WARREN HARDING, LORD OF LIGHT

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Messages 1 - 20 of total 20 in this topic
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 4, 2009 - 07:02pm PT
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Idaho, also. Sorta, kinda mostly, Yeah.
Oct 4, 2009 - 07:03pm PT
Whoa!
good one, Peter.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 4, 2009 - 07:18pm PT
What?

No Mountain Red?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Oct 4, 2009 - 07:36pm PT

One of my all time favorite Valley characters.

Imagine what he would post up on ST if he were still with us.
sully

Trad climber
CA
Oct 4, 2009 - 07:46pm PT
Peter- We ran across some guys about to climb Snake Dike during the Facelift. One guy had casual shoes, a rack, and what looked like plastic bags full of red sports drink hanging from his belt. He said he was "going to Warren Harding it" (the route) and that red wine was in the bags. He seemed pretty toasted to begin with.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 4, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
So “warren harding” is finally a verb. Recall too that he was "Batso".

P.R., that is apparently a Manhattan, a Warren daily starter kit.

L. Kathode, how's the McCloud move looking?
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Oct 4, 2009 - 08:09pm PT
This is eerie-lovely, Peter. You're tapping into a main vein lately. Back up to stare some more. Startled expression, leaking mauve light.

Ron -- clearly someone else is buying.
Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
Oct 4, 2009 - 08:16pm PT
I'm really very frightened!
Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
Oct 4, 2009 - 08:43pm PT
Sorry about the squall down there e Kat and welcome to the territory!

Peter- Thinking on the sinking ship... is there a specific reference there?--When I set my mind on it, the alcoholic drowning aspect of his life really does hit me hard, tragically. the photos of his youth revealed he really was exceptionally fit on top of the legendary mental toughness. Bruce
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 4, 2009 - 11:00pm PT
Bruno, yeah no question about it. The sinking ship is huge in this and is a typically juicy ambiguous element I like to use! Is the sinking ship because the Lord of Light sank it? is he coming to the rescue? is he gloating over the disaster? is he harkening a new era or presiding over the end of one? Warren looks like he is coming back from the afterlife ( in silver lame!)--- is the shipwreck what became of what he built and loved? is it the beached and rigid rules of the Golden Age? is it his own body and life? And more, too. The bat-filled sky and the other portentous features of the tableau create a both comical and frightening opening into all these possibilities. The puzzle is wide enough to remain compelling over and over again I hope.

Warren possessed absolutely legendary fitness and drive. It used to be universally recognized back in the sixties and early seventies. All his feats were well-known back then. John Muir Trail in 4-1/2 days with a bad leg for example. It might have been greater than anyone else, actually. Tremendous stamina and an unemotional approach to the real horror of big climbing . In many ways some of his most remarkable and unique achievements haven’t been integrated with the better-known legacy of the man. He was really really tough and really really productive; big in the picture was the fact he was also a rather small man when in his prime. He reminded me of Kor; both from a bluecollar environment like Whillans and Brown, all seemingly able to lift heaven and earth with their practical deeply rooted powers.

His alcoholism was kind of a natural transition for him, many of us thought. He had gone through quite a few personae by this point, Bruno, before the end came. Early sixties: fast hot cars, tight black pants and shirts tugged at by fawning chicks--- really corny and hideously vain but appropriate in his world of tough-ass highway construction--- later a hardman executing the last of his ideas in rapid succession (against the clock) putting his fingerprints on as much as he could and trying to stay connected with maximum traction as he aged. During this era he eventually absorbed Galen Rowell, mentoring him. The two sounded alike even, after a time. It was not that cool, their twining.

All the while, though, maybe one of the funniest guys in climbing ever worldwide although he also could kick ass like no other with an ample workingman’s temper. Made other comedians amongst us look like mere rubes and pinners. In short, he was treacherous and an alpha male.

I am sure there were plenty of psychological reasons for the last phase but as science gains ground on the disease there might well have been genetic reasons as well. Science is finding that there usually are.
Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
Oct 4, 2009 - 11:21pm PT
That science part is about as reassuring as the invention of Frankenstein.

I actually met Harding and Rowell together as a wide-eyed teen-ager. Harding was for sure a scene stealer. But ya know what--I like the way you say it far better, Peter, in both words and vision. The image menaced me all day. Worried about tomorrow!

Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
Oct 4, 2009 - 11:36pm PT
The part (s) (edit) I like:

"Is the shipwreck what became of what he built and loved?"

and "...facts haven't been integrated..."

"emotionless ...horrors of big climbing."

the Kor, Brown and Whillans sentance, and,

"... treacherous... alpha male.

try-ing-to-in-te-grate! Killer, Peter!

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Oct 5, 2009 - 02:33am PT
Yes, killer description Peter. I've never seen him described better.

I knew him in his party days when he was mocking the Golden Gods. Absolutely hilarious. He and Beryl were quite the dashing couple too. Only much later when reading his obituary did I know of the downside of his path.

If any dissolute could storm his way into heaven through sheer persistence though, it would be Warren.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Oct 5, 2009 - 02:39am PT
You know Harding was one of the people I had dreams about before I ever went to the Valley. Pratt and Fredericks who were visiting Boulder that year had provided me with descriptions of all the major characters. Then I went to see the movie Black Orpheus, filmed in Rio during carnival time.

After that, my dreams featuring Harding showed him as a black body suit with a skeleton painted on the front and back. His costume was different from the other carnival goers however,as there were big bushy eyebrows on the front of the skull and the ribs were golden instead of white. They also had hinges on them for wriggling through narrow chimneys no one else could do. Pratt and Fredericks assured me this was a great characterization. Later, Warren loved it too.

He does seem to be one of those archetypal characters from deep in the unconscious somewhere.

mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Oct 5, 2009 - 03:53am PT
These are great. Is this the second one (other being Pratt) or are there some others I have missed?
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Oct 5, 2009 - 09:02am PT
Another fabulous image Peter. Compelling, enlightening and disturbing all at once.
I think I would like to meet your pharmacist.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 5, 2009 - 09:56am PT
McCreel, thanks. Here I just posted a bunch of these images:

http://supertopo.com/climbers-forum/976219/MANIPULATIONS_OF_THE_GREATS
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Oct 5, 2009 - 06:35pm PT
bump for Warren

Galen Rowell said if Harding had been born in 1850, he would have
ridden with Butch Cassidy.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 5, 2009 - 07:32pm PT
No, I think Butch would have ridden with HIM.




But now, how am I ever going to get my silver lame bat shirt back?
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Oct 6, 2009 - 01:32am PT
Fascinating reading. You are mining some deep veins again Peter. Thank you.
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