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Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 22, 2006 - 02:54pm PT
Hey Ed, did you catch the nice compliment that Jaybro paid to us? Thanks, Jay.

I don't remember what that thread was all about--didn't it all start with Lois asking about alternative reality and getting it all mixed up with dope, sex, and rock and roll? Or was it 'A Separate Reality.' Then Ed got into a snit because he wanted to hear about ‘Separate Reality’ and Lois was doing her not trolling--thank you very much--thing, by which she means that if she were going to troll then she would have to have an alternative understanding of the term, and she is sincere by which she means that she is not insincere, and she is really interested which means she is not a troll, and has bone fides to prove it if it comes to that because she can explain it all so concretely and as is clear to anyone that no self respecting real troll would assume that it would all get read, quod erat demonstrandum, (but I was a little shocked to be told that Lois had morays with her boyfriends in the 1970s)....

And, I think Werner helped out on the Multiple Realities thread by telling everyone--I mean EVERYONE--on the web that we all got up climbs through a secret door, that wasn't so secret since all climbers know it is there.

Stonemasters my eye--SecertDoorMasters is closer to the truth. Which is one anwer to Lois' question, I guess. I always wondered why those guys climbed so much harder than the rest of us. Hey, Mike or Werner, why didn't you tell me about the door thing?

PS: Lois, I'm not a 'Stonemaster.' But, I am teasing you about your not-trolling protestations--reminds me of a line from Hamlet.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 22, 2006 - 03:29pm PT
Roger, I got the compliment that Jay offered us...
and you are right that I was a bit pissed off at LEB for being so utterly clueless regarding a famous climb... but feeling the right to be utterly clueless and insisting on that right. The only alternative was to actually post something of quality responding to LEB's ignorance on climbing matters, or descend into mud slinging a la SNL "Jane you stupid slut" point-counterpoint sort of thing.


Social climber
The West
Jun 22, 2006 - 03:53pm PT
This is too funny! And the kind of stuff that would get lost in a divided forum.

I was also complimenting Lois, though she didn't take it that way, I guess. If you can ask those pithy, though seemingly guiless questions in that innocent Columbo-like (or the inspector in Crime & Punishement [same guy,btw]) way and inspire people to explain and illustrate in the way that you guys did, that is a good thing.

Wish I could do it!
I await your next collaboration.

scuffy b

Chalet Neva-Care
Jun 22, 2006 - 04:12pm PT
I thought I had a Jaybro sighting the other eve but then I thought "There's no way that guy's feet are getting into 39
Mythos, No Way"
El Rayo-X Tshirt, specs, hairline etc.

By the Way, the road to Ebola is open now.

right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 07:35pm PT
simple enough lois,
i enjoy gabbing with you.

there is an upgraded filter at play when conversing with an outsider and that helps to clarify things. i enjoy healthy conjectural discourse; so on my end this is a fascinating and productive two way street.

i am cheerfully working on an enthusiastically detailed response to the original questions you posed and hope to have some thoughts together in a wee bit.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 22, 2006 - 07:39pm PT
Perhaps I missed it, but I was wondering if LEB might tell us a little about herself, and why she's so curious about our community. Placing the EB, so to speak, on the other foot.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 22, 2006 - 08:01pm PT
Lois - you have been accepted as a part of the ST Forum community... if you had not you would have suffered the same fate as Raj did, in terms of response to your posts. So it isn't default, you've been around for a year both because you remain interested and because we respond to your interests.

It's mutual...

I guess we like your posts too.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 22, 2006 - 08:47pm PT
Thanks, Lois. I hadn't considered what might be the applicable behavioural norms - although I may not subscribe to them in any case. I wasn't being snoopy. I was just curious about why you're curious - I thought you might have a professional or academic interest, or something of the sort.

With the anonymity and pen names that abound on forums, it's difficult to know anything about contributors.

I'm fairly new to the SuperTopo forum, and indeed forums in general, and will gladly learn about etiquette. There are some interesting and intelligent people involved. It's always nice to learn about those in your community, and sometimes helpful. Though as you rightly mention, not everyone is interested in hearing our life histories, nor is it always wise to tell them.

Anders (real given name, male, 49, climber since 1971 - Chris Mc. kindly shifted my user ID from my proper name to Mighty Hiker, a boy scout nickname)

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Jun 22, 2006 - 09:10pm PT
Nate D

San Francisco
Jun 22, 2006 - 10:03pm PT
Well LEB, I must say thanks for sticking around this bunch. Even though I next to never engage, you definitely succeed in getting some interesting conversations started. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it fascinating that you would be so fascinated by the lives of folks around here.

I'm sure you've stated it a thousand times, but would you mind once again stating how you happened across this forum? What subject(s) got you hooked? Are you SURE you are not going to write a book or something about this strange subculture?

If this has all been clearly outlined in another thread, can someone please provide the link, 'cause I find it impossible to keep up... and I know it's OT.

Social climber
The West
Jun 22, 2006 - 10:33pm PT
"there *is* something to be said about asking interesting questions so as to get people to talk about the fascinating aspects of their lives."

-Agreed, I think that is why we are all here. Maybe it's just my midwestern, fishing out of the back of a boat, background. As early as 1960, I can remember my mom using the phrase,"Trolling for advice." In my paradigm, not uncommmon in the Southern Chicago area of the late 60's, a well crafted question, designed to manipulate/inspire an informative well thought out response, has long been reffered to as 'A troll", as in "That's the answer I was trolling for."

Lois, I think it is a very good thing that you have been able to get some remarkable answers to many of your questions. I tried to express my appreciation of this. I'm sorry you took it in a perjorative sense. You add a lot to this forum and I'm glad you are here, as I have said many times over the last year.

Please, keep asking the questions and call the process whatever you want, great stuff often comes from questions it might not occur to the reader to ask.

right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 10:41pm PT
OK: Here are the questions which Lois asked, with my answers:
(This is an excellent set of questions Lois and I am more than happy to oblige. I find it fun!)

“Tell me something, Tarbuster, how exactly did you all support yourselves during this great climbing era of yours during the 70s”

This in fact varied widely Lois, although if a generality were to be ventured, I’d say we supported ourselves through a pairing of minimalism and seasonal work:

Minimalism- The less you worked to provide the necessities, the more energy you had to devote to the climbing itself. This meant pairing back needs. We needed some gear, some food, some transportation. Often these items were pooled and shared to reduce the burden of acquisition.

Seasonal Work- with a minimalist ethic in place to reduce the overall work output, seasonal or project oriented work could be leveraged to provide blocks of time to climb and train on a daily basis and in a very spontaineous and unfettered way.

Many of us worked construction, painted houses and the like. A schoolteacher could pull off summers yes, but a lot of us tried to go 6-9 months without working. Some worked as rough necks on the oil rigs of Wyoming (very dangerous). Salmon fishing is another.

”1. How many of you were there in this now famous "group"”

This phenomenon was happening in Colorado and on the East Coast, and in Canada, so not all my answers will be limited to the Stonemaster group, which were primarily, but not limited to California based climbers.

I am going to start in on this one by deferring to *John Long’s* recent post on the Lynn Hill Thread, because he said it so well and underscored a very interesting point to boot:

*The Stonemasters were unique because they helped spawn a community wide stoke for adventure not seen before or since. It is probably true that said stoke rippled out from a core group like so many seismic waves, but everyone touched by the energy added some of their own so the movement was very much a group effort shared by all. That was the thing--everyone with a pair of shoes was invited to participate because back then we were all on the A Train. People like Roy (Tarbuster) say they were not core Stonemasters but that’s news to me. Once folks started to individualize the Stonemasters as their own gig, the gig was basically over.*

*Nobody owned it. Everyone owned it.*


Now this is a very enlightened and egalitarian position. A prime feature is the open source attitude which John espouses here. As soon as you exclude another or exclude yourself, it begins to break down. Yes this happened. But all movements reach critical mass, then begin to either transmute or succumb to entropy via a variety of conditions, often as a direct consequence of growth.

