disneyland climbers


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 21 - 40 of total 84 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Social climber
So Cal
Dec 18, 2006 - 10:54pm PT
I went to high school with Scott Little We were both on the wrestling team. He one of the stars. Me one of the supporting cast. He wrestled in two weight classes back to back most matches and was so fast that his primary tactic was to try an attack on an opponent and if it didn't imediately suceed run the sequence in reverse to the starting position and try something else. It was like watching a tape on rewind and start over. Most of his opponents were completely baffled by his speed.

I nearly killed him when I dislodged about a 8 ft long icicle on a little ice climbing adventure on the back side of Baldy up Lytle Creek. It plunked down not two feet from him.


Trad climber
Dec 18, 2006 - 11:46pm PT
John Canby,

Who is X15X15? The other guys I worked and climbed with were Tony Melichi and Chuck Blackwell. What was Pat up to the last time you saw him?

Strawberry Peak is a a real adventure climb. Did you find a yellow TCU up there?

Kevin Mokracek

Dec 19, 2006 - 01:50am PT

I don't want to blow x15-times 2's cover, so I'll let your fire him an email. First name Phil, though.
Chuck Blackwell is a helluva guy, haven't seen him in a few years either.
Strawberry Peak - no yellow TCU, but we did strip off a dozen bail biners, and a near-perfect #2.5 friend. One our first trip there, we had a good time bushwacking up the center line, descending the gully to the east, then hiking out in July temperatures. We each lost 30 or 40 pounds from dehydration, and had so much fun, we decided to go back again, and again...

Oh, and back on track with the house of mouse,
The last time I saw Pat, he was pimping and hustling wine and spirits for some distributor (but I don't think he does that anymore). Married, living in Orange Country.

Dec 19, 2006 - 11:58pm PT
Hey John Edgar, come back!!!!

Don't make me come up there!!!

I need to look up my friends Peter Minks & Nic 43.

do you know these guys?

Mountain climber
Avon, Co
Dec 20, 2006 - 12:42am PT
Awsome thread!!!!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 20, 2006 - 12:57am PT
Wonderful world of Disney
Climbing 144, p48 (May 1 - June 15, 1994)
by Gary Arce

Think back for a moment to the late 1950s - Dwight Eisenhower occupied the White House, Alaska was in the process of becoming the 48th state, real climbers wielded mighty piton hammers and the top free climbing level was 5.9. Mountaineers from the U.S. and Italy celebrated their respective first ascents of the Karakoram giants Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum IV. Two young climbers from California, Royal Robbins and Warren Harding, were pushing the limits of big wall climbing. It was a time of adventure.

But while the elite climbers focused on grand projects in the great ranges of the world, a quiet revolution was underway in a very unlikely place. Among the orange groves of Anaheim, California, a small army of workers was constructing an immense mountain and a sprawling theme park. When completed, the artificial peak would become one of the first climbing walls in the world, built decades before the rock gyms of Snowbird or Emmeryville. The fantastic dream of Walt Disney, to build an innovative new roller-coaster within a huge man-made mountain, became a stunning success. The park is now known as Disneyland, and the mountain, of course, is the Matterhorn.

Rising 14 stories, Walt Disney's Matterhorn is a grand monument to engineering wizardry and artistic vision. A total of 2175 steel beams provide the internal framework for the hollow structure. Thousands of cubic yards of concrete were painstakingly molded over this 500-ton framework, to form the world-renowned landmark of the Magic Kingdom. The mountain and its roller coaster were officially opened on June 24, 1959.

The total construction cost was $1.5 million, a considerable sum back then, but Disney spared no expense. He wanted the mountain to be a spectacular and exact 1/100-scale model of its famous namesake in the Alps. "Walt had a special feeling for outdoor mountain sports such as skiing and mountaineering," explains Jimmie Payton, climbing supervisor at Disneyland. "So when he had the structure designed, he made sure that the engineers took the time to study the real Matterhorn to replicate it as closely as possible."

In addition, Disney envisioned having employees who were also climbers make regular forays up the mountain to entertain visitors. Although fewer than 50 people have ever made the unique ascent, a close-knit group of 13 Disneyland employees now climb the miniature mountain every year.

A surprisingly large number of routes have been put up. "We've got about 50 different routes," says Disney climber Steve VanVoorhis. "There's some low-angle stuff and good cracks, and some really cool overhanging jugs. And it's fairly slick because the upper part of the mountain is painted to look like snow. So there's a big difference between what you can friction on here, and what you can smear at Josh."

