Stonemaster Lore


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Trad climber
Degnan's Deli
Jun 21, 2006 - 04:31pm PT
in about '74(?) I was part of a group for a while camped a ways east of the rescue camp that was know as Arizona Avenue after all the Az climbers there, was something of a separate group from the stonemasters.

But then they got that lightning bolt associated with them. And the Cali boys started getting jobs with movie crews. And you could never really pare the stonemasters down to 20. Not without throwing out the contributions of all kinds of guys, or reducing the time frame down to a few months.

Like Kevin W. He's of the appropriate time frame, did great climbing, but I dont remember hearing much of him after the van accident. Was his contribution too small?

Hell, Id give honorable mention to Drummond, who though a little late to the valley scene and not part of the Cali boys, sure lit it up. Not all stonemasters were Cali surfer boys. Just a bunch of them.

Even the ones that no-one would disagree on are more than twenty.

Must be a matter of perspective. Who am I to say who was in? Maybe somebody could make another list of "regular joes" as a cast directory.
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Jun 21, 2006 - 04:38pm PT
the Mayor/diaper changer in charge, narced on Russ and his crew LOL

"Sheepbuggerers.....who were a bunch of immature, loud, stick-fighting, bunkweed-smoking, rude, obnoxious, sophomoric, junior college-type, B-Team, dirty, young, silly, dweebs/doofus L.A. climbers who never had girl-friends,....were always at the crags, doing something noisy, stinky, rude, dangerous, and out-there.....the types you would NOT want your daughter hanging out with.."
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Jun 21, 2006 - 04:42pm PT
Just sour grapes. There was a rule that we had ( I mean Craig had ) that there were no bald guys allowed in the dashingly handsome group. Sadly, Todd was out before he was ever in.

Social climber
Tendonitis City
Jun 21, 2006 - 05:14pm PT
How did Watusi stay in that group?

right here, right now
Jun 21, 2006 - 08:17pm PT
Now Shorty T,
You have to have your league of Post Stonemaster Denizens in order to explain the Watusi.

He was the great white hope, or thinning red headed hope you might say, of the esteemed Scumbags, a ship which listed gracefully to port side at warp speed, much to the credit of BVB's fine work at the helm...

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Jun 21, 2006 - 08:45pm PT
I am pretty sure Fry was one of the Sheepbuggers; I can remember him driving around the hidden valley loop in his VW van braying like a sheep. I think Rob Raker may have straightened him out in the early 80’s and told him to go to college so he could find work taking water and air samples or something like that.
Gordon maybe you knew Fry after he turned his life around.

Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 22, 2006 - 12:27am PT
I think sometimes the planets just line up right, so to speak .....they align in a certain way and there is not much more rhyme nor reason to it. My guess is that a bunch of factors coalesced during the time frame in question which resulted in the individuals and their pursuits becoming quite unique ...and in someway perhaps even legendary. Likely there have been other groups in other eras which were unique or legendary in their own way. It may well be that it is something which could be intentionally recreated - rather it just sort of happened. The 70s were like that in a lot of ways, in any event.

The seventies were sort of "transition years" when we moved from one set of traditions and culture into another. A lot of the older taboos and mind sets vanished. It should not surprise me, then, that within the climbing world, this period would be rather unique and legendary, as well.

Actually, I should like for Ouch to comment on my perception in this regard since he was in a position to witness the 70s from both sides, so to speak. Many of the pics you post of your military years and the first years of your marriage suggest to me that you were a young adult in the early 1950s, a time when many of us were just getting born. Ouch, do you agree with my assessment that the 70s were a transition period between two very radically different sets of societal values and norms? I believe that when you came of age, the societal values were very similar to what was the norm for the 40s and also that these same values/norms persisted that time persisted for almost another 20 years or so. Then, it would seem, everything dramatically changed. Here-to-fore it had been perhaps slowly evolving but now suddenly there were radical changes coming about esp in terms of the people who were young adults at that time. Does it seem that way to you?

When I hear about the “Stonemasters,” my concrete mind keeps focuses on the ordinary details of how this came about. How, what, when, why? How did they support themselves, what exactly did they do which is now so legendary, where did all this happen, when did it happen, etc. etc. What is it that made this time and these folks unique? In that regard, Roks’ commentary was extremely enlightening. Some of the other comments (esp the one which compared and contrasted the various decades) were ver engaging, as well. I will most certainly check out Long’s new article. I'll shall also sit back and listen (read) some more as you weave your tales. It is really quite fascinating to learn about.

right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 12:50am PT
That's a good start Lois, the 70's as a sea change and climbing responding in kind; a reasonable inference.

I have yet to read John's Stonemaster article; I'll get to it.
Have fun with your reading list!
Then we'll gab some more.

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Jun 22, 2006 - 01:14am PT
Stonemasters = Bums?

Jun 22, 2006 - 01:17am PT
No, bums do nothing ......

There were a lot of successful Stonemasters.

Quit being so Juanish, Juan.

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Jun 22, 2006 - 01:18am PT
"MANY of our guys are bipolar. I may be. I self-medicate (?) and my wife tells me I am naturally bitchy and depressive and she IS qualified to say so. Depression is NOT uncommon among us. Suicide is a preferred way for a bunch of us."

Thats my typical day in the last few years.



Social climber
The West
Jun 22, 2006 - 02:28am PT
Man 'o' man. Nice input all.

Who are you, really, Lois? I choose to take you at your word, and you deny being a troll, but your gill net provides the largest harvest;

1) this thread,
2) Dingus' recent explanation of mtnering taxonomy and
3) (and foremost)the recent Ed and Roger show of a few months ago that explained what climbing is, why you can fall and keep going, what 'free' means and why the Castanada sh#t is big with us and all in a way more articulate and erudite way than anything that has EVER been in print, and you're still pimping us and will, no doubt get even more stuff, straight from the font.

If you really are my age and live where you say you do (down the road from woodstock)you've got a few clues about the seventies already, and can appreciate the fractal nature of our part of the world.

So, good on Ya!!!!!!! I really do take you at your word, and think you have no idea how good a troll you are.

Maybe, as a diagnostician, it goes with the territory.

I anxiously await what you will uncover next. Personally, I suggest you probe Offwidth. Largo left a trailmarker (paisano) some of us had to deal with,as did Haan, Dr E, and a bunch of others, but what was the deal with John Garson??

You are our Holmes.

Jun 22, 2006 - 02:38am PT
Leb there were a few guys who lived in Idyllwild who were not the "Cor" But we lived it every day. Bruce Foster's name does not get battered around here much. or Fred East or Greg Thill. At one point I remember Clifford from the MT store was mentioned. There are more.

But the truth be told my favorite memories was sitting at the base of suicide smoking bong loads.


Jun 22, 2006 - 02:39am PT
Bald head my bald ass.......all you needed was a high school education, a stick to poke someone in the ass with, a pine cone to hit someone in the face with, booze that you stole from your parents liquor cabinet, thrift store garb, a $200.00 V.W. , a rack of hexes and stoppers and a few cams, and you were a sheep-buggerer......I've been called immature before, but these guys are textbook.......guys like Fry (and myself) weren't part of THAT clan......Fry was WAY too grown-up for their antics..(And you already heard about my bald head...).....their sheep-buggerer call could be heard at the crags and in the still desert evening.....usually from an under-age drinking fool, moments before he tossed his cookies....(All this is captured with a camera.....)......These were the guys (and I DO say guys... it was a sausage-fest)......that really pissed off the climbers who worked out, didn't party, and took their climbing "seriously".......for the nasty sheep-bugerers would usually out-climb the "athletes" almost everytime.......they were a sorry product of bad judgement, underage drinking, too much time on their hands, and sperm-buildup.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 22, 2006 - 03:02am PT
I've very much enjoyed reading this thread, and all the Stonemaster stories threads. (Not quite finished.) Thank you to all who've contributed.

