WoS / PTPP, part XXIV


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Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 2, 2006 - 08:04pm PT
(split from a previous thread)

For Pete:

Did you read all that WoS thread? It seems my position was stated about 12 different ways. Not sure what is supposed to change. Re-read the thread and pull some specifics if you like, and run them up my flagpole.

For the record, it is unfortunate what happend to them fellahs during that time. Also for the record, and let there be ZERO doubt on this one: I did not have anything to do with any bolt chopping, feces, gear destruction or shiit bombing from above. That ain't my "bag" man.

As for what I have supposedly done and said as per Richard and Mark, I would like to hear this also. As I recall, some 25 years later now, there were many people exceedingly fired up about the whole debacle. Fired up enough to take some sort of action. I was not one of them. In fact, it has been so long now that I can't even say for sure who were the shiiters and choppers. I knew then, but I don't know now. How they are thinking that I was one of the major players is a mystery to me.

As for filling in blanks, the only guys I know that were even around then and are available right now are Werner and Deuce.

This thread was split at 208 posts. To see the newest posts go here:

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 2, 2006 - 08:18pm PT
No worries, Russ.

When I get a chance, I'll reread your posts wrt to Wings, and ask you some specific questions.

If Mark and Richard feel otherwise, they can respond here.

I'm just the messenger and the historian here, trying to unravel as much as I can.

Aug 2, 2006 - 10:09pm PT


He only said the route is a POS from his own personal view like me which had absolutely nothing to do with Richard and Mark. They personally identified a bunch of rock with themselves.

I could care less if some guy bolts the whole damn Captain or climbs it upside down or blows the whole thing to smithereens. There's plenty of people that love to save the rock or have all these climbing ethic fits.

Still, they can't even save themselves ..........

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Aug 3, 2006 - 02:55am PT
Russ, I've been talking with PTPP about his attempts to get to the bottom of things, and I think I understand the nature of his asking you the questions he did.

When we met with Pete, Randy, and Tom in the Valley, we talked about a lot of things, many including speculations about what motivated past incidents surrounding the route. Lots of names came and went in our discussions, and I can understand how Pete would remember your name as one we had mentioned.

However, we have never told Pete that you had anything to do with the chopping or the smear campaign, nor have Mark or I believed that of you.

The only thing we discussed about you with Pete had to do with the coincidental appearance of the Fishhook shortly after you had looked at our prototype Sea of Dreams claws. Mark and I have always joked about the fact that the Fishhook is modeled exactly like our early claws and about how they appeared on the market not long after you had seen our claws and remarked about how cool they were. However, while we have been curious about this coincidence, and mentioned this to Pete like, "I guess that's one story we'll never know the truth about," that was the extent of our discussions about you.

So, as far as I'm concerned at this point, I view you, as Werner says, as "Not guilty" of the chopping, etc.

You DO say now: "For the record, it is unfortunate what happend [sic] to them fellahs during that time.... As for what I have supposedly done and said as per Richard and Mark, I would like to hear this also." In this, I think that you are now not alone. I think that most people are beginning to realize the magnitude of the intentional distortions and outright lies that have been told about the route AND about us for years, and I think that people WANT to know the story of how a few credible guys on a misguided quest succeeded in duping the climbing community and dogging two guys unmercifully for decades.

But now I start getting really angry.

Werner says, as always, in effect it's all our fault that we got hurt from the whole mess. Here is the problem "They personally identified a bunch of rock with themselves."

No, sorry, that's a pathetically oversimplified whitewash of what has happened! WE are not the ones who have caused the PERSONAL slander to occur. Anybody can read the threads at this point and clearly see that WE are not the ones who identified OURSELVES with the route. OTHERS (who, btw, have been strangely silent on the matter recently) on these threads, representing that very vociferous group who have dogged us for decades, are the ones who have slandered US, not JUST the route. Speculations about our characters, our motivations, even our religious beliefs and whether or not we are true to them, have all been called into question in the most cutting and flagrant fashion over the many years.

The smear campaign has been FAR reaching, including every form of written media. Just one example (and there are others) appears in "Climbing Big Walls" (ed. Mike Strassman), in the chapter, "First Ascents," by Steve Grossman: "Conflicts may arise from the local climbing community. Pressure to climb in good style and according to local precedent, can be intense. A perceived lack of ability or judgement [sic] can detract from the satisfaction of completing a first ascent. Such is the case with Wings of Steel on El Capitan."

