Gary Hemming

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 139 of total 139 in this topic
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Original Post - May 31, 2012 - 06:41pm PT

I was advised to post here by Adrian Burgess, who I was talking to outside the "Nash" (as was) in Chamonix in september last. I am a film maker and a lifelong climber (based in Sheffield these days -formerly Dublin), I have been working on a film about Gary Hemming for a while (centred around the Dru rescue) Previously we made a short film about him during Kendal mountain film festival [youtube=http://youtu.be/OxAox3yfLfw]
We also have made a documentary about Andy Parkin: ( excerpt: http://youtu.be/-M_89dGrzSc);, It's on dvd & also on itunes etc.
I have interviewed Larry Ware, Giles bodin, Yvon Chouinard, Hamish Macinnes, Martin Boysen, Adrian Burgess, Pierre Mazeaud, even John Gill about Hemming and I'm building the picture. I was wondering whether anyone who knew him would be willing to share with me some of their memories about Hemming, both direct experiences and legends (only the good ones though!)?
Anything you could recall and send my way, I'd be so grateful. I hope nobody minds my posing out of the blue in this way.
Thanks for taking the time to give this a read, if you can help, I'd be sincerely grateful

best regds

Dom (Green)
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
May 31, 2012 - 08:03pm PT
I only met Gary Hemming once: After most of a day at Stoney Point, we (Gary, Yvon Chouinard, Tony Jessen, possibly Dennis Hennek & Russ McLean and others went sailing on Jessen's boat. On the way, we stopped at my parents house where I lived and I remember Gary's comment as he took in our living room: "Hmmm... no T.V. in your living room." Like a naive teen that I was, I said, "We do have a T.V." He responded, "Yes, but NOT in your living room." That distinction made a real impression on me.

Of course, you should speak with R. Robbins with whom Hemming did at least one F.A. (on the Petite Drus) which was one of the seminal climbs that showed the truth in Chouinard's article, "Modern Yosemite Climbing" in the 1963 AAJ where he predicted that Yosemite climbers, hardware, and techniques would influence world-wide mountaineering in the future.
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 1, 2012 - 10:34am PT
Hi Boodawg

Thanks very much, that's great. I'll have a look for that article. I have read a lot of the stuff around Hemming, but not that. I have looked at the Dru on a number of occasions, when I have been in Chamonix. The American Direct is still intact and has been climbed since the big rockfalls! One day, maybe!!!
Does anyone know if Royal Robbins is on this board at all? I must admit, I haven't a contact for him. I'm sure you guys over in the states can appreciate while Hemming's story is a European story in part, it is chiefly an American story, and researching it from Sheffield is tricky, so any help you guys can offer is really appreciated. It's amazing how little anecdotes help put the picture together. Some of the small references in Pete Sinclair's book "We Aspired" are as enlightening as anything else.
Any research suggestions are really appreciated. I have his article in Paris Match, a mix of books which refer to him, as well as spending a lot of time in Chamonix.
cheers
Dom
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 1, 2012 - 10:44am PT
Dom,

This is a really worthy cause you have but it is also a difficult one to achieve. It has been so long now, many of the players are gone.

I am sending you Royal's contacts. He may or may not remember enough to be helpful.

I assume you have read Tenderini's book. It is a good read and although very fond of her subject, the author has preserved the story for us.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Jun 1, 2012 - 10:59am PT
My only encounter with Hemming was a brief meeting on the trail to Montenvers in 1967. He was a legend already, and in person was just as described---tall, shaggy and laconic. The Modern Yosemite article doesn't mention Hemming but was both an introduction to Yosemite climbing for most Americans as well as a clarion call to use the techniques being developed there to climb alpine big walls. It was one of the first articles that I read as a climber and was a great inspiration. There are other articles in the American Alpine Journal in the early '60s, and possibly some from the late '50s that mention Hemming so it is worth researching through those years. Have you seen Straight Up--the biography of John Harlin by James Ramsey Ullman? It is not the most well-written book but contains a great deal of information about Hemming. You should also try to locate copies of the Stanford Alpine Journal---the publication of the Stanford Alpine Club--from the time period that Hemming was a student there (mid-late '50s?).Hope this helps.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Jun 1, 2012 - 11:22am PT
http://www.climbing.com/exclusive/talltales/bumming_it_with_gary_hemming/

This is just to let those who know nothing of Gary Hemming that they would benefit from his experiences. He was one of those "firsters" who get to the right places at the right times.

The book Gary Hemming: Beatnik of the Alps by Mirella Tenderini, is the object of the link at the top of this post. Not having read but only just discovering it now, I would like opinions on it.

The Gillman/Haston monster, Diretissima, which I remember reading in 1969, had a large impact on me, a total n00b with his head in the stars while it was usually up his ass (concerning climbing, at least), which is not hard to do. Experience tends to alleviate this condition, allowing us to repeat our mistakes with more finesse. I found some of that in winter mountaineering, moreso, it seems than in tales of rock climbing, paartly through the telling of the Eiger Direct's ascent. So I have never gone for alpine climbs. And I am still alive.
My debt to Hemming is paid.

I must say also that a photo of a bearded Hemming sticks in my mind. It resembles to a degree I found amazing the man who gave me my first pair of RR Bluebies, the quondam manager of the North Face, Telly, Larry Horton, whose coloring and facial bone structure matched Hemming's as well as his lifestyle.

Yeah, Horton was a dope-smokin', bike-ridin', Teton-climbing beatnik in an era of hippies. He had a job. He was not hippy, he was a climber. He also had an enviable collection of underground comix and a gorgeous lady, Joyce.

Larry went on to found the Rivendell Packs brand and kept the standards he learned from Tompkings and TNF alive in his products. Some may say "Well, who is this Horton?" I would like to see if anyone else knew him or knows what he is up to currently. Is he still nekkid climbin'?

Al_Smith

climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 1, 2012 - 11:52am PT
Sounds like you've got the book side of your research covered, but just in case you haven't yet made a study of it, 'The Eiger Obsession' by John Harlin III contains an enormous amount of info on Gary Hemming including excerpts from his diary and personal correspondence.

John Harlin III website is: http://www.johnharlin.net/JohnHarlin.net/Harlin_Bio.html

Perhaps contacting him directly would yield a ton of useful info/material.
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jun 1, 2012 - 01:17pm PT
Since Peter has forwarded to you Robbins' contact information there is no need for me to do so. Royal is currently writing his memoirs, and his climb(s?) with Hemming were very early in his career, so perhaps he has already written about Hemming. If not, you would do us all a service to tickle Royal's memory a bit, so that the stories of the early Yosemite climbers in the Alps are preserved as much as possible.

You might also contact Layton Kor who can be contacted here through Piton Ron. Layton was on the Eiger Directissma Team and almost certainly would have met and perhaps climbed with Hemming.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 1, 2012 - 01:35pm PT
I was going to suggest Robbins, but others beat me to it. When the rangers set up a new sign-out system in the Valley in the late 1960's, we all had to fill out cards with personal information. It had a place for a ranger's signature (Pete Thompson signed mine). Gary's read "Roger Ranger."

John
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Jun 1, 2012 - 01:45pm PT
Isn't Salter's character "Rand" based on Hemming? If so, I've always wondered to what extent "Solo Faces" is biography and to what degree it's just artistic exaggeration?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 1, 2012 - 01:46pm PT
I was going to suggest Layton Kor as well. I can not remember the details but
he had a good stock of Hemming stories whose style he greatly appreciated.
He may claim that he doesn't remember much but if you talk to him awhile
about what you know, his own stories will emerge.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 1, 2012 - 02:15pm PT
Royal's second volume of his autobiography, "Fail Falling" describes Hemming's years climbing at Tahquitz and Yosemite before he went to Europe. This part of his life is neglected in the Hemming biography mentioned above, which focuses more on Europe.

Good luck on your project. Never met him but was always intrigued by the guy. Was impressed by the American Direct and the Hemming traverse at En Vau in the Calanques when I climbed in Europe in the 70s.
Dolomite

climber
Anchorage
Jun 1, 2012 - 02:39pm PT
Salter once told me that he always felt Solo Faces was inferior to the real story of Hemming, which he had researched extensively. I think probably much of his material came from Robbins. Solo Faces is neither exaggeration nor biography, it's fiction.

I liked Tenderini's book, but it sure leaves a lot undiscovered. I doubt we're going to find out much more. Some things are meant to remain essentially a mystery.

Dom, loved the short film, good luck with your project.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Jun 1, 2012 - 03:31pm PT
Despite the paucity of knowledge of early biography about Hemming (and other characters), despite the secretive nature of events surrounding the Ostrander dope plane, and in the face of difficulty in establishing times and names associated with FAs, it is gratifying that nobody is quitting.

Dom, Licky, Ed, Clint, Steve, Mac and all you FSMs who extend themselves in search of oddball facts and basic ones, THANK YOU!

Good old Mr. Churchill faced up to the menace of German aggression and gave us words to think about in our dark hours.

Something about "Never, never, never quit, give up, surrender, throw in the towel, bail, or haul down your flag."

I'm way too lazy to look up the reference.
JerryA

Mountain climber
Sacramento,CA
Jun 1, 2012 - 03:34pm PT
Royal Robbins reccomended Ms.Tenderini's biography when I asked about Hemmings.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 2, 2012 - 05:10pm PT
Here is a description from Alexis Lucchesi's 1976 guide to the Calanques of the Hemmming Traverse along the right wall of the inlet. Love the description:

"Interessante, a effectuer en maillot de bain."

Credit: Rick A

Mike Graham on the left and me on the right.

Credit: Rick A
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Jun 3, 2012 - 12:29am PT
I wonder if Teton guides and rangers, still living, who were active in the late fifties and sixties might offer perceptions and experiences with regard to Gary Hemming. (?) Gary had been a Teton guide and did associate with that group of clashing personalities in his Jackson Hole days.

The Tenderini book was absorbing and a seemingly good source of information about Mr Hemming.

My father knew Gary...but not well. He was at Jenny Lake at the time of of Gary's death...but did not attend the gathering of friends on Guides Hill the evening before Gary's passing. According to some, there was a confrontation at the affair that may have impelled Gary to rash action after...

Perhaps tribe regulars at the Teton Tea Parties of that era might offer climbing accounts, observations and legends about Gary...ie, Bill Briggs, Rod Newcomb, Al Read etc.



EDIT: The older guides recite storied legends of fights involving climbing guides and Jackson cowboys. Some claim Mr Hemming ignited certain skirmishes or at least participated in the melees.

One tale depicts Gary being beaten unconcious by three cowboys with axe-handles behind a Jackson bar.

...glad Twenty-First Century Jackson is a more tolerant, peaceful place !
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 4, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
Wow,

thanks so much for all the leads, reminiscences. Thanks Peter for the message - you're right it's a toughie, in the time I have been working on this, Barry Corbet, Rene Desmaison have passed as have a few others who I can't immediately recall.
Al thanks. I am on that trail too.
Boodawg - that's really helpful, is Piton Ron his "handle"?
Dolomite - thanks for the encouragement - interesting what you say about Salter. After having read his other books, solo faces seemed less footsure to me than say "A sport and a Pastime" which is amazing. I wrote to Salter a few years back.
Thanks mouse from merced!
thanks for the scan Rick.

I have been privilege to all sorts of information on Hemming so far, which has sometimes filled out the picture, sometimes created contradictions, but in every impression, even the contradictory ones, there is always something, the contradictions themselves are some of the most revelatory of things.

Jennie - thanks, I'm not sure who is left from that particular group in '69. Apart from the account of that eveining in Tenderini's book, I have now heard other versions too. I guess we'll never fully know now, which is probably as it should be.
Anyone please get in touch - on forum or private message - I'd be so grateful.

Best regds

Dom
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 09:05pm PT
Dom, Piton Ron is Ron Olevsky, the very well known big wall and desert climber. He posts here as Piton Ron so click on his name and send him an email.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
Only one FA in Yosemite Valley:

Watkins Pinnacles, from Tenaya Canyon 5.8 IV, 1958, Gary Hemming, Dick Long, Jim Wilson, Larry Lackey

Dick Long is still around and may have some stories.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 10:45pm PT
Gary Hemming Tahquitz Rock first ascents

The Error 5.6, 1952 G. Hemming, J. Gallwas, B. Lilley, G. Schlief
X-Crack 5.7 A4, 1965 M. Powell, F. DeSaussure, G. Hemming
Red Rock Route 5.1, 1953, D. Wilson, G. Hemming
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 10:55pm PT
Gary Hemming in Mountain

Hemming, Gary: obituary notice, illus, 6-9; illus., 18-31

Tenderini, Mirella; letter Hemming Biography; 101-49

Hemming Biography
from Mirella Tenderini
Dear Mountain,
I am currently gathering information to compile a biography of the climber Gary Hemming who died in 1969, and would welcome any information or recollections readers might have. Please contact me at 22040 Piani Pesinelli (Como) Italy.
Thankyou
Mirella Tenerini
Como
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 4, 2012 - 11:02pm PT
Wikipedia says he died of a "self-inflicted gunshot wound." I didn't know this.