I began climbing at Squamish in the 1970s, and there are some parallels between the origin and culture and evolution of the Stonemasters, and what we had in Squamish. I'll save those stories for another thread. As a visitor to the Valley in the 1970s, I had a little contact with the Stonemasters, and those stories may better fit, though not tonight.

Our history and stories (not always the same thing) are a big part of our community, and something I'm quite interested in.

A sociologist or anthropologist might find some interesting parallels between climbers' cultures, and those in hunter-gatherer and perhaps other societies. I don't know a lot about such things, but it is interesting that many climber sub-cultures seem to involve 15 - 20 core individuals, with defined admittance rituals, a periphery of aspirants, regular tests of hardihood, leadership by proven ability, and fairly egalitarian standards. The group is part of the larger group (tribe, clan, whatever), but at the same time emphasizes its distinctiveness. It's also an adolescent male thing, or even rite of passage - bearing in mind delayed adolescence in our societies.

It would have been fascinating had some social "scientist" done a baseline study of climbers at Camp 4 in the 1970s, and followed up from time to time. All the usual stuff - family, pyschological profile, intelligence, education, and so on. Are climbers truly different as individuals or a community, and if so how and why? It might be possible now, but as climbing is much more mainstream, and risk-averse, it might not be as informative.


Jun 22, 2006 - 03:08am PT
Todd you certainly were there. you have said it the best.

Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 22, 2006 - 08:00am PT

I am not a troll. I am posing questions of which hopefully have some merit and which also stimulate discussion. They are fundamentally questions in which I have some interest. If they (my questions) stimulate a good deal of response, it is because, then, evidently others have interest in the same topic and want to talk about it, as well. Ocasionally, I will pose a question which garners little response and then one might rightly assume that relatively few people had interest in that topic. If you want to comment that my questions get good response in the general sense, you are probably correct. The reason, however, has little to do with being a "troll." It is because I am capable of framing the question so that others feel inclined to offer their insights.

Jaybro, duh ah, ask yourself - what do I do for a living? Do I not teach at a University? Might I not just be responsible for leading class discussing in the courses I teach? Is it not possible, just maybe, that when you do something - day in and day out - you sort of get the hang of it? Might I just happen, by virtue of practice, to know which questions to ask or how to frame them, so as to get a response? Does this make me a troll? I think not.

I am asking the questions because I am INTERESTED IN the answers. I want people to respond to them because I want information on whatever it is that I am asking about. In this particular case, I very much want to hear about the stonemaster tales from their own perspectives. I have questions in my mind - How did they do it? Why did they do it? From where did they get money? Was there something different and unique about them? If so what and why? If I want this kind of information, obviously then I am going to try to frame a question(s) which will encourage someone to answer and provide me with what I am looking for. A troll, by contrast, has little interest in the "answers" He is just looking to provoke (typically outraged) responses for personal amusement. Such is absolutely NOT what I am doing here.

Now to answer your specific questions. I do not know your age, pe se. You have never told me or if you have I don't recall it. I believe we are approximately in the same age group although I might be a year or two older, again I don't know. Yes I grew up in NJ and NJ is adjacent to NY. That does NOT infer that I went to Woodstock. I did not. You would not have caught me dead there. I HATE crowds, and I was especially NOT into the drug culture at all. Neither was neither a "hippy" nor a "flower child" In fact, when I was a young adult, these sorts rather annoyed me.

Now having said that, it does not also mean that I was not a product of my times and generation. I lived through the protests (I hated the war), I had family members and boyfriends who would be subject to the draft. I knew and experienced the music of the day, much of which I liked (some I did not). I had the morays of the 70s with respect to my relationships with said boyfriends. I had values which gnerally tended to reflect the culture of the era. What is so surprising about all of this? We are not all made from cookie cutters. In the course of growing up, I had one set of experiences. Some of the folks here had VERY different experiences from me although we all grew up in the same era. I want to hear about *their* life and *their* experiences and so I ask questions to attempt to draw them out. What is so mysterious about that? It is commonplace and it is what anyone does if they are trying to get someone else to talk about their experiences.

Here is troll: "Oh the stonemasters were just a bunch of bums, big f___ deal" That's what "troll" is. That remark would be designed to inflame and draw out outraged responses. The poster already knows what the responses are going to be and is amused to see how many he(she) will get. That is NOT, however, what I asked. Now, here is "untroll" "Oh wow - the stonemasters sound very fascinating. Tell me about how they lived; tell me about what they did; tell me about what made them so unique." THAT is what I asked and THAT is NOT "trolling."

PS I hope this diatribe answers your questions about me


right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 10:00am PT
get 'im lois!
ok just kidding.

i think what jay is getting at, is something you patently answered, meaning your approach as an ordered interlocutor and an outsider elicites in depth and objective responses from us, which come out in an unguarded and thoughtfull manner. that's not how we typically interact on the forum. we typically play grab ass.

to troll is also to assume a stance which is an affectation. to respond to a troll is to buy into it. in this case, in responding to your querries, we are out of necessity prompted to work outside of our ordinary lexicon and set of tacit agreements and collective assumptions.

so you draw us out, which is also an aspect of trolling.
but there is no malice and no joke.
it's fun, just like a good class.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 22, 2006 - 10:41am PT
Lois, we take you at face value and our responses are crafted as we interpret you questions to be. But we wouldn't be responding unless you asked, or baited the hook... as in your "diatribe" above, which could go off in the direction "what was the '70's anyway?" It is hard to believe you lived it, at least as our roughly SoCal experience would prepare us to believe... On the otherhand, the "'70's" was not the same in otherparts of the country as it was in Cali (and the west).

But there I go again, actually trying to answer your question and taking your bait and careening off topic again.

The "Stonemasters" were one group of many in the '70's. At the time, it would be hard to predict who we'd be talking about in the '00's, 30 years later. Many of us were independent of our parents very early (looking back on it) in our lives, either because of one too many parental stories of independence ("when I was you age, I...") or inability to support or coexist, or just plain striking out on our own. That happened in a lot of areas, climbing just one, the "Stonemasters" just a single group there.

I was not a Stonemaster, I grew up in Claremont CA during that time period, I bouldered around Mt. Baldy and Rubidoux, climbed at Tahquitz (but not Suicide) and the Valley, probably could have driven down Foothill Blvd. and met up with John Long, et al.. But they were the shitz then, and I sort of knew about them, but never engaged.

Travelling "dirtbag" to Yosemite was typical of youth at that time, not just the Stonemasters. Starving, climbing, and all that was a part of growing up, our expectations were not that we would be provided for, but that we would figure something out. Many of us could go home if it didn't work out, but many of us could not.

Compared to the philosophy surrounding kids today, it is hard to believe that all of our parents weren't arrested for child endangerment, but they believed in us to some extent, and even though they knew the world was not always our "hippie utopia" they also knew we had to learn how to cope with reality... so we went out and figured it out. The casualties seem worse, but I am not sure that the current crop of kids do not suffer at the same rate in their cohort.

Kids are still the same, somewhere in the early teens they think they are adults. In many ways they are, they can procreate... we were kicked out of the house, in many instances, because we would not socialize. So we created our own societies... the Stonemasters is an example of that, but not unique, just a different milieu.

In the end, the Stonemasters are notable in the '00's because of the climbing accomplishments of its members, and the strength of their vision, which can still be experienced in places like Yosemite Valley. Many of the members, and satellite members, are still active and contributing, trying to teach the younger generation what worked and what did not, in forming a society as much as in climbing.

Social climber
The West
Jun 22, 2006 - 10:59am PT
what they said

There is no rule that a troll can't use their powers for good!

I define 'Troll" a little more widely than you do. More to do with cause and affect than mean intent, though that counts too.
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