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Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 10, 2005 - 01:56pm PT
I thought last week's history thread was really interesting. Whenever I hear about the Golden Age and the Stonemasters' era the mentions of what women were doing, apart from providing inspiration, are few and far between and generally limited to just a couple of well-known women, although I know that there were more gals doing some interesting climbs than I've ever heard about.

So, older Supertopo friends, please post your stories about the gals who were climbing hard back when.
Jody

Mountain climber
Templeton, CA
Jan 10, 2005 - 01:59pm PT
I am sure I can get some Irene Ortenburger stories for you from the 50's.
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Jan 10, 2005 - 02:04pm PT
what was the first female solo of El Cap?
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2005 - 02:09pm PT
Woman's solo: Bev Johnson, Dihedral Wall, 1978.

Jody...that would be great. Do you have any of those excellent old school photos?
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Jan 10, 2005 - 02:15pm PT
oh yeah, now I remember...cool! pretty bold!
Nibs

Trad climber
Humboldt, CA
Jan 10, 2005 - 02:31pm PT
How about stories about Jan Conn? Herb and Jan Conn established many routes in the Black Hills Needles, and Reservoir areas in the '60's (late 50's too?) Try some of their run out routes, and remember that they established these in deck shoes. Even with sticky shoes these climbs got our attention! But then, some of the bolts looked original!!
They climbed Seneca Rocks too, didn't they? Can anyone shed some light on Jan's accomplishments?
Sewellymon

Social climber
.....in a single wide......
Jan 10, 2005 - 02:37pm PT
… so when Bev Johnson did Dihedral Wall.. … it got a lot of press in the media.. and part of what they reported was her “rescuing” 2 climbers on an adjacent route. I think in some cases the newspapers may have even reported the rescued climber’s names (i.e. Al Bartlet, Bishop Jim Wilson). Truth was the boys had just finished Lurking Fear, and jugged up Bev’s ropes on a pitch or two of the final slaps. Fukcing media never gets it right.
Edge

Trad climber
New Durham, NH
Jan 10, 2005 - 02:44pm PT
Herb and Jan Conn also did the FA of Conn Course (III 5.8) on Cannon Cliff, NH in 1945. If anyone is familiar with the modern day Moby Grape route, it roughly follows the same line, but parts of the original were lost to rockfall.

In the 1920's, Mirriam O'Brien (later Underhill) was very active in NH, mostly to train for visits to the Alps, where she made the first all-female ascent of the Grepon and the Matterhorn.
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2005 - 02:50pm PT
Does anyone have any stories about Ellie Hawkins. I read about her in one and only one place and basically all I read was a tick list of some of her accomplishments...which seemed beyond compare for the other female wall climbers of the day.

I read of her leading the cruxes on the Sheild in '73, when it was probably still one of the harder routes, but since she was partnered with men this accomplishment doesn't seem to have etched itself very deeply into the history that we commonly hear about. I think there's a pic of her leading on the NA in Yosemite Climber.

She also was noted as having the first woman to solo Half Dome and the first (only?) woman's wall solo FA (Dislexia on Ribbon Falls Wall).

It's odd that she would have stayed so far below the historical radar.

Bev Johnson was sort of a hero of mine when I started to get interested in climbing walls. As I've learned more about her, it's interesting to me to see her part in bringing the media into climbing (She married a film director, got into film herself, often highlighting climbing and/or climbers and other X-treme pursuits of the day.) Although I'm sure that she was a rarity, I can't help but wonder if part of the reason why she's one of the only women that we hear about in that era (in Yosemite) is because of her closeness to the media and her selection of ascents that would be notable firsts. Surely there must have been others that were doing cool things in Yosemite, but not necessarily the 'first' and not necessarily preserved by the press.
ThomasKeefer

Trad climber
Monterey, CA
Jan 10, 2005 - 03:28pm PT
I read a great book about EARLY women climbers. I think it was called leading out. Most of it is kinda dry but there are a number of accounts of how to rig your skirt with a series of drawstrings and such so that you can raise or lower it when needed. Shorts were out of the question at the time.
The other challanges were in finding info on peaks since men of the time deemed a peak no longer a worthy ascent if a woman had climbed it.
Overall, since it is collection of shorter stories, it is worth putting in the basket next to the john...

As for the Conn's I did some routes in Seneca they had done. The were aptly named Conn's East and Conn's West. I think that I also remember seeing their names attached to some routes in the Leavenworth Washington area (or at least somewhere up in the Pac NW)
Have Fun!!
WBraun

climber
Jan 10, 2005 - 03:44pm PT
Mellissa

Yea, Bev got married to Mike Hoover. I ended up working many jobs with Bev and Mike over the course of the years in many far off places. Bev was a master at cuting through the third world diplomatic bullshit that we had to go through sometimes. She was also the C4 fee collecting ranger at one time believe it or not. I thought she wrote a book about herself?

Eli Hawkins was what about 100lbs or less. She had to use a mechanical advantage hauling system to haul her bags when she soloed ( I forgot which route it was) El Cap. Her husband was Bruce Hawkins who died a few years back I believe somewhere down south. Car accident....go figure.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 10, 2005 - 03:50pm PT
Sibylle Hechtel and Anne Marie Rizzi were contemporaries of Bev Johnson in the early-70s Valley scene. Sibylle was Bev's partner on the first all-female ascent of El Cap (Triple Direct); Anne Marie wrote a memorable account about climbing Half Dome NWF. Elaine Matthews, originally a Gunkie, did a few wall climbs in this period as well. Some fondly recall her cover photo on Vulgarian Digest.

In Colorado, Diane Hunter was leading hard free climbs in the early 70s. Godfrey & Chelton's book has a classic photo of Diane flashing Wide Country.

Melissa's suggestion that reputations depend partly on access to publicity applies equally to male climbers. Although a few people are outstanding enough to get written about by others, many (most?) of our best legends are from folks who well blew their own horn. Nothing wrong with that IMO.
Sewellymon

Social climber
.....in a single wide......
Jan 10, 2005 - 04:03pm PT
... .so it’s Fall of ’76. I am driving my tattered and battered worthless Studebaker station wagon home from the job in the garment district of Downtown LA… .. I had just done the Snow Creek route on San Jacinto (using goldline on some 4th class waterfall pitch), so I thought I was a climber.. I spy a girl with a backpack hitchhiking.. .(good lookin’ one, too). Pick her up. She’s heading home to Riverside after spending time in Yosemite. Has just done NWF of Half Dome. I am psyched. We chat happily…

Why I was so stupid at 19, I just don’t know, but I coulda driven that special lady all the way to Riverside and spent some quality time with her. Instead I dropped her of near my house and god knows how long it took her to get to Riverside. I’ve not seen Anne Marie Rizzi since. ..
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Jan 10, 2005 - 04:12pm PT
One woman who I believe played a major role in leveling the mental playing field between men and women in climbing is Mari Gingery. She was both free and aid climbing at a high standard so long ago, yet kept a low profile. Lynn's and her first all female ascent of the Sheild, using no mechanical advantage for the hauling says a lot about the two. She was leading 5.11 plus back in 77 or 78, not to mention her mastery of hard bouldering.
WBraun

climber
Jan 10, 2005 - 04:21pm PT
Mari Gingery was an awsome climber and boulderer. I believe Largo or Bulwinkle would do her justice in their tales. Bacher used to tell me she could do boulder problems guys couldn't and I've seen.

Sewellymon

I saw Anne Rizzi last year when she passed through here. I can't remember what she's doing now. Merry talked with her for some time so I'd have to ask her.

TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jan 10, 2005 - 05:57pm PT
I remember seing Mari float up sume stuff at J tree efortlessly 10 years ago or so.

The Mendenhalls and Wilits were both fixtures at lunch rock (Tahquitz)almost every weekend in the early 70's.

Only met Bev Johnson once, when a stunning woman in a meticulously pressed smoky bear outfit saw the rack in camp and told us that between 5:00 and 6:00 was a good time to go bouldering, but to try to pay at least a couple of times a week so her boss wouldn't figure out the book keeping discrepancies.



WBraun

climber
Jan 10, 2005 - 06:02pm PT
TGT

You where there! No one would of known that one unless they were. It was 50 cents back then.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jan 10, 2005 - 06:08pm PT
I was never a valley regular and only hit camp 4 for a couple of weeks in the early spring (School break) 71 and again in 72 I don't remember which time it was I met her, but it shocked the hell out of me that a ranger was telling me how to avoid paying. That may have been the year of the plane crash. Anyone who was anyone was absent and there was a weird secrecy vibe going.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 10, 2005 - 07:05pm PT
Jody wrote, I am sure I can get some Irene Ortenburger stories for you from the 50's.

My guess is that its been many years since Irene Beardsley has gone by that name...

First American and woman's ascent of Annapurna?

Anyhoo, was pleased to meet her and she signed my Stanford Alpine Club book (was a bunch of women in that book...) at Snowbird a couple of years ago. Great book.

Brian in SLC
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2005 - 07:12pm PT
Speaking of women climbers at Snowbird...
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