2nd Free Ascent of Basketcase: a story


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Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Aug 1, 2006 - 12:33am PT
Great story Peter, I look forward to more.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Aug 1, 2006 - 01:38am PT
You're too kind. Inez is alive and well in the holler, and she is in fine climbing shape. A few years ago she told me about an adventure the two of you had on an obscure route on the Column. That was the first I heard about the other use for Ace bandages. She didn't know the name, so I'm guessing that was the Direct Route, now all but forgotten, except for a line on a photo in the Reid guide.

I look forward to more of your recollections.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Aug 1, 2006 - 05:38am PT
Excellent story Peter. I never climbed with Ed Ward (I wasn't at that level), but talked with him a couple of times. Mad Dogs and Englishmen comes to mind.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Aug 1, 2006 - 07:46am PT
Nice stroy Peter. Haven't seen Ed in 25 years.

More, please?

Best, Roger
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2006 - 10:01am PT
John V,

Thanks for the update on our Gnarling. Yes it was the Direct Route on the Column (III 5.7). We started really late, had a brief routefinding problem down low, solved it, got a pitch below the top and had to bivy in the little forest just below the summit. We made a fire, kept it stoked all night and ace-bandaged ourselves then too. RR, Vandiver and I used to do this route unroped in the spring back in the late 60's and 70's as a get-in-shape program. We had it down to about 60 minutes. Sometimes we would link it with So. face of N. Dome and descend N.Dome Gully. I will have to write something on Inez and I huddling away, tearing all the branches off of oak bushes for the fire, talking endlessly like college freshmen staying up all night on their first week away from home.

For those of you who are enjoying this little tales I am posting, I would recommend Doug Robinson's books btw. He is a wonderful writer. He lives in Aptos, CA (Santa Cruz) with his cool family, and still writes and climbs/teaches/coaches.

best, P.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 1, 2006 - 10:53am PT
I second Peter's recommendation of Doug's book, it is full of wonderful writing and wonderful stories... and even some great black-and-white photos. I learned about it thanks to Dingus who mentioned it in a previous post recently.
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Aug 1, 2006 - 03:24pm PT
Hi Peter,

Thank you. I am going to add a story or personal adventure section to our website and once I have done that I will contact you. Keep writing those stories down they are priceless.


Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Aug 1, 2006 - 04:24pm PT
PH, thanks and great words.

I often thought of you on Salathe soloing when we did the route. My role was the free climbing cutie so I got all the wide. It helped me thrash my way up, just knowing you had done it big lonesome style when I was a tot. Looking forward to more vignettes...

Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Aug 4, 2006 - 04:57pm PT
Peter, I enjoyed your story and its vivid descriptions of a remote testpiece.

I just finished Jim Perrin’s book on Whillans, The Villain, which I highly recommend. Peter and other off-width experts will be amused by Perrin’s assertions about US off-width proficiency. I was reminded of the following passage from the book when Peter described in the story maneuvering around a bong after placing it for protection:

“It took American climbers some time to realize that wherever you could place [a bong], you could also find good jams. [British climber] Martin Boysen’s 1967 free lead of the crux artificial pitch of the American route [Frost, Fulton and Hemmings]on the south face of the Aiguille de Fou [in Chamonix] caused great consternation Stateside, but proved exactly this point.” The Villain, p. 250.

Oh, really? Rather cheeky, that. Despite this bit of chauvinism, the book is excellent, full of great stories about Whillans, as well as British climbing in general and related debauchery in the 50s through 80s. The Brits have a tradition of great climbing tales and a rich climbing history.

Peter, thanks for the nice addition to Yosemite’s stories.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Aug 4, 2006 - 06:03pm PT
Peter.... green with envy!!! Good job man.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 4, 2006 - 06:41pm PT
Rick A, thanks for your read and thanks for the recommendation of Perrin's recently published book. I had not noticed it, but will now order it! I read his giant Mirror in the Cliffs anthology back when it was published, so am looking forward to his own view on the incredible Whillans. Wow. My favorite writers in the past are of course Gervasutti, Terray, Patey and some of Dave Roberts, with the microscopic amounts of Pratt we have left today among others.

And thanks Russ, as always. Making you green with envy makes me red with embarassment .

best, PH
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Aug 4, 2006 - 07:47pm PT
hahaha! Peter, you 'da man!

East of Seattle
Aug 4, 2006 - 08:32pm PT
I believe that the two of you "Mr Red" and "Mr Green" would create a truly beautiful baby blue offwidth.

scuffy b

The town that Nature forgot to hate
Aug 7, 2006 - 12:41pm PT
Great story, Peter. It really flows well. I wish I'd let you drag
me up some of the Wide in the old days instead of sticking to the
thin & crimpy I concentrated on back then.
Those unplanned bivies are certainly draining.
Thanks for the beautiful contributions.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 28, 2007 - 09:12pm PT
As we're into the spirit of bumping, I thought I'd add this one. No need to mention the "C" word.

Social climber
The West
Jan 28, 2007 - 09:48pm PT
What Scuffy said, in particular, what about Gollum left?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2007 - 11:18am PT
Superb story Peter. Thanks for posting it. I hope and assume that you are planning on a book sometime yourself to contain all these gems. Ed's piece in the 1973 Ascent, "Mirror, mirror", about his epic route on the Troll Wall in Norway, is one of my all time favorites. I wish that he had been more prolific as a writer as I really enjoy his incisive wit and black humor.

Very little writing has emerged from the post golden age generation in Yosemite and your contributions and experience are singular and very valuable indeed. Especially since you have a predilection for the wide and wild shared by only a select few!
Your tales are like the gold thread woven into an already splendid tapestry to render its beauty unsurpassable. Keep spinning please.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jan 29, 2007 - 11:57am PT
Excellent story which really conveyed the feel of the climb and events. Thank you for posting this; and look forward to reading more.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:50am PT
Double D

Nov 12, 2008 - 01:21am PT
Ed...thanks for the bump as I'd never seen this before.

Peter...great story! I meant to meet you at the Nose reunion but got sidetracked. My loss, I'm sure.
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