We had to climb it in order to save our country.


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Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 23, 2009 - 02:00am PT
The Canadians have FULLY hijacked the thread intended for MisterE.
Ha !

David ( Ghost ) noted that we were climbing Rexford in order to save our country. This was, as I said in the thread, 1980 and I spoze some background is needed to explain it all.

Get this : I kept a journal back then and , in it, I have the story of those four days we spent getting up to mischief climbing mountains to "save our country". A few pages of this journal were published in Alpinist a few years back. This story wasn't part of that.

I'll write it here verbatim from my old Red Mountain Book just as I wrote it back when I was 20 yrs old so excuuuuuuuuse me if the writing is precious or otherwise.

Without further ado and apologies fer the length:

Part 1

Looking back on it now, those four days were about the MOST HECTIC I could imagine. I remember expensive drinks in the bar, terrifed cameramen, out-rag-eous on-purpose falls a lot of dope & an incredible night on top of Mt Rexford. And what for? A TV commercial with climbers for the Feds. An advert with the line 'as climbers work together to reach the top of a mountain , so must Canada work together to stay in Confederation'.

It was a Friday night in late July and I had just got back from the Island & was preparing to devour my dinner. The 'fone rang.

"Tami? It's Dave Harris here. Can you & Pete be at the Chateau Granville tomrrow night at eight? Possibility of a job making at TV commercial. They might be able to use you ! See ya ! "

T.V.!!? Dollar signs flashed to my eyes as I drove to Squamish to see Peter and tell him the fantastic news.

We slunk into the hotel room, one of the posh ones on the highest floor of the Chateau Granville. Our eyes quickly scoured the room. There was Dave Harris, Corinna Atcheson, Peter Ourom, Jim Campbell, Simon Tooley, John Howe, Ryan Shellborne & a few others I didn't recognize. Heinekens sat on a table, open & undrank. The director wailed...."Somebody - please - get me a cigarette! I simply neeeeeed a cig - " Three hands outstretched with cigarettes The director's wife - beautiful & half his age sat demurely at the side. John Howe was eyeing her , drooling. Other odd-looking people sat around. After formalities we got down to business.

"Okay. I realize that you climbers arn't familiar with this but this is a casting session." The director, Bob Fleck, was speaking. "We will choose four of you on the basis of pre-conceived notions of what climbers look like. We will also select two more to be technical assistants." I looked at Peter who was grinning like some deranged chipmunk. Jim C. looked grim. John was still drooling.

Then we were dismissed to the bar while they decided who would be famous & rich and who wouldn't. They told us to charge our beers to their account. So we charged our Marguritas, Zombys & double Separators to their account. It was but the beginning.

Far too soon, we were called back to the suite. "We'll take Dave, John, Ryan & Tami. Peter & Peder will be technical assistants. The rest of you, collect twenty-five dollars from my wife & thanks for coming - we'll keep you in mind for the future." said the director. He then explained what the job would consist of. The commercial, a 30 second job, would show a guy leading and then falling ( preferably horrendo, no blood but plenty of air time ) Then worried looks from the other climbers and finally a summit shot of the happy climbers. We would film the 'summit shots' on Mt Rexford & then fake the rest of it at Squamish. It wold take three, possibly four days. Hurried phone calls to our various employers went through. Yep. Those chosen would do it.

So the stage was set, the cast ready. Dave Harris: competent lead climber who takes a dump but is *phew* okay. John Howe: The reliable but worried buddy. Ryan Shellborne: leader of the second pair. Worried when Dave dumps but thankful when John holds the fall. Tami : sex interest. Peder & Pete: consiensious technical assistants to the filming crew.

"So we meet here tomorrow at eight a.m. Right here. Seeya then ! " . "Bye"."Bye".

Outside, as we jumped over drunks bonzoed outside the Blackstone, we cheered at our new found riches. Free food ! Free booze ! Free this and free that ! And they're paying us on top of it all ! Crème de la crème ! Eeeee ha !

Next day, the weather was immaculate blue from horizon to horizon. The hike up Rexford was steep, but there was plenty of water and with every step we thought - 25c - 50c - 75c - 1.00$ - etc etc. Conditions were unreal. Few or no bugs and not too hot with a cool breeze blowing. Higher up, we scrambled up the S.W. ridge to the summit, pausing along the way to gawk and bullshit about the E Side of Slesse, which was in full, glorious view.

Finally on the summit, we did some amazing trundles before looking for suitable bivi spots on the E side of the main ( N ) summit. We stuffed our faces with food: Yogurt, shrimp, crab meat and imported chocolate. Absolute luxury. Peder then brought out his tape deck & to the sounds of "Wish you were here', we watched as the full moon glimmered and rose over Mt Redoubt casting us in an eerie silver light. Stars twinkled and reflected and it was as if we were alone in the universe. More reefers were passed and mists - tiny gossamer mists- streamed over the summit, momentarily watering the moon's light. We looked at each other and pinched ourselves just to see if it was all real.

