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Hobart, Australia
Dec 28, 2012 - 01:03pm PT
got more "glory days" scans if you're interested...

Tex, leading every pitch on Astroman was definitely an early goal of my climbing career.
Interesting looking at my own notes--back then, I only called myself a "5.11b" climber, because I could solidly lead all kinds of 5.11b (flash onsight, in other words), including offwidth. I think the hardest offwidth I could flash was 5.11b, hence the 5.11b overall self-rating. But I had also flashed a bunch of 5.11d's and a couple 5.12a/b's back in the day... (but sometimes I didn't flash routes of those grades, not to mention that I couldn't dream of doing any offwidths harder than "Bad Ass Momma" at 5.11d, so I never called myself a "5.12 climber").

Is "flash" even used anymore? It meant: first try, no hangs, etc. Back then, it really seemed the only definition of true "free climbing". Like Jim Erikson had wrote in his Boulder guide, any time you hung, you used aid and one could never consider that particular route as climbed free (I paraphrase).

Another interesting memory from looking at these old notes is the new route on Conness I did with Grant (and someone else I vaguely recall--maybe Walt?). There doesn't seem to be any record in that in the current guides. I had almost completely forgotten about that route, climbed during one of my tenures on the Tuolumne Rescue team.

Oakland, CA
Dec 28, 2012 - 02:08pm PT
Post 'em if you got 'em, Deuce --

Trad climber
Dec 28, 2012 - 02:10pm PT
That's cool Duece.

In 1990, 1991. Just learning to climb in boulder area, I was on a Jim Erickson Trip. Every morning before heading out to climb, I would look in the guide book for his name find one of his climbs and go at it. There was no other option for me but to Flash or Onsight the route. Many years later I started soloing some of his routes after coming back from the Valley. Kind of slowed down on that.

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Dec 28, 2012 - 02:14pm PT
Hey Duece -

I, for one, would love to see all this information in a thread of it's own. I would hate to see all this great history buried in this thread when there is obviously a lot of your experiences that I would get a huge kick out of reading. Love what's been put up so far!

Dec 28, 2012 - 02:20pm PT
Hey Deuce (John Middledorf?)

You were president of the Dartmouth Outing Club, if I read correctly)? Do you have stories of what the club was like in the early 80s? I am a more recent dartmouth grad

Hobart, Australia
Dec 28, 2012 - 04:19pm PT
Hi Matt-

I was briefly the president of DMC for a summer session. All the upper classmen had left for the summer. We had weekly toprope meetings on the tower--is that still a toprope arena? We had some hard variations on it, I recall. (btw, it's "Middendorf" ;).

Here's some more spray on Yosemite climbs:

Credit: deuce4

Can't seem to find any notes of all the climbs I did in the desert from '86 on, but I recall making a list at one point...

Some stuff from 1993:
Credit: deuce4

ps: thanks for the good words Vegas, but I can't really bring myself to post a me-thread. Seems like this fits in with the climber's progression theme...

Oakland, CA
Dec 30, 2012 - 12:52am PT
Deuce, what year did you guys climb the Grand Voyage on Trango?

(Side note: I'm typing in the tiny town of Boulder, UT right now, where your photographer for that Pakistan trip, Ace, calls home these days. Really nice guy.)

Hobart, Australia
Dec 30, 2012 - 01:48am PT
Gotta love Ace, the most mellow guy to accompany an expedition you can imagine. He was a great addition to our team.

We climbed the Grand Voyage summer of 1992.


Hobart, Australia
Dec 30, 2012 - 05:05pm PT
Good post Riley-

I was often amused, back in the day, when peers would disdain wall climbing, saying something like, "I'll big wall climb when I'm too old to free climb." Because the type of wall climbing we were doing--faster, cleaner, more efficient, less gear--required being bold and willing to cut loose with free climbing to save time, in the realm of training for the big mountains...

I was especially amused by the second ascent of Kali Yuga upper pitches--on one pitch I had led on the first ascent, Walt had really pushed me on a "5.9, A3" ptich--the pitch involved hooking laterally right from the belay (looking at a bit of a nasty fall back into a corner below the belay). At the end of the traverse, I prepared to put in a bolt, which even though I could place in a few minutes, Walt got agitated, and told me, "mantle up, mantle up" as if I were a loser if I didn't. He probably didn't realise the wall slightly bulged there making the mantle more daunting, as I had considered it, but decided to drill and had pulled out the bolt bag. Anyway, Walt was having none of it--if any of you have climbed with Walt, you will know he could be pretty intense on climbs--and cajoled me into going for the free move instead of drilling. It was a fairly desperate mantle, and (we never wore helmets in those days) with a pretty nasty fall potential. I rated that pitch 5.9 A3 I believe, but it was probably a 5.10 mantle or harder, especially with full aid rack on the shoulders.

Anyway, on the second ascent, a well known "5.13 climber", whom I won't name here, drilled off the hook move instead of going for it free. That kind of summed it up for me at the time--doing mixed aid and 5.9 and 5.10 in a mountain setting, fast and efficient as possible, required special skills that no amount of 5.13 sport climbing could really benefit.

On Great Trango, time was critical, and we climbed a lot of 5.10 sections interspersed with the aid--if we hadn't, it would have taken days more, and who knows if we would have made it--logistically it was quite a challenging climb. The kind of 5.10 I'm talking about is generally way more committing and challenging than 5.11 with a t-shirt and a light rack.

Though I must say, I've been really impressed with Mark Hudon's revival into big wall climbing--of course he borders on super human--but the way he's taken up big wall climbing and climbing them in great style is quite awesome. He was a free-climbing star back in the day, and someone who, if he said as a youth, "I'll take up aid big wall climbing when I'm old(er)", it would have been an understatement.

Ah, the word, "style" popped up--that word has caused quite a stir on other threads, but it really roots the essence of what we were doing in the 80's in contrast to the previous generation of big wallers. Big wall climbing was evolving... (and it's evolved quite a bit since then--guys like Aamon took it up a notch or two).

Dec 30, 2012 - 05:38pm PT
I don't see walls as a regression unless you're in a rut in the Ditch or the like. Doing walls was all about preparing for the mountains (along with solid free climbing of course). To do long alpine rock routes, you need these techniques and where better to climb gorgeous clean and airy walls?

Plus, Yosemite is a hella fun place when you're in that zone with good partners.

Social climber
granada hills
Jan 1, 2013 - 03:58pm PT
My progression to Big Walling.

You ever tell someone that you climb? Here is what happens when I say "I am a climber." They say “like on El Cap?” Or they say “you mean you sleep on the wall?” After I say no, I try to explain that what I do is harder, cooler, or that aid climbing was old school. Then they give me the skeptical stare. They think how could climbing those huge rock walls not be cool? But they are not climbers, so what do they know? Then in a very condescending tone I again explain that I am using my finger strength to ascend the small overhanging rock outcrops and pebbles around my house. Then they eventually lose interest in my stupid explanations and just nod that they understand. Even though I can see that they don’t understand I give up too. Deep down I don’t believe it either.

After many years of this I started to ask myself why I hadn’t learned to aid climb. Why hadn’t I visited Yosemite more? I mean I live in CA so why not? Why not climb a Big Wall? Why not sleep on a portaledge? Why not poop in a bag?

After doing some reading and some research, I made up my mind about really wanting to have the Big Wall experience. I set some goals. By sticking to these numerous small goals I learned how to aid climb. Step by step I learned enough to get me up the Captain last year. This was a huge achievement for me. We actually topped out on my birthday after four days of climbing. I had been climbing for thirty years and finally I could answer “Yes, I climbed El Cap in Yosemite. Yes we slept right on the side of that sheer cliff.” But this led to a trickier question “How do you go to the bathroom?” 


PS As I get older I am more willing to learn the other types of ascent. Life is too short. Why deny yourself these cool things?

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
As I get older I am more willing to learn the other types of ascent. Life is too short. Why deny yourself these cool things?

Because aid climbing is cheating ;)

Sometimes I wish I have tried aid climbing. Reading Hudon's TR's and seeing those cool pictures, I am thinking "wow, it must be an incredible experience". I am too old and sick now to do it...
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