Dolt Stories


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Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:36pm PT
These first few stories are from some 'in memoria' that were published in Climbing Magazine not too long after Bill Feuerer's death.

I have revised my version, but have reproduced the others for those of you who didn't see the originals.

I will present them here in this order: Harding, Powell, Sykes, McNutt, and finally my revision.

There is more to tell.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:37pm PT
DOLT by Warren Harding

Dolt? What can one say? From the beginning I considered him rather crazy; but just nicely so nothing "heavy", nothing that would ultimately result in such drastic action on his part. Looking back, I now realize that I never really knew Dolt at all. Perhaps no one did.

But this retrospection does recall some of the incidents mostly zany, humorous that seemed to occur during our rather brief association. I don't actually remember our first meeting, All sorts of things seemed to be happening at that time. We were plunging rashly into new routes on Yosemite Valley's virtually untouched walls, developing new equipment, accruing experience in big wall climbing logistics. Dolt probably appeared in Yosemite around 1956 or 1957. By then I had been climbing about four years, I had begun to find my way up some "big walls" in the company of various granite gropers some of whom I got on well with others not so well. Temperment plays a rather important part in climbing teams! At any rate, I found myself talking with one Mark Powell, who was in the process of completing his transformation from a mild mannered, plump fisherman to a lean mean rock climbing tiger. After a few climbs together, we declared ourselves ready to tackle the Northwest Face of Half Dome.

Spring of 1957 found us in Yosemite Valley all set to have a go at this very impressive wall, In the preceding months while climbing in the desert country,, Mark had met and formed a rather symbiotic association with one William Feuerer soon to be known as "Dolt". Everything seemed fine we were obviously a formidable climbing team except an even more formidable climbing team was already on Half Dome and doing a great job of making the first ascent, We skulked and grumbled about the Valley for a few days, then in an egocentric fit, decided to see what we could do with the face of El Capitan.

Climbing hardware and techniques in general had much room for development in those days. This provided the Dolt a fine opportunity to throw his keen analytical mind into high gear. He literally plunged into the task of creating new wide, wide pitons and other exciting equipment for this great ascent, Some of the concepts were quite sound, workable others, such as the Dolt Winch and Cart, were wildly impractical. Ofcourse, Mark and I must share the credit for this dubious creation.

As we bungled along with this venture through 1957, things began to happen to us,, Little things at first, like my leader fall on my first day of climbing. I sustained a bad rope burn on my left hand. A few days later, unaccountably, a bolt hanger broke dropping Dolt a few feet forcing from him a startled squawk similar to that made by a strangling chicken. Other things we discovered that our fixed rope (III manila), left in June, had nearly worn through in several places by November, Powell's disasterous accident on another climb. Little things, like Dolt getting his beard caught in a prusik loop while we were installing a new fixed line nylon this time!

All these incidents seemed to pile up in Dolt's mind seemed to be "telling him something. Perhaps he had never really forgotten what must have been a truly terrifying experience: as a beginner, prusiking up theTotem Pole in a very high wind. In any case, he became deeply worried. He began reciting ominous quotations from the Bible. He talked about dropping
out of the El Cap project. By the end of 1957, with such people as Al Steck and Wally Reed, we had reached (and named) Dolt Tower. At this point "true genius" reared its exciting head!

From Dolt Tower, it was a clear, unbroken sweep of granite to the base of the wall about 1200 feet below. Why not set up a hauling system to eliminate the brutish work of prusiking with heavy loads? A splendid opportunity to show how truly bright we were! The result was the Dolt Cart and Winch. The Cart was a marvelous contraption made of bicycle wheels and some sort of a frame. The Winch was actually a windlass it simply moved rope. The whole system had only one drawback. It didn't work!

