Who first used copperheads in Yosemite?

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Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Apr 9, 2006 - 03:12pm PT
Hey Werner, my statement about Jim being a copperhead was a late night proofreading mistake. I try to only tease Jim to his face.

Jim is sort of given credit for copperheads in the introduction to Meyer's Green guide published in 1987, but the earliest route listed is Pacific Ocean Wall in 1975.

However, I think that the comment from Light&Fast and Ed's quote from Long and Middendorf about Cosmos may be the correct answer to who used copperheads on big aid. In the Yellow Meyers' guide, published in 1982, the Cosmos rack includes rurps, hooks and 15 copperheads. Cosmos was first climbed solo by Jim Dunn in 1972.

I suppose that pin scars turn into copperhead placements, so its not definitive. But copperheads on not listed on earlier routes or routes done in the same year:

Aquarian Wall--Bridwell and Schmitz in 1971

Magic mushroom--Burton and Sutton in 1972

Shield Route--Porter and Bocarde in 1972

Zodiac Wall--Porter in 1972

And, copperheads are on the racks on routes done in 1973--Mescalito by Porter, Burton, Sutton, and Nelson--and on later routes.

So I think Jim Dunn may be the first to use a lot of them. Solo too!

Interesting comment about Clyde Deal and mashies. I know I used one in a rotten slot on a free climbing route in the summer of 1971. It was hard to smash in without hitting the webbing--needed three hands. Was Clyde making gear that early? I never knew where my mashie came from.

Best, Roger
rmuir

Social climber
the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Apr 9, 2006 - 03:39pm PT
When we did an ascent of The West Face of El Cap in 1972, we had some swedged loops of wire made so that I could loop them over small face knobs on aid sections. Especially the second pitch. We also intended that these could be used as bashies, if required. Since they were home-made using a Nicopress, they were cheaper than buying Forrest's Copperheads. These type of thing were well-known parts of the big wall rack by then.

And when Jack Roberts and I did the second ascent of Cosmos in '76, I can attest to the fact that there WERE NOT huge amounts of copperheads and bashies. Jimmy Dunn appeared to use very little exotic hardware during his first ascent in 1972. Although we did a continuous ascent four years later, and Jack and I each took some 30-footers on the thin bits, I don't remember many true weirdnesses. (Perhaps Dale Bard--who did the third ascent in 1980--remembers something else?)
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Apr 9, 2006 - 05:56pm PT
Wow, 2nd ascent in 1976 and 3rd in 1980--three ascents in eight years. Tells you something, doesn't it.

So, Rob do you think that Jim Dunn is the first guy to use copperheads on El Cap on Cosmos? If not, do you have any other clues?

Best, Roger

PS: Hey Werner I know that Juan asked about copperheads, but I really see the difference between copperheads or mashies. The key was filling groves that would not hold pins. I assume that the history books are correct in crediting Jim, if credit is the right word, for using a chisel in corners to make a spot for a copperhead/mashie.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Apr 9, 2006 - 06:10pm PT
I assume that the history books are correct in crediting Jim, if credit is the right word, for using a chisel in corners to make a spot for a copperhead/mashie.

Although copperheads as bashies were familiar by summer '71, Jim (later...what year?) was the first one I heard about using a cold chisel to create placements. That seemed like a whole other thing.
Larry

Trad climber
Reno NV
Apr 9, 2006 - 06:43pm PT
Z-M, '81?
rmuir

Social climber
the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Apr 9, 2006 - 07:19pm PT
Roger, I can't say whether or not Dunn was the first to use copperheads on Cosmos. My guess would be not, though. Mashies and bashies were so common back then, that the first individual use of a Nicopress swedge to get slammed into a crevice might be hard to pinpoint. When was the first aluminum dowel used? The Dawn, maybe? I remember seeing those mashed into pretty unlikely places. And wasn't someone slipping doughnuts of Al onto steel cables that could get bashed into seams? Really nasty, those.

Like I said, Cosmos didn't have too many really out of hand sections. And I really don't remember any particular pitch where a lack of Copperheads™ would have killed the deal. However, towards the top Dunn's desperation was really apparent. Two pitches from the top, just below Thanksgiving Ledge, Jim avoided doing a sloping ramp up-and-right, preferring a horrific crumbly A4 crack/seam up a slightly overhanging wall going directly up. The ramp, with a second, became a moderate 5.10 free climb; something that wouldn't have been an option for Dunn on a solo. He was literally at the end of his rope. Indeed, he stuck a bolt in the middle of this nasty crack, to lower the risk somewhat. We were able to just climb around and avoid that nastiness.

Story was, that Dunn never talked about his experience and sold all his gear before giving up climbing and moving back East. Hence the increased rep of that route.

Cosmos (VI 5.10 A4), El Capitan. Up around the fifth/sixth pitch, just into the start of the first A4 business...
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Apr 10, 2006 - 03:59pm PT
When did Charlie's version of sized bashies (labeled for Porter Equipment) first appear?

rmuir

Social climber
the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Apr 10, 2006 - 04:02pm PT
A quick Google search located the following Middendorf article:

Mechanical Advantage (found on www.bigwalls.net)

wherein Clyde Deal is given credit for the first bashie: "...a machinist working in the Yosemite Machine Shop, customized gear for the Camp 4 climbers, including the first "Bashies".

No date is given though...
zabet

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 3, 2016 - 04:56pm PT
Ray Jardine and Bill Forrest developed the single cable climbing nut, including copperheads in the basement of Bill's house in Denver in 1968-69. Ray used in Yosmite soon after that. Before their invention, climbing nuts had loop cables.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jul 3, 2016 - 05:10pm PT

Advanced Rockcraft – August, 1970 - by Royal Robbins


Robbins specifically refers to copperheads being useful for hard aid pitches (i.e., as bashies pasted into seams)


Copperheads . . . . Bill Forrest's gift to the aid climber.




Copperheads used as bashies are bashies. Used as nuts, they are nuts.

Not all bashies are copperheads, but all pasted copperheads are bashies.




Not all copperheads have copper heads.

Discuss.





I remember seeing aluminum copperheads in a Chouinard GPIW catalog, with the boastful claim that the soft aluminum they used was "just as sticky" as the more expensive copper.

If you can find it, unalloyed aluminum would be just like that. And, pure hell to drill holes in, too.


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