Stonemaster Stories (Part II)


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Russ Walling

Social climber
This space for rent
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 7, 2006 - 03:20pm PT
This is a splinter of the other massive and bloated thread.

Post new addendums to the original thread here on Part II.

Here is the link to the original thread for background:
Russ Walling

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2006 - 03:34pm PT
Side note: Just so you don't miss anything, the post was split at 197.

Monument Manor
Feb 7, 2006 - 04:19pm PT
Yo Russ, the upper limit for me is 100 posts - any way to divide up part 1 for us dial upers?
Russ Walling

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2006 - 04:22pm PT
On cable modem it is taking a long asss time too. Not sure except for some giant cut and paste job how to actually split a thread within the thread.

Maybe a GURU will drop by and fix it all up.

Until then, how about Gramicci tells about the cowboy boots on Intersection.... which I think was the last post in the big thread.

Social climber
Feb 7, 2006 - 04:46pm PT

I’m embarrassed I don’t remember the name of the route. It’s a classic thing with the first move being the hardest some kind of a 5.9 mantel into a grove. It’s on the tip of my tongue.

Anyway there’s this couple giving it a go. The guy trying to get off the ground was the poster child for today’s “yuppie” obviously trying to impress his girl friend. This scene catches Largo eye, or maybe it was the girl?

He walks up just like the tourist in Bob’s post. Ho-Man what are you guys trying to do?

The guy didn’t want to be bothered but wasn’t getting any where. Nothing in yet because he couldn’t get off the ground he sits back taking a breather letting his gril friend know how hard it is.

So John jumps up on it in a slick pair of Cowboy boots and levitates the route. looks back at the girl now giving him the eye and exclaims what’s the problem?

If memory serves me right he lit a “fag” at the crux!

Social climber
Claremont, CA
Feb 7, 2006 - 04:47pm PT
Thanks, Russ.

And, for the record, the start of this (continuing) thread was a first post by John Long (a.k.a., JL, Largo, J-Elvis, Juan Largo, Hoo-man!, Johnny, et al.), to wit:

> Anyone out there with old (before, say, 1975) Stonemaster stories, I'd love to hear
> them as I'm slowly trying to put something together. Hearing other perspectives
> might help trigger some long lost memories. The Stonemasters were always as much
> a frame of mind as anything else, but what folks remember--especially in terms of
> anecdotes, or what they thought the Stonemasters actually were, or stood for-
> might help give some little shape to what feels like a very amorphous subject.
> Thanks,
> JL
Russ Walling

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2006 - 04:59pm PT
Hey Gram,
That has got to be the Waterchute..... Largo used to solo it all the time... had like 5 of us SheepBuggers™™™ in the thing at once with him coaching us along.... we could barely lead 5.9, and had never done the Waterchute, but Largo had this way of talking neophytes up anything.... Always liked the way he would boom "don't you fall now... you'll get hurt if you pitch from there..." kinda stuff as we were all struggling up something.

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Feb 7, 2006 - 05:02pm PT
Great topic, reading all the stories got the memory banks working in my head. The old days are sort of hazy, cause it was such a long, long time ago and well you know we smoked herb by the ounce! I was able to do Valhalla in like 1976 with Mike Pope. We made many tries before we did that sucker and I still have a sore back from catching that huge 200 lb dude using the “hip belay.” That night at the celebration, we were drinking vodka Collins from a bleach bottle – the standard water bottle used in those days. Pope gets tired of waiting for the bottle to come back to him so he grabs the bottle of vodka and starts guzzling it down at a furious pace. We gave him the warning but he didn’t listen to US and in about 40 min he is just screaming drunk….that was one wild night in Humbler Park. But this is the story I want to tell. A few weeks after Valhalla, Largo comes over to me and tells me “you should go do the Drain Pipe, its right up your alley.” Now having Largo recommend a climb to you is sort of like having GOD himself gives you a commandment. Up at the rock John points out the start of the climb. This baby starts at the end of a ledge about 50 feet above the deck. We were all standing on this ledge getting beta from John and I was holding on to a large flake of rock and leaning back so I could get a better view of the holds. The flake comes off in my hands! Somehow I manage to flip around and grab hold of the ledge, just barley catching myself! So John, always cool goes “Ho-Man Hang ON!” He reached down and grabbed me by arm and just powered me back up to the ledge. That guy was/is the world’s strongest man. Fearing for my safety John walked me back a few steps to a large tree and tied me in using about 20 feet of rope….after, I was tied in, John and Dean F. rifled my back pack and took out my stash. What a bunch of pals! A few hours later Bullwinkle and I did the Drain Pipe. When I think about the STONEMASTERS I think about the whole California climbing scene back then and how much fun we had and how we were all really motivated to climb harder and better. The energy was fantastic and I feel privileged to have been able to hang with some of the best climbers in the world.

scuffy b

S Cruz
Feb 7, 2006 - 05:06pm PT
Waterchute, right, Mike?
But it's really more like a hard mantle kinda thing
into a 5.9 groove.
My first time there, Jan 73. Even though it's the good old
days we couldn't find a campsite in HV or Ryan or even Jumbo.
My buddy is struggling with that entry move, fixated but going
nowhere when a small group comes around the corner. Man, it's
that big strong John Long guy.
One of them is wearing very dark glasses. Chalking his
fingertips continuously with a block, sort of chanting,
"Agua-CHUTE" (repeat every 8 seconds).
During a miniscule break in the action JL steps in, says "I won't
be in your way" and hops into the pod and starts moving up the
flare. And Starts Sketching. And everyone takes a few steps
back. He gets to the top and grins and commences on a tutorial
on bulky sweater physics and how interesting the climb is when
you don't stick where you expect and so on.
Maybe the only time he actually had to concentrate while
climbing that thing.

Social climber
Feb 7, 2006 - 05:47pm PT
Thanks guys, that was it the Waterchute.

Obviously this route made for some great stories and I just remembered it was where I met John Bachar for the first time. A major memory jog.

Good Story Guy, I’m glad you were around back then and now.


Social climber
Claremont, CA
Feb 7, 2006 - 06:08pm PT
Ah, yes. Largo-isms on the Waterchute...

I wasn't there for that one, but are you SURE it wasn't practiced? Hmmm?? (Wouldn't put it past Juan...)

Back then, we used to call those hijinks "Shockley-isms", or "pulling a Shockley." Dick Shockley was the absolute MASTER of those. Watching him struggle up some desperate lead, I have vivid memories of a near-heartattack when he got close to the top and we watched his feet suddenly pop off! Holy Crap!! Looked again, and he's dangling from some Thank God Jug, laughing his ass off at our expense!
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Feb 7, 2006 - 06:14pm PT
Rob, Mike Lechlinski had a habit of doing that on the solo. Frickin Hilarious
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Feb 7, 2006 - 07:13pm PT
GK, is that you?

After reading the "Acid" thread, I thought back to the time I drove up with you, Ed E, and Jessica from the Valley and did my first climb in the Meadows -- The Dike Route -- a mind blowing experience.

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Feb 7, 2006 - 07:22pm PT
Mike...thanks for the props, It is really good to find out you are climbing again...hope to see out at the rocks.

Randy..yes... I sort of remember...

I am having a good time trying to figure out who everybody is
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Feb 7, 2006 - 07:33pm PT
It was 1973 and one of my first trips up to Tahquitz. We planned an ascent of Frightful Variation of the Trough. The crag seemed enormous to me (my only other experiences being Mt. Rubidoux, Joshua Tree and Mt. Pacifico). The early morning shade made Tahquitz seem even more foreboding.

After what seemed a death march up to the base and then eventually finding the start of the route (using an old paperback Wilts guide), I gaze about at the heights above. High and to the left were three (or 4) figures pasted on what seeed a totally bald and overhanging face. According to the guidebook, they were on an aid route. While belaying, my attention kept being drawn away from my partner and to the climbers above.

The scene unfolded as one of the small figures moves out left and then jumps up (for what I couldn't tell, it all looked featureless). He apparently misses since he soon is taking a huge arcing fall into space. Holy sh1t! I'd never witnessed a leader fall, let alone one like that. Again the figure edges out, flies up and then repeats the huge swinging fall. Aid climbing sure looks scary I'm thinking.

I think on the next try, the guy sticks the throw (my first witnessing of a dyno) and proceeds to climb up on features which I could not really discern. Just watching this was stomach wrenching.

That afternoon after descending from my epic first multipitch climb, I see a group of guys in Humber Park, joking around, being boisterous. As a neophite they take no notice of me. Perhaps a year or so later, and a little wiser to the local climbing scene (and knowing a few of the these climbers from Ski Mart), I finally put it together... I had witnessed Rick Acccomazzo leading the first free ascent of the Vampire (they called it 10d back then). It could have been 5.15 as far as I could tell and absolutely more impressive.


Social climber
Claremont, CA
Feb 7, 2006 - 11:13pm PT
Now, the Stonemasters (whoever they may have been) were always a good group to go climbing with. The assembled group (always spontaneous, seldom planned) would head up to the crag and, somehow, the day's project would coalesce. If someone had something in mind, that would be the target. And, often that project would be a mass ascent. A massively multiplayer game...

Infrequently, it would be a new line. Someone would have some bolts in their bag, and we'd draw straws to appoint someone to go "stand on the dimes" and pound the sucker home. Of course, the rest would have a toprope, so no worries... A good example of this is, I'm pretty sure, was a modest little route on Suicide called "Jigsaw" on the Sunkist Face. (Vogel calls it a 10a *, FA: Tobin Sorenson, Bill Antel, John Long, Rob Muir, Richard Harrison and Bruce Foster.)

I actually recall that there were others, and it seems to me that there were ten (10) folk on the first, but whatever... The point is, it was fun, we had friends, and we all lent moral support to the endeavor. It was a kick to heckle the leader and everyone got a share of the action. Plus, the joint-effort (pun intended) meant that we were developing a common lore and communal bond.

The "push" was always there, and the (usually) good-natured banter helped each of us to climb a bit above the ordinary. Everyone was "good", we were all "equals" in skills and--damn it--we always needed to prove it to each other! ;-) So most weekends were filled with new projects.

But sometimes it was just to check out the competition... And, in many instances, the competition was the older generation. Guys like Kamps, Higgins, Ivan, Dent, and those LA boys, Frost, Yvon, TM, Robbins... They put up many of days' test pieces, and we needed to see if we could meet the challenge. So, if a new route wasn't in the cards, happenstance meant sending someone up some unknown line just to make sure the aura was kept in check.

I don't recall when it was, but Tobin plays prominent in this story. So it must have been prior to 1980... Largo could always be counted-on to come up with a project, and he usually could suck^h^h^h^h convince someone to tie into the sharp end. Tobin was a willing lad, always one to please.

Somehow, we were up near the summit of Tahquitz; having done what, I can't recall. (Was it the mass ascent of The Hangover?) Anyway, there were 8, 10 or a dozen of us, and Largo said, "Tobin, this one!" Pointing to... Big Daddy. (5.10c FFA: Frost & Higgins) Don't recall if any of us had ever done this route, but that didn't matter... It would be cake, and then the rest of us would have a top rope.

Now the rock was friable in places, the first 15 feet were easy and then there was this awkward bit, somewhat poorly protected with an OLD fixed Lost Arrow or summat... And, above was a flared crack jutting through an overhang. Hardly a ripe plum. Even chausey. But, like I said, Tobin was game. Not to mention sometimes bold and foolhardy.

So, off he goes. Tied into some 2" swami, up he led to the fixed pin. From below, we all watched with good-hearted chuckles and encouragements, as he clipped-in to a "reportedly" manky pin. But with no hammer, he couldn't do anything to drive it further home. Up he lofts, looking increasing shakey as the rock gets softer and the grit starts raining down. "Tobin, drop in some pro..." But there's not much to work with, as the crack is pretty rounded and shallow.

You had to climb with Tobin, to know that courage and speed could usually overcome the fear of long falls or bad protection. Why spend time mucking-around with runners and sh#t, if you'd be through the hard part soon enough? Trust in providence...

But Tobin does land the requisite nut, and adds a longer runner so that the trailing cord won't dislodge it. "Whew. That's better," says the throng at the base, enjoying the show.

And Tobin heads to the roof...

Now things start to get quiet and just a bit tense. Tobin is starting to flounder, and things are getting more awkward. Tobin climbs up into the flair, and then retreats down a bit. The clock is ticking. He tries it again, but doesn't get too much farther and it's pretty clear that the jams are shallow and insecure. More pebbles pepper the people. The EBs are skating.

Now the ribbing is always there, and it sometimes masks the mutual affection that we Stonemasters had for one another. No one wants anyone hurt, and the invincibility of youth means no one will. But the rude mug of danger is rearing its ugly head, and Tobin is staring it right in the eye. He's still hanging in there... He glances at us, we stare back at him, and things aren't quite so fun at the moment.

He shifts his feet. More sand. The hands begin to loosen, and he trys to re-slot. Oh dear....

Now he's, like, sixty feet up and the base slants up and to the right so the spectators are RIGHT THERE with him. He's been hanging for 10 or 15 minutes, trying to fight through this overhang, and then it happens...

Down slides the nut, and the 'biner clinks up against the lone, questionable piton. Tobin doesn't know this. He's busy. Oh god!

"Say, Tobin, how 'bout the right foot?" "Can you down climb a bit?" "Match hands!"

Tobin: "Hey, Richard, ya got me? I'm gonna drop."

The assembled throng: (In unison.) "NO! Don't drop, man!!" "Keep going!"

Tobin: (Argumentatively.) "No, I'm gonna drop."

Us: (With feeling and emphasis.) "NOOOO!" "Don't!"

Argument over. Whump, down he drops, lifting Richard Harrison right up into the air, and bringing Tobin into equilibrium again 10 feet from the deck. Whump, the air is thrust from our lungs, as a dark silence drops on the fun. Whump and whew! Tobin is quietly lowered to the earth, leaving a rope draped through the single peg of chromoly.

No one's in too much of a hurry to show Tobin up, after that. But Largo does have the Scottish good sense to go retrieve the biner... And climbs up to find that the so-called fixed piton can be lifted out with a finger!

While it lasted, Tobin climbed with the angels. No one was ever as lucky as he!


Social climber
So Cal
Feb 7, 2006 - 11:31pm PT
Tobin showed me the tree swing on the big pine on the friction route.

Still do it with a big whoop every time I come down that way.

The "Tobin Sorensen Memorial Tree Swing"

When I'm to old to do that, I'm to old to be up there!

When I get some time I've got some pre stonemasters Tobin stories, most along the same character as the last one.

He was that way from the beginning.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Feb 8, 2006 - 12:29am PT
Thanks for restarting the thread,
Now, is there any way to retrieve posts #143-#197?

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 8, 2006 - 12:37am PT

That route Tobin took the whistler on was the Big Daddy, and the piton, which I took out with my hands, was a rusty old baby angle stuck in a hole. Years later Ricky and I went back and climbed the route and was amazed that it was so hard--solid 5.10C, with dice pro, first led in '59 by Tom Frost. It was Richard who held that big whipper. That's an ascent I'll never forget.


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Feb 8, 2006 - 02:51am PT
OK. The statute of limitations has long since expired. I want to hear about the the very creative activities in the shipping and receiving department at Ski Mart.


ps - trivia! Name the first route put up on the 10' rock at Ski Mart.
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