In getting the Winch parts and its 1200 foot length of 3/8 inch nylon up to Dolt Tower, Dolt and I had one more traumatic experience. Around Easter 1958 we started up our fixed ropes. It was raining lightly, but we thought it would soon stop, It didn't. It got worse, turning to sleet and snow, I managed to get the sack of Winch parts and the trailing 1200 foot rope to a point in Stoveleg Crack a couple of hundred feet below Dolt Tower. Deciding I'd about "had it". I tied off the load and returned to Dolt Hole where Dolt was waiting. By now it was snowing hard and we were both in pretty bad shape,

We were appalled at the thought of descending fixed ropes in such conditions, but there was no other choice, I started down first, eventually reaching the ground without undue drama. Rich Calderwood met me with a canteen of hot bouillon. While sipping this delightful liquid, we watched Dolt get into the last rappel. He looked pretty shaky. The last stance on the fixed rope was up about 180 feet. We had to tack on an extra 15 feet of rope to reach the ground, leaving a knot at a rather awkward place. Apparently Dolt had forgotten about this or was too shot to care. At any rate, he just slid down the rope and ran right into the knot. He sort of collapsed and hung there like a dead man. It was quite a hassle getting him free of the knot and down that last few feet. Dolt seemed rather shaken by this experience and, later on, began to quote the Bible more frequently especially in matters relating to impending doom.

Dolt only went on the wall once more after that. Later In the spring of 1958, Mark Powell thought he had his demolished ankle pretty well put back together and wanted,to see how well it would work. So the three of us headed up the fixed ropes to Dolt Tower and pushed the route upward. Things went well enough up to El Cap Towers. We were using Dolt's latest creation adjustable wide, wide bongs (spacers, wing nuts, etc.) to get us up the wide crack which separates the two towers. Still okay to the top of Texas Flake, then trouble!

Dolt had decided that our 1/4 inch drills should be ground down slightly, presumably to make the 1/4 inch by 1 inch Star Dryvin bolts fit tighter. Fine. But, as we discovered too late, this eliminated the reverse taper effect in the drills. They bound up terribly, making it virtually impossible to drill a hole 1 inch deep. Powell, never noted for his patience in placing bolts, led from Texas Flake. After a few hours, Mark was fuming with frustrations and had put in a ladder of rather shaky looking bolts; also, his ankle was killing him so he came down.

I took over the lead, finished off the ladder with a couple more dubious anchors, reached a crack of sorts and started nailing up toward Boot Flake. Maybe I was just getting nervous, but it appeared to me that this 60 foot high slab of granite was not especially well attached to the wall. A little later, my suspicions were confirmed when I demonstrated empirically that Boot Flake is indeed rather loose!'. About halfway up, I was standing on a Dolt bong, reaching up driving another, which loosened the one I was standing on! And so down the wall. About a 30 foot fall with a loud clanging of hardware this part of the pitch was around a corner, out of sight of the belayer. From Texas Flake, Powell's voice, "What's going on out there?"

"I fell."

"Oh, are you okay?"


Well, get on back up there!"

Getting myself reorganized, I regained my previous position and continued on to the top of Boot Flake which proved to be our high point for that attempt.

It also proved to be the last time either Dolt or Mark would go up on the "Nose". Mark's ankle just wasn't holding up and Dolt seemed to have had his fill of this type of climbing. I saw him only once more after that. I was in Los Angeles a few years later and visited Dolt at his home and plant. We had dinner, looked at and discussed some of his latest projects.

Since that time, we communicated very infrequently in 1967 a telephone call to Jackson, Wyoming to request my permission to reprint an El Cap article in the projected Dolt Pub: "Crack(!)”. He phoned again to my hospital room in Sacramento when I was injured in 1968. The last word I ever got from Dolt was a note last fall commenting on my "disclaimer (Caldwell) letter."

In the past few years I've followed Dolt's amazing career only through advertisements in various climbing magazines, so I was really shook to learn, upon my return in February 1972 from a lecture tour on the east coast, that Dolt had "done himself in." There's no way of explaining rationalizing something like this; you just have to learn to accept it.

Scene: Camp 4, Yosemite Valley, sometime in 1957. Campfire burning low. Dolt and Warren Harding sitting staring into the embers, sipping a last glass of wine (all the others have sacked out passed out?)

Action – dialogue: Dolt suddenly rises to his feet his beard bristles - his cold, pale blue eyes flash,

"Warren, I'm going to learn to fly!!"

