Stonemaster Stories (Part II)


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Social climber
Claremont, CA
Feb 8, 2006 - 08:24am PT
So... We had just gotten this GIANT shipment of sleeping bags in for a promotion of "Class 5" products. We decide that we should make a GIANT pile of 'em in the middle of the floor to attract attention, so West, Graham, Mackay, Nyberg and I pull all these down and synthetic bags out of their stuff sacks and throw them into a GIANT mound. Must of been 5' high.

Someone notices that the second-floor balcony is nearby. Right...up...there. "Let's go jump into the GIANT pile!" Much hilarity ensued. And at least two of us eventually did full, forward flips into the soft down pit.

Eventually, the boss decides that that might be enough, since we might be blowing-out the baffles!


Christmas eve. Working retail. I'm out on the floor, fitting some customer with new ski boots... One of the maniacs doing ski tuneups in the back room comes out dressed in a Santa Hat. He's got a flaming blow torch in hand, used for melting off ski wax. He's also got a full bottle of taquila, a shot glass, and a HUGE headstart on the rest of us. So, of course, we're all forced to slam down flaming shooters while buckling Koflacks! Even the customers were invited to partake.

Social climber
Feb 8, 2006 - 10:18am PT
That boss be Dan Baker 5’4” 203 lbs and built like a Sequoia stump. We couldn’t get too creative in shipping, with Dan being a Black Belt in Karate they didn’t need Security Cameras.

Our biggest past time in the back was knife throwing something he taught us besides Sales and the few lethal Kung Fu moves . Funny the fate of that place, at one time it was a real going concern. What an odd thing a place that sold climbing gear in Newport Beach.

Russ Walling

Social climber
This ain't Tijuana
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 8, 2006 - 03:37pm PT
The following paste is brought over from the original thread and covers posts #197 to #202.

Yo, you new old guys... try to keep up ;)


Re: Stonemaster stories Feb 7, 2006, 02:00pm PST
Author: guyman
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.

(I am sort of new to do you get to see the photos??)

Re: Stonemaster stories Feb 7, 2006, 02:33pm PST
Author: Bart Fay
>>(I am sort of new to do you get to see the photos??)

You have to provide age verification and a valid credit card number.

Re: Stonemaster stories Feb 7, 2006, 04:09pm PST
Author: looking sketchy there...

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.

Re: Stonemaster stories Feb 8, 2006, 12:22pm PST
Author:mark Hudon
From: OR
Well, it sure does my heart good to see all you crispies from the 70s here posting. I wish you all well.

I have two Tobin stories.

In the mid 70s, there was an article in Summit with photos of Tobin and Grammici climbing Insomnia at Suicide. I had just started climbing and I ached to get out to the west and climb routes like that.

A few year later I met Tobin and climbed with him for a little while. Once, we were at a party at the Ozone and John Long came over. He and Tobin started doing "boat races" with Tobin beating John every time.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Feb 8, 2006 - 03:49pm PT
anyone know what is Bruce Nyberg doing these days? Use to work with him at Mountain Affair and climbed a little bit in so cal. last i saw Bruce he was working i think in Idyllwild. Been a long time, I'd like to see or talk to him again! Anyone know of him and where abouts let me know or at least say hey to Bruce for me.

Social climber
Feb 8, 2006 - 03:50pm PT
Mark good to see you sign on.

Yeah but Tobin couldn't hold his liquor
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 8, 2006 - 03:56pm PT
Howdy, Mike.
I don't remember the aftermath of the races. I believe Tobin was a bit into God right then. I didn't think he was into the debauchery too much anymore. When Largo sauntered over I thought that he'd drink two to Tobin's one. Tobin could just open his throat and pour em down.

boat races, for those of you who don't know, were simply opening your throat and pouring a beer down as fast as possible.

Social climber
Claremont, CA
Feb 8, 2006 - 05:58pm PT
Tobin did have a talent for the gullet.

Mike could tell this with more detail, but when Tobin was in high school and still living at home, he showed up at the Graham house (Gramicci, too, then was still a high schooler) and asked for shelter. Seems that he was lazing around HIS house and found a full half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer... Grabbed it, started scarfing, and before you know it, he's downed the whole thing! In one sitting.

His folks were so pissed, that he was thown out of the house for a time.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 8, 2006 - 06:08pm PT
I remember him telling me he could eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. I remember sitting out in front of the Post Office and him actually doing it. I probably go through less than half of mine.

Social climber
Feb 8, 2006 - 06:47pm PT
Robs, I can’t believe you remembered that.

yeah, it happened at my house too.

Actually my parents thought I ate it all and they were pissed, it was my dad’s favorite. When they found out it was Tobin who really ate it, it was more like ah poor boy… and my mom went out and bought a few more gallons just for him.I’m telling you and I said this before, he was a charmer.

He was bed ridden for a week or two with some spleen problem around then. My mom spoon fed him soup for a while so that perpetuated the poor boy thing. She was real fond of him treated him like another son.

Made for some sibling rivalry.

Feb 8, 2006 - 09:39pm PT
These storys are great Any pics out there of Tobin.
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Feb 8, 2006 - 09:45pm PT
Yes, it's remarkable how few pictures of Tobin Sorenson have ever surfaced.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Feb 8, 2006 - 10:14pm PT
Here’s one that makes me smile to this day, involving one of the Poway /San Diego crew (as was mentioned in this thread by John Vawter). We’ll call him A.

Tuolumne meadows, midsummer, perfect day, group of us sitting at the picnic tables outside of the store. On the table is a box of peaches provided by A, who just arrived from San Diego. Seems that on the drive up, it was harvest time in the groves bordering the road and A noticed some boxes of freshly picked peaches, unattended. This was too much temptation and several boxes were “nicked,” as the resident C4 Brits would have put it at the time.
We dig into the peaches and they are outstanding. Life is good: central valley peaches and summer in Tuolumne. Just then, a car pulls into the parking space next to our table and who should get out, but a group of nuns in full habit. We can’t think of much to say to a covey of nuns, except for A, who stands up and addresses the Mother Superior. A is exceedingly courteous and friendly, as if he were a maitre’d at a fine restaurant. By all appearances, he has been waiting for this opportunity to welcome the nuns to the meadows:

Good Afternoon Sister, I hope you had a pleasant drive.
Thank you very much, young man.
Lovely day isn’t it?
Yes very beautiful and what a marvelous place this is!
Yes indeed, Sister; truly one of God’s finest creations. Would you like a peach?
Oh, no, thank you, we couldn’t.
Are you sure? They are wonderfully ripe and delicious. And we have lots of them.
Well, if you insist. Thank you so much.

A hands one out to each of the nuns with a flourish, and pretty soon, the nuns are holding up their end of the conversation well, remarking on how ripe, juicy and delicious the peaches are. After a little while, however, this vein is exhausted and an awkward silence arises, but plucky Mother Superior fills the void:

Where did you get these lovely peaches?

We all turn to see how A will handle this, but he is unflappable. I can picture to this day the angelic look on A’s face as he looks Mother Superior in the eye, and says with a smile,

We stole them, Sister.

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 9, 2006 - 09:07am PT
A small correction to John Vawter's (Hi John) Tobin-on-the-Shield story early in this thread. It was Bruce Adams, not Denny Adams who was with Tobin on that climb. Bruce (Denny's younger brother) was a close friend of Tobin's during the last 2 or 3 years of Tobin's life. This story is a legend in Poway Mountain Boy lore, as well.

By the way, a contemporary group, started in 1970 and mostly climbing at Tahquitz/Suicide and bouldering at Mt. Woodson, the Poway Mountain Boys consisted of Dave Goeddel, Denny Adams, Bruce Adams, Kinley Adams, Rick Piggot, Colin Piggot, Jim Cameron, Greg Cameron, George Manson, Tom Gibson, Dan Heiser (honarary), and Dennis Sullivan (honarary). By the technical definition presented in this thread, I suppose, several of the members were Stonemasters by the mid to late 1970s. But, of course, we were generally in awe of the real Stonemasters.

Social climber
Feb 9, 2006 - 10:40am PT
Greg, thanks for clearing this up for me. I remember Bruce quite well and thought Denny was perhaps his nickname. I would love to get a hold of Bruce if you can be of assistance?

Mike Graham

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Feb 9, 2006 - 11:16am PT
Ants in the Pants, Penny Log, Weasels Rip My Flesh, Humber Park Pit Toilet Trick, Walking the "Pipe", Water Tank rolling, etc
Obligatory "White" pants, the old Calcaira(sp)bolt drilling trick, etc
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Feb 9, 2006 - 11:21am PT
KP, glad to see ya joining the ST old dad hordes


Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 9, 2006 - 11:43am PT
Gramicci. I'll send you Bruce's contact info via email after I hear back from my brother, Jim. Bruce gave the eulogy at my Mom's funeral a couple of years ago. A great human being who's still climbing 5.12 and living in or near Bend, Oregon.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 9, 2006 - 12:01pm PT
Hey, Greg, how about Rick Pigot? Where's he at and what's he doing. Always had a blast when I was with Rick.


Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 9, 2006 - 12:11pm PT
John. I lost contact with Rick, who was my mentor and by far the best climber of the Poway Mountain Boys. I think he may have been living in Reno a few years ago. I'd like to hear from him myself.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Feb 9, 2006 - 04:03pm PT
Hey Greg! Thanks for the correction. Bruce, not Denny. I've been telling that story wrong for 30 years. Denny was on the trip with Dave Goeddel to the Bugaboos in like 70? Dave gave a slide show at a Sierra Club meeting when I was in high school. I was raving about it at school the next day and somebody told me that Mark Thorpe and Dennis Sullivan were rock climbers. They had just taken the Basic Mountaineering course, had a Goldline rope and Royal Robbins shoes. They took me in. Have you heard from Dennis?
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