Mark Powell, Royal Robbins and the Southern Californians

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 26, 2008 - 09:09pm PT
No climbing library, public or private, is complete without a copy of Chris Jones' superb and authoritative Climbing in North America, 1976. With the 50th anniversary of the FA of the NW Face of Half Dome last year and the Nose reunion coming up, this material is pure gold!
















I am going down to LA to interview Mark at length next weekend just in case he cannot make it to the Nose Reunion. He, Warren and Bill Feuerer were the original team to start up the Nose and this history sets the stage.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Oct 26, 2008 - 09:27pm PT
'Glad to hear of this interview Steve!!!
Mark Powell = proto Stonemaster?
-whatever the case, Thank You for the effort.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 26, 2008 - 10:12pm PT
Truly, my pleasure Roy! It's going to be a marathon because Mark remembers a lot based on my bits of conversation with him so far.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Oct 26, 2008 - 10:43pm PT
Bitch'n
east side underground

Trad climber
crowley ca
Oct 26, 2008 - 11:27pm PT
nice thread as usual murry---murry
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 26, 2008 - 11:32pm PT
You coming to the 50th Mammoth Murry? Might have to hook up the sled dogs to make it over the pass!
east side underground

Trad climber
crowley ca
Oct 27, 2008 - 12:06am PT
Might make it , if I don't have to wax up!
crunch

Social climber
CO
Oct 27, 2008 - 10:36am PT
Tragic, how both Gallwas and Powell sustained bad climbing injuries that brought their climbing careers to a sudden end. You have to wonder how Yosemite in the 1960s would have been different, had they continued.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 27, 2008 - 12:13pm PT
The events on the Nose would have unfolded differently without a doubt. With Powell at full strength, it would not have been the Harding show and the Dolt would not have left the team once Warren began casting around for belayers. And had Bill gotten the lift that such a great climb would have provided him, I believe that he would still be around these days. But then he might not have placed his precious Leica in Tom Frost's hands in 1960 for the first continuous ascent......the web of what ifs.

There were already clear countercurrents to the Batso approach in place due to the NW Face climb. Roper had this to say:


Powell would also have been healthy competition for Pratt, Sacherer and Kamps that would have ushered in 5.10 in a bigger way historically. His single minded commitment to climbing earned the derisive title of "climbing bum." He was the original hard core and proto Stonemaster as Roy likes to note back when there was virtually nothing to be gained from climbing besides the respect of a small group of peers.

Gallwas was certainly more mainstream and who knows what he would have been able to do given his solid skill set had he also avoided a career ending accident. Modern climbers have to grasp the extreme level of risk to which the equipment and techniques of the day exposed these brave adventurers when they were pushing the game forward. I always have that daring do in mind when I follow in their weighty footsteps.

The California - Colorado competition really began in the desert with the race for Shiprock in the classical alpine model with tales of lead falls and shifting, bent iron filtering back and forth between the two regional schools. The Kor slide show really brought home how intense was the desire to excel on the part of the Colorado camp.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 27, 2008 - 11:47pm PT
Yosemite Valley FAs and FFAs by Mark Powell

