Claude Suhl, The Duke of Earl and 1962

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 85 of total 85 in this topic
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 7, 2010 - 05:15pm PT
Claude Suhl, The Duke of Earl and 1962

I’m pretty sure it was the spring of 1962 but then again it could have been the fall. Anyhow, the court records, if they have been unsealed will verify the story.

It was a classic morning in Camp 4 when all the usual characters were trying to decipher a game plan for the day’s activities. Climb, beach it, play with the chicks, scrounge for some food or just play it as it happens. No hang-ups with analysis paralysis and having to psyche up for a climb.

Seemed like a good morning to explore, cruise around the Valley and “look” at existing routes and new possibilities. Lots of possibilities back then. Hell, we might even go climbing in the afternoon.

Calderwood had his old VW, there was a large group of us, so we all crammed into his little Bug. There was Rich Calderwood, Mort Hempel, Claude Suhl, myself and others I can’t remember. Perhaps Amborn, Beck, Foott, Kor, Sacherer????? Anyhow it was packed, jammed to the max. After a spell of climbing in and out at every stop it seemed more logical to stay outside and ride on the bumper and top. Seeing this little VW flying down the Valley below El Cap with a bunch of clowns hanging on for dear life must have been an inspiration for the later, open coach cattle-wagon idea of the Curry Company?

Now Mort is a wonderful musician with a beautiful voice and after a spell of warming up he was busting out the sounds at full volume. Once we got through the Joen Baez repertoire, it was time for some new tunes. One of our favourite songs at the time was “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler. Mort would sing lead and the rest of us would back him up with a deeper “Duke, Duke, Duke ,Duke of Earl.” I have to tell you it was beautiful. Calderwood, the only one inside the car was keeping the beat with his horn. Meanwhile we are blasting down the road, serenading the walls and having a grand old time

Duke,Duke,Duke, Duke of Earl…………………

We even got into our own rendition and started singing, “Beep,Beep Beep the Horn”, with Calderwood taking the lead.

In reality, it was a fairly productive excursion as with our combined experience of routes climbed we could discuss many of the existing climbs and the endless possibilities that still existed. Climbers were not so reluctant to share knowledge back then and we picked out a number of possible new routes.

Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl………………….

Well as with any road trip things don’t always flow the way you anticipated. We had circled the Valley from Camp 4 to El Cap, to the Cathedral Rock arena and along the South side of the Valley with many stops and were heading to the Bishop Terrace area. While opposite the Ahwahnee Meadow a ranger truck with red lights flashing and siren blasting pulled us over. Well at least it was easy to just jump off the VW and we didn’t have to crawl out. I mean, that many guys piled into a wee car like that certainly would have been some type of violation.

Duke,Duke, Duke,Duke of Earl………………………..

Out steps this chunky little ranger in full colors and he is pissed off. Well, nobody could be that upset over a wee infraction of the vehicle code. The guy must be having some major personal problems, maybe his wife left him for a climber or another lady or whatever. Anyhow he is reading us the riot act and we are feeling pretty humble, contrite, looking down at the ground and avoiding eye contact. It was hard to look sad and not break into uproarious laugher. I can’t remember if Kor was there because it would be hilarious to think of Kor looking down at the ground because it would be so far away.

Well, things were calming down, the ranger vented his original build of steam and we were almost down to talking levels when Suhl casually says,”fu#k you ranger, you fat little piece of sh#t, what’s your name? Porky Pig?”

Well, that kind of got the ranger ranting and raving again and things were not looking too good for quietly sliding on back to the relative tranquility of Camp 4. No, our ranger buddy had to call for backup and when the backup got there they had to call for more backups. Now Claude is in full form and he is ranting and raving in a mode only a true Vulgarian could appreciate. We had spent enough time with Gran, Craft , Suhl and the boys from the East but this was an exceptional manifestation of their true talents. How one person could get so many rangers so upset in so little time was truly remarkable. East meets West I guess?

Duke,Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl
As I Walk Through This World
Nothing Can Stop the Duke of Earl

Before too many rangers gather, Suhl runs into the center of the Meadow and hides but continues his incantations about rangers, NPS, law and the rights of man and just about anything else, with appropriate tidbits of profanity thrown in to keep it all in perspective. Soon the Meadow is literally surrounded by rangers. Rangers on foot, on horseback and with numerous patrol vehicles as backup in case he should make a bold and dashing exit. As the circle narrows, Suhl’s tirades get louder and louder. Alas , with such a show of power it had to end, and he was dragged out in handcuffs to a cheering crowd.



A little time in jail, a meeting with the good judge Geno Ottonello, who almost became my father-in-law 5 years later, and Claude was kicked out of the Valley for a year. Rumor has it he was back in the talus behind Camp 4 within 24 hours.

Cause I’m the Duke of Earl
So Yeah, Yeah,Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Uht69h8Is






Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 7, 2010 - 05:56pm PT
Guido: Great story! I could envision the happy drive around the valley.

Loved the "Duke of Earl" and the strange variations we could work up on it BITD.

I used to climb with one of those assetive easterners like Suhl. Great to have around when some arsehole needed confronting. We westerners would grin and shuffle our feet, while Mike verbally ripped on those that needed ripping on. He backed them down and wisely, never chose a cop to rip on.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jan 7, 2010 - 06:17pm PT
Yay, Guido!!!!!

I couldn't stop laughing, the pictures in my mind of
el rangero's going after Claude!!!!!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 7, 2010 - 10:56pm PT
The old climbers home nurses say: "they love it and you Guido."

"This is one of the best stories any of us have seen on the Taco"!

