Ancestors & Archiving: Crossings of California - T.R.


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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 21, 2010 - 05:37am PT
Thanks for sharing the journey and the cool photos of your climbing pals.

Trying to find space for a climbing museum in the small available buildings in Yosemite is a tough proposition. Probably we cannot realistically hope for much more than we already have - some Salathe' pitons hanging on the wall in the Mountain Shop. (That is definitely better than nothing).

But if outside Yosemite, who would visit it? Do people visit the Harding museum? Would it even be visited much in Yosemite? It is an active sport; the weather is usually good, vacation time is short and will be spent actually climbing if possible.

Most large collections of climbing gear and guidebooks will be in the hands of the (few) serious collectors, like Marty Karabin and Stephane Peloquin. If we are lucky, they will share their photos on the web as they have in the past.

Actually I think there is a niche for a really good historical climbing gear website. I wouldn't mind working on one. Stephane has a pretty good one for nuts and cams. But it would be good to have a complementary one with pitons and biners. Gary Storrick used to have a pretty good one with ascenders, but he recently gave it up - it seems he got exhausted trying to keep acquiring current gear. (The trick is to limit it and not get caught up in the present, I think).

There is also a niche for a good Yosemite climbing history website. It could be largely populated with stories and photos already posted here on supertopo. The YCA site has a great collection of historical photos, but linking them for interesting navigation paths would be nice. I like the simple structure of links at - one page for each movie with links to the people who made it; one page for each person with links to their bio and chronological list of links to movies they've helped make. I'm fairly close to being able to make such a structure, using the list of Yosemite FAs that Ed originally typed in. If I can come up with something useful, and if this is of interest of Ken, maybe the YCA site could host it.

A website has advantages over a physical museum. People can visit it anytime, for free, and without travel time. It might even encourage a few more serious collectors, as they would get a better idea of what is out there. A website has permanence issues, too. My preference is for very plain HTML pages that can be backed up easily and copied to another host if the website has to be shut down / moved.

Trad climber
san diego
Sep 21, 2010 - 07:02am PT
Way to go BooDawg!

Kicking ass, and keeping it alive(real)!


Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Sep 21, 2010 - 09:17am PT
BooDawg: Fun trip report. Loved the photos.

Re. the museum. If Ketchum,Idaho and Vail Co. can support Ski Museums: it seems Yosemite could support a climbing museum.

Seems like many are working towards it happening.

Social climber
Polynesian Paralysis
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 21, 2010 - 02:33pm PT
Thanks to all of you who responded with appreciation for my posting.

Hooblie: Living so isolated from the developments of techniques and equipment, and finding myself re-immersed here on the Taco and on my recent mainland trip, I’ve been feeling the old pull of the whole scene and feel like a remedial class or a climb with someone “modern” would be mind-blowing. I was really torn when the Seattle group offered to take me out. Maybe on my next trip to N. America…

Thanks, Jaybro; I’ll start on the task list with the present postings and get with Chicken Skinner after the Facelift; I’m sure he’s on at least 5.11 keeping all that together. Wish I could be there. Next year it should be possible!!

Phylp: I like that idea of Climbing gyms providing case space for historical displays which might rotate through a series of gyms. Gyms might even be persuaded to make donations or hold fundraisers to help support the effort.

Wayno: Thanks again for the lovely evening in Seattle! Since I was a small boy, I’d always imagined that I’d led the life of a mountain man fur-trapper. Turns out my great grandfather on my dad’s side did just that tho way later than Jed Smith. I remember well the lyrics and melody of a song that went with a Disneyland mountain man character, Andy Burnette:

Andy made the trails, opened up the land.
Andy gave America a mighty helping hand.
Andy’s on the move; Andy won’t rest.
Andy Burnette he’s a’travelin’ west.

Survival: I LOVE your sense of humor! “Arctic blonde coffin dodger” indeed!

Peter: Thanks for your kind words and fond memories of hanging out together. Flattering pic too. I remember well those original “Stand-up Shorts” that I’d always sew another layer of denim or leather on the seat to make them last even longer. Still have a pair tho they’re pretty beat-up now. Wish Patagonia or someone would make a similar product: durable, stylish, functional, comfortable.

Fattrad: Chicken Skinner suggested that I discuss fundraising with you. Community organizing is one more activity that I enjoy, so fundraising and lobbying can be planned if there are those who can put in the time. I’m at quite a disadvantage living here, but there are still tasks that those who live remotely can do. Seeing your involvement in Facelift, let’s put our heads together after the dust settles. In the meantime, please ask other “coffin dodgers” that you see in the next few weeks what THEY have actually planned to do with their STUFF or what they envision for it. OK? Try to raise awareness and get an informal discussion going during the community-building events/projects of Facelift. Afterall, these are the folks who actually DO tasks that benefit the entire climbing community. It’s probably too late to inject such a discussion or brain-storming session into one of the evening programs. If it can’t happen formally this year, I’d be interested in facilitating such a discussion next year.

Roger, take it from me: it’s cool living in Hawaii! But I think Copenhagen was my favorite city of those that I saw in Europe! Pretty flat tho. Innsbruck was VERY COOL as well!

Scruffy b: Hope we can meet next time that I’m in the Cruz.

Jan: You are SO right about living just slightly different forms of the adventures that our ancestors lived. Thanks for stepping up for some computer work from Japan. For starters, if you and Fattrad (and other interested supporters!) would please subscribe to the email letters from, you will gain many good insights into fundraising strategies for non-profits that don’t take lots of resources from financially challenged organizations.

John H.: I completely agree with you, and I’m heartened to see your enthusiasm. Are you back on Hawaii Island now?

Clint: Good thoughts! Certainly finding/creating a space in the Valley is a challenge! And your question about who would visit it outside the park is also valid. I think few people visit the Harding Museum mostly because it doesn’t have regular hours, perhaps because of its location (perhaps not), and because few people know about it. Also, there’s an issue of the narrow focus on Warren himself, rather than a broader focus on the sweep of climbing history and ideology. I also think that linking the exhibits, space-wise and funding-wise, to successful commercial enterprises such as climbing gyms, the Mountain Light gallery, Gary & Riva Colliver’s bookstore in Mariposa, and others would help solve both of those issues. Collaborations between for-profit enterprises and the Museum could enhance both efforts.

Publicity is another issue, and your GREAT idea of a comprehensive website can be part of the publicity of the physical spaces where the STUFF is displayed. I highly recommend a book, “Guerilla Marketing” for outlining low-cost strategies for publicizing and enterprise. Although dated now, the STRATEGIC THINKING contained therein can be applied to our situation and adapted to the internet, etc.

Thank you, Clint, for stepping up and being willing to work on a website for this project. Anyone else out there want to collaborate with Clint on this aspect of our community’s project?

If Marty and Stephane were willing to collaborate on this project, perhaps those of us with STUFF would be more willing to let our STUFF pass into their keeping. However, I, personally like the idea of my STUFF residing close to Yosemite rather than at Marty’s in AZ or in the AAC library in CO. I also like the idea of a non-profit organization with a Board of Directors chosen from the broader climbing community (that could include Marty and/or Stephane) being the decision-making body that stewards the STUFF, rather than a single individual (who will eventually face his/her own mortality as many of us do now).

Fritz: Do you know the financial/organizational structure of those ski museums? Non-profit? Do they do their own fund-raising? Do they have links to local for-profits like the ski area operators? Do they have endowments, etc.?

Thank you all for your input so far. Please respond with more ideas and models for how the various issues can be addressed. And please discuss it informally at Facelift, and post any insights that you have.

Big Wall climber
Sep 27, 2010 - 08:17pm PT
thank's for the party shot'z! i have not been to the TPR yet. me and Emma have to make it up to you all!
good to hear from you Boodawg.

Boodawg you look geat!

Trad climber
Oct 4, 2010 - 08:10pm PT
My site went back up on September 26th, but the URL had to change:

I've changed jobs and moved to another state since I took the site down. I was going to wait until I buy a house, move in, and got the site current again before I put it back, but decided that the old information is better than no information. I always planned to put the site back up (despite the critics), and I plan to keep it up somewhere as long as I'm able.

Enjoy it everyone, and thanks for all your support!

Gary Storrick

Trad climber
Oct 4, 2010 - 08:31pm PT
thanks for the t.r., very fun to read and see.

as a professional historian, i'm always happy to see folks getting into collecting artifacts, from paper to pitons. one of the good things about forums (st and many of the others), is that they can work to keep folks in touch with current events in everything from climbing to collecting that might otherwise never hit the media.

i think clint is correct about physical objects probably remaining mostly the province of private collectors. most of the big museums don't collect such stuff, and the few that do (messner's museums and the aac spring to mind) tend to be pretty ruthless about deciding what does and does not have collectible value. objects take a lot of space and are expensive to conserve and store.

so far as the other materials-- paper documents, photos and film --let me add a few cautionary notes. as someone who spends a lot of time on the mashed potato circuit, trying to raise money for major institutions, and a lot more time talking with archivists, curators and museum directors all over the map, i would personally recommend donating (or selling) "paper" to an institution that already has the space, staff, and skills to properly process and conserve material. much of the country's heritage (and not just in climbing), is disappearing as it gets splintered into smaller and smaller "museums" or "archives" that then compete with each other for a shrinking chunk of donor dollars and lack the dough to do industry-standard conservation or digitization.

digitization has been wonderful, because it means that stuff in big collections-- say the sierra club archive at the bancroft or the muir papers at university of the pacific --can be accessed by anyone with a web connection.

it depends on your goals. do you want to do something for yourselves and maybe folks for the next decade or two? or are you hoping to give materials like these more longevity? sure, you can just scan anything and publish it on the net, and that will work fine for most of st's current readership, but it's not going to be lasting. jpegs aren't actually stable, websites run by an individual off of donations aren't likely to survive that individual's death (or bankruptcy), and the materials themselves can all too easily end up in a box at a garage sale.

in the last ten years i've seen literally dozens of small archives and private museums disappear. websites? they're great, i'm building one myself. but they can't substitute for bricks-and-mortar.

the best use of fundraising would be to raise enough dough to subsidize the processing and professional digitization of the collection at an established institution. gifts-- and sales of collections --can always be structured so as to provide for potential future exhibitions at other venues (like, for instance, yosemite). that sort of process could result in the best of both worlds-- a longterm, stable institutional collection AND web-accessibility and perhaps even periodic local exhibitions.

i've written a bit about the general suibject here:
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Oct 5, 2010 - 12:35pm PT
Great to see this. Tipping a vicarious glass of red wine with the tribe. Thanks, Ken!

Hennek gave me one of those Snowdon Railway nuts, and it seemed fitting to sling it on hemp cord.
Credit: DR

Also, on the digital front, Steve Grossman and I spent two days interviewing Glen Dawson a year ago. Steve now has 5-6 hours of tape of Glen talking to us about the rope arriving in California in 1931, the FA of the East Face of Whitney, and his impressions of Norman Clyde. Among many other topics.
DR, Steve Grossman, Glen Dawson, July '09
DR, Steve Grossman, Glen Dawson, July '09
Credit: DR
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 5, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
Thanks, Ken - an interesting report, and some important subjects to discuss.

I'll post more when I get a chance - this is a place holder.

Oct 17, 2010 - 07:41pm PT
I was actually looking for Galen Clark references for a child when I found your post. Galen and Rebecca McCoy were my great great grandparents, so we are some kind of cousins! Hi. I am through their daughter Mary Ann Clark Regan. I did actually cilmb a mountain once, so I guess I qualify to be on this forum. I was a single mom and I did it in Outward Bound. It was awesome and I would have loved to have done more, butit didn't fit into a single mom's budget or free time. Oh well. Anyway, Hi, Cousin.

Social climber
Polynesian Paradise
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 18, 2010 - 04:12am PT
Aloha Cousin, Litak!

What a small world it is! Or at least it keeps getting smaller, thanks to the internet! I’m not sure how much you know or want to know about Rebecca McCoy Clark, wife of Galen Clark. I’ve wondered what became of Rebecca and Galen Clark’s descendants after Rebecca died, and Galen Clark moved to California and eventually became “The Guardian of Yosemite.”

As you may know, Rebecca’s brother was Joseph McCoy Jr., my direct ancestor; her father was Capt. Joseph McCoy Sr., brother to Martin McCoy, Jedediah Smith’s companion whose travels I summarized in my posting.

Have you or other members of your family been to Yosemite and visited the grave of Galen Clark in Yosemite? I took a picture of Galen Clark’s headstone when I was there this past summer, but the quality of the pic was so bad that I didn’t include it in my posting. Here it is, tho I wish it were of better quality. His grave is surrounded by Giant Sequoia trees that he trans-planted there from the Mariposa Grove (which he discovered!) long before he passed onward.

Galen Clark's Headstone, brought &#40;by him&#41; to the site where he...
Galen Clark's Headstone, brought (by him) to the site where he carved his own name in it. His birth and death dates were carved by his descendants from Red Bluff, CA.
Credit: BooDawg

Joseph McCoy Jr.’s descendants settled in Red Bluff, CA. Galen Clark was a cabinet maker, and he made a set of six chairs in Missouri for Joseph McCoy Jr. When Galen Clark visited McCoy’s grandson, L. L. McCoy in Red Bluff, CA, he saw at least one of those same chairs in his home there.

Like you, I am a single parent; I have a daughter who is now a senior in high school. She is planning to attend college next year in the N.E. U.S. She is hoping to attend Emerson College in Boston. Are there any of our McCoy relatives still living in MA or the N.E. U.S.?

If you are interested in obtaining what information I have about Rebecca McCoy Clark and her family, perhaps it’d be best for you to PM (Private Message) me through this website. If you have any questions about Galen Clark or if you or your family have any experiences or photos of any visits that you have made to Yosemite, please post them here. Your own Outward Bound mountaineering experience would be most welcome. BTW, everyone is welcome on this website, with or without, mountaineering/rock-climbing experience.

I look forward to hearing more from you.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 18, 2010 - 04:26am PT
Wow, This is too cool. I love how small our world can become at times.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Mar 13, 2011 - 09:55pm PT
gotta bump this. Missed it the first time around. What a great post.

Trad climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
Jul 7, 2011 - 01:58pm PT
good stuff...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 7, 2011 - 02:40pm PT
Very interesting how much webreach the posting on the ST have.

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2012 - 05:31pm PT
At the time that I wrote this T.R., I forgot to include the interesting fact that when Guido and I climbed the F.A. of the S.W. Face on Mt. Clark, I had no idea that I had any family relationship to Galen Clark. I still intend to post some pictures and an account of our climb, but I thought I'd post the following photo. Our climb ascends near the crack system that diagonals up and left on the right side of the face, well to the right of the central snow tongue that descends the center of the west face.

Mt. Clark from Washburn Pt. The S.W. Face is to the right of the long ...
Mt. Clark from Washburn Pt. The S.W. Face is to the right of the long snow tongue.
Credit: BooDawg
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 20, 2012 - 08:59pm PT
Once again, thanks so much for this wonderful and important TR/history piece, Ken. As usual, tons of detail and scope; your way of going about things certainly.

One add: The wall of Harding images and memorabilia was actually requested around the time of Warren's passing. It was to be a Temple of Farcing and always accessible to friends---this was how he put it and of course farcing was one of Warren's favorite activities.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jul 20, 2012 - 09:21pm PT
Boodawg just last weekend I was up on Tenaya Peak with my friend Sasha. It was a pristine summer day after a couple days of afternoon storms - crystal clear blue and warm, 'clear and a million' (miles visibility) we used to say in the Air Force weather service.

I was looking over there at Mt Clark thinking of my good friend and for many years my go-to Sierra partner Burl Guido, with whom I did the NW ridge of Clark, the skyline ridge on the left in your photo, as a 1.5 day traverse of the peak out of Illoutte Creek. Man was that such great fun and it was cool to be up on Tenaya looking over at it and thinking about it.

I recall doing "King's Leap" coming down, and chuckling at bit at his extravagant adventure writing in contrast to his official survey and geological reports. Guy must have been a total character!

I also remember that Lonesome Highway of an arete we were on, sublime. And looking down at your face thinking there were lots of other possibilities out there. I knew there was a route out there. Had no idea it was yours.

Awesome country. We've been blessed eh, to walk this ground in the manner we have, virtually for free! Pretty dang incredible, when you think about it.


Social climber
Butterfly Town
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2012 - 10:10pm PT
Thank you, Peter, for your kind and generous words. WHO did the requesting that Warren's wall be made available to friends and supporter of farcing?

DMT: I'd love to have been up on Tenaya Peak with you and to look across to Mt. Clark and to hear the complete story of your trip up and down that peak. I'd have been pleased to tell you about Guido and my adventure on that same peak. That is still to come... Wishing you many good times in the mountains!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 20, 2012 - 10:15pm PT
Wonderful!!! Those pictures of you and Guido are priceless....enough to make a cougar's heart flutter.
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