Long, Hard and Free by Mark Hudon - Mountain #79, 1981

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'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 12, 2011 - 01:40pm PT
Long, Hard and Free has always been one of my favourite Yosemite climbing articles. It describes Mark Hudon's and Max Jones' attempts at free climbing some of Yosemite's biggest walls, and making substantial inroads in the process.

Together they developed the "as free as can be" idea of an ascent, starting with the Crucifix, the Rostrum and Pegasus. They then moved on to the South Face of Mount Watkins, freeing all but seven moves. It took Tommy Caldwell until very recently to free the whole thing.

Mark and Max next turned their attention towards El Cap and the Salathe Wall, free climbing all but three hundred feet, and probably could have reduced that by a hundred feet if it hadn't been wet.

These guys weren't even working the walls, they just went up and sent the things! One wonders what they could have made happen if they had stuck around a bit longer, and gone up for subsequent attempts.

And then Mark Hudon and Max Jones suddenly disappeared from the scene. Gonzo. From summit to plummet. Gone for like thirty years.

Until now - they're baaaaaaaaaack......

Mark and Max are together finishing up yet another fantastic El Cap photo trip report which they will soon be publishing here on McTopo, on their ascent of South Seas to P.O. this past fall. It was pretty much the first time they had climbed together in the last thirty years, and it's a great story when put in the context of their past accomplishments.

I wanted to post up this article, because there would be many of you who were unfamiliar with the impact their team made back in the day, thinking Max and Mark to be nothing more than a pair of washed-up old farts wobbling up El Cap.

Well, they ARE a couple of washed up old farts! But they USED to be pretty bitchin'. ;)

There are some great quotes from this article:

"We were amazed to find 5.7 A1 pitches going free at 5.7 and even more amazed to find perfect A1 cracks barely going free at 5.12."

I didn't realize it was Mark who described El Cap Spire as "that flat-topped island in the sky."

"We were not even worried about the 23rd pitch, two overhung and tight corners, we knew it wouldn't go." [Hee hee...]

I scanned these pages up at a decent resolution and made them 700 pixels wide, hopefully the ideal size for viewing on the forum, and readable without struggle. Actually, now that I post, I see it probably could have been 800 or even 900 pixels wide, but it certainly is easy to read.

You definitely want to read Long, Hard and Free before you look at Max and Mark's awesome upcoming trip report on South Seas to P.O.

Cheers and beers,
Pete

P.S. Further "required reading" before you check out their SS to PO trip report is here, States of the Art:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=307840&tn=0&mr=0















And here's Mark [left, standing on pig and boulder in order to appear taller] and Max [right] back on the summit again, after their ascent of South Seas to P.O.



They really do look old, don't they?
Dos XX

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Dec 12, 2011 - 01:44pm PT
I'm anxiously awaiting Mark & Max's write-up; the videos they've posted are good teasers. But Pete...I'm not seeing your scan of the article...
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Dec 12, 2011 - 01:56pm PT
Nice, Thanks, Pete.

The TR will be up sometime this week, this weekend at the latest. It's going to be quite long with writing from both Max and I and have a lot of photos and vids.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 02:02pm PT
Anyone else besides Dos Equis not seeing the scans?

Dos - try using a different internet browser maybe? They work okay on Internet Explorer for me. You might also try clearing your caches and your cookies, that sometimes helps.

If no luck, I could email you the scans to read.
Dos XX

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Dec 12, 2011 - 02:10pm PT
Re: Article Scan

Pete -- I'm guessing our corporate network is filtering the link to the scan. I tried three different browsers on my office computer to no avail. Must be that porn site you use to host your on-line stuff ;-)

But the scan shows up just fine on my iPhone, though I certainly don't intend to read it there. I'll just look at it on my home computer.
Hankster

Social climber
Boulder
Dec 12, 2011 - 02:12pm PT
scans are BADASS on my end!!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 02:15pm PT
Thanks, guys. I was growing tired squinting at SG's scans, and figured I should up the size and resolution a bit. Not too much of a problem these days since so few have dialup internet any more.
F10

Trad climber
Bishop
Dec 12, 2011 - 02:16pm PT
I remember when that article came out and could only think those guys are bad ass
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Dec 12, 2011 - 02:25pm PT
I'm with F10, and they still are bad assed. Maybe even more badasser now!
adventurous one

Trad climber
Truckee Ca.
Dec 12, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
Max had a very big impact on elevating the climbing standards in the Tahoe/Donner region in the late 70s. Along with Mark, they established routes that even today are classic test pieces.

This is what I noted about them in the, extensive, section on Tahoe climbing history in the new North Tahoe guidebook:

"Two young climbers named Max Jones and Mark Hudon led the charge of establishing area test pieces in the late 1970s. These two were some of the first to begin “working” short, free climbing routes and pitches (without the benefit of closely spaced protection bolts placed on rappel) and this young duo would become one of the strongest climbing teams in the world during the late 1970s. The synergy and accomplishments in the world of free climbing accomplished in Yosemite Valley in the 1970s by this team would re-calibrate what was possible in the realm of big wall free climbing. At the start of each climbing season they would “flip” a carabineer. The “winner” of the carabineer flip would get to lead, with his rack, the first new route of the season. They would then alternate who got to lead subsequent routes for the remainder of each season, with each getting their share of first ascents and first free climbing leads of big wall pitches.

Max Jones was from Reno and was climbing in the Reno and Donner area, (reportedly having learned to climb from, and been shown around by his mentor Alvin McLane) by 1969. When Max met Mark Hudon in Yosemite Valley in the spring of 1976 both were talented and skilled free climbers. Mark was a brash 21 year old and Max was 19.

Mark was the outspoken one; known for his bold, runout routes and he had the natural talent to back up the bravado coming from his diminutive stature (Mark was, and still is, known to repeat his motto “I’m Mark Hudon and I’m a badass climber” to help muster the courage to spur himself on when confronting a section of difficult climbing). During the prime of his climbing days, Mark recently recalled that he “climbed every other day for ten years” and still currently manages to find motivation to climb the walls of Yosemite after a decades long absence from them.

Max was the quiet, yet confident, half of this dynamic duo who was exceedingly skilled at thin crack and technical routes, and whom became renowned for his strict training regimen (Max later went on to excel as a world class mountain biker who is in the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame, not to mention being an alternate on the 1984 Olympic Biathlon Team) Marc commented recently about his days of climbing with Max “I never once saw Max shake or back down”. Quite a statement given the terrifying big wall free climbing they accomplished in Yosemite Valley.

Max’s stories of the quality climbing to be found at his “home” climbing area at Donner Summit resulted in Mark Hudon visiting, and moving to, the area. The subsequent use of the Reno/Donner area by this prolific team to train for their famous Yosemite exploits, during the years of 1977 through 1979, led to an explosion of leading edge, classic test piece routes at Donner Summit. During this era they helped push the established grades well into the 5.12 range. This also was a time when routes were routinely runout and the mental boldness of a route was given as much, or more, credence than the difficulty of the grade difficulty.

In 1977 Max Jones, along with his other regular climbing partner and prolific late 1970s Tahoe first ascentionist Gary “Bullet” Allen established their historic route Imaginary Voyage (.11c). This route was the first climb in the world to feature four pitches of, sustained, solid 5.11. When it was completed, news of it traveled fast and many renowned climbers flocked to attempt this ground breaking route. This route linked four other routes (Slipstream, No Stems No Seeds, Sky Pilot, and Headstone) that they, along with Mark Hudon, had previously established. Mark’s first free ascent, quickly repeated by Max, of the famous crack climb of Babylon (.12c) in 1979 was another ground breaking route that reputedly was one of the three hardest crack climbs in the world at that time.

During this era Max Jones had as a goal to NEVER have a day of climbing where he did not climb something new, if even only a variation to a route that he had previously climbed. He is reported to have over 300 first ascents in the Reno/Tahoe region, many of them never reported. Alas that Max “retired” from the sport, on top of his game, around 1980. Many of Max’s bold Donner Summit (led on gear only) routes still see few willing to muster the courage to lead these committing, thin routes, with most satisfied at the accomplishment of just getting up them on toprope."

Some really cool vintage photos in the guidebook of Max and Mark climbing at Donner in the late 70s as well! One of these days I will have to post some of the cool shots of them that I had to leave out of the new guidebook. Here's one:
Here is one of Max, in the late 70s when he was about 19 or so, that d...
Here is one of Max, in the late 70s when he was about 19 or so, that did not make it into the new guidebook. (At Black Wall on Donner Summit. Photo courtesy of Gary Allen)
Credit: adventurous one
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 02:34pm PT
Wow, excellent complementary [and complimentary!] article - thanks.

So why did they retire?
adventurous one

Trad climber
Truckee Ca.
Dec 12, 2011 - 02:59pm PT
A couple more shots of the youngsters.
Hudon on "Sky Pilot" &#40;third pitch of "Imaginary Voyage", On Black ...
Hudon on "Sky Pilot" (third pitch of "Imaginary Voyage", On Black Wall at Donner Summit) in 1977. (photo courtesy of Gary Allen)
Credit: adventurous one
Jones on "Headstone" &#40;fourth pitch of "Imaginary Voyage"&#41; 1977...
Jones on "Headstone" (fourth pitch of "Imaginary Voyage") 1977. He looks about 12 years old here, lol. Anyone know who the belayer is? (Photo courtesy of Gary Allen)
Credit: adventurous one
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Dec 12, 2011 - 03:18pm PT
I "retired" the first time since I felt that I had sort of been there and done that. I truly did average every other day for 10 years and I was a little bit tired of it. Peggy and I moved to Hood River for the windsurfing but then after a few years I caught the bug again with sport climbing. After a while I wanted to get back to longer routes and here I am now. I really hope Astroman, the Nose and Salathe/Freerider "as free as can be" are still in my future.
m_jones

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
Dec 13, 2011 - 01:34am PT
I felt like I had kind of run out of things to do that kept me fired up. Back then full on sieging to free a route was just not done. The ethic was to climb a bunch more then come back when you are ready. I do wish we had gone back on the Salathe that next fall though.

Stumbled into mountain bike racing at a good time and got to race for a living for a decade or so.
Free climbing caught my interest for a few years when Cave Rock was happening and it was close and convenient. Limited time kind of limited that comeback. A daughter, a business and lots of no good excuses. Kind of jealous of that Half of half dome dude and daughter. What an adventure!

Then 15 or so years slip by and I find myself on El Cap with Hud.

Pretty back to the future cool.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Dec 13, 2011 - 01:47am PT
Im tickled pink for you guys! Couldnt happen to a better TEAM! Max,, things have been crazy here at my shop as of late, but I WILL give ya a call about a get together sometime! Itll be cool to see some of the pics of you guys back in the saddle again!


edit: and might i add, that it seemed you had a profound influence in the climbing style of Tom Sullivan, who in turn had a profound influence over my climbing style, which i then transferred to my buddy Steve Yasmer...Its all YOUR fault lol! And THANKS! ;-D
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
Dec 13, 2011 - 01:51am PT
Great; thread:
Rattlesnake Arch

Social climber
Home is where we park it
Dec 13, 2011 - 05:51am PT
Cool article!

Anyone have "States of the Art" to post for us to read? Couldn't find it online anywhere.

My first trip to the Valley was a direct consequence of those two inspirational articles. I recall leading the East Buttress of Middle dreaming we were Hudon and Jones (a la Walter Mitty). I justified frenching the bolt ladder by thinking "as free as possible".
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 13, 2011 - 09:18am PT
See - there's the problem. You guys weren't willing to cheat to make free ascents. Cheating didn't start to gain acceptance until a few years later.

But not everyone who attempts Salathe Wall free cheats to do so. I think Yuji worked his way up to that skill level before giving it a shot, and came damn close to a full-on legit send. There have probably been a few others, too.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Dec 13, 2011 - 10:02am PT
I have a fresh copy of States of the Art that I could scan. I'm working on two El Cap panos, putting final touches on the South Seas TR and also a ZM slide show I have to give here in Hood River next Wednesday so I'm a bit busy. Someone should PM me in two weeks to remind me to scan it and post. I'm sure I'll have time over the Christmas weekend.
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom
Dec 13, 2011 - 10:30am PT
Mark:

I'm trying to remeber a pic or you or Max, where you got so pumped that someone was holding your hands flat to work the pump out. That was one of my faves from yous guys BITD.

Do you recall that one? Was it AAJ? Or Mountain?
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