"Sure, Dolt I know you can do it," Warren replies with the uneasy feeling that Dolt isn't thinking about airplanes…

Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:38pm PT

DOLT by Mark Powell

Despite the mental disparagement of his nickname, Bill "Dolt" Feuerer was a unique, highly complex individual. He was occasionally brilliant, frequently perceptive, and always creative. In view of the contradiction between his nickname and actual abilities, and because of his contributions to the sport of rock climbing, it is fittingly appropriate, in the aftermath of his tragic passing, to characterize and relate Dolt experiences which I was fortunate to share.

The Dolt was born in Illinois, in the early 1930’s, but apparently was orphaned at an early age. He was reared by a guardian to whom he maintained a lifelong devotion - until the age of majority, when he entered military service. In the autumn of 1955, while stationed at Castle Air, near Merced California, Dolt became interested in mountain activities, particularly rock climbing. To be sure his first climbing experience was abysmal (having inordinate difficulty on 3rd and 4th class rock with an overhead rope), but he displayed strength and persistence, even then, that were invaluable personal attributes for the major climbs in which he was to later engage.

During the spring of 1956, Dolt and I journeyed for several weeks through Navajo land of Four Corners country. Our primary purpose was to reconnoiter the Totem Pole and Cleopatra’s Needle, but we also ascended Shiprock via the regular route and, inadvertently, scaled Agathlan by the treacherous east dike. The mode of transportation for this trip was an antiquated Chevrolet, of unknown vintage and dubious quality, which the Dolt consistently manipulated erratically at incredibly high velocities while simultaneously expressing an omniscient smile intended to convey that we were immune to physical harm. I vividly recall contemplating that my manifest fate should be death from a climbing accident rather than the ignominious statistic of a traffic fatality. We later christened this vehicle in Yosemite’s Camp 4 with one of Harding's
wine bottles sans the liquid as the Doltmobile.

Other eccentric incidents of this memorable Four Corners interlude were (1) my stomach growling from uncontrollable hunger as we passed, at 80 miles per hour, the last restaurant in 100 miles with Dolt obliviously inquiring, "Shall we stop?"; (2) of rapidly negotiating a narrow, sinuous dirt road on the forested Kaibab Plateau, and encountering a wildly "careening logging truck while Bill nonchalantly honked the Doltmobile's horn; and (3) on Agathlan, his plaintive upward cry from the base of its exacting first pitch that his brain would not transmit the message to his fingers on techniques for tying a bowline knot to his waist.

And yet Dolt possessed a remarkable depth of compassion. At Gallup, New Mexico, for instance, in a reflective mood concerning the hardships of his youth, he impulsively purchased a bagful of groceries for an impoverished Indian family. On another occasion, driving between Mexican Hat and Shiprock (then a circuitous, poorly signed, virtual dirt track across the lonely, windswept margins of northeastern Arizona) we chanced upon a destitute Mexican couple who were automotively stranded. In spite of the Doltmobile’s threadbare rubber and limited fuel supply, Bill donated, without hesitation (while I cowered in typical conservative consternation), our only spare tire and half of the gasoline.

In May 1957, the Dolt was liberated from military servitude and, for the ensuing summer, elected to vagabond with the world's "first hippies", Warren Harding and myself. At this time, as a corollary to his priestly stature, Bill cultivated a magnificent beard of such appearance that a small boy was overheard to state, "Mommy, is that man Jesus Christ?" Shortly thereafter, we commenced an ascent of Lower Cathedral Rock's forbidding North Buttress. While attacking the crux overhang 150 feet above talus level, I felt frustratingly constrained to shout, "God damn this climb." Almost instantly, issuing unmistakably from the Dolt's belay position below, came the supremely authori¬tative reply, "I shall think about it."

