IRONIC DEVELOPMENT IN HISTORY OF PASSIVE PRO

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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 16, 2009 - 02:50pm PT


There has been an interesting development in understanding American passive protection history. It is kind of ironic. It turns out that perhaps the earliest climber in the Valley using man-made passive protection devices was a woman, Margaret Young, way back in the very early sixties according to Les Wilson just now in an email to me.  Les says:  

"She was a flier and licensed air plane mechanic (as well as PHD? from MIT). She used nuts that came from the hydraulic system of an airplane. They varied in size depending on the size of the hydraulic line. They were actually connectors, a thin ring of high alloy aluminum, very strong. They were threaded on the inside, suggesting they might cut the sling. But this did not seem to be the case. Could she have been the first to use nuts in the US?"


For references, Supertopo related links:

HISTORY OF CLEAN CLIMBING:

 http://supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=784874&tn=0&mr=0  


IT TAKES BALLS TO USE NUTS:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=282636&tn=0&mr=0


AND THE INCREDIBLE WORK AND MUSEUM OF STEPHANE PENNEQUIN:

http://www.needlesports.com/nutsmuseum/catalogues.htm
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 16, 2009 - 03:00pm PT
On a somewhat related topic, another SuperTopian (mostly a lurker) recently asked when nuts first became commercially available in the US. That is, manufactured nuts that one could go into a store and buy, or perhaps mail order. What makes, and where could they be bought?

This seems something that Oli, Tom H, Guido, or Don L might help with.
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jul 16, 2009 - 03:00pm PT
"So it took a woman to understand the utility of nuts?"

Women and Thomas Malthus
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 16, 2009 - 03:15pm PT
Women have always understood the power of passive protection.

Their first line of defense is "Just say no"

Peace

Karl
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jul 16, 2009 - 03:20pm PT
Bought at REI about '72?

rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 16, 2009 - 03:45pm PT
Robbins first used 'em in in Eldorado '64, climbing with a Brit, Anthony Greenbank, so Margaret Young's ``early sixties'' usage would have to predate that. It took Robbins three years to become fully convinced and write ``Nuts to You'' in Summit magazine in 1967. At that point, nuts had developed in Britain beyond the odd machine nut picked up on the Cloggy cog rail tracks, which may have been where Margaret Young got her inspiration.

In '67, you sent off $15 to Joe Brown and back came a box of nuts with appropriate pieces of webbing to string them on. Dave Craft and I used such a set to climb Double Crack (then 5.9, now 5.8, but still 5.9 to me, dammit) in the Gunks entirely with nuts sometime in that year.
HighDesertDJ

Trad climber
Arid-zona
Jul 16, 2009 - 03:54pm PT
So women ruined nailing forever? I knew it.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jul 16, 2009 - 04:02pm PT
know anything about her, Peter?

i don't know the name. MIT-- so an NE local?

Rgold, does the name sound familiar?
Oplopanax

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Jul 16, 2009 - 04:21pm PT
In author Alan Kearney's Selected Climbs in the North Cascades guidebook, he alleges that a 1950's era climber in Washington used "plumbers helpers" (a section of pipe with a screw that is of adjustable length - something like a non-spring loaded Big Bro) to protect a wide crack. That is certainly earlier than the 1960s.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 16, 2009 - 04:28pm PT
Barry Hagen, Leif Patterson and Glenn Woodsworth did Pipeline at Squamish in 1966, which involved use of prototype tube chocks - sections of aluminum pipe cut to fit a wide crack, and tapped so as to seat them. I don't know if they got the idea from developments elsewhere, or came up with it on their own. Leif certainly was well aware of what was happening elsewhere in the climbing world.

Rich mentions mail ordering nuts from Joe Brown in 1967. When did they become available in the stores in the US? What types?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 16, 2009 - 04:41pm PT
One of my friends climbed with her in the 60s/early 70s - I'll ask him if she's still around and interested in commenting.
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
Jul 16, 2009 - 07:40pm PT
I met her through Warren in 1975. We were working on the Forbidden Wall and encountered snowy weather. We all spent the stormy night in the cave right on the Falls trail. She insisted on putting a little vodka in all our water to keep it from freezing. I had a horrific hangover from a night of wine drinking with Warren the night before at the Mountain Room Bar and could barely keep Margaret's doctored water down. About a year later she went on an all female expedition to Annapurna. They raised money for the trip by selling T-shirts with the caption " A woman's place is on top." I believe she passed away awhile ago though I forget how and when.

Ken
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 16, 2009 - 07:52pm PT
Perhaps Arlene Blum would know - she led the 1978 women's expedition to Annapurna. ("A Woman's Place is On Top")
jstan

climber
Jul 16, 2009 - 08:00pm PT
http://www.arleneblum.com/contact.html

klk

Trad climber
cali
Jul 16, 2009 - 08:11pm PT
ah, i remember that expedition.

    should've recognized that name from blum's book.
jbaker

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
Jul 16, 2009 - 08:16pm PT
Didn't John Mendenhall do the first ascent of Open Book in Tahquitz using lengths of 2x4 cut to size (sort of the prime lens equivalent of big bros)? That would have been the late 40s.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 16, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Chuck and Ellen Wilts used 2x4's on the regular route of Rixons in 1948. This route later went all free with John Bachar and Tobin Sorenson, 1974. I saw the 2x4's in there in the flare section, free pro, I assume; they were still lodged in the crack in 1964. Rotten of course. Speaking of using wood, wood goes way back, pilgrims.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Jul 16, 2009 - 11:26pm PT
my pro is passive aggressive. It looks good, but I have this feeling it's trying to kill me.








C'mon- Somebody had to make this joke.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France.
Jul 17, 2009 - 03:11am PT
Fascinating information Peter! Thank you Les for sharing it.
Not to forget that Shirley Smith set up the mythical company Clogwyn Climbing Gear with Denny Moorhouse in 1966. And she helped him when he started DMM in 1981.

Stephane / Nuts Museum
GBrown

Trad climber
North Hollywood, California
Jul 25, 2009 - 12:21am PT
I got your irony . . . right here.

In the mid-70s, while marvelously out of shape from no climbing for a year or so, I decided to climb with nuts for the first time on a slightly overhanging 5.8 crack at Crow Hill in MA. I thought "That's pretty good" each time I placed and clipped into one of the nuts and finally got my failing hands on the top of the cliff about 70 or so feet up. The top was flat and dusted with grit and not a finger hold in reach - requiring a mantle with my blown arms. I barely managed it by gripping the top with my chin (and pulling a muscle in my neck) so I could get cranked over with one arm. Upon creaking into a standing position, my partner called up, "Gary, look down."

Yeah, all the pro had lifted out and was sitting on top of his hands. "When the last ones lifted out, I thought it was best not to tell you."

Here's the irony.

About 8 years ago, I met a guy at a climbing gym who had done a bunch of climbing in the NorthEast in the 80s. He told me a story about learning to climb with nuts on an overhanging 5.8 crack at Crow Hill and how all his nuts popped out and he had to do this freaky mantle at the top.

But we both learned something and lived to tell about it.
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