WoS / PTPP, part XXIV


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Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Aug 7, 2006 - 02:08am PT
pedro wrote:
Craig Shaw - absolutely classic, and indicative of the kind of ignorance of the climbers of the day. Even now Craig still doesn't get it, and in his post above accuses Mark and Richard of "rap[ing] this stone", a misperception fromthe past he continues to hold.

Maybe someone could suggest to Craig that he investigate a bit further to realize that far from raping the stone, Mark and Richard put up a pretty darn hard route in fine style, and that if he were to read some of the stuff here on McTopo, he might avoid putting his foot so firmly in his mouth henceforth.

that's just exactly what i'm talking about-
you cannot credit that route w/ "fine style", because you are sitting here in august of 2006, and that route went up over 2 decades ago. you say craig has the misconception that the route was "rap[ing] this stone", but you have no idea how he defines that term- so you have instead inserted your own standard, your own ethics, that which you would deem appropriate or acceptable. there is one obvious problem w/ that method, and that is that you are not craig shaw. you may or may not appreciate craig shaw's opinion, but he has the right to his opinion, because he was there at the time, and he was a part of the community, the fluid group who combined to define the culture and set the standards of the day, and determined what was and was not up to par. your 2006 opinion of that 1982 route is just not relevant to the legacy of that climb, no matter how you choose to go on and on about it, and anyone who bags the 2nd ascent will only be putting a modern opinion on a route from another era.

like it or not, the community at that time had their say, both before and after the ascent, it seems they spoke w/ one voice. they shunned the route, no repeats, a scarlet letter. in light of that fact, it seems disingenuous for you to refer to craig's stated opinion as 'ignorant'. he may not explain himself at length, but your dismissing his opinion only demonstrates how invalid yours is. have you noticed what the few old timers on this thread have had to say? and what did duece have to say about repeating hard hooking? or what did ammon have to say about the aesthetics of the pitches he tried? (and btw- do you really think he needs your beta?)

in terms of validating this climb for your friends, the best you can ever do is to say something like "in modern terms...", like it or not, you simply cannot rewrite history.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 7, 2006 - 05:26am PT
Hmmm, well my partner Jim Tangen-Foster and I tried to do an FA everywhere we visited as a matter of principle regardless of what else we climbed as that was what we climbed for. We never made it to the Valley or it just as easily could have been us being sh#t on literally, figuratively, in person, and in the press. These guys weren't just assaulted, they were made pariahs, blacklisted, and couldn't even publish their side of the whole affair in any of the climbing magazines. Personally, I haven't read a word on ST in any thread from a lot of folks I have a lot of respect for that convinces me any one of you would have simply "gotten over it" if you had been subject to the same abuse - if anything, I imagine we would instead be remembering a West coast "war" pre-dating Ken Nichol's bold misadventures to the East (and hell, even Ken had the sac to admit doing the deed, maybe he should suffer a bit less in the comparison in retrospect...).

And funny how climbers [and all the rags] clamor for decades for clear reckonings of events like those on Cerro Torre, but we shouldn't be interested in the "truth" of an affair of far greater integrity on the part of these FA's on another of climbing's sacred stones? If I see any lasting sh#t streak in the whole WOS saga it's one that exposes a malodorous lameness and spinelessness that one can still detect lingering on, even here on ST.

As for a solution, I have to say that LEB has interesting and useful things to contribute sometimes, but I don't think this one of them. I'm with Dingus, a little sac on the part of the perps would be decent starter, especially if it's "no big deal 25 years later"; and as a former photojournalist I would say both R&I and Climbing owe them a public apology for refusing to publish their letters and articles. Both operated either on hearsay or with bias or both in the matter at the time rather than responsible journalism. In general, you'd have to be blind to not see the wagons of an ironic "establishment" still neatly circling almost by instinct all these years later. Is this Robbins and Harding? No, but a combination of daring naivete and studied indignation has made WOS an indelible part of Valley history and these guys have every right to want the record set straight - even 25 years later if that's what it takes - before another generation reads and hears the same old slander and lies about it.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Aug 7, 2006 - 09:04am PT
the Fet

A urine, feces, and guano encrusted ledge
Aug 7, 2006 - 09:21am PT
Pete, some day our paths will cross and I'm going to buy you a beer for trying (that's what's most important anyway) for the SA.

Matt, you say Craig's opinion they were raping the stone is applicable due to his proximity to the FA. No, the only ones who know if they were raping the stone or taking to it with Love are Richard and Mark. Which illustrates a priciple of justice that many have seem to forgotten, who keep asking the Madbolters over and over to justify themselves in detail. That principle is

healyje, another intelligent and insightful post, as always.

Some people will always think the route is lame and done in poor style. A hooking route on a slab. A 39 day FA with 1200 pounds of stuff. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is valid as long as it's based on the TRUTH. There may never be and maybe there isn't a need for a "solution" IMO. These threads have presented a lot of truth to many people. They have also been interesting and entertaining. Far from being a "cirle jerk" these have been some of the best climbing threads I've ever read.


Trad climber
South Side Billburg
Aug 7, 2006 - 09:42am PT
Matt, you also seem to forget, that people said this was a rivet ladder up the slab, bunch of bat hook holes and stuff like that, when in reality it was far from that. Independant of the aesthetics of the route, which now is a matter of personal taste, as stated by Ammon, both Ammon and Pete (one of the few people that have ACTUALLY BEEN ON THE ROUTE, PHYSICALLY SEEING THE FIRST COUPLE OF PITCHES!) can surely attest to the runout ballsy nature of this route, not a rape no matter what your definition of rape is. As much as Craig is entitled to his opinion, his is based on slander and lies of the time, not actual facts. At least there's no more speculation about that.



An Oil Field
Aug 7, 2006 - 10:14am PT

I was a kid in the valley when this went down. I remember the morning after the reactionary event. My hair is turning gray now. I'll probably check back in on this when my prostate goes.


right here, right now
Aug 7, 2006 - 12:11pm PT
Healyje and Fet bring up some interesting points that expands this beyond the experience of Richard and Mark.

I would like to move to H’s point, but in closing on the Wings bit: it's clear that defecation and vandalism are similar to being robbed and worse, and there is a feeling of being violated that is very difficult to get over. So I can understand Richard and Mark not just getting over this. Perhaps a level of emotional intelligence required of the vandals just is not present and an apology for that aspect of this whole thing is perhaps unlikely. Ditto for the reportage of bolt spacing.

So to move to some of the other points made in what I think here is a great discussion in fact:
It has been offered that in a national parkeverybody has equal play. As far as the law goes of course this is so. Climbers do express all kinds of legacy based territorial instincts and habits in terms of style, ethics and so forth. Right or wrong, this is evident.

A quick story to illustrate this and not to make any particular point in terms of how the wings guys necessarily should have acted:
When I was about 16, I was doing a lot of climbing in Joshua tree. So this was mid 70s.
There were a couple of brothers that were from Yosemite and they did a lot of traveling. They suggested to me something that seemed to work very well for them when traveling: this was to always give the locals the sense that they were “right”. What they were offering was an idea, not based on any truth. They just said it seemed to work better. They made it clear this doesn't mean they were bowing down to any authority; they just said it helped them to get to know the locals better and to understand their traditions and to move fluidly and enjoy themselves amongst the locals.

Absolutely, they acknowledged that locals can be overly invested with a sense of ownership: they were offering to me a subtle clue as to how to navigate this. You might say, they were suggesting that I might consider an air of patronizing locals, but this was a subtle thing and didn't necessarily imply that I should be impish.

Healyje your voice is pertinent for me because I have seen so much of your historically relevant input during all of the Stonemaster threads, so I feel familiar with your views as a non valley local. I think I can say the same or similarly of Golsen.

The use of bolts has long been a source of contention and it is a high profile statement.

Happy Climbing Everyone.

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 7, 2006 - 01:15pm PT
the Fet writes,

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is valid as long as it's based on the TRUTH."

This is the primary thing Mark and Richard want to happen out of this whole debacle - that the truth be known. Several former lies have been shown to be truths, but others remain.

Matt - I do not understand your logic one bit in the post above! What on earth are you trying to say? Can you please re-explain? I concur with the Fet on the statement above. To me it seems as though Craig Shaw continues to base his opinion on the mistruths perpetuated at the time. He was ignorant of the facts, because the facts were hidden from him. He was deceived in several key areas, and it appears from what he writes above that he remains this way.

There is nothing to suggest that Craig Shaw is unreasonable, and I'll bet him a six-pack that if he invests the necessary time to read what has been uncovered of late, he will have a change of heart.

the Fet - drop me an email, will ya? I'll see your beer, and raise you two.

Tryin' is all a steer can do. You should also give one or two beers to Tom, as he is the one who replaced the bolts and rivets in the first two pitches, thus paving the way for a Modern Day Second Ascent [HINT!]

I'll tell you what - no matter what you think about Wings of Steel and Mark and Richard, this climb and what happened has generated more interest than anything else in the history of Supertopo, as evidenced by the number of posts that continue to be written. Wow!
Twight is God

Mountain climber
Aug 7, 2006 - 01:39pm PT
If everyone simply submitted to "local wisdom", then among other things, Tomaz Humar would have never soloed the Reticent Wall on his first trip to Yosemite. I imagine there's a valley boy out there who can chuckle in retrospect at the fact he told the most talented climber in the world that he'd "fly on the first pitch" and was better off taking a plane home.

Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Aug 7, 2006 - 01:50pm PT
do you only read your own posts?

read these:


and perhaps, reread the whole thread, looking for rational, yet critical statements, and see who has made them and why.

i don't know exactly what this craig shaw found to be so offensife (how could i when he hasn't stated it clearly himself?) but you are guilty of assuming that you know just exactly what he (and others) found to be so offensive about the ascent. you have then determined (erroneously, IMO) that what you encountered on your TR attempt is different in all the ways that matter (or that mattered in 1982).

you have decided that continuous hard hooking between regular though infrequent bolts = worthwhile and acceptable. i challenge that assertion, not in terms of my judgement (nor yours), but that of the community at the time. who, other than you, has stated that if everyone only knew WoS consisted of hard and bold hooking between regular though infrequent bolted protection, everyone would have embraced the route and been duely impressed w/ the effort?

it doesn't mean a thing that you think this route is proud, it ain't 1982 anymore. reread what those who were there have said, and notice what they have not said.

i am not on some mission to hold these guys' heads under the water, but you and a few others appear to be so set on "clearing the names of R & M" that you are simply ignoring certain realities. it's as if you guys want to have a huge party where lynn hill jumps out of an el cap cake and formally embraces their effort, and then have alpinist write the whole thing up. the only problem is, whether or not there were exagerations or mistruths circling C4 about the extent of drilling on the route, they still bolted their way up the great slab. even if they did it boldly, the slab was basically featureless, and every single time, across pitch after pitch after pitch, when they (finally) needed protection, they drilled a hole in the wall, isn't that true? so was that acceptable, or was that not acceptable, at the time? remember, you even reffered to this as "fine style". now read back and see what others you respect have written in this very thread. there is simply no getting around that question, but you seem to have ignored it, IMO.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 7, 2006 - 01:56pm PT
Please go to the split of this thread if you wish to post:


This thread was split at about 208 posts.

right here, right now
Aug 7, 2006 - 02:32pm PT
Here is the distinction as I see it.
We've got locals/non locals.
We've got accpeted practices/new practices.
And the mix of those 4 elements.

Burton and Sutton, with the Magic Mushroom, came in with their own independent experience and logged an outstanding new route, under the noses of the locals if need be said, but they did it by playing the "accepted rules" by linking features.

Henry Barber travelled widely and snagged first free ascents "out from under" locals world wide. So did Mike Graham. This is straight forward competition carried out under accepted norms of play.

Bachar changed the rules when he introduced hanging from hooks as a means to extend the linitation of stanced drilling. He was a local, pretty much no uproar.

Carrigan came to this country and instituted hangdogging; a big uproar ensued, much like this Wings experience. He was not a local.

Kauk brought in hangdogging, big uproar: he was alocal.

The Wings was an institution of a new approach both in terms of goal and tactics, yes it was wrongly reported interms of boldness. This is what Matt, albeit long winded, has been saying.

As times have changed, a lot of people are espousing less provincialistic behavior, less xenophobia. A broader sense oc community. Bravo I say. We now have a more global community. We have many co existent styles. Yes, we still have disagreements, that is as ever will be.

Hey Nefarius/Pete:
What truth about the route WOS is not yet known?
Do you mean the truth about the publicly known identity of the vandals?


Big Wall climber
Aug 7, 2006 - 03:06pm PT
If you indeed “chose [your] repeats carefully, and didn't like routes that were rumored to be enhanced” then you certainly didn’t do many of the classics like Pacific Ocean or the Sea.

A very interesting part of this story, and one that seems to attract no attention. I have yet to see anyone rebut the WoS guys' assertions about the manufactured placements on the Sea.
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