Bump!
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Jan 7, 2010 - 11:50pm PT
Bravo, hero's of yesterday!
Dick Erb

climber
June Lake, CA
Jan 8, 2010 - 12:15am PT
Joe, Great to here that one again and in greater detail as well. It reminds me that climbing was not the only thing that delighted me about climbing, back in the days of my well spent youth.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 8, 2010 - 12:37am PT
What a sweet tale Guido!

Yes indeed, things were rad in the valley in the mid-late 70's, and we got away with a lot. I didn't know that you were quite so sick in the early 60's!
I certainly had some inappropriate rides around the valley, but I never ended up in the meadow surrounded by THE MAN!!
TripL7

Trad climber
san diego
Jan 8, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
Great story Guido!

Brings back memories of the Vulgarian Digest, East/West rivalry(good natured ie.pull-up contest etc.)...golden times!

Never could understand where the rangers were coming from...puzzled me. You would think they would identify with our love for the Yose, and have a similar connection with nature and a mutual respect. Rather than a disdain for us and our ways. OH WELL!

Would like to here some more stories!!

Thanks, Trip~

EDIT: The Duke of Earl...RULES!! Hahaha!
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jan 8, 2010 - 01:19pm PT
While I was not there, wish I had been. Last I heard, quite a while ago, Claude was teaching math at Columbia.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jan 8, 2010 - 01:56pm PT
Great story! Reminds me of a similar VW incident from years past.....

My friend and I were climbing at J-Tree one winter back when it was free camping. We didn't want to lose our campsite so decided to walk to all our climbs and leave the car as our claim to a site.

We were out somewhere and found a huge pile of old, rusted cans. I carry a bunch of plastic bags for picking up trash at the crags so we loaded them up and started the long trudge back to camp. A few minutes later along came a fellow climber in his VW bug with a sunroof. We flagged him down and he let us stand on the floorboards and hold on to the sunroof for a ride back to camp.

It was just our luck that we passed a ranger in his cruiser, who seeing us standing on the floorboards going 30+mph, was not pleased. He pulled us over and started to give us the drill when I pipep up that we needed the ride because we found all these old, rusted cans and were having trouble lugging them back to camp.

We showed the ranger our huge haul of cans and he decided to let us go!

Bruce

Buggs

Trad climber
Corrales, New Mexico
Jan 8, 2010 - 02:13pm PT
Nice job Bruce!
On the other hand, my kids and I hauled 5 giant trashbags out of the gorge at Great Falls VA, to a grateful ranger who was amazed at our hard work on behalf of "the people."
Next visit, the same exact ranger wouldn't give us free parking.
I asked for a $5 parking pass for 5 giant bags of garbage!!!
I feckin' hate the man sometimes......

Oops, It's me, survival. I posted under Buggs avatar...whatever.
DanaB

climber
Philadelphia
Jan 8, 2010 - 04:16pm PT
Claude performed a poetry slam at the 'Gunks visitor center this fall, and in early September just passed I saw him heading down the Carriage Road, off to do a climb. Still has a gleam in his eye.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 9, 2010 - 01:02am PT
Never could understand where the rangers were coming from...puzzled me. You would think they would identify with our love for the Yeos, and have a similar connection with nature and a mutual respect.
It doesn't sound like Claude and friends' shenanigans had very much to do with a connection with nature or the park, mutual respect, or love for the "Yeos". More like some adolescent male hooligans having a hell of a time, making loud noise, behaving stupidly. It's a great story, and I've probably done similar things - but such behaviour doesn't belong in a place like Yosemite.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jan 9, 2010 - 04:06am PT
and I wonder why I can't OB camp no more. ;)


LOL!!!! hahahaha
TripL7

Trad climber
san diego
Jan 9, 2010 - 05:24am PT
MH!

I understand your point!

I was recalling the general, longstanding atmosphere/relationship between the two groups. It just brought back a very specific moment of enlightenment/revelation I had(initial visit)that there was some animosity/deep seated feelings of distrust etc. between the two.

I suppose I was somewhat of a romantic idealist of sorts, being that my initial relationships with the outdoors and climbing originated with the Sierra Club.(and Boy Scouts).

One of my best friends was Yose. ranger/climber P. Cowen...I guess I was expecting them to all be mre like him.

I am not naive...I can understand how things evolved.

But there just seemed to be a anal retentive/inflexible, holier then tho attitude that prevailed amongst a percentage of the Rangers(see Buggs^^^for example of anal retentive ranger).
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jan 9, 2010 - 09:19am PT
Really enjoyed that, Guido.
And how great that the hero Claude is still climbing.

plus ca change...
MH2

climber
Jan 9, 2010 - 02:57pm PT
Brings back memories of the Vulgarian Digest


The Bow-hunting Way of Knowledge
bmacd

Trad climber
British Columbia
Jan 9, 2010 - 03:28pm PT
Love these old stories of the way things used to be ...

Free spirited behavior like this is almost a capital offense nowadays
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 9, 2010 - 03:31pm PT
No, you just have to be more discreet. If you insist on loud attention-getting behaviour in public places, the result is predictable. But it's surprising what you can do if you put a little thought into it.

Though the deep-seated need of many adolescent males to "act out" through loud and often drunken behaviour in public is nothing new, even when transposed to climbers and the Valley.

I really did like Joe's story - reminds me of the gang of us cruising around the loop road in John's VW van, sliding door open, hollering abuse at tourists on the turkey tour. But that was the 1970s, and those times are gone.
TripL7

Trad climber
san diego
Jan 9, 2010 - 03:41pm PT
"but such behavior doesn't belong in a place like Yosemite"

Perhaps we should be required to remove our shoes at the entrance gate!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 9, 2010 - 09:40pm PT
Bump
mark miller

Social climber
Reno
Jan 9, 2010 - 10:24pm PT
Sweet story and nice to Hear that the rangers were tools even before my arrival in the 70's.
TripL7

Trad climber
san diego
Jan 9, 2010 - 11:09pm PT
If I may digress(although in support of Mr. Suhl's proud stance).

