Removing Copperheads


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Jul 11, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
You got all very good points Ian. I agree, especially about Mark's right to do this. Mark can do whatever he wants, of course. If he did this without all the finger pointing and internet bragging afterwards, I would find it cool even. I still respect it. But the moral high horse blah blah rubs me the wrong way, definitely.
I don't think trip reports are lame, or talking about your climbs.
It's just this dissing of other random climbers that did something that Mark does not approve of on a trade route that gets me. Even if they have no name in his reports, I find that unnecessary.

Mark should climb routes that are challenging enough for him without his chisels, there are plenty.

Mark gets a lot of credit on this site for good reason, but sometimes the audience here is a bit biased depending on who says what. If some Euro guy had come along removing heads from trade routes and had then posted those photos and summit trash exhibitions and adding bolts to anchors for bivies... oh oh.
btw, just to make sure I don't get misunderstood. I heard from many friends that Mark is a great guy to hang with and climb with, which I bet is true, and this is nothing personal agains him.

regarding Zod and Dihedral.
TC did not add bolts next to cracks on Dihedral Wall, that was someone else.
edit: false info here as ammon points out below.

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 11, 2013 - 05:52pm PT
Another thing I'm trying to do is to instill a respect for the next party coming up the route. If a given route is rate 5.9 A4, I'll bet that party want to climb 5.9 and A4. If the A4 were all fixed, isn't it totally legitimate for that party to feel cheated? If the route is covered in tat slings, and various debris, doesn't the next party deserve to feel cheated?
The whole of the Yosemite Climbing Experience philosophy is for subsequent ascents to be able to climb the route in much the same fashion as the first ascent climbed it. Fixing the entire route, or the hard difficult pitches, certainly robs subsequent parties of that doesn't it?

Jul 11, 2013 - 05:59pm PT
Yeah, I agree that fixing a pitch up on purpose is lame. I think once you start thinking about A4 you know enough about aid routes to know which ones are hard and which ones are fixed and mellow. A route that gets 3 or 4 ascents a year is usually not going to be that hard after 25 years...

Whether or not removing heads is a great idea, isn't really the issue for me, as I said. It's rather the way it's presented, and how you make it a bigger deal than it is, in my opinion. My opinion, which is nothing more than that, and certainly not more valuable than yours.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 11, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
Yeah, Ben, I'm certainly don't want to let this discussion fall to the level of the political threads, that's for sure.

At the very, very, bottom, root of my head removal crusade, is my desire that people should be trying to use the appropriate tool for the job and to consider the hundreds of ascent that may come after theirs, to respect someone else's desire to climb the 5.9 and the A4.

Wouldn't, Robbins, Frost, Choiunard, Pratt, Bachar, Cosgrove, Grooseman, et al. say that we should rise to the level of the route rather than bring the level of the route down?

Trad climber
Jul 11, 2013 - 06:24pm PT

I think you make a good point about how it matters "who" is saying what. I agree that if some rad sport euro came online here and said what Mark is saying...many would bash the guy. But when Mark says it...people seem to jive.

Its because we kinda "know" Hudon and his overall philosophy and that he genuinely cares about climbers, the tribe, the routes, nauture, the features, the history....he really digs the experience and wants others to share in its purity.

That's why folks don't tend to bust his balls when he rants with his ethic. I'm a wall wannabe with only a handful of pitches and a couple bails to my credit, but I agree with Mark's ethic. Its why we took some peckers and hooks up on routes that have heads in case they were blown or sheared off of in general un-use. These days, with smaller cams, sneaky beaks and a more clean ethic...there seems to be a need for less heads like in the old days.

That's what I'm hearing from Mark. Heads where only a head will do. If there's a potentially clean placement right next door or in the same place, lets get rid of the time bombs and restore the route to it's initial character. I'm a C2 guy, on my best day, and I can appreciate his take. And make sure you don't mistake stoke for spray. There's a fine line but I think Mark leans more toward the stoke side than the attention hound side if you ask me. But maybe you shouldn't ask me....I once made a doll of him and carried up my first Big Wall. I'm suspect.
Paul Brennan

Trad climber
Jul 11, 2013 - 07:22pm PT
Good info on removing heads. Been shut down on a route before because the old heads were blown, I didn't know how to get them out, and I refused to drill. Mescalito needs to be sorted out. Lot of fixed and dead heads on the first few pitches as per Max's description. I think it was at the end of the 2nd or 3rd where I put a screamer on a decent piece and clipped about 15 heads in a row to the belay. It was sh#t.

Big Wall climber
Jul 11, 2013 - 07:49pm PT
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 11, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Thanks for helping move the conversation forward, Moof.