K-P Pinnacle FA 1941 Ted Knoll Jack Piontaki FFA 1955 5.2 Mark Powell Larry Hawley Bryan Milton Merle Alley
Arrowhead Arete 5.9 FA 1956 Mark Powell Bill Feuerer
East Arrowhead Chimney (Nagasaki My Love) 5.8 A2 III FA 1956 Mark Powell Warren Harding FFA 1988 5.10d Elliot Robinson Steve Annecone
Kat Pinnacle, Northwest Corner 5.7 A2 FA 1956 Mark Powell Don Wilson
Liberty Cap, South Face 5.8 A3 IV FA 1956 Mark Powell Royal Robbins Joe Fitschen
Lower Cathedral Rock, East Buttress 5.8 A3 IV FA 1956 Mark Powell Jerry Gallwas Don Wilson FFA 1965 5.10c Steve Thompson Chris Fredricks
Overhang Route II FA 1935 Dick Leonard Doris Leonard Bestor Robinson FFA 1956 5.8 Mark Powell Bill Feuerer
The Block 5.5 FA 1957 Mark Powell
Bridalveil East 5.8 A2 III FA 1957 Mark Powell Warren Harding FFA 1964 5.10c Frank Sacherer John Morton
East Arrowhead Buttress, Overhang Bypass 5.7 III FA 1957 Mark Powell Wally Reed Warren Harding
East Arrowhead Buttress, Overhang Route 5.8 A2 III FA 1957 Mark Powell Wayne Merry
Lower Cathedral Rock, North Buttress 5.8 A4 V FA 1957 Mark Powell Bill Feuerer
Lower Watkins Pinnacle A3 II FA 1957 Mark Powell Herb Swedlund Wally Reed George Sessions Merle Alley
North Dome, South Face Route III FA 1957 Mark Powell Wally Reed FFA 1960 5.7 Mort Hempel Irene Ortenberger Steve Roper
Powell-Reed 5.7 A3 IV FA 1957 Mark Powell Wally Reed FFA 1964 5.10c Bob Kamps Tom Higgins
Footstool, The Right Side 5.4 R FA 1959 Mark Powell Beverly Powell Bill Feuerer
Nickel Pinnacle from the Notch 5.9 I FA 1959 Mark Powell George Whitmore
Penny Pinnacle; East Arete 5.9 I FA 1959 Mark Powell Bill Feuerer
The Inconsolable Buttress 5.7 A3 III FA 1960 Mark Powell Beverly Powell Dave Rearick
The Turret 5.8 A2 IV FA 1962 Bob Kamps Mark Powell FFA 1973 5.11 Jim Donini John Bragg
Lower Cathedral Spire, Northeast Face 5.9 FA 1963 Mark Powell Frank Sacherer Bob Kamps
The Flakes 5.8 R FA 1964 Frank Sacherer Mark Powell
Reed's Pinnacle, Direct 5.10a FA 1964 Frank Sacherer Mark Powell Wally Reed Gary Colliver Andy Lichman Chris Fredricks
The Cobra 5.9 R A2 IV FA 1966 Mark Powell Bob Kamps FFA 1975 5.11a Tobin Sorenson Tim Sorenson
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 28, 2008 - 12:44am PT
Thanks for the hit list, Ed! Are you coming to the Nose Reunion?
Anastasia

climber
Not there
Oct 28, 2008 - 01:04am PT
That is so nice! It gives me goose bumps!
AF
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 28, 2008 - 01:11am PT
I've got it marked on my calendar! Should be there Friday, Saturday and parts of Sunday...
dogtown

climber
Where I once was,I think?
Oct 28, 2008 - 08:17am PT
Steve;
I just eat up all the early day material that you post. Fascinating stuff.

Thanks.
Bart Fay

Social climber
Redlands, CA
Oct 28, 2008 - 12:21pm PT
Bea Vogel ?
Any Sketchy relation ??
scuffy b

climber
On the dock in the dark
Oct 28, 2008 - 09:36pm PT
Powell's body of work at Tahquitz is quite impressive in that most of it occurred after his career-ending injury.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Oct 29, 2008 - 11:43am PT
So whatever became of Don Wilson?
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Oct 29, 2008 - 12:11pm PT
Mark Powell has an amazing memory (and seems a genuinely nice guy); your interview should be quite rewarding.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 29, 2008 - 09:49pm PT
Since this is home turf for you Randy and also because my only JT guide is the old Wolfe- Dominick orange one, a few questions if you would be so kind. I have Mama and Papa Woolsey on the Blob and the SW Corner and Cryptic on Headstone Rock (called Balanced Rock by Powell). Mark doesn't recall Cryptic credited to him at F7 March 1971. Any other Powell routes of record in more modern guides? Any other tidbits of history, myths or questions that you would like clarified?

Based on my phone conversations with him, Mark has a razor sharp memory including chronology which makes my task much easier than usual. This should really be an amazing recounting of exploits and adventures with a true giant in american climbing.
Cheers-Steve
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Oct 29, 2008 - 10:18pm PT
Wilson was killed on a rafting trip years ago in Idaho. Anybody that has ever climbed and run rivers has probably heard the story. He tied himself in and was unable to get lose when caught in a swift current. To this day, I cringe when I see someone enter a swift current tied in. Saw just this in a recent film series here in Santa Cruz. Yikes, got to chalk up.
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