But it was in Camp 4, around a summer night's campfire, that Dolt received his name. Several members of the 1957 Yosemite climbing clan (Wally Reed, Herb Swedlund, Harding, Bill, and me), with all conversational inhibitions eliminated through the excesses of prolific wine consumption, began openly discussing Bill's idiosyncratic aberrations. The collective judgements Bills conduct was oafishly unpredictable he was guilty of doltish behavior hence, he stood convicted as the "Dolt". Bill arose with wine sloshing from his cup and, performing a foot scorching dance upon the fire, asserted again and again, "Yes, I am the Dolt”. And indeed he was, to all who knew him well, accepting an affectionate name that was to endure the remainder of his life.

It was also in 1957 that Harding and I, having been "aced out" of Half Dome’s Northwest Face by the ubiquitous Royal Robbins and two companions, turned our deflated egos to one of the world's largest monoliths, El Capitan. During a
six day siege, the Stoveleg Crack and wild swinging pendulums were problems of first magnitude, and the Dolt's personal assets unquestionably contributed to the resolution of these problems. That is, although Bill never achieved the expertise of a great leader, nonetheless, his physical strength and perserverance, combined with experience, gave security, confidence, and improved execu¬tion to the skill demands placed upon us in the unknown world of El Capitan. Moreover, his mechanical ingenuity, when a particular difficulty was explained, demonstrated a level of creativity possessed by few climbers. Out of his assiduous mind and hands were delivered the Dolt Winch, large aluminum channel pitons, and even pins that were expandable (by screw) to any size. But this gadgetry was merely a forerunner to the superb climbing equipment he was to design and manufacture in later years. Other memories come swiftly now, memories of (1) staggering about on Sickle Ledge under the influence of nightly brew that was laboriously hauled (with 500 feet of rope) from the rock base where it had been reverently attached by Harding's "chickiebird" of the moment; (2) Dolt screaming into the heavens that, as the "Son of God", his life was unjustly imperiled when a magnesium bolt hanger snapped under the pressure of his weight; and (3) the Dolt’s exultant remark upon returning to Sickle Ledge after the rigors of Stoveleg Crack, "I have just become the first man on the face of this earth to have pissed in Dolt Hole.”

With the onset of autumn 1957, Dolt’s bourgeoise ideals commenced to surface. He moved to southern California, secured employment with Douglas Aircraft, took up residence in Venice. For a while we shared a dilapidated one room pad that was invariably disordered chaotically and which, as one would suspect, became known as the “Dolt Shack". However, Dolt's enthusiasm for actual climbing began to wane; thus the close climbing partnership we had mutually enjoyed slowly dissolved. On the other hand, Dolt’s manifold interest in the preparation of climbing equipment sharply increased. In this equipment he sought excellence of quality and over the many intervening years of our friendship, as a great admirer of Dolt's creative skills, I offered encouragement at every opportunity. It is true that the colorful Dolt had varied and individualized relationships with many people, but in the context of his equipment each of us who was or had been an intimate acquaintance recognized that Bill was, above all, a master craftsman.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:38pm PT
DOLT by Ken McNutt

The name William Feuerer was known in the Yosemite and southern California climbing communities, but the "Dolt" was known to the entire climbing world. Bill "Dolt" Feuerer's identity as designer and manufacturer of the ultimate in technical climbing hardware overshadowed his considerable reputation as a Yosemite and California technical climbing pioneer. The intenseness of his personality and the variety of strong directions it took had to be witnessed to know it was genuine. His enthusiasm for new designs and uses in hardware seemed inexhaustible.

One morning early in the Dolt's manufacturing career, as I walked toward the entrance of the huge aerospace plant where we both worked, a grimy gray VW Beetle bounced over the curb and skidded to a stop on the sidewalk. The Dolt's wildly grinning face popped through the driver's window. He shouted, "Look at these pins!" He had been up all night forging, burring, tumbling, and polishing a shoebox full of glistening blade pitons, no two of which were alike. He too was bound for work at the aerospace plant, but he explained at such length the merits of each shape that we were both late. He scorned other makes of hardware, "Chouinard will eat his heart out when he sees the DOLT EYE", and he emphasized that only the very best possible, regardless of cost, was good enough for climbers. Although his "job" as a test engineer forced him into a laboratory environment, his hands were those of a blacksmith.

