Nuts To You- Royal Robbins Clean Climbing Intro Summit 1967

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 92 of total 92 in this topic
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 17, 2010 - 06:32pm PT
Royal Robbins grounbreaking introduction to the use of nuts from Summit May 1967. This was the first convincing push for their use in the climbing media along with Save South Crack. What you see is what there was circa 1967!

Thanks to Jim Phillips for this one. He is graciously helping fill in my Summit collection.















SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jul 18, 2010 - 12:09am PT

Hey Steve, I heard you were on WOS!!!!

Whot gives????

hee hee hee.
Thanks for the history, perfesser!
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Jul 18, 2010 - 04:21pm PT
Troll spud, that is an interesting name for a stopper, named after Spud Murphy!


Cool,
Thor
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jul 18, 2010 - 05:27pm PT
Very influential article on me. Right away I filed the threads out of a size-run of brass machine nuts and strung them several to a runner. Soon the commercial British nuts began to trickle in here.

I started guiding with them for pro in the Palisades and working the tougher flared and parallel-sided cracks in the Valley. The Clean challenge was fun!

Hard to believe from looking at this that in six years Grade VIs would go clean, and that another five years would see Ray Jardine slinking around the Valley with prototype Friends hidden under his jacket.

Thanks for digging this up, Steve. A pretty rare magazine. Last time I saw one was at the Climber's Ranch in the Tetons, where I sat right down and read it through. A great addition to the Forum.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 18, 2010 - 05:34pm PT
That article is where it all started.

In my case, I got my complete set of 17 nuts from Joe Brown, just as Royal described. And off I went one day in 1968 with Dave Craft to try Double Crack in the Gunks (then 5.9, now 5.8---but of course still really 5.9).

I was pretty sure I could wedge those little thingies in the vertical fractures of Double Crack, which made it more suitable for an all-nut ascent than many Gunks routes, dominated as they are by horizontal cracks. Still, casting out on a vertical pitch with neither a hammer nor any pitons felt like going naked into battle. Imagine, young 'uns, putting aside everything you know and understand about protection and launching out equipped with something completely new, based on totally different principles, ones you don't fully understand and aren't at all practiced in implementing.

Afterwards, the thing that really struck me about our little ascent was how quiet it had been. No jangling of iron on a sling, no hammer blows and sounds of ringing pitons, just a few murmurs of rope signals and the sound of the wind in the trees. Why, people could easily walk by and not even know you were up there! Surely this was the way to climb---too bad it would never be really practical for all routes...
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Jul 18, 2010 - 08:41pm PT
Thanks, DR you led a generation of clean climbers! I picked up the rope about 1974 and haven't looked back since, O.K. not totally true... I am constently studying the Spirit of the Age every chance I get. I was fortunate to hear Don Lauria's account of Wall of Early Moring Light first hand, but the rest is like a pleasent dream!


Thor

rgold, good for you, man clean is the way it was meant to be, but if the going is really thin, bust out the RURPs and hammer!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jul 18, 2010 - 10:52pm PT
Hey Rich (rgold), glad you're here.

I like your recalling how silent it felt, once the jangling of iron went away. The nearly bell-like BONG! of Bong-Bongs wasn't the only sound we took for granted back in the Iron Age. There was also that constant clank!-clank! of the rest of our ironmongery -- especially the steel angles -- every time we so much as shifted on a stance. A lot more grating than today's racks. Kind of like being in a Denny's when the caffeine clicks into high gear at every table at once, and the busboys are slinging crockery.

I've heard enough about how the 'Gunks sported lotsa horizontal cracks to appreciate your choice for a clean route. And I'm curious: did you and Stannard (jstan) talk about this stuff? Inspire one another? My experience was lots of campfire talk in the Palisades, but not much in the Valley.

Tell us a story...
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jul 18, 2010 - 11:07pm PT
Steve: Thanks for the post. This moves my nut timeline back a few years!

Royal was into nuts earlier that I remember.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 18, 2010 - 11:09pm PT
Not only were nuts important ecologically, they also made free climbing easier. Carrying a hammer and pins on free climbs wasn't much fun.
The user formerly known as stzzo

Social climber
Jul 19, 2010 - 12:20am PT
Cool stuff. I bootied a nut at Phantom Spires yesterday, and today looked into replacing one of mine that got lost somewhere.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 19, 2010 - 12:41am PT
I always liked that cute Sheridan Anderson cartoon, of a nut standing victorious over a prostrate piton.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:25am PT
Mighty Hiker: Here you go!

Credit: Sheridan Anderson
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:33am PT
Interesting - a six year gap. Although 1972 was when the first really good nuts, the Chouinard hexcentrics and stoppers, appeared.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:50am PT
Doug, here's some of what I remember about the situation.

1. The nuts from the UK were an idiosyncratic hodge-podge of shapes with not all that much variation in size. The same thing used to be true of pitons, until Chouinard revolutionized them, not only by using chrome-molly, but also by creating a graduated sequence of standardized shapes. Chouinard did the same thing for nuts---a graduated series of standardized shapes, that made it conceivable to apply them across the board to a broad spectrum of rock types.

2. In the Gunks, Chouinard's small wire stoppers eventually completely changed the outlook. They went into wiggly fractures that were never any good for piton placements. Climbers discovered there were protection opportunities they had never noticed.

The use of wired stoppers was pioneered by Stannard. As far as I recall, no one thought they would be good for much but aid. But Stannard went out to the cliffs with some sandbags and a rough field dynamometer, measured fall forces, and arrived at conclusions about how much of a fall you could take on these nuts. Then he started using them for really hard cutting-edge climbs, climbs that even today, forty years later, are viewed with respect and not lead onsight all that often. Stannard trained other climbers in the use of small stoppers, and new perspectives opened up.

One of the things Stannard understood is that some placements could only hold a short fall, so a climb might have to have a lot of placements. This is so obvious nowadays, that it is almost impossible to convey how surprising this seemed at the time. People used to speak of "overprotecting" climbs, which meant driving too many pitons. You would never place two pitons in, say, four feet. But small gear demanded this style of protection, and, unlike driven steel, exacted no penalty in terms of rock destruction.

3. It is true that the horizontal cracks were a problem---in more than one way.

a. One issue was that we hadn't learned to look at those cracks. Well, I hadn't anyway---I had better keep this in the first person rather than pretend to know what anyone else was thinking.

Eyes used to looking for piton placements don't attend to the fine local details of cracks. In particular, I didn't initially notice the kind of keyhole placements in horizontal cracks that are not at all uncommon in the Gunks and are actually the most solid gear placements available on the planet. (Perhaps part of the reason for overlooking such placements is that they were precisely where you did not want to place a piton. The narrow mouth often produced the textbook ascending-pitch ringing sound of a solid piton, while the empty space behind the lip made for a pin that could easily spin out.)

b. After keyhole placements in horizontals came the famous but now almost forgotten opposed pair. (If not totally forgotten, then relegated to the realm of arcane theory rather than ordinary practice.) These placements took a discerning eye and prodigious endurance to rig on vertical and overhanging rock. Such niceties, and the energy penalties their construction imposed, have now completely vanished in favor of plugging in a cam.

c. Even with all these developments, there were still quite a few horizontal cracks that wouldn't take any gear. So many, perhaps most climbers found it necessary to climb with a combination of nuts and pitons.

Stannard did develop two partial solutions. One was to thread two stoppers, usually of different sizes, on the same piece of cord, and fold the top over the bottom to place opposed wedges that worked, some of the time, in parallel-sided horizontals. The other was a camming nut of his own design that, I think, predated all the other inventions. The nut was an elliptical cross-section cylinder, and had a channel for the webbing, analogous to the valley between the rails of a Tricam. The webbing was wrapped around the cylinder in the channel. Pulling on the webbing rotated the cylinder and torqued the wider elliptical cross-section into position. Stannard was able to protect climbs with this nut that no one else could manage to get reliable gear in, but he never made any for anyone but himself, for good reasons, and the rest of us could only sigh and smash in an angle piton.

4. Here again it was Stannard who intervened. After a trip to Yosemite in either the late sixties or very early seventies, he saw what had happened to Serenity Crack and came back determined to save the Gunks (and perhaps the rest of the U.S.) from a similar fate. So it was that he started publishing and giving away the Eastern Trade, a newsletter that promoted clean climbing. This has an enormous and far-ranging influence, and he was walking his talk, doing routes at the highest level of difficulty (up to 5.12) in the style he was promoting.

Stannard also designed some pitons that were meant to be fixed, and placed them, mostly on easy to moderate climbs, where it seemed most likely that continued driving of steel would occur because of the high traffic and lower skill level of the participants. These pitons lasted 30 - 40 years and are just now reaching the end of their useful lives.

It was really only a few years until Stannard had pretty much convinced everyone in the East to climb with nuts only, and his local message was, of course, reinforced by your justly famed essay in the Chouinard catalog. There followed, for a brief period of time before cams were generally accepted and sport climbing came into its own, a unique moment in American climbing, almost as distant and foreign now as the days when everyone carried pitons and hammers.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 19, 2010 - 02:00am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/851721/Preserving-The-Cracks-Tom-Frost-Makes-His-Case-AAJ-1972
The user formerly known as stzzo

Social climber
Jul 19, 2010 - 02:04am PT
RGold: very cool history post.

One of the things Stannard understood is that some placements could only hold a short fall, so a climb might have to have a lot of placements. This is so obvious nowadays, that it is almost impossible to convey how surprising this seemed at the time. People used to speak of "overprotecting" climbs, which meant driving too many pitons

So, there's something to the "at least it will slow me down" idea for marginal pro?
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 19, 2010 - 02:05am PT
Yeah MH---check out the photo credits on the shots Frost used, and then note that Stannard also had nine footnoted quotes!

Stzzo (formerly). Because of the tests he did, I suspect that no one since Stannard has understood as clearly just how much of a fall you can take on a wired nut, nor has the ability to judge placements that he developed by making them, judging them, and then seeing what happened in the tests. This is what allowed him to venture into standard-raising territory, armed with a very simple rack of stoppers and hexes.

As for the role of marginal pro that pulls, the debate that raged for years on rec.climbing seems to have been settled in the affirmative: the climbing rope indeed does recover during the instant of slack between the pulling of a piece and the loading of the next, and this means that the peak load on the next piece will be lower than if the fall had occurred without the pulled piece above. (This does assume that you fall from above the bad piece and not while still below it...)

Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 19, 2010 - 02:37am PT
Nice historical piece. I remember several climber friends from around that era that had access to machine shops or metal shops and made all kinds of cool gear.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2010 - 12:32pm PT
A little more background for the dawn of American clean climbing. Robbins took a very enlightening climbing trip to Britain in 1966 and wrote this account in the December issue of Summit.











ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 19, 2010 - 12:52pm PT
Rgold said "Stannard did develop two partial solutions. One was to thread two stoppers, usually of different sizes, on the same piece of cord, and fold the top over the bottom to place opposed wedges that worked, some of the time, in parallel-sided horizontals"

As you can see in this picture, this was a pretty common practice for us in 1972, and not just for horizontals - This picture taken on Comeback Crack, Castle Rock, Boulder Canyon 5.10b , notice RD's and homemade harness.

Castle Rock 1972
Castle Rock 1972
Credit: ydpl8s
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jul 19, 2010 - 12:56pm PT
Last September at Royal's "climb in" I led the 5.10 crack on the right side of gianelli edges with just nuts in his honor. Royal commented, "nice work, I don't think anyone has led it without cams". It was very satisfying indeed. My father Blair followed the climb, and gave me much praise as well for my protection skills (which of course he taught me!). Ever since, I've enjoyed the added challenge of using nuts only when possible.

Kalen.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:04pm PT
Ydp, I should have said that I learned the double-strung stopper technique from Stannard. I thought he had made it up himself rather than learning from someone else, but I could be mistaken. At some point, pictures of it appeared in the literature (Chouinard catalog?) and then it was broadly adopted.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:16pm PT
Rgold, I have no idea where that started, but we were trying anything at that time. See the thread containing Philo's pictures of creative hex stacking by Chuck Grossman, that guy was a master of ingenuity!
bergbryce

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:39pm PT
These articles are awesome. Especially for someone who wasn't around to experience this era of climbing. The historical perspective they offer is incredible. Thanks :-)
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 19, 2010 - 01:43pm PT
These articles and threads also remind us all that we share a common history and ethos, which needs to be cherished. Plus they're informative, fun, and edumacational!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2010 - 03:23pm PT
Repeating Joe Brown's classics in as close to original style as possible with respect to quantity and character of protection is a true testimony of Royal's respect for the celebrated clean climbing anchorite. As was said of Stannard upthread, no matter how compelling the idea, some brave soul has to climb the climb and consistently lead by example. Joe Brown did that great service for British climbing more than anyone else.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2010 - 09:50pm PT
The old school Clog nut selection from the 1968 Chouinard catalog. Rgold sent his money in!


Note the citation!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 19, 2010 - 11:17pm PT
Note too the recommendation to give 'em a tap with the hammer. Clean climbin' ain't here yet, because when it arrives, you ain't gonna have no hammer, Jack.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2010 - 11:36pm PT
Aye, when does a chock become a peg?
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jul 20, 2010 - 12:37am PT
Steve:

Aye, when does a chock become a peg?

That quote has been stuck in my mind since the early 70's.

I converted it into a tune, and whistled it: while beating copperheads into a thin crack on Elephant's Perch in 1977.

It must have come out of Mountain Magazine.

Do you know the origin?

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2010 - 12:49am PT
I believe that to be Joe Brown concerning the love tap. 72 Chouinard catalog talking again!
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Jul 20, 2010 - 01:35am PT
Donini said:
Not only were nuts important ecologically, they also made free climbing easier. Carrying a hammer and pins on free climbs wasn't much fun.

I agree. I've long made the argument that nuts really caught on because they were faster, easier, and safer than pins. The desire to get rid of pin scarring was sincere and certainly an important part of the package, but I don't think the clean climbing revolution would have been so rapid and complete if nuts were slower, harder, and much less secure than pins. I think nuts also opened up the climbing game to more people by making protection better.

I particularly liked Robbins line at the end, "though pitons are here to stay, jam nuts have a place in the modern rock climber's bag of tricks." He had a glimmer of what could be, but the way free climbing would be completely revised was still inconceivable in 1967.
scuffy b

climber
Eastern Salinia
Jul 20, 2010 - 12:07pm PT
Based on a sample size of one, I would add that learning to trust a good
nut was easier than learning to trust or even recognize a good piton.
The few times I placed pitons in granite, to protect hard moves, I over
drove those suckers like mad and thought they were going to pull.
Then my partner would tell me the pins would have held a house and were
hell to get out.
Nuts were so intuitive. You just knew a good one. What you saw was what
you got.
It was a relief, actually, when my hammer got stolen.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 20, 2010 - 01:05pm PT
Off White wrote, "I've long made the argument that nuts really caught on because they were faster, easier, and safer than pins. The desire to get rid of pin scarring was sincere and certainly an important part of the package, but I don't think the clean climbing revolution would have been so rapid and complete if nuts were slower, harder, and much less secure than pins. I think nuts also opened up the climbing game to more people by making protection better.

I've had signifcant portions of my climbing career during all three equipment genres, and I don't agree.

It certainly wasn't true for the Gunks, as I've already tried to describe. I don't think it was true for Eldorado, where Wunsch and Erikson made significant new ascents without pitons. I don't think it was true in Yosemite either, where long sections of nearly parallel-sided cracks made nut placements subtle and difficult. And the early hexentric-protected ascents at Indian Creek couldn't even remotely be viewed as being faster, easier, and safer.

In the Gunks, getting good protection in horizontal cracks was, much of the time, considerably slower and harder than slamming in a pin, as well as less secure. And there were quite a few places where it couldn't be done, so that people started looking at much bigger runouts. And as for small wires, which had to be used a lot, one could get protection by using many placements, but virtually none of them had the security of a decent pin.

As for safer, I think that is doubtful too; you could always overdrive your pins and feel quite confident about their holding power; a single piton belay anchor was not at all uncommon. Donini's single blue Camalot notwithstanding, you won't find many climbers entrusting their belay stance to a single nut or cam, and for good reason---they are simply harder to judge than pitons were. As protection points, pitons were secure, whereas nuts are subject to lifting, and even the most experienced climbers today have nuts lift out on them with some regularity.

It may be that some subset of climbs was faster, easier, and safer, but this was definitely not something you could count on ahead of time. The climber starting up a climb with a rack of nuts faced a much higher level of uncertainty about protection than the climber equipped with pitons. This is one of the reasons why there was a transition period in which climbers carried both.

Off White overlooks the fact that the challenges presented by the use of nuts were intrinsically appealing to climbers. It seemed like the "right" way to climb in spite of the possibility that in some cases it would be slower, harder, and less secure.

Cams changed everything once they were fully accepted and refined. Contemporary climbing is both "faster, easier, and safer than with pins" and even more so faster, easier, and safer than with just nuts.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 20, 2010 - 01:52pm PT
There definitely was an "elegance" factor when using nuts and stoppers. It felt like you were using the rock rather than abusing it.

We looked at it as an environmental thing, which is why we eschewed chalk at the time, packed out our deposits, used camp stoves instead of burning wood, we believed in the "leave no trace" motto. Those hexes and nuts were sort of the early 70's version of driving a Prius.

If I felt like bashing something, I went ice climbing.

I'm remembering all of this in my air conditioned office with my SUV parked in the garage (although I take the bus to work). I've lost a lot of the golden earth view that I had in my youth.
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Jul 20, 2010 - 03:15pm PT
Good counterpoint rgold, worth considering. I started climbing in 1972 and was using nuts from the get go, so I don't really have the background in pins that you do, they just always seemed harder and slower to place, especially when dangling with only one hand free. Back when the book Yosemite Climber came out, I looked at that picture of Bridwell on Stone Groove with a hammer and pins and thought, "Geez that looks hard, I'm glad I didn't have to do that."

I'm sure I've placed no more than 30 pins in my life, and that mostly knifeblades or arrows when alpine climbing. That's not enough experience to really support my hypothesis. As one who made that transition, was your motivation really based on environmental impact, despite feeling more insecure? Was the gear really harder-slower-less secure, or was it also the change from your usual-and-accustomed to something new and unfamiliar? I can certainly see your point as you've described with regards to the Gunks, but as a Californian hobbled by my clean climbing upbringing, your first hand description just doesn't mesh with my more limited experience. I can see though that I need to knock some of the certainties off my soap box position and qualify things with more of that "for me" kind of language.

I certainly agree on the changes cams brought, its funny to climb things I led long ago on just a rack of nuts and contemplate how much harder it must have been without that plug and go convenience. Funny because aside from some barely stuck on a crystal #10 & #11 hexes on Moby Dick Center, I don't recall the insecurity. It must have been there, but it was just "normal." I must confess that I do prefer the new normal.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2010 - 10:01pm PT
Rgold- When did the fixed piton ethic take hold in the Gunks? I don't notice a lot of piton scarring climbing there.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2010 - 11:25am PT
To finish setting the table, several of the early articles that Royal mentions in the OP.

Two from Summit April 1965.













And one from Summit May/June 1965.





Now let's see if the cooking smells good enough to get Jstan and Royal to step into the Wayback Machine!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 21, 2010 - 12:29pm PT
Very cool! I've never seen these before.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2010 - 09:59pm PT
Have to include Tom Higgens in the mix, too! I hope that he will reflect on this pivotal period in history. He also had to go see what those Brits were on about!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 22, 2010 - 10:16pm PT
Some period nuggets from my collection.


Clogs, Troll, Parba and Dolt.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 25, 2010 - 01:39pm PT
Very Clean Bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 8, 2010 - 02:13pm PT
Nut Bump!
S.Leeper

Sport climber
Austin, Texas
Aug 11, 2010 - 01:10pm PT
I never knew nuts used to be called "spuds"
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 11, 2010 - 03:02pm PT
what a thread! Many thanks Steve
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 29, 2010 - 11:15am PT
Higgins Bump!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 29, 2010 - 11:36am PT
Just a tiny side note, Jim Herrington is going to England to photograph Bonington and Doug Scott soon, Pilgrims. Can't wait to see the results!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 29, 2010 - 12:25pm PT
Better not forget Joe Brown!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 28, 2010 - 11:51am PT
Some commentary from Long Ago...?
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jun 11, 2011 - 09:14am PT
Steve asked me to post a photograph of the Spud on this thread. Here it is, with the real story of this nut:

"In the spring of 1963, John Earnshaw of the Phoenix Mountaineering Club was formulating in his own mind the need for, and the possibility of improving in some ways, the safety protection needed for some climbs. After numerous sketches and rejections, he decided on the style and the shape of the Spud, as it has always been known. The origin of John Earnshaw's choice of name for the device came about as follows. At the time of the invention, he had no access to machinery but one of his climbing protégés, Terrence Murphy, was an apprentice engineer and he volunteered to make a prototype. Everyone may of course already know that, in Ireland, potatoes are known as "murphys" and, in England, they are called "spuds". Because of Terrence's invaluable help, John Earnshaw named his invention Spud in his honour.
He had no means of testing the device scientifically but, with help, he did the testing by jamming the Spud in a crack near the top of a climb in Ravensdale. He hurled a kit bag full of stones over the cliff to check if the device held fast. After several successful proving experiments he decided that the Spud was indeed safe to use."

John Earnshaw Spuds. The small wedge in this photo is an aluminium ver...
John Earnshaw Spuds. The small wedge in this photo is an aluminium version of the iron Spuds threaded on the bit of rope.

Credit: nutstory

Another nut was marketed under the name Spud some time later. "Paul Seddon, master of his castle in his own small enterprise Parba, was asked in 1965 by Ellis Brigham to manufacture new nuts to be sold in his store in Manchester. Paul Seddon cut his prototypes in a 25mm by 20mm bar of aluminium alloy that he was going to use, by a coincidence, for a future piton... Angled at 14 degrees and drilled transversely with a simple 8 mm hole, these nuts were delivered, also under the name of Spud, to Ellis Brigham in October 1965. Later on, Spuds of different sizes were manufactured."

PARBA Spud
PARBA Spud
Credit: nutstory

Stephane / Nuts Museum
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2011 - 11:33am PT
Stephane- Thanks for the generous helping of Spuds!

Can anyone out there confirm the existence of Spud Murphy the Yorkshire climber that Joe Brown credits with inventing the modern metallic nut?

I wonder if Joe and the boys were yanking the Yank...
shady

Trad climber
Jun 11, 2011 - 03:28pm PT
Hey Steve, thanks to you and those posting first hand accounts of the arrival of this ancient ;) technique.
My adult climbing career began in the early 70's. My rack was a mix of pins and nuts.
BITD the lore was that the czech's had invented artificial chock stones of metal in the ninteen thirties or forties, which were quickly abandoned for rope (wood and cork) for protecting climbs on the soft stone of places like Adrspach.
this sounds logical, but can any of our elder-stonesmen confirm or debunk this lore?

Thanks

Post, post, response post, response edit post: Thanks for the link Steve, great read.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 11, 2011 - 05:23pm PT
So would they be called "French Spuds" in France, and "Freedom Spuds" in the US?

Noting that it appears that Thomas Jefferson imported the idea of the French fry into the US, and gave them their name.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2011 - 07:20pm PT
shady- My understanding is that any form of metallic protection that wasn't a big fat eyebolt wasn't deemed acceptable by the Dresden-Czech climbing community. Threaded, wrapped or jammed rope material was the only acceptable form of removable protection so as to keep rock deterioration to an absolute minimum.

This consensus took a little while and some serious effort to put into place. More on these areas...

Dresden climbing

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1018427&msg=1506912#msg1506912

Czech climbing

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/664661/Classic-Czech-Climbing-History-1983
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2011 - 10:32am PT
Bump for Nuts!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2012 - 11:02pm PT
Bump for a spud right where you need it!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 17, 2012 - 11:32pm PT
Bump for Royal!

When's his birthday??

It is coming up!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 17, 2012 - 11:39pm PT
Fritz, looks like it was missed by two weeks.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1077637/Happy-Birthday-Royal-Robbins
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 17, 2012 - 11:49pm PT
Mighty Hiker! Thanks!

Party on Sat night with pals that appreciate what Royal achieved!

We will toast him, despite missing his birthday.

Here's a link to a previous belated celebration.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1089550&msg=1091782
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 10, 2013 - 07:00pm PT
A nice clean little bump...
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 10, 2013 - 09:56pm PT
When I worked at Mtn Life, in Cambell California in 1971 to 72, I made all kinds of chock type gear. I wanted to start a company call Apple Chocks but the hexentrics came out and I lost interest - partly because I got interested in cross-country ski racing also. This is a sample of what I was doing. The thin wafers of aluminum to the left where for nesting with nuts like stoppers to increase their range of use. They were also good for nesting with pitons to conserve pitons. They were very light and went a long ways. The wedge on the right could sure make a bomber clean anchor when nested with a hexentric in a parallel sided crack, as well as just extend the range of nuts. The conical tapered version made it possible to nest in a flared crack up to a point. The sawed off Hexentric I think may have been something a few people were doing at the time. You could buy one Hexentric and turn it into 3 or more, and the thinner they were, the better they worked in shallow features. Smashie, bashies and copperheads of all kinds were fun too. Thinking of ways to aid up blank walls is pretty fun of course. I also made the regular hex nuts and wedges like on the cover of Summit.

The first stabs at cams were just around the corner. I bought my first spring cam in Idaho sometime in the mid 70s ( never really used the because they seemed unstable), pictured with the arrow and stopper - that to show stoppers could be nested with any piton from blades to bongs, not to mention all of the ways slings and cables can be nested with pitons. I learned to nest pitons with aluminum and copper wafers as early as 1969 to preserve the bricks on my parents chimney. I don't think they ever knew I secretly pounded pitons into it - lightly of course!
Credit: McHale's Navy
Credit: McHale's Navy
Credit: McHale's Navy
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Mar 11, 2013 - 04:30am PT
Thank you very much McHale's Navy for sharing such a fascinating story and great photographs with us!
I would love to add these two Apple Chocks and this modified Chouinard Hexentric to the Nuts Museum...
Apple Chocks (photo by McHale's Navy)
Apple Chocks (photo by McHale's Navy)
Credit: nutstory
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 15, 2013 - 04:50pm PT
Hey nutstory, I did not see this. Got a link for that museum? I don't want to give these up too easily! But I can always make more.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 15, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
Dan- Maestro Pennequin manages and actively shares THE definitive collection of nuts and widgets in the world along with their story.

Have no doubt as to his integrity and intent in asking for your hardware. I collect on his behalf when I am able to do so.
ghand

Sport climber
Golden,Colorado
Mar 15, 2013 - 07:27pm PT
rgold said:
Ydp, I should have said that I learned the double-strung stopper technique from Stannard. I thought he had made it up himself rather than learning from someone else, but I could be mistaken. At some point, pictures of it appeared in the literature (Chouinard catalog?) and then it was broadly adopted.

I dated Bev Johnson a couple of times in early 70's in DC.
She told me Bridwell was developing sliding nuts that was like 2 stoppers
sliding against each other. This was probably a precursor to sliders.
I strung them together and tried them
at Great Falls,MD. I then showed this to Stannard and the next week
he was at the Gunks pull testing them under Doug's Roof. He wrote up
his results and it appeared in the catalog.
Soon after many were carrying them that way.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 15, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
Steve, nutstory has been PMed. Is there much to the ball-nut developemnt story? Those are fun. I'm confident there is still plenty to be invented in general.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 15, 2013 - 08:50pm PT
"The possibilities for different designs are almost as unlimited as one's imagination." RR

Ballnut history available on a couple of threads relating to Steve Byrne and Wired Bliss...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=437517&tn=40

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1750553&tn=40
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Mar 16, 2013 - 05:18am PT
Steve, thank you very much for promoting my name here. It seems that, regarding your own work on the history of climbing gear, I am a rather modest maestro. Merci beaucoup.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Mar 16, 2013 - 06:18am PT
ghand said: I dated Bev Johnson a couple of times in early 70's in DC.
She told me Bridwell was developing sliding nuts that was like 2 stoppers
sliding against each other. This was probably a precursor to sliders.
Jim Bridwell with his sliding nuts. <br/>
Photo taken by Robert Staszewski...
Jim Bridwell with his sliding nuts.
Photo taken by Robert Staszewski in March 2004.
Credit: nutstory
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 16, 2013 - 02:24pm PT
Very cool. Looks like Bridwell has had those for awhile.

I saw this in one of Steve's links and thought it was interesting;

Feb 1, 2010 - 02:52pm PT
A few friends emailed me about this thread so I figured I should chime in.

I purchased Wired Bliss and manufactured the cams for several years, it was a good fit with my climbing shop and online shop which I ran at the time in Flagstaff AZ.

I moved to California to Alta Sierra, mainly to have close access to the Needles, and to be within a few hours of the High Sierras. We opened a shop in Wofford Heights and continued selling cams and running the webstore.

I kind of got burnt out on retail and handed off the website to a partner to run and I focused on new projects (mainly real estate investment) which consumed most of my time. I sold my building and put Wired Bliss in storage. I planned on selling the units I had stockpiled and reopening sooner than later in a new location. But my new investment interests grew and I just didn't have the time to devote to Wired Bliss.

I still have a lot of parts, tools, and equipment. I keep dreaming about getting things up and running again but it is obvious that it is just a dream.

I don't climb much anymore I mostly into whitewater kayaking now...creeking to be specific but when I do occasionally head up to Dome Rock to get on some easy multi-pitch....I love the feeling of the Wired Bliss Cams.

I would be very interested in finding an active partner who would be interested in resurrecting this fine product.

Geno Hacker
genehacker at mchsi dot com
carlos gallego

Ice climber
Spain
Mar 17, 2013 - 10:33am PT
... more nuts... Troll and Campbell...

Credit: carlos gallego
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 17, 2013 - 11:17am PT
Dan, nuts about nuts you are.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 17, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
Nuts to You! Wasn't that the name of an article bitd? Anyway, I can see how somebody would want to put a little ball into the slots in those nuts just pictured.
DJMac

Big Wall climber
Midpines, CA (Yosemite N.P. Area)
Mar 17, 2013 - 02:07pm PT
I had a bunch of illustrations on the drawing board for Climbing Magazine this week - topic - nut placements. This would have been a fantastic reference. Too late ... but not unappreciated!

This was a little before my time ... but not by much. I do remember getting ahold of this story as a young climber and how much I was influenced by R.R. and his ethics. I have in fact bought less iron in all my years of climbing than most people I think because of this early influence.

I will be bookmarking this thread for future reference.

Cheers!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2013 - 02:28pm PT
I just bumped another great nuts thread...Jeff Lowe's!

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=282636&tn=400#msg2094837
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 17, 2013 - 02:53pm PT
Wow for that link. Like you hadn't, I have never seen Bergsport Jokers. So many pages here - so little time!
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 17, 2013 - 03:23pm PT
The whole It takes balls to use nuts thing is just so much Bravado BS from young guys with egos to stroke. Or perhaps old guys reminicing their youth;) The reality is that for every one climb that goes easier with pins there are 10 climbs that go easier with nuts. If climbing without chalk was easier than with chalk you would have been successfull banning chalk. It is not easier so chalk is here to stay.

We just recently had a simeler situation with leashless ice climbing. When the ergos first came out guys were spraying left and right that they did this or that leashless and one of the first questions you would get hit with was "did you do it leashless" The reality however is that leashless is so much easier than leashed that it has zero to do with balls and everything to do with yet annother way to cheat your way up a climb with technology;)

The bravado thing has it's upside though. thanks to the bad assed reputation that ice climbing has we get a free pass to pound iron whenever and almost wherever we feel the urge;) we don't do it because it is easier as it is NOT. A modern screw, a nut or a cam are all much easier than a pin. we do it because it is too much of a PINTA to lug a bolt gun around in the winter and pounding Iron every now and then is fun and Bad Assed:) just like scratching the piss out of the rock with our wicked Kewl crampons and tools is bad assed;)

sowr

Trad climber
CA
Mar 18, 2013 - 03:45pm PT
Great thread with lots of pictures of climbs I did in my youth before I moved to the US. While Chouinard introduced the Hexentric, I beg to disagree that the UK nuts were a "...hodgepodge of shapes" - Clog had a pretty good set which were copied by Metolious only a few years back. The Clogs could be cammed like the Hexes and were also slung with wire, unlike the original Hexes which needed rope of varying diameters.

But most importantly I would like to stress the superior significance of the original invention over later improvements.
geiger

Trad climber
Doylestown pa
Mar 18, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
I started with Chouinard nut's and hexes. We considered the small wired nuts to be more psychological protection. Sure made you climb your best! A trick for horizontals was to place a hex or stoppers in a crack, sometimes in opposition, and weigh them with a water bottle or sneakers we always carried up rather than descend in our EB's.
Stevethefolkie

Trad climber
Abbottstown, PA
Mar 18, 2013 - 06:51pm PT
Heh ... I recall drilling the threads out of hardware store nuts (various sizes), threading rope through them and making my own, um, "protection" - worked pretty well in the lousy abandoned quarry rock we used to climb in suburban Philly - although I do recall having a detached flake (that'd previously not been detached) nail me on the head just as my belayer caught me (I'd clipped to a bolt 15' below the nut that detached the flake) - kinda freaked out both of us (at 15 it didn't take much to do so) - so here I sit - 54 years old - waiting for the temps to warm so I can go blow out my back on another bouldering problem in Gettysburg ... the madness persists - and THANKS for the memories!
Stevethefolkie

Trad climber
Abbottstown, PA
Mar 18, 2013 - 06:58pm PT
Geiger said "rather than descend in our EB's." - you're from where I am - remember "liveys direct" (Livesey (spelling approximate) Rock in Philly) - worst probability was falling onto the broken beer bottles that littered the ground below the overhang - or Ralph Stover St. Park along the Delaware? Took my worst and most memorable winger ever there in 1975 ....

Cheers

Steve
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 18, 2013 - 07:01pm PT
Steve...i did my first real climb at Ralph Stover in 1966, the year after i got out of the army. Was there a climb there called Gorilla Overhang?
Carmel Climber

Mountain climber
Carmel California
Mar 18, 2013 - 07:04pm PT
I don't know if anybody remembers this...But when Chouinard first offered nuts for sale in one of his catalogues, I bought a few. Since there was no picture of these things in the catalogue or their use I had no idea how to place them. I put a sling through the hole and started pounding them into the rock like a piton. "This can't right, these things can't hold anything," I said to myself, and left them at home. It was only until the next catalogue did Chouinard demonstrate how to use them, jamming not pounding. Did anyone else figure these things out before I did?
Stevethefolkie

Trad climber
Abbottstown, PA
Mar 18, 2013 - 07:50pm PT
Donini - not sure about the climb name - started climbing at RS in the mid to late 1970's - winger came from a "porta-hold" 20' above my last pro (an RP hammered into a crack) - it gave - the nut below gave - a bolt held - I ended up looking my belayer in the face (upside down) with dirt in my hair ... pretty sure his name was Pete Barnes - good guy. Memories ... it is funny - the older I get the better I was ...

Cheers

Steve
Redwood

Gym climber
West Sacramento CA
Mar 18, 2013 - 09:00pm PT
I remember both of these articles, and especially the phrase "Nuts to you." And I remember the early nuts; they looked exotic, one might almost say clever, but they were hard to place, and they had a tendency to fall out.

Credit: Redwood
Hummerchine

Trad climber
East Wenatchee, WA
Mar 18, 2013 - 09:28pm PT
That RR Nut article was SERIOUSLY COOL!

Thanks for posting that Steve!
michaelc

Trad climber
Sydney Oz
Mar 19, 2013 - 01:06am PT
I wrote this article some time ago about MoAcs if anyone is interested

http://www.climbingaustralia.com.au/2011/05/01/the-positive-dialectics-of-moac-play/

It's not pimping the website - I just thought that you guys might be interested

Michaelc
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2013 - 10:30am PT
Michaelc- Nice bit of nostalgia.

Thanks!
mariaji

Social climber
Tucson, AZ
Mar 20, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
Marvelous writing RGold!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 28, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
Bump!

Jump (for Joy)!

Credit: mouse from merced
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
With Royal's love of puns, I think it was Nutcracker Sweet briefly before becoming the everlovin' Nutcracker. I bet Roper couldn't quite get behind it either.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 29, 2013 - 09:27am PT
I believe that I still have got enough room on the shelves of the Nuts Museum for a couple of amazing Apple Chocks...
Please McHale's Navy, forgive this little joke.
The Book!
The Book!
Credit: nutstory
Messages 1 - 92 of total 92 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews