*Name Your Favorite Mag Based Climbing Lit Pieces and Why*


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kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Apr 26, 2006 - 09:25am PT
Who wrote that Tulgey Wood story? I met some literary-type climbers from Minnesota once at Devil"s Tower where I think there's also a route by that name.

Trad climber
Apr 26, 2006 - 09:25am PT
There are two from the mid to late-nineties that have stuck with me. Neither were of the best quality, but both were creative. I wish I would have save the articles, or remembered more.

This first was about 2 guys that climbed some Hueco Tanks wall in "big wall" style after being told by some barfly they weren't real men until they had done one. IIRC, they took with them a 30ft piece of webbing, a case of beers, and a single crampon. There was a line in their that just cracked me up, something to the effect that the narrator looked ino the sky and didn't see a cloud, and although he was no expert, figured the weather pattern was stable. Since the temps were near 85, he figured he wouldn't need to pull out the crampon yet.

The second was a fictional piece about some young climber that was talking into leading some desert monolithic tower by some old guy in a local bar. the description of the climbers was pretty decent, and the story had a couple of twists (I don't remeber whether the old guy told the younger he had climbed it in his youth, which he actually had not done, or the other way around).

Any how, both stuck with me, and there are times when I am out clibing when I can vividly remember the sensations of both stories.


Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Apr 26, 2006 - 10:05am PT
I agree w/ you, TarB, that Peter Croft's article about Squamish was one of the best I've ever read.

.....in a single wide......
Apr 26, 2006 - 10:32am PT
Mountain Mag 60 was a goodie. It has the Tom Higgen's history and mini-guide for Tuolumne Meadows. Not gripping in the manner of we've been talkin about, but reading about the routes and seeing pics of dotted lines on those domes fueled dreams and fears..

That same mag had the People feature on Grammici tearing up England (plus making porat- ledges, doing walls, etc..

I even recall the little blurb on Suicide Rock; included a pic of Yaniro on the FFA of The Pirate

Social climber
The West
Apr 26, 2006 - 11:30am PT
The Tulgey Wood one in one of the best ever.
The guys internal dialog while leading the thin pitch-"they died so young..."

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Apr 26, 2006 - 12:10pm PT
Dave Pagel is the Minnesotan. That thing is classic, as is his story of the epic drive back to Minneapolis fron Boulder. It has many good lines: about the stereo playing so loud "it sets up a standing wave in my brain"; "I am probably clinically dead",the Boulder ideal of how the body is a temple, to be nourished only with macrobiotic foods, and then filled with all the mind-altering substances I can afford. An all-timer.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 26, 2006 - 01:07pm PT
maybe you missed this:

[url="http://home.comcast.net/~e.hartouni/doc/greatest_climber.txt"]The Greatest Climber In The World by Bernard Amy[/url]

Crestline CA
Apr 26, 2006 - 01:16pm PT
Yo.... John Longs "Rats" about the old Yosemite wall climbers... I still get all teary whenever I read it, which is fairly often ... Nice John!!!

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 26, 2006 - 01:20pm PT
Thanks Ed H!
(greatest climber)
Now BVB does not have to fax it to me!
What we really need is to do links to everyone of these great suggestions, or burn them to cd a la bachar/werner video.

I'm not volunteering!
(carry on...)
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Apr 26, 2006 - 03:19pm PT
I don't think that either of my two favorites has been mentioned: Kroger’s report on the first ascent of the 'Heart Route’ and Robbins account of ‘Tis-sa-ack.’ I think both were originally published in ‘Ascent.’

‘Tis-sa-ack’ stands out, in hindsight for me, as mirroring the ending of the ‘Golden Age’ of Yosemite climbing. The first few paragraphs have a tone of wistfulness about the ‘regulars,’ notably Pratt, not getting together to climb the new route. Then the whole tone of the article changes as Robbins and Patterson start climbing and in the process define the divide between the old generation and the new.

Although I did not know Patterson, and was new, it seems to me that the story and the story telling summed up the end of the era, the loosening of the bonds that held the old group together, and the incomprehensibleness of the new guys.

Robbins’ concept for telling the story—he writes in the first person for each of the players—is stellar. It really is if each person were telling his side of the story, in a private, no holds barred late night conversation.

Robbins nails himself and also nails some of the personal characteristics of Roper and Pratt, guys he had know and climbed with for years. The article also captures the tensions created mostly by the 60’s climbers growing up and the attendant complications—some of the same tensions I saw first hand play out a few years later.

Kroger, on the other hand, poke fun at the whole idea of the heroes of the day, both old and new. The images he portrays were hilarious in their conjuring up images of Bridwell and Schmitz as barbarians—“Let’s call them ‘Jim’ and ‘Kim’”--and in capturing everyone’s silly awe of Robbins with their description of desperate racing around on the top of El Cap looking for him when they topped out. They were sure that he would have come to meet them—they only climbed it so that Robbins would like them!!! Ha.

On a personal note, some of my best memories are hanging out at Roper’s in Berkeley. Pratt had a little enclosed porch for a room and I lived a few blocks away. The place was almost always full of the climbing literary types. The behind the scenes look at Steve and Chuck editing ‘Ascent’ was priceless, whether it was sitting in the living room with piles of paper strewn about or arguing writing style into the late afternoon over bottles of wine, after the waiters had left, and someone was already mopping the floor. Steve and Chuck would take stuff that was just a notch above random words delivered in a sack with a proposed title and work them into what the ‘author’ would have loved to be able to say if only he had the talent. Those massive edits jobs always sounded as if they were written in the ‘author’s’ voice and never sounded like Steve or Chuck--absolute masters at word-smithing.

I think both stories are in Roper's "Ordeal by Piton" collection.

Edit: It looks like I went a little overboard on the 'why' part of the question. Sorry. Further edit: I checked some of my facts.

John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Apr 26, 2006 - 03:20pm PT
Another vote for Dorworth's "Night Driving" in Mountain Gazette. Read it many times BITD because it really evoked the sense of adventure that began with the drive in those days. With two lane roads instead of interstates for most of the way, getting there was a much bigger part of the fun than it is now.

Another fine one, a tad more obscure, was "Smiley's Last Climb" by Robin Smith in an early Mountain, about a climb in the Alps. He had a wry, spare style that left you wanting more.
scuffy b

S Cruz
Apr 26, 2006 - 06:11pm PT
Yeah, Robin Smith! I can't remember the title But I really
dug the only thing of his I read. Maybe "The Bat and the Wicked"

The account of the 1st ascent of the Heart that stuck with me
is the one from Vulgarian Digest. Comic book format.
"Great hairy giants" chasing them away from the Dawn Wall.

One of my all-time favorites is The Conquest of Tillie's Lookout
which was republished in Ascent 1969(?)
Originally published in Mad with illustrations but I don't remember the author.
It had a nice glossary. Rumpage is the only technical term I recall right now.
I guess it was inspired by The Ascent of Rum Doodle.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 26, 2006 - 06:51pm PT
OK, someone's got to transcribe Dorworth's "Night Driving" from Mountain Gazette 'cause I could only find fragments and it does seem worth the read....

...please someone do it!!

also, I'll work on some of these other gems.

And thanks for going overboard Roger, it is all too easy to sit back and read the magazines and anthologies without appreciating the hell the editors go through to make something really good. When you have superlative climbers AND surpelative editors and writers puttting together a magazine editions you get something like Ascent and Mountain which shine brighter with age. It is what is lacking from most of the current magazine literature.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 26, 2006 - 07:53pm PT
y'all should learn to search the Forum, but this was posted on a previous thread:

[url="http://home.comcast.net/~e.hartouni/doc/Justification.txt"]Justification for an elitist attitude by Mark Twight[/url]

but you can avoid the shitstorm that erupted over "copyright" issues....

Social climber
My Subconcious
Apr 26, 2006 - 07:56pm PT
Robbins account of Tis-sack is well written. The way he pokes fun of himself is excellent. Twight has written some good stuff, although his stories sometimes sound like the arrogant musings of an angst ridden alpinist. Pete Takeda wrote a story about driving across the bridges in Yosemite backwards at night. The story left vivid images in my mind and whenever I walk across Swinging Bridge I chuckle. I like John's stories about Yabo, Tobin, et al.

Excellent thread.

Trad climber
Durango, Co
Apr 26, 2006 - 08:15pm PT
I couldn't find a free version of Dorworth's "Night Driving: " on the internet but it is included in this anthology that Mountain Gazette released a couple of years ago. There are a bunch of other classics in here to. It is worth the cash in my opinion.


.....in a single wide......
Apr 26, 2006 - 08:17pm PT
Tom Patey- A Walk with Whillans
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 26, 2006 - 08:26pm PT
jclimb - I looked at the Table of Contents and Coyote Song by Dorworth is included but I didn't see Night Driving
Dingus Milktoast

Apr 26, 2006 - 08:27pm PT
Oh yeah, that Patey article is gold Jerry, GOLD!

He did another about climbers,

The Art of Climbing Down Gracefully

about the common and expert ploys of old clymr 'can't go climbing' excuses... absolutely brilliant.

The Professionals

was another great Patey article.


Trad climber
Reno NV
Apr 26, 2006 - 10:12pm PT
My old MGs are in Tucson, but I'm in Reno. They'd be hard to OCR, even if they were here.
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