Suicide or accident?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 11:19pm PT
From Mountain 18 "Mountain Interview: Royal Robbins"





Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 11:40pm PT
In the American Alpine Journal (though the search URL seems to be unavailable)

Hemming, Gareth H. 1955: 149, 1964: 81-85, 236; obit. 1970: 222-223
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 4, 2012 - 11:47pm PT
he died of a "self-inflicted gunshot wound." I didn't know this

My understanding was that he went behind the climbing ranger cabin at Jenny Lake and shot himself. Before that, to me he seemed like a disturbed person. I could be wrong, since it has been so many years and I didn't really know him.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 4, 2012 - 11:59pm PT
Noted Climber Gareth Hemming Shot to Death
page 38, The Greelye Daily Tribune, August 7, 1969

http://newspaperarchive.com/the-greeley-daily-tribune/1969-08-07/page-38

In MacIness' book "The Mammoth Book of Mountain Disasters"
page 78 is an account of the rescue off the W. Face of the Dru, with a description of Hemming (p81) and an account of his activities on the rescue.

Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jun 5, 2012 - 12:04am PT
The night Gary died he picked a fight with my brother, Mike, who was guiding for Exum at the time. Mike was much bigger than Gary and held him down until Gary calmed down enough to allow Mike to let him up. I don't think it was too long after that that Gary shot himself. Mike said there was no fued between them, Gary was disturbed and just looking for the biggest guy around to fight with. It wasn;t much of a fight, according to Mike he just controlled Gary who was raging.
Dom, I'll put you in touch with Mike if you'd like the story first hand.

Jeff
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 5, 2012 - 12:47am PT
To continue the literary references, the book We Aspired---The Last Innocent Americans by Pete Sinclair has, I believe, some material about Hemming. Sinclair was a Teton ranger at the time Hemming visited the Tetons and during the time that Hemming killed himself.

Hemming climbed in the Gunks a bit (Hemming's Pinnacle in Lost City is named for him.) A number of the old Vulgarians knew him: Dick Williams, Jim McCarthy, Claude Suhl, Roman Sadowy, Peter Geiser, and Art Gran are all around (but Art seems to be permanently incommunicado).

A reminiscence of Claude's about Hemming can be found at
http://vulgarianchronicles.net/vulgarianchronicles.net/Hemming_%26_Whoring.html
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 5, 2012 - 12:58am PT
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 5, 2012 - 10:07pm PT
Hi Ed, Thanks for the archive, some of those Mountain articles I haven't seen. I'm most grateful.

Jogill, I remember some years ago your recollection of a reckless stunt of Hemmings on a deck at a party at Jackson Lake Lodge and a recommendation to get Pete Sinclair's book, which I did - thanks again

Everyone, both on the thread and messges - thanks so much, I really appreciate the help

Dom
Allen Hill

Social climber
CO.
Jun 5, 2012 - 10:55pm PT
Have you talked to Larry Ware?

Edit. I just reread your post and see that you did speak to Larry. I'm just finishing up a film on The Club Vagabond and Hemming has come up from time to time. I have a couple of good stories on film from Annie Haston, Kor, and a few others. Not sure if I can help though. Glad you hooked up with Larry. I'm always amazed nobody seems to know who he is and what he's done.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 5, 2012 - 11:58pm PT
. . . a reckless stunt of Hemmings on a deck at a party at Jackson Lake Lodge

I can't recall what was being celebrated, but several climbers got drunk and Hemming, I think, was doing a series of cartwheels down the length of the deck, when someone stepped in front of him before he went over the railing to the asphalt below. I walked out on the group, they were so wasted.

[Edit: I removed comments heavy drinkers on ST might find offensive!]
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 6, 2012 - 01:14am PT
GARETH H. HEMMING 1934-1969

Gary Hemming’s death has ended the career of a climber widely believed in Europe to have been among the best in the world. Less well known here - all his important climbs were in Europe - he had close to the same reputation in the community of American climbers. Although not a member of the AAC, his great record makes it appropriate to publish this obituary here.

He started climbing in the early 1950’s at TahquitL Rock while living in southern California. He soon met John Harlin, then at Stanford, and, while working in the San Francisco Bay Area, began climbing with him and others from the Stanford Alpine Club in Yosemite. He and I first met on a trip to Mount Rainier in 1957 that included John and Hobey DeStaebler, that was designed, in John’s words, to teach us ice climbing techniques “suddenly,” in preparation for a trip we made later that summer to the Battle Range in the Selkirks.

Gary was uneasy and unhappy in the United States and a trip to Europe was the start of a new life for him in an environment freer, for him, of the restraints he sensed so acutely. He climbed in England and then in the Alps, attended the University at Grenoble sporadically, and tried to complete the aspirante guide course in Chamonix in 1961, failing in this
for his refusal to dispose of a magnificently unruly beard. He climbed from time to time with Americans and began to eye the very important climbs. He made an attempt on the Walker Spur in winter but was forced off by a particularly ugly storm. This was a climb he completed late in the summer of 1961, the first American ascent of the face. It was a route that fascinated him and several years later he spent some effort in planning a solo ascent to be completed in a single day. It was possibly beyond his powers and the attempts depressed him.

He introduced Yosemite climbing techniques to the Alps starting with a fine new route on the west face of the Petit Dru and, in 1963, with Harlin, Tom Frost and Stuart Fulton, completed a route of great difficulty on the south face of the Fou that had turned back some of the best European climbers. He completed spectacular solo ice climbs on the Aiguille Verte - the Coutourier Couloir - on the north face of the Triolet.

In the late summer of I966 two Germans were trapped on a ledge on the standard route on the west face of the Dru. Gary stepped in to lead the rcscuc expedition and received enormous publicity for his skill in carrying out the rescue. It is not common for Americans to lead French rescue groups ~ it has happened perhaps just this once.

He climbed with strength and with style and, as his technique improved and his experience increased, he was able to carry out a succession of ascents that made him as well known as any American climber in Europe excepting only John Harlin. As the years passed however, the inner struggles that his friends observed surface from time to time in moody withdrawal or violent outbursts became increasingly intense and finally were too overwhelming to be controlled. When he died, in the Tetons, where some of his earliest climbing was done, it was by his own hand.

Henry W. Kendall
From American Alpine Club Journal, 1970, page 222.

Wasn't Hemming awarded the Legion d'Honneur for his role in the Dru rescue?
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 6, 2012 - 02:20am PT
I knew Gary Hemming pretty well and have posted other stories about him on this forum. He was a greater man than most will ever glimpse an understanding of.

He was a major influence on me as a teenager ten years younger. He was one of the only people in my entire life that i have really been able to talk to with full understanding.

He gravitated towards climbers and climbing (along with poets and philosophers), but found people myopic to a maddening degree. We were a lot alike on levels that most people never think about. People thought he was mad, when really he was just extremely frustrated by an inability to get through to them on his level of understanding. He did not handle this frustration well.

The game of climbing was rather too small for his ability level in life. He could have driven the sport ahead by decades, but was not motivated to do so.

I think some of our other climbing heroes push through incredible feats of climbing in order to find themselves. Gary had no need of that. He tossed off wild climbing performances just to illustrate a point of philosophy, such as his crazy dash up and down the Aiguille Verte Couloir.

While I tend my frustrations by withdrawing alone into wilderness; Gary would confront people he cared about with furious energy.

I wish I had been there to talk him down.

I know that his suicide was just such an outburst of frustration; and a demonstration that a living body is a cloak that can be shed or acquired like any other set of clothing.

And, all too typically, people still didn't get the message.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 6, 2012 - 10:23am PT
from the internet with some photoshop cleanup:

Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2012 - 06:14am PT
Thanks Peter for the picture, that came out great!

Thanks Tom, Pierre Mazeaud and Larry Ware spoke in similar terms about his essential spirit (not really about his climbing) - just a sensitivity that exposed him to the turbulence and insights of life in the same measure.

Thanks mighty Hiker - I have seen Royal Robbins obituary but not Henry Kendall's. I checked the lists for Legion d'honneur, but I couldn't see his name.

Allen - your film sounds great - a great subject. I have had a fair bit of email contact with Larry, he's been so helpful, he has flown under the radar , he isn't interested in self promotion though.

Thanks everyone, this is so helpful

Dom
Chris Vandiver

Trad climber
United States
Jun 8, 2012 - 02:37am PT
Two good sources for Hemming insights may be Herb Swedlund and Joe Kelsey. Herb may still reside in Jackson Hole, Wy. I'm not sure where Kelsey is.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 8, 2012 - 05:31am PT
Dave Dornan and Rick Horn are two more from Jackson in that era. I believe Rick
still lives in Jackson and Dave lives in Michigan now. I'm sure other people can
supply their addresses.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 8, 2012 - 11:01am PT
Hey, Chris...good to "see" you here! Been a few years. Hope all is well.

Kimbrough and Wilson are a couple of guys here in SLC that might have some history.

Court Richards too? Montana I hear rumor. Swedlund in/near Twin Bridges?

Great stuff.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 8, 2012 - 11:29am PT
Good comment Chris V. Herbie would be a treasure trove, for sure. Joe Kelsey is a contributing editor for American Alpine Journal I believe and can be reached through their publications staff. Joe might be a bit too young, however, to have known Gary.
Allen Hill

Social climber
CO.
Jun 8, 2012 - 07:45pm PT
I forgot to mention Bev Clark. He knew Hemming well. He's still in Switzerland. I can get you in touch with him. Also Davie Agnew who's in the Jackson Hole area. And yes Court Richards is now in Montana. Rick Sylvester gave me his new address/email/phone just last weekend.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Jun 8, 2012 - 08:56pm PT
Dave Dornan and Rick Horn are two more from Jackson in that era. I believe Rick still lives in Jackson and Dave lives in Michigan now.


Hi Jan...Rick Horn lives in Bozeman now (unless he moved back to Jackson very recently).

Bill Briggs lives in Jackson...I'd speculate that Bill has some Gary Hemming stories...being he was chairman and conductor of the famous Teton Tea Parties.

I heard a version that Bill discovered Mr Hemmings body the next morning... that may be hearsay since that version put Gary near the south footbridge over Cottonwood Creek.

Dom may want to follow up on Jeff's offer. There was a poster on Cascadeclimber.com insinuating that Exum guides had slain Gary...I'm sure, ridiculous allegations to Teton climbers of the era. Attempts to rewrite history and demonize the innocent to make a story can come about with an incident so long ago, some witnesses deceased and embellished versions of the incident making circuit.



Edit: Al Read and Rod Newcomb are still with Exum Guides
Jody

climber
Jun 9, 2012 - 04:45pm PT
My dad shared this story with me after reading this thread. It was to "the best of his recollection".

"I met Gary Hemming at the guide's shack one time, and he stopped at the Ranger Station once. He was only there for a couple weeks one summer when I was there. He must have returned to the Tetons during the 60's after I was gone. I heard somewhere that he had committed suicide, but I didn't know it was behind the Ranger Station. Bob "Chief" Dunnagon was a climbing ranger who roomed with me in the back of the station in '57 or '58. He had a sister who worked at one of the lodges, I believe, whom the guides chased after. Gary Hemming took her on a climb and tried to make out with her. She resisted by clobbering him on the head and returning to the valley by herself. I asked "Chief" how he felt about Gary messing with his sister. He said it didn't bother him, his sister was always able to take care of herself. Dunnagon later became Chief Ranger at Mt. Rainier.

I am surprised that Gill mentioned me, of all people, as an exception to the climbing fraternity's lifestyle back then. I never knew at the time how some may have regarded me. Dunnagon drank and partied a lot. We shared the back room of the ranger station and I tried to wake him up one morning because he was late for duty. He slugged me in the jaw. If he had been sober, I'd have maimed him right there. Instead I moved out."
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 9, 2012 - 05:08pm PT
Dom,

I just sent you contact information for Jerry Gallwas.

Good luck with your research and please share the results with us here.

Cheers,
Steve Grossman
TomKimbrough

Social climber
Salt Lake City
Jun 9, 2012 - 05:54pm PT
My only contact with Hemming was a night of drinking with him at the Moose bar, probably in 1966. I was a bit in awe of him but found him quite affable without the mad streak that he may have shown at times. Perhaps we didn't have enough money to really get plastered but I don't remember that we ended up excessively drunk.

I came away from that night having heard some good climbing tales and having had a glimpse into the life of a great climber.
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 18, 2012 - 11:11am PT
HI All,

Thanks so much for all of your help, I have had some great contacts from you which I am in the process of following up at the moment. As ever, please send any nuggets my way. I am sincerely grateful. There's plenty to go at for the time being and I'll endeavour to keep you posted about the end result, which will be a film about Hemming, with the rescue on the Dru in '66 as a fulcrum to the story.
cheers
Dom

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 18, 2012 - 11:43am PT
There are a few snippets of info in Spirit of the Age, info
mostly provided by Royal -- when his memory was still strong...
You might also contact Jim Perrin, and I'm sure there is
some reading in his bio of Don Whillans...
Chris Jones

Social climber
Glen Ellen, CA
Jun 24, 2012 - 03:23pm PT
Gary's article, "A la recherche d'un equilibre," in the Oct 1964 La Montagne, was very influential to myself as a British climber. I unfortunately don't have a copy, but his discussion of wilderness was a new concept for someone from Europe. Anyone have a copy they could post?
I met him on a couple of occasions in Chamonix in 1964 or 1965. He was so different than any of the other American climbers then active in the Alps, let alone the European climbers! Which is why his life is so fascinating.
Great project!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 24, 2012 - 03:38pm PT
from the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_hemming


John Harlin III

(you have to love Kodachrome)
GLee

Social climber
Missoula MT
Jun 24, 2012 - 05:33pm PT
Dom,

Check your email

Glee
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 25, 2012 - 06:27am PT
This is great stuff - thanks so much. Chris, I haven't had any luck with his article (A la recherche d'un equilibre,"). There's also an interview in Elle magazine which was conducted straight after the rescue and a number of articles worldwide (German, British and US) arising from the rescue.
Thanks Ed for the pic - I hear you re kodachrome!

Interesting reflection on how he was different, Chris - I'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts about how he was different, he seems to have really found his own voice when in France.

Does anyone know about his time in England or Sweden at all? I believe he was in north Africa briefly too?

Thanks

Dom
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 25, 2012 - 11:45am PT
I tried to buy this issue of La Montagne on Amazon.fr but failed, the vendor apparently doesn't ship to N. America...

http://www.amazon.fr/MONTAGNE-1964-HUNTINGTON-EQUILIBREPAR-GUTIERREZ/dp/B0046YRO2I/

perhaps our European cousins would have a better time at acquiring it and maybe even posting it up!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 25, 2012 - 12:10pm PT
Dom- Contact the American Alpine Club library in Golden, CO. They should be able to scan your article for you. I am quite sure that they have the magazine set.

No help from the BAC library on this project?

Cheers
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Jun 25, 2012 - 12:44pm PT
Ed---great picture(yes, I do love Kodachrome!!!!). OK,I think Harlin, Frost, Hemming, who's on the far right? Alan
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 25, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
In 1970, I met Yvon Chouinard in Ventura, and we talked quite a bit. I mentioned to him that Gary Hemming had a huge influence on me, probably was the reason I started climbing and mountaineering. We talked about the crazy things people climb in France. Yvon then mentioned that Gary had written the start of a guidebook for the chalk cliffs in Etretat (on the NW coast of France), and gave me a copy. It was a bunch of hand written notes, sketches and included a recipe to make "pitons" to hold in chalk (a piece of steel partially cut crosswise along part of its length!). I planned to send the manuscript to the french magazine "La Montagne" but the document was destroyed in a flood of my belongings shortly after. Yvon might have some recollections about Gary's experiences.

Thanks for bringing Gary's story forward. He has been my hero all my life. Cheers!!

Phillip.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jun 25, 2012 - 04:20pm PT
Apparently Gary Hemming was on the first ascent of Toe Jam in Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park.

FA: Jerry Gallwas, George Scheiff & Gary Hemming, 11/52.

Barbara Lilly lent me a photo of the First Ascent showing Gary leading. I have a digital copy somewhere. Let me know if you have an interest in it.
DanaB

climber
CT
Jun 25, 2012 - 05:53pm PT
Stewart(? Stuart) Fulton on the right?
Jody

climber
Jun 25, 2012 - 06:02pm PT
Ed, Amen on Kodachrome!

Go here for my oft-posted shots my dad too in the Tetons in the 50's. Most of them were taken on Kodachrome 10!
HuecoRat

Trad climber
NJ
Jun 25, 2012 - 06:49pm PT
You should talk to Jack Turner. You cn contact him through the Exum Guide service. He may know how to reach Tom Kimbrough. Both of them knew Gary well.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 26, 2012 - 05:16pm PT
Here is the article in Montagne & Alpinisme, we all want to see. Many thanks to Alex Depta at AAC Library for grunting this all out for us!!!!

It is interesting Hemming leads off with a quote from Robert Guillaume, the french climber:

"Pour moi chaque course en montagne doit etre l’objet de la recherche de la perfection"
"Each route in the mountains must be the object of the search for perfection"

A La Recherche d'un Equilibre by Hemming. October 1964
















Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jun 26, 2012 - 06:10pm PT
Kelsey is probably back in Wyoming by now. He resides in Bishop during the winter. E-mail:

joekelsey1@aol.com
Chris Jones

Social climber
Glen Ellen, CA
Jun 26, 2012 - 08:06pm PT
Am preparing to translate the La Montagne article. Likely several Tacoistes could do a better job. Let me know if any of you are on it so we don't duplicate effort.
Chris
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jun 26, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
Allez Chris!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 26, 2012 - 08:38pm PT
I was contemplating it... with computational help...
but my French is very rusty... I'd be happy to help, or provide some rough draft...

Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 26, 2012 - 08:40pm PT
As a semi-professional translator of French philosophy, feel free to send me a copy of your draft for comments. I'm too busy to do it myself, however much I'd like to.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 26, 2012 - 08:46pm PT
Surely someone here is a French teacher, who can 'persuade' her/his students to translate it?

The third paragraph on the second page, though, says "Yer gonna die".

Plus there's some stuff from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in there too.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 26, 2012 - 09:19pm PT
"Inviolable rule" #4:

Never use expansion bolts - even those already in place - except as a last resort.

Of course he goes on to say that they may be okay for unprotectable sections of rock.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 26, 2012 - 09:21pm PT
I have read it. It is a decent, levelheaded call to "leave no trace", eschew mechanization, climb as much free, get in balance and don't use bolts mostly. A sixties kind of point list. And he shines light on American progress in this regard, contrary to how it might have appeared, way back in 1964. He had the help of a french climber who was acquainted with Harlin. Unfortunately the AAC scanning job is not the best and so one struggles a bit at the rounding edges.

It does not seem to throw any new or particularly interesting light on Hemming that isn't already well known. The back story, or rather HIS back story has yet to be revealed. As Ament says upstream here, Perrin probably knows more about Hemming than any of us.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 26, 2012 - 09:23pm PT
Yes, Peter. The scanning kind of sucks.
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 27, 2012 - 12:29pm PT
I will translate the article next week when I will be back from the Valley. Thanks Peter for the article.
well deserved obscurity

Trad climber
the ditch
Jun 27, 2012 - 02:31pm PT
There's a discussion about Gary in Jack Turner's book Teewinot (including the ax handle story.) He also references a 1971 article from the New Yorker by Jeremy Bernstein, "On Vous Cherche." I'm sure you can reach Jack through Exum. Last time I saw him he was teaching at the University of Utah.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 27, 2012 - 02:38pm PT
actually, the fact that the article was written in 1964 would put Hemming on the forefront of the ethics/style debate which would smolder until the conflagration of the early 70s

the Robinson "clean climbing" treatise doesn't appear until the 72 GPIW catalog, along with the tools to implement the style

Seeking Balance is already a summing up of these thoughts, which implies that they were pondered even earlier...

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 27, 2012 - 03:03pm PT
Ed,
Yvon Chouinard wrote an earlier article about bolts:
"Are Bolts Being Placed by Too Many Unqualified Climbers?", Summit March 1961, reprinted with original title "Bolts and Ethics" in Ordeal by Piton

[Edited] - thanks, Ken.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Jun 27, 2012 - 03:44pm PT
That same philosophy--- minimalist use of bolts etc, also appears in Chouinard's Modern Yosemite Climbing article in the 1963 AAC as well as frequently in Robbins' writings during that time period. These were amongst the issues in the disagreements between Robbins and his crew and folks like Harding and Cooper during the early '60s over routes such as the Leaning Tower and Dihedral Wall.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jun 27, 2012 - 04:02pm PT
That is the funny thing about Yvon and his standards. After we made the first ascent of Coonyard in 1960, we took Chouinard along for I think the 2nd ascent.

Later, when he and Kor climbed from Coonyard to the Oasis, Yvon place a bolt on the third pitch of Coonyard that BBA subsequently removed. Kor and Chouinard also placed plus additional bolts on turf that Foott and Amborn had pioneered between Coonyard and the Oasis.

C'es la vie.
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jun 27, 2012 - 05:59pm PT
Chouinard's article, "Bolts and Ethics" appears in Steve Roper's "Ordeal By Piton: Writings of the Golden Age of Yosemite Climbing."
Dolomite

climber
Anchorage
Jun 27, 2012 - 06:21pm PT
Bernstein's On vous cherche is collected in his book Mountain Passages (1978). Most of the book appeared in The New Yorker, including the portrait of Chouinard.
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 27, 2012 - 08:12pm PT
Just found a few moments to translate the La Montagne article. It is a quick and rough translation. Hope this helps.


The Quest for an equilibrium
by Garreth Hemming
with the collaboration of Claude Guerre-Genton

"For me, each climb must be a quest for perfection"
Robert Guillaume
"It is not absolutely necessary to know of the experiences (or of the work of others) to conduct one's own research; but one might also admit that they are of great help...

It might be the fault of our sister South America, higher and more known in the world of mountaineering, but in general, one ignores that North America has within its borders alpine regions even more diverse than the whole of the Alps, the Caucasus and North Africa. Many of these regions, almost as large as France and well endowed with alpine summits, remain little explored now.
Also, far from Europe, distant from one another, devoid of the influence, of the spirit and the habits of foreign mountaineers, each region has its own evolution, along its own needs and with its own innovations.
I propose to cast an eye on one of these regions, well known for its beaches and its fruits rather than for its mountains: California. There, one practices what is the basis of mountaineering: pure rock climbing, but with the tools, technique and a spirit that can have a certain interest for European climbers

The "two" Americans
A distinctive trait of the American spirit comes from its need to revise and modernize everything it touches or sees. Efficiency, speed, and usefulness are the great gods of the day. One immediately thinks of our modern standard of living, and the European knows well that the American, who has focused for generations his forces and energy in this materialistic direction, lacks in a way a sense of equilibrium in life.
In such a society, it is easy to believe that mountaineering is not attractive to a great number of people. In fact, this trait is probably the reason why many believe we practice mountaineering with the same mechanization found in the construction of a bridge or a cable car, with no sense of esthetics or sportmanship, that is with cables, ladders, electric hammers, cranes, hammer-drills, explosives, etc...
But... just wait a minute; this so called American trait is rather what the European precursors of one or two hundred years ago, shipped to America like the rabbit to Australia, without any of the constraints imposed by the institutions, habits and traditions; no restrictions anywhere in North America, and the "wilderness" and the Indian (wilderness cannot be accurately translated in french; the just of it in french is "wild immensity" ).
There we are: the only true American is the Indian, and the wilderness of a hundred and fifty years ago, that is the true America, except for small groups of Europeans on the coast, and the few adventurers, trappers and pioneers inland.
Unlike the European, the Indian was well integrated in that original environment. In complete communion with the wilderness, he practiced radical conservation of nature, without any spoilage, and its presence was unnoticeable, while the white man, proud of his civilization, wants to leave a trace, want to change everything to his view and exploit everything for profit, without regard to the needs of those who will follow him or who were there first...

Between two extremes
Nowadays, one does not fight progress; the Indian and the past have lost the game, and they will always loose. The world of today and tomorrow will want to remain at the cutting edge of technology and mechanization.
Some of us, in America, raised in this new world consider this evolution as irreversible, and more clearly than anyone. But we also feel the need for an equilibrium between the spirit of the primitive man (with respect to its relation with nature) amd the spirit of the modern man (against nature) if humans are to survive.
Without an equilibrium, the sport of climbing, like everything else, might self destruct or at least lose some of its original beauty and elegance to undoubtedly become something fairly grotesque. However, to reach that equilibrium, one must think more carefully than in the past. The basic questions then arise: What is the spirit of climbing? Why do we climb and why do we love it? The need to create some ethics to continue the spirit of climbing despite technical advances becomes obvious. We face the problem of reaching compromises and rules.
Then, these compromises and rules take a hold of us and limit our freedom (that is what mountaineers hate to lose). However, in view of the total destruction, the respect of a few legitimate rules is better.
Here, I must talk about John Muir. Seventy years ago, in California, that man drawn by nature in its raw state realized that without the creation at the national level of principles related to its protection the rapid progression of technology would destroy in a few decades all the original beauty of the country.
Asking himself about the source of the joy nature brought him, Muir concluded that it came in most part from personal discovery, that is to find the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the waterfalls, in their virgin state and (very important point) without any sign of the previous presence of man. He realized then as obvious that the most important principle for conservation of wilderness was to leave no trace of one's presence so that others going through the same spot later could have the same joy he had from their own discovery.
In that, he joined the Indians who covered this virgin country hundreds of times before him. Then, with some disciples, he organized the Sierra Club, with mission to keep and protect the most beautiful regions of California the same way him and the Indians before him did.
The existence of organizations like the Sierra Club or of men like Muir pushed the federal government and almost all the western states to create a very organized system of preserves under the protection of the state, and not just under that of the ideals of a small group of "nature lovers" with no legal clout against large capitalists.
In those preserves, one has the right to go anywhere, at any time (except when regions are unsafe) but without leaving any traces. In the preserves of the first category (the national parks), Conservation is complete: except for a few man made trails for humans and horses and one or two access roads, no new structure is allowed. One cannot cut a tree or a brush, or plant. One cannot kill or move animals. All refuse must be buried, and even organizations like the Sierra Club take the responsibility of repairing the damage made by others, even the removal of trash left by tourists... using just manpower!
Much larger now, the Sierra Club is interested in all activities in the wilderness of California, especially hiking and climbing. All climbers either learn within that community or are at least very influenced by it.

The price of "pure" climbing
The Californian climber today is driven by two great lines of equal weight: upgrading equipment and ultra fast mechanization (industrial heritage) and spirit of preservation of nature and personal discovery (heritage from the Indians and John Muir).
Furthermore, because he practices pure climbing, he is also guided by the spirit of adventure, passion for the sport, and the liking of a challenge.
To keep that ideal in him and everywhere he goes climbing, he knows that it has a price. The price must also be set by him, for him, and with him as the only referee. Hence for years, he has accumulated a number of principles, unwritten, which are transmitted orally and are adopted by new climbers as a set of reasonable guidelines rather than a list of intangible rules.
I list here the most important ones; those that apply most rigorously:

1. Do not leave any trace of your presence
To apply this principle to climbing, as well as for security reasons, every piton, sling or rope must be removed from the rock after the climb. Two exceptions: the "justified" expansion bolt (see guideline 4) and at the top one can cheat Muir a bit with the erection of a cairn (pride of the white man!) where one might have hidden the summit register.

2. Climb free as much as possible
that is without any aid within the limits of reasonable safety.
Adherence of climbers to this guideline cannot be de-emphasized. They know that there is a very strong attraction to the easy way. For example, starting with 5.9, climbing with aid (A1) instead of "putting your skin in the balance" to avoid problems more difficult than climbing between two pitons three feet apart.
Take for example the North face of Sentinel Rock in California. The route is very similar to the East face of the Grand Capucin (the first ascents were done at about the same time and in the same style). The most part was done with aid in five days and four bivouacs by two of the best climbers of the time. Today, of course, the level being higher than ten years ago, one does the route without a bivouac, but instead of having a ladder of fixed pitons from bottom to top, the route has no trace of human presence, except for a few "justified" expansion bolts in a small slab mid route, which could not have been done without them. Very sustained, the route is still only doable for very experienced climbers, even being more difficult that the first ascent since most of the climb is now done free at a very high level (which includes ten pitches over 5.10).
For many routes in California, there are two first ascent (the second one being the first free ascent, which is "equal" and often far superior to the first one).

3. Climbing "free"
With the modern techniques, one must clearly define "free". That means that one never use the rope, pitons, carabiners, or any other object not part of the rock besides belaying.

4. Never use expansion bolts, even those already in the rock (unless last resort)
Every expansion bolt not justified must be removed or broken. Important exception: Expansion bolts used to make a belay safer or to cross a section without a crack for placing protection (safety holds a very important role in California climbing) .

5. Not too much information before starting a climb
Just provide a general description of the route, where it starts, where it ends, the level of difficulty, and what special equipment is needed.
With too many details, one risks losing the joy of resolving the problems.
With the set of guidelines above, the California climber is guaranteed that the climbs of yesterday and today will not make the feelings of the climb experienced only by the first ascent party. It guarantees that climbing will remain pure and in the spirit of its origins, and that every climber will be able to repeat any route, even the great classics, with almost as much joy as the discovery and problem solving gave to the climbers of the past.

As the modern world in perpetual motion keeps pointing to a future more full of threats than hopes, the climbers (without a formal climbers organization) must try to protect themselves from the unknown events coming.
Any novelty will be tried by a number of climbers. After a while, a consensus is established. If it is evident that the novelty can increase the possibilities without reducing the esthetics of climbing, all will adopt it. Otherwise it is "outlawed".
Hence, rockets, bows and arrows, slings used to throw a rope up, cranes, ladders, cables used to hoist climbers and equipment, hammer drills, explosives, "unjustified" expansion bolts, pre placements, siege tactics for greater comfort have been used at some point in time before falling in disgrace. For the one who keeps using such objects or methods after they have been decried, the climbing community should discretely discourage their use by not recognizing the climbs as worthy.
The mountains, those in the community know it well, mean something different to everyone, and members do not feel responsible for others, until they find themselves personally effected. Also in the case an "outlaw" wrecks a route with his equipment, like the Sierra Club removing the trash from tourists, there is always someone else to clean the mountain after his climb.
Chris Jones

Social climber
Glen Ellen, CA
Jun 27, 2012 - 08:36pm PT
Well, I had just sent my translation off to Randy for a quick look over, when Guck posted his version. Good job, the main thing is that we have it! (Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Robert Guillaume, who Hemming quotes, is one of the climbers who died attempting the Central Pillar of Freney with Bonatti in 1961. Hemming and Harlin had been involved in going to their aid - see the Tenderini book).
I mentioned that this article made quite an impression on me when it first appeared. First, in that era there were no climbing magazines. One had to rely on the various yearly journals- usually rather stuffy. La Montagne, being in French, was at least understandable to some of us with schoolboy French skills. It was a darn good publication. (We could not manage the Italian or German publications). Secondly, we had no idea what was going on in the United States. We did not know the names of the climbing areas. And we were just meeting for the first time a handful of American climbers in the Alps. As we did not have access to the American Alpine Journal, it is quite possible that the pictures in La Montagne were the first we had ever seen of Yosemite. Thus Hemming's discussion of style was all new stuff to us - we had not read Chouinard's Modern Yosemite Climbing. So thanks Gary. You and your fellow Americans at Chamonix steered me towards a new life in the New World!
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 27, 2012 - 09:35pm PT
Hello Chris,

Now we have two translations of Gary's writings, which should give us a pretty good fix on what he meant. I am delighted that Gary is finally in the forefront. Most Americans climbers have never heard of his name, and yet he had a tremendous influence on a whole generation of European climbers (I should say climbers in Europe). He was Jack Kerouac and Bonatti at the same time! I wonder what would have been if he lived longer, what ascents he would have done, and how influential his ethics would have become in the climbing community.


PS. Thanks Peter for posting this article. My collection of La Montagne starts just a few years later. Dang!!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 27, 2012 - 10:40pm PT
Much thanks to Peter and Guck.
That was quick work Guck, you are jewel.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 28, 2012 - 02:24am PT
I'm way late, but here is my transcription as best as I could make it out from Peter's post... my translation isn't relevant after Gluck's, thanks for the quick work.




A la recherche d'un équilibre

par Gareth HEMMING
en collaboration avec Claude Guerre-Genton

« Pour moi chaque course en montagne doit
être l'objet de la recherche de la perfection »
Robert Guillaume

Il n'est pas absolument nècessaire de connaitre les expèriences - ni les trevaux des autres - pour faire de la recherche personnelle; mais peut-être faut-il admettre qu'elles sont d'un grand secours...


C'est peut-etre la faute de notre soeur l'Amérique du Sud, plus haute et plus célèbre dans le monde de la montagne, mais on ignore en génèral que l'Amérique du Nord offre dans ses frontières de régions d'intérêt alpin plus diverses encore que l'ensemble de Alpes du Caucase et de l'Afrique du Nord. Plusieurs même de ces régions, presque aussi vastes que la France et bien pourvues de beaux sommets alpins, restent très peu explorées à l'heure actuelle.

Aussi, loin de l'Europe, éloignées les unes des autres, privées de l'influence, de l'esprit et de la pratique des montagnards éstrangers, chaque région a suivi une évolution bien particulière, selon ses propres besoins et avec ses propres innovations.

Je me propose de jeter un coup d'oeil sur une de ces régions plutôt réputée pur ses plages et ses fruits que pour ses montagne: la Californie. On n'y pratique que ce qui est la base de l'alpinisme: l'escalade pure, mais avec un équipement, une technique et un esprit peuvent présenter un certain intérêt pour les grimpeurs d'Euorpe.

Les « deux » Américains

Une des traits distinctifs du caractère américain actuel vient du son besoin de réviser et de moderniser tout ce qu'il touche ou voit. Efficacité, vitesse, utilité, sont les grands dieux du jour. On pense aussitôt au modernisme de notre standard de vie et l'Européen sait bien que l'Américain, qui a pendant plusieurs générations orienté toute ses forces et son énergie dans cette direction matérialiste, manque d'un certain sens de la vie.

Dans une société pareille, il est facile de croire que l'alpinisme n'est pas bien considéré par le grand nombre. En fait, ce caractère est la cause probable qu'il y a en Europe beaucoup de gens pour croire que nous pratiquons l'alpinisme avec la même méchanisation qui présides à la construction d'un pont d'un télèphèrique, sans aucun sens de l'esthétique ni du sport, c'est-à-dire avec des câbles, des échelles, des marteaux électriques, des grues portables, des foreuses à explosifs, etc...

Mais... arrêtons-nous un peu; car ce caractére, prétendument américain, a été plutôt celui de l'avant-garde européene d'il y a cent et deux ans, transbordé en Amérique comme le lapin en Australie, sans aucune des restrictions qu'apportent les institutions, les moeurs ou les traditions, au cun obstacle dans les toute Amérique du Nord, sauf le « wilderness » et l'Indien, (wilderness: intraduisible en français; on en rendrait l'impression dominante par «immensité sauvage»).

Nous y voilà: le seul vrai Américain, c'es l'Indien: et le « wilderness » d'il y a cent cinquante ans, c'était la vraie Amérique, sauf pour les petits groups d'Européens sur les côtes, et les quelques trappeurs et pionniers de l'intérieur.

Au contraire de l'Européen, l'Indien se trouvait bien placé dans cet environment originel. En support complet avec le « wilderness », il pratiquait une conservation radicale de la nature sans aucun gaspillage, et son passage restrait indiscernable, tandi que le blanc, orgueilleux de sa civilisation, tient a laisser une trace après lui, veut tout changer a son image et tout exploiter à son profit, sand regard aux besoins de ceux qui le suivent ni aux de populations premières...

Entre les deux extrêmes

De nos jours, on ne se bat pas contre le progrès; l'Indien et le passé ont perdu la partie, et ils la perdront toujours. Le monde d'aujourd'hui et de demain voudra rester à l'avant-garde de la technologie et de la mécanisation.

Certains d'entre nous, en Amérique, élevés justement dans ce monde nouveau, regardent cette evolution comme irréversible, et plus clairement que personne. Mais nous sentons aussi le besoin d'un équilibre entre l'esprit de l'homme primitif - en rapport avec la nature - et l'esprit de l'homme moderne - contre la nature - si l'homme veut survivre.

Sans l'équilibre, le sport d'escalade, comme toute le reste, risque de se dêtruire, ou tout au moins de perdre de sa beauté et de son élégance originelles pour devenir quelque chose d'assez grotesque, sans doute. Seulement, pour gagner cet équilibre, il faut penser plus soigneusement qu'avant. Se posent alors les questions de base: qu'est l'esprit de l'alpinisme? Pourquoi le pratique-t-on, et pourquois l'aime-t-on? S'impose le besoin de créer certains principes pour perpétuer cet esprit malgré toute forme d'avancement technique. Se pose le problème de compromis et des règles.

Puis ces principes et ces règles ont prise sur nous et limitent notre liberté - voilà bein ce qu'en montagne nout n'aimons pas perdre -. Cependant, au regard de la destruction complète, respecter quelques règles légitimes est un moindre mal.

Le prix pour un pays « vierge »

Ici, je dois parler de John Muir. Il y a soixante-dix ans, en Californie, cet homme attiré par la nature dans sa pureté, la réalisé que la progression rapide de la technologie détruirait en quelques décades toute la beauté originelle du pas, sans la création à l'échelle nationale de certains principes relatifs à sa protection.

S'interrogeant d'autre part sur la joie particulière que lui apportait la nature, Muir a conclu qu'elle venait en grande partie de la découverte personnelle, c'est-à-dire de trouver la montagnes, les vallées, les fleuves, les cascades, dans leur état naturel, et - point très important - sans aucun signe du passage préalable de l'homme. Il reconnut donc, comme une évidence, que le plus important principe de conservation de régions sauvages était de ne laisser aucune trace de son passage personnel, pour qu'après lui, d'autres hommes passant aux mèmes endroits, puissent tirer autant de joie que lui de leur propre découverte.

En quoi il rejoignait les Indiens qui avaient parcouru ce pays vierge des centaines de fois avant lui.

Alors, avec quelques disciples, il organise le Sierra Club, se donnant pour initiative de garder et protéger les plus belles régions de Californie de la même façon que lui et l'Indien avant lui.

