Ueli Steck

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Sonic

Trad climber
Roaming the South, Merica
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 19, 2013 - 08:25pm PT
Posted earlier in the Twight blog but I thought it deserved its own thread!
https://player.vimeo.com/video/42687933
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Feb 19, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Thanks for posting that Skype interview with Ueli. IMHO, he is the greatest alpinist alive today. Interesting to hear his opinion that climbing 8,000 meter peaks with oxygen is "cheating." Imagine what it would be like if only climbers that were capable of summiting sans O2 were allowed on Everest.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Feb 19, 2013 - 10:34pm PT
Machine.
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Feb 19, 2013 - 10:51pm PT
he doesn't suffer fools...total badass
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 20, 2013 - 12:38am PT
As far as I'm concerned almost every expedition since '78 has been tourism rather than alpinism.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Feb 20, 2013 - 02:59am PT
As far as I'm concerned almost every expedition since '78 has been tourism rather than alpinism.

Steve House would beg to differ...
DickMcfartin

Ice climber
soewhere over the rainbow....
Feb 20, 2013 - 06:13am PT
I respect him for being so honest regarding such a touchy topic in the climbing community.

It's refreshing to see someone just be honest for once and tell it how it is and not play the PR game in fear of backlash.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Feb 20, 2013 - 06:40am PT
Great interview. Not a mince-words kinda guy.

"Do something for real or don't do it"


donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 20, 2013 - 06:49am PT
As to the assertion that every expedition after 1978 has been tourism rather than alpinisim......somewhat true if you think of expeditions in the conventional sense.

Alpinisim, like rock climbing, has progressed remarkably. Epuipment, knowledge, tactics, training and the overall talent pool of alpinists have made conventional expeditions (big teams, fixed ropes etc.) not only obsolete but often detrimental to success.

Small teams of talented, well prepared climbers, moving quickly have been at the forefront of modern alpinisim and remarkable accomplishments are made every year. Look at Americans Hayden Kennedy, Dempster, Kruk (Canadian). Swenson, Wilkerson and Richey just this last year. Similar climbs by Europeans, Japanese and others are too numerous to list.

The big clusterf*#ks with tent cities, fixed ropes and armies of "climbers" are now largely reserved for guided groups peak bagging on 8000 meter peaks.

I think we are in the "Golden Age of Alpinisim" a natural and logical progression from the "Expedition Style" of past years.
nah000

Mountain climber
canuckistan
Feb 20, 2013 - 07:12am PT
so to all of you in the using o's is "cheating" crowd:

do you also agree that if you climb the nose using aid you cheated?
do you also agree that if you ocean dive under 200' and use air tanks you cheated?
do you also agree that hillary and norgay cheated?
do you also agree that if you climbed the northwest face of half dome with a rope you cheated?

if not, why not?

because if not, i can't find a reason why your logic should stand. my suspicion is you are letting passion trump meaningful communication. [and if, otoh you think all of the above are acts of cheating ... well, congrats on at least being consistent.]

the word steck, twight, et al are looking for is akin to "irrelevant".

ie. in the game of contemporary mountaineering, climbing everest with o's and fixed lines is irrelevant.
ie. in the sport of contemporary climbing, aid climbing the nose is irrelevant.
ie. in the sport of contemporary climbing, climbing the northwest face of half dome with a rope is irrelevant.

unless you want to act like fundamentalists and redefine the english language to suit your fancy, using o's while climbing is not cheating.

and if you're going to redefine words, while you're at it make sure that like the taliban you don't take half measures: let the families of tenzing and norgay know that they have been stricken from the annals of climbing because they were cheaters.

tl;dr is contemporary climbing with o's cheating? ... no.
is contemporary climbing with o's irrelevant? ... absolutely.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:07am PT
Great insight Donini. Makes great sense now, after the American K2 expedition?
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:15am PT
It may be cheating, but if I'm 100' below the summit of E, and need oxygen, I will use it.


Note: the only way I would go to Everest would be on a private trip with friends. I'm not into commercial trips
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:15am PT
OK...substitute "irrelevant" for "cheating"

the aid climbers of yesterday have made routes possible for the free climbers of tomorrow...

GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:21am PT
do you also agree that if you climb the nose using aid you cheated?
Yes, if you claim to have freed it. Aid is wonderfully fun cheating ;D

do you also agree that if you ocean dive under 200' and use air tanks you cheated?
Was your goal to go as low as you can? Because you are compromising, which is cool, but ultimately what is your goal in diving? JUST to get as low as possible, or to get as low as YOU can get...

do you also agree that hillary and norgay cheated?
Yes. Do I think they are cheaters? No. I cheat all the time - on my diet, with my hand - why such negative connotation? They didn't know it would even be possible w/o O's, but they compromised rather than figure it out like Messner. Again, wonderful wonderful heroes of our sport deserving of all the accolades... what's with the negativity about style choice? It's just a style choice, like me hanging on routes I can't do (happens every god damn day).

do you also agree that if you climbed the northwest face of half dome with a rope you cheated?
I think you didn't solo it - different thing. I don't really care either way - and I've climbed it (with lots and LOTS of aid). Someday I want to go back and free it if I'm actually strong - because I'll feel better about it. Is that because my first ascent was 'cheating' or the second was in a better style? Again... negative connotation with everything... are you religious? ;D



because if not, i can't find a reason why your logic should stand.
I think you are trying to pigeonhole an argument to support your stance, that using O's is perfectly a good idea. I agree with you. It's a lot better than zumba to climb an 8k meter peak. But look at the access... look at the cost of the environment, permits, politics... I personally would NEVER climb w/O's (not that I've been asked....) because there is no question if I can do it in my mind - I am fit and strong and can work hard. All of my heroes say it is cheapening the experience - how many 8k meter peaks have YOU done w/o O's?

my suspicion is you are letting passion trump meaningful communication.
pot... kettle...

the word steck, twight, et al are looking for is akin to "irrelevant".

ie. in the game of contemporary mountaineering, climbing everest with o's and fixed lines is irrelevant.
ie. in the sport of contemporary climbing, aid climbing the nose is irrelevant.
ie. in the sport of contemporary climbing, climbing the northwest face of half dome with a rope is irrelevant.
In the sport of f*#king your mom, using a rubber is irrelevant...
In the sport of hijacking cars, using a hanger is irrelevant...
Why are you trying to define rules and winners and losers and cheaters? Why do you care? Do what you like and hold yourself to the standard you feel acceptable and doesn't give undue damage to the environment. Going to aid a free route in zion? Awesome have a f*#king blast!!!! I do that too!! Oh, you want to pound pins on a route that goes w/o it... ok.. seems kinda weird. OH, you want to add a bolt? Hrm someone may not like that. Oh, you want to leave your bottles everywhere and trade your own experience/skill/stamina for the lives of sherpas and the infrastructure of fixed lines? again... better than zumba....

unless you want to act like fundamentalists and redefine the english language to suit your fancy, using o's while climbing is not cheating.
Haha... what you up to this March? Gonna get a few stamps on your passport....

and if you're going to redefine words, while you're at it make sure that like the taliban you don't take half measures: let the families of tenzing and norgay know that they have been stricken from the annals of climbing because they were cheaters.

This seems... extreme. So much black and white... yikes.





I have advice. No one gives a sh#t really about STYLE. That's the debate. You CARE what people think of the style you feel is appropriate or inappropriate. F*#k those people do what you want. However O's on Everest is starting to move past style into ETHICS. Now we are F*#KING UP that whole peak with our bullshit tents and trash and poop and condoms (why not?) from climbers who, without the ability to CHEAT, might not ever even TRY to rise from the occasion. It's the collective dumming down of alpinism that is causing people without ability to wreck our mountains.

We agree not to use pins on The Nose... There are what, 50 people who climbed Everest w/o O's and 2 or 3 that freed the Nose? The Nose is in the middle of california 10 minutes from the road and a permit for E costs 10 grand and its in the middle of f*#king nowhere?



You can call it cheating, you can call it compromising, you can call it not rising to the challenge you should be able to achieve... if you are young and fit and you are using O's, you should probably go to Alaska and have a real adventure... in my shitty so cal rock climbing opinion.


(hope you don't get too offended at the sarcasm, any chance to throw in a your mom joke and I can't pass it up :/ peace love and all that jazz!)
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:23am PT
It may be cheating, but if I'm 100' below the summit of E, and need oxygen, I will use it.

I probably would too, but in this fantasy scenario you carried 12 pounds of titanium (or 25 of aluminum, or whatever) all the way from whatever camp you started to feel like you were an Ueli Steck with a bag over your head to within 100 feet... You probably should have left it in the tent.
thedogfather

Trad climber
Somewhere near Red Rocks
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:49am PT
"do you also agree that if you climb the nose using aid you cheated?"
"do you also agree that if you climbed the northwest face of half dome with a rope you cheated?"

You are confusing equipment usage with using something equivalent to a drug. EPO enhances your performance by helping your body cope as does O2. Putting your shifting levers in your brake handles of a bike changes the equipment but doesn't give you a physiological advantage. Using aid on El Cap or ropes on Half Dome doesn't make your body perform better and you know that those that do without those are doing it in better style.
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:54am PT
No one gives a sh#t really about STYLE.
I beg to differ...STYLE is all that matters IMO
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Feb 20, 2013 - 09:45am PT
To you, and to me. But your style doesn't matter to me, and my style shouldn't matter to you.
steve shea

climber
Feb 20, 2013 - 09:52am PT
I don't think we are in THE golden age of alpinism. Perhaps the 24karat age. I think Gervasutti, Buhl, Messner et al did some pioneering.
Using O's is a personal choice just like french free. I'm sure most who have summited 8000m peaks with it consider that they climbed the peak. I know some who have moved up without and summited (Everest), slept on it. The North Col is about 24K and just at the beginning of the "death zone". Sleeping on O's allows recovery because the altitude effects are lessened by about a 1000m or more. Good rest and recovery can be make or break for some. Others use it like a biner or a rope, it's just part of the kit. They'll be on it 24/7 from ABC up. Others go as high as possible and start sucking when they have to. It's a matter of physiology or style or both.
I was on the north side of Everest in 86. We had just pulled in to BC. There only a day or so when Loretan did his oxygen free tandem solo up and down in 24 hrs. The Hornbein. Usually watching climbing is about as exciting as watching grass grow. This was different. We were watching alpine history and stayed up well into the night just to see the headlamps move closer to the summit. For me seeing this was a game changer.
When we finally got established on the North Ridge, camps 4 at the col and 5 at about 8000m, I got my first taste of really high altitude. I had not used O's yet and did not feel good at all. I descended to the North Col and spent the night there hoping for recovery at 24K. No way I was too far gone, ataxia, and had to be assisted down to ABC at 21K or so. The effects were insidious. I had no idea I was AFU, just moving slowly. When I finally got to ABC I was put on O's to sleep and recover. We had O's for medicinal purposes and the summit push from 5 up. Anyway after just a short time I felt I could go 9 innings! I felt great. At that point in I knew O's for me was cheating. I did not have the strength or stamina much less the physiology to transport oxygen, at least on that attempt.
Since then and other Himalayan trips I have come a 180 and decided to forego any further 8000m attempts. Lower, more technical peaks were just as satisfying with much less risk and expense. I was prepared to use O's on Everest but never got to other than when I had Altitude sickness. It is absolutely cheating IMHO. But what I think is worse, fixed rope and using Sherpas as cannon fodder to launch already assisted, O's sucking climbers to the summit. Given that O's lowers the effective altitude and the climbing is not much more than a hike on the trade route, fixed rope and hand holding negates any serious achievement or pioneering. Maybe Elizabeth Hawley has an asterisk by the O's teams, just like MLB has asterisks by Arod and Canseco and company. .02
ec

climber
ca
Feb 20, 2013 - 10:05am PT
Anderl Meier: You're very good. I have really enjoyed climbing with you.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: We'll make it.

Anderl Meier: I don't think so. But we shall continue with style.
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