WOEML and the Compressor route

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john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 26, 2011 - 09:56pm PT
This will probably sink in a hurry but,,

Woeml was finished Nov 18th 1970, the compressor route was finished Dec 3rd 1970.

Robbins and Lauria did the second ascent of Woeml in Feb of 1971.

I was wondering if Robbins had heard of the compressor climb before they went up on woeml, and if this may have been part of his reasoning.

Were the Vally regulars of the time in Yosemite aware of the Cerro Torre climb before Robbins chopped the bolts on El Cap?

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:04pm PT
John I think this is a really interesting question. I don't remember. There is a strong likelihood that we were aware of Cesare's clown wagon down there; it's not like he was modest in his preparations and plans. Probably easily determined by looking into the history of Maestri's activities. Those docs have to be widely available.

But back then, before new-wave aid and the rest of what we have now, there was a distinct concern that bolts might proliferate and "re-interpret" rock climbing. The next levels of extreme aid just weren't there yet and yet there was tons and tons of unclimbed rock all over the place up to that point that seemed vaguely to also be our future....we just did not know. So either way, there was a grave concern back then at least---now too obviously in other ways---that we would watch these enormous wild places simply die right in front of us.

But as RR found out, Warren's route was not a bolt-up. It was a superb line stuffed with awesome and difficult climbing and as he and Don L. worked their way up the new line, they began to eat their hat, so to speak. The real fights were yet to come.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:10pm PT
I seriously doubt it, Patagonia was still under the radar and Yosemite was luxuriating in a cocoon of self importance.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:12pm PT
Do, hardly. We had Dougy T and YC down there well before then, coming out of there with a movie even. Cerro Torre was well known to us then. But it is true about the cocoon. I guess if you just evaluate how focused we were on Patagonia and looked at the dates of ascents, there probably aren't that many prior to mid-late seventies?? pls advise.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:14pm PT
Why not ask Royal directly?
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2011 - 10:15pm PT
Steve,, I am,, sorta..
WBraun

climber
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:31pm PT
Warren's route was not a bolt-up

I beg to differ.

Warren went berserk up there. There were dead 6.0 (A1) cracks with bolts right next to them.

There were times I was nailing along A1 and then moving up in my aid ladders and suddenly a rivet or bolt would appear next to the crack I never even noticed.

Charlie Porter chopped a bunch of rivet/bolts of Hardings when he did New Dawn.

You could really tell the difference between Caldwell's leads and Hardings.

Hardings leads were littered with drilling ....
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:32pm PT
No John, RR will respond. He loves this kind of stuff plus he tries like crazy to be fair to climbers he doesn't know. It might take him a week or two though, he is of course busy. The real problem is that he may not remember however.
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:38pm PT
Werner,

Really?? Never heard this before.....bolting next to A1 cracks ??? Easy to tell the difference between Caldwell and Harding leads??? Are you just Fing with us ???

Cracko
WBraun

climber
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:46pm PT
Why would I do that (fukin with people) with a topic like this?

There's no reason at all.

Just face it, Harding loved to drill .....
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:52pm PT
I believe Werner.

Cracko, WB has been in the Valley since this route went up. Continuously. And continuously active as an expert climber. I just wish we knew long ago how it actually looked when WB went through there. First time I have heard this.

RR knew what Warren was like, and vice versa. What a messy situation.
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Jan 26, 2011 - 10:53pm PT
No offense Werner but can Mr. Robbins confirm bolt drilling next to A1 cracks??? Just never heard that before.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:02pm PT
"was luxuriating in a cocoon of self importance. "


"was"?

hehehe...
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2011 - 11:06pm PT
It would be interesting to hear from Ken Boche and Don Lauria on this topic,
Peter was there during that time also.

I am sure others here could comment on the "mood" in the Vally at that time.
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:09pm PT
Peter,

I understand, and God help me or anyone else who questions Werner on this site. I guess I was just taken back because it is the first time I have heard this from Werner, or anyone else for that matter. Yes, I have always respected Warren Harding for his "anti-establishment" ways. Hey, somebody's got to do it !! I never knew, until Werner's post, that he actually climbed the WEML and saw first hand what occured. This is not consistent with most other accounts I have read, and I have read most.
I fully understand that Warren Harding loved to drill, but I have never heard any other account accusing him of placing bolts next to A1 cracks.
I would love to be further enlightened regarding this claim by Werner.


Cracko
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:15pm PT
Cracko, I mentioned on another thread, it is getting time for a party to go up on the oriinal WOEML and do kind of a creative ascent/ archaeology of it. There is a a lot of day by day info too, which I also posted last year--- it was Guido's photos of Warrens letters he would send down in cans from their bivies. Reporting on the day, roughly.

What this idea comes from is of course Conrad & company's re-do of the Mallory-Irvine early Everest attempt. Using the equipment of that day. Eventually even finding the evidence of their deaths.
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:20pm PT
jghedge,

No I haven't. Is this a requirement for me to have an opinion of WEML or ask a question?

Peter,

Thank you.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2011 - 11:32pm PT





A link about the third ascent of the Wall


http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1363644&msg=1366174#msg1366174
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:33pm PT
The right side of the Folly originally had lots of bolts next to A1 cracks partly attributable to poor angle pitons in those days. By 1970 that wasn't an issue anymore.

If Charlie didn't say anything after his solo of the Tower start to the Dawn Wall then how would the story get out besides climbers like Werner doing the route with his eyes open. A snipped dowel doesn't look like much of anything.

Joe-You seem to have an opinion about Space Babble...you've done it right?!? Rap bolts and all...
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:45pm PT
jghedge,

OK, I'll work on it. For what it is worth, I'm just interested in the whole controversy and history surrounding WEML.

From Peter's past thread on the "Harding Letters", a post from Roger Breedlove, "To be fair, Harding didn’t over bolt his routes once he was on them any more than Robbins did. The difference is that Harding picked routes that he knew would have to have many holes, ones as unappealing as The Firefall Face or The Rhombus Wall as well as beautiful walls such as the South Face of Half Dome or the WEML. Robbins on the other hand picked routes that he thought would not need so many bolts and then bolted them as necessary rather than backing off: Tis-sa-ack is a perfect example. When TM Herbert told Royal that he would regret putting up Tis-sa-ack with so many bolts, Royal said, “it was worth it.” Thin ice."

This is my sense of Harding as well, and it is not consistent with bolts next to A1 cracks. Then again, I didn't live in the Valley during the time of WEML, don't know sh#t, should STFU and leave this all to those more qualified. Sorry

Cracko

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:53pm PT
Front and center...
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 26, 2011 - 11:57pm PT
WOEML was finished November 18th 1970, the compressor route was finished December 3rd 1970.

Robbins and Lauria did the second ascent of WOEML in February of 1971. (February 4th, according to the 1971 AAJ - so starting January 30th. The 40th anniversary is in a few days.)

I was wondering if Robbins had heard of the compressor climb before they went up on WOEML, and if this may have been part of his reasoning.

It seems possible. Remember means of communication in 1970, and the (lack of) infrastructure then in Patagonia and even Argentina. Maestri had a talent for self-promotion, and the Italian news media may have known about the climb within a few weeks after December 3rd (by mail) or even a few days (by telephone). The British media may in turn have picked up on that, which would have brought it to the attention of their climbing community, some of whom knew Royal - and who might well have said something about it in a letter or Christmas card. (If Mountain then existed, and Royal was a correspondent, he might have heard directly from Ken Wilson - no slouch when it came to outrage.) Or perhaps the jungle telegraph in the climbing community got some version of the story from Italy to England, and so to California.

Might Don have heard something about this, or others who were active then?

Of course, one might impishly ask whether Maestri had heard of the WOEML climb before his final push. Not likely, maybe, and probably wouldn't have made any difference - but an intriguing thought.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 27, 2011 - 12:13am PT
Ken Wilson would defintitely have been the messenger...
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 27, 2011 - 12:14am PT
MH I thought about that but figured the dates were too close for Masteri to hear about it
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 27, 2011 - 12:25am PT
A somewhat on topic article, from Ed Douglas of The Guardian in 2006, when this was last a big issue. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2006/may/07/features.sport5
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 01:15am PT
Cracko,

> No offense Werner but can Mr. Robbins confirm bolt drilling next to A1 cracks??? Just never heard that before.

Have you ever read the source below?
It is one of the primary sources on Robbins and the WoEML.

From p.200 of The Vertical World of Yosemite, which has been available since 1974:

"Robbins: We found some of the hardest nailing I have ever done, until we got near the top, and there we found a few ridiculous things like rivets placed next to good nailing cracks."
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:30am PT
Given Robbins' quote in Clint's post, I would say that my statement, quoted by Cracko, is at least partly wrong.

I do, however, think my summary is still basically correct since it gets to the roots of the huge difference in Royal's starting point versus Warren's. I think Royal pretty much stayed to a more-or-less fixed set of beliefs on what constituted good style and how it changed with advances in technique and skill. Much of what we currently think about good style was not only initiated by Royal, he certainly also tried to think it through and articulate it for the Valley community. I think Warren adhered to a similar line up until sometime in the late 60s when he adopted a view that allowed for routes straight up ugly unclimbed faces such as The Firefall Route and the Rhombus, as well routes straight up beautiful unclimbed faces such as the South Face of Half Dome and the WEML.

I think that the Firefall Route and the Rhombus are the routes Roper was referring to when he said, "They aren't even routes!" This really pissed off Warren, but he may not have understood Steve's point. If I recall, Warren took Roper's comment as referring to his stellar routes from the 1950s and early 1960s. Steve held those early route in great esteem, as did everyone else.

Based on Royal's comment about the WEML, it seems to me that if Warren had not drilled next to good cracks at the top, the WEML would be in the same league as Tis-a-ack: a beautiful line with hard nailing and lots of drilling.

Peter has pointed out the real concerns in the late 1960s of routes being put up with excessive bolting. It didn't turn out that way, but those debates, which were occurring around the world, only make sense in light of the way the participants viewed the bolting issues at the time.

The sense that Warren is held in high esteem nowadays because he was 'anti-establishment' has always seemed bizarre to me. He did great routes for a long time and was a prime mover in establishing what defined great routes in the Valley: he was part of the establishment. Later he seemed to do new routes for the purpose of poking his climbing community in the eye: later Warren became anti-early-Warren.

But, I am not a nailer, so my comments are all secondary observations. While Roper has picked the WEML as the end of the Golden Era of Valley climbing, I have come around to view that the Golden Era peaked in 1964 with The North American Wall (maybe the Muir Wall), after which not much progress was made (even if there were great new routes). The next era began in 1970 with free climbing and, a bit later, with new-aid. WEML turned out to be a sideshow.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:40am PT
Both the Compressor Route and the WEML were put up with excessive bolting. Any connection between them, other than that, seems to me to be a very remote possibility.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 27, 2011 - 11:36am PT
A not-so-fine kind of madness...

Interesting to compare and contrast Harding and Maestri, however. They have a lot in common.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 27, 2011 - 11:47am PT
Yes Steve, interesting comparisons. One thing to keep in mind; Harding may have been a bit addicted to bolting but he never claimed to do something he didn't do as did Maestri.
philo

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
Jan 27, 2011 - 12:06pm PT
Good point Jim.
scuffy b

climber
Three feet higher
Jan 27, 2011 - 12:43pm PT
There was an essay in the 1971 Ascent lambasting Maestri for his compressor
route, I believe written by Tompkins.
It must have been written soon after the climb itself.
It's reasonable to believe that Robbins knew of Maestri's efforts by the
time he and Lauria went up on WOEML.
Robbins, by that time, had done some sessions of Alpine rock, both in
Europe and the Kichatnas, and knew that "Yosemite methods" applied to the
big peaks in the big ranges was the wave of the future.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 12:45pm PT
Great bunch of comments just now Pilgrims.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 27, 2011 - 12:58pm PT
Front and center...



Woooooooo, shwing! Owww!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 27, 2011 - 01:01pm PT
I checked with a friend in England who is quite knowledgeable about this matter. He doesn't himself know the answer, and suggests asking either Robbins or Ken Wilson - although he suggests that to Wilson, there was some 'linkage' between the two climbs, even if perhaps no actual connection.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 01:42pm PT
I've done the Dawn Wall and Hockey Night, and the rivet traverse from Mescalito over to the Dawn Dihedrals in particular is ludicrous.
New Dawn is the better line to the Dihedrals [but see Tom's post - going up Reticent from Lay Lady Ledge to the Dihedrals is a still better line], and Mescalito is the best line in the vicinity (although it eventually has that rivet ladder to connect to the Bismark).
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Jan 27, 2011 - 03:01pm PT
"Robbins: We found some of the hardest nailing I have ever done, until we got near the top, and there we found a few ridiculous things like rivets placed next to good nailing cracks."

There could be a number of reasons behind this:
Warren liked drilling
They wanted to stretch out the climb to take as long as possible
Didn't have the correct size pins
After almost a month with very little food their minds were toast
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Jan 27, 2011 - 03:05pm PT
I once asked RR about the "Dawn Wall". He said something along the lines of "Do you mean the Wall of Early Morning Light? That is such a beautiful and inspired name Warren gave it, I refuse to call it something as mundane as the Dawn Wall."

I've been calling it the Wall of Early Morning Light ever since.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 27, 2011 - 03:43pm PT
I stopped in Modesto last fall to visit Royal and Liz when I was returning home after the Sacherer remembrance in the Valley. Liz was out, but Royal and I spend a few quite minutes at the kitchen table remembering old friends and reconnecting--we had barely seen each other in 35 years.

I think Royal gets a lot of calls from folks working on historical details and I get the sense that he works hard to answer as many as he can. He mentioned that someone had called him to talk about Warren (maybe ParkRat). He said of Warren: "We were the same peas, but in different pods." Nice turn of phrase
Mike.

climber
Jan 27, 2011 - 03:51pm PT
The Fet, thanks for bringing that up. There is no route on EC called Dawn Wall. AFAIK that name refers to a general location on the formation, but has come to be used as nomenclature for WOEML or ND. New Dawn of course being the alternate start to WOEML.

"The" before EML is optional in the name per WH. "Either way is fine."
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 04:16pm PT
I'm pretty sure we knew about the Compressor Route by the time of the second ascent of the WEML. I'm not sure about the time of the first ascent. Although Patagonia was far away, it certainly wasn't unknown to those of us in the Valley. After all, it wasn't that long before that the "Funhog" route on FitzRoy, with its Valley connection, went up, and all the pictures of Cerro Torre put it on everyone's mind.

I remember talking about Maestri's compressor with Galen Rowell at Indian Rock around the end of 1970, and definitely before we knew whether he made it to the top or not (to my mind, even with the compressor, he didn't).

Although I was never close to being a Valley regular, I never understood Robbins' reaction to WEML to be related to Cerro Torre as much as it was related to a concern about the future of Yosemite climbing. "Blank" walls -- and what to do about them -- were things looming large to me then, so I'm sure they were concerns of those who spent serious time there.

