided' climbs over the subsequent decades!

Alan
Todd Eastman

Social climber
Putney, VT
Mar 20, 2018 - 06:44am PT
Jeepers! How did you deal with the dinosaurs wandering around the Gunks back then?
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Mar 20, 2018 - 06:58am PT
We spoke nicely to them and pointed them to more juicy looking tourists.
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Mar 20, 2018 - 07:26am PT
Roy,

Thanks for putting this on S.T.! In didn't even know W. Crowther was the author of a guide. Many; including myself owe Mr. Crowther much thanks for mentoring fledgling climbers. He really was a great climber BITD, who took the time to teach others.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Mar 20, 2018 - 07:31am PT
Steve, Willie Crowther also wrote the first published guide to Quincy Quarries that same year. Alan
Kligfield

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 20, 2018 - 08:33am PT
Following up on previous notes:

(1) The Wiessner Appalachia 1960 article is still available in the AMC journal and in libraries.

(2) There is also the 1966 Joe Kelsey "A Supplement to a climber's guide to the Shawangunks" (the tongue-in-cheek satire that only Kelsey could write)

I'm guessing that somewhere deep in the AMC archives of the NY or New England (Boston) chapters, there might exist lists of climbs in the Gunks. But I don't have specific information on this. Anyone?

Finally, during this period of time, people like Jim McCarthy must have kept some types of records in the pre-Art Gran guidebook days. If Jim you are reading this stuff-- please weigh in on what you can add.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Mar 20, 2018 - 08:38am PT
Kelsey's "Supplement" and his "Accident Report" are both gems---though knowledge of the specific personalities and of Gran's writing style are really necessary for their humor to be fully appreciated---a sadly shrinking audience.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Mar 20, 2018 - 09:49am PT
Yup, at this point you have to be one of those dinosaurs to get the humor and references.
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