Spring 74' late evening and I am walking back to C4, stop to take a leak. Gazing up, admiring the the heights when suddenly a blinding light is shining sideways, catching me in the middle of the act. Startled I shuffle to the other side of the tree.
"Come out with your hands up!!"
I should have, maybe I would have even got a little on one of them. But with mind racing, wondering "is it illegal to pee on a Doug Fir" I try to rush it, finish the job...but it doesn't work!!
Suddenly, one of them has me in a choke hold and I'm doing the old 'funky chicken', going in and out of consciousness, arms and legs flailing, gasping for breath.
"Why didn't you come out from behind the tree when we asked you." I here someone ask as I regain my senses, face in the dirt, hands cuffed behind my back. "I was taking a leak" I confess. Wondering what the charge was going to be, was I going to spend the night in jail?
The dude with the portable torch goes to inspect the tree I had been watering.
"Un cuff him Dan, he's not our man!"
WTF I mumble..
"Some guy just broke into the market" one LEO replies, as they walk back to their cruiser.
Not a "we're sorry/you OK"...nothing, zip. They wouldn't have even offered an explanation if I hadn't asked.







Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 17, 2010 - 01:44pm PT
Great story, Joe! Just about piss myself laughing every time I read it!

A shot of the Smokin' Duke and fellow Vulgarian, Joe Kelsey from Glen Denny's superb Yosemite in the Sixties, 2007.


Among a long list of accomplishments Claude also got the great Bev Johnson into climbing seriously. The rest, as they say, is history!
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jan 17, 2010 - 03:58pm PT
"but such behavior doesn't belong in a place like Yosemite"

I agree, in principle. I don't go into an indoor cathedral and whoop and holler. That said, we've all enjoyed acting like adolescents and it is a great story! This one belongs in the Yosemite Pantheon along with the Tenaya Lk Water Skiing Festival.
FangnClawed

Ice climber
High Falls, NY
Jan 18, 2010 - 12:09pm PT
especially in light of those who fear that one should not behave thusly in Yosemite, and there were plenty of them, even back in the 60's:

note the behavior of the RANGER :!!!
follows a response to some who pointed out this fine LEGENDARY observation

DOODS & DRUIDS,
thanks
grate story just like Kelsey would quote Ken Kesey - "it is the truth , even if it didn't happen" (not quite a great story - just a little bit raspy)



essentially true in nature
but how I remember it was:


1st of all
it was Art Gran's VW

driving on the bumper was only me
inside was Art, at least one other eastern climber
and, I just found out last spring, Jeff Foott was on board or aboard. (he lives near Raivo in Castle Valley and we always see him when we go to Moab)
Mort Hempel is another good candidate for being present.


I remember being very peaceful and driving very slowly from Camp 4 to the Village (where Degnans and the Ranger Station were)

the Ranger who came out to greet us was only moderately belligerent and authoritarian BUT he was interrupting a very composed and peaceful reverie that threatened NO ONE ! We were mindful of someone riding on the outside of the car AND had to do this because 6 or however many of us there were could not fit in to a VW bug. Here comes this brash MF making a big deal about nothing - the Valley was very uncrowded and very bucolic that morning.

Upon my telling the Ranger " I negate your authority" in Neitzschian fashion, (after having told him "f*#k you")said Ranger proceeded to go inside the station and come out with his handgun held high overhead. A few hours later after cooling my heels in the small stone and steel nearby jail cell I was dragged into court. The judge obviously saw the humor in this great offense and calmly remanded me back to jail for a sentence of a day , I believe. Having just left the cell and having found it impervious and extremely contrary to my earlier totally free and peaceful state of mind - as we exited and marched back to jail - I was in the center with four rangers at each quadrant - so I bolted, or perhaps boogied, right out the side of this confinement and fled deep into the vast meadows to the south. As I heard sirens wailing and saw flashing red lights of ranger cars circling around the end of the mile wide meadows I jammed myself deep in to the center of a centrally located bush. Half hour later the dogs found me - straining at their leashes-savage fangs menacing- saliva showering in all directions as if to pre-digest an upcoming feast - I think they were actually trying to lick me, being Lab like. So I earned an extra 24 hours in the clink. I was told by those in the know that Wayne Merry interceded in my behalf. I had met him via Hemming before he had become a ranger a few years before.

Any way I will not fight the legend - may it grow - certainly there were raucous trips around the valley with many scoundrels riding outboard , perhaps not that particular time AND I did tell that ranger, who was from Brooklyn originally !! as I later found out from him, I did tell him to go f*#k himself as well .......but who knows mammaries and memories fade and coalesce .... what the f*#k?

also I believe I was wearing baggy old corduroy Gunksian knickers that were extremely ventilated throughout and a Roperian very dirty once white T-shirt.
Now I've got to find out who wrote the article in Stupor Topo.

clawed



FangnClawed

Ice climber
High Falls, NY
Jan 18, 2010 - 12:23pm PT
to Eric Beck and others:
to me a more incredible story of birth and death is my first trip to the valley with :
Eric Beck !!! whose trip to the valley was also his first.
He was a hot young promising high school climber from San Diego area. So.....
Gary Hemming gets his buddy George Schlief - a rabid incessant high speed tailgater - to leave Friday night for the way northerly Yosemite. George tail gates his way behind enumerable vehicles -
as newbie Eric and I are trying to sleep at about 5AM on the way down into the valley from the Wawona tunnel - we are pestered by Gary and Schlief - "hey look at the big valley - see the big rock walls - hey wake up "

I just hunkered down deeper in to my seat - the walls seeming to pervade the sky with ominous fear spasms. Hours later , in camp 4 - i peered from the tent - saw gray distant Sentinel looming frightfully almost overhead across the Valley - it was a mental disfiguration for me to emerge from my tent. I recall, perhaps 12 hours later cringing my way up the massif of Sunny Side Bench - still in fear and trepidation! I think Eric faired quite a bit better.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 18, 2010 - 03:36pm PT
Ah Clawed-how to wreck a good tale!

Arlo Guthrie has been hounding me all week for an interview and now I have to refer him to you. Be nice as you are throwing away untold royalties and fame. Perhaps it is a compilation of several VW rides and numerous wild excursions but as we both agree, "it's the truth even if it never happened."

I have sent off copies to some of the usual suspects and we shall see. Of course you realize this will drag out other potential nefarious expeditions of record and we both may be hauled off to jail. The "man" is not so forgiving in this era of fear, fear and more fear. In the climate of today you would be doing "eleven years in fourworth" as Groncho would say.

Well, we got you posting on ST and that is a coup in itself.

Funny thing, my lady was driving to town here yesterday in the Bay of Islands and what song suddenly come up on the radio? Yep : "Duke. Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl...................."

So now and forever whenever anybody hears that song they will think of Clawed. Kind of like not thinking of the Lone Ranger when you hear the "William Tell Overture."

Alas, as the saying goes, "A Legend is a Lie with the Dignity of Time".

So may the legend grow!

Guido



MH2

climber
Jan 18, 2010 - 03:40pm PT
Well, we got you posting on ST and that is a coup in itself.


second the motion
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 18, 2010 - 04:53pm PT
Bummer Guido: That is a real problem with telling your version of great stories on the Taco.

You never know when the actual perpetrator is going to post up his memories as "the truth."

Happened to me last fall when I recounted a great story about WSU Alpine Club members mooning Canadian Mounties trying to rescue them.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=977914&msg=984774#msg984774

Oh Well-----it does pull in new posters!
David Wilson

climber
CA
Jan 18, 2010 - 05:18pm PT
great story ! thanks for posting
oldguy

climber
Bronx, NY
Jan 18, 2010 - 10:48pm PT
I wasn't around for the Duke of Earl scene, but I do remember that Art Gran had a VW. Also, Claude (hi, Claude, hi Joe, hi Dick) showed up in the Valley in 1959, by himself as I recall, a sort of avante guarde of the Vulgarians. And he seemed so un-Vulagarian at the time, soft spoken, respectful of the local talent, and wasn't really interested in climbing, just being part of the scene. He came back in 1960 with Dave Craft and Art. Art used to borrow Craft's Triumph so that I could take him on a Le Mans type ride on the dirt backroads that led out of the Valley. When I think now of doing four-wheel drifts on dirt switchbacks in someone else's sports car, I shudder, slightly.
As to the rangers, there were a few like Rick the Reckless Ranger and later Wayne Merry (who of course was a climber) who understood climbing and climbers, but for the most part it was just another counter-culture scene. We didn't have jobs, we did have beards (almost unheard of in those days), we scrounged food in the coffee shop and from other campers, we stole showers at the Lodge (although I thought they would be happy that we were keeping clean), and in general we just weren't good Americans, as anyone could see just from looking at us. There was a fine tradition of the ranger-naturalist, Carl Sharsmith for one and Wayne was another, but the new rangers were just law enforcers and quite liked the power that seemed to give them. Plus, they were on the side of the Curry Company whose minions also weren't fond of our lollygagging around the Lodge and dreaded the day we might show up at the Ahwanee. And if truth be told, later on some of the climbers did go a bit beyond the line, not Claude, of course, but some who shall remain nameless, or so I have been told. As all of you now have been.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 19, 2010 - 01:26am PT
My first encounter with Claude and the Vulgarian tribe occurred in the climber's camp in the Tetons, I think around 1961. I've extracted part of a post I made to Steve Grossman's Shawangunks-Cornerstone thread, since it seems to fit in with the combination of history and legend here.



I arrived in the climber's campground via Trailways buses from NYC and a bit of hitchhiking. I was a senior in high school, and my impressionable adolescent psyche had been deeply influenced by the purple pro---uh, the lyrical writing---of Gaston Rebuffat. From his books I learned about the beauty of the mountaineering experience, the brotherhood of the rope, the necessity of being fashionably attired at all times, and the imperative that under no circumstances was the leader ever to allow the perfect geometrically vertical lines of his rope to be broken by pictorially distracting protection points.

Thusly stuffed to the gills with matching-patterned-sweater-and-knicker-socks idealism, I made my way to the climbers' camp. Oh, the horror! The place was infested with badly dressed, apparently unwashed, and thoroughly unkempt vermin, drinking, copulating, disrupting Teton Tea parties, roaring around the loop road in their Triumphs, sounding the Vulgaraphone, and indulging in all manner of activities impossible to carry out in woolen knickers.

I feverishly consulted my copies of Neige et Roc and Etoiles et Tempetes (you don't think I would deign to read bad English translations of The Master, do you?) for protective incantations against these alpine demons, no doubt the same ones feared by the early French peasants venturing into the heights for the first time. But now these werewolves and satyrs were somehow transplanted from Chamonix to Jackson, screaming like the hounds of hell in the throes of a feverish blood lust, apparently stimulated by the scent of my dry-cleaned climbing outfits.

