Vintage climbers...your story

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 94 of total 94 in this topic
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Original Post - May 20, 2018 - 09:46am PT
I grew up in the southeast sector of St.Louis, Missouri, just a few blocks from the Mississippi River. Limestone bluffs bordered the river and it was there that I practiced rappelling as a 15 year old. I had come across a photograph in a book on the Alps showing a mountain climber descending on a rope that was merely wrapped about his body. Using a clothesline rope doubled a couple times (to get adequate thickness), I taught myself to rappell from a tree in the backyard. To negotiate the cliffs on the river, I bought a 200 ft. length of 5/16th manila hemp. The
tag said it tested at 600 lbs. I figuered that was more than adequate. Having some gymnastic ability, I soon was bounding down 80-100 ft. cliffs in 3 or 4 leaps, enduring numerous rope burns in the process and putting considerable strain on that rope, I'm sure. But the thrill was worth it!

I was 16 when the movie "White Tower," starring Glen Ford, came to the local theater. I sat through it 3 times that first Saturday, and several more times soon after. Though I had yet to see a real one, I had fallen in love with the mountains. That winter I applied for a summer job with the Forest Service in Idaho, lying about my age. Hitchhiking there the following summer, I well remember being awed by my first view of the Rocky Mountains from the east. During the next two years, while in the
navy reserve, I was able to make an occasional excursion out West, hitching rides on military aircraft. For instance, in May, 1950, I hitchhiked from Hill AFB in Utah to Jackson Hole, shouldered my seabag containing camping gear, and hiked up Cascade Canyon over snow to Lake Solitude. I spent three days there and never once saw the mountains.

My mother, brother and I moved to Glendale, California in August, 1951. I was 19. I got involved with the Rock Climbing Section of the Sierra Club and~for the next year attended climbing sessions at such places as Tahquitz Rock, Chatsworth, Joshua Tree, Mt. Pacifico and Eagle Rock. With coaching from Chuck Wilts, Jerry Hall, Don Wilson and others I learned the fundamentals of rope handling, piton placement and balance
climbing for the first time. We even practiced dynamic belays jumping from tree limbs!

After the Korean War, while in college, I began working summers at Grand Teton, first as a maintenance man, then as a climbing ranger at Jenny Lake. The fifties was a unique era in the climbing history of the Tetons, and I was fortunate to be acquainted with such greats as Buckingham, Corbet, Gill, Chouinard, Ortenburger, Unsoeld, Pownall, Emerson, Dietschy, Exum and Petzoldt. Some of them had already made their reputation. Others were soon to establish their place in climbing history. I climbed often with Bill Cropper, a nuclear physicist. We shared the same passion for alpine routes, not always lusting after the more difficult rock climbs. I did get roped up with Gill and Dietschy a few times, much to my chagrin. These fiendish men would tackle overhangs when they could easily be avoided a few feet right or left. On a wall in Garnet Canyon one day I grew weary cleaning the route behind Dietschy. He would let me lead
when no overhangs were in sight. So I started up this vertical, 100 foot pitch while he snoozed on a ledge below. I ran out a full rope length without placing protection and came up short of what appeared to be an adequate belay ledge. I managed to sink a wafer almost to the ring, and standing in slings called to Dietschy to come up. When he saw that we both were hanging from that lone wafer, he went ballistic! Needless to say, I never had to endure another overhang with him again.

In 1958 Jake Breitenbach and Dave Dingman asked me to join them
in an attempt on the West Buttress of McKinley. I got a commitment from Ford Times Magazine to subsidize our climb, but the others opted to fly to Anchorage rather than drive Ford's new station wagon. Three weeks before departure I had to abandon the venture. They made the second ascent of the buttress, and several years later both participated in the 1963 Everest expedition. That was as close as I ever came to doing a big mountain.

In 1962 I married a lovely, little German immigrant and, subsequently dedicated myself to raising a family. We lived for several years in an isolated part of Joshua Tree National Monument. There I met Phil Smith, the first ranger at Grand Teton National Park. Between 1925 and 1935 Phil and Fritiof Fryxell made most of the first ascents of the major peaks in the Teton range. Phil was in his 60's now and nearly blind, but together we rambled among the monsonite boulders and repeated many of the aid routes he and his son had established there.