Now, one might say that Grossman is here talking about the PERCEPTION the locals had, and that the ensuing debacle DID in fact detract from our satisfaction. However, that is NOT the point of this passage, because Grossman continues by making actual claims about us: "The first ascent party ignored local ethics and bolted excessively. The climbing community retaliated, ostracizing the climbers from the Valley forever" (p. 92).

WoS is the ONLY route, and we are the only PEOPLE in that book to get singled out for special condemnation like this. And every word is a lie. Now, the fact that this book has been read by thousands of people, and the only message they get is that WoS is THE example of how NOT to do it, should, according to Werner, be of NO concern to me because if ONLY I hadn't identified myself with the route, there would be NO problem! Hmmm… I detect nothing in that passage about the ROUTE. Grossman's comments are about US: WE bolted excessively (the most fundamental lie told about us); WE ignored local ethics (not true on so many levels that it's laughable); and WE were the ones supposedly banished forever (strange how this didn't seem to keep us out of the Valley at any point). So, Grossman lies about US in print, thousands of people read it and take it as gospel, because, after all, the mighty Grossman wrote it, and yet the whole problem REALLY is that we two pathetic saps just can't keep from identifying ourselves with the route. Ridiculous! Where is Grossman to sincerely apologize for his contribution to the smear campaign?

I say again: far reaching effects. I have right in front of me rejection letters (emphasis on plural) from Climbing and Rock and Ice for articles I submitted about various of my views regarding climbing in general, and these submitted over the years. The same litany runs through them all: "This is a very interesting and well-written piece…. However, in talking with various people, we have come to conclude that you lack the credibility to write it…. So, we are afraid that we wouldn't be able to publish it at this time…. Maybe when the dust settles, submit it again." What? "Various people???"

(Pete: post about Ed Leeper, or I'm gonna steal your fire! Get on the stick, man!) Far reaching, I tell you; but, of course, if ONLY we hadn't identified ourselves with the route….

Rob Slater many years ago tried to get his "take" on WoS printed, and Climbing mag told him they wouldn't print it. They gave him some song and dance about "credibility" too, ignoring the FACT that he had done the first five pitches of the route!

I could go on and on, but I don't want to steal Randy's and Pete's fire, and it sounds like less of a rant coming from them anyway. But the bottom line is that WE have been slandered for DECADES by a concerted and vicious group of guys who have enjoyed a lot of credibility and have misused it to defame us knowingly and intentionally. And in the face of THIS I'm supposed to be moved by Werner's repeated allusions to the notion that my getting hurt by all this crap is really all my fault? No, this endless string of faux "wisdom" just pisses me off! (If I'm raving a bit now, I don't apologize; that last bit just put me past the breaking point. Probably Mark will be more restrained, as he always is, but I'm fed up.)

See, it's cheap and easy to just "pop off" with quickie comments and trite phrases, but it all furthers a perception of distortions and outright lies that have been having their effects for decades.

Worst of all, the biggest lie in the whole Grossman passage is that "the climbing community retaliated...." NO! The "climbing community" did no such thing! A relatively FEW guys embarked on a vicious and unprecedented campaign to slander US, and their talk of the ROUTE was just the vehicle by which to get that done. If the "climbing community" has been complicit in this at all, it has been so by its too easily believing a few credible guys JUST because they have been perceived as good climbers! Oh, and by providing a hiding place for these (thus far) complete cowards!

Now, I know that Werner is one of the "sacred cows," with thousands and thousands of posts to his credit, not to mention his climbing accomplishments, and that people see him as oh so wise. There's even been talk of devoting an entire thread to a compilation of his wisdom. I won't speak to his wisdom in general, but regarding THIS topic, he has had nothing but lame platitudes and pseudo-zen crap to dish out. And this latest pontification is the same pile: "It's really their fault... they brought the pain on themselves... they have this or that attitude problem... etc., etc.," while all the while remaining entirely silent about the TRUE source of the problem.

At this point I'm drawing the line. Werner, I am quite confident that you KNOW exactly who has been behind all this crap for all these years. I myself have reliable, although second hand, "knowledge" of those who are responsible, but I will not post anything even resembling such speculations on this point. But you and Russ cannot now CLAIM "failed memories," because you were there, and I don't think that anybody is going to buy that you just don't remember who was involved.

Russ says: "I knew then, but I don't know now." That's as ridiculous as Regan's famous "I have no recollection of…" lines, and you know it. You don't FORGET who chopped the route and crapped on the gear! You don't FORGET which teams climbed Aquarian wall so that they could bomb us with their trash and bags (emphasis on plural) full of human sh|t and then come back to came and brag loudly about it! So, enough with the fake-pitying crap: "Oh, it's too bad what happened," in that totally passive voice. Nothing "happened." Things were DONE, and you guys (among others) KNOW who did them! Quit protecting these people and letting them hide. You can bring about a healing event, and Werner, if you were 1/4 the eastern sage you act like, you would know HOW healing the truth of this whole story could be.

So, the question is this: are there any people with integrity in the climbing community who are going to step forward now and come clean with what happened? This climbing community TALKS a good game about "ethics" and about "self-policing." I have read threads on this forum about governmental policy and even about what to do with biting monkeys! We are quick to say, "2 x 4 up side the heads of the owners!" We apparently believe in accountability! So, my question is: what's going to be done about "biting" CLIMBERS? What's going to be done about a multi-decade long slander campaign of epic proportions and the actual physical assaults? Is the community consisting of just this FORUM going to "sit back and see what happens," while it amuses itself with idle chatter? Or is there going to BE accountability?

Maybe some see me now as a sort of Don Quixote pursuing an impossible dream. They think, "Well the guy has every reason to be pissed, but, honestly, there's really no hope of getting to the bottom of this after so long." Well, it's only an impossible dream if the climbing community makes that a self-fulfilling prophecy! We have the power and the connections to find out, and we already know enough to get to the bottom of this.

Here are some data points to get thing rolling:

I KNOW this for certain, first hand: Mike Corbett repeatedly yelled in my FACE that he had chopped the route and would do it again if we continued to work on it (although he later told Harding and my mom that he was just saying things in anger that he really didn't mean, and he then claimed that he knew who actually chopped the route). Scott Cole apologized to Mark for what had happened, although he said that he had no part in it, but he knew who did. Mike Paul apologized to me for his unspecified "involvement," and also said that he knew who had chopped the route and sh|t on the gear. So, there are a number of guys who KNOW first-hand who has been behind the chopping and this amazing, multi-decade long smear campaign.

I am told that the Mikes and Scott don't frequent these forums. But there are people here who know them, and those people can get in touch with them and tell them that they NEED to get on here (or contact me directly) and tell the TRUTH about what happened. Are we REALLY a "self-policing" community, or is that the case ONLY when it is easy, convenient, and doesn't threaten any sacred cows? There has recently been quite a bit of "self-policing" ire about fixed gear on Mt. Watkins, with many calling for dire consequences against the perpetrators. Yet the Mt. Watkins incident is NOTHING compared to what these guys have foisted off on the climbing community! Or are the endless and groundless attacks on two CLIMBERS of less importance than some junk on Mt. Watkins?

I am formally calling Mike Corbett out! If any of you know how to get him into this discussion, I'm calling for you to do it. He needs to explain exactly what he knows, and if he didn't chop and sh|t (as he repeatedly CLAIMED that he did), then he also claimed that he knew who did, and he needs to name names. If he won't come clean, then here and now, I officially accuse him of being, as he himself claimed to be, a member of the chopping/sh|tting party. In the face of this, I take long-term silence to be the same as pleading nolo contendre, and until Mike explains otherwise, I will publicly refer to him as one of the choppers. Furthermore, I intend to get the many details of what I know into print, so this is Mike's chance to explain himself. No more hiding.

I am formally calling Bill Russell out! I know first hand from his climbing partner (Rich was the only name we got from him in front of the Mountain Shop) about Bill's aborted SA attempt on WoS and that Bill intended to "chop it this time in legitimate style," by climbing it first. Only problem was that he COULDN'T climb it first; he couldn't even get up the first pitch, because, unfortunately for him he didn't bring a cheat stick! After extricating himself, Bill was then committed to climbing Horse Chute and rapping the slab to chop the route on rappel (as it had been chopped the first time), but Rich told him, "You can't even climb it. This isn't what we expected, and I'm not going to stay silent if you chop it on rappel." If Bill wasn't on the chopping party, then he needs to explain exactly what he meant by his comment and tell us who DID chop it. I have excellent reason to believe that Bill was on the chopping party, but here is Bill's chance to explain what he knows. Bill's partner, Rich, can also come forward with his story.

I am formally ASKING Scott Cole and Mike Paul to come forward to tell us what they know. I bear them NO ill will at all, as at least Mike Paul knows from me and Scott Cole should know from Mark. But we NEED to know what they know.

Convenient memory lapses and excuses involving yelling things in the heat of the moment just aren't getting it done any more. Bottom line is, people who know the truth have a responsibility to the whole climbing community to come forward with that truth. In such a case, silence is complicity. We CAN know the truth, if we have the WILL to know it. Otherwise, you can comfort yourselves all you want with tales of "hard climbs" and biting monkeys, and "righteous indignation" over trash on Mt. Watkins, but it's all just a facade.

I well realize that some people are going to respond to this post by saying, "Wow, Jensen is actually an a-hole after all! Look, all he wants is vengeance! What a raving lunatic!

Being misperceived is nothing new for me, so I take that risk here, but I hope that people who have followed this story, including the related slander about Intifada, can see that the time has come for accountability, NOT vengeance. People who have bold-face lied for this long and to this extent must answer for it, and there must be healing all around.

I realize that Pete, Tom, and Randy have been trying in their diplomatic way to accomplish the same thing as I am trying to with this post, and they are probably writhing in anguish right now as they read it: "Damn, Richard, couldn't you have kept it under control for awhile longer? Now you've dropped a bomb!" Mark and I are the only ones who can "prime the pump," so to speak with the first-hand knowledge we have, some of which I have just shared. And, while I believe in Pete's, Tom's, and Randy's integrity, I also believe (because they have told me) that they really don't believe that it is possible to get to the bottom of this mess. I vehemently disagree, but my disagreement DEPENDS upon my perspective of the climbing community having more will and courage and nobility than perhaps they believe of it. Maybe they will be proved right, but it will honestly be the saddest day of my life so far when I lay down my current belief in what this community stands for!

I would be the first one to say that I understand that strange and unfortunate things can happen in the heat of the moment. I would also be the first to understand how things can escalate to maintain a position that appears threatened by unanticipated facts. So, I would be the first to "hold out the olive branch," as Pete put it. Honestly. I would LOVE to be able to look these guys in the eyes, come to understand what happened, and then shake hands and be done with it. But there can be no true closure to this whole debacle until the climbing community has the opportunity to survey the actual truth of what happened, and there are those who right now OWE this to us all so that we can all learn from it and avoid anything like it ever happening again.

Imagine if Grossman, right now, were to post saying anything like, "I'm sorry you guys. I wrote what was taken as common knowledge at that time, and I now realize what a crock it was. You can bet I'll be a lot more careful in the future." You can bet your bottom dollar that I would be ready to respond with graciousness rather than vindictiveness. But the former HAS to precede the latter.

At the very least, though, let's have no more platitudinous, quasi-wise crap. If this rant of mine now makes Werner and Russ into committed enemies, well, all I can say is that I have hoped through it all that they can stand justly rebuked and rise above it--I've certainly been asked to rise above a whole lot of crap that was neither just nor true. So, let them treat me with just a tiny bit of the charity that for decades people have been saying I should have about this whole situation.

So, what's it going to be, fellow climbers? Is it the case for the whole climbing community that it "can't handle the truth?" Or, are we prepared to find out the truth, because WE, collectively, CAN?

Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Aug 3, 2006 - 03:17am PT

Big Wall climber
hiding in plain sight
Aug 3, 2006 - 09:15am PT
Wow, now that's a post filled with emotion!
I feel your anguish, really I do.
And you seem to already know many of answers you seek.
But I would have to say confronting Corbett most likely won't go well.
Likewise there is nothing to be gained talking to Swills, but at least you wouldn't be in mortal danger.

My feeling is that WoS was too far ahead of it's time. It was the premature synthesis of Aiding and sportclimbing. I mean your willingness to log multiple falls ran contrary to the aid ethos of the day.

I think things would have been very different if you had done the Sea of Dreams first. But you chose to FA without having done any other EC routes first. That is the root of a lot of the problem. It's not a rule, but you should see how it was percieved by others.

Granted I've only been up to the third anchor, but what I saw led me to believe someone savaged the route for reasons misguided. In a few spots it was clear placements had been hammered flat.
After hearing your side, and descriptions of what you did and where, I now see I can not judge with any accuracy who did what. The issues I encountered where likely from all the chimps that followed.
IMO, the book only added to your problems, and gave weight to the argument you did it for the noteriety.

Blame is cheap in this incident, everybody seems to have made a contribution to the outcome. When you cut the path of the renegade, don't expect adoration from the rest of the tribe.

It is unlikely you will ever get the resolution you seek. The only way I can see would be for you to climb it again, and I fully realize how unfun that would be.

I know Ammon and PtPP, and I wouldn't say either of them were good candidates for that route. You actually need someone with less experience and more hunger for recognition, because it is thin, slow, and desperate.

Whatever, my opinion doesn't matter. All my gear was stolen, and I'll never be able to afford to climb El Cap again.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Aug 3, 2006 - 10:59am PT
Wow, that ws a lot to digest!!!! 25 years ago!!!!!I got married 25 years ago and I can still remember quite well most of the events of that day. I was in Yosemite when all this was going down...not on a "living in" but was there every weekend and I remember driving with Mike Paul into the valley and I even went out to the Meadows to check things out with Mike and others. I can't quite understand why this is still such an issue???? Give it up and move on. I'm sure most of the people involved are not proud of that happened then and some have even apologized, be happy with that and stop the Wings of Steel shitz. Unfortunatly yer not going to get everyone to fess up, but constantly reminding people of a bad time in the climbing "community" aint gonna help it any either. If it will help with the healing....I did it!!! Rapped from the top of El Cap, chopped, shitzed and ruined the route. I will assume responsibility for all those that didn't fess up that were involved and I applaud those that did fess up(Mike Paul, Scott Cole). I hope this admission will lessen the pain and help with the recovery.
Anyone care to talk about "Hall of Mirrors"????? I remeber that too...how come we're not arguing about that one??? Wings of Steel must have been a good route, but let's put it to rest.

Trad climber
Someplace F*#ked!
Aug 3, 2006 - 11:39am PT
Interesting, a bit of a UG history lesson. Hall of Mirrors?

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Aug 3, 2006 - 11:44am PT
Wow, what is the record for the longest post on SuperTopo?


I don’t entirely agree with putting Russ and WBraun on the spot like this. Asking them or others to change their minds or to admit they may have spoken in ignorance before the truth came out is one thing, but asking people to name names makes them a bit more uncomfortable, at least when you do it in public. These guys may know who did it, but it is likely second hand knowledge even with them being in the area at the time. I mean, sh!ting on your gear might have seemed like a good idea to someone in the heat of the moment, but when whoever it was calmed down can you really see a climber bragging to other climbers about sh!ting on someone’s gear? So Russ and company may not have heard those responsible actually admit to the action, making anything they do know hear-say. They may also have heard much speculation regarding who did it, and may have never known for sure which stories were true, which would make it easier to forget.

Calling out the people who have admitted to knowing something may be more productive, but still, I think the real point of this whole exercise is to prove what you did and clean your soiled image. If the people responsible have any self respect they will stand up and apologize, but the evidence so far does not suggest they have much self respect. Do you really need the world to know who did this to you, or is it sufficient for the world to understand the injustice which was done?

the Fet

A urine, feces, and guano encrusted ledge
Aug 3, 2006 - 11:56am PT
Well Richard first off I have to remind you that you can only control your actions and not that of others. Focus on what you can control, don't stress about what you can't control.

I believe you have done a great job in countering the slander, libel, threats, getting back on the route after it was chopped, etc. I hope you can find some peace in the fact that you have remained on the high road and not given up presenting your side of the story. I also hope that these discussions have at last brought out at least some of the truth and started to help tell what really happened.

You are striving to right some wrongs, but if the perpetrators never come forward and admit they were wrong and apologize to you, you shouldn't let that get you down or keep you from getting closure. Yes you (and the community) should continue to try to get to the bottom of this, but the people who would engage in that behavior (lies, crapping on gear, etc.) are probably not people who are willing to all of a sudden do the right thing. Also they were probably young, drunk, and in a mob mentality when the chopping happened and are embarrassed and don't want the truth to come out.

On another note, this may sound crass, but this is a great story. If you had done the route and nothing came of it, it would have been just another route and been forgotten long ago, it would be a far more boring story. Instead, with the controversy, chopping, sh|t, etc. this has the makings of one of the most interesting events in Yosemite climbing history. And it's still playing out. The route still hasn't had a 2nd ascent. I know you were the victims in this story, but you are also the heroes! You have been presented with a difficult challenge, that although I'm sure you would have rather not had all this B.S. happen, it has given you the opportunity to rise to the challenge and continue to strive for a positive ending.

I believe Royal's chopping of the Dawn Wall played out to be a great model for the climbing community. He established that you have the right to remove bolts that shouldn't be there, while at the same time establishing that the quality of the climbing can justify the use of bolts (even 300+ of them). It was controversial, thought of as a mistake, but turned out to effectively demonstrate both sides of the argument. I am glad it turned out the way it did, although I'm sure Warren and Royal wish it went down differently.

Of course the difference with WOS was that the perpetrators never climbed the route. They couldn't make a judgment call about the quality of the climbing and made a rash decision that the route wasn't valid, without the facts. Anyone who thinks at all about this should realize this is bogus. You should take comfort in the fact that people who have thought about this know that the cards were stacked against you from the beginning and you were treated unfairly. The fact that people would threaten you with violence or destruction of your property also shows how off base they were. That is an ethical line you clearly do not cross. It is wrong, illegal, and just plain lame.

I appreciate the fact that you've named some names, and explained exactly why you've named them and what you know.

Keep in mind that sometimes a no comment is just as damning as a comment. The fact that the perpetrators aren't willing to come out and say "it was me, I did it, and I was right", makes a statement.

As far as your book goes, any inclination that the book in any way justifies that you were doing the route for acclaim is off base, and shows they probably haven't read the book. I'm sure most of us would still continue to climb exactly as we do if we could never write about it, or take photos. You simply would not engage in such a dangerous, difficult activity for recognition. The main reason people climb is to face that difficulty and danger. If you wanted acclaim there are easier ways to get it.

I think people don't realize that there are two extremes of climbing that no one really engages in. The pure extreme is shoeless, chalkless, onsite, free soloing, never mentioning a word of it to anyone, never placing a single bolt even to cover a short blank section. The other extreme is sport/grid (retro-)bolting everything (including cracks), and endlessly spraying about it. No one really operates at either end of the spectrum we all lie somewhere in the continuum between them. Some are more to one side or the other but no one can demand that everyone should think exactly like them and accept what they feel is the acceptable level of bolting/modification and publicity. Sure you can (and probably have some responsibility) to present your point of view but at the same time you should listen to other people's view and understand there is validity to their beliefs.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Aug 3, 2006 - 11:56am PT
Actually since WOS and this situation has been writen about in so much climbing litarature it has become a part of history. If that history is false it needs to be exposed. It si no diferent than getting to the bottom of the Bonatti K2 affair. Anyone who uses human excrement as a wepon is a sick individual and should be exposed. nothing short of a full disclosure printed in the major climbing rags will suffice at this point.

Aug 3, 2006 - 12:02pm PT
The late Avery made a claw from a ring angle that he gave me that I gave Russ for a template for his first "Fish hook".

The first Fish hook was made by Russ cutting my bike frame in half which was a huge failure (hahaha) as it bent easily under weight. It was a fun project anyways as I still laugh over this hilarious idea.

Richard are you alright?

All of our miseries are due to false identification with the body.

The non permanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. In the summertime we may feel pleasure from contact with water, but in the winter we may shun that very water because it is too cold.

In either case, the water is the same, but we perceive it as pleasant or painful due to its contact with the body.

I heard the chopping and shitting from second hand sources. I know who 2 of them are in the same way you do. It's your problem not mine.

Don't try to drag me into your ball and chain nightmare. I wasn't part of it then nor now. There is no "sacred cow" , I'm right here ..... what do you want?

I gave you my opinion hot or cold "how does it feel?"
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand, Man.....
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 3, 2006 - 12:12pm PT
This seems to be the applicable part for me in that rant:

Russ says: "I knew then, but I don't know now." That's as ridiculous as Regan's famous "I have no recollection of…" lines, and you know it. You don't FORGET who chopped the route and crapped on the gear! You don't FORGET which teams climbed Aquarian wall so that they could bomb us with their trash and bags (emphasis on plural) full of human sh|t and then come back to came and brag loudly about it! So, enough with the fake-pitying crap: "Oh, it's too bad what happened," in that totally passive voice. Nothing "happened." Things were DONE, and you guys (among others) KNOW who did them! Quit protecting these people and letting them hide. You can bring about a healing event, and Werner, if you were 1/4 the eastern sage you act like, you would know HOW healing the truth of this whole story could be.

How about a non passive voice? I don't remember and don't really give a shiit. How am I supposed to remember who was on the Aquarian or some other wall fukking with you, when I can't without pen and paper even remember the routes I've done. You have named choppers and shitters that I did not know were even in the mix. See, I don't live this shiit 24 hours a day like you. I have gone decades without thinking about WOS because in my world, it is a very minor to non event. So don't begin to tell me what I should and should not know. After reading your rant I know more now than I probably knew in the last 20 years. Seems you already have all the answers and are just being a windbag assshole trying to throw more light onto poor you.

As for the fake pity crap, take it as you will. I do feel for you guys and what happened was some kinda fukked up.... but, it ain't my show, and I'm not the demon under the bed. This is your witch hunt and get on with it. Grossman is around, Corbett is around, Bill Russell is around. You are wailing away on deaf ears on this forum as they ain't here. Seek them out, have your say, write a 60 page article for Time Magazine and get on with your life.

As for the hook thing. Who the fuk knows on that too. The first FISH hooks were drawn up and made from a Walt Shipley design. I still have the design drawings and the letter. You interested in digging him up and yelling at him??? I can point you to his ashes.


Social climber
kennewick, wa
Aug 3, 2006 - 12:12pm PT
boundaries being crossed. Obviously, many of us think that there were some boundaries being crossed when sh** was used as a persuasive weapon. And chopping occurred without climbing. Another boundary I would agree with madbolter on is a Big Walls Book with hearsay on WoS. Because in fact, everything is hearsay except for those who may have climbed the route or parts of the route. Another boundary here may be madbolter asking werner and fish to fess up. While I am quite sympathetic to the WoS guys, madbolter, you cannot expect werner and fish to do more than be responsible for themselves. Contacting the others involved and hoping they post up may be a suitable gesture.

Richard and Mark, it must have been extremely painful (the twisting of the knife) to read in a Big Walls How To book that your route was an example of how not to do it. However, there is great personal solace to be gained here. Your route has never been successfully ascended. That pretty much speaks for itself. To the naysayers, put up or shut up.

the flatness
Aug 3, 2006 - 12:30pm PT
(Edit: For the sake of thread coherence, the drivel below was written pretty simultaneously with Russ' much better post above, i.e. I hadn't read his when I wrote mine.)

I have been on the pro-WOS side through this whole thing because I think it was a hell of a thing for anyone to do, and it pushed aid climbing onto a type of terrian it simply wasn't tackling at the time, and really hasn't quite gotten around to yet.

However, this latest flare-up is ridiculous. You guys have a persecution complex that is starting to remind me of South Park's caricature of Mel Gibson ("doesn't anyone want to torture me? please? come on guys!?!? would somebody please sh#t on my ropes decades ago again to validate my sense of persecution?). You guys put up a hard route in the valley a long time ago. Some people messed with you. We've pretty well gotten the important details sussed, and you're still going on for ten thousand words about wanting to know the exact identities of pranksters, trying to intimate that Russ ripped you off, and making a big deal about some minor mentions of the route in some climbing books.

You're acting like your little drama was the only thing that ever happened in the Valley, and somehow was this huge defining moment that reached into every facet of climbing -- gear design, ethics, the history books, valley culture, etc... You need to realize that it only looks that way to you because you've let the events and your sense of persecution become such a defining moment for you in your lives. Everybody here has done what they can to dredge up their memories of the time and the events, and there have been some moments of contrition, but you need to realize this was just another chapter, and for everyone but you it's all but closed.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Aug 3, 2006 - 01:27pm PT
"Seems you already have all the answers and are just being a windbag assshole trying to throw more light on to poor you. "

I concur.

Aug 3, 2006 - 01:32pm PT
I say, let the perps stand up and identify themselves. Then I think this thing finally has some resolution. Its easy to say to Mark and Richard, "let it go". But... did you have to untangle, then clean sh#t off your ropes and your gear. I suspect if any of us had come across that scenario we'd have a tough time forgetting. I've known Richard for a long time both before and after WOS. Hell, I helped Mark and Richard haul their stuff off when they did the Sea, and helped them clean up the base after(Sorry, Rich, I wasn't as much help as I should have been that day, something about mushrooms slowed me down... but thats another story). I don't think people understand what its like to be in the Valley and be ridiculed, eyeballed, and lambasted by the then valley 'elite' day in and day out. So WB and Russ say they don't know who did it, ok, but they know who was there. Someone eluded to one individual on the SAR team that was involved and actually got kicked out at a later date(check my facts on this one, there only been 500+ posts). I think we should apply the six degrees of separation theory here. Russ, WB, ya'll start naming names of folks that were there during the wos deal and way will lead to way until we've got the shitters right here on this forum. I think that is the stand up thing to do. As for WB not giving a crap what people do to ElCap etc. great, but I bet the next time somebody takes a crap on your head, you'll care.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 3, 2006 - 01:34pm PT
Nice rant, Richard!

Guys, I haven't even read the responses yet because I don't have time, so I'm only commenting here on Richard's rant.

While at times Richard appears a bit of a raving lunatic in print, I want you-all to know that in person, he is a very forthright and credible person, and I hold him in the highest esteem. He has never given me any reason to disbelieve anything he has said.

Richard has also been very very hurt by this whole thing, and you can tell from his writing that the hurt persists to this day. His heart is in the right place, I can tell you that, but it's a scarred heart. And when you touch the scar, it's still a sore spot.

Having spent considerable time with Mark and Richard, I still can't put into words the depth of their hurts over this, but maybe you can get an idea of it in their ranting. They're not vindictive nor on a witch hunt. These guys are the first to offer up the olive branch. There is nothing these guys would love more than to meet the people face to face who chopped the route and shat on their ropes, and make amends. If the offending parties were to apologize, Richard and Mark would be the first to say, "I forgive you."

You know, that's really all these guys want. Just a few people to come forward, and have the sack to say they did some stupid stuff to hurt them, but twenty-five years later, they realize it was stupid, and want to apologize.

I have told Richard he is hoping for too much, for an apology all these years later. Richard commonly makes the mistake of assuming that most people have the courage and integrity that he does. I would love to read what Mike Corbett and Bill Russell have to say. I hope they come forward.

You might think something along the lines of, "Ok, guys - we get it already! Yes, Wings of Steel is desperately hard hooking, it's not overbolted, and you guys created something so hard nobody has been able to repeat it in a quarter-century. We get it! Now shut up, will ya?" Fair enough, but again - you may not understand the depths of the hurt, and how this has negatively affected Mark's and Richard's lives! They want to clear their names, simple as that.

I don't think Grossman's untrue comments were made in a spirit of maliciousness against Mark and Richard per se, they were made with the good intent of preserving the rock in Yosemite, effectively saying that if you overbolt, you'll get run out of town. Grossman's mistake [like mine, and most other people's] is that he believed the hype about Wings of Steel.

Gotta go, will read the responses and write more later. But I do so love a good rant. The therapeutic benefits of ranting cannot be understated.

Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Aug 3, 2006 - 01:46pm PT
although ranting may be theraputic, screaming "f-u, f-u, f-u, apologize to me NOW!" is rarely a successful approach.

for most people, it's like watching soap opera reruns from way back in the day, when everyone had big hair.

i am not saying that you are right or wrong, i am not saying that you are or are not due anything from anyone, i am just saying that this approach has zero chance of success (and i am otherwise not in any place to be judging anything).

having said that, offering someone the chance to come foward and talk to you personally and confidentially about those events might eventually bring you a certain amount of personal satisfaction, or help you actually achieve the healing (your term) that you are looking for, and as WB talks about the difference between you and your route, you could just leave the legacy of the route to pete or ammon, or whomever gets the 2nd ascent. books get rewritten all the time.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Aug 3, 2006 - 01:48pm PT

You often find it difficult to decid what to respond to and what not to. [Hint] You might want to just let that “windbag assshole” comment go. It is clearly responding to the tone of your last post rather than to you in the general sense. The same applies to some of these other posts. I suggest you reread your last post and consider how it must have come across to Russ and company, before you respond to any of these responses.

As for the Fish hook, might function have some effect on design, dictating a similar form? Great minds think alike.

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