Billy Westbay on the 2nd of Butterballs

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 69 of total 69 in this topic
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 21, 2013 - 10:34am PT
This was one of my recent scans.

Billy Westbay doing the second ascent of butterballs. Bridwell and Doug Snively were up there also. I don't know if they did it that day or not.
This was in May of 1974.

Credit: Mark Hudon
WBraun

climber
Jul 21, 2013 - 10:42am PT
Ron Kauk 1974 -- Butterballs 5.11c, Yosemite, first onsight flash of Yosemite’s hardest test piece ....
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 10:55am PT
It doesn't surprise me that Ron onsighted it so early. I've always said that he has more climbing talent in his little finger than anyone else has in their whole body.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jul 21, 2013 - 11:19am PT
I think RK was only 15 y.o. at the time too.
WBraun

climber
Jul 21, 2013 - 11:32am PT
I think RK was only 15 y.o. at the time too.


No .... older
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Jul 21, 2013 - 11:36am PT
By my math Ron was 17 in '74
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 11:39am PT
How old is he now? I'm 57 now and I think he's at least 3 years younger than me. I was 18 in May of 1974.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Jul 21, 2013 - 11:51am PT
dang,, they had ROPES back then?
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Jul 21, 2013 - 12:01pm PT
I was 15 in '74. Ron was (and still is) two years older ± than I. During this time period he climbed a lot with Tony Lynott who was two years older than me at my school. Tony and Ron were in the same class level at high school. Different schools in the Bay Area, but same grade. That is until Ron set out for a life of climb.

So, unless I am useless at math, that makes Ron 17 at the time of his ascent and close to 56 in this day-and-age.
BJ

climber
Jul 21, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Kauk
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
Jul 21, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Another gem Hudon. Thanks
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Jul 21, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
Rather humorous that the Wiki lists only ONE notable ascent for Ron. I suppose the other climbs he did were rather insignificant.
Burch3y

Mountain climber
San Diego
Jul 21, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
This is wack, post up some sick slacklining shots bra!
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Jul 21, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
Killer shot, thanks!


I know what a flash is- I think
I know what an onsight is- I think


But wtf is an onsight flash??

WBraun

climber
Jul 21, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Onsight flash is when you upstage the older generation .... :-)

Bonus points for who belayed Westbay and who belayed Kauk.

If you don't know ....

You weren't born yet :-)
Crump

Social climber
Lakewood, CO
Jul 21, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
Was having dinner with Daniel McClure last Thursday, and he was telling stories about those days, climbing with Billy, Hess, Snively... It blows my mind that those guys rode their bikes from C-Springs to the Valley to climb back in'71?

Truly the hardest of hardmen!
WBraun

climber
Jul 21, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
Yep it's true ^^^

I saw them on their bikes as they entered the Valley .....
Crump

Social climber
Lakewood, CO
Jul 21, 2013 - 06:30pm PT
And of course Daniel said that Donini was already the old man back then...
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Jul 21, 2013 - 06:54pm PT
Looks like he is right before that first little slippery rest knob. Mark keep posting em up!!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 07:21pm PT
I have to save something for my show at the Facelift!
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Jul 21, 2013 - 07:41pm PT

Onsight flash is when you upstage the older generation .... :-)

Bonus points for who belayed Westbay and who belayed Kauk.

If you don't know ....

You weren't born yet :-)


Thanks for clarifying Werner, you are correct on all counts.

Did butterballs get climbed a lot from 74-80?? When did everyone & their little sister start lapping out on it, just wondering when yosemite 5.11+ went from a superhuman grade to one attainable by mortals?
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 08:06pm PT
I could follow or top rope it consistently but it always gave me trouble on the lead.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Jul 21, 2013 - 08:29pm PT
Ron K was born September 23, 1957. So he was either 16 or 17 then on Butterballs. He was rather tiny back then too.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Jul 21, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
and Werner, were you belaying Ron on the 1st?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jul 21, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
I used to go down there with Ron and Bachar and we'd see how many times we could pump out Butterballs. I was always just barely making a lot of those thin cracks those guys could just walk up with them slim fingers but aside from the first few body lengths, and the move over that small roof at the bottom, Butterballs is good for fat fingers. So I was solid on this one.