L'existence de groupes comme le Sierra Club et d'homme comme Muir, a poussé le gouvertirement fédéral et presque tous les Etats de l'Ouest à créer un système trés organisé de réserves sous la protection de l'Etat, et non plus seulement sous celle de l'idéal d'un petit groupe «d'amants de la nature », sans force légale contre le grand capital.

Dans ces réserves on a le droit de passer n'importe où, n'importe quand (sauf dans les régions considérées comme non sûres), mais sans laisser de traces. Dans les réserves de première catégorie - parcs nationaux - on pratique la consevation : à part un nombre très limité de material pistes pour la cheval et l'homme, et un ou routes d'accès, aucune structure nouvelle. On ne peut couper aucun arbre, arbuste, plante ou ; on ne peut tuer ni transporter aucun animal. L'est detritus doit être enterré, et même de groupes comme le Sierra Club poussent la responsabilité à réparer les dégâts des autres, voire même le evacuer le débris laissées par les touristes... à d'homme!

Beaucoup plus étendus maintenant, les travaux de Sierra Club intéressent tous les domaines d'activité, dans les régions sauvages de Californie, en particulier la promenade et l'escalade. Tous les grimpeurs apprennent la varappe dans cette societé, ou sont au moins très influencés par elle.

Le prix de l'escalade « pure »

Le grimpeur californien d'aujourd'hui est alors inspiré par deux grandes tendances égales: modernisation et mécanisation ultra rapide, héritage ancestral; esprit de préservation de la nature et de découverte personnelle, héritage de l'Indien et de John Muir.

In outre, parce qu'il fait de l'escalade pure, il ne aussi guidé par l'esprit d'aventure la passion sportive, la compétition, le goût de la difficulté.

Pour sauvegarder cet idéal en lui et dans toute région sauvage où il pratique l'escalade, il sait que cela coûte un certain prix. Mais il sait aussi que ce prix doit être fixé par lui, pour lui, et avec lui comme seul arbitre. Donc pendant des années il a accumulé un certain nombre de principes, non codifiés, qui circulent simplement de bouche à oreille et sont adoptés par chaque nouveau grimpeur plutôt comme un ensemble de déductions raisonnables que comme une liste de règles intangibles.

J'énonce ici les plus importants, ceux qu'ils appliquent le plus rigoureusement:

1.- Ne laisser aucune trace de son passage personnel. - Pour appliquer ce principe à la varappe autant que pour des raisons de sécurité, tout piton, étrier ou corde doit être retiré de la rouche au passage. Deux exceptions: le piton à expansion «justifié» (principe 4), et au sommet on triche un peu Muir avic un caïrn (l'orgueil du blanc!) où se trouve caché peut-être un registre des ascensions.

2.-Passer tout ce qu'on peut de façon «naturelle» - c'est-à-dire en libre, dans les limites de la sécurité.

L'adhésion de grimpeurs à ce principe ne peut pas être minimisée. Ils savent qu'il existe une trop grande tendance humaine à la facilité. Par example, à partir du Vᵉ degré monter en AI, au lieu «d'exposer la viande», et ne pas essayer de résoudre de problèmes plus difficiles que celui de grimper entre deux pitons séparés par un intervalle d'un mètre.

Prenons le cas de la face nord du Sentinel Rock en Calforinie. Très identique comme voie à la face est du Grand Capucin, la première ascension en a été faite vers la même époque et dans la même style: la plus grande partie en «artif», en cinq jours et quatre bivouacs par le deux meilleurs grimpeurs du moment. Aujourd'hui, naturellement le niveau étand plus élevé qu'il y a dix ans on sour régulièrement sans bivouac: mais au lieu d'avoir un escalier de pitons de bas en haut, cette voie n'a gardé aucune trace de l'homme, excepté quelques dalle lisse au milieu, infranchissable autrement. Très soutenue, elle reste ainsi une course réservée à des grimpeurs très expérimentés, plus sévère même qu'au début, puisqu'elle comporte maintenant une voie presque toute en libre d'un degré très éleveé, qui inclut dix longueurs de VI...

Pour beaucoup de courses en Californie, il existe deux «premières»; la seconde étant la «première tout en libre» est considérée comme l'égale, voire même souvent nettement supérieure à la précédente.

3.- Le passage en libre. - Avec les techniques modernes il faut le définir nettement. Cela signifie qu'on ne se sert jamais ni de la corde, ni des pitons, ni de mousquetons, ni d'aucun autre objet qui ne soit partie intégrante de la roche pour autre chose que l'assurance.

4.-Ne jamais utiliser de pitons à expansion - même un déjà sur place - sauf en dernier recours. - Tout piton à expansion non justifiè doît dans enlevé ou cassé. Exception importante: le piton à expansion placé afin de rendre sûr un relais un passage en libre qui ne présente pas de fissure suffisante pour un bon piton d'assurance. (La vérité tient, on le verra, une place très importante dans la varappe en Californie).

5.- Pas trop de renseignements sur une voie avant de l'attaquer. - Juste une idée du cheminement, où elle démarre, où elle finit, le degrés des difficultés qu'on va rencontrer, et le matériel special à emporter.

Avec plus de détails, on risque trop de perdre la joie de résoudre soi-même les problèmes.

Avec les principes ci-dessus, le grimpeur californien est assuré que les courses d'hier et d'aujourd'hui ne resteront pas limitées aux sentiments aux possibilités de premiers ascensionnistes. Il est assuré que l'escalade restera encore pure et fidèle à son esprit d'origine, et que chaque grimpeur pourra répéter n'importe quelle course, même une plus classique, avec presque autant de joie que l'un de la découverte et de la résolution des difficultés par les ascensionnistes du temps passé.

Pourtant, comme le monde moderne en perpétuel changement ne cesse de présenter un avenir aussi plein de menaces que d'espoirs, les grimpeurs - sans organisation formelle de leur part - tâcher de se protéger contre les événements inconnus de demain.

Toute nouveauté amène un certain nombre de grimpeurs d'avante-garde à l'essayer. Après un certain temps, un opinion plus ou moins générale se forme. S'il est évident que la nouveauté peut augmenter leurs possibilités, sans amoindrir leur idéal esthétique de l'escalade tous l'adoptent. Sinon elle est mise «hors-la-loi».


C'est ainsi que fusées, arcs, flèches, frondes pour projeter la corde au sommet; grues, échelles, câbles pour monter grimpeurs et équipement: foreuses à explosifs, pitons à expansion on justifiés; équipement préalable et tactique de siège pour plus de confort, ont été utilisés à un moment ou à un autre avant de tomber en complète défaveur.

Pour celui qui garde l'usage de tels objets ou méthodes après leur décri général, le groupe ne fait rien, si ce n'est le décourager discrètement en ne considèrant pas se ascensions comme dignes du mot.

Les montagne ceux du groupe le savent bien, représentent pour chacun quelque chose de différent, et ils ne se sentent pas responables des autres, jusqu'au moment où ils se trouvent personnellement gênés. Aussi, dans le cas où le «hors-la-loi» abime les courses avec son matériel - comme au Sierra Club pour les détritus des touristes - il se trouve toujours quelqu'un pour nettoyer la montagne après son passage...
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 28, 2012 - 06:59am PT
Ed, just a quick glance suggests to me that dans should be doit in the opening quote. Doit etre l'objet...
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 28, 2012 - 07:10am PT
Thanks Ed, I can always use practice with my French.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 28, 2012 - 11:02am PT
thanks, anyone suggesting corrections for the defocussed stuff around the "curl" will help to get the French version more accurate, of if someone actually gets a copy...

or you can just grab this version, correct it and upload it, we can make the correcting a community act.

having the French allows for different interpretations of the piece... every one of us would translate it differently, as it was probably also translated into French...
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2012 - 12:32pm PT
Hi to everyone

I've just been away with work for a couple of days to come back to what has become an superb resource on Hemming - absolutely fantastic.
Peter, Philip Chris and Ed, thanks for the efforts you have gone to - amazing. I have some leads to follow up now, I'll be busy following these for sure.
I'll look forward to sharing the fruits of this labour at some point. In the meantime, if anyone has any recollections, discoveries etc, please let me know.

Thanks guys

Dom
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Jun 28, 2012 - 01:43pm PT
Just spotted a few typos;

... l'Européen sait bien que l'Américain, qui a pendant plusieurs générations orienté matérialiste, ...
should read
... l'Européen sait bien que l'Américain, qui a pendant plusieurs générations orienté toute ses forces et son énergie dans cette direction matérialiste, ...

Dans une société pareille, il est facile de cause que l'alpinisme ...
should read
Dans une société pareille, il est facile de croire que l'alpinisme ...

...beaucoup de gues pour...
should read
...beaucoup de gens pour...

...veut tout changer a sone image...
should read
...veut tout changer a son image...

...complète, respecteur quelques règles légitimes...
should read
...complète, respecter quelques règles légitimes...

...il ne aussi guidé l'esprit d'aventure...
should read
...il est aussi guidé par l'esprit d'aventure...



5.- Pas trop de renseignements sur une course[?] avant ...
should read
5.- Pas trop de renseignements sur une voie avant ...
(The two words have a similar meaning)

ne cesse de présenter un avenir [?] plein de menaces ...
should read
ne cesse de présenter un avenir aussi plein de menaces
I did not catch that in my translation, which shpould be changed from
"...pointing to a future more full of threats than hopes ..."
to
"...pointing to a future equally filled with threats and hopes ..."

Voute nouveauté amène ...
should read
Toute nouveauté amène ...

Pour celui que garde ...
should read
Pour celui qui garde ...

Some expressions (eg. "exposer la viande") are slang and cannot be translated exactly.
In the French litterature, the hyphen is equivalent to parentheses in English.
The Yosemite equivalent of fifth degree rating is difficult to assess since it ranges from 5.7 to 5.9 in the table from J Long's book and is 5.6 in the green climber's guide to Yosemite. Given the rampant grade inflation and advances in technology, I used the upper range of John's figure.

I probably missed some typos, but time is short. Hopefully, this will help potential translators. Thanks Ed for typing the whole thing in French, with all the accents! I do not want to be nit picky, but spelling can be crucial for a potential translator. You are absolutely right that the translation is subject to some interpretation. I did my best to translate verbatim.

The piece was a landmark in European reading, and set climbing in a whole new direction. I am sure Gary and Tom Frost, who climbed together in Chamonix, exchanged a lot of ideas, part of them duplicated in Tom's best friend of the time; Yvon. The timing of their writings is not a coincidence, and I wish more climbers would read the pieces! Cheers!!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 28, 2012 - 02:04pm PT
I also suggested to Dom G. that he contact James Salter, the author of Solo Faces. Salter must have done some research or otherwise had particular knowledge of Hemming to have booted up a whole book using him as "a character". Salter is still alive too, in his eighties.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 28, 2012 - 02:50pm PT
thanks Gluck!
I just corrected the errors you found... I found typing "in french" to be interesting as my muscle memory is in english...

not sure I got all the accents correct either.. that's very different from our usual english typing

I particularly liked: «d'exposer la viande» "expose the beef" which I'll try to work my climbing descriptions where ever "hang my ass out" would appear...
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 28, 2012 - 06:58pm PT
Autocorrect can be a huge pain in the ass when typing foreign languages.
Chris Jones

Social climber
Glen Ellen, CA
Jun 29, 2012 - 06:49pm PT
A few days ago I wrote;” He (Hemming) was so different than any of the other American climbers then active in the Alps, let alone the European climbers! Which is why his life is so fascinating.”

Dom wrote: “Interesting reflection on how he was different, Chris - I'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts about how he was different, he seems to have really found his own voice when in France.”

On the theory that I had better put up or shut up.

I had the good fortune to get to know and climb with several Americans in the Alps during the summers of 1964 and 1965 - even if some of those climbs were just on the local Chamonix crags or at the Calanques. However, I only chatted with Hemming a couple of times. As I recall, he was staying outside the campsite. Furthermore, it seemed that he was not really fired up about any climbing projects. As one can gather from Tenderini’s biography among other sources, he certainly must have been on his game during the 1961 thru 1963 years. Now he seemed more settled, calm even. His clothes were quite worn down, his beard and hair were long, and he was tall and good looking. An old pack slung over his shoulder, he was obviously living on a shoestring. In contrast, European alpinists of the day were almost well-dressed. As I recall, the French we came across were either aspirant guides, or university students, or at least had jobs. They were not vagabonds such as Gary. The Americans were dead serious about getting some climbing done. Some were married, which was almost a shock at such a young age. They were a clean-cut bunch, excellent climbers - among the best in the Alps. The British fell into two groupings: the more traditional, university-educated crowd, and the hard-charging types in the Joe Brown/Don Whillans mold. Not a Gary Hemming among them!
Grovehill

Trad climber
UK
Jul 3, 2012 - 09:58am PT
Gary Hemming had some interaction with members of the Alpha Club and visited some of them in the UK, it is detailed in

Echoes of a Dream by Alan McHardy

and

Alpha Males by Al Parker

p54 Echoes of a Dream
p54 Echoes of a Dream
Credit: Grovehill
Echoes of a Dream p55
Echoes of a Dream p55
Credit: Grovehill
Alpha Males p114
Alpha Males p114
Credit: Grovehill

By way of an aside both authors visited Yosemite,

Al Parker in 1968, he was in the campsite when Burke and Wood returned from the first british ascent of The Nose - page 226

Alan McHardy was there in 1973 - ascent of Salathe Wall with Paul Ross and George Homer page 165/173

guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jul 3, 2012 - 09:57pm PT
Grovehill

Here is a cross reference on the first British ascent of the Nose in 1968 you may enjoy. The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Rob Wood.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=712787
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2012 - 07:55pm PT
Those UK references are gold dust - amazing.

Dom

Grovehill

Trad climber
UK
Jul 7, 2012 - 10:19am PT
Gary Hemming Obituary Mountain Magazine No 6
Gary Hemming Obituary Mountain Magazine No 6
Credit: Grovehill
Hi, yes there are some more references in both books,

The Scotch Club Affair

Alpha Males - Chapter 14, The Scotch Club Affair

Pages 136 to 141 details the incident and how Gary Hemming phoned the British Consulate on behalf of the british climbers.

Echoes of a Dream. The incident is briefly mentioned in Alan McHardys book page 57.

The Dru Rescue

The Dru Rescue is briefly mentioned on page 95 of Echoes of a Dream and mentions/links the Anne Sauvy book " Mountain Rescue Chamonix - Mont Blanc". It reads as if the Dru Rescue exposed the shortcomings of the existing services.

Both are well worth a read
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 12, 2012 - 05:36am PT
http://www.tvmountain.com/video/alpinisme/6714-sauvetage-des-drus-gary-hemming-rene-desmaison-gilles-bobin.html
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 20, 2012 - 02:19am PT
http://c498469.r69.cf2.rackcdn.com/1964/81_Harlin_MontBlancFou_aaj1964.pdf

American Alpine Journal, 1964 p81

First Ascents in the Mont Blanc Alps
JOHN HARLIN
L’Aiguille du Fou’s South Face


IT HAD been three hours since the first wisps of high cirrus appeared from the west. The sky was now overcast and lowering. The summits of the Jorasses were put to sleep, and the wooly mass of cloud was getting blacker. Konrad began to rappel, and just as he touched the snow beside me a rumble sounded in the couloir between the Lépiney and Fou. Looking up, we caught sight of a mass of falling ice and rock. It struck above our heads, showering over us in an arch and roared down the 300 meters of snow below, setting off smaller avalanches on the way. I whistled with relief. After a pause for nerve, we set off down the couloir, the backs of our necks prickling and our ears straining for the return of that feared sound. Thus ended our first futile attempt on the Fou’s south face. It was made by Konrad Kirch and myself in the early summer of 1963.

Since 1952 there had been a number of attempts to force a way up the face, made by climbers of high reputation from many countries. The attacks concentrated on a great diagonal crack that traverses the face ascending from right to left. Two rope-lengths was the greatest distance made. Large quantities of coins de bois (wooden wedges) had been employed, those poor substitutes for the impressive aluminum or chrome-molybdenum pitons of the Yosemite.

Later in the summer of 1963 Tom Frost, Gary Hemming, Stewart Fulton and I gathered for another try. We waited and waited for good weather. Finally in desperation Stewart and I set off in doubtful conditions for another reconnaissance. In the upper couloir we found rock pitches of IV and V completely covered with snow, loose snow. By afternoon we had turned the huge barrier overhang at the bottom of the face proper with a strenuous pitch of VI. Because the extension of the route was questionable, we turned back as it began to rain. As we descended, I noted a thin crack system that led up and over the overhang directly, extending into what appeared to be a more feasible route above.

In the middle of July Gary, Stewart, Tom and I approached the bergschrund for yet another try. High cirrus and other ominous signs nearly caused us to turn back, but at last I was so busy climbing the ice wall of the slightly overhanging schrund that I forgot the troublesome weather. Our headlamps glowed and caused weird dancing reflections as we steadily gained altitude in the couloir. For security and speed I attached a fixed rope to a second ice axe at the top of every lead. Finally we were all standing in the early morning sun on a good but airy ledge just below the great figure-seven barrier-overhang that blocks the bottom of the face. Tom, our artificial-climbing expert from Yosemite, took the lead. He carried a beautiful selection of American pitons designed for the most difficult granite crack systems. These pitons embody a completely different principle. Made from tough chrome-molybdenum steel, instead of conforming to a crack by bending and deforming, they conform the way a spring acts. When the piton is extracted, it regains its original shape and can be used several hundred times. The strength of the steel allows practical pitons of razor-thinness to be constructed.

Tom was soon so far out under the overhang that his hauling rope hung like a plumb line far out from the face. We finally could pull our sack up. Ten meters separated the vertical hauling line from the face below the overhang. Rarely does one find a granite overhang of such proportions. (This lead took 26 pitons! - Editor.)

Above the overhang Gary took the-lead. Mixed artificial and free climbing brought us to the great diagonal crack on the route of all previous attempts. We had avoidled taking this crack from the bottom because it did not climb the south face directly and was a way of getting around the lower third of the face we had just climbed. Quantities of coins de bois had been left in the crack from previous attempts.

Darkness dictated a bivouac. A light rain started with not too distant thunder and lightning. Since Stewart and I had only a ledge approximately ten centimeters wide, we rigged a bivouac hammock to two rather awkwardly spaced pitons. When we got in, it broke and we fell through. This left us to spend the night in étriers, and a miserable night it was. In the morning we rappelled in rain down the diagonal crack, leaving fixed ropes and a quantity of equipment.

On still another attempt, although rain came as we were finishing the prusik up our fixed ropes in the diagonal crack, we decided to push the route further. The diagonal is difficult free climbing with little protection. Stewart, laybacking in the crack just below the large overhang that divides the diagonal, slipped and arched down hard on the one good piton he had managed to place. The rain and a bruised hand dictated a retreat. The sky was aflame with signs of bad weather as we made the approach for our final and successful attempt on July 25. Tom and Stewart had gone up the evening before with Dorene Del Fium and had bivouacked below the face. Gary and I left in the morning with Claude Guerre-Genton and Mara, my wife, and climbed the classical southeast ridge of the Blaitière as an approach. As we passed the first conspicuous pinnacle on this route, we could see Tom and Stewart getting off to a late start. At the bivouac spot we left the girls to bivouac and follow our progress from the breche cornice. When Gary and I started our prusik, Tom had already turned a sickle overhang in the diagonal and was working on the wider crack above. Stewart had previously laybacked up to a stance below the overhang. This represented a truly fine piece of work and will no doubt be a rigorous test for subsequent climbing parties. On the overhang itself Tom had managed a spectacular bit of engineering by using our very smallest two-centimeter piton and then our largest, a four-inch bongbong, two meters higher. Above this was a series of five coins de bois spliced or put together with large aluminum angle-pitons. Tom would stand off balance on tip toes on previously placed coins de bois and aluminum piton and place the next piton at arm’s length above. From a bad belay in slings, Tom set off again on extremely difficult artificial climbing, using knife-blade pitons to negotiate a conspicuously black overhang that barred the way to what hopefully would be our bivouac ledge. (This 150-foot pitch required 28 pitons. - Editor.)

When Tom arrived at the ledge, the joy in his voice told us that the ledge would be satisfactory, if not comfortable. Gary and I prusiked up a fixed line with the material for the bivouac while Stewart depitoned what is probably the most difficult artificial lead in the western Alps. AS soon as I reached the ledge, I started climbing the crack above the bivouac to prepare for the next day. Darkness caused me to rappel finally, and as my feet touched the ledge, the sky tore open and a storm broke. Before we could get into our bivouac sacks, the hail and rain had soaked us. Lightning was all about, striking the Fou and lacing the darkness with incandescent whiteness. This storm was of extreme violence; it turned out to be one of the hardest of the summer. In our sacks we ate and drank, marveling at the electrical display and wondering if the next flash would be marked for us. I discovered another unhappy fact. Our large canteen had leaked onto all my dry clothes and so there was no hope for a comfortable night.

In the morning an opaque grayness of cloud greeted our reveille. Gary quickly finished my lead of the night before. As I again took the lead, the clouds began to break, and one could catch glimpses of the fantastic landscape of soaring rock and ice to right and left. In placing pitons and in stretching for infrequent holds on that great smooth wall, life effervesced within me. I stole glances at the scene around me and caught sight of footprints over on the ice ridge near the Lépiney. Finally after running out the fifty-meter rope, I still had about six meters of free climbing to go to reach the belay and so I waited for Gary to move to give me the additional rope. The time afforded me a chance to study even more this beautiful, ethereal world as the clouds tore around us letting in the sun in occasional brilliant shafts.

At last I had to move again, for the belay had been readjusted. At a stance, far worse than I had predicted from below, I fixed the prusik line, and Tom started up snapping pictures as he came. Gary depitoned. Gary then completed the overhang overhead and, above, found that the route eased off in difficulty but increased in magnificence. Two pitches of V turned out to be some of the most enjoyable free climbing any of us had ever done.

We at last pulled ourselves onto the summit slabs. Here the summit of the Fou floated in the clouds and the towering cumulus all around at our level reminded me of many similar moments while flying. However, here one could actually feel the elements and be part of them. These sculptured forms, ever-changing like life itself, made mockery of our Fou. The south face of the Fou, perhaps the hardest climb in the western Alps, yet it could not compare to a soaring cliff of vapor with cracks and chimneys of translucent crystals never to feel a human hand.

The Hidden Pillar of Frêney
(Editor’s Note: John Harlin and Tom Frost were the American representatives at the Rassemblement International in Chamonix. As a part of this program, on August 1 and 2, they made the first ascent of the Hidden Pillar of Frêney (Pilier Derobé du Frêney) on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. This western pillar lies just to the left of the Central Pillar. The route description by Harlin follows.)

Route description: The approach to the Hidden Pillar from the Gamba hut is by way of the Col d’Inominatta, Frêney glaciers, Rocher Gruber, Co1 de Peuterey, Plateau Superior de Frêney and finally a diagonal couloir descending from the foot of the pillar passing under the Central Pillar to the bergschrund above the Plateau Superior. An alternate approach is from the Col de Forche and North Face of the Col de Peuterey. Either way one should plan on at least 10 hours, or considerably more if conditions are bad, before starting the climb of the pillar, This approach is one of the longest, most interesting and dangerous in the Alps. It should not be underestimated and constitutes a long and difficult climb in itself.

At the foot of the pillar take a vertical crack at rhe left hand edge, climbing jam cracks and laybacks to a good stance. From here the difficulty increases but the rock is of exceptionally good quality, permitting strenuous free climbing for two rope lengths. From there the rock eases in difficulty and the chimneys and cracks carry one slightly right toward the base of a large overhang. Chimneys choked with ice force extremely delicate free climbing to gain a large system of ledges suitable for bivouac. Climb these ledges right and up, thereby avoiding the large overhang, until a good stance is reached before the start of a delicate traverse into the couloir between the Central and Hidden pillars. Climb rock and nearly vertical ice for 5 meters until layback cracks and small flakes carry one slightly left and up for 40 meters of difficult free climbing to a broken area of snow and large blocks. (Bivouac area). A conspicuous red wall with shallow vertical cracks starts from the upper left hand edge of this area. Large portions of the wall overhang while the rest is vertical, (The Red Wall continues for 160 meters and is the area of greatest difficulty). Start the Red Wall with 8 meters of free climbing and then climb with direct aid to a small stance with one foot in étriers. The next lead is a combination of difficult artificial and free climbing. It bears left over two small overhangs (roofs), to a good stance where water may be found in late afternoon. Above this ledge there is what appears to be a pillar in low relief. Gain this pillar and the cracks above to a poor stance below an overhang. This is an extremely difficult free lead on small holds. From this stance climb the overhang and up a jam crack for 10 meters and then traverse left into a steeply overhanging chimney, with good holds, leading to a ledge. From here traverse up and right on ice, steep snow, and slabs to the couloir between the Hidden and Central pillars, Climb in the couloir and over an overhang of ice near the top. From here climb up and left on broken slabs until the summit of the Hidden Pillar is reached. From here climb the steep loose snow of the arête above for about 200 meters until the firm windslab of the summit ridge is reached. Follow the ridge to the summit of Mont Blanc de Courmayeur.

This climb is now the Frêney face “direct” and the most difficult route on Mont Blanc. The excellent quality of rock, the technical difficulty, the high altitude, and wild surroundings of the FrCney face combine to make a route of great proportions.

Summary of Statistics
AREA: Mont Blanc Alps, France and Italy.
ASCENTS: Aiguille du Fou, summit reached July 26, 1963 (Frost, Fulton, Harlin, Hemming) - first ascent of south face.
Mont Blanc, August 1 and 2, 1963 (Frost, Harlin) - first ascent of Hidden Pillar of Frêney.
PERSONNEL: Thomas Frost, Stewart Fulton, John Harlin, Gary Hemming
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 20, 2012 - 02:34am PT
http://c498469.r69.cf2.rackcdn.com/1970/inmemoriam1970_218-223.pdf

American Alpine Journal, 1970 p.222

GARETH H. HEMMING
1934-1969
Gary Hemming’s death has ended the career of a climber widely believed in Europe to have been among the best in the world. Less well known here - all his important climbs were in Europe - he had close to the same reputation in the community of American climbers. Although not a member of the AAC, his great record makes it appropriate to publish this obituary here.

He started climbing in the early 1950’s at Tahquitz Rock while living in Southern California. He soon met John Harlin, then at Stanford, and, while working in the San Francisco Bay Area, began climbing with him and others from the Stanford Alpine Club in Yosemite. He and I first met on a trip to Mount Rainier in 1957 that included John and Hobey DeStaebler, that was designed, in John’s words, to teach us ice climbing techniques "suddenly," in preparation for a trip we made later that summer to the Battle Range in the Selkirks.

Gary was uneasy and unhappy in the United States and a trip to Europe was the start of a new life for him in an environment freer, for him, of the restraints he sensed so acutely. He climbed in England and then in the Alps, attended the University at Grenoble sporadically, and tried to complete the aspirante guide course in Chamonix in 1961, failing in this for his refusal to dispose of a magnificently unruly beard. He climbed from time to time with Americans and began to eye the very important climbs. He made an attempt on the Walker Spur in winter but was forced off by a particularly ugly storm. This was a climb he completed late in the summer of 1961, the first American ascent of the face. It was a route that fascinated him and several years later he spent some effort in planning a solo ascent to be completed in a single day. It was possibly beyond his powers and the attempts depressed him.

He introduced Yosemite climbing techniques to the Alps starting with a fine new route on the west face of the Petit Dru and, in 1963, with Harlin, Tom Frost and Stuart Fulton, completed a route of great difficulty on the south face of the Fou that had turned back some of the best European climbers. He completed spectacular solo ice climbs on the Aiguille Verte - the Coutourier Couloir - and on the north face of the Triolet.

In the late summer of 1966 two Germans were trapped on a ledge on the standard route on the west face of the Dru. Gary stepped in to lead the rescue expedition and received enormous publicity for his skill in carrying out the rescue. It is not common for Americans to lead French rescue groups - it has happened perhaps just this once.

He climbed with strength and with style and, as his technique improved and his experience increased, he was able to carry out a succession of ascents that made him as well known as any American climber in Europe excepting only John Harlin. As the years passed however, the inner struggles that his friends observed surface from time to time in moody withdrawal or violent outbursts became increasingly intense and finally were too overwhelming to be controlled. When he died, in the Tetons, where some of his earliest climbing was done, it was by his own hand.

HENRY W. KENDALL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 20, 2012 - 02:59am PT
http://c498469.r69.cf2.rackcdn.com/1963/376_kendall_walkerspur_aaj1963.pdf

American Alpine Journal, 1963 p.376

The Walker Spur of the Grande Jorasses
HENRY W. KENDALL


THE GREAT north faces of the Alps have exerted a pecuhar fascination for climbers since the time when climbing techniques became sufficiently advanced for ascents of these routes to be considered seriously. Their combinations of length (and grandeur), technical difficulties and generally poor weather represented to many people the ultimate challenges of Alpine climbing, requiring stamina, a broad variety of techniques and, in some cases, considerable luck to be climbed successfully. Of the six north faces described by Gaston Rébuffat (in his book Starlight and Storm) the Eigerwand is perhaps the most famous. The history of efforts on that face, some successful, so many ending in bitter tragedy, have been the subject of a book (The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer). The face is characterized by great hazard, greater than that found on any of the others. Of the other five north faces, two, the Piz Badile in the Engadine, and the Cima Grande di Lavaredo in the Dolomites, are pure rock climbs. The last three are mixed climbs having both rock and snow and ice in proportions that depend on the season. These climbs are the north faces of the Dru, the Matterhorn and the Grandes Jorasses. Of these the greatest in size, and perhaps the most magnificent, is the face of the Grandes Jorasses. Of all six it is the most difficult technically and, consequently, the only one that has not yet been climbed in the winter.† It has been climbed a number of times in the summer however and there are a number of accounts of such ascents.* A further account of an ascent would not be warranted were it not for the fact that growing interest in Alpine climbing among American climbers makes it useful to publish a complete description of such a big climb in a journal accessible to those tempted to try an ascent. The European climbers, before starting on a major ascent, "do their homework" by assembling what in France is called a "topo". A topo is not a topographic map but is as complete a route description as


†Climbed on January 25-31, 1963 by the Italian guides Walter Bonatti and Cosimo Zapelli.
* For example in: Starlight and Storm by Gaston Rébuffat E. P. Dutton New York 1957;
Die Drei Letzten Problema der Alpen by Anderl Heckmaier, F. Bruckman Munich 1949:
Les Conquérants de l’Inutile by Lionel Terray, Editions Gallimard, Paris 1961.


can be gathered by talking to other climbers who are familiar with the route. A topo is not a supplement to the usually inadequate guidebook description of a major climb-it supplants it entirely. The White Spider contains sufficient information to allow one to construct a topo for the Eigerwand. Gary Hemming had done his homework for the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses and done it well before I met him in Chamonix in the middle of August, 1962. We made two attempts on the principal route on the Grandes Jorasses north face, the Walker Spur, the second being successful. Afterwards we constructed a new topo for the route, based in part on Gary’s earlier and by then quite battered topo. The present article is intended to serve as introduction and commentary for this topo for those climbers who may not have either the time, the language skills, or the wide acquaintance necessary to construct one for themselves.

The Grandes Jorasses has a long summit ridge forming a part of the French-Italian border. The ridge marks the top of the great wall of the north face of the Grandes Jorasses, along whose foot the Mont Mallet glacier runs for over a mile before forming the principal source of the Leschaux glacier, Two particularly striking pillars or spurs reach from the Mont Mallet glacier to two of the half dozen points or summits that lie on the summit ridge, the Michel Croz Spur ending at the Pointe Michel-Croz (13,280 feet), and the Walker Spur which reaches the true summit of the Grandes Jorasses at the Pointe Walker (13,790 feet), Both spurs reach the summit ridge in single unbroken rises.

As early as 1928 there were attempts to force a way up the face. These took place primarily on the Croz or central spur, as it is shorter and somewhat less difficult than the Walker Spur, and is one of the limited number of routes that avoids to a considerable extent the great hazard from rockfall that exists in the couloirs that cut the face. Climbing techniques were still not sufficiently advanced, however, and little progress was made. In 1931 two different German parties attempted the couloir between the spurs; two climbers were killed. In 1932 nearly half a dozen parties, among them Toni Schmid who had first climbed the north face of the Matterhorn, were turned back by the lower smooth slabs of the Walker Spur. In 1933 and in 1934 parties succeeded in pushing further up the Walker Spur, The 1934 attempts were made simultaneously in late July by four parties, three of whom descended in the face of bad weather when about 2000 feet from the summit. One German rope attempted to continue the climb but was forced to retreat from a point higher on the face after a bivouac. One of the climbers fell and was killed in the descent, the other taking two more days in completing the descent alone.

In June of 1935 after a spell of warm weather which put the north face routes in good condition, the Germans Peters and Meier succeeded in their attempt on the Croz Spur.

In August of 1938 the Italians, Cassin, Tiztoni, and Esposito completed the ascent of the Walker Spur. They required three days and their route, with one minor alteration, has remained the only one opened on this spur.

The route was not climbed again until after the war, in the summer of 1945, when the French guides G. Rébuffat and E. Frendo achieved it; again three days were required, with two bivouacs on the face. On this ascent Rébuffat climbed directly up from the headwall above the first ice traverse, a variation to the left of the first ascent route and somewhat to the left of the crest of the spur. This difficult variant, called the "Fissure Rébuffat" or the "Dièdre de 30 metres", is now included as part of the standard route. The following year the guides L. Terray and L. Lachenal made an ascent during which, in bad weather, they became lost and traversed too far to the right of the crest line. They were forced into the couloir high up on the face, the same couloir that had years before claimed the German party. The line they forced on the upper third of the face, in the couloir, on loose, unstable rock was difficult in the extreme and very dangerous. It is called the Terray "Escape" and it was a very narrow one.

By the summer of 1962 about twenty parties had climbed the Grandes Jorasses by the Walker Spur. All attempts to climb it in the winter had been turned back by the combination of winter conditions and the normal difficulties of the route although by that time all the other north faces had been the scenes of winter ascents, in some cases more than one. One of the attempts on the Walker Spur, in the late winter of 1962, had been made by friends of mine, John Harlin and Gary Hemming, who with Hobey DeStaebler and me had made a trip in to the Battle Range in British Columbia in 1957.

By the time I encountered Gary in middle August, he had already had the opportunity to complete a number of climbs in the Chamonix area, among them a fine new route on the west face of the Dru. Gary has a good command of French and when I met him was finishing up at the aspirant-guide school in Chamonix.

Our first attempt on the Walker Spur was intended to follow the standard two-day schedule. We left the Leschaux Refuge about 1:30 A.M. shortly followed by a Swiss party of three and a French party of two, A spell of fine weather had brought, as it turned out, over a dozen people to try the ascent of the Walker. We were carrying bivouac equipment and had pared down the weight of our equipment so either of us could lead without having to swap packs or to haul them. We roped up just before a clear windless dawn and started climbing as soon as there was enough light to see by. By 7:30 we were high enough so we could see massed black clouds on the horizon toward Geneva, although it was clear and sunny in the mountains. We had, by this time, seen other climbers ahead of us on the route who had apparently bivouacked not many pitches from the bottom. The weather soon deteriorated with a speed that is characteristic of the Alps. Within a few hours the route above us was entirely hidden by a chill mist, the blue sky was gone and a cold biting wind had started. Everyone turned back except one English party who were high on the face. The retreat required nearly seven hours and was accompanied by considerable rockfall. Aside from the obvious utility of hard hats (everyone wears them except the French), we had learned also a lot about the route up to the "Dièdre de 75 metres", our project to lead with packs on, and the lesson so unfamiliar to American climbers: the necessity for great speed.

During the next attempt three days later, we had the route essentially to ourselves for we had been able to work out a timetable that avoided other climbers but which cut the climb into two satisfactory segments. We left a base camp not far from Montenvers at eight A.M. after a good night’s sleep. We roped up at one P.M. carrying packs which had been lightened even more than for the earlier attempt. In six hours, just as the sun set, we reached the Frendo-Rébuffat bivouac site, a little less than half way up the climb but with considerably less than half of the difficult climbing complete. We had both decided to bring crampons and axes for the two upward ice-traverse pitches below the crux pitch of the first day, the Fissure Rébuffat, for the traverse of the "Bandes de Neige" after this crux pitch and for the descent into Italy. It was a wise decision.

The bivouac area is narrow and uncomfortable, and our topo failed to show the good sites three or four pitches further up. Although the temperature was well below freezing we had fine weather with clear skies and little wind. We were slow starting the following morning because of the cold-in August the morning sun doesn’t shine on that part of the route. The weather held fine during the day and we reached the summit about twenty minutes before sunset having climbed for over an hour in the late afternoon sun. Of the second day’s climbing the most difficult sections were found on the "Tour Grise", the most dangerous ones on the "Tour Rousse". The chimney on the "Tour Rousse" apparently cannot be avoided but it is rotten unstable rock and difficult to protect adequately. Once the exit from this chimney has been reached not only are good bivouac sites immediately at hand but there are no further difficulties ahead.

We descended the Italian side of the Grandes Jorasses using our headlamps and reached the refuge just after midnight, The descent is complicated and cannot be found easily without either prior knowledge or a guidebook description. It does not require a rope except during travel on the glacier.

The fine weather that held before and during our ascent had insured that the route was in excellent condition and as a result the climb had proceeded easily and without incident. The rappel about half-way up the route leaves a party at a place from which retreat would be difficult. A sudden bad storm catching a party en route on the upper half of the climb could easily create a serious situation from which escape would be very taxing. Such a possibility constitutes an important potential hazard and one that has to be considered in selection of food and equipment. (Terray gives an interesting account of his escape under such circumstances.) The consequence of this and other Alpine circumstances mean that it is hard to grade the difficulty of the various pitches in a meaningful way. A sudden freezing rain can change a grade 4 friction pitch into one that is impossible to ascend and hazardous to descend. In the topo we have, for the sake of consistency, made the assignments assuming the route to be in good condition and snow or ice, where indicated, is probably permanent and less extensive than might be met in other circumstances. The assignments of the difficulties should clearly be regarded as lower limits, Because of these uncertainties we felt it was not worthwhile to use the Yosemite decimal system but we have shown the correspondence between it and the French roman-numeral system. Climbing time as shown is based on an ascent with good conditions.

There is no question that the Walker Spur is on one of the most magnificent of the Alpine north faces and that an ascent lives up to expectations. We both enjoyed the climb enormously.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 20, 2012 - 03:06am PT
http://c498469.r69.cf2.rackcdn.com/1963/375_robbins_petitdru_aaj1963.pdf

American Alpine Journal, 1963 p.375

A New Route on the Petit Dru
West Face Direct
ROYAL ROBBINS


IN JULY, Gary Hemming and I made a new route on the northwest shoulder of the Dru, one of the most striking peaks in the Mont Blanc massif. This route, about 1600 feet long on a 3000-foot face, terminates when it meets the regular west face route at the famous 90-Meter Dihedral. The route is very direct and involves almost no snow and ice climbing. There is considerable direct-aid work and several areas of difficult free climbing. We placed 96 pitons and removed 94.

One abortive attempt preceded the successful effort. On this occasion we passed a comfortable night at the 1000-foot level only to be awakened in the morning by showers and a strong south wind, Lightning counseled descent, which we accomplished without much fuss simply by rappelling straight down to the glacier, leaving a fixed line over the hardest pitch.

The successful ascent was started a few days later and completed in 2½ days. The weather favored us with two perfectly cloudless warm days. It broke on the third day with strong winds and snow showers, but nothing of real consequence. We reached the Bloc Coincé, a large detached block at the base of the 90-Meter Dihedral, in the early afternoon of the second day, then proceeded up the west-face route to where it meets the north-face route. We climbed the north face to the Bonatti Pillar and followed the Pillar route to the voie normale, whereby we reached the summit at 11:30 A.M. on July 26, 1962. On the Bonatti Pillar we met two young Swiss, Erich Friedli and Hans Peter Trachsel, superb alpinists who gave us a humbling lesson in how to get rapidly off a mountain under alpine conditions.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 4, 2012 - 12:26pm PT
Here is a citation in the form of an ebay listing...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-mountain-sports-magazine-february-1996-Gary-Hemming-death-of-a-Hero-/160838194248?pt=Magazines&hash=item2572b41448

Hurry up and bid!
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Aug 29, 2012 - 11:39pm PT
Steve, The item is not available any more as I already bid for it.
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 18, 2012 - 10:23am PT
I have a copy of this, it's a great precis of the rescue.


I am sorry that I haven't posted any updates of late- I have a bunch of leads to follow up now and I'm also trying to work on all the other commitments of life/young family/work etc.

Dom


Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Sep 21, 2012 - 01:31pm PT
I started climbing in San Diego with Hemming, Jerry Gallwas, George Schlieff, Barbara Lilley. Those were the movers of the time in the Rock Climbing Section of the SD Sierra Club chapter. I don't think either Gary or Jerry had been climbing long - I believe Jerry was 18 and Gary not much different. Our nursery was not Tahquitz, but Mission Gorge, but we filtered out to Joshua Tree and Tahquitz whenever possible, and eventually to Yosemite.

Gary wasn't an instant genius at climbing. None of us were. He and I went onto an overhanging pinnacle at Mission Gorge to practice belaying. I was the belayer, he the live bait. I anchored in BESIDE me, got into the standing hip belay, and he took ten feet of slack and stepped off. Next thing I knew I was hanging out almost horizontally stinking of burned skin and fear, and he came to a stop a couple of feet above the rocks. Good learning experience.

Jerry, Gary and I went out to the shop of a climber - a Navy man - named Omar Conger. He had a small forge there. We experimented making pitons, even making ones to fit specific cracks at times. The metallurgy left something to be desired. With the early pitons, you could use them about three times before the head snapped off. If you see some rusting blades back in Tahquitz cracks, they might well be ours.

I remember watching him follow his first aid lead at Tahquitz and remove the piton he was standing in.

I have a memory of belaying him while he did the Horn at Tahquitz. There was a big detached slab on the traverse just before the Horn, and when he got on it it slipped off. He went riding it down like a sled, shouting "rock!" and "Yahoo!" until I plucked him off.

When we first went to Yosemite we were told there had to be a SC Qualified Leader with every party. We didn't have any. So Gallwas, Hemming and I got together and drew up a qualified leader test. It wasn't bad, either - we learned something in the exercise. And we declared ourselves qualified leaders. I think Barbara, too.

Jerry and I and Gary went up to try the Arrow tip after a couple of years, and the Supt. told us Jerry had to have a letter from his parents. So Gary and I decided to try YPB. I think it had been done only once or twice at the time. So we went up with a late start and thrashed very clumsily, caught by dark on the main buttress ledge. It was Easter, and cold, and we weren't prepared. There was a little fallen wood on the ledge and we made
a fire and spent the night huddling together. (If you find traces of charcoal there, it was us.) In the morning, Gary started the lead off the buttress and fell twice. (We were using the primo shoe of the time, Converse tennies.) That pissed him off, and the third time he just flew up it. He climbed best when he was stirred up.

Gary went to Europe and I lost track of him, except for the news items like the Dru. He came back to the US when I was the Wonder Lake District Ranger at Denali. He had come in through Anchorage and came up to visit. He wasn't the same guy. It was great to see him but he had a pretty negative attitude about almost everything. He made no effort to control his language, and it was a bit of a nervous strain to introduce him to anybody who wasn't a climber. He also said that he was disgusted with the Alps - "There's sh#t on every ledge. I'm ashamed to be an alpiniste", he said.

One time he dug into his pack and showed me a small revolver. "I carry this to defend myself from the cops," he said. I didn't know whether to take him seriously. We know how he used it.

Memory is fallible, but those are bits I think I remember.














Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Sep 21, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
Great anecdotes. This is The Taco at it's best!!!!!
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Sep 21, 2012 - 06:37pm PT
GREAT POSTING, Wayne! It is stories like this that bring life to the people and events of day and years long gone bye! Thanks so much for sharing your stories.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 06:45pm PT
Yeah, no kidding Wayne. A very important perspective and reminiscence, to say the least. Thanks a great deal!!

PH
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:28pm PT
Just remembered another Hemming incident. When we started in San Diego we were all stony broke most of the time and good hardware was hard to come by. In addition, the "leave no trace" ethic had been mentioned, so we worked pretty hard to remove pins. Anyway, one time Gary went back east and came back with a huge rack of pins. Only later did we learn that when he got a look at the Gunks and saw all the fixed pins, carefully placed by club elders, he thought he had found a gold mine. So he applied the western ethic and harvested. I imagine the air turned blue when the vandalism was discovered, but a lot of Gunks fixed pins found their way into Tahquitz and Yosemite granite, via Hemming. But the east got its revenge by sending the Vulgarians to Yosemite.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:31pm PT
Oh yes Wayne they sent us the "Duke of Earl."

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1053300/Claude-Suhl-The-Duke-of-Earl-and-1962
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:35pm PT
Looks like the old Duke is missing so try this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9PoUsRibtE
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:40pm PT
Ah, the Vulgarians!

Real life Vulgarians by Glen Denny
Real life Vulgarians by Glen Denny
Credit: guido
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:41pm PT
Credit: Guck
Cover
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:41pm PT
Credit: Guck
P1
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:42pm PT
Credit: Guck
p2
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:43pm PT
Credit: Guck
p3
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:43pm PT
Credit: Guck
p5
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:44pm PT
Credit: Guck
p6
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:45pm PT
Credit: Guck
p7
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:46pm PT
Credit: Guck
p8
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:46pm PT
Credit: Guck
p9
Guck

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 21, 2012 - 11:48pm PT
Credit: Guck
p4

Sorry this last page is out of sequence. Overwhelmed by technology!! This article understates the immense influence Gary had on young alpine climbers like me. For many, he is still the hero he was in the sixties!!
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2012 - 06:36am PT
Fair play

I think this gives such good context to the whole place Hemming came to occupy and represent for subsequent generations such as myself too.

I remember reading this back in '96 and just recognising that so much of what we think of as iconic from the alpine climbing of the '60's is represented here.

Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2012 - 07:05am PT
Credit: Dom Green
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2012 - 07:13am PT
Credit: Dom Green
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 3, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
More on Henry Kendall here...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=945436&msg=1755005#msg1755005
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 3, 2013 - 01:55pm PT
Dom

I agree; I think you have a really interesting and iconic subject to work with here. Carry on, certainly! Obviously there was quite a bit going on with Hemming; it's true he mirrored his era, making your account or movie potentially awfully intriguing while being important in much wider ways. Hopefully you will find out enough to give your work terrific richness and mis-en-scene. He obviously had a bunch of lives going on simultaneously.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 26, 2013 - 02:29pm PT
Dom, hopefully you are still carrying on with your Hemming project. I just finished Joe Fitschen's book Going Up and found Hemming mentioned often in the volume. You might find some it interesting, although Joe doesn't really focus on Hemming.
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 23, 2013 - 06:17am PT
Hi Peter

Thanks so much for not forgetting me!

Apologies for the delay - spilling drink on my laptop has been something of a punctuation in my progress!! Anyway - back on track.

I have indeed been working on the project this whole time. It has been very fruitful.

Thanks so much for the tip on "Going Up" I'll be reading that next. I've been reading a couple ofbooks by UK climbers who knew Hemming, mentioned earlier in the thread.

I was prompted to get back on track today on the news of Layton Kor's passing - my thoughts, best wishes/prayers go to his family and friends. Sorry to hear this sad news.

I'll be sure to keep in touch with this thread over time.

Dom

Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - May 9, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Hi
So far I've been following up quite a number of the leads give me by you guys on this Forum. I had no luck reaching Herb Swedlund, Bill Briggs, a couple of others too.

I haven't had much luck finding out further details of the Teton tea party he attended. I have heard some of the story, but I would be interested to hear more.

Credit: Dom Green

courtesy of Dominique Thomas, with thanks
courtesy of Dominique Thomas, with thanks
Credit: Dom Green
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
May 9, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
Dom, give Jackson Hole Mtn Guides a call. I am almost sure they could help you in tracking down Herb, and probably Bill Briggs (not the brother of Roger) too.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
May 9, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
Bill Briggs
295 E Snow King Ave
Jackson, WY 83001-9167
Home (307) 733-2453



Herbert Swedlund
Po Box 81
Twin Bridges, MT 59754
(406) 684-5841


I hope this helps Dom.

Last I heard, Bill still hangs out in the Virginian with his friends and his band plays on occasion at the Stagecoach in Wilson.
open mind

Big Wall climber
italy
May 11, 2013 - 07:09am PT
in italy there's a book...." gary hemming una storia degli anni 60 ". Is a good book gary is a heroes for me.
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Hey that's great, thanks very much.
I think that's the address for Bill that I had before but the letter was returned. I'll try the number.

I'll write to Herb too.

Thanks for the link to the biog, it was released in the UK too and I have had a bit of contact with Mirella Tenderini some time ago.

Great stuff - thanks everyone. Lots going on at the moment. I'll keep this thread updated.

cheers

Dom

Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
May 12, 2013 - 07:22pm PT
Dom, if Bill isn't at that address let us know. I know dozens of climbers in Jackson and will ask around if he's moved. He was an eminent local mentor and torchbearer for climbing/skiing for many years and a popular musician.

...I'm thinking not likely to move out of Jackson except in critical circumstances
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 13, 2013 - 12:59pm PT
I think people have covered much of what I would have said,
my friend Mirella's bio and, of course, all the notes and facts
and info she couldn't fit into the book might be a source if she
were willing to share. Jim Perrin is an insightful and resourceful
person.... I don't know if Bill Briggs is still around, but he was
intimate with Hemming in the Tetons. You might contact Jody's father,
who was a ranger in the Tetons during those times and is still
a wise source of information and memories. There is so much about
Gary's suicide that seems never to have been quite resolved, the why's,
the if's (if it had to do with acid, if he had been mercilessly
harangued by cohorts in the Tetons until his fragile soul broke, and
so much more, some strange stuff about spirit travel and (I will
leave unnamed) religions that started to concern him in an already
paranoid state of mind.... Maybe those aren't things to go into in
a film. I don't know, but he had a complex life psychologically. That
was a notable element of who he was. Dave Dornan, I believe, is still
around and might be a well-spring of valuable thoughts.
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - May 22, 2013 - 09:24am PT
Thank you, that is indeed worth a follow-up.

As a project, the whole thing had become more serious now:-

http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/cannes/moviehouse-launches-production-arm/5056398.article

Thanks Patrick and Jennie - I'll try those contacts and post/contact when I have done so.

Dom
Dom Green

Trad climber
Sheffield UK
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 10, 2013 - 08:18am PT
Hi there

I've been busy on the research trail. I got to meet with James Salter at the literary festival earlier in the summer. He's doing well for 88. We had a brief conversation and he mentioned how he had climbed with Royal Robbins and knew Mick Burke well.

The film project is progressing well.

I haven't had any luck with contacting Bill Briggs as yet, my letter got returned.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 1, 2014 - 12:19pm PT
Update Bump...
Messages 1 - 139 of total 139 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews