First Solo Ascent of the Salathe Wall (AACJournal: 1972)

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Messages 21 - 40 of total 49 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 25, 2009 - 11:11am PT
That's funny, Survival. The song I most often "played" in my little interior cinema for a lot of climbs was Sly and The Family Stone's "Sex Machine", a rather obsessive, funkadelic-ish longer track that lent itself to "one-move-after-another" type of activities if you get my drift. I really couldn't get that tune out of my head when I soloed Despair; it was as if there was a modern-day ghetto blaster on the climb with me!!

Johno L. Yeah agreed, and when I was on the headwall and later that day bivied up there from the tiny triangular hole half way up, it was truly like being in another world, as if I could fly or now had finally "found the truth".

When I went to clean the first pitch---the pitch that carries you over the roof and up the headwall about 50-70 ft, I rappelled down and when i got just above the roof, i turned upside down and faced out and slide a little further on the rappel to see what it would be like. I can tell you it was ever ever so much more hideous than even i at that point had expected. I immediately resumed the proper position, having almost lost all control. The vision of going further down the rope for just those few feet in this presentation was really surreal; the image didn't "scroll" but jerked as if this would be the last I would ever see or know---letting go of everything was going to be the next move. You know, 21-year olds are rather impressionable. When I look up there now, like you Johno, my effing toes curl up with horror and the hair stands on the back of my forearms!

Mighty Anders, It took five bivies; I was on top about 1 or 2 pm on the sixth day which was going about as fast as regular parties were climbing it. Kor and Galen I think did it in 3 days or slightly more a couple of years before me. I had fixed the pitch up to the roof at the start the day before the start. July 2-July 7, 1971.

Back then writing this story which much to my delight was then printed in AAJ 1972, was incredibly hard; it was all new to me. The draft was handwritten of course and an insane mess. It took a couple of months. RR kind of edited it with me and H. Ad Carter took at AAC and did very little more to it. I know it verges on the trite at times but recognize I was basically practically a child.

best, p.


survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 25, 2009 - 11:18am PT
That's great! But not the tune I would've expected.

Got me smiling. My wife loves that stuff.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 25, 2009 - 11:22am PT
I know, I was scandalized when my idol Alex Honnold indicated in an interview what he was listening to on his ipod when climbing. It was all heavy metal, gothish stuff. Like Royal, I was hoping he was listening to Mozart. (g).
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 25, 2009 - 11:26am PT
Ha!! In my head back in the day, it was all Zeppelin, or Beatles. Even though I listened to a lot of other stuff.
Somewhere I had read that some liberal U had done a study and discovered that good athletes performed better when listening to the Beatles. Worked. In my head at least...
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jul 28, 2009 - 12:33pm PT
I just HAVE to put this up!
If this is what the man had playing in his head during the first solo ascent of the Salathe, then I gotta put it in here for him. BOTH PARTS!! Dig it man. Get your groove on Mr. Haan!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhaQ5I8TFmQ Part one


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2PowvWCCUY Part two

FUNKADELIC!!!!

marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Jul 28, 2009 - 02:01pm PT


Peter, wasn't there a shot of you--taping up, as I remember--in the reprint version in Roper's 'Ordeal by Piton'?

I'm having a hard time getting my head around that much solitude. Did it feel lonely or just alone?
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 28, 2009 - 03:28pm PT
Marty,

Yeah, the shot my girlfriend at the time, Marian Lever, took with my Nikon. Vandiver and I went to do Meatgrinder again and our two ladies had to come with! Glen Denny and Roper had the slide forever; it finally made it into "Ordeal by Piton" with my story. I have that slide somewhere in my heap. I have to scan it again since my first attempts 15 years ago were as hideously primitive as Bridwell at the Notions counter at Macy’s.

Since it was my first big wall I did not have a realistic idea how much fun doing one with a good capable human being-type friend could be! Later on, I got the clue on subsequent climbs, basking in the fabulousness of having other of my species at hand. Now I crave the idea of having basically a multi-day party with someone, losing 20 lbs a week. I will never solo a long climb again, I suspect. But I guess one of the principal benefits is that you really do get to imagine you own the entire line for awhile.

As I describe in the article itself, the amount of solitude had been so great that when I got to the top I could not recognize the expressions on the faces of Klemens and Bridwell--- they had come up to help me hike off. In fact for more than a few minute I had to consciously work at understanding what humans might be. (It is also extremely funny: imagine Bridwell’s face is the first one you see after a week! Klemens wasn’t too far behind him in this respect either!)

I had “left” this place, you see, set up my very own quasi-reality actually. I was not delirious; in fact I could have climbed quite a bit longer, had no injuries, had had enough to eat and drink the whole time thank god. The only thing wrong was I was down to only one hammer since I had dropped the other one two days prior. And of course back then we were using mostly pitons, just a few nuts.

Marty, it was as you suspect, highly psychological, this experience. Nearly a full week without any kind of human contact while under tremendous stress and ambiguity and a limited menu verges on being able to damage a person, you know. Normal people would have begun to see George W images in the granite, I suspect.

But I will add that although the solitude was one issue, much more daunting was HOW MUCH BASIC WORK it took to climb this very long route by oneself, haul it including the wretched low angles parts, and clean the whole thing. I was shedding skin from my hands for a month afterwards--- it was falling off me like a tree discarding bark. I guess the hope was that after all the shedding I would emerge a prince among men like the story about the toad.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jul 28, 2009 - 03:37pm PT
Now that is writing!

Thank you for the story!
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 28, 2009 - 04:41pm PT
The dashing young knight, off to do battle for the Siege Perilous:

I wonder if it helped him win the heart of a fair maiden?

Photo taken from "Ordeal by Piton" - I tried different scans, but that's as good as I could do. It seems dappled due to some artefact of the paper or something.

Peter's climb was only the second solo ascent of El Capitan, and his first wall. The first solo ascent was Robbins' climb of the Muir Wall a few years before.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 28, 2009 - 04:49pm PT
yeah it did, Mighty Anders. In fact these two girls---they were best friends too---followed us up from Santa Cruz, stalked us actually. They were all over us like cheap suits. This was a unique time in Vandiver and my friendship. We had adjacent tents near Columbia Boulder at the time and were sleeping with these gals for about a week, going climbing during the day, and generally having lots of fun. It was kind of a foursome but with nylon separators (lol).
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jul 28, 2009 - 07:06pm PT
Great story, Peter.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jul 28, 2009 - 09:57pm PT
Grainy or not, that's a really cool picture.
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Jul 28, 2009 - 10:03pm PT
FanTASTIC story Peter. Many thanks
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Jul 28, 2009 - 10:11pm PT
"a foursome but with nylon separators"

Um, Peter, that sounds like something available only at the WideFetish store! Best left to the nether regions of the inter-tent and/or trained professionals.

You should call up Alex and arrange a time to climb this fall. You both'd probably get a gas out of it.
MisterE

Social climber
Across Town From Easy Street
Apr 16, 2010 - 08:45pm PT
What a great story.
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Boulder Creek CA
Apr 16, 2010 - 09:20pm PT
This is a fantastic accomplishment. I speak as someone who repeatedly tried to solo an El Cap route in the late sixties. I was obsessed with the idea for years and put a lot of time and energy into training and innovating equipment. I had succeeded elsewhere, but here it took everything I could do to get part way. I have a great appreciation for what you managed to do. I knew about the ascents by my friends Royal and later Beverly. But I hadn't heard your story before. Thank you!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Apr 16, 2010 - 09:29pm PT
What a Classic!
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Apr 16, 2010 - 09:31pm PT
Way badass Peter!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Apr 16, 2010 - 09:50pm PT
Peter: A great achievement! Thank you for sharing the story on ST.

You the man!
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 16, 2010 - 10:08pm PT
Haan......didn't know sh#t about climbing but was in awe of your accomplishment soloing the Salathe'.....one of those notions that stuck in my mind....congrats on your palmare's...don't let it go to your brain...rj
Messages 21 - 40 of total 49 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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