G Rubberfat Overhang - First Ascent 1961

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guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 27, 2010 - 11:24pm PT
Rebuffat, along with Terray, Bonatti, Buhl, Gervasutti and others were our heroes as kids growing up in the climbing scene of the late 50s and early 60s. Many hours were spent consuming the classics like Starlight and Storm, On Ice Rock and Snow, Lonely Challenge, Annapurna and other celebrated books of the era.

The classic overhang shot of Gaston in his etriers, knickers and Tyrolean sweater, flamboyant hair, stunning posture and his long reach out under the edge is burned into the cortex of more climbers of that era than just about any other photo.

For years when we ventured into the Valley we would talk about climbing the Gaston Rubberfat Overhang. That beautiful and overhanging rock on highway 140, between El Portal and the Entrance Station. The GRO is situated below what today is called Parkline Slabs but the area was unclimbed and unnamed in those days. How many times have you cruised under the GRO while entering or exiting the Valley?

You know the mood, when you reach El Portal and begin that winding climb into the Valley with the rapidly descending Merced River, the granite, the smell of trees and the first glimpse of the Rostrum and Elephant rock it’s guaranteed to kick the adventure juices into high gear

Is there a route in the Valley with a shorter or easier approach than the GRO? Just a couple small problems to circumvent. Objective dangers seemed a bit high on the survival scale, kind of akin to playing croquet on the LA Freeway during rush hour.

Sitting around the Lodge one cold and snowy day in Dec of 1961, Jeff Foott and I came up with a plan on how to manage a first ascent and not end up as another California Roadkill. What we needed was a major snow storm to shut down highway 120. Several days later the road was closed at the junction of 140 and 120 to Crane Flat.

Opportunity beckoned and we were onto it. The approach was a bit longer than we anticipated with several feet of snow but we had the road to ourselves. Several knife blades, rurps and two bolts and it was ours! Our biggest concern was the possibility of a snowplow descending onto the scene.

Compared to our hero Gaston we were probably quite lacking in style. With Army fatigue pants, wet klettershoes doubling as snowshoes, funky cotton shirts and short hair we were not the epitome of class. Absent were the stylish alpine togs, aluminum etriers, athletic posture, finely coifed hair and classic Rebuffat pose with his pipe. The pipe would come years later along with other things.

I often wonder if there has ever been a 2nd ascent? Casually driving by this past summer I was able to spot the ¼ rawl bolt studs and it appeared the cracks were somewhat scarred? I know highway 120 was closed for quite a spell in the past and perhaps the route had more ascents?

Alas with the widening of the road perhaps there is an opportunity for an ascent in under a minute and the risk of collision between climber and car could be mitigated. You know, G-Ruberfat-Overhang-In-A-Minute. GROIAM. No radar detectors allowed.



Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 27, 2010 - 11:50pm PT
Nice one, Joe! TFPU!

I wonder if we can talk Chris into adding it to "The Road to the Nose"?
jstan

climber
Dec 28, 2010 - 12:11am PT
Well do I remember a movie made by Ghastly Rubberface. We loved it. You see this edge of rock with the sky behind. A huge hand comes around and feels around the crack. A big piton comes into view, is inserted in the crack and is driven. Then a monstrous boot comes into view and stands on the pin.

Had to have been a really cool dude.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 28, 2010 - 12:12am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/483295/Tribute-to-Gaston-Rebuffat

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/318551/Between-Heaven-and-Earth-new-route-possibility
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 28, 2010 - 12:28am PT
The dood oozed style - never a hair out of place. I'm pretty sure he
got it on with Coco Chanel.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Dec 28, 2010 - 03:06pm PT
Ghastly Rubberfoot (fat)
It's been eons since I've heard that name.
Makes me laugh.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Dec 28, 2010 - 03:13pm PT
Great story, Joe. I wondered about it in the late 1960's and early '70's, but never quite went to your lengths -- i.e. actually doing it.

One of my favorte entries in Sheridan Anderson's "Abominable Mountaineering" calendar is his charicature of "Ghastly Rabbitfat," with his pouch of Midi pipe tobacco and his bottle of Breck's.

John
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 29, 2010 - 11:36pm PT
Another classic tale, Joe!

I love that formation and will invoke Gaston when I drive by from now on!

You have to have taken a hero shot?!?
WBraun

climber
Dec 29, 2010 - 11:38pm PT
That roof on 140 is called "Dog Rock".

It's an "official" name for that land mark.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 30, 2010 - 01:26am PT
Fun.

Of course I heard the tale differently though just apocryphally. It came to me as we were driving up in Max’s english sports car, roaring away incessantly as it was so designed and for four hours from Berkeley to an early Sixties Valley. Maybe it was a Triumph. We were going climbing but on the way there was the inculcation. Passing on the legends to the young. And I was then, the young’un.

The tale involved someone on the roof of Dog Rock, aiding of course, slings a’draping when a bus cruised unhesitantly by and the tails of the footslings grazing the roof of the vehicle in a display much like an avalanche, at least as Max saw it. Forces beyond our ken, flying through our 1-inch lives, taking randomnly. Total power afoot.

Max Wolfgang Julian Heinritz. He even had a plaque with his full name, attached to the car. A fabulous german bohemian character who was nested in soon-to-be Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley with his gorgeous partner Waltraud. A good friend of Les Wilson. Though he must have been quite young then, for me at age 15, he was old as dirt and must have known everything. So I listened mile after mile to the tale of our tribal origins as the four-banger droned on and on to take us to a bed of pine needles and the holy smells of our sacred and oracular Valley.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Dec 30, 2010 - 01:56am PT
What a great tale Guido!

GROIAM, has a ring to it eh? It's sure to catch on, the next big thing, yessiree, I'm on it....

Pictures and everything, nice.

No style? Naay I say unto thee, those lads had plenty of style.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 30, 2010 - 09:54am PT
Hat's off to Guido! Another "must do" route for any true Yosemite hardperson.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Dec 30, 2010 - 10:14am PT
"Hardperson"?

Hey we're all equal in climbing Fritz, it's ok for you to call the ladies Hardman. After all, some of them are more hardman than most of the men...heh heh...
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Dec 30, 2010 - 11:33am PT
Another classic Guido story - thanks!

I wonder if we can talk Chris into adding it to "The Road to the Nose"?

Better than average Anders!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Dec 30, 2010 - 12:11pm PT
Ah, Gaston, now, because of his lack of knowledge of offwidth climbing, permanently immortalized as a technique.

I hope it does not stray too far from the original topic to repost here a reminiscence that owes everything to the influence of Rebuffat.

I was a teenager just getting into climbing as the Vulgarians were coalescing, and only became a part of the group four or five years later. My first encounter with the Eastern Wild Ones occurred in the climber's camp in the Tetons, a place that used to be at the epicenter of American climbing.

Except for what one would nowadays call minimal instruction from a few Exum-guided climbs, I learned about climbing on my own, primarily from books. 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 that under no circumstances was the leader to allow the perfect vertical line of his rope to be broken by pictorially distracting protection points.

After suitable period of marination in matching-patterned-sweater-and-knicker-socks idealism, I made my way to the Teton 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 for protective incantations against these alpine demons, no doubt the same ones feared by the early peasants venturing into the heights for the first time. Now these dybbuks had somehow been transplanted from Chamonix to Jackson, screaming like the hounds of hell in the throes of a feverish blood lust stimulated, no doubt, by the tell-tale 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 from now on Fire and Brimstone would be replacing Starlight and Storm. Still, I managed to cling to one eternal verity: these were not Real Climbers. No way.

Rebufattian sartorial influence at work; yours truly on the South Buttress of Moran, mid-sixties.

guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 30, 2010 - 05:46pm PT
Dog Rock? That isn't very exciting.

Love Haan's story and I always get to pull out the dictionary when he writes. Apocryphally? Prophetically or denouement of sorts?

Rgold- Steal my thread anytime with such fine writing. That was a wild and crazy time in the Tetons with the Vulgarians on the rage and no climber, nor animal nor sheila safe from the rape and pillaging. You were stylin' on Moran. Triumph? Was that Craft?

Sorry no photos of the GRO. Forgot the camera and we were too naive to bring gloves, being Berkeley Hardmen and all. Our first experience with the lovely sensation of circulation returning to the fingers.

On another note, here are some photos from the boat today in this beautiful anchorage in a most protected bay in New Zealand. This is really good rock. Very similar to the Pinnacles but far superior. Everything here is unclimbed. Went to the summit of the "Nose" yesterday. Tonight is our New Year's Eve.