As I cowered behind Orrin Bonney's teepee, watching the End of Days in progress before me, I realized that the apocalypse had arrived, probably during my AP Calculus class, and that Fire and Brimstone, rather than Starlight and Storm, would be the new essence of the American climbing experience.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 19, 2010 - 04:18pm PT
DUKE!!

Hoh mahn....now we have Clawed and Old Guy posting on here??

I'm getting this Guido character figured out, a Slippery Salty Sea Dog indeed.

These old geezers are holdin' out on the REAL tales of DeBoch, I just KNOW IT!!
C'mon you guys. Quit hiding out and let some more shizzle fly!!
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jan 19, 2010 - 06:42pm PT
These are the stories that make this site worthwhile. Bring back the good old days. I love it.
BBA

Social climber
West Linn OR
Mar 18, 2010 - 08:04pm PT
I saw what Oldguy said about Sharsmith being one of the few OK rangers. From the peak register I noted Sharsmith climbed Mt. Starr King in 1931 in his first season as summer ranger help. He then went to graduate school at Berkeley and is mentioned by Richard Leonard's in his notes as a member of the Berkeley Rock Climbing Section of the Sierra Club in 1933 on Chicken Skinner's site (YCA). So of course he had to be OK! He was a seasonal naturalist for 25 years while professoring here and there.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 18, 2010 - 09:04pm PT
Great story Guido! Whatever happened to Claude and Mort?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 18, 2010 - 09:45pm PT
I've been told by Pat Ament that Mort has lived a quiet life in Boulder now for many years.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 18, 2010 - 10:10pm PT
Mr Donini Sir!

You can find Claude several posts above you, ie. "Fangclawed". We had some behind -the- scene fun with this one. More to come by the way about a continuation of similar "we" vs "them" back when there was a serious social problem with the interphase.

Mort-I have some contact with recently, yes living in Boulder and maintaining fairly well.

cheers
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 18, 2010 - 10:35pm PT
I first heard the term Vulgarian and the names Art Gran, Claude Suhl, and Gary Hemming from Layton Kor who was greatly impressed as a result of his climbing trips back east.

He noted that neither Boulder nor Valley climbers could hold a candle to the east coast when it came to having fun and being outrageous. It seems as usual, that Layton knew what he was talking about in that regard.
BBA

Social climber
West Linn OR
Mar 20, 2010 - 09:18pm PT
As Art Gran used to say, "Mother whore it's Layton Kor, Colorado's finest climber"

Gran also changed it to "Foott and Kor, Da Valley's finest climbers"

Layton didn't particularly like it and would often say "F*ck you Gran".

We just liked to hear Art say thirty third and third street with his accent.

Suhl was nonpareil for eating leftovers in the cafeteria.

Craft had a dildo on his mantle in his dump in Oakland. He told me his wife who was a teacher would sometimes talk to parents at the Craft home and some had a hard time either looking at the dildo or stopping from looking at it. He asked me what I thought about it, and I said, "It looks like the Lost Arrow." Dave really liked that.

Vulgarian meanderings...
jstan

climber
Mar 20, 2010 - 11:56pm PT
I believe toity toid is a street in nork nork.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 4, 2010 - 01:06pm PT
Having a good laugh over my cup of Earl this morning. Bump, Bump, Bump of Earl!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 31, 2010 - 12:27pm PT
Vulgarian Dictionary...?!?
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Dec 31, 2010 - 01:50pm PT
hahah - Suhl lives on the road near where the cabin I have the honor to stay in is, and I would see him riding his bike often. He also did a day of trailwork which was how I met him. SO hard to imagine this kind gentleman as a young scoundrel like the OP story!

But I guess most of us mellow out after a few years of wildness. It's the ones who can't wield the wildness when their young enough to withstand the payback that we have to worry about.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 31, 2010 - 02:19pm PT
Well, you wouldn't pick Dick Williams out of a lineup these days either!

During the organization of Gunks Reunion 2008, someone phoned Claude to see if he would participate in a panel discussion. "Are you Claude Suhl, who used to be a Vulgarian?" came the question. "I still am!" came the response! LOL
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Dec 31, 2010 - 03:48pm PT
And anyone who heard Claude perform his poem at that Reunion would understand the appropriateness of his response.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 31, 2010 - 08:49pm PT
The Duke is back!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkKwIswu0Fc&feature=email
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 31, 2010 - 11:51pm PT
Thanks guido!

I've just spent an hour listening to Sha na na and Buddy Holly. What a lot of memories are attached to those songs!

What amazed me about so many of the early rock and roll hits, as with Duke of Earl, was the discovery years later, that the artists were black. As a kid growing up in the heartland with no television (they couldn't transmit it through the mountains before cable), we only heard them on the radio or records and had no idea.

Just as well, even with the white guys. My mother would still have a heart attack if she saw those Sha Na Na guys prancing around in their tight gold lame´ suits! Still, as the song goes, Rock and Roll is Here to Stay!

guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2011 - 06:52pm PT
CONTINUATION ON THE THEME!

The current Posting , “Busted on El Cap,” got me in the mood to fire up the old Duke of Earl thread. Coincidentally, Foot just sent me a wonderful write up that Joe Kelsey had done for Oakley and her soon to be released film “ Portrait of the American Climber,” destined to become a classic!

“A few years ago I supposed I'd outgrown (finally) celebrations of childishness. Now I'm old enough that celebrating childishness seems to be the most soul-gratifying pastime left.” JK




Descent into Delinquency


“I believe it was fall 1970, though it might have been 71. It was the fall after the Stoneman Meadow riot, wherein hippies threw stones and bottles at mounted rangers. We returned to the Valley after summer in Wyoming to find hostility between rangers and climbers (and anyone else who looked disrespectful of society’s norms).

The Valley wasn’t as multinational then as later, but there was a colony of Brits, and they gathered nightly around a campfire and sang. Most Yanks thought singing to be not macho, but Claude Suhl and I got into it and learned the songs. One night two rangers appeared and did that bullshit routine of formally stating, three times in quick succession, “You are an unruly mob. You will disperse.”

This was the Vietnam/Civil Rights era, and the Brits were intimidated by American authority in general and the possibility of deportation in particular, so they nervously scattered. However, the rangers cornered a few, and I felt valorous enough (inebriated enough) to come to their rescue. One ranger was unnecessarily bullying them. It being the Vulgarian way to throw curve balls, I calmly, soothingly lectured the rangers, as if they were children, about addressing climbers not confrontationally but politely. The Brits disappeared into the night, and I was requested to produce photo ID. When my New Jersey license failed to provide a photo, I was under arrest.

Claude appeared and was perceived as interfering with an arrest. I took the opportunity of this diversion to explain that my bladder was bursting, the arrests conveniently taking place just outside a bathroom. The kindlier of the rangers told me to go ahead, in fact to get lost, it was Claude they were really after. Claude always looked more like trouble than I did, no matter how hard I tried. The next guy out of the bathroom had my hair and mustache. When I emerged, he had become me and was in custody, and I had to re-introduce myself as the perp.

Claude and I were escorted into a paddy wagon that happened to be the same vehicle used a week before to transport us to an El Cap rescue. We departed Camp 4 serenaded by a mob chanting “Fascist pigs! Fascist pigs! Fookin’ fookin’ fascist pigs!” No sooner had we been booked, fingerprinted, photographed, and incarcerated–after they took our shoelaces so we wouldn’t be tempted to hang ourselves–at the correctional facility (behind Yosemite Village, near the soothing sound of America’s most beloved waterfall), the Fookin’ Pigs chant could be heard outside. Shortly, Rob Wood, a Brit living in Vancouver, was thrust into an adjacent cell. As luck would have it, it was a Fri night, and we were told the wheels of justice would not be turning till Mon. So we were duly astounded when a ranger appeared Sat a.m. to say our lawyer had arranged for our release for the weekend, provided we left the park.

How, you may ask, did the likes of us get legal representation? It’s certainly what we were asking. It turned out that the accidental impostor who emerged from the bathroom before me had graduated #1 in his class in law school, before deciding to do something less detrimental than practicing law.

The baddest thing I did during this episode I did as we were leaving the correctional facility. The mug shots sat on the corner of a cluttered desk by the door. No one was looking, and I couldn’t resist a unique Yosemite souvenir, classier than a rubber tomahawk.That’s how they became preserved for posterity, or at least for the sort of posterity I’d prefer them to be preserved for.

We and a dozen or so fellow travelers (two VW buses full), including a few chicks who surmised that we were a happening cadre, obeyed neither the letter nor the spirit of our release by going to Tuolumne for the weekend. We didn’t spend the weekend paying our dues to society.

First thing Monday morning we were outside the courtroom, with our lawyer and perhaps as many as 100 Camp 4 residents. Our lawyer wisely suggested everyone else wait outside while he went in and introduced himself. Shortly he and the judge came to the door. The judge asked if they all witnesses, and our lawyer replied, “They could be, your honor.” So judge and lawyer retired back inside; the judge asked the lawyer to describe the events of Fri night and told our lawyer he suspected such miscarriages of justice were going on, but too many youths were afraid to talk. Our arrests were “expunged,” meaning we were not only found not guilty but even the fact of our arrests was supposed to be eradicated. Which didn’t happen–last I knew I could be pulled over for a taillight out, and the cop, after running my ID, would look at me knowingly and say, “I hear you’ve been disorderly.”

The kindlier ranger was fired; the mean ranger, who turned out to be an ex-Marine officer, became a pianist in the Ahwahnee bar. Could I make that up?

Well, thanks for giving me the opportunity to reminisce about the days when life couldn’t have been sweeter!
I only hope that you’re identifying that wayward youth in the mug shots as Fred Beckey.”

 Joe Kelsey

You can find more of Kelsey’s clever writings in such classic and ill-reputed publications as “The Vulgarian Digest” and The Climbing Cartoons of Sheridan Anderson as well as the current & upcoming edition of the Wind Rivers guidebook and possibly, quite possibly, in the narration of The Last Wild Mountain!



Rob is not as generous as you in celebrating childishness but at least I got some contribution:

Joe,
Like I said I'm not too comfortable gloryifying drunkeness but here's a modest version.

In the aftermath of the Yosemite rangers having recently summoned the assistance of every available cop in California to help them beat out the San Franciso hippies who has invaded the Yosemite meadows with the stated intention of liberating the park, naturally this event had excacerbated the "us agaist them" feeling that already existed amongst the freedom loving climbers. This came to a head one night in Camp Four when a group of us were drinking, singing and and having a good time as usual.

Although it was late at night, it was also late in the season and there were few if any other campers around to disturb who were not already present. Suddenly the rangers showed up and started pushing people around , handcuffing and searching. Outraged climbers tried to protest, demanding an explanation.
"Singing after quiet hours " was the reply.

Apparently there was a bylaw limiting noise after ten oclock at night. When I asked how many decibels we were allowed to make and how many had that truck made that just went by, I found myself handcuffed and thrown in the squad car too.
While three of us were being processed inside the tiny jail a crowd of climbers had gathered outside and to my delight were singing "we shall overcome someday".
As well as being stripped naked, fingerprinted and mug shot, we were ordered to "bend down and open our cheeks!"
At this point Claude Suhl bent down and opened his mouth wide with his fingers.

We spent the night in jail, were let out next morning but had to appear before a judge a few days later. Fortunately for me he was decent enough to let me off with a dismissal from the park. Bugs(McKeith) and I left next day for Canada."

Joe,

"Having a hard time relating to all this virtuality although I agree a good story should stand whether it ever happened or not.
In that vain you can blog me or flog me or whatever turns your crank Frank or Wank.

Now you 've got me into it whatever it is. In for a nickle in for a dime .
I would like to say boo to Clawed especially since I did manage to remember his name. Kelsey too. Was it Claude or Joe that opened his cheeks? What was the name of your sweety whose daddy saved theday?

I agree things are more oppressive now and we were righteously bucking the thin end of a god almighty or more likely godless security wedge. Climbers drunk and disorderly playfulness in a public place is relatvely minor compared to the institutionalized violence of the Rangers.

It's a dark and stormy night here so Joe lad, why don't ya tell me another story.”
Rob


“You probably don't remember but my squeeze at the time was Carol Ottonello and yep her dad was the judge. I met Carol via Footski who use to hang with her older sister Sue. So if it wasn't for me you three would have cooked your silly asses in the poker until mon.

After you were allowed back in the Valley we had you up for dinner with the Non-Hanging Judge and we all set around the table with the never empty wine cow and talked and talked about how messed up this Viet Nam thing was and how things have to get better and how climbers are really not that bad as the Non-Hanging Judge, good old Geno Otonello had two daughters in relationships with climbers and we drank more wine and solved more problems.

Geno Ottonello was a beautiful man. He use to drive the girls out to Utah for high school each year. Driving along in his old Cadillac he would often have a beer between his legs, a 45 pistol next to him on the seat and his Federal Magistrate Badge pinned to his shirt. Told me, "yep, I have all the bases covered."

He was an Assistant DA in Oakland during WW2, mainly prosecuting draft dodgers, had a kidney removed and his Dr told him to get a less stressful job. Magistrate job came up in, 1942 I believe, and off he went to the Valley

Feeling better now Rob?

Now, I have to say this last bit you posted to me sounds more like the "Rob of Old". The guy that use to partake in some rather risky vehicle escapades where lads would hang off the hood, pardon me, bonnet, of cars that were screaming down circuitous mountain roads hanging on literally for dear life.

Ah but I bet you are warm in your lovely house with real the insulation and you no longer have to save any and all newspapers to shove into the walls to keep warm.”



So there you have it lads, another glimpse into the murky pages of history and a good example of how time and memory can jog even the best of us Shanachies.

Oh Claude Claude, Where Art Thou?




Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 11, 2011 - 08:00pm PT
Woohoo! Thanks for assembling that Guido! And thanks to Joe Kelsey for that wonderful tale.
scuffy b

climber
Three feet higher
Feb 11, 2011 - 08:12pm PT
Hot stuff, Joe.

Thanks
Mimi

climber
Feb 11, 2011 - 09:17pm PT
OMG, what a story. Guido, you fine seafarerer. Great addition!
klk

Trad climber
cali
Feb 11, 2011 - 09:35pm PT
heh.

nice thread.

in 1979 (?), when i was making my teenage transition from sports/hunting/scrambling to technical climbing, i took a couple country parks courses on mountaineering to climb mt. baker.

at various points, i got stuck climbing with a couple "old" guys: mort hempel and jeff foote.



wish i'd known the "duke of earl" backstory then.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 12, 2011 - 10:43pm PT
GREAT GREAT stuff Guido!

You are indeed one of the kings of the great shanachie around here.

Gotta love it!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 13, 2011 - 02:39am PT
Awesome! The Group W bench clearly provides some good company.
ß Î Ř T Ç H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Feb 13, 2011 - 03:26am PT
What the hell are you wearing(?) - a plunging neckline with "L" on the collar.

steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Feb 13, 2011 - 09:01am PT
What a great thread! I saw Claude at the gunks reunion a few years ago, and was almost shocked that he looked so good. It was as if he hadn't aged at all!

Thanks for the great story Joe!
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 13, 2011 - 10:02am PT
Guido the Shanachie!!!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 7, 2011 - 12:17am PT
Porky Pig Bump!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2013 - 02:01pm PT
Bump and if anyone can decipher how to post the music let me know as it tis no longer avaiable on you tube?

Duke Duke Duke, Duke of Earl.............................
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Feb 23, 2013 - 03:03pm PT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Uht69h8Is

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XymRpULK1qY

Later in life (y'know, kinda like...us):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bw55sR4ec8
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 23, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
Awesome! the Duke is back.
weezy

climber
Feb 23, 2013 - 03:32pm PT
”fu#k you ranger, you fat little piece of sh#t, what’s your name? Porky Pig?”

huzzah!

[Click to View YouTube Video]

steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Feb 23, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
Definitely, one of the best threads ever on ST!

I saw Claude a few years ago, and he looked like he had hardly aged, since the last time I had seen him, 40 years earlier.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 16, 2013 - 02:36pm PT
Earl Bump...
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Jul 26, 2013 - 02:26pm PT
Bump for a ST Classic!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 26, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
I've been out climbing with Claude a few times this summer. The heat and humidity gave us an excuse for pushing our already lax standards for how much climbing actually constitutes a climbing day, but suffice it to say that some pitches were climbed by team geezer before nap time.

On a related note, that fact that this is post number 69 in the thread does fit well with Vulgarian tradition.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 26, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
Post number 70 from a freshly minted septuagenarian. I remember Claude from the late 60's in the Tetons when the Vulgarians reigned supreme.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Jul 26, 2013 - 08:37pm PT
Haha such a killer thread. The visual of the whole scene is hilarious!
Kligfield

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
Jul 26, 2013 - 11:27pm PT
Here's another Claude Suhl story. I must have been 1968 or 1969. Or perhaps even 1970. Claude allowed me to cajole him to actually leave Camp 4 and attempt a climb together. This would be the South Face of Washington Column (Kor route). I was adamant that we climb it in a day but Claude insisted that we do it in Vulgarian style. What this meant I was to learn about later. Anyway, I'm leading the first pitch and put Claude on belay and he says "wait a minute I need you to haul this pack up first." So up comes a huge haul back that is, presumably filled with water bottles. I tell Claude we don't need all this water for the S. Face climb but he insists. So 4 pitches later, on Dinner Ledge I finally haul the pig up and look inside. Not a water bottle to be seen. Instead were 6 bags filled with grapefruit, fresh from the local market. Nothing else--no sleeping bags, no water, no flashlight, only grapefruit. Well later on dinner ledge comes the reason--apparently grapefruit and a particular form of magic mushrooms have an interesting effect when ingested together (I didn't know this--even being a creature of the 60s). So later that night and all night long I was treated to the combination of grapefruit, mushrooms and Claude singing "Duke Duke Duke Duke of Earl..." The story of how we didn't finish the climb is yet another saga that will never make it into the Yosemite memo book. Just another climbing story of the great Claude Suhl.
Camster (Rhymes with Hamster)

Social climber
CO
Jul 26, 2013 - 11:52pm PT
Was it Claude who came up with "Trooper Kor"? Anyone know?
Camster (Rhymes with Hamster)

Social climber
CO
Jul 27, 2013 - 12:24am PT
Joe, will talk to you offline anyway. Flipping jealous of the sailing adventures. Cam
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 27, 2013 - 12:33am PT
Roy's grapefruit story reminds me that the Vulgarians taught me an enduring lesson that shaped much of my enjoyment of mountain and crag adventures: The Art of the Fiasco. It was from them that I learned that success, conventionally defined---and climbers for all their counter-culture posturing, are by and large very conventional---was not the only cause for celebration.

It may be that the Vulgarians most revolutionary gesture was not the celebrated confrontations with established authorities, whether it be the Appies in the Gunks or the rangers in Yosemite. Rather, it was the elevation of failure to a stature equal to, although of course different from, success. This was, and is, a far deeper and more radical rejection of mainstream cultural norms than the their embrace, just a few years before the entire youth culture joined in, of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.

Failure, rich, exotic, exuberant failure, wrong turns, misjudgements, bad planning, faulty equipment, failures of will, failures of technique, failures of strength, failures of courage, failures of intelligence, accidental failures, predictable failures, even occasionally meticulously planned failures, all carried out with the best intentions and the worst results, these were celebrated with the same gusto and good will the rest of the world reserved for notable accomplishments.

This was a radically democratic outlook in an essentially elitist world, and I am speaking now of the climbing world, not the world at large. It made the adventure, the journey, the primary focus and the outcome the icing on the cake.

I might add, and I think the observation only superficially paradoxical, that the Vulgarians went on to be really quite successful in conventional terms, perhaps because our lives are, at least for most of us, filled as much with failure as success, and learning to appreciate that totality of experience may well have enhanced, rather than obstructed, the Vulgarian ability to succeed in the conventional world that lay beyond the mountains and crags of their youth.
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jul 27, 2013 - 01:02am PT

Nice perspective Mr. Gold.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I bump for a great story with an irrelevant link:
[Click to View YouTube Video]
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jul 27, 2013 - 09:44am PT
Great stories. Missed this the first time around. Thanks for the bump
Kligfield

Mountain climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 2, 2013 - 01:11pm PT
John Hudson first clued me in on the line, "there is no success like failure, and failure is no success at all" but this may have been from a Bob Dylan song?

But I second what RG asserts about failures. Throughout my climbing career, I always learned much more from failures, and these failures led to later successes. After all, isn't that what red-pointing and similar sport climbing tactics are really all about?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 23, 2014 - 04:48pm PT
Bump for a Good Vulgarian Belly Laugh!
jstan

climber
Mar 23, 2014 - 10:03pm PT
Oh my g d. We had such great music then.
Happiegrrrl2

Trad climber
Jun 11, 2018 - 10:10am PT
Claude got bit by a baby Copperhead last week. He is still having some tingling in his hand, but back at it with the trail crew. The same day another guy got bit by one at the Gunks, but that guy had to get flown to the Bronx(or Westchester...forget) to the hospital that has antivenom. Claude didn't go the antivenom route, but did overnight in Kingston hospital for observation. Said his hand swelled up something huge!
Todd Eastman

Social climber
Putney, VT
Jun 11, 2018 - 04:54pm PT
Claude is one tough guy...

... how's the copperhead?
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2018 - 05:47pm PT
Ouch!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 25, 2019 - 06:34pm PT
Bumping to see how much ST has fuked with it?
zBrown

Ice climber
Apr 25, 2019 - 07:07pm PT
Photos of Claude Suhl exist

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/whitney-boland-letter-to-the-gunkies.html




Vulgarians

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1467539/Vulgarian-Digest


https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vulgarian-digest-shawangunks-gunks-1922212010
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
Apr 26, 2019 - 08:57am PT
Great post!
Messages 1 - 85 of total 85 in this topic
Return to Forum List
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta