The enigma that was the Dolt


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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 10, 2012 - 03:15am PT
Oops, sorry, I misread and thought you meant "your daughter".

The story I like best is how he got his nickname, Dolt.
He did an aggressive step into an aider, but hadn't realized that it was clipped to his waist.
So he plunged twenty feet earthward....

The story about when he retreated from the Nose in very bad conditions (snow) and nearly didn't get to the ground is pretty sobering.
It was a lot harder to get down in those days with the old style ropes and rappel techniques.
I think he realized the risk after that and understood his limitations better.
But it was probably a source of frustration that he had put a lot of work and effort into the Nose first ascent and didn't end up on the final team.
Many other very good climbers also were on the team at various times, though, and didn't summit, either.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
May 10, 2012 - 03:53am PT
Guido is the Katalog King!
I have an '84 Mammut which is missing the staples. What'll you take along with it?

And I don't have one, but am seeking a copy of the 1970 Tuolumne Sporting Goods featuring the Merry-Mathis-Pritchett Trans-Sierra Expedition. Seen one?

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
May 10, 2012 - 04:05am PT
I would tell you that he was a curious inventor, who happened to love the outdoors and climbing big rocks.

Surely you've read of the Dolt cart?

Hey, why do you keep asking questions about your dad?.... :0)

He liked breasts. ( . )( . )

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2012 - 08:18am PT
Survivor: HA! Irreverance! I'm LMAO!! Great way to start the day. Thank you.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2012 - 08:26am PT
Clint: the first time I read the story about him taking a header cemented for me that we were related...pretty hilarious that a quality such as that is actually heritable. Now I'll have to remind friends that instead of pulling an "Odd", I'm actually pulling a "Dolt"!
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 10, 2012 - 01:00pm PT
Lila, one of my dads friends (Paul Cooley) who knew Dolt gave me this poster in 1968. I was 11 yrs old and already obsessed with climbing. I still have it.

Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
May 10, 2012 - 01:02pm PT
The story I like best is how he got his nickname, Dolt. He did an aggressive step into an aider, but hadn't realized that it was clipped to his waist. So he plunged twenty feet earthward....

Aren't all climbers Dolts, at some time or other?

Bravo to Ed, for offering to donate some Dolt memorabilia to his daughter! Some things are beyond mere monetary value.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
May 10, 2012 - 03:50pm PT
I'm looking through two slide boxes full of maybe 600 of Dolt's slides. As soon as I get them sorted, I'll post a few.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
May 10, 2012 - 04:30pm PT
The iconic photo of "baseball hat guy" a. he was a.k. by Some Cox, was the one posted in the Yosemite Village Mtn. Shop. It was of BD on Traitor Horn at Tahquitz, a vintage fifties photo. What is it with that climb, I hate to think it's just me, but I was never sure of myself on it. At first I thought, "How will I live with this?" But I came to realize it was not important. I would manage if I accepted that we can't control everything. That was a valuable lesson. Donini may even have learned it by now.

Lila, see what I mean about the appeal of Bill's dark side to humor? The yin and yang of up and down, in and out, real and unreal, Colorado and California, the triste and the profane. "To dolt or not to dolt," that is the question. Where's the fun in crying? In the watching of it.
If you tire of watching climbers not buying your stuff, go watch some Baywatch is what I would have told Bill. After all, he liked his parentheses and periods. (.)(.)(.) Lets not get carried away, though. But Pam Anderson "has done berry berry good for me."

from out where the anecdotes roam
May 10, 2012 - 04:58pm PT
lila, i hope you get by now, that your dad (we defer) has been the subject of intrigue and respect for a great many of us for a long time. as such we are thrilled to welcome you into our admiration society. it's fun to share an enigma, and prompting the ones that knew him well to spill the goods makes us "cohorts of sorts."

it's pretty cool to ride on your coat tails of authority into the heart of the mystery.
early indications are that you are satisfyingly forthcoming, therefore we revel.

as for my slight connection ... i failed to collect any hardware, but i rolled around five of the islands of hawaii on a bicycle one whole winter with my sleeping gear stuffed in a soft luggage bag atop the panniers. proudly displaying the dolt label, ready to engage any challengers ... but alas, the locals were pretty laid back, just not the prying type

Social climber
May 10, 2012 - 05:40pm PT

Met and talked with him numerous times since I lived in the area or not too far away.

Man was a genius as well as being ahead of his time. Somehow we got on the subject of Nam and since I was a Vet, he was I think the fourth or fifth person ever to say Thank You. Met a lot back then.

Been so long but had some good discussions other than just climbing.

Picture is the back of one of his t-shirts; the front, sleeves were pretty much torn through the years, one of those that had to be thrown away. Had too much respect for the guy so cut the back off and had someone sow it into a sweat shirt.

Credit: lostinshanghai

Have to look back to earlier post, maybe you have seen it but pictures of his equipment.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2012 - 09:43pm PT
Mouse: Now cufflinks are a cool idea...I'll have to think about how to go about making some. ")

Don: Thank you. I know Dolt meant an awful lot to you. I was so sorry to hear about Tom. You have had more than your fair share of loss.

Lostinshanghai: Your sweatshirt is beautiful, as are the thoughts that you shared.

dee ee: I don't know if you know this, but it was your post in the "Dolt Stories" thread that led me to finding Bill. If you had not posted about your parents knowing Bill through the UCLA Mountaineers, I never would have found him. (I wrote about finding him in another thread "Speaking of statistical improbabilities" - at least I think that's what I called it!) You performed some serious magic in my life, and I will be forever grateful.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 10, 2012 - 10:54pm PT
I am honored!
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
May 10, 2012 - 11:37pm PT
Batrock is right. That back cover of the Dolt Hut catalog is at Pacifico Rocks in the San Gabriel mountains. It's a beautiful little climbing area that was popular with the LA climbing gang in the 1950's. Royal used it in his book Advanced Rockcraft on page 91.

If you ever come to Los Angeles to visit your Pop's old stomping grounds, you should have one of us take you there. It's a hike and a scramble to get there these days. Used to be able to drive up real close.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 10, 2012 - 11:43pm PT
Thanks Spider, I have been looking thru the scans of the catalog and can't seem to find the caption but I do recollect someone in the past made the same comment on ST about the photo. The climber? Harry Daley? Kamps? Rearick? Bonnie are you out there?

Social climber
Butterfly Town
May 11, 2012 - 03:28am PT
Hi Lila,

I have some Dolt hangers and "bashies" and perhaps some other items to add to the Dolt piton for you to hold in trust for YCA. I'll clean up and photograph
the DoltPeg before I send it to you. Check your email.

Guido, Bonnie's here I think. She sent me a private email about their time at UCLA.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 11, 2012 - 05:10pm PT
Spider: Be careful what you offer, I may take you up on it!

Heading west in October for sure (maybe even Sept., too, but still trying to work that out) and have just started trying to figure out the logistics of how to manage seeing and visiting all of the people and places that are sparking my you happen to know how to fit 48 hours into a mere 24? Who needs sleep anyway? (Also a heritable trait, I understand...)
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
May 11, 2012 - 06:04pm PT
Lila, you should consider coming to the Yosemite FaceLift, from September 25th - 30th. It's great fun, and many Yosemite regulars and old-timers are there. (If they knew you were coming, they might make an effort.) It is something of a social event, and a chance to connect and reconnect with people. Plus seems the right sort of place for you to meet your father's friends.

There's information about the Yosemite Climbing Association (Ken Y's organization) and past FaceLifts at It includes free camping for those who sign up in advance, in Camp 4, Yellow Pine, or other campgrounds - contact Ken, although arrangements aren't announced yet.

It's far from all work and no play, and you wouldn't have any difficulty arranging to meet people, before, during and after. IIRC, people like Rodger R, Ken B, Joe Mc, Royal R, Tom F and others from Yosemite and the 1960s have been at past FaceLifts.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 11, 2012 - 07:34pm PT
MH: Aaaaah, ya busted me! I'm trying to figure out the logistics to make it to both the face lift and Steve Grossman's event Oct. 26th-28th. Just hadn't said anything about the face lift yet because I'm trying to figure out whether I can manage a nice month-long trip (heaven!) without having to work some in between. ")

Since you called me out, I guess I'd better get my act together!

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 17, 2012 - 12:11am PT
Flights booked for the Face Lift in September...woohoo!
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