Ron was so good at that size back then it was ridiculous to watch. Same with Bachar, who later free soloed the route. I was never remotely close to doing that. Not remotely.

Ron went on to get very skilled on The Wide as well. A true Valley master. Like Billy. He could do anything, but was espcially skilled on mixed climbing. One time we took two Japanese climbers up the column who didn't speak a word of English. What a blast Billy was. A great person.

There were some excellent stories from back then. Legendary times.

JL
FTOR

Sport climber
CA
Jul 22, 2013 - 09:15am PT
i remember going up on the balls early on struggling hard and so shredding my fingers that i was forced to spend the next few weeks learning to climb wide. good times. and the 'rest' knob, not so solid in ebs.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Jul 22, 2013 - 09:28am PT
I followed it back in 86 and remember that I could do everything on toprope OK but would have had a very hard time standing around to place pro. It seems a lot like hard ice climbing. To do any 20 foot section is no big deal but to hang in there for the whole lead is an accomplishment.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jul 22, 2013 - 10:05am PT
Wbraun asked:
"Bonus points for who belayed Westbay and who belayed Kauk."

Werner, you were known as one of the best belayers in the valley, I'm guessing you?

Nice photo Mark, thanks for sharing it.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 22, 2013 - 10:06am PT
Were you up on that ledge also, Werner?
WBraun

climber
Jul 22, 2013 - 10:15am PT
No

I was standing at the Cookie turnout with Bridwell.

He wanted to watch Ron.

Charlie Porter was the belayer.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 22, 2013 - 11:39am PT
Billy Wesbay is one of the true undersung heroes of rock climbing.
He was brilliant. On the Diamond, D1, when he and Bachar did the
route free, Billy led that final horrible off-width chimney-crack,
icy, wet, and Bachar told me he had to push his limits just to
follow, whereas Billy led straightaway.

All the great Yosemite climbers were phenomenal in their own ways. And
to live there for such extended periods and at the same time be so
totally dedicated, they couldn't help become superhuman at Yosemite
cracks. Most proved at least reasonably human, though, when they
visited other areas, such as the Gunks (Ron had a struggle
with Foops, for example), or Eldorado, and were not
used to a much different kind of rock or climbing.

One of Bachar's great achievements was his free solo of the Nabisco
Wall, which involved Waverly Wafer, Butterballs, and Butterfingers.
Bridwell originally first did the complete Nabisco Wall.

I can't help but go to Henry Barber, who made an onsight lead of
Butterballs in May 1973. Royal stated that Henry was simply doing
things a step above everyone else. Bachar himself said to me
one day, "Henry was pretty modest about ratings.
When he did Butterballs, he rated it 5.10c!"



JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 22, 2013 - 12:27pm PT
Bump for a great thread.

John
Norman Claude

climber
Jul 22, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
As I recall it was a hot muggy August day in the Valley. Motivation to climb was at a standstill. Charlie Porter walked into the rescue site where the shirtless hardmen were lounging. Charlie said something to the effect that this, vacant staring at the picnic table, was an ffffing waste of time. Let's go do something. Kauk got up and walked way with Charlie. They returned in the early evening. When asked Charlie said they'd done Butterballs.

I remember how shocked and awed I felt. Still do when I remember Ron and Charlie's ability.

Claude Fiddler
WBraun

climber
Jul 22, 2013 - 05:16pm PT
Charlie said they'd done Butterballs.

Not quite like that.

Charlie belayed Kauk.

Charlie followed Butterballs by climbing a few moves then hanging to rest then several more repetitions like this to the belay.

Charlie was laughing his ass off the whole time following butterballs ....
thebravecowboy

Social climber
Colorado Plateau
Jul 22, 2013 - 05:34pm PT
anybody have anything to elucidate the story about Cap'n Westbay's wild Diamond rescue of the two storm-stuck climbers? the one where he solo'd up to them, led them to the top and guided 'em down in a hellacious t-storm?