Established routes include Fear Again (5.4), the Italian (5.8), the Overhang Direct (5.9), Swiss Miss (5.9+), Levanthian (5.12a), and Stars and Stripes (5.12b). In addition, the vibrations caused by the roller coaster cars racing through the Matterhorn every 15 seconds add to the challenge of each climb, making the 5.12 dynos off micro holds a bit sketchy.

The most popular routes are those which reach the top of the structure. "I love doing those upper routes," says Ingrid Chlup, one of the two women climbers in the group. "You get a lot of people waving at you up there and cheering, especially on the Overhang."

The climbers use quick draws to clip huge steel bolts, originally used to support the construction scaffolding. How good are those bolts? "They've got to be three feet long," laughs VanVoorhis. "They go inside the mountain and are anchored to the beams. They're pretty bomber."

Two pairs of climbers typically climb the Matterhorn during the summer season. The two teams alternate by climbing for one hour and the resting one hour. Since this translates into about 80 ascents per month, a little imagination is needed to prevent boredom. VanVoorhis explains, "We try and think of different ways to make each day interesting. For example, one day we'll do a circuit of all the hard routes, trying to hit all the 5.11s and 5.12s, or we'll do easier routes without using certain holds. So that keeps it fun."

The Disneyland climbers' enthusiasm for the job is perhaps only equalled by their excitement for new routes. "When the ride goes down for 'rehab' [annual maintenance] that's when we on a big hunt for new stuff," says VanVoorhis. "It's a friendly competition. Sometimes we'll walk around the mountain during the breaks, scope different lines, and plan for the future."

The most obvious lines have already been done, so the routes of tomorrow will certainly be more tenuous and blank. One particular 5.12+ project has repelled the climbers' best efforts for the past six months, but they remain confident the moves will be worked out.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2006 - 06:42am PT
Good job digging that up Ed.

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Dec 20, 2006 - 09:04am PT
I've met a few "Disneyland climbers..." They are a great group who are wise enough to get paid for climbing on weekends.
Thanks Aaron for wearing a similar outfit for Halloween. I am still smiling...


Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 19, 2007 - 07:55am PT
Who had the better jump shot, Mickey or Goofy?

Sport climber
Huntington Beach, CA
Jan 19, 2007 - 01:43pm PT
Just out of curiosity....

Does anyone know the pay for this position? Also, what is the skill requirement? I've never paid attention, but I do not recall seeing a belay. I thought they were basically walking up some steps.

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
Nov 27, 2007 - 05:38pm PT
Hey, those two pics up there are me! The one of me and goofy were taken of my myspace page. There is another close up on the over hang on there if anyone is interested http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=19484536
It was definitely the best job I have ever had. We had lots of fun. Climbing, naps... Well that is mostly what I remember really. I had a hammock up there. It was a great job if you like to party. You could go to work skip the climbers breakfast and catch up on some much needed zee's from the night before. But it wasnt all fun and games, in 2006 we had a really nasty termite infestation up there. You would be sleeping and then something would start crawling over your eyelid. It was nasty. Plus it was like 100 degrees. Hot weather and bugs can make one pretty irritable. The guy that teaches the climbing class is not named Sean, it is Steve. The job paid quite well towards the end. (Since there was hazzard pay) I was at the bottom of the pay scale since I was the newbie. I joined the group in 05. Some of us were making more than the people that managed us. The summer of 06 I was climbing everyday. Sometimes 6 days a week. I had no time to get out to Tahquitz. Neither did my buddy Andy, who also worked there. One day we had it. We decided to grab our climbing shoes from the mountain and run up to Tahqz after work. We drove the 2.5 hour drive and got to the parking lot of the mountain around 9 or so. Then we got the base at ten. We decided to climb the maiden. Short and easy. (We both had to work the next day) I think we climbed it and got back to the car around 1 or 2. Then we drove back to Anaheim and slept in the locker room until the shift started. (And then we clocked in, and slept a little more)

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
Nov 27, 2007 - 05:40pm PT
First off, there were no steps on the outside of the mountain. It was always real climbing. Although sometimes it was quite easy. As for the skill requirements. You had to be a trad climber, climbing at least 5.9 outdoors. You also needed to have multipitch experience. And you need to be really easy to be with. Everyone up in the mountain was really laid back. If you dont mesh with the group, you usually didnt get hired. Or you didnt last long.

Dec 13, 2007 - 05:59pm PT
My uncle was the first to climb the Matterhorn at Disneyland. He has a picture on the wall from the LA times back in the day. I will have to borrow it and see how it looks when scanned.
His name is Jim/James Crary.
Captain...or Skully

Trad climber
North of the Owyhees
Dec 31, 2008 - 12:11am PT
Disney bump...

Trad climber
San Diego
May 11, 2009 - 10:02pm PT
I was just at Disneyland yesterday and was thinking if anyone had climbed that beast, cool stuff.

Don't let go

Trad climber
Yorba Linda, CA
May 11, 2009 - 10:30pm PT
Is anyone still climbing there? I would really like to get an opprotunity to go up it. I am a Disney fan and would love to make that memory. Any insight on how to get to go up? I heard that they use to have try outs but have not heard any news of even that in the last few years. Thank you.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 12, 2009 - 02:25pm PT
Back in 1985, I climbed it while finishing up as an undergrad at UCLA. First just on weekends then full-time in the summer. It was a blast.

At that time, the climbing program had been shelved for a good five years or more but was being resumed for the Park's 35th anniversary. The person who claimed they climbed it in '82 may want to recheck their dates. There were four of us initially: Debbiy Gilchrist, Pete Morgan, myself and Keith Wing, the only one hired from within the park. Over the summer, three more folks were hired: a tall skinny guy named Jeff, a quiet redhead girl named Jane and a quiet skinny kid named Mike who never returned after going up to Santa Cruz for school.

Since no one had climbed the thing for a while, it was covered in lichen and dark, so the first job was just cleaning the thing to make it more climbable. The eventually hand and foot traffic helped alot but it was pretty grungy for several months. The backboard for the basketball hoop was still there but no hoop. I rehung the hoop but I'm not sure when the key was painted on because there wasn't any evidence of one at the time.

I thought it was a blast, but you kind of had to get in the mood for it. If you took yourself too seriously as a climber, you were toast. By this time, I had already spent summers in the Valley, climbed Half Dome, Zodiac, etc., but I still found it entertaining, way more so than the usual grunts jobs you get at that age.

Down time was spent sunbathing on top of the peak or trying new routes. We tr'ed stuff up to easy .12. At the time, the only route that had a name was the route you "auditioned" on, was the Fueriggen (5.4), after the ridge on the real peak, which we named the "Fear Again" since you could do it one-handed, blindfolded, etc. You had to mix it up to make it interesting. The best thing about the job was that no matter how crowded and chaotic the Park got, we remained above it all. As long as we did our 8 routes a day--half hour on, half hour off--we could whatever we wanted with our off time.

I'm surprised that the first magazine article to appear was that '94 Climbing piece. Jeff had written an article with route overlays, etc., that he sent to Rock and Ice that was actually a good little piece but got dinked obviously.

Sadly, all good things come to an end. I was finishing my last two classes, had already walked, and was going to take a year off and roadtrip before grad school. The day I was going to give me two week notice, I sneaked some beers into the mountain and we downed a cold one between routes. A couple we stashed in the rafters inside the mountain.

Last climb of the day before I was going to walk over to give my two week notice, I'm doing some pendulums back and forth. In mid arc, I'm running full speed, my foot snags on a bump and I suddenly stop with my knee locked straight. I hear this grim tearing sound and my right knee blows out to the side. Though this was now 25 yrs. ago, that memory is as vivid as what I did this morning. I hang onto my line and hop off on my good leg while my other one is hanging out of joint. Long story short, my knee gets rebuilt twice over the following year and a half. Right when I'm getting to the point where I can start climbing again, I start law school and am tied up for the next three years.

Occasionally I get back there with the kids, who are 3 and 5. I tell them I used to climb that big mountain. Every time I look at it, I think "I gotta go back and get my beers."

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
May 12, 2009 - 02:47pm PT
like that 'gotta go back for the beers'

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
May 12, 2009 - 03:00pm PT
this is an awesome thread I missed. Sounds like lots of memories.

cool stuff.

Trad climber
San Diego
May 12, 2009 - 03:13pm PT
As a lurker, this is why I love this site. Such cool stories.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 84 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta