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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 17, 2014 - 02:22am PT
Way cool, Tony! Great story and photos. Thanks, Avery.
Patrik

climber
Bozeman, Montana
Dec 17, 2014 - 03:37pm PT
Early Alpine Adventure on the Emperor Face: The 1974 Callis-Kanzler Attempt
by Pat Callis.
Dedicated to Jim “Rathole” Kanzler

This has been a most enjoyable thread to read, and is an opportunity for me to describe the high quality climbing Jim Kanzler (affectionately known as “Rathole”, a nickname of humorous origin) and I enjoyed on one of our 3 trips to the Face. The main goal of the piece is to highlight Jim’s essential contributions to this attempt.

Although I must credit the late Dan Davis with boldly suggesting that we go to Robson in August 1963, it was on the trail heading back to the car that I snapped a photo of the Emperor Face, with the thought of attempting it sometime. Nine years later in late August 1972, I returned to have a go at it with Hank Abrons, who was passing through Montana, primarily to visit Gray Thompson, and was looking for a fitting adventure to add to his list of extreme alpine ascents after a 10-year hiatus while in medical school. I suggested the Emperor Face. We headed for the middle of the face, under warm, fairly dry conditions, but there was a continuous stream of rocks (about 10 per second) in the gully leading to what was to be named “The Jaws” by Jim Kanzler.

Returning in July 1973, this time with Jim, a fellow Bozemanite, close friend, and climbing partner from the day I arrived in Bozeman in 1968. Since that time, Jim had emerged as the local dominant hardman. Weather was again warm, and the Face was running wet snow this time.

The next year, serendipity rewarded us, as it does sometimes when you do something that makes no sense because of circumstances. Having only a 2-week time window, we headed to Berg Lake, along with Jim’s wife Lindalee, despite knowing that there had already been two weeks of cold rain, and it was still coming down. We arrived to see numerous avalanches pour down the Emperor. But soon the avalanches ceased, and we perceived that all snow had slid off the ice, leaving what were most likely safe, and possibly ideal conditions.

Because this was my 3rd attempt, I had been considering a less direct line closer to the N. face, where the difficulties began higher and seemed less severe. But Jim did not like that idea, and as we peered through the mist over Berg Lake, he picked out a line in mid face that he was felt strongly would go fine under these conditions. The line happened to head up the gully where Hank and I had turned back, and ultimately would have intersected what was to become the upper part of the Logan-Stump first ascent line. We naively perceived the Face that afternoon as an ice climb that would not require lengthy sections of steep rock—obviously a serious misjudgment. What we thought were ice runnels through cliff bands were sections of soft snow blown up into severe overhangs. We took only fifteen rock pins and no aiders, but were armed to the teeth with ice protection.

We were ready for a very early start the next day, but woke to socked in conditions, and went back to sleep. It was 11 am before bright sunlight on the tent woke us. Embarrassed to be faked out by low lying fog, we spent the rest of the day racing up into the Jaws, finding nearly perfect conditions and no rockfall whatsoever. After 4 pitches of moderate ice, Jim led a vertical pitch of waterfall ice just at dark, which was hard but a standard routine around Bozeman in the winter. We bivied there just above the large first cliff band.

The next day, we traded leads on pitches of 45-55 degree ice, with an occasional moderate mixed pitch. The day ended with short, stiff overhanging rock pitch, putting us at the bottom of a 300 ft rocky bowl where we bivied. The rock above looked moderate, but Jim soon found it to be very steep, slow going due to occasional stretches of aid. The next pitch went free, but was again slow due to our meager collection of rock pins. After a short pitch of moderate ice followed by more slow rock climbing, the reality of our poor choice of gear and amount of food became clear. We were moving three times slower than the previous day’s pace; we had to get off the Face. Although we probably had enough gear to retreat downward, each day was a bit warmer than the previous, and some occasional rocks whizzed by. Our photo of the face showed that the ice ledge just below our high point appeared to extend across the entire Face—from N. Face to Emperor Ridge. We chose to traverse to the N. Face because of my familiarity with that route. Fourteen pitches of belayed traversing on 55 degree ice, including our 3rd bivouac, brought us to where the photo of Jim shown in the 2nd post of this thread was taken. On the next pitch, Jim reached a point where the ice “ledge” we were following inverted. The overhanging, bad rock blocked further traversing, and I lowered Jim on one of our two 9 mm ropes to a short ledge 40 feet below. A 5.8 upward traverse to regain the escape ledge baited Jim into attempting it with his pack on, but it was wet and slick; Jim took a long swinging fall, very fortunately slamming into a jutting wall backwards, with the pack preventing possible injuries. Leaving his pack behind, he easily made it back to where our escape ledge led onward to the haven of our fourth bivi under a rock blob on the west margin of the N. Face. The next morning, we descended perfect snow down the lower 500 ft of the N. Face and on down to wonderful, lush greenery.
Understanding the problem much better, we asked Jeff Lowe and Mike Weiss to join us the following year for a much stronger attempt. (They were going to try it anyway.) This time, good weather did not coincide with our plans. The four of us did, however, enjoy some memorable parties and hilarious story-telling in the Berg Lake campground with Jim Elzinga and other Calgary climbers.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 17, 2014 - 03:48pm PT
Wow, cool story and great photos, Patrik - thanks for sharing.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 17, 2014 - 04:01pm PT
Many thanks Patrik: wonderful piece of climbing history.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 17, 2014 - 07:26pm PT
Welcome to Supertopo, Pat Callis! Thanks so much for your account of a route and climb I've long wondered about, ever since seeing your photo of Jim Kanzler in Chouinard's, "Climbing Ice". We're very fortunate to get such a firsthand account of this history.

What kind of ice tools and protection were you guys using? That was some hardcore climbing, especially considering the gear that was available then, compared with a decade or 3 later.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 18, 2014 - 10:58pm PT
Emperor Face, Infinite Patience. (3rd Ascent) Raphael Slawinski and Jay Mills

To read Raphael's entertaining account of the climb go to: http://raphaelslawinski.blogspot.ca/2012/10/infinite-patience.html


Special Thanks to Raphael Slawinski
Andy de klerk

Mountain climber
South Africa
Dec 19, 2014 - 11:17am PT
Great thread Avery. Thanks!
I just have to add a piece about where the South Africans were coming from -
Cheesemonds route descriptions were classically brief: "Start on the left and follow the obvious break to the top"
5000' later you wonder if you even climbed the same route!
Dave Cheesemond and Tony Dick did many stellar first ascents in South Africa in the 1970's and 1980's. Most of them have been repeated but they are all big outings on scary walls with bad rock with minimal info. Just before Cheesemond emigrated to Canada in the early 80's he wrote a "guidebook" called the "50 select climbs to the Western Cape". It's a bit of a joke, but that "guidebook" is now commonly known as the little white book of lies.
That guidebook spoke of a different era of climbing where things were not dished up on a plate for mass consumption and where climbers had to think for themselves.

What we have here is a different input generation, of guys that went into the hills in South Africa or Canada and who headed up into the unknown relying on only their skill, a little bit of luck, a lot of good judgement and a lot of balls. They just did it. Afterwards, there was no social media (other than in the pub with their mates), so they wrote up the routes as: "Start on the left and follow the obvious break to the top" because that was exactly what it was - obvious to them, and if the next guys want to repeat the route then don't expect a detailed topo. Follow your nose, use your skill like we did, and good luck!
This generation followed on directly from the Joe Brown and Don Whillans, and Hamish Mac Innes ethic of just do it, the working class British hard man notion of getting the job done no matter the adversity, and with minimal reporting afterwards.

Cheesemond, Dick, Lomax and Jameson shat off without the planned airdropped food on Mt Deborah. They had no food for 6 weeks and the hike out was epic.
They even resorted to trying to catch fish using a tent in the river so that the tiny fish would swim into the tent. They ate them raw. They survived, and they didn't tell the world about this because they didn't need to.

I had no idea that Cheesmond and Dick went on to climb the Emperor face that same summer straight after the Mt Deborah epic. Most of us would have gone home to recover. These guys are/were hardcore, forged from a generation that is rapidly disappearing, and I pay my respects because they have been seriously earned.

AdK
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 19, 2014 - 01:59pm PT
Thanks Andy, for a very thoughtful piece.

The thing that struck me most about my recent dealings with South African climbers, is there incredibly easygoing, friendly and helpful manner. I found it most refreshing and all to rare.

Along with Tobin Sorenson, Dave Cheesmond was a climber I would've loved to have met.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 19, 2014 - 02:12pm PT
Cheesmond used to include the odd error on his rock topos to keep the adventure up. A "step" left could be 20 feet or more. His memorial route "Creamed Cheese" in the Ghost River has a plaque installed at the start of the 4th pitch and was put up by his good friends Brian Gross and Choc Quinn. Dave had tried that route with Brian and Choc several times, getting part way up. Brian and Choc finished it off after it was known that Dave was not coming back.
Gillian, Dave's widow, suggested the name Creamed Cheese. The route is 1000 feet long on excellent rock with runouts of 80+ feet on solid 5.10 ground and had dicey belays. At least the 5.11 is relatively well protected. A true adventure climb.
Brian is the boldest rock climber I have ever climbed with and did stuff that would have impressed our California friends. I heard he was known as the rail machine back in Capetown. He would rather sail than climb now.
Gregg Cronn

Mountain climber
Bellingham
Dec 19, 2014 - 05:53pm PT
Thank you Tony Dick for the photos/story from the Emperor Face. .

I loved seeing Dave in his full plaid glory. He took great pride in wearing ratty looking gear. Even when he got free gear there was always a layer of wool plaid as you can see from the photo I have included. Damn I miss that guy and the pure love of climbing and adventure he possessed. It was never a boring trip with Dave. One of my favorite times was spending the day searching out Shipton's campsite from the '30's in the Shakskam River Valley on our K2 trip. We took Shipton's book with us and were able to find the campsite by comparing the pictures with the terrain. He was so excited to find artifacts/trash/tent plateforms and the fire ring from 50 years previous. That is the way it was with him. Instead of sitting around and resting at base camp, it was, "Hey man, let's piss up the valley and find Shipton's campsite."

(Apologies for the thread drift!)
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 19, 2014 - 06:53pm PT
No apologies required, Gregg. Dave Cheesmond is the very essence of Canadian Alpinism. Love that pic!
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 19, 2014 - 08:13pm PT
Dave deserves a thread of his own. He was an incredible climber but more importantly a great guy full of enthusiasm. Few people realized how much hard climbing he did in a 6 year span, all accomplished while working as an engineer.
Great photo Gregg
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 21, 2014 - 12:27am PT
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 21, 2014 - 08:40pm PT
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 21, 2014 - 10:36pm PT
This is pure guesswork, Bruce, but I think "The Jaws" has to be near my red marks.

No doubt I'll be proven wrong!

Cheers


Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 22, 2014 - 12:13am PT
You are correct, Avery.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 22, 2014 - 12:20am PT
Thanks Clint.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 22, 2014 - 02:08pm PT
So Walsh-Kruk and Callis-Kanzler both climbed into and thru the Jaws?
Yes.
Oplopanax

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Dec 23, 2014 - 11:26am PT
Speaking of the "spiral road", the route detailed by Greg Horne (i think?) in a late-90s CAJ whereby you start at the hut on the S face and circle around the east side of the mountain to end up on the Kain Face has always seemed to warrant the moniker.
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Dec 27, 2014 - 10:04pm PT
I have been working on a book with Urs Kallen for a decade about routes such as this. It is called the Bold and Cold and was started with Dave Cheesmond in 1985. It will be out in the summer. There are 25 routes, it is the ultimate tick list. Rock on.
Messages 41 - 60 of total 65 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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