Dolt's social behavior was abstruse. His late night phone calls, that invariably woke me from a sound sleep, to recite a freshly composed poem on climbing, or to talk about hardware or life, were typical of his eccentric behavior,¬

The Dolt's chosen exit from this life showed how little anyone really knew of this uncommonly complex person. I'm sure that the climbers who knew even that little bit will agree that we are all a full measure poorer by Dolt's departure and that the climbing world will not see his kind again.

Editor’s note: Ken McNutt died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 72.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:39pm PT
DOLT by Dick Sykes

I knew two sides of the Dolt, one the mountaineer, as opposed to his fame as a rock climber, and the other a colleague in the aerospace industry. In the summer of 1965 I was venturing out to 3rd and 4th class climbing in the Sierra Nevada and made a number of climbs with Bill. I particularly recall ascents of Mount Sill and Mount Abbott. What impressed me about climbing with Bill was his competence and willingness to train others. Bill was the first person I had ever seen use an ice axe with finesse. He would chastise me for strapping on crampons too quickly as the climbing angle increased. He reasoned that overuse of crampons robbed one of the opportunity to develop a feeling of balance and confidence on steep snow or ice, and interferred with learning to appreciate snow conditions. On Mount Sill I was injured in a serious fall at about 13,900 feet. Bill placed anchors allowing me to rappel with sprained ankles down to Palisade Glacier. We discussed the options for getting me to the roadhead. Bill's decision to walk me out proved to be the right one.

On our ascent of Mount Abbott, Bill had taken me up a rotten 4th class gully and safely shepherded me back to our Keltys after several miles of cross country travel. He deliberately chose tricky spots to descend, and insisted that I downclimb 3rd class with my Kelty. He explained that it was good emergency training.

At the giant aerospace factory where he worked for over ten years, I saw the other side of Bill. He was a technician who became an engineer through hard work, inventiveness, and craftsmanship not a common feat ten years ago. Bill's electronic packages demonstrated the same high standards as his incomparable Dolt Pins.

Bill did not complete college. He had a running battle with college physics. Physics or the calculus won every time. He refused offers of tutoring, There seemed to be some sort of block In his very practical mind against the absurdities of masses sliding down inclined planes. Perhaps because of his educational deficiencies, Bill worked hard and long hours. His workday exceeded nine hours in aerospace while he worked late into the night at his own shop. It is saddening to sit here in front of two beautiful photographs that the Dolt presented me in remembrance of the Sierra adventures we shared, and realize that this generous, seemingly tireless person reached his limit of endurance.

Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:42pm PT
DOLT by Don Lauria

Over six years a friendship had developed between Dolt and me. A friendship whose depth became apparent through tragedy and perhaps was never apparent to Dolt, Dolt may never have believed that he was loved by anyone.

I first met William Andrew Feuerer in Yosemite's Camp 4 the day in 1966 that he began touting his latest innovation, the nylon hammer holster. He accosted me after determining that I owned part of a mountain shop and I might be interested in selling his holster. In the months that followed, Dolt began to frequent our shop, always bringing in his latest ideas for discussion. He became a fixture. He made daily phone calls and nightly visits. He was always anxious to determine the needs of the contemporary climber. Did we think nuts were going to catch on in the United States? Should he make some? Was Chouinard's cliff hanger practical? Should he make a better one? He was constantly questioning, questioning.

From 1967 through 1969, Bill created an industrial dynasty on paper - Doltco, The Dolt Companies, Bill Dolt, and TDH (The Dolt Hut) Manufacturing company. He did it with long hours, 500 square feet of metal shop, a post office box, and a penchant for advertising. He employed a workforce of one, Bill "Dolt" Feuerer and work he did.

Bill once came stumbling into our store on an unusual early morning visit. His blue eyes were beaming despite his obvious exhaustion. He had been working on his ultra light chocks into the late hours of the night and had fallen asleep in the magnesium shavings under his drill press. In he staggered, a walking incendiary, magnesium shavings still clinging to his hair and eye brows. He was attired in his usual Dolt "uniform" black air force dress shoes, burnt through with swage splash, gray Sears Roebuck work clothes; a red kerchief tied about his neck; and perched atop his head, the locomotive
engineer’s cap. His enthusiasm was unquenchable he just had to show us his latest handiwork.

