Wally Reed - Free Climbing Pioneer Extraordinaire

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 17, 2008 - 01:27pm PT
Having met Wally Reed and his lovely wife Ruby at the opening of Ken's exhibit, I found myself pondering his many accomplishments in Yosemite (take it away Ed!). I got a taste on the East Buttress of El Cap (FFA with Sacherer, August 1964). Proud effort in hard-soled kletter shoes!
At the top of my interest list is the Powell-Reed on Middle. Anyone done this route in recent times? It sure looks worthwhile.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 17, 2008 - 01:43pm PT
The Iota, 5.4 1956 Wally Reed Bill Henderson
Southeast Face Lower Brother, 5.8 A1 III 1958 Wally Reed Charles Raymond
Reed's Leeds 5.10b 1963 Wally Reed Mike Borghoff
Reed's Pinnacle Regular Route 5.9 1957 Wally Reed Herb Swedlund
The Remnant, Right Side 5.7 1960 Wally Reed Herb Swedlund
The Rorp 5.7 1963 Wally Reed Frank Sacherer
Selaginella 5.8 II 1963 Wally Reed Jim Posten
The Cleft, 5.9 R 1958 Chuck Pratt Wally Reed 1965 Chuck Pratt Chris Fredricks
East Arrowhead Buttress, Overhang Bypass 5.7 III 1957 Mark Powell Wally Reed Warren Harding
Lower Cathedral Rock, West Face 5.8 A2 III 1963 Frank Sacherer Wally Reed
Lunch Ledge Direct (Space Case) 5.8 A4 IV 1961 Yvon Chouinard Wally Reed 1976 Ray Jardine Linda McGinnis
North Dome, South Face Route 5.7 1957 Mark Powell Wally Reed 1960 Mort Hempel Irene Ortenberger Steve Roper
Powell-Reed 5.10c IV 1957 Mark Powell Wally Reed 1964 Bob Kamps Tom Higgins
Reed's Pinnacle Left Side 5.10a 1962 Frank Sacherer Wally Reed Gary Colliver 1962 Frank Sacherer Dick Erb Larry Marshik
The Slack, Center Route 5.10d 1958 Charlie Raymond Wally Reed 1967 Pat Ament Larry Dalke
Space Case (Lunch Ledge Direct) 5.8 A4 IV (5.10c) 1961 Yvon Chouinard Wally Reed 1976 Ray Jardine Linda McGinnis
Lower Watkins Pinnacle A3 II 1957 Mark Powell Herb Swedlund Wally Reed George Sessions Merle Alley
Reed's Pinnacle Direct 5.10a 1964 Frank Sacherer Mark Powell Wally Reed Gary Colliver Andy Lichman Chris Fredricks
Lower Watkins Pinnacle A3 II 1957 Mark Powell Herb Swedlund Wally Reed George Sessions Merle Alley
Reed's Pinnacle Direct 5.10a 1964 Frank Sacherer Mark Powell Wally Reed Gary Colliver Andy Lichman Chris Fredricks
El Capitan, East Buttress 5.10b 1953 Allen Steck Will Siri Willi Unsoeld Bill Long 1964 Frank Sacherer Wally Reed
Observation Point 5.9 III 1962 Les Wilson Wolfgang Heinritz Andrzej Ehrenfeucht 1964 Frank Sacherer Wally Reed

Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
Jun 17, 2008 - 02:28pm PT
Wally Reed at the opening,


Ken
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 18, 2008 - 11:08am PT
I had wanted to ask Wally how his name ended up on Reed's Pinnacle but a quick pass through Roper's green guide tells the tale. Wally was in on all three routes to the summit including the ultra classic second pitch of the 3D! Not everybody was made of the right stuff to hang with Sacherer but Wally clearly had no problem keeping up. I sure thought about the FA when I first lead the committing final pitch of the 3D long ago.
Gene

climber
Jun 18, 2008 - 12:52pm PT
Regular Route on Fairview Dome. FA Wally Reed & Chuck Pratt 1958
jstan

climber
Jun 18, 2008 - 12:54pm PT
It is surely none of my business but, while I have long known about Reed's pinnacle, i know nothing else about Mr. Reed. It feels like there is a hole in my knowledge that should not be there. Anyone?

His climbing with Sacherer suggests he carried a slide rule on his belt once. I noticed right away he is not using a pocket protector.
Gene

climber
Jun 18, 2008 - 04:31pm PT
Bump.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 18, 2008 - 07:12pm PT
Wally is truly a humble and mellow person. Very difficult to rile. I did a number of climbs with him in the early 60's. Kamps, Wally and moi did one of the early free ascents of the Worst Error. The rappel rope hung up on the third pitch, a long and unprotected chimney. Kamps and I watched in horror as Wally climbed back up without a belay to free it. Neither Kamps, nor I volunteered.

Having climbed a lot of routes with Sacherer I believe Wally to be the perfect partner for him. He could sit back and smile when Sacherer "went off". "O.K Frank, can we get back to climbing now"?

Several years prior, Galen, Walker and myself went up to climb the Worst Error, got lost, made a first ascent which we appropriately called the Real Error. Ascent by default i guess.

Mimi

climber
Jun 18, 2008 - 10:10pm PT
Joe, anytime you are in the mood, please tell us more about your time in Yosemite. What rich history.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2008 - 02:26pm PT
Wally and Mark Powell were the free climbing dream team at the dawn of the golden era and in many ways the original Valley locals. Steve Roper has this to say in Camp 4.






Ken very graciously allowed Wally and Ruby to view the history exhibit by themselves before the opening. I was still fussing around and had the opportunity to visit while they took it all in. Right in front of the El Cap Era section Wally paused and came over to disclose earnestly that "I never really did any of those big climbs."

"Wally, I am well aware of what you did and you have plenty to be proud of. Climbing has done nothing but get easier since you guys were up there in your hard-soled boots!"

Like a warm drink on a chilly night, Wally took in the praise and gave me a glowing look as he stepped back into the living past.

The amount of sincere humility in some of these pioneers is truly staggering. Always trying to measure yourself against Robbins or Harding. It totally makes sense that Wally could handle the volatile young upstart Sacherer when he showed up.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 28, 2008 - 06:59pm PT
When I was first starting out, it seemed that if Wally Reed was on the first ascent of a route we were trying, it was going to be strenuous, poorly protected, likely wide hands to offsize, and almost always a classic line. Those guys really got after the great lines. How about the 3D for an all time classic! "Obligatory for hard men."

First time I made it up the 3D I felt like Hercules.

JL
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 28, 2008 - 09:50pm PT
Something to add to this: Wally was a ranger, I seem to remember. And yeah, incredibly even-tempered. It would seem he was meek if you didn't listen to him.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2008 - 10:10pm PT
Or repeat his routes with original equipment in mind. A cropped Glen Denny shot of Wally and Bridwell from Yosemite in the Sixties, 2007.

Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 28, 2008 - 11:23pm PT
Pall Malls at the ready.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 29, 2008 - 02:14am PT
"If we can see further, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants."

In this case, a modest but most accomplished one.

Ed: You double printed the following in the list:
"Lower Watkins Pinnacle A3 II 1957 Mark Powell Herb Swedlund Wally Reed George Sessions Merle Alley
Reed's Pinnacle Direct 5.10a 1964 Frank Sacherer Mark Powell Wally Reed Gary Colliver Andy Lichman Chris Fredricks"
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2008 - 12:35am PT
The Powell- Reed was a climb of note in Pat Ament's excellent A History of Free Climbing in America, 2002.



The plate from Roper's guide showing the original line as the "aid variation."

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2008 - 10:47am PT
Bump for a tale from LongAgo!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2008 - 08:40pm PT
The written description of the Powell-Reed from Roper's green guide.

JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 19, 2008 - 11:14pm PT
I climbed the Powell-Reed on a weekend in early June of 1973. We took a day and a half. The third pitch had a very hard lieback for me, and I almost fell near the top leading it. We used some pins, so I don't know what it would be like with modern gear. There were several sections of munge -- and rather wet munge at that.

I haven't done Stoner's Highway, but it looks much cleaner. Still, we thought the face was beautiful, and after the shouting died down next door on Paradise Lost (Largo was climbing it on Saturday), we had the whole face to ourselves.

By the way, we must have spent the night on the same ledges as Powell and Reed on the first ascent. The shards of a broken wine bottle were the clue. . .
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Jul 20, 2008 - 12:25am PT
Back in '72 when Jim Orey and I were hanging out in C4 and looking for interesting things to climb it seems to me that anything with "Powell and Reed" placed after the name of the route after it meant commitement which usually entailed serious run-out climbing. I remember that the climbing on the Powell/Reed route on Middle Cathedral demanded serious routefinding and a belief in one's climbing skills. Getting from Belay A-B challenged Jim and I but the climbing was never out of control.............just vagely intimidating.

I'd love to see a profile on Wally Reed. He is one of the Valley Original Pioneers.

jack
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