Daniel McClure

Trad climber
beulah,CO
Jul 23, 2013 - 09:08am PT
That was me DanIel McClure climbing the Nabisco Wall with Billy Westbay. I thought it was the fall 1973. Right after us Tobin Sorenson and John Bachar climbed the Nabisco Wall with Tobin leading Butterballs. Tobin took 3 or 4 long falls with the old hip belay and 2" swamie belt. This was when I first heard of the Stonemasters(WITH RESPECT). I think Bridwell and Long watched all this take place from the parking lot. Out of the 4 climbers that climbed that day I am the only one alive. 3 outstanding climbers !!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 23, 2013 - 09:53am PT
With such differing points of view, I wonder if perhaps Billy did
the climb twice, and folk are talking about two separate ascents?
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 23, 2013 - 09:56am PT
My photo was certainly taken in May of 74, I don't know exactly how I learned the story I've passed on, I could easily be wrong.
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
Jul 23, 2013 - 10:31am PT
TFPU. I love reading this stuff.
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Jul 23, 2013 - 11:47am PT
Dan McClure! Howdy. Awesome that you posted up. I loved all you C Springs boys! Great climbers all and great guys to hang with. Your dates might be a little off. M. Hudon's timeline makes more sense to me. I was at the Cookie in the spring of 74 watching John Bachar and Tobin on the Nabisco Wall. Tobin was having a hard time with the Wafer taking a fall or two. I remember thinking that if they were having trouble here things didn't bode well for their ascent. Bachar led through on Wheat Thin and led it in that controlled solid form that would become his trademark. It was the first time I saw him climb and I was impressed. Can't remember much else about their ascent. Ron did the second of Butterballs in 74 as Werner mentioned. I believe he was just 16 at the time. As far as the Nabisco Wall history goes I did FA with Bridwell in May of 73. Bridwell typically gets credit for the ascent but (if I can toot my own horn) I feel I deserve some credit as I led what at the time what were considered the two crux pitches Butterfingers and Wheat Thin. I had led the Wafer a few months earlier. Not sure who did it next. I know Henry did it either in the spring or fall of 73. I think Largo and Kevin did an early ascent. Henry was definitely ahead of the curve there for a few years but that just makes sense. He was 4 or 5 years older than Ron and John. Both Ron and John went on to surpass Henry as they came into their own. I don't agree with Pat's contention that Valley climbers were primarily crack climbers who weren't as good on face. John and Ron were excellent face climbers as were most of the Stone Master era Yosemite climbers. If I remember correctly the young Ron Kauk tore it up in the Gunks when he visited.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jul 23, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
So Barber and Kauk, then Westbay would be the third?
Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
Jul 23, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Awesome thread. So refreshing compared to the political thread garbage.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jul 23, 2013 - 01:12pm PT
Yo Chappy -

Don't remember who did the SA. JL and I did the 3rd ascent of The Nabisco Wall. I led every pitch unexpectedly as Eric Shoen balked at The Wheat Thin and rapped off after I led The Wafer. Largo was up to bat for Butterfingers, but his sausage like digits thwarted his efforts, and he handed the sharp end to me. I was only 18, had never done a 5.11, and he just said try - what's the worst that could happen. Next thing I knew I was past the crux, but positive that the hard part had to be higher up the pitch. Largo insisted I had it in the bag, but I couldn't believe it. There was what looked like a fixed nut up higher and I went for it, only to find it was just a piece of sling wedged in the crack with some dirt. I was rattled and in disbelief when I pulled over the top.

Ah... Good Times!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jul 23, 2013 - 02:16pm PT
I guess that makes my ascent in 1980 the 249th ascent? HA HA HA!!!
the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Jul 23, 2013 - 02:26pm PT
such a great route..
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jul 23, 2013 - 02:27pm PT
I think warblers ascent of b fingers is one of the coolest ascents of....anything!

In the fall of 1979 I followed Dingus McGee up butterballs. He flashed, not sure if he on sighted or déjà viewed. I made it except for one tiny little biscuit and nonetheless felt on top of the World!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 23, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Chappy, please don't misunderstand or mis-read what I wrote. No
one loves or respects the Yosemite boys more than do I, and
that includes my friends Ron and all those mentioned above. I
don't think in my post I said one single thing about their
being better at cracks than face. I'm not sure where you got
that. If for some reason I made such a suggestion it was
unintended. I only was trying to say, and probably in an inept
way, that at times when we think certain individuals are gods
they will prove at least in some small measure to be human.
That was a relief to learn, for most who couldn't conceive
of some of their climbs. I had no intention of belittling in
any way anyone. Face climbing? Ron was perhaps the best of all
the Yosemite face climbers, truly brilliant. His footwork, I
think, added to his tremendous crack ability, such as on
Magic Line. All the Yosemite climbers of that era
were incredible, even as kids, and then more so as they matured
and continued to gain experience and strength. But my own observations
through the years have shown me that most climbers, even the best,
have to get used to another, different area. I have a photo of
Ron sitting frustrated on a ledge below Foops, after several attempts.
He's subtly flipping off the photographer, and it's kind of funny.
He was very impressed with the standard of difficulty Stannard
and other Gunks climbers set way back in the '60s. Yes
Ron did tear things up in the Gunks, as he was expected to do, but
because of its very different nature he, like most, had to get
used to the climbing, and it took a while to adapt. He did not
walk everything, by any means. My dear friend
Bachar, who I feel was very likely for a rather impressive length
of time the best pure rock climber in America, if it wasn't Ron,
came to certain areas and had to spend a little time learning
the nature of the climbing in that area. He was perhaps the best,
though, at making such a transition in rather short order. We spent
a day at my Eldorado cabin in 1977 patching up a whole lot of wounds
when John thought he could simply free solo Greg Lowe's "Clever
Lever" and took a very bad and dangerous ground fall. He
came close to dying that day, and I was really really concerned
and appalled when he crawled in through my front door, bloody
and bruised over his entire body, gasping, and barely
able to speak. I don't know how he got down by himself after
falling twenty feet to a rock ramp and rolling another fifty
feet. I could not imagine how he could get to my house, other
than his tremendous strength of spirit. He told me he had learned
his lesson, not just to assume he was invincible and could do
any climb. Of course just to think about soloing Clever Lever
showed how far out John was. Ron was, in my opinion, right there
with John all the way.

I love the history people are sharing here. Those were really
significant climbs, the Nabisco Wall, Butterballs, and all
those. Henry, though, I think we can safely say was more than
simply older and more experienced. He had a rare gift, a rare
ability, both physically and mind-wise. His one and a half hour
solo of the Salathe-Steck was pretty impressive (or was it 2 and
a half, I'd have to check). Bachar was the first to admit, and
told me many times, that Henry was simply ahead of everyone at
that time and nothing less than some kind of phenomenal genius.
In terms of the consciousness of each time period, it builds
and expands in some part as a result of one or two genius
individuals who do certain climbs that push the standards. People
learn from those standards, those breakthroughs, and we gain
consciousness. Or the climbing world itself gains consciousness.
I think Henry was one of those who brought the next level, upon
which then climbers could begin to build and expand.... John and
Ron were among those who were at the head of the level
of consciousness that soon was to follow, to use rather poor
wording probably....

I love these stories, such as Kevin leading toward that nothing
sling... and Tobin's falls, how determined and brave and brilliant
he was, and the size of Long's fingers. All these details are
the essence of the history, and of course each area has its own
stories and history and genius. I am grateful for the climbs I
was blessed to do with John and Ron and Bridwell and so many of
those inspirational people. I feel a bit cheated, though, that
I didn't get to climb with John Long or Chappy or a number of
great individuals, such as Graham, though I have hob-knobbed a
bit with many of them. Graham came to boulder and promptly
taught me some of the secret tricks of arm wrestling!

chappy

Social climber
ventura
Jul 23, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
Good effort Kev. I think it was probably Henry who did the SA of the Nabisco Wall. I remember seeing him up there while Ed Barry and I were headed up to do the Enigma with the Abstract Corner as our objective. It was probably May of 73. In typical Henry fashion he was cranking the routes...I believe earlier that day he had been climbing at Arch and done New D. among other routes. Your ascent of the Nabisco reminds me of some of my early 5.11 ascents. I couldn't quite believe I was doing them either. None of us knew our potential. When I did the FFA of La Escuela I was with Wunsch and Reider. I couldn't believe it was me who ended up leading the first pitch--my first 5.11 lead. Steve had ago at the second pitch, placed a few nuts and came down. If it were up to me we would have gone down. Steve would have none of this and handed me the sharp end and basically ordered me to climb the pitch which I proceeded to do. He told me to lead the last pitch as well which I did. In the end I led the whole thing. Unbelievable really. I always felt lucky to have guys like Donini, Wunsch and Bridwell there pushing me. In 74 I had a better sense of my ability and really wanted to do the second ascent of Butterballs. I was climbing really well that spring but before I got on it I popped a tendon bouldering with Wunsch and that pretty much shut me down until the fall.
rmuir

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Jul 23, 2013 - 05:09pm PT
Now I'm even more confused (than my usual state.)