Dolt's enthusiasm was exceeded only by his generosity. He lined the walls of our shop with Dolt photos. He gave us all his prototypes to test. Hennek and I used his original Dolt Cobras (sky hooks), and his only two Twinkle DoIts (head lamps) on our El Cap climbs. He gold plated a couple of Dolt Pegs that Boche and I used on the Nose and presented them to us. He gave the shop the original Dolt Winch from the first attempts on El Capitan. Dolt actually gave me three titanium alloy Dolt Pegs to test and keep for my own. One day he came in with a box under his arm. The box was nicely finished wood. Inside, nestled in red velvet, was his "complete" selection of highly finished Lost Arrow style pins all neatly seated in the velvet. I don't remember the exact number, but there were more than ten. He was offering me this collection in appreciation of West Ridge's help through the years. I paid him around $120 for the box and its contents and put the box on a shelf in my office.

Dolt's vicarious interest in our climbing adventures rekindled the climbing spark in Dolt's soul, and he became a familiar sight bouldering at Stony Point in the year 1969. Bob Kamps once related a story to me attesting to Dolt's incredible strength as a climber. At Stony Point one Sunday afternoon, the beer drinking competitors were happily solving a relatively easy boulder problem. Dolt was among the first to master the route, and when everyone had finally succeeded at it, Dolt picked up a rather large, heavy rock and repeated the route, using only his free hand. Kamps remarked that it was all he could do to lift the rock. No one else could repeat the feat.

On Christmas Eve 1969, Dolt was invited to my home for dinner. He presented us with an old Argosy magazine containing Harding's, and Merry's account the first ascent of El Capitan and an old Dolt Hut catalog, circa 1957. That night he told us tales of early Yosemite and of his childhood. He was an orphan, raised by foster parents. He mentioned his attempts at matrimony that had repeatedly failed. Although Bill exhibited sincerity and generosity, he still managed to remain somewhat aloof, possibly a little paranoid.

Through the year 1970, Dolt was not seen nor heard from at the shop. I suspected that he may have been inadvertently slighted. I tried writing him with no response. Finally in the spring of 1971, Dolt and began making his regular visits to the store.

Bill had been having difficulties all through the year 1970 in deciding whether to remain an employee of McDonnell Douglas or to quit and give The Dolt Company his complete attention. Later that year, he told me he wanted to buy back his pin collection to use for advertising photos. I told him that he could use them as long as he wished for that purpose, but that a deal is a deal, I would not sell them. He was comfortable with that and took them.

On December 6, 1971, while delivering some Dolt Rope, Bill mentioned that he was definitely leaving McDonnell Douglas after 10 years to go into Doltco on a full time basis. He was asking my opinion. A great idea I was sure he could do it. He was elated by the encouragement.

One week later, Bill telephoned, his voice quavering, "I'm thinking of selling most of my interests in Doltco, are you interested?"

"But Bill, I thought..."

“I changed my mind, Douglas has offered me such a good deal I can't let them down." He sounded unconvinced and subdued.

"Okay, Dolt, I'll buy whatever you're selling." I really didn't believe he would do it.

"I'll call you later to arrange a meeting," he replied weakly.

On Christmas Eve 1971, the telephone rang at the shop in the midst of a Christmas party.

"Hello, Don?", Dolt asked in a hushed tone.

"Yeah, Bill, what's up?"

"I just called to wish you a Merry Christmas", Dolt answered, his voice almost a whisper.

"Merry Christmas to you too, Bill."

He didn't answer.

"Bill, what's with the deal we were talking about a couple of weeks ago?" I was searching for a subject that might break his silence.

"Oh, I'm not sure what I'm going to do", he replied slowly. I had never heard him sound so depressed. He continued, "I just called to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

"Well, thanks, Bill. Same to you", I replied awkwardly.

"Thank you, Don. Goodbye."

As far as I know those were the, last words William Andrew Feuerer ever uttered.

One week later, the police were summoned to Dolt's apartment by Ken McNutt who had noticed the week's accumulation of newspapers on Dolt's porch and found his door chained from the inside. Dolt was found hanging from a water pipe on his back porch. He left no note, no will ... nothing. His funeral, paid for by his veteran's insurance, was attended by fourteen people, only six of whom were from his climbing world. The priest in attendance knew only two things about Bill Feuerer his name, and how he died.

dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Nov 20, 2008 - 11:08pm PT
My parents knew Bill Feuerer from the UCLA Mountaineering Club. I still have a handfull of Dolt nuts and will save them always.

Don, please continue with your archive of stories.

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Nov 20, 2008 - 11:33pm PT
Don, please keep posting.
Dolt sort of reminds me of Yabo….
We all loved him
I wish he would have let me help him, somehow.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Nov 20, 2008 - 11:34pm PT

thank you for posting these incredible stories.

My father worked at McDonnell-Douglas with Bill(AKA Dolt) and had a funny story or two which have, unfortunately, been long since forgotten.

Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 20, 2008 - 11:40pm PT
Nice posts Don.

I have a vivid memory of you recounting your last Christmas conversation with Bill and how sad you were, your sense of loss and helplessness was so palpable. I never met Bill, but I used some of his stuff and it had a special feel and function. I used his long LA pin for cleaning nuts and his plastic hammer holster shown here.
And his hangers,

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 20, 2008 - 11:53pm PT
A Dolt Piton - a real beauty...! (Dialup warning - pics):

Kevin Worrall's Dolt piton which I extracted while replacing bolts on Space Babble:

Here is a chrome moly Dolt hanger on Quicksilver/Freewheelin', before it was replaced this summer by Roger:


Nov 21, 2008 - 12:23am PT

If I send you a meal once a week, some coffee and whatever drink you prefer, will you keep writing these stories forever?

This is it man. This is what we need more of around here.


Nov 21, 2008 - 12:49am PT
Wow, Don that was sad ......

Boulder climber
Redmond, OR
Nov 21, 2008 - 01:48am PT
Don, that is an amazing anthology illustrating the strengths and liabilities of the creatively inflamed soul. Thanks so much. As one who recently lost a close friend and splendid human being to suicide by hanging, I sympathize with your experience which I expect might still be painful after all these years.

I purchased a Dolt holster and a single shiny blade from you at the West Ridge in '69 when I was just fourteen. The pin was so expensive and I forced myself to use it only after several years which I have regretted ever since because it just seemed to me to be a work of art. I was right. I used the holster long after the piton era with my claw hammer building my house, among other projects. It finally broke in extreme cold after a couple of decades.

As we come into the holiday season, your story is a strong reminder for all to recognize the seriousness of depression in ourselves, friends and family. Here's to the honorable memory of this gifted though complex personality. -Bruce Adams
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 21, 2008 - 03:13am PT
Remember the reference to Dolt's feat at Stoney Point - climbing a route with a rock in his hand that no one else could repeat?

Well, Bonnie Kamps just emailed me a photo. Here it is.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 21, 2008 - 03:26am PT
Wow, tell the cool story, and then the photo surfaces!!

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Nov 21, 2008 - 04:36am PT
That route at Stoney Point is way harder with the rock in your left hand(not counting the sit start, but that's pretty obvious).


Nov 21, 2008 - 10:27am PT
A fabulous anthology.

Thanks for posting, Don. Pure ST gold...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 21, 2008 - 10:33am PT
wonderful and poignant history, thanks for posting these recollections, they are treasures

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Nov 21, 2008 - 01:27pm PT
Great anthology of stories. But let's get this much straight: the first pieces are actualluy writing samples. It is your work, Don, that introduces narrative art to the exercise. You have a very natural tone and diction that reminds me a little of Pratt at his best. I encourage you - for very selfish reasons (I love to read this stuff) - to keep writing these stores till you have enough for a book.

The Dolt piece reads like Borges' early stuff. Terrific. And very sad without being sentimental. Difficult to do, as was the hidden and silent life Dolt apparently led.

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