”2. Were you all about the same age and from the same area e.g. S California”

Primarily we are talking teens and twenties.

The Stonemasters originated in SO Cal, but I’d say it was the collusion with prime players in Yosemite Valley which really provided a synergistic boost to the ideas, projects, and drives of the Stonemasters.

Certainly there were other very powerful groups in Colorado and on the East Coast and there was some cross pollination. We Californians knew of the other protagonists and they knew of us. Yosemite was a melting pot. Colorado was a hub, Fort Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs in Particular. The Shawangunks of New York, Cathedral Ledge of New Hampshire were prime East Coast hubs. Squamish in Canada. There were others, but these were prime. Climbers were building collective legacies in the hubs, then traveling and submitting themselves to the proving grounds extant in the other 4 geographic cultures.

Then there was Europe: Great Britain had a tremendously robust and bold rock climbing culture. There was massive rock in the Dolomites, rock and snow in the French Alps and Bernese Oberland and much more. Patagonia in S America, Kichatna Spires in Alaska. These places were something of a grail as well for the Rockclimber.

Travel was encouraged and sought: it prevented myopia. It tested and inspired a high standard cultivated by the adept.

”3. Was this just a summer thing or did you folks do so all year round - if so where did the money come from?”
“4. Approximately when did all of this take place? Was this a full time "thing" you all did when you actually did it.”

In one sense it was year round, even during periods of work most of us climbed on the weekend; notwithstanding of course a blitzkrieg like work stint in some place affording nothing besides work. Like oil derricks, salmon boats or the like. Sometimes it was best to focus on intense work periods, and then get back into the stream of climbing.

Southern Californians had Joshua Tree to do winter climbing, along with some local crags and boulders (Stoney Point, Rubidoux in the greater LA and San Bernadino areas respectively). Each of the four hubs, California, Colorado, East Coast, and Squamish had their bouldering or training areas where you did not live at but typically commuted to from work.

When I got really into it in the mid seventies, it was understood that the goal was to climb spring through fall. If possible we added full or partial winter seasons in Joshua Tree. A guy I know who started out in the sixties here in Boulder where I now live, essentially described the same thing to me just a couple days ago and of course it is well known: even in the late sixties he spent spring in Eldorado Canyon in Colorado to warm up, late spring in Yosemite, summer in the Tetons and Bugaboos of Canada, Fall in the Gunks of New York. Maybe toss in Devils Tower Wyoming, Needles of South Dakota, Black Canyon or some other sweet destinations. That’s a good circuit and it takes cunning, resources, and frugality to pull it off.


"5. What was it about this era and this particular group which made you so unique and garner such a place in "history" as it were. Obviously there were men who climbed before you in the 40s 50s 60s - Obviously men (and now women, even!) climbed after you 80s, 90s etc. So what was it then which gave you all such fame and "grandeur?" How exactly did you garner this lore which now seems to surround you regarding those time."

This is a big factor in my mind as it is attended by a number of things which we might guess influenced the explosive growth and appetite for full time climbing.

Let me start by characterizing the aura of the whole lifestyle. This was about a sense of urgency to do something special. It was about mystery, myth, adventure, and discovery. We were trying to put ourselves out there in such a way that we honored the laudable human legacies which preceded us and likewise blaze new paths of our own.

To take a stab at the unique circumstances:

The beat generation, to my mind was the seed and it illuminated the bohemian tact, which was a good foundation for exploration, experimentation, and the leveraging of alternative avenues of expression. The sixties pulled the lid off post war prosperity and perhaps bled out some pent up aspects of ennui or routine and restlessness. The 70’s followed with a great explosion of outdoor activity, enhanced by the Ecology Movement.

The great climbers of the 50’s and 60’s had pioneered many routes, but done so often in a very perfunctory fashion; banging in pitons and standing on them when expedient. Deep Ecology had a big influence, along with that was spawned this whole “Clean Climbing” ethos, which gave the climbers of the 70’s their unique challenge, to climb with less weight, less impact, and in better style. So the free climbing generation was really not so much born there, because the prior greats were excellent free climbers, even with pitons, but the reign of the nut was really the province of the 70’s and it gave us new meaning and new challenge: free climbing in pure style, things which had previously been done with direct aid.

Then we had a flourishing national media boom in general, with climbing following suit with some good magazines to disseminate information.

To my mind, these are major synergistic factors which really allowed things to blossom in the seventies Lois.

”Also for the sake of the unenlightened amongst us (like me!) can you tell us (me) more about this whole thing.”

My arms are tired Lois, I need to add some memory to my computer and then my system resources will better handle my voice activated software.

Thanks for asking the questions!


Jun 22, 2006 - 10:56pm PT
Hahahahaha LOL this is so funny .......

Lois, They are not pissed at you but more in frustration sometimes.

Sometimes they don't think things out to well and have these fast knee jerk reactions to your questions and responses. Sometimes it takes awhile to see where you are going for them. Sometimes people here automatically assume everyone here is a climber with the knowledgeable basics. You like to pick their brains to see where the core of their soul is really at. I do too. The surface only reveals very little. It's Ok, just keep on trucking ,,,,,

But! there is the fact that you are honest, trust worthy and have integrity that alone transcends all your limitations on this forum.

You can type at the speed some people talk makes your post as such.

Well round people such as you are a rarity, especially here.

And Roger, you are StoneMaster.


right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 11:06pm PT
Hi Werner,
Having a nice day?

”Also for the sake of the unenlightened amongst us (like me!) can you tell us (me) more about this whole thing.”

One aspect that bears a strong underline here Lois, is the force of community.

By the end of the seventies and early eighties I would show up each spring in Yosemite and I knew there were 30/40 people with whom I could share grand adventures.

John Long, John Bachar, Werner Braun, Jim Bridwell, Ron Kauk, and Dale Bard were very supportive and they were the principal figures for me when I quickly look at the people who were established. It really was an amazing time. A time to get after it and get things done. I recall no exclusionary behaviour toward me or my partners from the core group.

This was and still is an amazing community.

Thank You Lois.
I like to look at stuff and share.


right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 11:17pm PT
What are you doing -100 hours per week?

I've done that man.
It feels like you have to and maybe you do.
But it is evil, this much work, in most cases.

I know, I am essentially cripled from it, or at least much more worn out than I would prefer.

Take Care,

Jun 22, 2006 - 11:17pm PT
Hi Roy

It's fuking hot here now, and all I do is run around in circles on cop cars. I build them. Installations the full deal. I've been at it for 5 staight weeks 7 days a week 10 hours a day drilling soldering, wiring bolting sh#t on, decaling and demobeing the old ones.

It's a big ass wall, hahaha

8 down and 5 to go.

You want a lightbar ...... :-)


right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 11:26pm PT
You know Werner I heard that's what you were doing.

I thought Jeez-
How many cars does the Park Service need light bars for and how often?
Full Build Outs. Wow.


Social climber
The West
Jun 22, 2006 - 11:30pm PT
"This was about a sense of urgency to do something special"


right here, right now
Jun 22, 2006 - 11:32pm PT
Actually, how 'bout a light bar that says, on one side.

Hey! Hey! I am a real Stonemaster and a Real Climber!
Ya! memememememememememememememe. ME!

and on the other side it would flash, in big green letters:
Support World Peas or Else Then What
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 23, 2006 - 12:20am PT
Hi Lois,

You have asked a fairly difficult set of questions. The answers that you have received are all correct, even if they contradict each other. And, if Werner says I am a ‘Stonemaster’ then there is no known all-inclusive definition. (Hey Ed, we may need a multi-dimensional vibrating string definition here.) More interestingly, I have just seen an advanced copy of the minutes of the ‘Stonemasters’ latest board meeting and you have been admitted as a *honorary* member. Way to go, Lois.

Several folks have suggested that you read John's excellent article on the 'Stonemasters' in the July issue of “Rock and Ice. If you don’t want to be seen buying a climbing rag, I am sure that someone will e-mail you a copy. It is a very good read and sheds light on who and what ‘Stonemasters' refers to. John writes it as a coming of age story that has universal appeal. Well done, John.

However, it seems to me that you have to have a pretty good idea of the history to parse John’s article and place it into the fuller climbing of the 1970s. John is clearly writing about a personal coming of age journey that he lived with his early climbing friends. It is also hard to read the ‘Stonemasters’ threads here on ST without a solid context.

So, here is some of the drier, historical perspective:

Kids coming into their own in the 1970s had grown up with the social mores of the 60s and did not face the prospect of Vietnam. They came with no obligations to follow in anyone else’s footsteps. In the climbing world of Yosemite, the prior generation had moved on to adulthood, businesses, and family life. Most importantly, for understanding the climbing community in the Valley in 1970, all the major faces had been climbed and the ‘Golden Age’ was over. There was a lull in first ascent activity from 1967 to 1970, then a few key climbers with a different vision of Valley climbing—hard all free climbing—tore up the place. At the same time, there was a marked increase in the number of climbers from all over the world who started to come to the Valley to climb. It became an international Mecca. Young climbers pored in, as prior generations pored in to hitch hiking around Europe, or joining hippy commune or the Peace Core. It was a new, exciting world.

In a sense, it was like the concept of a perfect storm.

You ask how climbers lived and several have given reasonable answers in a general way. Climbing can be very compelling. It can easily become the core of one’s life, especially if you are young and have a limitless future. By in large the actual climbing and the climbing ‘tribal’ community pretty much stays the same generation to generation. What makes the 1970s seem so different is that the climbing standards being set allowed some of the most spectacular climbs to be done all free, and in a style that is considered classic (trad). During this time there was also an increase in the number of climbers, although for the hard-core regulars it didn’t feel like it was getting bigger. Amongst this group, everyone pretty much knew everyone else.

Added to this base climbing are two other elements. The first is tied to the climbers who had personalities that were unique—sometimes based only on unfettered youthful enthusiasm and sometimes harboring manic-depressive and other serious disorders--who could use the intensity of the climbing and the intense emotional support of the climbing community to create a more or less stable life. (This was true of the earlier generation and sadly, several climbers who were of this second group could not make a transition into the more day-to-day world of adulthood and ended up wrecks of one sort or the other.)

The second element was a recording of the life and times of the climbers by both John Long in his many books, articles, and videos and the picture books that were published by climbers who grew up in this period. The myths were born of humor and camaraderie, and sometimes a willful recklessness, but survive as testaments to an idealized period of glorious youth. For these reasons, the period of the 1970s is very famous and many active climbers from that time are famous. Some of them will likely always be famous for their climbing abilities and accomplishments.

There was also increased opportunities to make money in climbing related activities—equipment design, manufacture, and sales; the movie business; and teaching, writing, and making videos to feed the increased interest in climbing.

One could live cheaply and just climb. As with any group of youngsters, incredible bonds were formed, and they took on the intensity of the climbing itself. It was the modern version of the Homeric tales that defined our world. It was glorious. It was emotionally intense. Moreover, it was incredibly tolerate of all modes of expression and personal foibles, because the main thing was all about the climbing.

The term ‘Stonemasters’ has been applied to both the best climbing of the period and to a group personality. In a nutshell, there are three distinct uses of the term ‘Stonemaster.’ As John lays out in his article, the original use was to describe a group of young climbers who were about 18-20 years old in about 1972, who lived in Southern California and climbed together in the main areas in Southern California. They climbed hard stuff, were loud, and separated themselves from the old fuddy duddies who were climbing at the time. There are rumors that they smoked dope. I think most of this original group has posted here on ST. John's article names Rick Accomazzo, Richard Harrison, Mike Graham, Robs Muir, Gib Lewis, Bill Antel, Jim Hoagland, Tobin Sorenson, John Bachar, (and of course John Long--Largo). Some of these names you will recognize as ST posters. John Bachar is known worldwide for his bold climbing and, perhaps more so, for his un-roped free soloing. Sadly, as he sits atop life’s mid-point, he has been reduced to a shoe fetishist. He, he.

When a subset of this group of friends came to Yosemite Valley in 1972 or 73, they were 'adopted' by Jim Bridwell, who had been climbing in the Valley for 10 years or so and was by 1971 considered the ‘Don’ of the Valley climbers. In the Valley at that time there was a fairly well established group of younger climbers who had ties to the climbers of the 1960s. This group sparked and fanned the free climbing fires in the Valley beginning in 1970. Amongst climbers of a certain age, there are many well-known names. Many of them were from the San Francisco Bay Area or ‘visitors’ from the East and Colorado. Part of the glue that held this group together was the YOSAR team—who all lived in the same camp together in Yosemite. Membership on YOSAR afforded free camping and extended stays in Yosemite. Jim was the head of the YOSAR camp and pretty much ran the community. Our very own Werner still is a member of YOSAR.

Jim had a knack for adopting promising climbers—sometimes even not promising climbers, just climbers with heart and effort. When John Long arrived with other ‘Stonemasters’ in 1973, Jim took John under his wing and over a period of time essentially adopted the name and style of the 'Stonemasters.' Bridwell sort of acted like the resident adult to his ‘boys.’ Certainly not for all the climbers and not all the time, but Jim was sensible and commanded respect from all climbers and the Park Service.

Climbers of about the same age as the Southern California ‘Stonemasters’ joined-up in a loose manner of speaking. John names Mark Chapman, Ron Kauk, Werner Braun, Billy Westbay, Ed Barry, Jim Orey, Rik Reider, Dale Bard, amongst those who became de-facto ‘Stonemasters.’ I can think of others that I would have added to the list, but John is channeling “The” ‘Stonemaster’ so his list stands. You will recognize Werner as a friend and fellow poster. The others are well known, and we still talk about them. Ron Kauk, who stays in the background and never posts, is by many calculations the best free climber of this entire generation.

This had the effect of transferring the name ‘Stonemasters’ to a wider group of climbers--although still a small group who were all about the same age, lived to climb in the Valley, hung out together, and climbed increasingly hard and spectacular 'all free' climbs. (The rumors about the weed consumption kept cropping up.) These hard free climbs set standards that seemed to be on a different plane than previous climbs. (With the passage of time, it is easy to see a continuum of increasing difficulty, but at the time, they blew everyone's socks off.)

The third meaning of 'Stonemasters' is derived from the identification of lots of climbers with John's writing and the stories that are told about some of the characters who made up the original Southern California 'Stonemasters'--Yabo is probably the best example of a beloved personality and John Bachar’s free solos are still held in awe. In this sense, it is less a defined group of climbers and more an identification of an era applied loosely to California free climbing in the 1970s. This is the stage of the 'mythology' of the 'Stonemasters.' This is how the tem is mostly used nowadays.

One of the difficulties in using the term ‘Stonemasters’ to refer to all of the 1970s Yosemite climbing is that many of the best climbers of that era were not associated with the name ‘Stonemasters’ either in their climbing or socially. This is mostly because of the social aspects the group personality and age differences. However, at the time, it was never an issue either way. 'Stonemasters' could be said with any tone of voice and mispronounced a couple of ways depending on one's mood--but it was never used to draw an unwanted line of exclusion or inclusion in the Valley. At the end of the day, it was always about the climbing.

Transcend life, Climb--Roger
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