Crackjacks from 1964


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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 25, 2006 - 05:03pm PT
Les Wilson and I designed a device for providing protection or aid in wide cracks. It was simple, just a turnbuckle in reverse and in fact the first units were just large drop-forged iron store-bought turnbuckles with angle iron welded on each end. But as they were very heavy, we then produced a couple dozen aluminum units which had tubing midsections that could be exchanged for different lengths. The units were quite light and tremendously strong. They could be cranked by a hammer even, if necessary. In fact in a number of placements, we broke old climbing rope trying to pull them out of cracks with an automobile and a bunch of slack allowed at the beginning of the test.

So here they are, shortly after manufacturer in 1964:

And here they are in a truly novel photo of myself at the age of 16, aiding the right side of the Hourglass in 1964, shortly after Sacherer freed this tremendous although short route.

and a general view of the beautiful rt side from the base:

The crackjack was even carried by The Ski Hut, thanks to Al Steck who ran the store back then. Hardly any sold of course, they were really expensive and weird for the time. But they provided the strongest point ever, in wider cracks (3.5" and up). The ends were loose-pinned to the spindles.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
May 25, 2006 - 05:05pm PT
Cool azz hell Peter!

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
May 25, 2006 - 05:07pm PT
Whoa, innovative!

Thanks for posting that. When I was up on Salathe gettin' skerred I kept thinking about your solo.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
May 25, 2006 - 05:08pm PT
Hey Peter, do you still have any of those contraptions? I don't remember ever seeing you with them. Did you use them on the Salathe or any other routes?

Also, pretty cool lounge chair. He he.

Social climber
The West
May 25, 2006 - 05:15pm PT

Gym climber
May 25, 2006 - 05:19pm PT
Hey Peter, did you ever try to stack those?

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 25, 2006 - 05:20pm PT
Hi Buds,

No, by the time I got out of college (1970) and really got back into climbing, I had not a single one of the units. Maybe Les Wilson had/or does. Bridwell had one, which he kept hidden for years, in his stuff, but he did show it to me secretly. Or maybe I gave him that one, I don't remember.

More on them: One end of the unit simply rotated, the other had thread I think it was 5/8-11NC. The spindles and the caps were of two different aluminums to prevent thread-galling under pressure. The tubes were interchangeable and held in place by stainless steel spring pieces bent to pin into little holes in the tubing and spindles which matched. The wobbly angle ends, captive by a cotter pin through the end as it appeared through the drilled-through vee side of the angle wer 6061-t6 maybe, or softer, maybe t0. Since the tube (6061 or so) had a hole drilled through the center of it for a small sling for screwing the units in or out, you could really cram these things in there, to the point they rang like bells, or old fashion bongs. They were capable of a certain amount of flare, and handling rugosities and so forth. They could even be placed one-handed by someone used to them.

We did no significant ascents with these things. The whole thing was so obscure and kooky then, but now is of course kind of interesting, especially since even now, there is nothing this strong and versatile on the market. And at the time they seemed super-awkward to have on your hardware sling, but nowadays, the big friends are obviously even more ungainly.

best to you all , P


Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
May 25, 2006 - 05:44pm PT
Hi, if anyone does have one of these they'd part with I'd happily forward it on to Stephane's Nut Museum and if there were a trove of them available I'm sure Marty Karabin's collection and the Yosemite Climbing Museum would love to have one as well...

beneath the valley of ultravegans
May 25, 2006 - 06:11pm PT
Man, you've got the Way Back Machine on tilt.

Out of curiosity, did you ever run across a guy named Pat Merrill around that time? He was from the Claremont (SoCal) area and climbed with the Gleason bothers.

Thanks for posting this stuff. It's rad beyond words.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 25, 2006 - 06:17pm PT
Hi Martyr,

(extremely funny name btw). I had to have met him, as I hung out with the Gleasons a fair amount, but never climbed with them, that I can remember. Why do you ask?

Trad climber
May 25, 2006 - 06:18pm PT
that is nice!

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
May 25, 2006 - 08:00pm PT

pre-cursor to these?

very cool, thx for sharing.

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
May 25, 2006 - 08:13pm PT
Right Side of the Hourglass! nice...I remember doing that with Kauk a long time ago. Full blown Valley classic. Nice pic too! We were trying to be as bad azz as the Haan - king of the off-width at the time!

Cool stuff Peter! cheers, jb

hither and yon
May 25, 2006 - 08:20pm PT

That's tight, thanks for the post.

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 25, 2006 - 08:43pm PT
Harding Slot?

beneath the valley of ultravegans
May 25, 2006 - 10:15pm PT
Pat is my uncle--one of two who helped get me into climbing. My folks went to school with the Gleasons and Paul and Phil are still talked about on occasion. The "Inland Empire" (second only to the Holy Roman) was, I guess, a little bit of a hub of cool stuff once upon a time. Tobin lived up in Barrit Canyon (Mt. Baldy area), Largo and Richard Harrison climbed electric a huge electric tower out near Etiwanda, AlpineLite packs were made there. Oh, and I guess there was a shop called Pack and Piton that was a hang of sorts for lurkers and hard men. This, of course, is all way way before I was born.

Trad climber
the south
May 25, 2006 - 10:29pm PT
Thanks for all these great threads!

May 25, 2006 - 10:52pm PT

Post a picture of the left side of the classic "Hourglass" please if you have one.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 26, 2006 - 01:33am PT
Werner my wonderful old bud,

Yeah, left side of the HOurglass photos coming up next!!

Best to you, P

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
May 26, 2006 - 08:06am PT
JB: the Haan - king of the off-width at the time!

We did the Haan var. on the North Face (Lover's Leap) a while back. That thing sees no love. Pretty tricky niner, IMO stouter than Traveler's crux.
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