El Capitan’s Salathé Wall- The Proudest Rock Climb On Earth


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 11, 2011 - 05:07pm PT
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Salathé Wall by Royal Robbins, Tom Frost and Chuck Pratt in September of 1961. This lavishly illustrated account of the first ascent and first continuous ascent appeared in Galen Rowell's superb Vertical World of Yosemite, 1974. Many of the photos are Galen's own shots along with the classic Tom Frost images.



















A gathering in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of this great route is scheduled in Yosemite Valley on Saturday October 22 this season.

Stay tuned for more details from Ken including getting T M Herbert to attend. He was involved in the second attempt at a continuous ascent after Roper and Chouinard gave it a go! Maysho or TC you guys have to rope him into it!

Royal and Tom will be signing books and prints at the Mountain Shop in Camp Curry from 3 - 5 pm on Saturday 10/22 and in front of the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village on Sunday 10/23 from 11 am to 1 pm. Stop by and take home a bit of what these amazing men are offering!

The main event will be starting earlier and ending later than ususal so that everyone with questions will be accomodated. The evening will start at 6:30 pm as per my last conversation with Tom.

Check this OP for any updates or changes.

Don't miss this one!
the goat

north central WA
Sep 11, 2011 - 05:28pm PT
Thanks Steve. My favorite shot of Kor, a great man, a great climb.

A day or two after finishing the Salathe, a bespectaled, wiry looking guy approached us along the road at El Cap meadows asking what we had just climbed and what kind of rack he should take for it. We gave him our recommendations and he thanked us and headed back to his rig. My partner and I simultaneously looked at each other blurting out "that was Royal Robbins, wasn't it?" A very curious juxtaposition, mega noobs being asked what rack to take by the master first ascensionist. A 15th anniversary ascent in the bi-centennial year of 1976, way to go RR, what a masterpiece.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 05:55pm PT
My 40th or 39th, can't remember which, anniversary. My first and most memorable El Cap route, did it with Steve Arsenault.

edit: When I did the Salathe I had yet to do a Grade V and people questioned my preparation. I responded by saying that a Grade 6 was merely a collection of Grade 4's where instead of going back to camp at the end of the day you stayed up on the wall- worked out just fine.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 06:26pm PT
Thanks Stevie for posting this great classic account and pointing attention to the route. Yeah, my fortieth too, J-Do---just past, this July!

Imagine 13 bolts on the whole shebang, all located in the lowest 1/5th of the line. That was why it wanders so, of course. It is one of the 'greatest stories ever told' on rock and continues to be a major focus in modern climbing, now both as a free route as well as the great classic mixed route of our golden era.

The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Sep 11, 2011 - 07:49pm PT
The Salathe was my first El Cap route. The first time I met Royal at a book signing at the Mountain Shop in Yosemite Valley I asked him about the climb. I told him about what a proud accomplishment I thought it was and congratulated him for, what was in my mind, an ultra proud climbing achievment. He looked at me, smiled, and said "Yeah, if I had to give all of them away forever and only keep one, that would be the one I would keep"..

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 11, 2011 - 07:56pm PT
It would be interesting to hear from all the Supertopo posters from that generation and what ascent(if they can remember) did they do. IE first , third, fourteenth. I bet there is quite a collection. Post up, men.

Sep 11, 2011 - 07:57pm PT
Nice quote walleye, it rings true.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2011 - 08:04pm PT
Thanks to Bill Amborn this gem in the Mountaineering Notes section of the December 1962 Sierra Club Bulletin.


Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 08:08pm PT
Great pics and thread. The Salathe was my first El Cap climb, first big wall, and an amazing experience all around. I popped a cam and took a nice lead fall at the lip of the great roof, had to jug my lead line about 10-15 feet to get back on the wall. Wild!!!!!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 08:20pm PT
The article in Rowell's book certainly inspired many to do it, including me and my 2 college climbing pals.
By the time we got to it (1985), cams, sticky rubber and topos had mostly tamed it.
And having a giant cam eliminated some of the hardest mandatory wide moves, except for a little on Hollow Flake and The Ear, which still keep the crowds down.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 08:23pm PT
One of my favorite articles. Classic Royal. One small detail,
for you finer tuned souls. Nothing important, really, but
the photo by Frost of Royal doing the so-called friction pitch...
(it's my favorite climbing photo of all time)...,
the second photo down from the start of this thread....
If you magnify the photo and look close, of course, Royal
is standing with right foot in an aid sling. That's
ok. Nothig at all wrong with that, but this and other
captions aren't quite accurate....
It does look as though he is doing his characteristic pushing
down, half manteling, friction moves. He didn't do that section
all free. And, as I said, that's ok. It doesn't matter in the
slightest, but we sometimes exaggerate things a bit, as time
moves us away from the original experience.... The goal was to
get up in good style, and not simply put up another route with
a hundred bolts.... Royal told me they were worried about their
goal, after placing so many bolts right there. But then things
went boltless the rest of the way....
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2011 - 08:40pm PT
That those guys were able to keep the bolt count at 13 and not exceed 5.9+ is truly amazing!

All of 5.10 right where Royal is in that shot and above one of the original aid cruxes so no harm in a little etrier...LOL
The Warbler

the edge of America
Sep 11, 2011 - 09:44pm PT
Seems Royal could've freed the bolt ladder and eliminated about 5 bolts too, Steve, making his bolt count more impressive still. It's only 10c or so, and Royal must have climbed stuff that hard at Tahquitz.

Still a great line and the first one of the few El Cap routes I ever did.

Our ascent was in Fall 1972, and seems I remember Jello having kept track of the early ascents of it well enough to put that somewhere in the first forty or so. Does that sound right?

I would love to get dragged up Freerider and do as much free as I could before I croak....
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:00pm PT
When I did it in 74, we had forgotten the guide book so my buddy ran back to the road and copied the description on a piece of lens cleaning paper, a very abbreviated version, maybe six sentences for the whole route.

Back then, we could count on one fixed piece per pitch and one fixed piece per anchor. I was the "free climber" of the team but didn't consider myself a confident 5.9 leader.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:10pm PT
Warbler and Mark Hudon, I so wish I had known you guys
back then and been on some adventures with you. Both of you
are among my heroes.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:12pm PT
Steve, you mention that Royal's article appeared in Vertical World of
Yosemite. Yes. But that wasn't the first place, right? Just to be

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:13pm PT
Maybe I'll do wall someday...

Good post, Steve-O!
The Warbler

the edge of America
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:13pm PT
I'm honored you feel that way, Pat.

The feeling is mutual...

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:16pm PT
I remember approaching the Ear with a lot of trepidation because Kor had said it was scary. Turned out to be a lot easier than expected with good footholds and even gear.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:28pm PT
Dang! Thanks, Pat, the feeling is completely mutual.

PS, given that I'm not dead yet and the 40th anniversary of my first ascent of the Salathe is coming up in 2014, I'm planning to gather a group of young bucks to haul the Freerider for me so that I can go back and climb it "as free as can be" for me!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:36pm PT
The Ear. Probably not the difficulty so much as the exposure.
Imagine going up on that route for the first time, no beta, no
knowledge, bad manky old shoes, weird gear, Columbia or
goldline ropes that weren't all that strong, really. I mean, now
someone could probably walk a big Friend right up the
whole way.... But that factor of the unknown, that
"adventure" which was their joy to know.... Who cares about
any difficulty? That was 1961, and the light had its own
special richness back in those rare days of so few
climbers. I love the way Royal describes the Sierra,
its splendor, and the quiet sense we get of both Pratt
and Frost. Not much was known about the big walls. I dream
about those times. It would have been the best thing you
could ever do in life, practically, to be a membor of that
Salathe Wall team. How could you ever
forget being up there with those true friends? How did anyone
know how far climbing would progress in the coming decades?
I admire those men, those
pioneers, the example they set of integrity. How did
I know they each would become my friend. If ever I
was jealous of anything, it's that time, the feel of those
holds in afternoon sun, in cool morning, the grip on the
rope, the ring of a piton driven, amid the silence of those
resplendent lonely heights.... I was a boy then, but I
knew how powerful that ascent was. I never want those
visions to leave my memory....
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 11:09pm PT
> Steve, you mention that Royal's article appeared in Vertical World of
Yosemite. Yes. But that wasn't the first place, right? Just to be

Steve's intro is entirely accurate. And in the first paragraph of the article, Rowell mentions that the text is taken from the 1963 AAJ. However, the photo selection and captions are by Rowell.
"Royal Robbins leading difficult friction climbing..."
Even if his foot is in an aid sling, I'm sure there was some mandatory free on that pitch, so the caption is reasonably descriptive of the overall pitch. Maybe a little jarring, though, if you enlarge and see the aid sling. :-)

Trad climber
Spokane, WA
Sep 11, 2011 - 11:31pm PT
Thanks for the memories Steve. Climbed the Salathe in '76 with Max Jones. My first El Cap route and my 2nd big wall. Great history and great climbing on that route - felt like we were following in some powerful footsteps. Loved the experience!

Eric Barrett
Spokane, WA

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:27am PT
Awesome read, thanks for posting.
Captain...or Skully

or some such
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:30am PT
I'll ditto that. It's the Salathe' Wall, man!
It's glorious. And Huge!

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:33am PT
Clint, I think we're all in agreement. Just wanted to make
sure people know the original source of the piece. And, as
I said several times, no problem with a foot in an aid sling,
probably half frictioning at times and half aid, and yes some
mandatory difficult friction, difficult for those days,
for certain..., a real adventure.

Trad climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:59am PT
Great thread, really enjoy reading everyone's experiences of this amazing route. Here is mine.

The Salathe changed my life. It was my first el cap route back in '02. No matter what happened in my life after it, I always knew that at one moment in time I achieved my dreams. The momentum from climbing this route enabled me to have the confidence to go back to school and push myself to things I never dreamed of.

Salathe embraces so much of what climbing and Yosemite are to me. Classic pitches, solid rock, spectacular position, inspiring bivies, and its history make it a super classic. To know you are hand jamming behind Robbins, Pratt, Frost, the Hubers, Caldwell and so many others is an amazing link to the past that few other climbs allow. I often wondered what it must have been like for the FAists to jettison the fixed lines and head up into the unknown. Even armed with the modern climbing accoutrements and a supertopo the route is no gimme. Climbing the route again with two of my best friends last summer I took a big winger in the dark just below long ledge. Despite having many el cap days under my belt the route didn't seem much gentler.

I hope to get to the reunion, hear others experiences of the route, and get to meet some of the people of the golden age of Yosemite climbing.

Sep 12, 2011 - 11:01am PT
Bump for the love of the Salathe.

Sitting on top of the hollow flake the first time was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:51am PT
John Shervais and I did it in October of 1975. We worked hard to do it clean, but as I recall, did not quite pull it off. John broke his ankle in a small fall above Sous le Toit and this led to a self-rescue/epic that we both still remember fondly. I wrote about that here a few years ago. This was and still is one of the greatest rock climbs in the world!

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:57am PT
Sitting on top of the hollow flake the first time was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I can't think of a better moment on the rock. I cried.
James Doty

Trad climber
Phoenix, Az.
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:15pm PT
Pretty good read. Thanks for putting it up here.

Gym climber
wussing off the topout on Roadside Attraction
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:04pm PT
Tell J I said hi 'cuz a this thread, would you Melissa?

Nothing but fond memories.


Social climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:49pm PT
Great thread, about a magnificent climb. I'd have to agree, Steve, it's the Proudest Rock Climb on Earth.

Climbed this in 1983, with Dave Houchin from Flagstaff. It was his idea, I really knew nothing about the route, was not very interested in doing it.

Man, I changed my tune as we progressed up the cliff. The features are so incredible, and they just roll on by, one after another, in a grand procession---Hollow Flake, The Ear, El Cap Spire, the amazing roof and headwall section, and best of all Long Ledge, the best bivy ledge in the world.

Climbed a few other routes on El cap since, but nothing really matches the sheer quality of the Salathe Wall.

Had to go back and do it again a few month later with a new partner, one I'd just met, to whom I'm still married.

Thanks Dave, wherever you are!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:58pm PT

I would love to get dragged up Freerider and do as much free as I could before I croak....

Oh yeah, now you're talking!

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 03:04pm PT
Maybe TM was both clowning and scared at the same time.

We all have to cope with fear, and TM's clowning is as good a coping strategy as any other.

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Sep 12, 2011 - 08:59pm PT
When Aldude, Dominque Thomas, and I did the Salathé back in 197(mumble), the Hollow Flake had recently fallen out. Some rubble, but the route was ticked as a Great Adventure. ...seriously hot and we were running low on water. We almost retreated at the Ear, but cooler heads prevailed. So many emotions over that 3.5 days. The Headwall really looms over the entire route. What a feature to cap that line!

About that TM Herbert photo... I always associated it with the West Face route, probably because it was included with that Ascent article. It totally matches the TM I knew—making mirth to keep it light.

LtoR: Gunnar Swanson, Alan Bartlett, Jim Hoagland, Robs Muir, Dominiqu...
LtoR: Gunnar Swanson, Alan Bartlett, Jim Hoagland, Robs Muir, Dominique Thomas. Gunnar and Jim met us on top w/ fresh cantalope!
Credit: rmuir

Trad climber
47N 122W
Sep 12, 2011 - 09:15pm PT
Crunch, Dave Houchin is in Vietnam teaching English right now. He is still out and about pulling on things.

London, UK
Sep 13, 2011 - 04:47am PT

The Salathe was my 50th anniversary route and I can't think of a finer birthday night out than squirming up the jungle pitch in spring conditions in the dark (I may have needed a little encouragement to get started...).

It's the Salathe' Wall, man! It's glorious. And Huge! Amen! And even with large cams, sticky rubber, topos and modern hauling techniques it didn't feel that tame to me.

The stories of fixed ropes on the headwall had made me nervous about experiences we would have with other parties but that nonsense seems to have abated. Apart from rest-day on The Block we had the route to ourselves despite great June weather. I guess the wide stuff still keeps the riff-raff off! It’s just occurred to me that almost every photo I have of the route show one or both of us with a huge grin. That’s the kind of route it is. Thanks again, Melissa.

Melissa before the Hollow Flake

In The Ear

On The Block

Headwall, 8pm



“We so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands”

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Sep 13, 2011 - 11:32am PT
:-) :-) :-)

It really was all that and more, huh?

Rob...message delivered! I hope you're having a blast in Asia.

Gym climber
wussing off the topout on Roadside Attraction
Sep 13, 2011 - 03:09pm PT
Um, on a beach in Turkey now- barely counts.

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
Sep 14, 2011 - 06:23pm PT
great report. i was the youngest climber to ascent el cap and this was the route we did. we ascended it in july of 1976 and i was 3 months into being 16 years old

true story people....it was never documented but i have pictures to prove it
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 14, 2011 - 06:28pm PT
Eagle, that is so cool!

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
Sep 15, 2011 - 07:53pm PT
true story dude. i was always impressed with your free ascents along with your buddy max.

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
Sep 15, 2011 - 08:49pm PT
Eagle, I don't think anyone is looking for proof, but I'm sure many would be excited to hear your story as a 16 year old. Quite a proud and impressive feat. Well over 30 years later, you still don't see many at that age climbing the Salathe.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 15, 2011 - 09:07pm PT

Believe me, I'm not being sarcastic, I think that is way cool. What a route to climb at sixteen!

Mudcat Spire
Sep 15, 2011 - 09:23pm PT
Greatest rock climb in the world. All you Nose lovers can suck it.

It's got quality, length, aesthetics, history (free and aid), artistic merit (photos and words), stylistic and ethical merit, variety of climbing and techniques required, iconic features, mandatory free, fun freeclimbing for normal folk, MFing exposure, shorter approach than the Nose (no 4th class--ha!), four-star bivy ledges, delightful belay stances, a pitch that goes down (say whaaat?), glory, sheer horror, betrayal, intrigue.

I ticked a 40th anniversary ascent and oh yeah, gonna be there for a 50th too.
Douglas Lubes

Trad climber
berkeley, Ca
Sep 18, 2011 - 07:06pm PT
Did this amazing route with Rick Hart. !st bivy was Heart ledges, listened to a party moan all night as the follower was stuck in the ear due to a big cam walking way back in the deep. 2nd Bivy was on El Cap Spire-- woke up to my 40th birthday. Best climb ever.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 19, 2011 - 06:32am PT
I guess the words "proudest rock climb" are figurative or
poetic perhaps, and
I really don't want to argue the notion. The Salathe certainly
was something that would fit that description back when a
couple of relative young men went up alone on that first
continuous adventure, no retreat, no rescue, just friendship,
just the beauty of the Sierra..., the occasional glance
of trust. Now of course there are
the masses, and I wonder how a team decides when to attempt
the route, with so many others who wish to do the same? The
mystique is not there anymore, when so many people of such
varied ability have now demonstrated that the climb is readily
accessible. Maybe that doesn't matter. How
could any route on El Cap, though, have that "proudest"
sense that once existed? I hope people are able
to find times when they are alone up there. There must be
that occasional wonderful blessing to be alone on the
wall? When I did the Nose in '67 we had the entire wall
to ourselves. There's nothing like that. I hope today's
climbers can at least on occasion get
some feel of the excitement and profound resplendence of
that clean, white-brown, virgin stone, when knuckles bled
a little and hearts beat together, and the quiet was broken
only by one's own occasional laugh, or one's partner,
or the dull hammer of pitons...
Quieter now, I suppose, without pitons....

Just a few late-night
ramblings. Not sure if I'm even coherent....

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Sep 19, 2011 - 03:43pm PT
I will never forget my ascent of the Salathe, the culmination of years of dreams of being on the big stone. Here is how it went down for me.

My first El Cap route was NIAD. My second was SIAD in 1994. It just seemed logical that if you could climb the NIAD that the Salathe in a day was next up. Sure the topo looked a little more challenging, but only slightly. Neither my partner nor I had done any of the pitches. Starting a big wall at 700 pm is a little surreal, knowing you will be climbing all night long, but it went down beautifully. He led us up to Mammoth in a block and I led from there to the top of EC Tower. The Ear at night is probably not as scary (you can't see how far up you are!) but I do remember clipping into those anchors in the wee hours and trying to close my eyes for a few minutes of shuteye.

Credit: golsen
Topping out after 23 hours on the Salathe.

It was very emotional for me. When I got home I looked at my wife and cried. I could'nt really talk about it for a while. Not because it was scary, not because I ever felt too scared on the rock, but because I had gotten the Salathe Experience. My partner and I had planned, worked hard for it and committed ourselves to the climb.
Captain...or Skully

Where are you bound?
Sep 19, 2011 - 03:45pm PT
That's badass, Golsen.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 20, 2011 - 11:52am PT
The "Salathé experience," as you put it so well golsen, is exactly what these men were after in establishing this amazing line. The quality of effort that Royal, Chuck and Tom demanded of themselves continues to yield dividends to any climbers willing to commune with the pioneer's spirit of adventure and meet El Cap with respect and love for what the Creation can provide for us.

For richer or poorer, we craft our experience in the style we choose to climb. The rewards of a challenge well met are deeply satisfying in a spiritual way. Why settle for less?

Golsen set the bar high for himself and reaped the rewards. Proud effort on the proudest of routes!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 24, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
Big proud bump!

Trad climber
Sep 24, 2011 - 04:32pm PT
I still remember those chicken heads, way high up, over the headwall pitch, near the top, back in 1971. The rocks wet today and I'm sitting here goofing off.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 30, 2011 - 11:45pm PT
Several memorable accounts of repeat ascents of the Salathé Wall have shown up in the magazines over the last half century!

This early one is a personal favorite written by Bob Godfrey which appeared in the May/June 1975 issue of Climbing.







Just three weeks to go until the 50th anniversary gathering!

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Oct 1, 2011 - 12:04am PT
everybody had those blue rip stop nylon jackets and mummy bags back then
who made all that early crap?

anybody remember antelope back packs in lite green?

inventor of the belly strap,

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 1, 2011 - 12:04am PT
The Salathe was my first El Cap route and an unforgettable experience. TR at http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=616872

Thanks for posting those old TRs!

back in Tuscon Aridzona....
Oct 1, 2011 - 12:06am PT
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Oct 1, 2011 - 02:19am PT
It would have been interesting to have met Bob Godfrey. Dudley Chelton and Godfrey's book Climb had a huge impression on a lot of climbers concerning free climbing.
Too bad he took himself too seriously.

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Oct 1, 2011 - 02:33am PT
we need sushi

i need shushi

sue sue suschi

remeber that by the Tubes?


i saw grossman lead double cross,

dude was snoring "this is so boring, i used to be a real climber," he says, wtf over?

scared the sh#t out of me, forgot to clip the main bolt,

which had been removed by



Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Oct 1, 2011 - 05:06am PT
For richer or poorer, we craft our experience in the style we choose to climb.

amen steve. true on so very many levels.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Oct 1, 2011 - 05:31am PT
Jim B.,
I guess I have to say I don't agree with your comment
about Godfrey. We don't have to argue about it or
anything, but he was a gentle soul in many ways and
suffered mightily from loneliness. He poured his energy
into his creativity and really more or less developed a
style of his own in photography. When he developed Parkinson's
it frightened him deeply. He took his life. I was called
to come to his house and take some of his books and
belongings. As I entered the front door, a book fell off
a shelf by the door. I picked up the book, and it was
a collection of poems by Robert Creeley. I opened the book
and went directly to a page with a passage underlined:
"Men kill themselves because they are afraid of dying."
That was a bit chilling. I didn't like some of the garbage
Bob wrote for Climb! He got a lot wrong, but I forgive him,
in time. It was, of course, in part through Bob's vision
that "Master of Rock," my book about Gill, was published
(Godfrey was the publisher). He was a good man. Yes
you would have benefitted
from knowing him.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Oct 1, 2011 - 05:54am PT
goddamn pat. right on.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 2, 2011 - 12:19pm PT
"Silver soldiers stood guard behind him and the ropes run smoothly through the ranks."

What an imaginative account!

Three weeks to go until the proud gathering in celebration of the Salathé FA 50th!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Oct 2, 2011 - 01:14pm PT
I'm bummed that I'm going to miss the anniversary gathering, I'll be leaving the Valley two days before.

Nov 2, 2011 - 10:35pm PT
@ Gary Olsen..
Your NIAD first El Cap route was awesome for me to watch Gary! Tom and I were on our big adventure first El Cap route the Nose at the same time. Sleeping on Sickle and hearing you guys come up late at night was so cool. I have always admired your climbing ability Gary and have always had much respect for you.


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 2, 2012 - 12:21pm PT
The proudest of bumps...

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jan 2, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
this thread was an awesome find!

Trad climber
Oak Land, California
Jan 2, 2012 - 03:17pm PT
I love it when folks post these old scans. I have a folder full of them on my computer. Thanks!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2012 - 10:31pm PT
You're welcome!
More Air

Trad climber
Feb 17, 2012 - 11:30pm PT
First pitch
First pitch
Credit: More Air
Looking down the headwall...you can see the Block, El Cap Spire, Hollo...
Looking down the headwall...you can see the Block, El Cap Spire, Hollow Flake and Heart Ledges.
Credit: More Air
Looking down on Long Ledge...My favorite bivy in Yosemite.
Looking down on Long Ledge...My favorite bivy in Yosemite.
Credit: More Air

These photos are of my first El Cap route (4 1/2 days) in 1978...My favorite wall experience ever.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 10, 2012 - 06:13pm PT
A couple from the vault...My partner Jay Ladin took both shots.

The classic pitch off of El Cap Spire.

The original Headwall belay.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Mar 10, 2012 - 06:42pm PT
Climbing the Salathe Wall was a coming of age event for me back when Yosemite Valley was Camalot.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 10, 2012 - 07:27pm PT
There is a legal limit to the snow here...but as for July and August Camanot!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Apr 26, 2012 - 12:19pm PT
"I led from there to the top of El Cap Tower."

Not unless you flew over there you didn't.

You must mean the eponymous spire.

I'm just picking your nose.

For the record, we took 6 days. I'm in awe of your speed. But we were on vacation. Why bother blitzing it if all we wanted was to get AWAY from the old lady?

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 29, 2012 - 01:42pm PT
A Galen Rowell shot of Layton Kor from the Harvey Carter days at Climbing magazine.


Come and hear the entire sweep of history on this magnificent climb at the Oakdale Climbers Festival this year. Robbins, Frost, Steck, Haan, Piana and Florine to mention a few will be on hand to discuss their grand adventures on this route and the man behind the name.

Register before the deadline for free!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 5, 2015 - 05:44pm PT
What a fantastic examination that was!

Long overdue bump for the standard setting classic!

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Feb 24, 2016 - 09:30am PT
Bump, trying to kick the politerds to the curb

Trad climber
Feb 24, 2016 - 11:01am PT
Thanks for the bump and the old articles. Good to read golsen's story.

First got on the Salathe in '93 with Steve Lowry. We were bivied in the alcove when a BIG rain storm came in, 4 or 5 inches measured in the valley. Steve was set up in the back of the alcove with haul bag and bivy sack under a double portaledge rain fly. He fared reasonably well and could sit up in there. I on the other hand was in just a bivy sack on a little ledge up against el cap spire. Very windy and wet all night. Plus Steve was smoking all the cigs and weed we had brought for the route, and I could do nothing but lay there and smell the odors, cursing him but thinking I would be doing the same if I could.

The next day was heli rescue day on the wall. I think we were the only ones on that side, other than a Salathe team above us, who did not get pulled off that day. We sat and watched the whole thing, tried to dry out, and then rapped off the following day. Interesting to reverse the hollow flake. Went back in '96 and finished it, no one else on the climb. Lots of interesting climbing on that one.

The thought of taking a whipper on the great roof is somewhat terrifying.

Ice climber
Feb 24, 2016 - 11:08am PT
BUMP - Worthy of more than 15 seconds of fame, no?

The Hot Kiss On the End of a Wet Fist
Feb 24, 2016 - 11:37am PT
Credit: Dave Schultz
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