If I can find a bolt kit and some young lads we just may have to tackle some of these climbs.
nature

climber
Tuscon Again! India! India! Hawaii! LA?!?!
Dec 30, 2010 - 05:50pm PT
hey... is there any chance there are fixed draws on that thing? I'd love to give it a run!
BBA

climber
OF
Dec 30, 2010 - 07:37pm PT
Life, the luxury of being (Starlight and Storm)

I translated Niege et Roc by Ghastly Rubyerfat word by word from a French-English dictionary in 1961 when I should have been studying. I didn't know any French, and those irregular verbs were hell. I can't recall what happened to that book when I dropped out. Did you get it, Guido?

jogill

climber
Colorado
Dec 30, 2010 - 07:44pm PT
I hope it does not stray too far from the original topic to repost here a reminiscence that owes everything to the influence of Rebuffat

Although we denigrated M. Rabbitfat at the time, we secretly hungered for his sense of style. I well remember the corduroy knickers and argyle socks of a few of the luminaries of the period. When in the mountains I savored the sartorial charm, but it did put crimps in bouldering.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 30, 2010 - 08:23pm PT
Johno,

What we lacked sartorially we superceded with technique--- the cleanest, most dramatic , the most balletic. You sure did! There has always been this belief that in the most concise movement lies some immutable truth, hidden to everyone else. It would be a discovery rather than just “somewhat more superb movement”. Like discovering fractals.

We forgave you your sartorial dowdiness because of this and had no problem ignoring Gaston’s superb but specious sense of fashion because we knew even then that style had to be one of the original theorems of life and not something made by Sporthaus Schuster.

I started in such corduroy knickers and socks; that worked for a couple of months until the damned pants ripped even though they were Ski Hut’s best and a bunch of money. I think I ruined them on a tree on Monday Morning Slab. What a newbie but in 1963 anybody climbing was “happening” and a pilgrim of style as we were coming to understand it.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 31, 2010 - 03:51pm PT
Some intergalactic Gaston...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=522822&msg=829972#msg829972
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 3, 2011 - 12:34pm PT
Metal runged Bump!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 5, 2012 - 08:13pm PT
hey there, say, thanks for the shares here...

:)
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 5, 2012 - 10:58pm PT
Great story Guido. Giving Jeff a call tomorrow, he's interested in getting a place near where Lito and I have homesteaded in Chilean Patagonia.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Feb 5, 2012 - 11:09pm PT
Few pictures have ever come close to that Rebuffett shot on one of the pinnacles (Aguille de?). Dudes just running it out with no apparent pro in sight as the lead line goes right to his waist.

Great story to start it Guido! Nice ones that followed too, thanks to all.


Gaston not gastoning.....

is this correct?
Gaston
A climbing grip using one hand with the thumb down and elbow out. The grip maintains friction against a hold by pressing outward toward the elbow.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_climbing_terms
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Feb 6, 2012 - 12:12am PT
Joe:
Don't know how I missed this story first time around. As one who grew up with my brother's copy of "On Ice Rock and Snow" you are one of my new climbing heroes.
Please know that you are invited and welcomed to stay at my "old climber's camp" at anytime. We have aid slings and plenty of overhangs!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - May 6, 2012 - 03:00pm PT
About time for another ascent?

Shortest approach in Yosemite.

Timing critical.

Boodawg style road closure?

guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 9, 2018 - 07:37pm PT
Dam, almost 6 years since this masterpiece ascent was posted. Grossman wants me to use this as the lead talk in his 2027 Oakdale Festival................
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 9, 2018 - 09:45pm PT
Start working on your French Technique bro...with appropriate permission, of course!
The New Mountain Room Bar truly needs some manly enhancement not involving clergymen.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 9, 2018 - 11:38pm PT
Little Joe,

Hmmmm ... 2027. I'd be 95. Even if I tried to make it, I probably would neither be able to see nor hear it.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California, now Ireland
Feb 10, 2018 - 03:51am PT
Great thread Joe.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Feb 10, 2018 - 11:49am PT

Gaston is featured on a cool mural in downtown Chamonix.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 10, 2018 - 03:31pm PT
Nice!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Feb 11, 2018 - 04:22am PT
I will gently remind everyone that speaking harshly of Mr. Rebuffat, or making fun of him, will be regarded as heresy by myself and other influential international playboys. All heretics are guilty by definition and will be dealt with swiftly and without mercy. That is all.
Messages 1 - 34 of total 34 in this topic
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