and I bet you thought Twight was dead????


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Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jan 30, 2013 - 02:48pm PT
Just because some have climbed at 8000 meters peaks without O2 proves nothing, beyond the fact that these few are risking severe brain damage and probably would be the first to grab for a bottle if they started having problems. Jim these studs are proving nothing but the wiliness to ruin their brains, and disregard their lives, in a selfish pursuit, with no greater value than self. To use this suicidal behavior as an example that the world should follow, is nothing short of absurd.

Same could be said about Southern Belle for example, Coz.

Just because some have climbed it with X amount of bolts does not mean others have to. They are risking severe body damage/death by attempting it (and some did break their limbs trying), and probably would be the first to grab a drill (if they could) when they get off route.

Coz, craggers prove nothing by climbing runout routes but their willingness to put their life at risk, in a selfish pursuit, with no greater value than self. To use this suicidal behavior as an example that the world should follow, is nothing short of absurd.

: )
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jan 30, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Those that use every prop available....including fixed ropes to the summit, are dilettantes and not true climbers. A logical extension is that routes will become more prepared and more comfortized to accomodate more and more climbers that have the time and MONEY but not the skill and preparation such peaks should require.

Wow, Jim. Thanks for the heads up on what the future holds. So I can look forward to someday climbing the Cassin Ridge, Central Pillar of Freney, Cerro Torre and Everest VIA FERATTA. Coolaboola. Sign me up. I just have to find the money. ;-)

But I still have to shed a few pounds. Few? What an understatement.

Basically I am a coward, which is why I could never get past leading 11a/b or alpine and ice climbing in the Sierra (and Cascades - how many of you can say you were on the 'old' summit of Mt St Helens? and in high school my proudest 'send' was the Price Glacier on Shuksan), and a couple of Mexican volcanoes, but I do believe doing things in style, but again, what is the perspective of what style is?

Anyway, I have never pushed my limits because I like life, a nice hotel and a good dinner. Just can't afford the latter two.

I still have my dreams. Ama Dablam and Cho Oyu, shouldn't need oxygen, and oh yes, I have wet dreams about the Cassin Ridge. Pumori and Taweche too.

Some of the posters on this thread I envy, because, when I should have been concentrating on my climbing, I had the silly dream of becoming a football pro in Europe - at 26. Whereas some of you have gone out and pushed the limits. But I always have to remind myself... Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

Would I use oxygen on Everest? I'd certainly would take it along, make sure the tank came back down for the dump called Khumbu Glacier, and above all, do a route, not trade, with real climbers.


Actually my proudest send in high school (16), with my HS climbing buddy Steve Fish, was North Palisade via U-Notch after Polemonium Peak via V-Notch. But Shuksan sure was nice for a 16-year-old.

Now I am just waiting for the Via Feratta for Ama Dablam, Walker Spur and Half Dome (oops, it's already there). Okay, I'll settle for a via Feratta of HDNF, considering Snake Dike is the only thing I have done on that heap pile of... beautiful granite. (Watched a total full moon lunar eclipse after the climb on that ton of rock, party and all with other climbers).

But unless you have climbed on Mt Diablo, none of you people have anything on me. And I didn't need oxygen, but that sandstone is shitty, you need props like some tequilla and weed.

Good and safe climbing.

right here, right now
Jan 30, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Thanks Coz,
I'm not back for long, this is physically painful.
I'm not chickening out either; though I know you are half joking, I just don't have that strong an opinion on the matter.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jan 30, 2013 - 03:36pm PT
Couldn't agree more, if you read my story in Largo's last book, Yosemite Climbers or some such, I express the madness behind this mind set.

Basically that's what every thread about oxygen, Everest, people on Half Dome etc etc comes down to.

'Climbing is anarchy.' :)

....but we still can talk sh#t on the internetz!

*exits room, time to work*

PS: Would love to read about what you wrote in that book. Sounds interesting. There are some climbs that are very impressive for the era, and that was one of them IMO.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jan 30, 2013 - 03:43pm PT
If a couple dozen people can free climb the nose, out of tens of thousands that aided it, does this make the Nose a free route now? We're all supposed to go up there and spend months hangdoging the 5.13 pitches? This is what the Nose is all about now?

At the other end of the spectrum, should Everest have thousands of meters of fixed lines, fixed ladders, with huge crowds of gumbies getting guided up? If we make the routes accessible to everyone, then what you get is the half dome cables route.

I guess my perspective would be selfish - keep the gumbies from overcrowding the route, but don't make me risk my life to do it in your style, that's too extreme for me. That's not really a middle ground though, is it.

Could clarify all this by making hard and fast rules. No O2. No haulbags - climb it in a day or get the hell off the Nose. Seems like a bad idea to me. I'd say, whatever most *climbers* can do (not guided tourists), or are trying to do, is the accepted way to do the route. Plus the ethic of minimizing fixed gear whenever possible is something that will keep the sport from drifting into mediocrity.

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
Jan 30, 2013 - 03:46pm PT
Patrick Sawyer...Exactly! But the use of Jet Ski's ironically has led to more and more big wave riders going back to trying to paddle into bigger waves. Much like hang dogging allowed people to experience and gain more knowledge of what is physically possible, the Jet Ski has allowed surfers to experience what it's like to ride monsters and now they have the experience to go back and try to paddle in, knowing what to expect.

I think, to go back to the OP, is to ask "What is Cheating"? Climbing (surfing, diving, flying etc.) are NOT innately human. We are not lizards. We use technology to allow ourselves to experience what we otherwise are not capable of. Hopefully, we use technology (a la Honnold, Messner) to get us closer to what we are naturally capable of but if we use any form of technology to go where we couldn't otherwise are we not "cheating" and therefore are not ALL of us cheating? And if not, does being "honest" preclude us from being cheaters? Did Twight's example of the man climbing Everest using siege tactics and O2 think he was a cheater? Would Coz think so if he climbed Everest using O2?

When game changers like Honnold and Messner change the game and that change is accepted by the players at large, is not anything short of that style, under Twight's argument, "cheating? Honnold said in his interview that climbing that route on the Sentinel wasn't hard and that he could down climb it if he had to. So now if I climb the same route using equipment and techniques used by 99.9 percent of the community, am I cheating? What is cheating/

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jan 30, 2013 - 04:09pm PT
So now if I climb the same route using equipment and techniques used by 99.9 percent of the community, am I cheating? What is cheating?

Cheating is breaking rules you agreed to compete by. Or lying about how you did something.

The rules themselves are arbitrary and up to the participants.

In climbing we compete mainly or usually with ourselves. Although this thread does show there is certainly a competitive group nature to the sport in various degree's and individuals. Thus why being honest about what you did helps each person define where they measure up .. to whatever degree that matters to them or others.

Some folks do cheat themselves. I have and I suppose most of us have at times. Living up to your own dreams and expectations is serious business.

What cheating yourself is?? well that's up to you to figure out.

I'm pretty damn sure it isn't about letting other folks force their own rules for you.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jan 30, 2013 - 04:27pm PT
I have cheated. On school exams (not much though), my CV/resume has one or two embellishments (truths, but still embellishments), and I have pulled on gear.

"Did you lead that free?"

"Sort of, but I pulled on some gear. But hey, I am not French, I just lived and climbed there."


The only surfer I have met that was in the water as the same time as a great white (he presumes, but he is definite it was a shark of some sort, and big), was when he was in Bodega Bay. He said the he was scared shitless and added that he tried his best to paddle as fast and quietly to shore. He lived to tell the tale.

And I get your point about the big wave guys using ski jets to tow them.

What is cheating? Is it truth? Semantics? Bullsh#t?

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
Jan 30, 2013 - 04:55pm PT
climbski2...dead on! You nailed it out of the box way back when you said "honesty is the only real rule" and now refined it to only being honest to one's self. Yep. Best I can do anyway.

And Patrick...Ya man! I have been on the seen for two shark attacks to friends. Same area. Objective danger keeps us all honest and certainly trivializes these debates....

beyond the sun
Jan 30, 2013 - 05:02pm PT
I don't know much about Mark the person, only that his Gym Jones training center is one of the most sought after "private" gyms around. When I lived in SLC, a number of the top guys I did Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with got the invite to go there for their strength and conditioning needs. I know several of the faces in his gallery very well, and they all went on to new levels of greatness in that sport as a result.

I have trained with his wife several times, and even taught her a thing or two when she came to the class I was instructing once long ago (I was an assistant instructor).

If I was still living there, I would for sure seek out an invite to train there (to help my climbing, not my BJJ as I had to retire from that sport due to injury).

I met him a couple of times, but never let on that I was a climber who was pretty familiar with his resume. Always seemed decent enough. But, there's the public persona people present to strangers, and the "real" person beneath. Still, I tend to withold judgment without any personal, first hand experience.

right here, right now
Jan 30, 2013 - 05:23pm PT

This is almost an off-line discussion between you and me at this point. I will say that the way you enter these conversations is sometimes a bit like a bull in a china shop and I'm not always all that clear where you're coming from with the stuff you bring. This can make it difficult for me to respond, sorry.

For the sake of communication, clarity, and fun, I'll try to address or clarify what I think you were responding to in what Jim, others, and I have said.

I don't get my panties all in a bunch over bottled oxygen per se. You are correct; I've never been even close to needing it. I don’t play the big mountain game. One of the broader issues which we are discussing as I see it, besides what Mark Twight's ego incites in people (ie. how he gets their hackles up in general, which is a separate or sub topic really), is the concept of the masses losing sight, or perhaps never understanding to begin with, what a minimalist approach is all about and why seasoned alpinist's adhere to it. And why everyone who plays should at least understand it and try to incorporate some of it in their approach to their pursuits: to even go so far as to limit or augment their goals accordingly.

That a very select portion of the mountains has become cluttered with neophytes looking to bag trophies with any means at their disposal is what I think some of us are talking about. That it has an impact which is unsustainable and that it sometimes increases hazards through overcrowding is what I find patently obvious.

Chest beating over style in the matter involves a very broad spectrum. Exactly where O2 should come into play in that spectrum is something I wouldn't try to pin down, to champion or defend. Not enough/any experience with it.

Be well!
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jan 30, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
Off topic

And Patrick...Ya man! I have been on the seen for two shark attacks to friends. Same area. Objective danger keeps us all honest and certainly trivializes these debates....

When you say same area, do you mean Bodega Bay?

Doesn't matter if it is Bodega Bay, Bolinas Bay, Monterey Bay whatever, that stretch all the way up to the Eel River and down to San Luis Obispo is only 60-100 miles or so from the Farallones, one of the largest great white breeding grounds in the north Pacific.

And yet, not that many attacks over the years. People cheating death?

If so, that kind of cheating I can take.

I was always freaked surfing in Monterey Bay when even some seaweed would brush up against me. "What was that?"


the word I always got was, do not surf near the mouths of rivers. They attract seals and sea lions looking for food/fish coming down the river, and of course these pinipeds are yummy for great whites. But, apparently, research (and I saw a video) shows that the orcas/killer whales love hanging around the Farallones because they have a taste for shark liver.

And an adult orca can easily dispatch an adult great white.

Now back to cheating in climbing.

Sorry for the thread drift folks.

right here, right now
Jan 30, 2013 - 05:30pm PT
Thread drift cleanses the palate!

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
Jan 30, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
Patrick...Could be thread drift and yet could be parallel discussion. The attacks were in the same area i.e. the so called "Red Triangle" which may also be much like the so called "death zone" at high altitude which one of the details (0two)in regards to cheating has centered on. One of the attacks was off Stinson Beach and the other at the mouth of Drakes Estero. Both men lived. It is analogues to the discussion in that a surfer difinitely is performing a very risky adventure in a very honest/good style way when entering the Red Triangle. Minimal gear and as dangerous these days as any objective danger in Mountaineering. Note that Scott Anderson, THE number 1 authority in IMO has tagged OVER 70!!! Great White's off the tip of Point Reyes (Pierce Point)alone! I always thought there might be like 10.....

Tar and Coz...Much like the counterpoint in great classical music, both your insights, though delivered differently, are of immense value to any discussion.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jan 30, 2013 - 05:57pm PT
coz, your hardcore alphadog style of communicating is hysterical!

I bet he actually types
Sent from my I Phone.
!! lol

Sent from my I Phone typed by my slave.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jan 30, 2013 - 06:44pm PT
Okay, more thread drift, but then, the inherent dangers of messing with nature, be it mountains or sea.

We used to play with the (young adults and adolescents) sea lions at the Point Reyes (main) beach, just be careful of their teeth, sharper than a dogs, but they could be playful and friendly, just beware of a change in attitude. So no wonder the white pointers like cruising those waters. Yummy, a fat seal/sea lion, yeck a skinny human being (though in my case at present, I could be seen as a walrus).

Some years back, wasn't there a gal off the marina at Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo ??? who was swiming with seals and suddenly they all then split the scene and she was nailed by a white pointer (as the Aussies call them).

Poor woman, but sort of a Darwin's award sort of thing, swimming in a black wet suit with seals in shark territory, perhaps not the best idea. She did not cheat death, apparently.

Again, I have to ask, what is cheating? If I lead a climb but for whatever reason pulled on some gear, which I have before, I'd admit to it. And hope that I can go back and lead the climb free. I am not ashamed to admit I pulled on gear at times. Cheating? Again, what is the definition?

Now if I said I led those climbs totally fee, I'd be lying to myself. (Wouldn't be the first time. I lie to myself all the time, mostly about winning the lottery)
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:10pm PT
Coz, as one of the members here I appreciate your opinions/humor. And I hope you (and others) continue stating your opinions, even if they make you appear like a dick to some. One has opinions and there is nothing wrong with honesty. It would be a lame forum if you had a bunch of people who did not want to express what they believe in.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
Well Coz,
Nice to have a heart so pure. Your treatise, however, is open to debate. So you can't comment on climbing an 8000 meter peak without oxygen unless you have done it. Does that then mean you can't comment on Armstrong doping during the Tour de France unless you have done it?
Concerning comments on using O2 on 8000 meter peaks or soloing the SS. I have commented on both, as you well know, because you have called me out on both. While i don't think you need to have done those things to comment intelligently on them, i will point out that i have bonafides in both areas.
No Coz, i haven't done an 8000 meter peak w/o fact, i haven't done an 8000 meter peak period.....and by design. I much prefer the physical and mental challenges of peaks 7000 meters and below that pose extreme technical challenges. Trust me Coz, climbing difficult terrain at 7000 meters is every bit as hard as negotiating moderate snow slopes a thousand meters higher. I think that my alpine record speaks for itself, and, given that, i believe my comments regarding climbing in the mountains are as valid as any.
Additionally, i have many friends and aquaintances who have kicked steps to the top of 8000
meter peaks sans oxygen and the literature on such endeavors is voluminous.
Now to free soling the SS. I commented on it and you, predictably, called me out on it when i said it had become almost routine. My comment was based on my knowledge of events....the fact that i hadn't done it personally is in no way germaine to the validity of my comments. I climbed the SS in the Fall of 2011 with longtime friend Greg Crouch. During that ascent we were passed by TWO other climbers who were free soloing, one of them Dean Potter. Perhaps that experience had something to do with my comments. Also, i have free soloed throughout my climbing career and feel that i know something about the subject.
I don't shoot from the hip when i comment about climbing matters. My opinions are mine, and mine alone, and many may not agree with them. But Coz, to constantly shoot down my opinions by questioning my bonafides has me puzzled. I hardly know you and can't think of anything i have done to you. I respect your climbing ability and record but am not enamored by your name calling. How about a truce old boy

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:27pm PT
I will say that the way you enter these conversations is sometimes a bit like a bull in a china shop and I'm not always all that clear where you're coming from with the stuff you bring.

Watch out Tar, next thing you know he'll be calling you "tough guy" and "buddy." That's when you know you've stepped over the line.

HA HA!!! You guys are all awesome. My opinion swings back and forth like a pendulum, but then I always liked swings....WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

right here, right now
Jan 30, 2013 - 08:00pm PT
I'm trying like hell to make sense of what is going on with Twight's article.
And our responses to it!

Excerpt from Mark Twight’s article:

I could agree with the notion that it's a team sport on some levels, and that fixed ropes can have a place in some forms of climbing however the use of oxygen has no place, is cheating and overrules all other claim to achievement. Supplemental O2 is doping - without question. It is not a medical necessity, which is proven by many, many ascents of 8000m peaks without supplemental O2.


Why isn't supplemental oxygen viewed as doping? Some argue that it is a safety issue, that they do not want to take the risk of altitude illness, or frostbite.

As has been noted here by many of you, it's not doping because doping refers to a surreptitious activity. That's why it's cheating in the milieu of bicycling.

In rereading his text, I'm not sure why he let that slip. It's a mistake. Semantics? But the overall effect of using EPO or supplemental oxygen, yes oxygen, it has medical uses, but I can see where he would put these together in the same bucket. Essentially he's looking at them as crutches.

Then, where I see how he supports putting them in the same bucket, and somewhat understand his tact:

If O2 allows one to accomplish a task that he or she otherwise could not do or was not willing to do then O2 is a performance-enhancing drug and should be treated as such.

Then he states his concerns specifically:

Times have changed. Cheating is commonplace and doping is rampant, even at the lowest levels of sport.

Look, I've read through his piece several times now. I think he made some mistakes, such as forgetting that doping refers to a culture of lying. So technically supplemental oxygen doesn't really fit that. Then, he talks about cheating which is exactly what the doping reference really is about for most of us readers.

I think the thing needed to be edited better. And maybe he thinks in absolutes and never would have made any changes. But the thrust of what he is trying to say is that all that extra stuff you pump into your body gives you an edge, and he is calling having an edge cheating. Semantically, it's not cheating if you report it. Understood. Many of us here have echoed that.

I believe the spirit of what he is saying still comes through. It is this: even though people may report that they use any particular manner of aids, oxygen, fixed ropes, whatever ... activity in the mountains is not such a noble pursuit if everybody's completely discounting a minimalist credo - instead just filling up the goodie bag with aids of all kind as a matter of course. From the elites on down the line to the neophyte trophy collectors, He wants to see all of us do better. Better for ourselves, and better for others.

That they or we are not hiding whatever these extra aids might be isn't exactly the issue. For Twight it is that tactics are not moving in a progression which benefits from what has come before us. Essentially saying we're cheating ourselves as a culture when we, as leaders in the sport if you will, don't strive to inculcate the masses, and one another to some extent, with those concepts.

Holding an absolute hardline on oxygen or any of the various ways to make the body tick better really isn't the point. Although I know that's pretty much what he's saying. And maybe Donini is to: no oxygen ever. And of course those of us who've been around know that Twight can be a hard liner. Well, many of us will recoil from absolutes, but again, the spirit of the piece which Mark wrote is I believe, in the right place.
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