WOEML and the Compressor route


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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

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 6, 2011 - 10:11am PT
I replaced Ken's full e-mail to me with a summary. Kenís 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

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

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..


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

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

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:
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)

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."

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

THIS is why I love SuperTopo!!


Can't wait for more👂
john hansen

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

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.

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?

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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