Mountain Project says that BB was done by HH in May, 1973. My own climbing resumé indicates that we did Nabisco Wall--including Butterballs--in April, 1974.

I have the NW rated as 5.11a, while other sites indicate that it's 11c. Grade inflation, I can understand...

Can we pin the dates down a little more closely? Fading memory is such a sad thing...
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 23, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
Mountain 29 (September 1973) records Barber as doing the FA of Butterballs, which: "...had repulsed many of America's leading free climbers". The correspondents were Bridwell, Dill and Covington. If that issue was printed and sent in September, the climb must have occurred by June or perhaps July.

Mountain 31 (January 1974) includes Bridwell's article "Brave New World", which includes a photo of Henry Barber leading Butterballs, belayed by George Myers. (Photos by Pete Ramins, Keith Nannery and Jib Knight.)

Mountain 36 (June 1974) includes a photo from above of Dale Bard apparently leading Butterballs, taken by Gene Foley. No other information provided.

Mountain 38 (September 1974) says: "The much-coveted second ascent of Henry Barber's test-piece, Butterballs, in the Cookie area, was finally achieved by Billy Westbay, seconded by Jim Bridwell. This ascent was somewhat flawed, however, as the climbers returned on several occasions to gain height on previously abandoned ropes. On the final try the rope was so high that it acted as a top-rope for much of the ascent. No such flaw was evident in the third ascent, when Ron Kauk and Charlie Porter made the first complete Nabisco Wall ascent by the Waverly Wafer, Butterballs and Butterfingers combination. Ron Fawcett and Pete Livesey made another integral ascent shortly afterwards, via Waverly Wafer, Butterballs and Ladyfinger." Correspondents: Rowell, Boardman, Bocarde, March, Dewhirst, Livesey and Covington. It doesn't say who sent the Butterballs information, or place Dale's ascent (attempt?) in the chronology.
BG

Trad climber
JTree & Idyllwild
Jul 23, 2013 - 05:51pm PT
photo by bob gaines
photo by bob gaines
Credit: BG
CrackAddict

Trad climber
Canoga Park, CA
Jul 23, 2013 - 05:57pm PT
Onsight flash is when you upstage the older generation .... :-)

Bonus points for who belayed Westbay and who belayed Kauk.

If you don't know ....

You weren't born yet :-)


I don't know the answer to this, but speaking of upstaging the older generation, didn't Jason Campbell flash Butterballs at age 14 in the early 80s?
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 23, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
As I said in a post above, and as my records show,
Henry led Butterballs in May of '73. Wunsch had worked on
the route and made progress over 11 days. Bachar told me
Henry rated Butterballs 5.10c initially. At that same time
and in a single short day, Henry led Nabisco Wall, New
Dimensions, and then on-sight soloed Midterm. That same
trip he free soloed Ahab.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jul 23, 2013 - 06:33pm PT
Wow, that brings back memories. I remember being up there with Kevin on Nabisco but I was just out of school and hadn't climbed and Kevin was in great shape and he just ruled up there. I could barely follow. I went back a month later in shape and did Nabisco again and finished by doing the FA of Ladyfinger to avoid Butterfinger which I coundn't get my fat ass fingers into. Later I figured out a way to face climb the thing but it was horrendous, like twice as hard as Butterballs, which fit my fingers fine.

It's still an amazing achievement that Bachar free soloed the route back in the 70s. That was also a great FFA of Chappy's on La Escuela. I did the 2nd FA with Bachar shortly after and remember thinking how I wished I'd gotten the FFA on that one. Just a great route on flawless rock. I think Bridwell did the FFA of the 1st pitch the previous year but the 2nd was much more continuous and super slick rock. A 5-star route. Mark was really strong back then and super thin. I remember thinking how it must be nice to be light like that. One of the most impressive free climbing performances I have ever seen was also Mark C. on the FA of Mother Earth. He hadn't face climbed in months and just got back from Alaska I think and we just chucked him out ther on the lead on pitches that had like no pro at all. Chappy whimpered a little at the prospect of taking a 100 foot whipper but he ruled as usual.

