Kim Carrigan BOOK


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Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Aug 30, 2015 - 07:39am PT
Imaserious, I sent a note via supertopo private email function. Did you get it? That email system has problems with consistency, so I thought I'd ask.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2015 - 12:13am PT
Yeah ...finally worked out where it landed...

>>> I was seen in it!!

fair enough ...

>>>Kim did so many more amazing things...

This is very important ... cos Kim has probably forgotten what was amazing / important circa 1980 ... both to him ... and to the climbing scene in America and Australia ...

Can you please give a rough list ...this is still at the rough stage ... but you always pan a lot of dirt to get the gold in the bottom ...



Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Aug 31, 2015 - 07:29am PT
List of what? There was only the one route that I did with him.

Kim climbed with a LOT of people that year as I recall.

What is he up to now by the way?

Big Wall climber
Aug 31, 2015 - 09:22am PT
kim is the man. i had the chance to climb with him in europe summer of 1983, and he instilled a confidence in my climbing that led to my second ascent of the bachar yerian later that year. his route names and comments were hilarious, such as dead americans at wraps, with the comment that there should be more of these lol.

i last saw him ten years ago in oz where he is a successful buinessman for a rock climbing store chain. and is married with two energetic kids. ss

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Aug 31, 2015 - 09:27am PT
Steve, thanks for the info, and the phone call BTW, that was nice.

I had a good talk with Robbie recently also.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Aug 31, 2015 - 12:47pm PT
Dear Survival, Black Rose was one of the first 5.12 multipitch routes in the US so it would be super interesting to hear your story about climbing a route that, owing to the runouts, is rarely even done these days, when 5.12 is old hat. I remember the route as being just what you said - sporty and stout. With a cranker hard crux.


Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2015 - 06:53pm PT
>>>List of what?

Of what you consider were '...the many amazing things...' he did

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2015 - 06:56pm PT
'...Black Rose was one of the first 5.12 multipitch routes in the US so it would be super interesting to hear your story about climbing a route that, owing to the runouts, is rarely even done these days...'

Come on suvival ... man up and spill ya guts ALL YA GUTS ...

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 1, 2015 - 05:27am PT

>>>I did this in 1980 swinging leads with Kim Carrigan; this was before >>>he got all Valley Syndrome on us...
>>>(or did we do it to him) !!!

Can someone ANYONE !!! please briefly explain what valley syndrome is ...

survival wrote

>>> maybe you don't realize how significant it is to see Tarbuster on >>>this site these days. You really hit a nerve with this one!!

TARBUSTER ... If I havent driven you to the loony-bin ... can YOU please explain valley syndrome ...



Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 1, 2015 - 08:30am PT
Largo, you may have me confused with someone else!! 5.12?? Well, I was a pretty damn good face climber at that time, but certainly didn't consider myself a 5.12 face climber.

First of all, there is the confusion about Black Primo/Black Rose on that North apron. I heard both many times over the years. Plus, at that time I think it was rated 11a? So are we talking about the same route here? I'm sure we are, but I only ask because Tarbuster was thinking I was referring to Wild Rose or something and wanted to hear all about it. When I said no, it was definitely Black Rose, he said "Oh, I've done that." Hrrrrumph!!
Like, no big deal eh? Well it was a big deal to me!

FOR THE RECORD!! It was 35 years ago, so I make ZERO claims to any and all accuracy of recall. I just don't have one of those photographic memories for routes, moves, and pro that some guys claim to have. And I don't really care. What sticks with me is the vibe of the time and where my mind was when climbing with a person. That's a more important reflection to me anyway. I don't think I've ever even seen a topo of the thing!!

Yes, it had a pretty fierce reputation for a route that hadn't been climbed much. I think Kim even told me that we did the 4th/5th ascent from the scarce information he got. I have no way of knowing whether that's true or not. There sure wasn't that much evidence on it!!

Anyway, Kim had been surfing around and hadn't found anyone to do it with him. Someone told him that the kid from Oregon was a pretty hot face climber. (I was 19 at the time) I couldn't crank like some guys, but I did have excellent feet, and a good head for being out well beyond pro.

So he asked me, and I agreed. I wanted to climb with Carrigan more than I wanted to face those pitches, so my good judgement was overcome!

The black diorite that makes up a large part of the route is beautiful, and really did take the shape of a rose in my mind, so I will always think of it as Black Rose, no matter the name confusion. This was my first and only climb on that apron, so I was highly impressed!

Anyway, as I recall there are 5 pitches, and we set it up so he would lead the crux. So he led pitches 1,3 and 5, and I led 2 and 4. That way I could at least say we swung leads and keep my meager honor in tact.

Kim led off solidly and seemed to have no trouble on the first. Plus, he was good at talking up my climbing and how I was hiking along, so this was good for my head.

I remember being as focused as I'd ever been for this entire route. Laser like focus, because I wanted to give us the best possible chance at a clean ascent, and because I wanted to climb well in front of Carrigan, who already had about as fierce of a reputation as the climb.

I remember some pretty steep climbing for Middle, but the climbing was amazing. Some very ballet like moves, some high steps with all my weight on one foot praying that the edge I was reaching for would be decent. It was very heads up, focus was needed. There were serious consequences if you came off in the wrong place, but this isn't unusual for Middle Cathedral face climbing.

Fortunately my composure held, and my confidence grew, even as my stamina waned higher up. It seems I always managed to find a nut placement, a good hold, or a little shake out stance just when I needed it most. I faced that inner demon "Please God, don't let me come off here..." a number of times. I climbed up and down many times to work a little section out.

Kim was solid, smooth and business like. I could always tell where it got hard or heady because of where he slowed down! I was sure impressed with his ability, his confidence and his strength. He had a good sense of humor too! I remember having a lot more fun around him one on one, than when he had a posse of admirers around him. He seemed to change at those times, to me. I have one painful example that I won't bring up here.

The crux was a bulge that might have been the steepest thing on the whole route. I remember Kim working the moves and cursing, but he didn't come off! I studied every move he made so I could copy them to the best of my ability when I got there! I managed it clean as well, although I came as close as I could possibly be to coming off, without actually coming off.

I think that Kim didn't have the habit of welding nuts with hard downward jerks like some of my old partners. A stuck nut can cost you a hang on the rope quite easily, even on easy ground, so I remember being impressed and very happy that his gear came out smoothly on hard, sketchy climbing.

So here's the part of the climb that will never leave my mind. For anyone who has never climbed on that North apron of Middle Cathedral, it can get damn cold over there. I was armed with a t-shirt, period.... We also had little water and food, and dehydration and loss of calories can also cause you to have trouble keeping warm. So by the time Kim was leading that last pitch, the breeze came up, and the exertion and fear sweats were now costing me dearly. Please take a light jacket if you're ever gonna be over there in the shade.

So as we began the descent Kim loaned me this gawd awful pink frilly shirt that he had brought. I mean Paul Revere and The Raiders frilly. Frills at the collar, frills down the front, frills at the cuffs...the horror!! But I was also damn glad to have it.

As we rappelled, someone came out of the trees. It was Louise, Kim's beautiful girlfriend!! She may have even had another gal with her. I was caught, in the hall of shame, with this heinous shirt on. They all got a good tease out of the situation, but I was cold, and wasn't about to take the damnable thing off.....

So there you have it Imaserious.


right here, right now
Sep 1, 2015 - 01:24pm PT
Well done Bruce!

I really like that short piece.
Your punchline is golden.

(I thought you were talking about the 5.11C alternate crux pitch of Ramblin' Rose, a multi-pitch Kevin Worrall/Mark Chapman route left of Hawkman's Escape on Lower Brother, FA 1975).

Black Primo, N. Face Middle Apron, 5.11B: FA Kevin Worrall, John Long, George Myers, 5/1974
Pitch counts and belay points can change, in Reid's guide from 1994 it's shown on the topo as having five pitches and that's how I remember it.

The money pitches are the second and the fourth. I know because I led them. The second pitch contains the mental crux, 5.9 high-stepping moves way way out from gear. The fourth pitch has the technical crux, powerful fingery moves overcoming a bulge, as you described.

Not that it matters much for your narrative Bruce. Although you might adjust just that small detail of pitch identification. I'll post the topo later and see if it helps jog memory.


back in a bit with something on Valley Syndrome

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 1, 2015 - 01:57pm PT
So you're telling me I led 1,3 and 5? That's awesome!! My testicles just grew back to their old size. I led Kim Carrigan up 3 pitches of stout Yosemite face climbing. Stout in my mind at least, but hey, that's where I live.....

That would make sense because I know for a fact he led the "technical" crux. It would also explain why he was pumping my stoke on pitch one, as a leader, rather than just complimenting me as a top roper, which so many people can do well. Further, it would explain why I was so cold at the top of the route, as in belaying him up rather than being warmed by climbing the 5th and then immediately starting the descent.

But don't try and tell me there weren't plenty of mental and physical cruxes on my pitches, or I'll slap you next time I'm in Nederland, and you'll have a hard time slapping back with those cheesy elbows of yours...hahahahaha!!!

And by the way, thanks for the compliment. I didn't really think I had anything to offer about Carrigan, and knew for a fact that I didn't remember enough about the route itself.

You're a good man Roy.

right here, right now
Sep 1, 2015 - 02:19pm PT
You succinctly captured the flavor of the moves and the ambience of the route!

right here, right now
Sep 1, 2015 - 02:27pm PT
The Valley Syndrome

The Valley Syndrome is emblematic of an era rife with conflict and it is also outright hilarious. Maybe Steel Monkey has it in his archives. He's not on the forum much anymore ... Must … must research this article. Too important, as is Kim's article America's Cup, to pass over in order to gain informed historical perspective and for downright flavor.

Must search Rock and Ice or Climbing magazine. Mid-1980s. Start with 1986, the year of the FA of Valley Syndrome on Apathy Buttress by Dimitri Barton et al.
*I will start a thread asking after these articles!

BTW: Kim's free ascent of the Rostrum Roof is credited in Reid's 1994 Yosemite Free Climbs guide as occurring in 1985, with Kauk and Yablonski.

The Valley Syndrome in brief:

In the early/mid-1980s, the US climbing community was becoming polarized between the sport climbing scene arising in places such as Smith Rock … versus the ground-up first ascent ethos practiced in Yosemite, Eldorado Canyon, and the Shawangunks.

It wasn't until the mid/late 1980s that things really heated up. These two factions, sport and trad, struggled over new route activities in their respective areas. Much animosity arose between them, most often centered around the acceptable use of bolts for free climbing. The chief concern was about how the bolts went into the rock. For the traditionalists, bolts went in from the ground up and were employed sparingly; for sport climbers, bolts were placed from the top down and with liberal application.

True, Ray Jardine had been setting standards via hangdogging in Yosemite in the 70s but remained nearly a solitary actor. Until his chiseling and bolting of a critical passage on the free Nose of El Capitan, his tactics were generally confined to crack climbs so he wasn't imposing much in the way of rappel bolting.

While expressing their methods in Yosemite during the 1980s, sport climbers and their tactics were rebuffed by many of the Valley locals. This included not just the criticism of bolts placed from rappel, but involved shirking of FAs and FFA's via pre-inspection and hangdogging (a.k.a. working a route in sport climbing fashion, which was then frowned upon by American traditionalists and at the same time widely adopted by the Australians and most of the Europeans).

At this time Jeff Smoot wrote an article of plaintiff tone. Here he voiced his frustrated perspective as an emerging sport climber. He published his article in Climbing magazine and titled it Valley Syndrome. In it he called out the Valley locals for enforcing their old school rules of engagement. In 1986 Dimitri Barton, Ken Ariza, and Tracy Doton authored a new route to commemorate the article (tongue-in-cheek): Valley Syndrome on Apathy Buttress.

The syndrome which he ascribed to the Valley locals was one of xenophobia and protectionism: a.k.a. the Valley Syndrome. As I recall, Smoot's piece is riddled with contempt for the Valley Boys. It's a colorful article. I'd love to read it again.

Kim Carrigan followed suit with a similar article, America's Cup, in which he was highly critical of a stagnant subculture then purported to be holding the reins in Yosemite Valley. This was somewhat true (stagnation), but that's also a matter of opinion. There was a period in the early/mid 80s where a "B" team could be said to have been most vocal in Yosemite ... and, for better or worse, this is largely who Kim dealt with in terms of opposition.

Regardless, trad was the dominant mode in Yosemite and it was natural for the incumbents to uphold that tradition. Kim clashed with them. This began to change when Ron Kauk openly adopted sport climbing in the late 80s. America's Cup, like Valley Syndrome, is also a colorful article!

There were many similar skirmishes and clashes of style throughout the USA at this time. By the late 80s there were flareups of animosity between the Valley Boys themselves. Even the A-Team was torn apart. Punch outs and bolt destruction followed. It was a volatile stage in the evolution of free climbing.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 1, 2015 - 03:16pm PT
Yes, it was a volatile time in a number of places, and still comes up all the time, even for the present era. Just look around Supertopo!!

I fell squarely in the trad camp, even at my home stomping grounds of Smith Rocks.

Alan Watts kept going on about traditional aid climbing destroying the fragile rock. But then as I continued to visit in the early/mid 80's suddenly there were shiny bolt hangers sprouting everywhere, mountains more chalk visible, and fixed ropes dangling from everyone's "project". Not to mention hundreds more people dogging around yelling beta at one another.

One day I said to Alan: "Yeah man, that old school aid climbing sure did destroy the place..." and just kinda let it hang in the air as I strolled off.

right here, right now
Sep 1, 2015 - 05:29pm PT
Commentary by Jeff Smoot

Climbing Magazine, #94, February 1986

Yosemite has been under a barrage of bad press lately, and according to nearly everyone you talk to -- outside of California -- it has been long overdue. Even foreign visitors, such as Moffatt and Carrigan, with only a brief exposure to Yosemite, have had few kind comments. Don’t be offended by what they’ve said about Yosemite, however. They weren’t trying to get anyone upset. Their main motive was to get some reaction, to prompt American climbers to get out onto the crags and start climbing, to start pushing themselves, and not just sit around believing that the hardest routes in America, in Yosemite, are the ones already done. Maybe if we would put some effort into climbing, we would get more out of it; we could raise the standards and, quite possibly, improve. It’s going to be tough, though. There’s a problem gripping part of the American climbing scene; it’s what’s wrong with American climbing, plain and simple. It’s called the “Valley Syndrome”.
The Valley Syndrome is a kind of creeping lethargy, a sedentary stagnation that cloaks Yosemite Valley in a shroud of complacency.
There are pockets of resistance, of course, but according to a number of recent visitors to the so-called Mecca of world rock climbing, the Valley scene is dead. Admittedly, some of the best climbers in America are in Yosemite. But lately that isn’t saying much, considering that most Valley climbers don’t go anywhere outside of California and, especially, since the likes of Carrigan, Moffatt and Edlinger continue to make a mockery of the hardest routes in America. The “Best of America”, it seems, are no longer among the best in the world. And, more often than not, the best climbers in America are foreigners.
If you don’t believe it, just glance at the facts. In other countries -- Australia, Germany, France, England -- climbers such as Kim Carrigan, Jerry Moffatt, Patrick Edlinger and Wolfgang Gullich have established climbs which are harder than 5.13, routes that are far harder than anything in the States.
For years, the hardest route in America was Grand Illusion, a route done in 1979. Why is it that, despite a quick lead in the rock climbing game, American climbers have fallen behind? And why is Tony Yaniro the only American to have Grand Illusion? Carrigan made the fifth ascent in only two days of effort, after Gullich, (who made the second ascent in 1982), an unidentified German, and Hidetaka Suzuki had already climbed the route.
Grand Illusion is in California; everyone who has repeated it has traveled thousands of miles to do so, yet few Californians have even tried it. Moffatt flashed The Phoenix, yet few Valley climbers have tried it. Why are foreign climbers willing and able to do our hardest routes in excellent style when the “Best of America” won’t go near them?

“STIGMA: A scar left by a hot Iron: a mark of shame or discredit; a specific diagnostic sign of a disease ...”
Webster’s Dictionary

Despite what Yosemite locals may tell you, the first pitch of The Stigma, an aid practice line of the Cookie Cliff, goes free at solid 5.13. Thus, it is by far the hardest free climb in the Valley. They might call it something else -- a “hangdog” route, perhaps -- but it is no more of a hangdog route than Cosmic Debris, The Phoenix or the Rostrum Roof. Every 5.13 in America has been sieged to some great extent, and most 5.12’s as well, so why all this fuss about The Stigma? No one, so far, has been able to make an on-sight, flash ascent of a 5.13; at least, no American, and especially on the first ascent. But does this mean we should not try, by whatever means, to improve, so that someday we may be able to?
What is significant about The Stigma is that Todd Skinner, the self-proclaimed renegade climber who claimed the first free ascent of the pitch, knew very well what he was doing. He was going against the grain of Valley ideology by fixing pins in The Stigma and then sieging the hell out of it to free climb it. He was making a statement, perhaps inadvertently, trying to break the Valley Syndrome. He was not the first, certainly, but his ascent of The Stigma is one of the most controversial and, thus, one of the most important.
What Skinner did was try to snatch the hardest free climb out from under the noses of Valley climbers. It was an act which has already left a foul taste in the mouths of certain Californians who, in the name of preserving ethical purity, had not even tried to free The Stigma, convinced perhaps that it would be too hard, would take too much effort, would be a “hangdog” route, or perhaps that they might fail. It is safer to sit at a distance and call something “impossible” -- to hide behind a mask of “good ethics” -- than it is to have the courage to come forward and try something impossible like The Stigma, which is what Skinner did. It took even more courage to do it in Yosemite, knowing that everyone there was against hirn, and to keep on trying after being confronted and told that he was a “hangdog”, that he was violating Valley ethics, and that he shouldn’t even bother.
It seems that Valley climbers have already dismissed Skinner’s ascent of The Stigma as a joke. But, then, they have done the same for others, such as Henry Barber, who “stole” Butterballs, Ray Jardine, who supposedly chopped holds on The Nose of El Cap, and even Warren Harding, who got more bad press overthe Dawn Wa//than anyone ever will for any climb.

//“... You just live in this little world thinking the routes of
five years ago are the hardest routes in the world. The
Valley’s a little world, a very little world, with little people.”//
Kim Carrigan

The “little world” of Yosemite Valley is the strict ethics capital of American climbingilNobody sieges, nobody previews, and nobody does anything in “bad” style. They usually just go bouldering instead. There have been significant advancements in that area, certainly. But the hardest route in the Valley prior to 1985 was either Cosmic Debris or The Phoenix, both overrated at 5.13. Why hadn’t anything harder been done? Not because there was nothing left to do. The Stigma was blatantly obvious, and there are still other potential 5.13’s. More than likely, it was the fact that no one was willing to go against the harsh “Valley Code of Ethics” and push themselves, to make an honest effort and press on despite repeated failure.
Skinner showed up, full of ambition, worked on The Stigma for weeks and did it, establishing what is without a doubt the hardest free climb in the Valley. After he claimed it as a free ascent, Valley climbers were irate, as if Skinner had no right to come into their area and steal their route, even though none of them was willing to even think of trying it. Even if the pitch had been done in perfectly legitimate style, it seems doubtful that Valley climbers would have accepted it.
What’s wrong with sieging? Why shouldn’t we try something that’s way over our heads? Who cares if we aren’t able to do something in perfect style? Valley climbers shouldn’t be angry with Skinner for doing The Stigma in bad style; they should be mad at themselves for not having done the route first in whatever style. Why didn’t they place pins on rappel and then try to free it? Bad style? Why didn’t they top-rope it? Surely a top-rope ascent cannot be considered bad style; at least, not by California standards.
Skinner didn’t breach any ethic by fixing pins and then trying to lead The Stigma. He didn’t place bolts, or chop or improve holds. All he did was place pitons in an aid crack and chalk it up a little. Certainly he didn’t, to use Carrigan’s words, “detract from anyone else’s efforts to do it in better style”. On the contrary, he gave us something to aspire to, to train for, and to try to do in better style, while at the same time improving his own ability to do future routes in better style.
Another trickster who is greatly disliked in California is Tony Yaniro, who has been slandered heavily for his siege style of climbing -- and possibly because he was a better climber than a lot of his critics. He had done the hardest route, in any case. So what if he fixed pins? So what if he left a rope hanging overnight? Pins can be removed from routes, and a hangdog or a rope left overnight doesn’t take anything away from someone who wants to do a route in better style. It’s not like a bolt, which affects everyone; these “taints” affect only the climber who uses them. Yaniro pushed the standards almost before the standards existed, establishing the hardest route in the country many years ahead of its time. What kind of reaction did he get? People hated him. Certainly his ascent of Grand Illusion was an accomplishment worthy of at least a little praise. Or was it merely the selfish act of self-admitted trickster, defiling the purity of American rock climbing?

//“It’s just so stagnated...
It’s the most apathetic climbing area I’ve seen."//
Jerry Moffatt

Is there really complacency in Yosemite? Next time you go there, take a look for yourself; the answer is a resounding yes. The attitude seems to be: “We have the hardest routes in the world, so why should we try something harder? Everyone still thinks we’re the best, so why bother? All those other routes are hangdog routes; they’re not really hard. Besides, if we hung all over routes, we could do them, too.” The problem is that the hardest routes in Yosemite, the hangdog routes included, aren’t even close to being the hardest in the world. Even The Stigma is not the hardest route in America.
Another problem is the way Valley climbers treat visiting climbers. Many locals act as if they own Yosemite in the same way a school bully thinks he owns the playground. If you don’t play by his rules, however unfair, he will taunt you, threaten you, and bring his friends along to laugh at you and call you a “homo”, then run away when the teacher comes.
Several episodes back up this comparison, such as the Wings of Steel incident, where outsiders establishing a new line on El Cap had their fixed ropes pulled down and, of all things, defecated on. Valley climbers -- rescue climbers, in fact -- allegedly admitted that they were not only responsible, but even proud of what they had done, but later denied any involvement when confronted by park authorities.
In another incident, a British climber who had just arrived in Yosemite was directed by a park ranger to “set (his) tent up anywhere” in Camp Four, which he promptly did, unwittingly choosing the hallowed rescue site. The hapless visitor will not soon forget the verbal lashing he received when a Valley climber discovered him erecting his tent there. In any other area, he more than likely would have been shown, politely, where he could camp; in Yosemite, he was treated like a trespasser, a memorable and novel way to welcome a foreign visitor.
Finally, when Alan Watts, a noted “hangdog” climber from Oregon, arrived in the Valley to try and repeat The Renegade (as Skinner had renamed the pitch in response to the Valley climbers’ reaction to his ascent), he had barely started working on the line when a group of locals, the “Cookie Cliff Hooters”, gathered on a large rock at a safe distance and began yelling at him. This same group was probably responsible for scribbling homosexual innuendo, with illustrations, on the dirty rear window of his truck.
Fortunately, not all Valley climbers can be grouped with the troublemakers. Many maintain a certain ambivalence towards visitors, and don’t seem to mind so much what other climbers do, short of drilling unnecessary bolts or chopping holds and otherwise changing the rock. Ron Kauk, for instance, showing Alan Watts how to make the final move on Midnight Lightning; and John Bachar, who talked with Todd Skinner even while he worked on The Stigma. And there are others, certainly. Many Valley climbers appear to have transcended the puerile attitudes of a few, but it takes only a few to ruin the Valley experience for many others.
The scar created by Skinner was reopened by Watts, who repeated The Stigma on only his fifth attempt from the ground, with very minimal hangdogging his first few efforts, and without fixed protection, since Todd’s pins had been removed. The style of Watts’ ascent left very little to be criticized, yet Valley climbers still wouldn’t believe it.
No locals witnessed Watts’ ascent, as had been the case with Skinner. They simply sat back at a distance, ripe with prejudice, and “knew” what Alan was up to. “Watts is a hangdog. Therefore, he couldn’t possibly have climbed The Stigma in good style. He must have chopped holds or something . . .” Even when confronted with the facts, they chose to ignore them, insisting that no such thing had been done. They’d rather have burned both Watts and Skinner together at the stake for their joint heresy, than to have conceded that the standards had been raised by outsiders.
Watts, like Skinner, merely shrugged it off. “They just aren’t willing to accept that someone might be better than they are,” he said. “I’m not saying that I am better than they are, but that there are a lot of climbers who are better than anyone in the U.S. A lot better!”

Yosemite, like all National Parks, is set aside for the enjoyment of everyone, not just for a handful of narrow-minded rock climbers. It is truly one of the greatest rock climbing areas in the world, as is shown by the annual influx of climbers from all nations. Hopefully, in the future, all climbers can share and enjoy the Valley on equal terms, without having to feel like they are desecrating the altar of American rock climbing.
And maybe someday, after the smoke has settled, Yosemite climbers will emerge from the ashes to become the best climbers in the world once again.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Sep 1, 2015 - 05:55pm PT
Imaserious will be happy when he comes back!!

Tar, I can't believe you and I were the only ones from this site that hung out, or climbed with Kim during those days.
There's got to be dudes around here who had more experience with him than I did!!

right here, right now
Sep 1, 2015 - 05:57pm PT
Profile: A Conversation with Australia’s Leading Rock Climber
By Jeff Smoot

Climbing Magazine, #93, December 1985

I had the good luck to meet Kim Carrigan in Yosemite Valley during his latest visit to the United States last spring. Geoff Weigand, another visiting Australian climber, told me that Kim was climbing the Nose of El Capitan, so I had to wait. I wanted to ask him a question: exactly what is a “universal, sports, and free climber”? (From a Mammut rope ad).

“A terrible translation, I’m afraid,” he told me a few days later in Camp Four, shaking his head. But it was I shaking my head in amazement a few days later, after Carrigan had made an ascent of the Valley’s hardest testpiece, Cosmic Debris (5.12 + ), on only his fourth try! So I’m sure that, whatever a universal, sports, and free climber is, Kim Carrigan is among the best.

Many of you have no doubt seen the advertisements touting Carrigan as one of the world’s best climbers. Well, believe them! Kim proved it on his latest visit to Yosemite, making a number of good style ascents of the hardest routes, including Cosmic Debris, The Phoenix (5.12), The Alien (5.12c, on-sight), and The Rostrum (V, 5.12c), from bottom to top, connecting all of the hardest variations, including the final 5.12 pitch, on-sight and without falls, the first time that has been accomplished. At Smith Rock, Oregon, he repeated a number of the desperate new face climbs, managing the first 5.12+ pitch of Monkey Face, East Face on his third try. And, as a finale to his West Coast tour, he made the fifth ascent of Grand Illusion, previously thought the hardest climb in America at 5.13c, on the morning of his second day, in only seven attempts overall, for the fastest ascent the route has seen! It is easy to see why Carrigan is the foremost climber in Australia.

Carrigan, 27, started climbing in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, at age fourteen. His school group instructors had trouble with him though, because, as he put it, “I was actually keen to go climbing.” He and his friends were ostracized from the group because of their relentless enthusiasm, and the instructors often wrote letters home to their parents urging them to stop the boys from climbing!

Not long after he started climbing, Carrigan discovered Mount Arapiles. Now he prefers “Araps” to any other area in Australia, because of the infinite potential for new routes, despite the fact that the crag has been decared ‘climbed-out’ more than once. Carrigan always seems to find a new line. “There are dozens of routes at Arapiles that would be ‘three star’. There are so many hard routes, and so many new routes to do!”

Carrigan took to climbing at Arapiles so rapidly that, within three years time, he had clearly estabished himself as the best rock climber in Australia. “It was very easy to be the best,” Kim says, “because there were no hard routes, and almost no good climbers.” The hardest route in Australia when Kim started climbing was graded 20 on the Austra: Nan system -- about 5.10. Within three years, he had surpassed that, establishing 22 as the new standard. He has remained at the forefront of hard free climbing in Australia ever since.

Of Carrigan’s first ascents at Arapiles, he considers Procol Harem one of the most important. Henry Barber had tried the line, declaring that it would certainly go free at 26, despite the skepticism of the locals. But, prompted by Barber’s prediction, Carrigan tried the line and, much to everyone’s surprise, reached a point only five feet below the top on his first day. Two days later, Procol Harem was the hardest route in the country at 26.

Since then Carrigan has worked on one improbable line after another. In 1982, after four solid days of effort on one route he suffered a dislocated shoulder and was forced to stop climbing for two months. The layoff failed to dampen his enthusiasm for the route, however, and he was back on it immediately after his shoulder had healed. After three

more days work, he had established India as Australia’s first 29 -- moderate 5.13. Then, soon after completing India, Carrigan set to work on yet another, even more improbable line. The route proved to be so difficult that, after several days of tremendous effort, he was unable to complete the line. He was hoping to have it finished before an upcoming trip to Europe. Then, in a rush of desperation, he hired a car to take him to the crag for one last try on the day he was to leave. He failed miserably, and had to wait until his return to Australia before establishing Masada at 30.

Carrigan is currently eager to return home to yet another project, a route at Arapiles which he has named Serious Young Lizards, which he is certain will be Grade 32 -- which would be 5.14 in America. “I don’t have many rivals in Australia,” he says.

Carrigan is one of a number of climbers, such as Jerry Moffatt and Wolfgang Gullich, who spends much of his time traveling to other countries to try the hardest routes there. He feels that travel is important for a climber. “For me, it’s a chance to meet people who have similar interests and philosophies about life. I enjoy making new friends by traveling. If you travel, you get to see what’s happening everywhere in the world. You don’t get this sort of narrow, parochial view of what climbing’s about.”

Kim’s first trip abroad brought him to America, where he stayed for over a year, climbing the big walls of Yosemite Valley. Among other climbs, he made the second ascent of the Pacific Ocean Wall on El Cap; he also managed an ascent of the Salathe Wall with only twenty-six carabiners. “That,” he says, “was memorable.”

He returned to Yosemite again in 1980, but found it less interesting than on his previous visit. A week later he was off for Smith Rock, the first stop on a cross-country voyage that took him to Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and finally to the East Coast, to the Shawangunks.

“The Gunks was fantastic! It’s one of my favorite places in the world. It’s a lot like Arapiles, with lots of roofs and face climbing, which is my favorite.”

From New York, Carrigan ventured to England, where he spent nearly a year climbing on British limestone. “I’d like to go back to England,” he says. “There are a lot more hard routes there now.”

In 1983, Carrigan left Australia for England once again. On this trip he visited France and Germay as well. While in Germany, Kim got a lucky break. A friend mentioned to him that Mammut, the rope manufacturer, was looking for a climber to sponsor. Kim jumped at the opportunity. He met with company officials at a Munich trade show, and the deal was arranged. “I had to sell myself as a great climber,” he recalled, “but it worked!”

Always outspoken, Kim has remained a controversial figure on the climbing scene. His remarks about Americans seem especially cutting, such as his “There should be more of these” remark about the Dead Americans route at Arapiles. I asked him why there was so much anti-American antagonism in Australia.

“We’re very much down on America for its imperialist politics,” he told me straightforwardly, “the way it criticizes Russia, and then acts just like Russia.”

If Australians are down on America for its aggressive foreign policy, Carrigan is down on American climbers for quite another reason. “I find American climbers to be very complacent,” he says, “especially in California. A big problem is the ethics. Because they won’t hang-dog, people are afraid to try something that might be over their limit. So that has the effect that they will try nothing. Rather than trying and failing, they try nothing and then go bouldering all day!”

Kim feels that the American bolting ethic -- not placing bolts on rappel especially -- is a detriment to the advancement of the sport, and a major reason why Americans are falling behind. “What’s the difference between drilling on lead and drilling on rappel, except that you might get hurt? As far as ethics go, you’re still drilling! The ethic restricts what everywhere else has been the natural growth of the sport. I mean, the hardest route in Yosemite is five years old. Look at what Alan Watts has done at Smith Rocks; he’s practically established 5.14 in America all by himself!

“Everywhere else has a dynamic scene; in the States, it’s just a dead one!”

Carrigan hopes that a “kick in the bum” from foreign climbers will change a few attitudes. “There are a lot of foreign climbers here this year, and they’re actually keen and interested in doing new things. Even Todd Skinner trying to free The Stigma, that’s pretty controversial. For someone relatively unknown to come into the garden of the Valley demi-gods and give something they all think’s impossible a go, I’d say that it’s very controversial, as will the style in which he’ll eventually do it.” (See Basecamp in this issue and Climbing #92.)

But Kim feels that this is the only way for standards to increase, for climbers to try things that seem impossible for them. “It doesn’t detract in any sense from someone else’s attempts to do them in good style. It gives them something to aspire to. If you don’t have that, you just don’t have anything. You just live in this little world thinking that the routes of five years ago are the hardest routes in the world.

“The Valley’s a little world, a very little world, with little people!”

Weary of the Valley scene, Carrigan left Yosemite less than two hours after ‘ticking’ the last route, Cosmic Debris, from his list. Needless to say, he was very pleased with what he had accomplished there. In addition to repeating the hardest climbs, he had emphasized his point about the apathetic Valley scene by establishing a new route on the Cookie Cliff, with Weigand. Kim led the route on-sight, without falls, and named it, like a pointed stick, America’s Cup (5.12c).

“And,” he smirked, “you can have it back when you get good enough!”

right here, right now
Sep 1, 2015 - 07:14pm PT

I agree. If this thread had come up in 2007 we would have rocked it with input from lots more people, whether or not they had roped up with Kim Carrigan.

You're right about Kim having climbed with more of us. On the other hand, until you posted up, I couldn't name anybody else from the states who I knew actually climbed with him!

Dan Michael, a well-seasoned Colorado climber, introduced me to Kim and knew more about his exploits. Through Dan I learned that Kim had done some stout FFAs at Devils Tower for instance. Dan visited Australia. He had a crush on Louise Shepherd.

Louise had appeared in Camp 4. I saw her in tight lounge pants, poised on a pair of five inch heels. No kidding. What a dish! She was just standing there in the powdered dirt, slowly darting her head about like an exotic bird ... parting a sea of shirtless men.

The day Dan was mourning his rebuff from Louise, I saw him out on the sands down in Joshua Tree, wandering between the crags. His chest and shoulders were all pumped up … like from battle. He was on an offbeat path in his climbing togs, wandering solo. No pack. Shoes in hand. His ponytail was tight. He strutted around like the cock-of-the-walk.

I busted him cold. "Okay man, tell me what you did. I can see the jolt in your eyes. What’s her name and where you been? You're all busted up over a girl right?"

Dan had just free soloed Figures on a Landscape out at the Astrodomes and her name was Louise. Two pitches of finger stinging vertical slab. It goes past a hanging belay! I know that was a first. I bet that's also never been free soloed by anyone since. I hope he felt better about Ms. Shepherd, but I doubt it.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 1, 2015 - 09:43pm PT
>>>Imaserious will be happy when he comes back!!

SIR vival and TARBUSTER ....THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!!!!

This is GOLD !!!

Just need a bit of time to absorb it all ... thanks again ....CHEERS


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