John
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 04:22pm PT
Some thoughts


(1) We were all aware of the Maestri castrophe. It was hardly a remote controversy. We just weren’t down there climbing yet en masse. But Maestri was down there; he was there as early as 1959 for his “first ascent” (maybe earlier) and then there was a bunch of attempts by others from then on and even prior. This calamitous tale actually continued until 1970, so it was very well known. And our problem back in the Valley was taking aid climbing to not only blanker walls but to much higher levels of difficulty--- we needed some changes to the game plan and we needed even more trick equipment. Unbeknownst to us, all of that was soon to come.

(2) I think we are overlooking how poorly Warren was fairing medically on the WOEML. We will hear a bunch more on this from Park Rat who is now getting together with Beryl Knauth to carry PR’s book project forward. Revealed in this work will be much more detail, she tells me, about Warren’s health. His severe alcoholism, his accidents---all made for a pretty tough time. I have to wonder if he was also a Type II diabetic by this point and maybe had hypertension too; we shall see. Apparently he was experiencing a lot of pain with massive hand and leg swelling after the WOEML, according to Beryl and Park Rat.

(3) I think we are also forgetting how hideous the weather was off and on for them and how late in the year it was. It was often icing up on top and snowing off and on, but worse also raining plenty. They were in those lame-ass bat tents. That we semi-launched a rescue indicates what the rest of us thought about the conditions the party was experiencing.

(4) As Donini states, Warren never lied about factual aspects of his accomlishments though obviously Maestri has over and over since Jesus lost his sandal straps.

(5) Roger Breedlove really cogently points out that after the WOEML, Warren began a kind of kooky self-destructive angry pattern for the remaining few Big Uglies he did.

(6) They did have alcohol on the climb; Warren brings it up several times in the messages. Whoever questioned that upthread has got to be on crack.

(7) At this point in big wall climbing, there had been quite a few big wall ascents abroad and even in the near-arctic. This is well-documented. The call of YC to take to the high mountains with our newly developed skills was taken seriously and not just by Royal.

There was a huge question though how these ascents would play out vis a vis the game plan that was then in force and the hardware techniques we had. It seemed extraordinarily marginal--- beyond us actually. But incrementally, all those far-off beauties have seen climbers now because such changes took place as to make ascents sort of reasonable. As we looked into the future without too much of a clue (since so much was yet to come that was not even hinted at in 1970) we were worried that oceans of bolts would be how the existing climbing conjecture would be carried out. One hundred foot long hookfests weren’t done then. Beaks hadn't happened. All the offset-designed nuts were decades ahead. A5 leads right above blocky obstructions weren’t even conceptualized. Super delicate flakes weren’t nailable since we didn’t have cam hooks, cams and similar. Portaledges did not exist nor realistic flies for them. Climbs like Trango, Uli Biaho just were not in fact feasible yet unless---we thought--- people just started drilling and even then we couldn’t survive the elements. So when the WOEML happened, there was plenty of us already worrying tremendously about our big wall future and hoping to protect what we thought were essential meanings and virtues to that coming wave of even more extreme climbing. It turned out that Warren was not a threat. At worst he was sort of ham-handed but a true character and frankly in worsening condition physically, right before our eyes until we did in fact lose him.

What similarities exist between the Compressor Route and Warren’s WOEML are that these two men failed to represent their own best interests and feelings, using approaches that were in a sense self-defeating and embarassing for them should someone hold their feet to the fire---as many did and will again. Both of them could have done quite a bit better while in the Wild and they both knew it. It brings to mind the old tale of the "Emperor has no clothes".
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 04:44pm PT
Not having done the routes mentioned but having seen them done a lot of times .... I think the best way to have done the WOEML would have been via Lay Lady Ledge then the three pitches of Reticent to reach the dihedral leading to Wino tower etc. Like Clint said the traverse from Mescalito was a big stretch but I feel the climbing from ECT over to the dihedral is no beauty itself. As for some rivets next to useable cracks.... this has to be viewed in the light of 27days on the wall with 12 days provisions and many days in storms. And RR did add a bolt to the Boot Flake pitch on the second ascent of the Nose where Harding found one unnecessary! So what does all this mean? Good question! Maybe just that people are different and willing to do different things than others would do. My opinion here is probably less than 2 cents worth.

Edit.. PH your above post came as I was posting this... good thoughts and analysis.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Jan 27, 2011 - 05:31pm PT
3000 ft of granite is a long, loooong ways. General comments about what may or may not have happened up there just don't paint any sort of detailed picture for me. I would have to see this thing first hand. I have trust in both Werner's and Royal's comments - however I'm still drawing a blank on what I would expect to see, much less if I should be appalled by it.
WBraun

climber
Jan 27, 2011 - 07:25pm PT
JLP

You wouldn't be appalled by anything up there, I wasn't. People on the internet love drama and controversy.

It's just a fuking rock climb.

Everyone wants to save the world, but can't even save themselves first.

Kind-of stupid.

How can one save the world when one can't even save themselves.

Too much nihilistic consciousness in the modern world ....
tonesfrommars

Trad climber
California
Jan 27, 2011 - 07:41pm PT
great discussion. hooraay for the taco.
carry on
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 27, 2011 - 08:14pm PT
I have been mulling over why we, collectively, find Warren's life so fascinating. Personally, I have gone back through the climbs from 1950 through the 70s looking for the patterns of Warren's climbs as compared to the pattern of the rest of the Valley community, searching for the divergences that led to his downfall.

Harding's climbs compared: what when wrong?

He did it to himself, but somehow the combination of the desire to get up good lines and the normal competition to be first drifter into willfully acting against the Valley community. I am always interested in a new set of facts that shed light on Warren. You would think I would get tired of it. I think it is for the same reason that great tragedies are so fascinating. We still read Homer’s The Iliad and the later Greek plays.

I saw the great 19th century Opera, Verdi’s La Traviata (Fallen Women) last weekend in a modern production (Decker's) at the Met in NY. There were funny bits and sexy bits and great singing, and a stunning telling of the story, but ultimately, if you believe the characters (I did), it is the tragedy of the girl, boy and his father that make the story.

You could tell the actual truth of Warren's life, everything in it, and it makes for a tragedy for the ages. No moralizing. No explanations. Just pure story. It would be a hit. Might be tough to stage, but NY multimedia productions don't seem to have any practical limits. I saw Lombardi and when they needed some real football action, they just showed film clips with one of the actors narrating. I am not a big football fan, but it was a great show. Batso might be a good title.
Park Rat

Social climber
CA, UT,CT,FL
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:14pm PT
Okay Roger I will have to answer this, as the unofficial voice of Harding.

My first thought is that never did a little man accomplish so much with so little.

What he may have lacked in talent, he made up with tenacity, incredible energy, and a will of iron.

I believe Warren's story is compelling on several levels. He was a loner by choice. He was a rebel, he followed his own path and refused to conform. He didn't mean to offend anyone,
he wanted to do his own thing, in his own way.

Warren did not have a safe mode, his whole life was lived at full speed. He won big, and sometimes lost big.

He lived hard, drank hard and loved a lot. No apologies, no regrets.

If that's not stuff of legend, I don't know what qualifies.
WBraun

climber
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:18pm PT
Warren was pioneer also.

and Park Rat's post does him full justice ....
Park Rat

Social climber
CA, UT,CT,FL
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:27pm PT
Thank you Warner,

A compliment from you makes my day.

I believe all of the early climbers were pioneers or as I have said before,
they were the barnstormers of their day.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:36pm PT
It wasn't about the holes it was about the days.

Before WOEML the longest anyone had been on a wall was 12 days and guess who THAT was.




As LTF said, it was about the experiential content of life on a wall.

It was the template to be applied to the greater ranges.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:40pm PT
Susie, I think you are hampered by not knowing Warren's peers from the 50s and early 60s. You could take most of your post and tell a similar story for many of them: Salathe, Steck, Powell, Harding, Reed, Robbins, Chouinard, Pratt, Frost, Kamps, Roper, Kor, Herbert, Sacherer, Bridwell, Rowell...were all bigger than life. They all had different personalities, and some were more self-destructive than others (some not at all), but they had more in common than they had differences. Peas of a pod. They also all had different post-climbing lives.

If Warren had stopped climbing in the mid-1960s, after Watkins, and stayed more or less sober the rest of his life, his story would not be so different from that of his peers. This does not diminish Warren or his climbing one iota: his peers were stellar company.

What stands out about Warren is that he burned down his own house, so to speak.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:58pm PT
Fabulous reading. Thanks so much you guys for sharing your firsthand historical knowledge.

But quit beating around the bush for cryin' out loud - both Don Lauria and Royal are active members here at McTopo. Why don't we ask them to answer the questions themselves? These questions being as to whether they were aware of the Compressor Route at the time of their second ascent of WOEML, and did they really find [m]any bolts next to perfect good A1 cracks, and if so why.

Anyone going to email them this link? Want me to do it?

Also, I think it is patently unfair to liken Harding and Maestri. But all accounts, Maestri was a liar and a buffoon. Harding, on the other hand, was an iconoclast - he did things the way he wanted to, and f*ck you if you didn't like that. "I don't give a rat's ass what Robbins or anyone else thinks...." [or something pretty close to that]

And for those of you who attended the Camp 4 ceremony in September, 1999 - do you remember who got the most applause, by far?!
Park Rat

Social climber
CA, UT,CT,FL
Jan 27, 2011 - 09:59pm PT
Roger I take your point. I did not know most of the climbers.

I did know Bridwell, who was a bigger than life character. In 1970 I might have said that Bridwell was the rebel, as I did not know that much about Harding. The Bird made Harding seem tame.

I'm not sure I agree with you about Harding's later years. In my view the fact he was disaster when it came to alcohol only adds pathos to his story. When you think of what he was able to accomplish with all of his drinking it is actually amazing.

While we would all like to rewrite some history the fact is he was an alcoholic for most of his life and that a major part of who he was.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:14pm PT
Dingus, several of those characters I list could play the part of Cool Hand Luke, some probably better than others.

Susie, I am not sure that Warren's drinking in the 50s and 60s was much different than at least some of the others. Drinking was a big part of the climbing. So while it might be surprising that Warren could climb well while drinking so much, he certainly has never alone in that regard. I think most cut back as they aged. Warren didn't but neither did Chuck. As Warren's drinking progressed, his climbing sank.

I think it is interesting to note that later generations, with better training and less self-destructive behavior have maintained relatively high climbing standards into old age. Climbing seems so respectable nowadays.

I think Warren's climbing up until the mid-60s was a good as it gets. Those are great routes, and he was critical to Yosemite climbing. What he did after the mid-60s is fascinating, but it doesn't have anything to do with his stellar climbing and importance to our community.
Park Rat

Social climber
CA, UT,CT,FL
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:30pm PT
Okay Roger,

Stop already you are in danger of losing your title of nicest guy on super topo award, not to mention a real cutie.

Now try to argue with that. Chuckle
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:42pm PT
I grant you that, Dingus, Warren morphed into a true loser starting sometime in the late 60s. But I don't think it is beautiful and I don't have to like it.

Maybe the problem I have with the Beautiful Loser motif is that there are two Warrens, the stellar climber of the 50s and 60s whose climbs defined what I love and the Beautiful Loser who moved in after the mid-60s.

Edit:

So I walked into the Mountain Room Bar last fall with Rik, John, and Anders. We were waiting for a table and for Steve to show up. I was following our little group and notice a Blondie sitting under the fireplace hood waving to me. I kept moving toward the bar, but the Blondie hooked her finger into the air and motioned me over. I could tell there was some connection, and I know my forgetfulness well enough to not automatically assume that I am right.

She put out her hand, "Hello Roger."

I knew I was in trouble, my mind is racing.

"Do you know who I am?" she asked.

"No." was not only correct, but the only thing I could think to say.

"Parkrat, from Supertopo."

We had never met so I was relieved that I had not completely lost my marbles. But, how did she know me?

Even folks in my industry sometimes describe me to someone else as, "You know him, the tall guy with, you know (a wave of the hand), the hair."

Susie and her friend joined us for dinner. We had a good time. Nice to have met you, Susie.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:46pm PT
It is the winter 70-71 and Jim Bridwell, Kim Schmitz and I, among others are wintering in Squaw Valley. Kim and Jim are talking about doing the 2nd ascent of WOEML and erasing it. I am one who strongly encourages this action. A vague memory is that RR got wind of this and decided that he should perform the erasure.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:48pm PT
I remember some time back someone saying that physically Harding was really tough.

Something about him doing the entire John Muir trail in 4 1/2 days...




Susie, just great you are working on a book about him.

I am so looking forward to it.

A few years ago I was able to talk Roger Derryberry into giving me two
videos of Warren being interviewed.

Do you have these?



edit: one video was made by Roger called the WOEML and the other was Jane's interview
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 27, 2011 - 10:49pm PT
Eric, do you remember when you first heard about the Cerro Torre route?

Thanks for the input.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:54pm PT
When did I first hear of Maestri's Cerro Torre Route?
I'm sorry, lost in the fog of time.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:59pm PT
Right Norton. Warren might have been "tougher" than anyone else. However that all was coming to an end as it had to.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 27, 2011 - 10:59pm PT
Eric's post suggests that someone should ask Bridwell or Schmitz about what they knew and when they knew it. So to speak.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 27, 2011 - 11:04pm PT
Paging Todd Gorden..



This thread has morphed in interesting ways
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 27, 2011 - 11:12pm PT
The climbing elite's view on Warren at this point was not sympathetic. This included not just RR and his buds but the new young top climbers living in Camp in those years. Warren was thought of as a has-been, ignorant of what we had been accomplishing and perilously out-of-date. About as stubborn as a climber could be and still remain alive. It was assumed he was done and when he went up on his line, it was basically anachronistic.

By this point, there were serious intentions on the wall by a few younger modern parties but by somewhat various lines. There even were excursions up there. Granted, that part of El Cap is about as extreme a wall as Yosemite presents. It was supposed to be "our modern wall". LIttle did we know that El Capitan's future was to host more than a hundred routes and even a girdle traverse.

Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jan 27, 2011 - 11:24pm PT
I think it is very relevant to point out that the previous spring, Chuck Kroger and Scott Davis did the Heart Route on spring break from Stanford. This was accomplished in one push with minimal bolting, and received zero publicity in the main stream press.
scuffy b

climber
Three feet higher
Jan 28, 2011 - 11:56am PT
In the 1971 Ascent is a photograph, I believe accompanying Chris Jones'
essay in support of the AAC, of two climbers on a Dawn Wall attempt,
according to the caption.
Any clue who the climbers were, or any details of their attempt, or any
others?
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 28, 2011 - 12:09pm PT
Don't have that copy on hand at the moment, Scuff. But I know that Bridwell and Schmitz had been up there and even had a fixed rope on it forever. As usual those two had a hard time getting fully committed to their plan. And to add to Eric's important point just above, Kroger and Davis actually ---and I have to say naively---thought they could attempt the wall too. The point was made to them that, flat out, they had to stay away from it. So instead they went over to the Heart and jumped on this much more obvious and easier line. A line I have to say that Don Peterson and I were within two or three days of starting ourselves.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 28, 2011 - 12:09pm PT
Scuffy- Several attempts were made to traverse from El Cap Tower to connect with the upper part of the Dawn Wall before Charlie hooked the whole show together. Porter gets credit for the whole link-up and only had to do a couple of new pitches.

Look in the yellow Meyers guide for the personnel on those early attempts. I believe that Chouinard and Hennek were among that crew. My copy isn't handy at the moment. I would be very interested in Dennis' recollections from those attempts.

I think that the acceptance of a route where approximately every third or fourth placement is drilled was the sticking point. If the community gave Harding and Caldwell the nod then why not the next party showing up with a similar approach?
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jan 28, 2011 - 05:06pm PT
Yes Hennek was on that-I will send him an e-mail and see if he can join this most interesting discussion.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 28, 2011 - 07:33pm PT
Perhaps vigilantism had to evolve from the early '70s to,...............................................WOS!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2011 - 01:12pm PT
Peter- You guys were that close to getting on the Heart Route? Amazing...

I find it very funny that their eye was drawn to the Dawn Wall area as it obviously was going to take a lot of drilling. The "Barbarians," Jim and Kim, did them a huge favor.

How much climbing did you do with Peterson? Did you have anything to do with Don hooking up with Royal for Tis-sa-ack?
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 30, 2011 - 02:29pm PT
I have been reading Taylor’s “Pilgrims of the Vertical” and just finished the chapter that ended with the WEML. Taylor does a fine job of adding perspective to both sides of the Robbins-Harding style debate.

To try to answer John's initial question, I read through the references in Taylor's book (there are 72 pages of them) to see if there was a published connection between The Compressor route on Cerro Torre and Royal and Don’s second ascent of the WEML. There are in fact several references, but they seem to be after Royal and Don did the second ascent.

Royal wrote about WEML in Summit in December 1970. I don’t have any of those early Summits, so I cannot read what he wrote but its seems unlikely that Royal knew about the Compressor Route bolting when he wrote about WELM in December, 1970: no time.

However, maybe there is a chance that Royal knew about the Compressor route before he and Don climbed the WEML in January of 1971. My guess is that he did not, unless he had some knowledge that Ken Wilson did not seem to have. Mountain Magazine would have certainly published any information about Cerro Torre, so I checked Ed’s “Mountain” Index thread Mountain Index and found several references to Cerro Torre and Maestri in 1970 and 1971.

As I understand it, Maestri climbed to within 360 meters of the summit of Cerro Torre in July of 1970 in a winter ascent try. Mountain published several bits before that attempt and between the winter attempt and the later attempt where Maestri added another 300 meters to the climb.

These are the Mountain issues referencing Cerro Torre and Maestri in 1970 and early 71.


8 1970 March
9 1970 May
10 1970 July
11 1970 September
12 1970 November
13 1971 January

I don’t own any of these early editions, but there are several references to Maestri and Cerro Torre, so I can only surmise the subject matter by the dates.

Prior to Maestri’s winter attempt (the first number is the Mountain issue; the second is the page number):

Cerro Torre, planned expeditions, 7-3, 8-8, 11-7;
Maestri's 1959 ascent contested, 8-8, 9-6;
Carretto, Guido: interview The Cerro Torre Enigma: Maestri speaks, 9-32
Cerro Torre, 1959 ascent contested, 9-6;

After winter attempt but prior to second attempt:

Maestri, Cesare: Cerro Torre, attempt, 11-7;
Prior, Ron: Roda di Vael, Maestri, 12-9

Reports of the Compressor Route are in the January 1971 (13) and July 1971 (16) issues:

Maestri, Cesare: 2nd ascent, by S.E. Ridge, 13-11, 15-8;
Letters, Maestri's S.E. Ridge asc., 16-38, 18-41
The South East Ridge of Cerro Torre by Cesare Maestri translated by Alan Heppenstell (illus.), 16-23; Torre, Cerro:;

It is only in issue 23 that Mountain's titles shows its outrage at the bolting:

Cerro Torre, a Mountain Desecrated! illus., 23-cover (illus. and photodiagrams), 23-20;
Round Eleven on Cerro Torre (S.E. Ridge, attempt) by Leo Dickinson (illus.), 23-27;
Cesare Maestri interviewed, 23-30;

If someone has copies of these old Mountains, please check them for references to Maestri’s 360 bolts.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 30, 2011 - 02:41pm PT
One of the most interesting bits of history on the WEML is revealed in Eric's post. This battle of wills has always been portrayed as more or less between Royal and Warren. Peter points out, rightly in my opinion, that most Valley climbers were opposed to Warren climbing the WELM, especially since he avoided the previous attempt's route off the ground to make a straighter line but with a clear cost of many more holes.

What is interesting about Eric's comment is that the idea of erasing the route was not just Robbins'. Maybe this is too subtle of a distinction, but saying Eric, Jim and Kim thought of chopping the route before Royal did so, puts Royal's action is to a completely different light, even if Royal didn't know about the conversation the younger climbers were having at Squaw Valley. It is one thing for Royal to gain the support of his peers in deciding to erase Warren’s route; it is another for the same idea to have been discussed by a group of climbers that was not very close to Royal.

I would like to repeat that Taylor’s Pilgrims of the Vertical is an excellent source for Valley history, especially as it relates to Warren and Royal squaring off.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 30, 2011 - 04:42pm PT
Very much agreed on all of that just above, Roger. And Taylor's book is especially good on this controversy---maybe the best part of the work along with his description of the Sierra Club days.

Yes. After Warren and Dean cleared the stage, there was near unanimity: tear that route right outta there! The fury was amazing. It was a perfect storm of competitiveness, jealously, self-righteous denial of Warren's right to go do what he did, and finally the shock that Warren was still even active in the community. I did not know anyone who did not at least "feel" outrage.

However, aside from the problem of really climbing such a huge and difficult line or the other problem of removing hundreds of pieces in the old-school way of just bashing away without tuning forks and other tools, there was the problem of good judgement, polity and having other pressing matters at hand.

So as most did, my friends and I egged whomever felt like it to go up there and go "all death panel" on the thing, as Russ would now say. But of course this did not preclude us later to then turncoat on them and then point our finger at RR and Lauria, suggesting they were totally out of order (laughing). As history has a way of really clearing things up, it soon became the prevailing notion that RR had finally really laid an egg, so to speak. And Warren actually gained more ground, year after year, amongst the rising tide of sympathetics.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 30, 2011 - 04:45pm PT
The fact that Robbins and Lauria felt it was urgent enough to do it in February - essentially, as soon in the year as it was (barely) feasible - speaks for itself. Given that they took six days, and the technology of the time, a fairly committing thing to do.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 30, 2011 - 04:49pm PT
Talking about Royal vs. Warren in regards to the WOEML makes sense, the connection with the Compressor Route does not. I have always been against unnecessary bolting (how do you define that) and the WOEML certainly is an example of that, though Warren has always been a more sympathetic personality to me than Royal.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 30, 2011 - 04:52pm PT
Actually Anders, RR knew and sure, Don did too, that wall is about as hot as walls get in the Valley in the better months. It is quite a bit hotter than the Nose even, as it doesn't get nearly the regular breezes. And you wake up with the sun on your ass, right now. If you can grab good weather on it, winter may be thought as optimum. For example even Tommy C and Kevin were real clear on that, climbing on it in November, sleeping during the day even to avoid the heat.

Yeah, often not recognized, a 6-day ascent of this line back in 1970 was doing really well. And they were actually chopping for a third of it too...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 30, 2011 - 04:56pm PT
> that wall is about as hot as walls get in the Valley in the better months

Dihedral is hotter - afternoon sun, fewer breezes.
Dawn/Mescalito area is actually very nice - morning sun, afternoon shade.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 30, 2011 - 04:57pm PT
Unless there's a storm, especially a cold, wet one. And forecasts then weren't much good for more than two days.

Some climbs of El Capitan had been done or finished in November, as of 1970 - but had any been done in February?
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jan 30, 2011 - 05:17pm PT
PTPP said:
But all accounts, Maestri was a liar and a buffoon.

Not in the Italian world as I understand it. Much like Harding, you can't compare the early dude with the later dude but yet they are the same. Maestri might have been those things on the Compressor route, but Italians do not believe it of him in general.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 30, 2011 - 05:22pm PT
Couchmaster, sure Warren's alcoholism clouded his final days, but he never lied about his accomplishments. Maestri had an enviable list of achievements, but his blatant lie about an ascent as important as Cerro Torre is hard to forgive. Naming the col between CT and Torre Egger the "Col of Conquest" when he never set foot on it is especially daming. Chiding Walter Bonatti for naming the col on the other side of CT the "Col of Hope" only adds fuel to the fire.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 30, 2011 - 05:24pm PT
Jim, I think John's question of any connection between the Compressor Route and the WEML has only to do with understanding the sources of the rage that Robbins (and most other Valley climbers) felt when Warren climbed the WEML. Chouinard, Robbins, Ken Wilson, and Reinhold Messner had whipped up a frenzy of anti-bolting talk worldwide.

(Little story: Probably in 1972, I walked into the Ski Hut in Berkeley on a weekend trip from the Valley and asked for something like 20 1 inch and 10 1 1/2 bolts with nuts, 30 hangers, a dozen Rawl drills, a holder and several drift pins. The entire store went quiet as the clerk ducked low behind the counter and pulled my stuff from boxes well hidden below.)

As you point out up thread, Warren was completely open and transparent. I don't think anyone who knows much about the Maestri and his lies would ever compare him to Warren. Besides Warren finished his climbs.


Couchmaster, regarding an early and late Maestri, what do Italians think of his claim to have climbed Cerro Torre in 1959?
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 30, 2011 - 05:29pm PT
I LOVE these history threads. Great topic and nice responses everyone.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 30, 2011 - 07:33pm PT
Really, Couch? I thought Maestri was pretty much universally disbelieved these days.

Can you provide any English reference to the above, that he may still be revered in his own country?

Interestingly, Warren was reviled initially, yet later seemed to become even more beloved.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Jan 30, 2011 - 10:23pm PT
The taco at it's finest. What a fantastic history lesson!

Thank you.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 30, 2011 - 10:57pm PT



Rodger you are right, my original post was more about motive than execution.. but I am really enjoying all the history that is coming to light. Thanks everyone for posting.

The first post.

"Woeml was finished Nov 18th 1970, the compressor route was finished Dec 3rd 1970.

Robbins and Lauria did the second ascent of Woeml in Feb of 1971.

I was wondering if Robbins had heard of the compressor climb before they went up on woeml, and if this may have been part of his reasoning.

Were the Vally regulars of the time in Yosemite aware of the Cerro Torre climb before Robbins chopped the bolts on El Cap?"




Donini, I was not comparing the two climb's ,I was only wondering if the the valley climbers were aware that another climb (Cerro Torre) had been "over bolted" during that same year.

Fun stuff..

donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 30, 2011 - 11:22pm PT
That's my point John, I was in the Valley then and I don't think they were- awareness started a couple of years later, culminating with John Bragg, Jay Wilson and I going south followed by Bridwell.

The record of Yosemite climbers in Patagonia is pretty impressive- granite is granite, after all. Patagonia got on the radar with the British invasion to Yosemite in the early 70's and articles in "Mountain," but it took a couple of years to take root.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 30, 2011 - 11:49pm PT
Thanks for that info Jim, I think unless Royal or Lauria speak up you are probably correct that they had not heard about the CT climb.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 31, 2011 - 12:39am PT
John it is probably naive to think RR did not know about the compressor route. He was at the center of communications still for much of the climbing community. There was a constant stream of climbers passing through the Durant St house all year long and he got a ton of mail from everywhere. Ken Wilson was in communication with him as well. He saw Doug Tompkins often too in SF.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 31, 2011 - 12:52am PT
I don't claim to know the answers, I just asked a question.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 31, 2011 - 11:06am PT
Peter is correct, Robbins was certain to have some knowledge of the Compressor Route. Chouinard and Thompkins (along with Tejada-Flores, Jones and Dorworth) had climbed Fitzroy in 1969. I just feel that there was still an insular quality to Yosemite at the time and that the Compressor Route didn't have a great influence on chopping the WOEML. I could be dead wrong- only Robbins or Lauria could answer that.
The Harding myth has grown partly because everyone likes a maverick who is quick witted and has a sense of humor.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jan 31, 2011 - 01:15pm PT
Breedlove just emailed me this morning from Cleveland to turn me on to this thread and ask whether Maestri had any influence in our second ascent of the WEML.

My reply:

“Roger,

I know that Royal never brought up Maestri while we were on WEML. I don't recall whether I knew about it before the climb. Ask Royal. Meanwhile, I'll check out Hansen's thread.

Don't freeze your ass off back there. It's only 36 degrees in Bishop this morning.

Your Bardini donation will be greatly appreciated.

Don”

Now that I’ve skimmed through the entire thread, I would love to add pages of Harding remembrances, but some have been published elsewhere, e.g., (www.yosemiteclimbing.org/category/stories/don-lauria) and some are still residing in the cobwebbed corners of my cranium.

I got to know Warren best after the WEML chopping event. He held absolutely no animosity toward me - or Royal, for that matter – because of the bolt chopping – or “buffoonery” as he called it. In his old age he became a dear friend of mine.

More later.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jan 31, 2011 - 05:09pm PT
Steve- General Von Hennek finally got back to me with his recollection of an early attempt:


"Chuck Pratt and Chris Jones also went,
Only memory is up right side El Cap Tower
Then somewhere on the wall up and right."

As you can see he is a minimalist-except when there is a jar of Kim Chee around. Perhaps Jones has a better memory.
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Jan 31, 2011 - 06:43pm PT
Peter -- You are doing a good job of carrying the California torch in this matter. The climbing on the first part of The Wall Of The Early Morning Light was really hard. At the top we found bolts next to good cracks. I remember hearing about Maestri and his route on Cerro Torre, but I don't know whether it was before or after Lauria's and my ascent. In any case it didn't enter into our calculations. Yes, I had heard that others were talking about an erasure, but I concluded that it took action so Don and I went up on the wall. I hope this answers the questions. Good Climbing!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 31, 2011 - 07:14pm PT
Royal,
if I may, as I recall Lauria stated that erasure had not been discussed beforehand.

Do you care to comment on that?
Thanks
Ron
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:22pm PT
Peter - You are doing a good job of carrying the California torch in this matter. The climbing on the first part of the route was quite hard. At the top we found bolts next to good cracks, but by that time we weren't in a bolt-chopping mood. I knew about Maestri's route but I am not sure I knew before El Cap. In any case it didn't enter into our calculations. Yes, I had heard that others were talking about erasure, but I wasn't seeing any action, so Don and I went up. I hope this answers all the questions. Good Climbing!
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:30pm PT
Reply to Piton Ron -- I don't remember so I take Lauria's word for it. He's a prince of a fellow.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:35pm PT
Thanks Don. Thanks Royal.

I still think it is unlikely that there was enough time between Maestri's route and your ascent of the WEML for word of the massive bolting on Cerro Torre to reach anyone in California. Unless a Californian was in Patagonia in December and had the scoop on the Compressor Route and traveled home immediately, I cannot see how word would have gotten to Royal.

If someone has Mountain 13 (January 1971) please look on page 11 and tell us what is says about Maestri, Cesare: 2nd ascent, by S.E. Ridge, especially the number of bolts used.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:36pm PT
Royal, you have posted the same bit twice. Delete the first one.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:41pm PT
Mountain 13 says:

Cerro Torre climbed
As we went to press, news came through that Cesare Maestri's expedition had climbed Cerro Torre by bolting up the South East Face. 1,000 bolts were placed with the help of a pneumatic bolt gun. More details in the next issue.

There doesn't seem to be anything in Mountain 14, but there is a fairly detailed piece about this in the news section of Mountain 15. About 3/8 of a page. It refers to something in Mountain 11, maybe to do with the winter attempt. Also, "During the climb, Maestri's team kept their friends in Italy informed of progress by using a secret radio wavelength. Periodically, they released reports to the press." Dramatic, eh?

Alan Heppenstall is identified as the general source for Italian news, but there is no direct link with the article.

(I'll try to scan and post from Mountain 15 later, if someone doesn't do so in the meantime. Just heading out.)
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:44pm PT
Wow!

When did they mail those?
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:47pm PT
Thanks Anders. So we know that the bolting was immediately front and center news of the ascent. I wonder when Mountain 13 when to press. Seems likely that it was in December. I'll ask Ken Wilson. Maybe he will remember.
Gene

climber
Jan 31, 2011 - 08:48pm PT
In this historical timeline, when was Maestri first accused of fraud on the 'FA' of CT? Ken Wilson was the editor of Mountain at the time of the quote MH cites above about the 1,000 bolts. How many bolts were placed on the Compressor Route?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 31, 2011 - 09:07pm PT
Having been on the Compressor Route (actually the compressor itself) only to begin a heinous descent in hurricane force winds when less than 200 ft. from the summit. I can tell you that there are a lot of bolts, but nowhere near a thousand. Of the 27 pitches from the "bus" 20 are real climbing mostly devoid of bolts and 7 are heavily bolted. Not, by any means, defending a route that I would like to see eradicated but just setting the record straight.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jan 31, 2011 - 09:07pm PT
The 1959 ascent was questioned before 1970, principally because no one else could do the route and because Maestri's story kept changing. I understand that Maestri returned in 1971 in part as a reaction to the disbelief on the 1959 ascent.

I think the bolt count was 360. Not the 1000 that Mountain reports.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 31, 2011 - 09:11pm PT
Roger, no one else even "tried" the 1959 Route until John Bragg, Jay Wilson and I climbed it on the way to the Col of Conquest during our first ascent of Torre Egger in 1976.

edit: The 1959 Route turned out to be less than 1000 feet long as there high point was the triangular shaped ice field. No way did they climb to the Col of Conquest. .
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Feb 1, 2011 - 03:52pm PT
Thanks, Roger. I know I posted the same message twice. Trouble is I don't know how to delete. Best Regards,
Royal
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 1, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
Let's get this straight. In my conversations with Royal prior to the 2nd ascent of WEML, Royal said we were going to remove bolts. I, in my naivete, thought that meant "unnecessary" bolts. After Royal chopped all the bolts on the first pitch I realized what we were up to.

I explained all this in a letter to Warren which he published in his book Downward Bound - read it on www.yosemiteclimbing.org/category/stories/don-lauria.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 1, 2011 - 07:14pm PT
I guess it might depend somewhat on the definition of "un."

Royal, I am guessing that the "Edit" button disappeared from your post-that has a box that allows you to delete a post. The "Edit" buttons are supposed to stay active for some period of time-days-but sometimes there is a bug and the button disappears immediately.

I received an interesting response from Ken Wilson. He hasn't lost any of his fervor. He says he is too tied up to join in directly just now; I asked if I can post his note. I hope so. Having Ken weigh in on these discussion would be great.

Sunny but cold in San Antonio.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Feb 1, 2011 - 08:18pm PT
Ok, this has officially surpassed the "Hottest female athlete" and "Ladies on Portaleges" as the best thread ever.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Feb 1, 2011 - 08:20pm PT
I dunno.

How can we work in a little tasteful toe?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 1, 2011 - 08:21pm PT
Tell Ken it involves bolts, El Capitan, and Cerro Torre. If necessary, improvise.

Like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 1, 2011 - 08:48pm PT
Ken is the paradigm example of an armchair mountaineer, but he's very knowledgeable.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 1, 2011 - 10:36pm PT
Red capes and bulls doesn’t quiet do it justice, Anders.

Ken's response included theories on the reasons Warren climbed the WEML, connections to Royal's Tis-sa-ack and Warren's and Galen's South Face of Half Dome, relationship between the NA Wall and WEML, how it ties back to Leaning Tower (He had read Royal's new book), why it is not connected to the Compressor Route, how Harding and Maestri had similiar personalities (but Harding is honest), the 1959 route, the personalities of Maistri and Fava and Mountain's interviews, who else tried to climb CT and how they might have succeeded had they not dropped their bolt kit, Bridwell's climb on CT, what should be done now to the Compressor Route, the resulting injustice to Daniele Chiappa, Mario Conti, Casimiro Ferrari, and Pino Negri who first climbed CT in 1974, the hottest female athletes, how portaledge sex trumps bolting, and something about toes.

It really would be fun if Ken joined in. SuperTopo is the perfect place for knowledgeable armchair climbers.
MH2

climber
Feb 1, 2011 - 10:46pm PT
Might be time to pipe up and say how hugely influential Mountain under Ken Wilson was BITD, for some. Atmospheric architecturally-informed photography and good writing. I also remember seeing him and Doug Scott talk to the AAC one time in Manhattan, circa 1972. Props.

And that Cerro Torre thing.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 2, 2011 - 12:23am PT
Likewise - Mountain was the magazine to read in the 1970s. Always current, good photography, a bit Anglo-centric, strong if sometimes slightly out of touch editorial stances (Ken's anti-chalk 'crusade' comes to mind), good stable of writers and correspondents.

Glad to hear that Ken hasn't changed much, not that it was likely he would. If he wasn't editing Mountain and other climbing publications, he'd have made a good editor or editorial writer for The Guardian.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Feb 2, 2011 - 02:10pm PT
A lot of people see the chopping incident on the wall of early morning light as a negative thing, but I think it was an excellent model for how to deal with ethical/style issues for a very subjective situation.

Warren had the right to put up a route where and how he wanted.
Royal had the right to 'erase' that route if he climbed it and it didn't justify all the bolts.
Royal was very brave to not only decide to chop the route in the first place, but even braver to stop removing the bolts and talk about it afterwords.

You can't judge a climb from it's topo. Something the Wings of Steel detractors didn't seem to realize.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 5, 2011 - 10:26pm PT
This is a summary of Ken Wilson’s comments on WEML, Compressor Route, and the 1959 route.


Ken expresses the opinion that Harding’s ascent of WELM was in part an attempt to stay on the face long enough to attract the attention of the press. And, as compared to the North American wall, WEML was a backward step in Yosemite style.


Ken points out that Maestri chopped a handful of the upper bolts on the Compressor Route while descending. At Pataclimb.com Rolando Garibotti writes, “On the last 30 meters of the headwall Bridwell was forced to climb difficult aid, placing rivets, knifeblades and copperheads where Maestri, as a “coup de grace” to his “masterpiece”, had chopped his last 8 bolts while descending.” In Ken’s opinion, the route should be stripped. Garibotti wites, “There are only two independent lines to access its very summit, one via the infamous Compressor route –along the SE ridge-, and the other by the more esthetic, natural, fairer Ragni route in the west face. Although the mountain has been climbed from the north, that line joins the Ragni route for the last three pitches and hence it is not an independent line. More than 95 % of the ascents have been done via the Compressor route, a via ferrata of sorts with more than 300 bolts in place. Why people bother with that route instead of hiring a helicopter to the top is anyone’s guess, since both are equally unsporting ways to climb the peak. 2008 was the first year when more parties climbed the Ragni route than the Compressor route.”


In 1968, Haston, Burke, Crew , Boysen and FonRouge attempted the Cerro Torre SE Ridge (the general ridge of the Compressor Route, I think). Ken reports “… they would have got higher had they not dropped the bolt kit and may well have found a feasible route to the top (possibly linking up and summiting by the West Face-- later the first ascent Route).“ That team “…came back very sceptical about Maestri's and Fava's 1959 claims. And the matter developed first in Italy with Carlo Mauri being very sceptical about the 1959 ascent.”

Ken wrote, “…like Harding, Maestri loved to be anti-establishment and his Bolt Route was both a massive provocation and an attempt to upstage his own 1959 claim on the other side of the peak.“ However, ”The WEML and the Compressor routes are not really comparable in that nobody doubted what Harding and his partner had done.”


Mountain interviewed Maestri on both the Compressor route and the 1959 route. Ken doesn’t believe there are any plausible accounts from Maestri or Fava on the ascent. The controversy surrounding Maestri has served to “…obfuscate the 1974 first ascent by Ferrari/Conti/Negri and Chiappa who have never been properly feted in Italy for their success by the West Face.”
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 5, 2011 - 11:00pm PT
Thanks, Roger!

Red capes and bulls doesn’t quiet do it justice, Anders.

Now that is a Freudian slip, or something. Possibly the first time in history that the adjective "quiet" has been used in relation to Ken, even if accidentally.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Feb 5, 2011 - 11:34pm PT
It appears that somebody still has an axe to grind.

Or would that be a chisel?
(I wonder if Ken has read the potential erasure thread or if, for that matter, he'd be at all swayed by it.)
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 6, 2011 - 10:11am PT
I replaced Ken's full e-mail to me with a summary. Ken’s writing and opinions are more fun to read than mine, but they are his to express publicly. (Late Saturday night post regrets.) My apologies to those who got the chance to read the colorful direct quotes. I have answered some of the questions posted above in my repost.

Anders, I carry my complete lack of spelling skills boldly, as the only alternatives would be speaking, tweeting (or it that twitting?), or utterly exhausting writing.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 6, 2011 - 04:37pm PT
Thanks, Roger.

So far this thread has lasted eleven days - surely we can drag it out to the 26 or whatever that Caldwell & Harding's ascent took?

Maybe the enquiry as to what kind of bivouac gear Robbins & Lauria had could help?
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 6, 2011 - 06:42pm PT
It would have had to have been Robbins Hammocks--- one-pointers with no stretcher bars, really hideous. Ledges did not exist yet. They were worse than Bat Tents. I had one even and so hated it I threw it in the garbage long ago even though it was in great shape (for what it was!). After sleeping in it twice.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2011 - 12:04am PT
peter, I figured it probably was hammocks. I had started a thread asking about the bivy gear that went nowhere. I thought it would have been ironic if they had used Bat Tents..

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1404141/Bivy-gear-on-second-ascent-of-WOEML

Since it was in Feb when they did the climb,, what kind of storm protection did they have? Just a tarp? Or did they just know how to suffer.
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 29, 2014 - 07:08pm PT


Saw this thread in the hall of fame thread.

It had a very nice run for about 10 days back in 2011.

Lots of people and history.

john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 21, 2016 - 10:02pm PT
Well, I bump this every couple years. Looks like no response since 2011.

A great conversation from the people who were there.

Royal posted a few times around the 100 mark to clarify things.

I am glad I asked the original question.

Lots of insights into that time.

Hope you enjoy. Start with the first post and "show all".

It is worth reading all the way through..

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 16, 2017 - 08:41pm PT
RR's post:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1077637&msg=1085490#msg1085490
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Apr 30, 2018 - 03:07pm PT
Ugh, just realized I'm posting as Dad, but since I'm gonna quote him I suppose that is apt.

"While in Squaw (during his return to Calif. following an east coast slide show tour) I visited some friends, two of the stronger Yosemite climbers, Schmitz and Bridwell. Inevitably, the subject of the Harding-Caldwell route came up. 'Someone should chop all those bolts,' said Bridwell."

According to this piece, Dad stayed with Kim and Jim for a few days, during which discussions took place regarding appropriate "reactions" to the climb. So, rather than Dad getting "wind" of it and deciding to do it himself, it would appear it was something discussed with Kim and Jim (among many others).

That's all for now, the piece from which that excerpt came is something which will be printed in the future (once it becomes clear how and where to best do so, as it is about 40 pages long). But I thought I'd post in order to clear up Eric (Beck)'s recollection of the Squaw/Bridwell/Schmitz/Beck connection.

...Cheers ;) (Tamara)
aspendougy

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Apr 30, 2018 - 07:10pm PT
One thing missing from this fascinating and informative post is information from Caldwell himself about which pitches he led, and how many bolts he placed, vs Harding, and also what the conditions were at the top where Harding evidently placed bolts next to A1 cracks, whether he was bolting at night and couldn't see the cracks, etc. It sounds to me as if Caldwell was more skillful at nailing his way up using other kinds of protection besides bolts, but with Harding it was, "when in doubt, use a bolt."
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Apr 30, 2018 - 08:02pm PT
Wow!

THIS is why I love SuperTopo!!

Learning.

Can't wait for more👂
john hansen

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 30, 2018 - 10:42pm PT
Tamara,

Thanks for bringing this thread back to life and with that bit of information from your dad.

It fill's in another small piece of the history of the WOEML

Looking forward to the publication of those 40 pages.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
May 1, 2018 - 12:07am PT
A little late, but as to bivuoac gear, we had nothing but our hammocks and warm clothing. I, unlike Mr. Haan, loved my Robbins hammock and found it delightfully comfortable. However, due to Royal's current(circa 1971) preferences, we used those net European hammocks on the WOEML. Biggest disadvantage of net hammocks as I've mentioned before is their inability to contain dropped M&Ms.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
May 1, 2018 - 12:18am PT
You could really tell the difference between Caldwell's leads and Hardings. Hardings leads were littered with drilling...

Nice comment on Dean. I'll to mention you said so the next time I see him. He is a really big guy though - how tall was Harding?
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
May 1, 2018 - 12:48am PT
Biggest disadvantage of net hammocks as I've mentioned before is their inability to contain dropped M&Ms.

And/or marbles. :)
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 1, 2018 - 05:17am PT
Blue and Andre and I had a great time on WOEML last fall, climbing it and fixing the few chopped sections. It's a fun route and worth doing, though we definitely puzzled over Harding's choice of direction! Mescalito seems the far better start, but Warren was aiming for those sweet dihedrals right of El Cap Tower and directly beneath Wino Tower.

As for those dihedrals - they are thin thin thin! I can't help but think that if they had stayed virgin until the invention of modern aid gear - particularly peckers and heads - that they could be three legit A5 pitches, one on top of the other!

There are thin placements in the crack next to Warren's old rusty 1/4" bolts, and his still-in-decent-condition aluminum dowels, seen here.


Fun route, totally worth doing! Great position on the wall!

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