Musings on perfect moves and memorable routes

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Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 4, 2009 - 11:27am PT
I was trying to think of a way to respond to the positive comments that have been made about my thread on the first ascent of Hoodwink. Some folks complimented me, but it seems a little odd to be accepting compliments for climbing a rock in 70s just because the features make for a cool route. It is fair enough that the first ascent party gets kudos, but Hoodwink is not in the category of a new standard that a climber is responsible for creating: it is an accident of nature that the route is good.

But I did start thinking about why some routes seem to capture the imagination of climbers. There are always routes on Big Stone that are must-do routes because they are on Big Stone. These are mostly big walls aid routes, but all-free routes such as Astroman and the Rostrum are probably in that category offering lots of great climbing at some elevated level of difficulty. The Regular route on Fairview, Regular route on Half Dome, and the Steck Salathe are examples in my mind of moderate routes in that category. The DNB probably used to be in that category. It seems that many of these routes don’t offer a particular pitch or set of memorable moves, just good climbing without any bad climbing in a great place.

Sometimes extreme difficulty sets a route apart, but usually only in combination with something else: a unique set of moves, or a pure width crack, or some cool feature that you have to get around. This category seems to change since what is considered in style or difficult changes.

Sometimes a route’s location and some measure of its improbability set it apart, but again only in combination with good general climbing and no bad pitches. The Third Pillar offers a unique aręte with just the right amount of features to make for a must-do route.

Summits don’t seem to play much into current ideas about what makes for a cool route. The Spires in the Valley don’t show up much anymore. Exceptions might be Cathedral Peak and the Lost Arrow.

When I though about Hoodwink, it occurred to me that it comes down to three holds in perfect relation to each other that just puts a smile on everyone’s face: the perfect handhold under the roof and the big flat step to push against, followed by the perfect hold at the back of the ledge that allows for a secure pull over and mantel. I am sure everyone pretty much does it the same way since these three holds are the only choices and they have the right individual features—perfect hand feel—and perfect relationship to one another. The rest of the climbing on the route is all pretty good, but not any different than probably a hundred other routes in the Meadows.

For Hoodwink, I think it comes down to the improbability that the barest minimum of really good holds could get one over the roof at a moderate difficulty. I don’t think it would be popular if the route were really hard.

So what are other routes have that characteristic of the best combinations of holds and features that somehow just define a route’s must-do status?
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
obsessively minitracking all winter at Knob Hill
Nov 4, 2009 - 11:45am PT
Golly, those long splitters on Sons of Yesterday come to mind. One runs out and whattya know, another one is starting right there.

I have a dim recollection of a sinker pocket on the warmup boulder at Hueco Tanks that always welcomed my hand like it was meant to be there.

The Jaws arete at Sandrock, Alabama has great holds, a bit far apart but reachable if you want'em, and a perfect, sandy-floored landing. It's about 25 feet high, so by the time you pull up a few times your desire is equal to the reach.

Those crossover flake moves on p.1 of Outer Limits have a way of turning the repetive rhythm of the long handcrack into a sudden explosion of joyous liberation. Swinging through there always makes me feel like I'm getting away with something.

Great idea, Roger!
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 4, 2009 - 12:00pm PT
I remember the rock solid hand pulls on the flakes of "Outer Limits." It does make you feel like you are getting away with something--good choice of words.
426

climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Nov 4, 2009 - 04:04pm PT
waterfalls...

climbing behind them is surreal and most of my "to dos" feature them in some sense...

Cleopatra's Clit, like rhodo sez...they changed the name but the moves remain..
hooblie

climber
"i used to care, but things have changed"
Nov 4, 2009 - 04:32pm PT
i'm currently stuck on the image of sorting out the field of possibilties on a big wide open face. out on the sharp end, head scanning more than the field of view, because nothing says the route won't include a step down to progress upward. when visual acuity fails to provide the cues, there you are, resorting to something akin to water witching. it can be excruciating in the best sense of the term.

ok, you beat it out of me. my epiphany came on freewheeling. i was a crack climber that had a shake up coming. it literally opened my eyes. and to enhance the spell, the fa boys were up higher up the apron on mother earth, making the traverse into the big corner.

there is a thread on this site called looking up. it's my two cents worth that there's no looking up like the looking up that takes place
sorting out the subtle differences between a line of thin edges, that might suck you into the dubious joy of off route climbing,
or just might be the way...