JL
Walleye

climber
The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Jul 23, 2013 - 09:32pm PT
Pussy'sallayaunlessyasentonthesolowhichthispussyneverdid!!
Credit: Walleye
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Jul 23, 2013 - 09:43pm PT
The photos finally emerge!
WBraun

climber
Jul 23, 2013 - 09:54pm PT
but speaking of upstaging the older generation, didn't Jason Campbell flash Butterballs at age 14 in the early 80s?


You'd have to do far more then that.

He asked me to take him up Astroman.

I told him to bring water as I will not be bringing any myself.

I didn't need any in those days.

It was hot and like a fool he thinks he's going to imitate me.

He brought no water.

We get to the big ledge below the changing corners and he drops, with white flakes coming off his tongue.

He's toast.

I thought I was going to free solo off to get help.

Instead I hauled his ass hand over hand up the rest of the way to the top with him barely able to climb.

He was fuked up for a day after ....
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Jul 24, 2013 - 08:15am PT
Werner,
I always thought they should have changed the name of Astroman to the AutoBraun there for a while. You were a machine up there. Pat, you are right in your comments. All climbers take a while to learn the subtleties and techniques new areas have to offer and can only become better climbers by experiencing new areas. Henry certainly was a better climber because of his travels. I always wished I had traveled more to climb back in my younger days. Can't believe I never made it to Eldo in my hey days. Largo I have to laugh thinking of you and your large digits on Butterfingers.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 24, 2013 - 11:10am PT
My fingers are and always were pretty thin. I found certain
climbs quite hard because of that fact. I led a thing called
Vanishing Point, one day with Higgins, and on that crux
section my fingers don't fit and hands are too big, and
I really had to call on some sort of miracle to make something
work. Other climbs, though, my fingers fit perfectly whereas
some friend of mine could get his fingers in. On several
occasions someone with thinner fingers than mine did some
solid lieback, fingers shoved in to the hilt, and I couldn't
get my tips in. It was like 5.9 for that person and pushing
5.12 for me.

Largo makes a good point about finger size.
It's true about hand size as well. When I did Supremacy Crack
one day with Lynn Hill, her hands went all the way in so deep the
edge of the crack was practically at her elbow where I struggle
to get my big knuckles in, a rattly section where those with
smaller hands get bomber jams.

Largo always impressed me with his great strength and
the fact that he has a rather solid, large body. It simply
is more difficult to climb
when you're bigger and heavier. That's one reason I always thought
Gill was so amazing, that he was no flyweight but rather approaching
two hundred pounds. Yet he could do a one-finger, one-arm front
lever. And to turn the coin the other way, that's one reason I
have always been so impressed with Henry. He wasn't that strong,
and he's fairly big. But he had incredible technique
and was full of fighting spirit and go for it. I could
boulder circles around him, so to speak, but
get him on some horrendous pitch, and away he went like none
other. One day I followed Henry on Roger Briggs' Death and
Transfiguration, a 5.12 overhanging thing. Henry led that entire
pitch with four points of protection. I was appalled as I would
unclip one point and look upward and backward and see how far it
was to the next. And then the crux, a backward leaning, horribly
off-balance shallow dihedral above a big roof, overhanging the
base. He didn't slow down. He was something. There has never been
another like him, just as there has never been another like any
of the great individuals of climbing, in Yosemite or elsewhere.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 25, 2013 - 01:45am PT
I guess I am still a bit unsure who climbed with Billy Westbay
that day on the second ascent of Butterballs. Everyone was
saying Charlie Porter, then unless I got lost someone else
said they were the partner... or was that Ron's partner? Anyone
ready to sort all that out? Or maybe it's just my own brain
that needs sorting....

No matter what, it amazes me that Billy could fire off Butterballs.
He never ceased to imperss me. What a great soul. Of course it
doesn't surprise me that Ron would fire it off, being such a
Yosemite master. All these great ones, Kevin W., Mark Hudon, jeeeze,
there were so many magical spirits. Charlie, by the way, may have
had some trouble on Butterballs but was a very good free climber
most of the time. I know he did some 5.11s, straightaway. I climbed
with him in Boulder and found him to be in great shape.
Crump

Social climber
Lakewood, CO
Jul 25, 2013 - 01:44pm PT
Daniel McClure climbed it with Billy the first time they did it. Same day as Tobin Sorenson and John Bachar. Daniel says the photo is from the second time Billy climbed it.

Daniel has some great old photos and I will work on getting him to post up! And he affirms that Donini was already the old man at the start of the'70s!

Billy, Daniel, Tobin, Bridwell, and Donini, all of them are my true heroes!!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 26, 2013 - 09:31am PT
The Colorado Springs climbers were always an undersung bunch of
really fine climbers. I spent some time with Pete Croff (not Peter
Croft), who was, at one time, the best of the Springs climbers,
an amazing boulderer and really nice guy. I was very sad
when I heard he took his own life. But there were other very good
climbers then too, Steve Chaney, who now lives near me in Grand
Junction and repairs instruments at a music store.... I gave a show
years ago, maybe in the mid-70s, at Chaney's little Cobbler
climbing shop in the Springs, and Gill attended, because I showed
my first little black and white Gill film. The event was later called
the Cobbler Massacre. As I delivered my talk, some juvenile
delinquents in the alley in the back got into a fight. Someone in
the store stuck his had out the back door and told them to be quiet.
One of them went home and got a gun. Shots were fired in through the
wood of the back door. The whole crowd of people at the show hit
the floor. I had no idea what was going on and continued to stand
there and talk. Suddenly Gill and his wife ambled past me, on their
way out the front door. He chuckled and said to me, as he walked by,
"I think it's time for us to go." Or something to that effect. The
rest of the evening, police patrolled the area and shined big
spotlights in through the front window as they drove by....
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jul 26, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
I gave a show
years ago, maybe in the mid-70s, at Chaney's little Cobbler
climbing shop in the Springs, and Gill attended, because I showed
my first little black and white Gill film. The event was later called
the Cobbler Massacre. As I delivered my talk, some juvenile
delinquents in the alley in the back got into a fight. Someone in
the store stuck his had out the back door and told them to be quiet.
One of them went home and got a gun. Shots were fired in through the
wood of the back door. The whole crowd of people at the show hit
the floor. I had no idea what was going on and continued to stand
there and talk. Suddenly Gill and his wife ambled past me, on their
way out the front door. He chuckled and said to me, as he walked by,
"I think it's time for us to go." Or something to that effect. The
rest of the evening, police patrolled the area and shined big
spotlights in through the front window as they drove by....
--


Pat, if you wrote all of your stories in this simple, bare, dashed-off voice with the simple phrasing and word choice and NO affectation, you'd be the best genre writer in the world. This is NOT a knock on your other work, but a celebration of this passage and this passage alone. Make certain to understand this last bit.

JL
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
Jul 26, 2013 - 01:37pm PT
And no, Jason did not flash Butterballs at the age of 14
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 26, 2013 - 03:11pm PT
John,
I've written quite a lot of things that were little more than
this kind of off-hand, casual memory of events in life. The
whole "Stories of a Young Climber" is this kind of under-worked,
rough vignettes, one after another..., where I don't think much,
and just converse... with the page... kind of... Both my books
Swaramandal and Direct Lines were this sort of "writing." Perrin
was so impressed with Direct Lines he said it was the best thing
he'd read since Patey and Murray. I had no idea it was that good,
having scribbled it in a few hours.... But I think you were
making a compliment, if I understand right... (?), that you
found some little ditty of mine you liked.... for which I
am grateful, coming from such a good writer as you.

The more I hear your last sentence reverberate in my ears the
more I wonder if I do understand what you are saying or if there
is some more subtle message... Maybe I look too deep....

Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Aug 1, 2013 - 07:25am PT
Bump. Priceless content.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Aug 1, 2013 - 08:18am PT
This shows why Supertopo is the greatest forum around.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 1, 2013 - 09:09am PT
Sh*t, I aint getting nuthin done at work, this stuff is great!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2013 - 09:14am PT
Pat, Max and I gave a slide show at The Cobbler after yours and all they could do was to tell us about that incident and reenact it over and over again!
Messages 1 - 69 of total 69 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews