WOEML and the Compressor route

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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."
Messages 21 - 40 of total 136 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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