let's let the bolts be sparse. leave the chalk in the sack till you're sure it's worth mucking things up for others to save your own skin,
and let's immerse ourselves in the mystery and angst that brought out the best kind of exercise
for that sixth sense that route finders relish. sussing out the way
is a very high form of the game
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 4, 2009 - 04:46pm PT
hey there roger, say, very well done share, and all very nicely said... and also, as to this quote of yours:
Some folks complimented me, but it seems a little odd to be accepting compliments for climbing a rock in 70s just because the features make for a cool route. It is fair enough that the first ascent party gets kudos, but it is not in the category of a new standard that a climber is responsible for creating: it is an accident of nature that the route is good.

funny---it made me think of this:

wow, you know, concert pianist, and such, who PLAY other folks work, kind of get that feeling too, leastwise it make me think thus, due to this:

if it were not for the "solid foundation" laid before one, of the very music wrote, why the ol' player (climber of the music notes) would surely not be really doing this wonderful "PIECE OF WORK" ....

having played a few really choice pieces at one time, that folks really loved, i always got that awsome feeling that it was not me "ascending" it, it was the "route" that was so wonderful, in true fact...

though--humbly, yes, we can surely at least try to do it justice, from our humble part in it all...

:)

thanks for the nice stuff here, that you posted and displayed so very well... :)
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Nov 4, 2009 - 05:01pm PT
the Bishop's Terrace intro to Yosemite cracks. Beautiful moves.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Nov 4, 2009 - 05:06pm PT
Hobbit Book for those incut ledges amidst that gold polished wall...with the one bolt...ah, if only I hadn't slipped so far...
atchafalaya

climber
Babylon
Nov 4, 2009 - 05:13pm PT
"So what are other routes have that characteristic of the best combinations of holds and features that somehow just define a route’s must-do status?"

Hairraiser Buttress. Beautiful. Alone. And the bolts don' get in the way of the climbing.
Credit: atchafalaya

Second choice, the Buttermilk Stem?
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Nov 4, 2009 - 05:31pm PT
I know this sounds mundane and trade-routish to some, but I still love pitch 5 of E. Buttress of Middle. Cool combo of face, traverse, lieback, undercling with a blind reach, etc.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2009 - 08:20am PT
Hooblie, I spent a lot of time climbing on Middle when I was in the Valley. I liked your comment “…resorting to something akin to water witching” in describing the puzzling out of route finding on the face routes. On most of the routes there are so many ways to use the holds that I have a hard time pointing to a particular section or pitch in which everything hung on just a few holds. On the Northeast face, between Stoners and the DNB, wandering around was always very satisfying. Initially it held a promise of the surprise that the routes would go, but you can pretty much go anywhere if you were willing to run it out. Routes on the left side that follow cracks, CPoF, Bircheff Williams, Kor Beck, have the ability to create that giddy feeling of just being on really great rock. I would say that the second pitch of CPoF fits that bill. I never climbed the Bircheff Williams but I always thought it must have been very cool to stem up that silver corner on the lower pitches.

The Northwest Apron, with its smoother rock and the sharp little edges, has a different feel; you really have to pick a specific set of moves to link them together. It was fun to just set out on the first ascent of “Freewheeling” with George and Kevin. It was so whimsical to just pick the middle of the face to start and see where it led. Since it was the first route on the Apron, we didn’t know what sort of climbing it would entail, and were very happy that it had a completely different feel compared to the Northeast Face. I remember all of us participating in trying to figure out the general directions that we took to try to link up the features and small corners. Once there was a more or less defined target, there would be very long periods of staring at the rock and mentally working out how to piece the specific moves together to get there. There are long stretches of rock to cover. I also know that we spent a lot of time figuring out where to place bolts--it is really easy to screw up a new route by bad choices for bolts. You have to think about what a future party is going to wish you had done, all the while working hard to not get killed yourself.

I have some very nice b/w pictures of the three of us. I have scanned a few of them, but I need to do some Photoshop work on them to bring out the cooler aspects. Here are two:

Me leading off on the second pitch.

Breedlove on FA of Freewheeling 1973, 2nd Pitch
Breedlove on FA of Freewheeling 1973, 2nd Pitch
Credit: Roger Breedlove

Kevin and me freezing in butts bags on the belay as George was leading.

Worrell (standing) and Breedlove on 2nd pitch FA Freewheeling, 1973
Worrell (standing) and Breedlove on 2nd pitch FA Freewheeling, 1973
Credit: Roger Breedlove

I don't think we had chalk in those days. I will have to study the pictures. I think this was the fall of 1973. I would guess that having all the holds marked with chalk would really change the experience.

I never did any of the other Apron climbs that were put up after “Freewheeling” but I have heard that they all have that same feel.

Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2009 - 08:22am PT
I just thought of another climb that has the "thief in the night" sense of improbability. In 1979 or 1980, Ed Drummond and I climbed a new route on the left side of the Gold Wall. It has some okay climbing on it but the really special pitch is the traverse out of the upper (dirt filled) corner to the straight in cracks that take you to the top. I had been up there the previous year with Dave Bircheff, I think, and we had been turned back by the dirt in the corner. I studied the face and decided that it might be possible to traverse on the big diorite intrusion that cuts across the face. Ed led that pitch on the FA. He was very skeptical since you cannot see the face from inside the corner. I coaxed him out of the corner and onto the face from the belay. I have a picture of him with this enormous smile after he got out there. It is pretty steep and doesn't have any main features until you get the straight in cracks, but the dike has huge pockets with very secure holds. It is probably 5.4. Just out in the middle of no where. It is too bad that the rest of the climbing is not so interesting.
hooblie

climber
"i used to care, but things have changed"
Nov 5, 2009 - 08:29am PT
talk about blundering into a gold strike. thanks roger, there's more to this subtle channel thing than i imagined. if i had done my homework, i might have paused, relunctant to appear to be pandering.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2009 - 09:01am PT
neebee, interesting connection to playing music and the sense of outside our selves.

I have just started to replay my classical guitar. I have not played in years, but I have managed to get my nails in shape and my guitar restrung and found my old music books. I always loved Roussel Op 29 partly because of the music and partly becusae the way the the left hand moves and lays on the frets. Since I have not played in a long while, I am having to retrain my hands to go where the music goes. It is slow going. I practice very slowing and watch every movement. The physical movements and how they link together are pretty cool. I still sound very rough, but that will come back eventually. I think that this link to Youtube shows Julian Bream playing the piece. I cannot access Youtube from my work computer. (I could have the IT department give me access, but it is not worth the backchatter.)

Julian Bream playing Roussel Op 29
Pate

Trad climber
?
Nov 5, 2009 - 09:05am PT
The reach up and over the bulge on The Wave at Groom Creek.

I can feel the hold now as a write this from 2000 miles away.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2009 - 09:07am PT
Hooblie, I didn't think you were pandering. I just figured it was a fluke. In any case, we had the same experience. When did you climb "Freewheeling?" You mention the FA of "Mother Earth." That was in about 1975 wasn't it?

BTW, you're gonna need more duck tape (said in the cadence of the line from "Jaws" about a bigger boat). Cool picture. Cute kid.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2009 - 09:13am PT
Hey Mooser, I have some photos of Mike Briedenback "Fig" following that pitch (I think). I will have to dig them out and post them. The picure I now use for my id is from the bolt ladder pitch on the East Buttress, taken from the same roll. Mike snapped it. I think it is a very cool spot with the Spires behind and El Cap across the way.
East Buttress of Middle Catherdal Rock.  Free climbing the bolt ladder...
East Buttress of Middle Catherdal Rock. Free climbing the bolt ladder. Early 1970s.
Credit: Roger Breedlove

Pate, where is Groom Creek? Got any pictures of The Wave? I can imagine with the name and your comment it must be a cool feature.
hooblie

climber
"i used to care, but things have changed"
Nov 5, 2009 - 09:34am PT
'75 seems a year or two early. pretty sure i was partnered up with cashner.
by epiphany i meant that feeling you have when you realize you've been playing checkers in the world of chess players.

i also think that route sparked my interest in pioneering because it fostered a taste for worlds without ready answers. what fun it must have been to approach that place the way you did. i can almost feel the spine tingle
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
obsessively minitracking all winter at Knob Hill
Nov 5, 2009 - 09:46am PT
Groom Creek is near Prescott, AZ.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2009 - 11:39am PT
Ed's spreadsheet shows "Mother Earth" being completed in 1975 with George Meyers, John Long, Kevin Worrall, Mark Chapman and Ron Kauk. But its history is so complicated that I cannot keep track of it. I know that George started it soon after we did "Freewheeling", and by the time of my history of Middle article in Mountain, probably in 1974 or 75, he had gone through eight partners.

It is interesting how difficult it is to get outside one's self and realize that there are new routes to be done. I don’t know why. We had the good fortune to have been trained and encouraged by Bridwell to do first ascents, and we also had the good fortune to have lots of new things to try in the Valley. But for some reason it is not so easy to see old things in a new light. We would walk by something for years and then be sort of dumbstruck when someone would see it as a route possibility. Of course not all possibilities end up being good routes. And lots of cool looking possibilities were too hard and had to wait for better climbers.

I have no idea why no one had ever put up a route on the North face apron. Sacherer had put up the "Flakes" that starts past "Mother Earth." (Good 5.8 route, by the way.) Lots of new routes had been done on Glacier Point Apron. Kevin and George and I just decided that we would go look for something new to do. We went to Middle and started walking from near the CPoF towards the West. I suggested that we walk along the north face. I think that we walked all the way over to “The Flakes.” I think that George had climbed the fist pitch of part of the first pitch of what would become “Mother Earth” (he didn’t have a concept of the route going beyond that point at the time.) Without more than a clear desire, we just decided to climb the middle of the North face Apron. I gauged the distances from left and right and looked up at the whole face and declared the starting point of “Freewheeling” the middle. George asked me why I didn’t start up the obvious little corner about 100 feet to the left. My response: “That is too obvious a place to start a route.” That corner became the start of the second route on the Apron, “Quicksilver.”

Those new routes on the North Face Apron seemed to open up new possibilities for face climbing on steeper rock in the Valley. I had never thought about this aspect until I read a comment by John Long in his new "Stonemasters" book when he mentioned that importance of face climbing to the "Stonemasters" generation. I do know that those face routes on Middle set the 70s generation apart from the 60s.

I know that it is not really fair to say this, but there is a whole new world and a new perspective on climbing when any climber starts thinking in terms of first ascents. I used to try to get younger climbers to lead pitches as if they were the first ones there. But, I don’t think it really works unless you have actually led a pitch on a first ascent, actually held the water witching stick on the sharp end.
MH2

climber
Nov 5, 2009 - 12:34pm PT
So what are other routes have that characteristic of the best combinations of holds and features that somehow just define a route’s must-do status?


And how come some people know the answer to this before anyone else has done the route? I have no idea. Maybe that 'Eye of Faith'?

Bryan Burdo had picked out a line on Cutthroat Peak in Washington Pass. Under a roof there was a corner where there was supposed to be a finger crack. The corner looked pretty blank up close, but closed in just enough to allow precarious chimneying and the crack accepted a couple RPs.

Then the roof. To my total surprise and delight it not only had a good undercutting crack at the base, there was another deep horizontal crack a few feet above the lip! In fact, it seemed like there was nothing holding the roof up! I didn't care because the piece of stone was too big to care about the additional improbability of supporting my weight.

It was dark by then and our plan was to fix and return, anyway.

We had to wait out a day of rain. The picture below shows me after jumaring back up to the previous high point. I was sent up with a bolt kit, because of fear of the unknown, and since I couldn't see far ahead, I bought into the fear. Rather than resort to a bolt I placed a perfectly good-looking Leeper in a ridiculous slot and recalled from the Good Book, 'this is the kind of problem which can only be solved by moving up.' Stepping up did solve the problem and the climb in spectacular fashion.


hooblie

climber
"i used to care, but things have changed"
Nov 5, 2009 - 12:44pm PT
roger, it's great to have fuzzed you up about these old paths. this may be the start of something great. is it possible that you guys turned the page and did the preamble, or more generously, laid the foundation for southern belle? granted, nothing is a perfect analogy, and i seem to be mired in them. (it's still a path of self discovery, thank goodness.) i give you great belated credit for blazing the trail.

when i think about it, there was a report of what the moves entailed. so, at least a couple of members of the fa party were up there whooping, and little dots made progress, but the light was too blinding for me to imagine what a couple of degrees of angle would do to inflect the world of the possible. i was dealing with what was by then mundane, but all too fresh for me.


Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Nov 5, 2009 - 01:31pm PT
I could name about a hundred routes in the Boulder
area and in Eldorado that fit the description. And just
off the top of my head... but, no, wait. If I name them,
all sorts more people will go up there and polish them
into oblivion. I have always hated articles that always
appear in some of these mainstream magazines, with titles such
as, "Best, most remote areas in the world." And that ends
their remoteness. Or, "Fifty classic climbs in North America,"
and they get overdone. Or, "Must-do routes in... wherever."
I think people should pay their dues, become acquainted
with, say, the Needles, or Eldorado, and learn the history,
and follow their instincts, and have some adventures, and
eventually on their own realize the routes to which they are
most attracted. The must-do routes will become known naturally,
with that kind of experience, and then the masses won't
assault those routes... Maybe it's too late, though. Too
many people already? Ok, "the Bulge" or "Ruper" in Eldorado? If you
want something more difficult, how about "T-2" or "Vertigo?"
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Nov 7, 2009 - 10:19am PT
"Hey Mooser, I have some photos of Mike Briedenback "Fig" following that pitch (I think). I will have to dig them out and post them. The picure I now use for my id is from the bolt ladder pitch on the East Buttress, taken from the same roll. Mike snapped it. I think it is a very cool spot with the Spires behind and El Cap across the way."

I agree, Roger. The view to the left, to the right, and behind is part of what makes it so beautiful. Sometimes, it's as much the setting as anything.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 7, 2009 - 12:16pm PT
hey there say, roger.... i am glad to keep seeing this thread/post pop up... say, i will go and check the music link tonight (when i can wait longer on line and not tie up the phone line--am dial up, here)...

thanks for the link...

say, best wishes with the guitar work.. i WILL check up on you about this... ;)
*i have been getting to redo my piano, due to a "garage sale" special..

well--back to this thred/post of yours:

this is REALLY grest stuff... very good write-ups and while i will not retain most of it, it is filling my spirit in a very lovely way,and THAT part will stay forever...

keep shareing this marvelous stuff here...
god bless...
:)

*will enjoy the music link tonight and add your "handywork" to it... ;)



edit: WOW, great to see patrick (pat) here in the last few days... :)
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 7, 2009 - 02:04pm PT
Hi Roger,

Just checked out this thread - Great photo of us!

Freewheelin' fits the title of this thread well, and that photo stirs the reasons why for me. The whole route fits together in an uncanny way, although from the ground that doesn't appear to be the case, as the whole slab is covered with seemingly unrelated features.

The 2nd pitch which you led is the first taste of that magical path of holds which enable and guide the climber up the route - no real choice - just follow the unclimbed, but already existing route.

George's next lead up through the band of Quartz crystalline bullet rock takes the leader to a dramatic change in rock character where the face suddenly becomes smooth and unclimbable but for black and orange spots of diorite and harder rock, which through weathering, have been left just proud of the face enough to provide a weakness for climbing.

Pitch four and five continue to barely allow progress in some sections, and reveal their weaknesses slowly as the leader studies and tests the rock.

I bet it's like it was in that photo up there right now...

426

climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Nov 7, 2009 - 05:05pm PT
Drop!

Credit: 426

Edit: Aww, you can't see the drops...sry, will have to dig up the original sometime...
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Nov 7, 2009 - 11:33pm PT
Hi Kev, Hi Roger,
Hope you two are well. Kev I have been meaning to call. I was always and still am amazed at how some climbs or boulder problems just seem to have that magic hold, edge, finger lock, jamb or combination of these features that allow passage over some section of rock that otherwise appears impossible or at the very least overly daunting. Add a touch of exposure and a classic location and you have climbing magic. These otherwise random features of nature seemingly created for our enjoyment make one think there exists some higher power--a climbing God if you will. This is a big part of the beauty and wonder that climbing holds for me. To be climbing virgin rock and be the first to unlock the combination or discover the key hold is the sweetest thing. This is the lure of climbing new routes. One of my more memorable ascents was that little nugget Littlewing. Matt Pollock and I hiked up from the valley floor never realizing the road was there. Surprise Surprise! I tied on with a swami and a rack of nuts started climbing and whole thing just came together. It was so sweet. By the way on the subject of Middle I always thought the second pitch (I believe it is the second pitch) of Jigsaw was quite unique if somewhat out of character for Middle Rock climbing.
ß Î Ř T Ç H

climber
. . . not !
Nov 8, 2009 - 01:06am PT
The formula can be captured even in a single-move boulder problem , but the element of risk / uncertainty should also be in the mix (bad landings , sketchy topouts etc) for full value.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 8, 2009 - 02:58pm PT
In my experience, the truly fantastic moments that stay with me usually come on the boldest routes. Once you can let the mechanical distraction with protection and fall calculus slide out the back of your mind and really sink into the movement and wonderful discovery of the next set of holds. Climbing on Middle is the epitome of that sort of immersion because you simply have to shut your internal dialog off and let yourself move upwards. The reward of getting just what you need because you aren't expecting anything and are willing to accept the pure challenge of climbing is empowering, spiritually.

The secret to bold face climbing is to climb powerfully and deliberately until you succeed or stall and remain humbly unstoppable in between. When I dream awake about a particular route that I am trying to psyche up for or just about moving over stone, it is that oneness that I am trying to key into. Some climbs just have character that allows me to groove on them right away. It really isn't about difficulty because that is a shroud around the real treasure.





Classic shot of Kevin on Quicksilver from Yosemite Climber. George Meyers photo.

The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 8, 2009 - 05:43pm PT
You can see the crux pitch of Black Primo in the background of that old photo of me, just past the wet streak. It follows an amazing weakness between two steep and unclimbable slabs.

That route has some perfect and marginal moves which are rarely done. The line and independence of that route set it apart from the others on the NF Apron, making it possibly the best one up there.

Nice photo of Jigsaw by the way Steve! And a cool one of The Arches Slab. Is that GBG?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 8, 2009 - 05:58pm PT
Shakey Flakes not GBG!

Since you took these , I will post the shots of Black Primo too!



Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Nov 9, 2009 - 02:23pm PT
Just want to say I really enjoyed reading the discussion & perspectives here.

You guys really were fortunate to have all that virgin canvas to explore. And interesting, Roger, that you say Bridwell encouraged you to do first ascents. Doesn't seem like much FA encouragement goes on these days - probably more discouragement - despite, and/or maybe due to, what is undoubtedly an increased rate of route development throughout the country. 'Course I don't have any stats & charts to back that up, but Ed probably would - at least for the Valley. Is it the case, as I assume, that even as the available rock for FAs is in decline, that conversely the rate of new route development is amplified?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 21, 2009 - 05:09pm PT
Great thread bump!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 5, 2010 - 11:13pm PT
hey there say, steve grossman... wow, really great pictures and a very nice share here... thanks...

also...wow... chappy chipped in here and i never saw this:
as to your quotes, mark:
I was always and still am amazed at how some climbs or boulder problems just seem to have that magic hold, edge, finger lock, jamb or combination of these features that allow passage over some section of rock that otherwise appears impossible or at the very least overly daunting. Add a touch of exposure and a classic location and you have climbing magic. These otherwise random features of nature seemingly created for our enjoyment make one think there exists some higher power--a climbing God if you will. This is a big part of the beauty and wonder that climbing holds for me. To be climbing virgin rock and be the first to unlock the combination or discover the key hold is the sweetest thing. This is the lure of climbing new routes.

though i never climbed and only hiked and love just to scramble over the wonderful rocks... i SURELY feel the very same way--it must run in the ol' family blood! :)

it SURELY is one of the sweetest things, i seen, too, as to nature... seen in a tree-climbs,as well, even... :)
and thus, for me, too, as to trail and such--the lure of the love of nature, as a whole, too...


man oh man, mark, sure wish you weren't so busy and could share your vast adventures, insight, and joys...
god bless dear brother!...
(thank you so very kindly, too, for the christmas cards and kindess)...

if you get on line, happy new year to you!!!!! and much love from ol' sis...
:)
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jan 5, 2010 - 11:51pm PT
really nice thread bump

this is really it for me... where Roger says...

a route’s location and some measure of its improbability set it apart

and again

it comes down to the improbability that the barest minimum of really good holds could get one over the roof at a moderate difficulty

yes, and yes, and yes. the 'getting away with it motif' is spot on for me. I can think of one my early multi pitch routes at Joshua Tree. The Moosedog Tower.

The improbable looking roof at the bottom that turned out to have two perfect edges on the side wall and then if one liked, trending out left to an exposed arete up higher that had huge holds at 5.6, but was just a joy to climb out over the edge. At a young age I felt like I had gotten away with something that day. Top it off with an overhanging rappel off the backside, and you've got a classic. Silly and small compared to the above climbs, but I think the idea of what Roger was poking at shows something somewhat universal to the climbing phenomena.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 5, 2010 - 11:58pm PT
Siniestra, on the Meat wall on the left, Indian Creek, not a dud move in 160'!
drljefe

climber
Old Pueblo, AZ
Jan 6, 2010 - 07:37am PT
For me, it's The Vampire.
Slammer hands, boulder problem, perfect airy flake climbing, and some dicey steep slab.
Throw in nice exposure and a liberal amount of history...
Perfect, memorable.

Dick Erb

climber
June Lake, CA
Jan 6, 2010 - 08:04am PT
Ah, The Vampire what a place. Eric Beck and I made an early ascent of that route and it never occurred to us that it would some day be a free climb.
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Jan 6, 2010 - 09:18am PT
Regarding potential for new FA's: I think the potential never diminishes, but our willingness to spend the time looking or dreaming diminishes. As I sit at different belays around the Yosemite Valley and look at all the uncharted rock around me, I see tons of places that would be fun to explore if I prioritized the time for it.

But alas I don't live in the Valley, and I make it out there less often than I'd like. I've got a big set of well-known classics on the to do list, and all those dreamy new lines and places to explore get pushed to the category of "some day."


At present, I'm enamored with an unheralded MUST DO climb I visited last week in Joshua Tree: Thrash or Crash. No stars in the guide, easy approach near a well-hyped climb, and the most unusual body position I've ever encountered on a climb. Cool stuff!
Daphne

Trad climber
Mill Valley, CA
Jan 6, 2010 - 06:38pm PT
a this shouldn't be on the bottom of the second page bump
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jan 6, 2010 - 06:58pm PT
Thanks Roger, a fertile thread. So many non climbers like to focus on the possibility of heroics and climbing epics as our drive to climb.
Yet, this idea cannot account for the climbs every climber loves and does over and over. I think you have hit on what it is that pushes a climb into this category. Pratt did the Steck/Salathe every year he was in the valley. Some of the ones I've repeated regularly:
Hoodenett (Tahquitz): at least 6 times.
Fairview (Tuolumne): 6 times.
Truckin Drive (Tuolumne): uncountably many times. The move over the arch, while improbable, is not very hard, your thesis precisely.
Snake Dike (Half Dome): At least 6 times.
Rated X and One Hand Clapping (Donner Summit): uncountably many times.


Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 6, 2010 - 08:51pm PT
Nice list, Eric I've never done that route at taqhuitz, but those others are all favorites!
mark miller

Social climber
Reno
Jan 6, 2010 - 10:12pm PT
Many great routes....Although Knott as difficult but arguably as classic, the 1st pitch of Fantasia at the Leap after reading Robbin's literary account of the 1st ascent in Advanced Rockcraft( almost 100x)...Truely sublime. 3 manky knobs....Finding yourself in that position, Ahh....Thank you.
MH2

climber
Jan 8, 2010 - 12:22pm PT
A Will Nicolls quote:

Passionate climbing is a hopefully endless, delicious series of movements
over rock, interspersed with wonderful moments when you do something you
weren't sure you could do.

Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jan 9, 2010 - 09:13am PT
Fun thread. Thanks to Roger and the other contibutors. I have never done Hoodwink, but maybe next summer. Now that I know the moves so well from this and the Hoodwink thread, it will be cake!

The mention of the Vampire up thread prompted this recollection. I was on the first free ascent in 1973 with Mike Graham, John long, and Bill Antel. John had led the Bat Crack free and Mike got in the key bolt to protect the blank section barring access to the forbidding West Face bulge.

I started the traverse left and it looked impossible. There is a thin flake that goes straight up the bulge, but it faces away as you traverse towards it, and I thought it would be too thin to be of any use. But the flake had an 8-inch horizontal break in it forming a perfect handhold that was quite a ways out of my grasp, no matter how I tried to approach it. Our group was quite enamored with dynamic moves on boulders and we had chatted about how great it would be to find a dynamic move on a climb.

So, the idea occurred to me to try to launch myself up and to the left off the insecure footholds and try to grab the jug with my left hand. I tried it a couple of times and came whipping off with swinging falls. About the third time, I hit it just at the deadpoint, gripped the indentation in the flake, stepped up onto it, and slotted a perfect stopper. A glance up and I knew the rest of it would go free. The feeling when I latched onto that hold and didn’t come swinging off is still vivid. It was later discovered that the leap to the big jug was not needed, because if you extended way out to the flake you could get your fingers of your left hand crimped on it and grab the big hold with the right.

Dick Erb- I felt the same way when I heard that the late Mike Reardon had soloed the Vampire. Utterly incomprehensible that someone could climb that route with only shoes and a chalk bag. To paraphrase an old adage, yesterday's last great problem is today's rest day diversion.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 9, 2010 - 11:21am PT
Hi Rick,

Happy New Year. When I read your post about climbing with Mike and John and 'lunging' on lead, I remember how Mike introduced me to 'history' (as in "You are history, dude!) when he lunged on our FAA of the Outside Face of Phantom Pinnacle. This is my post from September 2003:

The route was climbed with aid in 1965 by Chris Fredericks and Joe Faint. In 1975, I guided a client up the Left Side which had some nice cracks and a good summit at only 5.9. It was also kind of out of the way-it faces south on the South side of the Valley.

On the rappel off, I swung around to the outside face and checked out the cracks and corners. It looked very clean and doable. 'Very clean' was the big excitement--lots of all free, first ascents required excavation work to get to the cracks. It was possible to spend more time on the cleaning than the climbing. Anyway, the following spring, I recruited Mike Graham to come with me to give it a shot. As we working out the details, whatever they were, Bridwell walked up and we invited him. Hey, I know how to put together a high-probability-of-success team.

For reasons that I cannot remember, Mike and I had been climbing for a while that spring and Jim had just gotten to the Valley. I think that this was his first climb of the season.

The first pitch moves off a large ledge and around a corner. I believe that Chris and Joe had placed a bolt to gain the bottom of the crack system. It was Mike's lead. Without much to-do, he said that there wasn't much to hang on to before you got to the crack. "There is a big hold, but I would have to lunge for it."

There was a slight pause, and I am thinking this is the end of my project, then a little jerk on the rope, and Mike is calling for slack.

He had lunged for the hold, nailing it the first try.

A lunge, in Yosemite, on the sharp end of the rope? I don't think so. This is right up there with the "leader does not fall," and clearly wasn't in my play book. I'm a free climber, not a lunger. "How the hell did you do this, anyway?" As it turned out, the lunge was not going to be in my play book that day. I either grabbed the bolt or the rope and reached up for the hold, which was quite large.

The middle pitch was my lead and is not so hard, although it involves face climbing on hollow sounding flakes. They weren't loose, just thin. The third pitch was Mike's lead again. Good hand cracks in very steep corners. As Mike was leading, I was offering encouragement and telling him that the upper section kicked back. Mike was very smooth and calm. When I followed the pitch, I realized that my perspective was all off. The upper section was very steep and the lower section was even steeper. I remember long reaches past thin sections.

Jim was not in good climbing shape, but I remember that he just cruised up the third pitch.

It was a great day and great fun to be climbing with friends on a good route in the sun on the south side of the Valley.

I had a personal 'perfect' move experience on the last pitch of this route. It is very steep, as I point out above, but has mostly really good hand jams in a thin corner, but in a few places the crack closes down to fingers. There was a small roof on the overhanging wall close to the top of the hard climbing with the crack pinched down above and below the little roof. Jim, who had followed Mike up that that pitch, positioned himself so he could watch me climb up.

Do you remember how Jim would sort of get a 'concerned coach' look and offer beta to us when we were young? I wasn't young any more, but I hadn't climbed with Jim in several years, and he was getting ready to offer advice on how to get over that last bit. I was climbing really well and sized up the options on the fly as I approached the little roof. I kept my hands really low in good sinkers with my upper hand cocked down and bunched my feet up under them. Just as Jim was about to tell me the sequence he had used, I used my 80-inch span to reach to a perfect jam above the roof. It looked improbable but felt perfect. Jim just smiled. I still have the muscle memory burned in after 35 years.

It was a great day climbing with Jim and Mike on a fine new route.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jan 9, 2010 - 01:51pm PT
Fun thread to come back to. There are lot of different things that can go into a memorabl pitch/route. A fun sequence of hands (bishop's terrace, sons of yesterday, last pitch of gripper), a sustained pitch (sacherer cracker to mark of art), different moves (lunatic fringe, 3 cruxes of similar grade but very different moves). Or something sustained with a variety of moves (one of these days at woodfords packs a lot of different 5.10 climbing into one pitch).

I like the improbable pitches. The last pitch of sellagenalla (the traverse left variation) has always been a favorite of mine. I took forever to onsight it because I kept looking up thinking, "I'm off route, there is no way that leads to 5.8 climbing":

From the very exposed hand traverse start, to the committing overhanging bulge (overhanging face moves on sierra granite is not supposed to be 5.8), blind corners, and Yosemite wide finish over the lip and into the forest.
Fuzzywuzzy

climber
suspendedhappynation
Jan 9, 2010 - 05:42pm PT
Nice contributions. Vivid memories for all.
Thanks,

TC
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jan 24, 2014 - 10:31pm PT
Bump!
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