Billy Westbay on the 2nd of Butterballs


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Messages 21 - 40 of total 67 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Jul 21, 2013 - 11:29pm 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 22, 2013 - 12:10am PT
and Werner, were you belaying Ron on the 1st?

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jul 22, 2013 - 01:29am 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.


Sport climber
Jul 22, 2013 - 12:15pm 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.

Trad climber
Jul 22, 2013 - 12:28pm 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.

Jul 22, 2013 - 01:05pm 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 - 01:06pm PT
Were you up on that ledge also, Werner?

Jul 22, 2013 - 01:15pm PT

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 - 02:39pm 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!"


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 22, 2013 - 03:27pm PT
Bump for a great thread.

Norman Claude

Jul 22, 2013 - 04:31pm 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

Jul 22, 2013 - 08:16pm 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 ....

Social climber
Colorado Plateau
Jul 22, 2013 - 08:34pm 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
Jul 23, 2013 - 12:08pm 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 - 12:53pm 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 - 12:56pm 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

Moab, UT
Jul 23, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
TFPU. I love reading this stuff.

Social climber
Jul 23, 2013 - 02:47pm 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.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jul 23, 2013 - 03:33pm PT
So Barber and Kauk, then Westbay would be the third?

Trad climber
Jul 23, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
Awesome thread. So refreshing compared to the political thread garbage.
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