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
Jul 12, 2013 - 01:33am PT
Yes Paul I think that was the end of the pitch I saw when rapping off of the right side of the tower this spring.

I was shocked and a bit dismayed at the number of copper heads in that ladder. Then on closer inspection was pretty amazed that the crack is in pretty good shape pin scar wise for how much it gets done. I am going to look for photos of this pitch when Mark and I did maybe the 5th or so ascent way back in the stone age to compare and maybe to see what we placed. Maybe it is for the best that copperheads were overused instead of pins the last 20 years.

My perspective switched to thinking that the pitch had been gradually capped, sealed and preserved over the years for when new tools could be used and removed with much much less damage.

I'd much rather see the head ladders than huge pin scars and am very curious at what lies under the oldest heads which were most likely placed in the best weaknesses. Maybe some very nice beak placements, maybe safer and more interesting pitches as a result. Maybe trade routes that teach people how to use and become proficient placing small gear.

We have better tools now that are easier on the rock. We should clean things up a bit and use them.

Jul 12, 2013 - 04:54am PT
well maybe you're right in that if people made a bigger effort to keep routes clean or clean them up the usual degradation of difficulty would not happen nearly as fast (if the features don't break). Didn't think that was possible, but maybe it is...

And make sure you don't mistake stoke for spray. There's a fine line but I think Mark leans more toward the stoke side than the attention hound side if you ask me.
i am pretty sure you actually got that more right than I do, Micronut.

Pitches 2-4 of mescalito were the least interesting aidclimbing I've ever done. What starts after 3 or 5 pitches on Mescalito, Adrift?
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jul 12, 2013 - 05:45am PT
Okay, not withstanding my 'off-the-cuff' remark about the pit viper, copperhead, I cannot really remark on this thread about copperheads, found a lot on my first big wall, WFLT, and some on SF Wash Column, and The Prow, Wash Column, and some on my bail out on the Salathé Wall back in 1976.

I was just having fun Mark, about the copperhead snake. Your Thread Head©, Removing Copperheads, just invited me to be flippant.

As for the real deal on climbing, I do not have enough wall experience.

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Jul 12, 2013 - 08:02am PT
I always enjoy Mark's musings and his sharing of techniques and enthusiasm is great.

FWIW, (and it's unlikley I'l ever get the opportunity again) removing the junk and litter seems to me to be a sensible thing. It encourages the craft, not just the motions.

I imagine many of these dead heads etc are the aggregation of many years. At some time they would likely have been the cheapest most suitable option, and sometimes, for a variety of reasons folks may have been left with no choice but to weld one in. So, that they're there in th enumbers they are is unsuprising.

But where they are innapropriate they should go. The upside, it makes it more fun, and more of a challenge. The downside, it's more expensive.

Have fun.



Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jul 12, 2013 - 11:15am PT
It encourages the craft, not just the motions.


Big Wall climber
Reno, Nevada
Jul 12, 2013 - 02:12pm PT
he Zodiac was fixed up on purpose to be speed climbed.

This is not true, I was there. The Huber Bro's did fix gear but it was to free climb it, not for speed climbing. The speed record was more of an after thought.

Jul 12, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
sorry for spreading wrong info there, i'll edit it out of my post...
btw , I'm writing you an email right now.. ;-)

Trad climber
Auburn CA, Seattle, Bishop
Aug 12, 2014 - 10:20am PT
Thanks Mark!

Where do you get one of those "butter knives" as you call them? Hardware store? I need to remove a few bashies on a thin crack that will go free. I tried hammering them out with wall hammer + large screwdriver to no avail.


Coronado, California
Aug 12, 2014 - 04:47pm PT
I am one for community service, so for the sake of keeping it a challenge for you all, I will be dedicating the remainder of my summer to running up el cap with my fancy German made cable cutters and clipping those cable stems right below the pasted head… in essence leaving you all with an abundance of dead heads to clean with your knives. Seriously, no need to thank me! :)

all jokes aside, good on you man! keep it John Muir, leave no trace.

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Aug 12, 2014 - 05:27pm PT
Great pics, Mark, and spot-on commentary imho.

There should be some room for anarchy up there.

LOL... not from what I've heard over the decades. There is ONE, count 'em: ONE pure and awesome way. It is known only to a very few. And they will be the ones to let you know that they are among the few.

Social climber
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Aug 12, 2014 - 08:49pm PT
It's all bullshit! Mark is taller and can reach past the placements! Hang him!

Anchorage Alaska
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:59pm PT
What about when I place heads as free climbing pro because it's all I can get in?
Messages 21 - 40 of total 41 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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