Are You a Cowboy?


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Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 27, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
Tony Jesson, aka the "wretch" was one of Chouniard early climbing friends, had a rather unnerving experience while hitchhiking to Jackson Hole from Cal back in the early 60s.

Long hair, full beard and all the usual traveling paraphernalia on his back he is standing outside Winnemucca, (I think it was there, could have been Wendover?) with his thumb out trying to catch a ride. Now, Tony is a big guy and can easily take care of himself in most situations.

Some of the local boys arrive, pour gasoline on him and in an attempt at involuntary immolation, try to ignite the scene. A trucker pulls up, yells for tony to get his ass in mui pronto and they speed off.

In 1966 I was driving back to Cal in one of my infamous Rowellmobiles and outside Winnemucca, the fan blade disintegrated and smashed thru the radiator. In the middle of friggin nowhere these two "older" cowgirls arrive in an old Ford pickup. Shotgun across the lap: "Sonny you look like you need some help, can we give you a ride?"

Spent three days in lovely Winnemucca, borrowing tools, begging for parts, sleeping in the car and finally extricated myself in time to just make it over Tioga before the pass closed for the year. My hair was pretty long back then, so perhaps there was a shortage of gasoline?

The scene in the "Worlds Fastest Indian," where Burt's car breaks down and he ends up staying with that grand old cowgirl brought back fond memories of the past.


Trad climber
Boulder Creek CA
Sep 2, 2010 - 02:40am PT
Gary Hemming was beat nearly to death in about 1963 in an ally behind a saloon in Jackson Wyoming by a group of cowboys who didn't like climbers in general and the tall brash Hemming in particular. I helped him around camp after he was released from the Jackson Hospital. I often wondered if that beating didn't have serious lasting effects that made his subsequent life all the more difficult for an all-ready high-strung guy. He was one of the great climbers of the age, and that event set him back dramatically.

My dad was a real horseman and cowboy in Idaho before he met my mom. But my mom made him trade horses for kids, and the horses were gone by the time I got old enough to care.

Cowboys on Skidoos 'rescued' us from our ski-airplane on Big Sandy Meadow during our 1960s winter climbing trip into the Wind Rivers. They treated us pretty well, considering they thought we were crazy California hippies!

More recently I've worked as a cowboy in the Owens Valley and in Nevada on a number of big cattle drives. My son was with me on a few of them. I've also done some long Pony Express-style cross-country rides on racing Arabians in Nevada.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 2, 2010 - 02:51am PT
Real climbers don't wear lycra. John Wayne never wore lycra did he?

nuff said


hanging from a crimp and crying for my mama.
Sep 2, 2010 - 02:58am PT
Nah, never docked or castrated a sheep. If you do and you are not a Vet. Well, that's true blue cowboy material.

Social climber
Sep 2, 2010 - 04:16am PT
hey there all... say, i only knew/know a few cowboys, and they were busy working... so i can't say much... but, i kind of suspect it's a
turf thing...

you know... folks (not only cowboys) not wanting what they consider "strange" on their so-called local turf... sadly climbers soon ran into them, upon setting foot to trek the greatoutdoors...

very sad though, no matter who the locals are, being that reaching out to understand others, is what stops many a war...

very sad to hear of all this...
sad for the climber that was mentioned... beatings that lead to head injury very well can and do change lives...

well, god bless
and better days to all...

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
Sep 2, 2010 - 04:42am PT
Every Friday I would let those farm truck tires roll fast through Pinedale, WYO, loudest in town for sure.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Sep 2, 2010 - 10:20am PT
Cowboy headstone:

IMHO most people who think they are a cowboy are really just shite kickers. The few real cowboys I have meet are some of the nicest people I have meet.

I remember one friend who got himself a pair of cowboy boots, a nice leather belt with a big ole buckle and purdy hat. He looked mighty fine until I said too bad you aint never ridden a horse.
Tony Bird

Northridge, CA
Sep 2, 2010 - 10:43am PT
cute headstone, but i don't think the poor bugger's going to be satisfied even in death.

there are two kinds of cowboys, the real and the wannabe. worked a summer on a ranch? helps you wannabe.

i've seen one real, genuine cowboy in my 35 years out west. he walked into a bar late at night in las cruces, new mexico, quietly ordered a beer, drank it, and left. he had chaps and spurs and had gotten off work and was about to go back to it and i don't think he could speak a word of english. ┐comprende?

from the smothers brothers' version of "the streets of laredo":

"i see by your outfit that you are a cowboy"
"i see by your outfit that you're a cowboy too"
we all have outfits and we are all cowboys
if you get an outfit you can be a cowboy too.

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Sep 3, 2010 - 10:34am PT

I've met a few, and two stories come to mind.
Both involve climbers that I would consider cowboys.

During the early 80's I worked a couple of summers at a boy scout camp. At the end of the first summer I hitched back to Santa Cruz via Laramie and the Valley. Before leaving the scout camp I got a hold of Scarpelli and made plans to end my first day on the road at his place, which I did.
Bob was a gracious host. I called him from a gas station in town and he refused to give me directions to his place. Instead he was there to pick me up a short while later. During my wait in the station I was amazed at this board they had by the counter. It was like a hunter's trophy display. There was all many of wildlife body parts. For some reason (unknown to me at the time) I was absolutely fascinated by this raptor claw. It was whooomongus. I compared what I considered to be my strapping, young, climber fingers with the length and girth of the thing. I did this a few times a few times out of sheer amazement. I thought owing to the fact that it was as large as my fingers and that of a wild animal with immense 'Farm Boy' strength... It would be a bitch to receive the business end of those things. I was really 'Out West' where the Buffalo and Cowboys roam.
Enter Scarpelli.
Back at his house we drank what beer he had on hand. So we venture into Laramie for some fast food and more beer. Standing at the counter in this liquor store waiting to pay for our beer there is one person ahead of us. It is an ever so drunk cowboy. Drunk, I mean this guy was plastered! He is fumbling and mumbling, taking forever just to get his wallet out in attempt to pay for his purchase. I am looking at Scarpelli, he's looking at the proprietor, we are all watching in amazement at this guys level of toxicity. He could barely stand.
Scarpelli had enough and as the guy wheels a little to one side Scarpelli smacks the guy's wallet downward, out of his hand. It sent the guys Bills, cards, pictures etc all over the floor.
My immediate thought "Will I make it out of Laramie?"
The cowboy starts sputtering and spitt'n "I'm gunna kick yer..." type crap and Scarpelli just stands there. The cowboy starts with another line of B.S and Bob abruptly cuts him off with stuff like, I kicked your ass in JR.High. I beat you a few times in High School and nothings changed except now your hammered. If there's going to be anybody's ass getting kicked, it won't be mine. Now pick up your gear, grab your bottle and get out of my way!!!
I am thinking, drunk cowboy, pick up truck, shot gun/rifle rack... time to go, time to become unseen!
Turns out Scarpelli did know this guy that well. The went through school together and had fought all the way. In typical drunk fashion, the guy recognizes Bob with some prompting and gets all 'Bro' about things. Scarpelli reminds him that he just wants to pay for his beer and leave so 'Hurry the F%*&k up and get out of the way. The cowboy leans down and was circling around trying to accumulate his gear when he starts getting pissy again and making comments under his breath. Scarpelli laughed and told him that he had just done the guy a favor. "How so?" the cowboy asks. Scarpelli explained to him that minutes before he could barely stand and if he walked down the street with a bottle in that condition he was certain bait for the local constable. At least now after a little neighborly confrontation he had a chance. As long as he kept his mouth shut.


And speak of keeping the mouth shut:

So on that scout camp there were three other instructors on my same staff. One was a guy named Rick who hailed from Oklahoma. Rick grew up on a farm/ranch and hand a good amount of experience with animals. At the end of our first season he left to take a seasonal job as a wrangler for a hunting outfitter in the Yukon. The next summer he was full of stories from his experiences.
On the one day off we would usually all pile into Rick's pickup and go to town with two distinct needs to care for. Cashing the checks would quickly and easily dispatch the first need. The second would take a little more time and cunning.
Later that afternoon/eve we are in this college bar in Fort Collins. While at the bar buying a round of beer for the boys, Rick meets this stunningly good looking gal and invites her back to our table. In short order these two are yacking it up. She loves horses and riding and so does Rick. They start making eyes at one another and myself and the other two guys figure Ricks gunna hook up.
All of a sudden, for Rick things go south real fast. He just couldn't keep his mouth shut! She was raised on a ranch and was into some barrel riding etc and simply loved animals. Rick on the other hand comes out with "Yeah I love'm and it pains me to have to whack a horse with a axe handle when they get obstinate"! They began a debate. She coming from a more cultured, equestrian mind set. Rick started into stories like "yeah well... let's say it's early November and your headed back out to the trail head at the end of the season. You come to a small stream that has a glaze of ice over it and the first two of eight animals cross it but number three freaks out and freezes to a stand still and won't move. You have to get that animal to move or else you are going to have six humans and seven other horses stuck in the wilderness through the winter..."

He should've just kept his mouth shut...
Like he pretty much did the whole drive back up country.


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 3, 2010 - 11:59am PT
Only in a cowboy Joe, Alumni, sense...

-that video is too funny

Trad climber
In the mountains... somewhere...
Sep 3, 2010 - 05:37pm PT
Well, I never was a cowboy, but it seems that I am a Lesbian. Imagine that!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 10, 2012 - 11:27pm PT
Timid TopRope

Social climber
'used to be Paradise, CA
Oct 10, 2012 - 11:44pm PT

Social climber
joshua tree
Oct 10, 2012 - 11:52pm PT
Did you know the term "cowboy" came from the slave owners of the south.
They called the black people that took care of and slept with the cows. " cowBoys"

Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Oct 10, 2012 - 11:55pm PT
Survival, beautiful horse!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 11, 2012 - 12:23am PT
Went skiing at Jackson in '67. My buddy and I decided to check out the
famous Cowboy Bar in town. I was 6'-1" and 180, my buddy had me by an inch
and 20 pounds. Did I mention we were midshipmen and looked it? OK, maybe
a touch on the preppy side by Wyoming standards but we were wholly unprepared
for our reception. We got about a dozen steps into the bar when somebody
cut loose with a well-honed wolf whistle. Without a word we simultaneously
executed a drill team about face and marched our asses outta there. Maybe
we shoulda worn our uniforms. On second thought...

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Oct 11, 2012 - 12:29am PT
I'm a direct descendant of Tom Mix, "King of the Cowboys".


Oct 11, 2012 - 01:01am PT
Is it in Montana that you have to have 1000 acres before you can have a horse?

A neighbor down the road has a horse cooped up in maybe two hundred square feet with inadequate shade.

Humans are crazy.

Stark raving crazy.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Oct 11, 2012 - 01:15am PT
Don't have a hat. Don't have a horse. Do own the ranch and 30 cows. Most of the other ranchers (as opposed to COWBOYS), make jokes about the clowns in the hats, boots with spurs, etc. We call'em RODEO cowboys, cause that's the only time they really need that schitt, these days.
The Larry

Moab, UT
Oct 11, 2012 - 02:21am PT
Sploring a beer at the beach.
Sploring a beer at the beach.
Credit: The Larry

Howdy partner.

Scarpelli has educated many a cowboy. Dude fist jams old school 4 camolots.
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