Part 2

It was a Hollywood start the next morning. None of this four-am freeze-your-bunghole-shut stuff. I felt the sun warm me and I rolled over & opened my eyes to a perfect summer morning. We ate at leisure and cruised over to the S summit to prepare the day's shooting.

About an hour later we heard the chopper. But none materialized. Then we looked harder and saw that it was buzzing around Slesse. Rescue ? "No, I bet those dumb jerks have got the wrong bloody mountain." someone said. Finally they came over to Rexford. The 'copter flew around us and then came close in, hovering inches off the ground. Our dropped a walkie-talkie. The cameraman sitting just inside the open door managed to shout
"Got the wrong bloody mountain! Sorry !" before they buzzed off.

The first scene we were to do was 'the summit shot'. Okay. Quickly set up lads, remember your positions from last night! Here comes the helicopter!

The chopper swung around and moved in . The cameraman with camera mounted on the skid was half hanging out, seemingly oblivious to the many thousands of feet of air under him.

"zzzt okay guys..............roll camera.....ACTION!" came over the walkie-talkie. We moved through the pre-rehearsed moves. "zzzt.....good, guys. But move apart; it looks like a stand-up f*#k, zzt."

A million takes later and the helicopter zooomed away to talk to the director who was parked in the Slesse Ck valley. We looked over to where Pete and Peder were hiding. Billows of smoke followed by giggles were spewing from their hiding place. Shrieks of anguish from us - they're smoking all the grass!!

Next sequence was "the fall" by Dave "massive-screamer" Harris. This involved filming from the ground, so two cameramen were dropped from the helicopter to the mountaintop. One, Mike Watkins, was scared of heights. He refused to move insisting that he would rather be shot then move towards the edge of the cliff. So we tied him in and that made him feel slightly better. We set up the shot, which involved Dave taking a few ten-foot leader falls. The takes were filmed then none too soon for Mike, they were finished.
"zzzzt...ground to helicopter...get me off this goddamned mountaintop! zzztt!!!!" some more long shots and establishing shots were filmed lower on the mountain, then the chopper came down and picked up Dave and all our packs . We were left to run down the mountain, packless. Yippeeeeee!!!!

Back at the Chateau de la Chateau, we were directed to a room that would be ours for the night. We had room service, too.

"Room service? Six Heinekens, please' An ugly little man appeared with our beers, gave them to us, waited, looked disgruntled , and left.

"Room service? Six Heinekens please! " No waiter. No booze. Time passed and still no waiter. Still no booze. It seemd the first guy was browned off because we didn't tip him. What an assuming jerk. What a low life.
[2009 edit ; how can you tell I hadn't worked in the hotel industry at that point in my life ?]

Part 3

The third day was spent filming on Squamish. What won't these guys go to to get a shot ? The roofs of cars were used for a closeup of the scene. And through this, all cameras had to be placed so that no powerlines or trees were in the frame. Which is, of course, no small feat at Squamish.

But the most impressive, and indeed the highlight of the whole experience was THE FALL sequence, shoton big Daddy at Nightmare Rk.

After a lunch catered from Vancouver (! )complete with salmon, white wine in stemmed glasses and a pretty waitress ( John's salivating glands in action again ) we set up the scene.

Finally we were ready. cameras were placed underneath & to the side to get optimum shots. The double, brand new , 9mms were tied off to a zillion anchors at the bottom then they snaked upwards to anchors about thirty feet from the end of the pitch. From here they looped down twenty feet and then back up twenty feet to where they were tied off to a shaking Dave. The ropes hung limply in the light breeze. Us at the bottom huddled off to one side.

"Thirty feet, maybe? "
"Naw, forty."
"Christ, lookit the way those mothers hang. Hope they don't break!"
"Pete, are you SURE about the anchors? "
"There's five pins in and a bunch of nuts."
"I think he's going to die"
"sure am glad I"m not up there!"
To this, heads solemnly nodded.

"Okay, Dave!?" The director howled. A squeak was heard from Dave

"Ready......roll camera..........action..........ACTION, DAVE! .....GO!!"



THe word came from the director. "GREAT! Dave, do you have another on in you ? We'll want to make sure we got it . "

"Yeah, eeeeef, urg, oh-sure! " babbled Dave in a rather soprano voice
[2009 edit - he was in a Whillans harness]
He unclipped his jumars and buggered back up the rope.

"ready Dave? Okay.......roll camera.....ACTION!"
"ssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeee - it! Geeek, urk "
Dave landed upside down & truely knackered himself. He deserved his pilot's license for those efforts!

"Okay, Dave, that's GREAT!" yelled the director.

More filming was done until dark and we drove back to Van, tired and happy and...rich! Peder and Peter were paid their 625$ cash then & there & the rest of us got 125$, the rest to be paid by ACTRA. [Ass'n of Cdn actors etc] My wallet was so stuffed it wouldn't close. Gloat, gloat.

That night we were informed that we would have to re-shoot some scenes because the rushes didnt turn out as expected. So antother night and more $$$ was spent keeping us at the hotel. Next day we shot the scenes. We finished at noon, everyone being pretty tired. Then everyone said goodbye, the film crew rushed off to catch their plane to Toronto. And the dream was over.

back in Horseshoe Bay, Pete and I waited for the ferry back to Nanaimo. "Gee Peter, I feel like some fish & chips. Got any spare change?"

He pulled out a crumpled wad of twentys and said "Sure, come on !"

Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 23, 2009 - 02:05am PT
Darn! David invited me to try out or whatever they call it, and I was busy. I couda been a star...

Tami dear, tell us about what happened with all the film that they took? Dave's death-defying dismount and all?

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Nov 23, 2009 - 02:15am PT

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 23, 2009 - 02:57am PT
That is classic stuff there Tami. If that doesn't pick up the tone around here, I'm not sure what will. Canadians are the shizzle, and they know when someone has a heart or soul like Mr. E.

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Nov 23, 2009 - 03:02am PT
Nyuk, nyuk! ;-)
Can't believe the cheapos made ya walk!


Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Nov 23, 2009 - 08:26am PT

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 23, 2009 - 09:22am PT
Classic, Tami! Any chance of seeing the finished product?

Trad climber
Canoga Bark! CA
Nov 23, 2009 - 09:59am PT
What a great story! Two fifty footers on a Whillans harness with a static anchor - OUCH!

Just close your eyes and think of...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 23, 2009 - 10:24am PT
I thought you Canucks would be hitting Jerry's "choss" thread pretty heavy

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Nov 23, 2009 - 11:09am PT
They're just being modest as usual.

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Nov 23, 2009 - 11:32am PT
Tami: Great story---a classic effort for Canada.

My first trip to Vancouver in the late 60's we went to a movie (stoned of course). The movie started with a grand rendition of "God Save the Queen"----and we were all convinced this must be standard for all movies in Canada. We kept waiting for the audience to stand and sing along.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 23, 2009 - 11:36am PT
NICE Tami. This has got everything: a heli-support bivi, clear skies, no bugs, dirtbags with an open tab in the Chateau, screamers -- yes, multiple -- Whillans-harness bruises from a heads-down landing, a sex-interest or two, and of course a God-Save-the-Queen mission.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Nov 23, 2009 - 11:43am PT
Thanks Tami-nice early morning entertainment!

Trad climber
electric lady land
Nov 23, 2009 - 11:46am PT
all hail the seal clubbers!!!(west coasters),
well at least yer not frogs (east coasters).
i work with lots of seal clubbers, and yall's
are tops in my book.

maybe you can put a climbing commercial
together to save our country?

dig yer writing and toons tami,


Trad climber
Nov 23, 2009 - 11:55am PT
David - you took those falls in a Whillans??!! I have an entirely new level of respect for you.

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 23, 2009 - 12:46pm PT
NIce job Tami- great story.

Just one thing I'm not too clear on- You guys DID or DIDN'T like smoking weed? heheheheh

A long way from where I started
Nov 23, 2009 - 01:08pm PT
So I wake up this morning and try to find something other than old age to blame for my inability to move.

Gym session? No, that was two days ago. Heavy day of yard work? No, I didn't do anything yesterday except cook. And then it comes to me: The cooking was for last night's pre-Thanksgiving dinner which involved roast goose, root vegetables caramelized in goose fat, two different salads, orange polenta cake with fig/port sauce for dessert, and... Oh god, and how many bottles of wine?

I eventually got it together enough to get on my bike and peddle in to work, and the fresh air seemed to give me back some grip on life (being almost run over by the same bus driver twice kinda helped with the wake-up, too).

Anyway, finally got downtown, showered, changed, and, coffee in hand, sat down and took a look at Supertopo.

Usual sh#t. Politics, religion, US going down the toilet, and what's this? A thread from Tami? About that TV commercial? Wonder what she has to say about that...

And then, Holy Shit!!! It's her DIARY!!!!

Uh oh... Whoops, getting called in to a meeting. More later, and photos tonight



Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 23, 2009 - 01:14pm PT
Excellent that David will weigh ( all 100lb of him ) into this thread with pix.

Thanks fer all your kind words. Oh, and the west coasters are NOT seal clubbers - those are the Newfies.
We are the tree huggers . Or the hugger-buggerers if yer a logger.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 23, 2009 - 01:27pm PT
If I remember correctly (a big if - usually no home TV), Dave's Dreadful Death-Defying Dive wasn't shown in the eventual 'national unity' ad, but there was a aerial/panning shot of the group on the summit of Mount Rexford, waving into the sunset.

Trad climber
electric lady land
Nov 23, 2009 - 01:27pm PT
yer still seal clubbers to me.

me lubber the hugger/clubber.
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