In 1967 we moved to Pinnacles National Monument, an active rock
climbing area, where I honed my skills on volcanic breccia for the next 10 years. There I conducted mountain rescue seminars for the 7th Infantry Divislon, San Benito and Monterey Co. sheriff's departments and West Valley College.

I eventually became disenchanted with the National Park Service and transferred to the Department of the Army at Fort Hunter Liggett, where I served as the Land Manager until retirement in 1990. For many years I organized and led men and boys backpack trips into the Sierras. We frequently had groups with over 50 participants. Mountain climbing was always a major part of those trips. In recent years I cherish most the opportunities I have to be in the mountains with my sons and daughters on pack trips, and with my wife on numerous hikes to high places. We have
shared some wonderful adventures together.

~Jim Langford

Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
May 20, 2018 - 10:02am PT
Great stuff, thanks
johntp

Trad climber
socal
May 20, 2018 - 10:57am PT
Wow Jim; thanks for sharing. I'm not as vintage as you but learned on stoppers and hexes. Did ice with SMC poons and Forrest tools. Good times. Your son has posted some pics of you. He gets a lot of grief here but in my mind he is a stand up guy.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
May 20, 2018 - 11:00am PT
Vintage? ('68, '72 w/Fritz & Hans )So,yeah
but why dwell on the inevitable,I started climbing, have climbed & still try to climb.
And to add with the greatest of respect sir,
I was just reading this bit of related history & great picture.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1735122&tn=20
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 20, 2018 - 11:16am PT
By gosh, Jim, what a pleasure to see you posting here! Your comments brought back some great memories. And your description of rappelling with a natural fiber rope conjured up recollections of dealing with the strands of fiber that stuck in my back the first time I tried doing it.

So happy to hear from you!

Your old friend, John
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
May 20, 2018 - 03:01pm PT
Thanks, Jim - not many of us Korean war vets around any more. Lots of similarities in the way we started. Sure rang some bells! (Wayne)
L

climber
Just livin' the dream on the California coast
May 20, 2018 - 03:54pm PT
Awesome to see you (Jody's dad) posting here, and what an interesting history!

I'm from Rolla--103 miles west of St. Louie--and grew up climbing trees because as everyone knows, Missouri has no mountains. Not even high hills.

But it looks like you found some worthy bluffs. Good on you!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 20, 2018 - 04:56pm PT
There's vintage and then there's vintage; this is as good as it gets.

I had a toe in the fifties, as my first climb (guided by Exum Guides) was the Grand in 1957. I've had the pleasure and honor of climbing with a few of the elders on your list Jim, and was back in the Tetons last summer for something of a nostalgia tour, fifty years after my first climb there.

The changes in that half-century have been immense, but the mountains are, of course, the same. Except that I'm quite sure there's been substantial uplift; it's the only explanation for why the approaches seem much longer and steeper than I remember. :)

donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
May 20, 2018 - 09:42pm PT
Nice remembrance...thanks for posting!
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 20, 2018 - 10:31pm PT
Jody Langford has referenced his father, here on Supertopo so many times, it is wonderful to finally hear from The Man himself.

What a treat.

And what a great thread to start.

Entire books could be written, by many, recalling how they came to embrace mountaineering and climbing, and how it has enriched their lives, and why they would continue to pursue an ostensibly worthless and dangerous activity.




I am hoping that Jim, or Jody, will post a photo of Yvon Chouinard, and friends, distressing a ranger who was mandated to ensure that only "qualified" climbers were allowed in the Tetons(?). Yvon & Crew. appeared to be comically mocking the authority of the ranger with their absurd clothing and lack of proper mastery of basic rope skills. The ranger in the photo doesn't appear to be amused, at all, and may have been questioning his career choice at the time.

It's one of the funniest photos I've ever seen. I think Jody posted here on Supertopo a long time ago.




For me, it started with a Pomona College pre-med student, financed by the GI Bill after a tour in Vietnam, coming to Sycamore Elementary School, three blocks away, and showing off his ropes, carabiners and other gear. I was eight, or nine years old. My younger brother was there, too.

The giant eucalyptus tree in our backyard was no longer off-limits to puny men. A friend, my age, Tony Cisneros, used his bow and arrow and a string, pulling a rope, to get us off the ground, and up into the limbs. We found an old ladder, and tied it into place so we wouldn't have to drill past a blank section of the tree. My brother and I stole a shipping pallet from the railroad tracks, and put it near the top of the tree to make the best tree house in the neighborhood. Our grandfather gave us an old 1" manila rope. I tied overhand knots every two feet, which served as the elevator. Our mother was aghast, but compliant. It was not safe. My brother, sister, and all our friends would ascend the tree, and wander, back and forth on the limbs, free solo.

A few years later, my family relocated to Cambria, which is a tiny town on the Central Coast of California. It is a tourist town. Cambria's main attraction for people, from all over the world, is the opulent and vulgar Hearst Castle collection of ersatz and delicious artworks that have been arranged into an adorable compendium of a collection-addict's obsessive collection of world-wide loot.

It was there, in Cambria, that two hot-shot high school kids showed my brother and myself a box of REI climbing goods they'd bought. These guys would ski down the dry grass hills in the off season. They wanted to climb the rather nice rock across the street from the high school. But, as hot-shot high school kids are prone to do, they dismissed us, the "little kids", 12 and 13 years old, as not capable of climbing at a hot-shot high school level. So, my brother and I bought into the REI cooperative ourselves and received a trove of gear. We discovered The Granite Stairway store in San Luis Obispo later, and bought both of Royal Robbins' rockcraft books, which taught us how to use the rock climbing gear, and how to be safe when using it. I've never been physically hurt while climbing, only emotionally.

The very first piece of gear I ever placed was a Lost Arrow piton at the base of the high school rock, using a ball peen hammer from the hardware store that I drilled for a sling. Hitting something with a hammer was more childishly enticing than dropping a stopper into a slot.

It has all been uphill from there.

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
May 20, 2018 - 10:49pm PT
Nice! Pulled in Jim Langford!

TFPU


I'm not vintage, so I'll refrain from posting my story. :)
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
May 21, 2018 - 07:22am PT
Thanks for the share, Elder Langford!
Roots

Mountain climber
Redmond, Oregon
May 21, 2018 - 11:42am PT
Great read Jim!
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 21, 2018 - 12:37pm PT
The ranger in the photo doesn't appear to be amused, at all, and may have been be questioning his career choice at the time

John Fonda was in on the gag. He had a fine sense of humor. He died a few years later on an ice jam below the Jackson Lake dam. He was a great person.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 21, 2018 - 12:56pm PT
Great stuff, Jim. I'd love to hear more about Phil Smith and you climbing out at Josh in the 50s and 60s. That history is almost entirely unknown, and it pertains to one of the most popular winter climbing areas in the world.

This bit: "Phil was in his 60's now and nearly blind, but together we rambled among the monsonite boulders and repeated many of the aid routes he and his son had established there."

I can safely say there are thousands of climbers who are dying to hear about you and Phil. Where you were nailing, and all the rest.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
May 21, 2018 - 01:05pm PT
Thank you, Vintage climbers, for telling tales that make me feel a little less older at 65.
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 21, 2018 - 01:51pm PT
Dingus, about thirty years ago I was bouldering on Fort Carson land when a couple of soldiers drove up in a jeep. They played Good Cop/Bad Cop and ended by escorting me off the reservation. I lost a chalk bag in the incident, but never went back!
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
May 21, 2018 - 03:32pm PT
Great thread!

Mr Langford: Ditto what Largo said re: the early climbs at Joshua Tree.

Tom- your post brings up memories for me- I spent 4 years at that high school in Cambria (late 80s, early 90s), and often looked up at that rock (though for some reason never went to explore it). Though I did run near there until nearly puking numerous times over the years for football practice.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 21, 2018 - 09:57pm PT
Thanks Jim Langford! Do tell us more . . .
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 22, 2018 - 07:47am PT
Jim, you wrote:
That winter I applied for a summer job with the Forest Service in Idaho, lying about my age.
My father was born just a year after you, and lied about his age to get into the infantry, serving in the Korean War as a BAR man.
In his autobiography Colonel David Hackworth praised the BAR as 'the best weapon of the Korean War'[59]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1918_Browning_Automatic_Rifle

In 1974, just punks, my childhood friend suggested we rock climb. At the foot of the San Gabriel mountains, on a dry granite waterfall in Bailey Canyon, with Royal Robbins Basic Rockcraft and a "found" 40 meter goldline, we started figuring it out. The next year, we were on that monzonite in Joshua Tree National Monument. Now I'm still a punk, with hopeful dreams of climbing, just like way back when.

 Jim Langford: would love to hear your stories about climbing in Joshua Tree!
Atkinsopht

Mountain climber
Boston, MA
Jun 4, 2018 - 02:02pm PT

But first: Homage to the earlier birds.

My life was changed forever in 1956: https://atkinsopht.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/the-gunks-of-yore-1956-1963-the-appies/

And survived the Protection Revolution in the early seventies: https://atkinsopht.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/the-gunks-of-yore-1966-74-the-clean-climbing-revolution/

In 1957 an early adventure in the Tetons: https://atkinsopht.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/the-east-ridge-of-the-grand-teton-1957/
My then climbing partner, Phil Gribbon, was awarded the Polar Medal in 2014 by the Queen.

At 93; still a climber at heart.
The older you get, the better you were!

Berg Heil!
Bill Atkinson
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 4, 2018 - 02:27pm PT
At Rock Springs I changed to a bus for Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. My seatmate told me his name was Bill Buckingham

Bill, that same summer (1957) I took that same bus, piloted by a guy wearing a cowboy hat. There was a drunk cowpoke on board and I recall the bus stopping and the fellow booted off. The last time I visited the park that bus was permanently parked at Jackson Lake Lodge.

I started climbing in 1953, and in 1955 joined members of the Princeton Mountaineering Club for a climb of Teewinot. A very long day.

edit: Oh oh, it was 1956, not 1957, when I took that bus ride, going from Oregon to Rock Springs on a Greyhound first.
Atkinsopht

Mountain climber
Boston, MA
Jun 4, 2018 - 04:40pm PT
Jogill:
Thanks for reply.
All so long ago, but what memories.
Bill Atkinson
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 4, 2018 - 06:25pm PT
Good to read these accounts and to hear good voices, my dear friends John and Rich. Jody continues to send me his wonderful photos. I am not too active on Supertopo, but I check in now and then... My book that is nearly done is a vintage report on the golden age, so I won't add anything here. Those pages will be more than enough from me.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 4, 2018 - 06:59pm PT
F10

Trad climber
Bishop
Jun 4, 2018 - 09:09pm PT
Wow, thanks for sharing. This is the stuff that keeps me on here. Some very early JT stories would be great to hear about.
scaredycat

Trad climber
Berkeley,CA
Jun 4, 2018 - 09:41pm PT
Thanks for posting. No need to respond.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 4, 2018 - 10:40pm PT
Thank you for the wonderful post, and starting an excellent thread.

John
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Jun 5, 2018 - 07:52am PT
What a great thread! I am a runny-nosed little kid by comparison, having started in the mid-'60's. That being said, I remember my first rope, a goldline that would get twisted up like some evil snake. My first pro was a Stubai piton hammer, some soft steel pitons and steel carabiners. I remember rappelling using the "dulfersitz" method with the rope going between the legs and over the shoulder - sort of the butt-floss version of rappelling. Still climbing, but not as hard nor as often as back then.
Rustie

climber
Coeur d\\\\\\\'Alene
Jun 5, 2018 - 02:58pm PT
Jogill's club of climbers who can remember having hemp strands stuck in their shoulders from classic raps is very small and select.........partly because such members are in no hurry to keep up their membership creds.........
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Jun 5, 2018 - 03:20pm PT
Aces for sure Jim--I want to hear more. Lying about your age and then busting West on your thumb-that's about as good as it ever gets
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 5, 2018 - 03:27pm PT
My very first rapel was attempted from a pencil sketch of a rapel just like Jody's Dad with the rope over the shoulder. Mine ended in a 20ft grounder when the old rotten hemp rope borrowed from the hay barn broke....
radair

Social climber
North Conway, NH
Jun 5, 2018 - 06:26pm PT
Gentlemen, thank you all for posting. I would love to hear more stories from you. Mr. Atkinson, please tell us some tales!
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Jun 5, 2018 - 08:12pm PT
Dad utilizing the dulfersitz on Symmetry Spire BITD.

I did the dulfersitz once for practice. Once was enough, but it did work.
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Bangkok
Jun 5, 2018 - 08:27pm PT
Early in my start I did an overhanging rappel using the dulfersitz in the Pinns. This was in 70 or 71. I also had this jive length of leather, like a hose cut lengthwise in half to protect from neck rope burn. It did not work and when I showed up at school the next Monday, I said I had my first hickey. Needless to say, not a single person believed that lie.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jun 6, 2018 - 12:49am PT
Jim,

I want to know how you figured out the line of ascent for H&L Feather Canyon at Pinnacles National Monument. The 10-pitch route is very inobvious from below. Also, was there a tree or something at the start of the 4th pitch?

What a great Pinnacles adventure! What's the story?
Atkinsopht

Mountain climber
Boston, MA
Jun 6, 2018 - 08:00am PT
In answer to radair:
More of my not so ancient mountaineering at: Atkinsopht.WordPress.com
Menu tab: Mountaineering
You can explore around the site for other stuff: Astronomy, Design, Memoirs, etc.
Thanks so much for encouragement.
Bill Atkinson
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jun 6, 2018 - 09:33am PT
A goldline dulfersitz story from a retreat off the Higher Spire in 1964:

There once was a climber named Boowie
Who kissed Russ's scab which was gooey
So great was the pleasure,
He dove for the treasure
And found the appendage quite chewie.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 6, 2018 - 10:29am PT
My father was born just a year after you, and lied about his age to get into the infantry, serving in the Korean War as a BAR man.

In a squad in combat the BAR man had the most firepower. Therefore he was the enemy's prime target.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Jun 6, 2018 - 11:44am PT
BooDawg - made me gag.




Recently ran into old Bill Briggs of Teton fame. Still perky as ever. Hope to corner him again and pump for good stories to contribute.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jun 6, 2018 - 02:28pm PT
My first three climbs in Yosemite Valley were of Higher Cathedral Spire. Only three ascents over the three year period - 1962, 1963, 1964. Oh, those Dulfersitz rappels!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jun 6, 2018 - 02:50pm PT
Ward
Do you want to get rid of that bottle of wine?
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jun 6, 2018 - 03:48pm PT
I second the motion by Bruce for H&L Feather Canyon route!
cornel

climber
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Jun 6, 2018 - 08:37pm PT
Wow! there are some Old Timers here! I am a spring chicken I guess at 68. Well 1974 was the year it all started for me. I signed up for a 2 day Rock climbing class at Holubar Mountaineering in SA, CA. $20 for 2 days, that’s right ($10 a day)! So my 1 st day Big Rock, Lake Perris, CA, 2nd day Idywild, Tacquitz rock , White Maidens Walkway. I was completely hooked from day one. Though the instructors were shall we say substantially less qualified than AMGA. Example, my first day out at Big Rock our instructor lines the 6 students up and then leads Africa Flake and brings us up one at a time. The 1st in line gets to the belay and is then instructed on how to belay. The instructor then left the belay and scrambled down to the base. Now being 6th when I get to the belay I find the belayer was only holding the rope in his hands.. not around his waste. I told him you never had me on belay man. He staunchly maintained the rope did not need to go behind his back..So I realized if I am going to pursue climbing I need to find some truly qualified instruction. This is way fun but this is dangerous.. Fortunately I found some very experienced climbers to shepherd me through the first couple of years.. EBs had just come out. Kletter shoes were soon to be a thing of the past. Did buy a gold line but only used that unwilde cable 2 or 3 times. Ugly, way ugly, so got a New kern mantle and I never looked back. I read every publication I could find on climbing. Robbins Beginners rock craft of course as well as many different mountaineering volumes. Guide books galore too. Like so many I became obsessed with El Cap, so I learned the art of thin nailing. Really loved it. Copperheads, aluminum heads, hooks every type and size. How to be creative with stacks. A 5 was the name of the game baby and I was all in. Walls in any season too. I loved winter big walls. No crowds but it’s a little tricky to pick the driest line on a formation. Boy have I been schooled a time or two. Topped out more often than not.. but just barely..
Still going for it. Went climbing today.. All the way to the big dirt nap I pray..
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 7, 2018 - 11:53am PT
Ward
Do you want to get rid of that bottle of wine?

I wish that bottle were mine to get rid of.
I merely pinched the photo from the interwebnet in order to evoke such sentiments as a few listed below:



riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 8, 2018 - 10:54am PT
I didn't realize I was launching a discussion topic when coaxed into writing that brief introduction to my rather ordinary climbing career. I may be among the last of a vintage crop of rock climbers dating back into the forties, fifties and sixties, but in no way could I be considered a significant representative of them. Have sure enjoyed the many posts, however, which deserve some follow-up comments. Those were the good ole days. I'm reminded of that every time I try to get out of my soft, leather recliner after an afternoon nap.

John Gill! Good to hear from you again. Been a while since our last annual rendezvous in Bishop. Hope you are not aging as fast as I am right now. In a constant state of fatigue from all the A-fib drugs the cardio has me on. You remember Elephant Rocks, the giant granite boulders near Ironton, Missouri. You paid homage to the place back in the 60's if I remember correctly. Poor "L" apparently missed "living the dream" while growing up
less than a 100 miles from there in Rolla. My gosh, the area around Ironton was one of my favorite hangouts as a teenager. We would play follow-the-leader on those big, round, smooth boulders, suffering some bruising falls. L, there were a lot of adventurous climbing opportunities in that area ready for the taking: limestone caves, granite quarries and Tom Sauk Mtn., the highest hill in Missouri!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 8, 2018 - 10:58am PT
Wish I knew the Sierra Clubbers who I spent a weekend with at Devil’s Lake in 1968.
After the shame I’ve brought to this ‘sport’ they’re lucky they don’t remember too!
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 8, 2018 - 03:05pm PT
Jim, yes, I think I'm ageing at the same rate (if not faster)! Had an ablation a few year back that cleared up the bad tachycardia, then a touch of AFib, so I can sympathize. These days its a really bad back that makes walking unpleasant. Oh well, what can you say? All these youngsters on this forum are out there doing handsprings.

I visited Elephant Rocks maybe twice around 1964. Really unusual and lots of fun. Also Cave in Rock, Dixon Springs, and other areas in S. Illinois. Nice limestone and sandstone. Joe Healy did quite a bit of climbing in S. Illinois. Maybe he'll chime in.

Elephant Rocks ca1964
jbaker

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
Jun 8, 2018 - 03:45pm PT
DMT - That area in Hunter Liggett is Wagon Caves. Now you just have to show a drivers license to get in with permission from Jolon Road. Coming over from Big Sur, I don't think there has ever been a check point. Nice spot if you're passing by.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Jun 8, 2018 - 04:21pm PT
Hi Jim-

Appreciate your modesty and just want to say thanks for checking back in. I'm sure you have a lot of stories to share when you find the time.
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 8, 2018 - 04:56pm PT
We would play follow-the-leader on those big, round, smooth boulders, suffering some bruising falls.

Lol! Jim, as a little girl growing up with very active but non-climbing parents, I did fall off the giant dinosaur eggs at Elephant Rocks a couple of times...but what we did there was a far cry from the bouldering I now do in CA.

I also explored limestone caves with my mom and hiked the Big Piney's crumbling limestone cliffs with my dad; but again, there was nothing in the environment of my youth that remotely resembled the technical rockclimbing I discovered when I moved to California.

Now you've got me feeling sorry for my past-self and the missed climbing opportunities hidden among the Missouri foothills...if only I'd known! :-)

riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 9, 2018 - 10:28am PT
The Elephant Rocks! Great fun! Didn't have a rope, chalk, pad or climbing shoes back then -- just ankle high, Chuck Taylor basketball sneakers made by Converse. They were known as "Non-Skids." We did resort to shoulder stands, but getting off the rocks was always more of a challenge than getting up. Sometimes we could run and jump to smaller boulders, then to the ground. Most of the time we just sat down and started sliding, generating all the friction we could before free-falling to the ground, sometimes 10-12 feet!

I can identify with our lady friend from Rolla. We knew little about proper technique there in Missouri. We just did it. My first contact with a "real climber" was when I moved to Glendale, CA in summer 1951. On top of Eagle Rock near Colorado Blvd I met Jerry Hall, a close climber-friend of Jerry Gallwas (who in June 1957 did the NE Face of Half Dome with Robbins and Sherrick). Hall became my climbing tutor and close friend. In 1957 I was starting my third climbing season at Grand Teton.

John Dietschy ("Irene's Arete") and Tom Hornbein (Everest fame) grew up in St. Louis area at same time I did (1932-1950). I didn't know them then, but during our teens we explored the same bluffs along the Mississippi, the same rock quarries and had the same dreams about "real mountains." Tom's climbing bible was Ullman's "High Conquest." I was hooked on the same author's "White Tower." The big event in both their lives was when their parents sent them to summer camps in Colorado in their early teens. There they were introduced to real mountains, which changed their lives forever.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 9, 2018 - 01:04pm PT
https://utswmed.org/doctors/john-dietschy/

I talked with John after he came down from Irene's Arete. Then went up a short time later and repeated it. It's become a real classic.
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 9, 2018 - 01:49pm PT
I still chuckle when thinking about John having to do a shoulder stand on Irene on an otherwise free ascent.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 9, 2018 - 02:57pm PT
^^^ I have forgotten that. Do you recall any details?

;>)
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2018 - 06:18am PT
I believe they needed good protection for the next lead and the crack was beyond his reach. Of course, that led to the question why didn't he help her place it?
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2018 - 08:50am PT
Mr. Atkinson, I especially enjoyed reading your "Early Adventure in the Tetons" article. Too bad you and "Tink" Thompson had to abort the East Ridge climb back in 1957. My first climb on the Grand (Exum Ridge) was with Tink Thompson on July 31, 1955. We were both seasonal park service employees at the time. I also remember Art Cran whom you mentioned in another article. Did you pilot the B-29? I was the radioman on a PB4Y (Navy version of B-24) for a couple months in 1952.
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 10, 2018 - 06:37pm PT
L, did you ever get into the Fossil Mountain/Wind cave system on the west edge of the Tetons, up from Driggs?

Hi Jody--No, I never got into that cave system. But now that you've brought it up, I just might have to go take a peek.

I love caves and caving...and have a special affinity for those darling little bats, too. Seriously. As long as they stay out of my hair. :-)
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Bangkok
Jun 10, 2018 - 07:44pm PT
Excellent thread and Jody, nice pictures, those you took and the others as well. Thanks
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jun 10, 2018 - 08:31pm PT
I'm reminded of that every time I try to get out of my soft, leather recliner after an afternoon nap.


Aaaah ha ha ha.


Merriam Webster vintage:

3 b Length of existence, age


Dulfersitz comfort depends a lot on your clothing. T shirt not wise.
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 10, 2018 - 08:45pm PT
Wowza! Those are some extraordinary photos, particularly the ice formations in the first ones.

I've slogged through waist deep water in Missouri's limestone caves, and hiked into an ice cave beneath Worthington Glacier in AK, but I've never climbed in an actual cave filled with ice formations. Gotta be hella fun!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So Jim, with all your love of climbing, have you ever done any slot canyons...like the ones in Zion?

Seems like it would be right up your alley.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Jun 11, 2018 - 08:25am PT
What a great thread! I am STILL a snot-nosed little kid compared to the honored grandfathers of the tribe posting here. I remember using a loop of white tubular nylon webbing twisted into a figure 8, stepped into and looped around my back to be clipped in the front to one steel biner as a rappel seat. Certainly more comfortable than the dulfersitz. Also looped the rope up between two carabiners with a third biner clipped under the rope as a brake bar - that was our rappel device. The Mountain Chalet in Colorado Sprigs sold purpose built aluminum breaker bars but we always just used another biner instead.

I fondly remember the klettershoes we used, called them "grey suede shoes", as opposed to blue suede shoes.

Although we had some pretty good protection in the form of sawed off Army angle pitons hammered into drilled holes in that soft sandstone of the Garden of the Gods (Permian Fountain Formation, dontchya know), we still climbed with the ethic "the leader does not fall".

Really a great way to grow up, although opinion varies on whether I actually ever grew up.
Happy Cowboy

Social climber
Boz MT
Jun 11, 2018 - 08:27am PT
Those are very nice photos of the Ice Cave.

I visited the Fossil Mtn Caves several times over the years. Knew them well.
Pics 1+3 appear to be the big mid chamber. The’re looking down into the lower chamber. A drop of near 100’. Most cavers of the day did not make this rap as there was not much ice in the lower area and a challenging jug back up!

Pic #2 is of the “Crystal Room”, the caves prime attraction. Pretty sure pic#7, the last, is emerging from said room’s entry. The crystal room disappeared in the 80’s when a troop of local boys scouts were within for quite a period using gas Coleman lanterns for light, and melted it out...I love Jim’s photo. Brings back great memories. We’d head to the caves when the August heat arrived, hiking up in 90’ degrees, then suit up for the cold and ice! Thanks
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 11, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
Ahhhhhhhh...there's something about Kodachrome...still love looking at.

Great photos from back in the day, Jim. And thanks for scanning and posting them, Jody.

That last photo of the women in scarves and knitted mittens...you know, I just had to laugh.

We've come a long way, baby!
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2018 - 08:54pm PT
"I want to know how you figured out the line of ascent for H&L Feather Canyon at Pinnacles National Monument. The 10-pitch route is very inobvious from below. Also, was there a tree or something at the start of the 4th pitch?"


The climb wasn't planned. It just happened in stages. That's what made it an adventure. We got started on it never knowing where we would end up. I was doing some exploratory scrambling around H&L one day and looking down upon the jumbled mass of fractured rock on its eastern side, I could see daylight at the bottom of one the vertical fissures in the rock. Curious, I headed down Condor Gulch to the base of the whole outcropping and began examining each gap in the giant vertical slabs of rock for a possible opening. I climbed up 20-25 feet into one big notch, squeezed around a corner, and, presto, found myself gazing into an open passageway with a slit of sky high above. The crevice was narrow at the bottom (1-3 ft), but widened higher up. The floor of the crack rose gradually for some distance as I walked up it, but then dropped down into an open air grotto. At its apex I started to chimney upward on smooth walls until it got too wide to be safe.

A week or two later I went back up there with Doug Cardinal and Mike Finley, equiped with a rope, slings, carabiners and a bolt kit. That was the start of a seige spread out over several months in which we just followed the path of least resistance, ending up at the foot of H&L. The chief obstacle of the whole climb was the tight overhanging water course just above the fissure that we dubbed Feather Canyon. There was a stout, shrub-like tree there that got in the way. In fact, we used it for a rappel anchor. Maybe that's what you referred to. But at the start of the 4th pitch? To me that was only the 2nd roped pitch. I placed a bolt several feet below the tree for protection on the first ascent. Google Earth provides some excellent views of the H&L complex, but even using them I couldn't pencil in the route we took.

Doug and Mike left footprints in Feather Canyon that were not from ordinary people. Doug went on a few months later to Navy flight school and for two years tracked Russian nuclear subs from the Arctic Ice Cap to the Philippines. Then he became a medical doctor. Mike went on to become Superintendent at Everglades, Yosemite and Yellowstone, before quiting the park Servce to manage Ted Turner's and Jane Fonda's huge save-the-earth trust fund.
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 12, 2018 - 08:18am PT
The 2 girls "L" referred to were school teachers from New York. Jenny Lake Ranger Station was a good place to meet pretty girls in the summer time. They were always interested in doing adventurous things. Another ranger and I took them to the ice caves one day. As we were leaving, 3-4 cowboy types from Driggs were climbing the hill to the cave. We got only as far as Wind Cave when one of them came running down yelling for help! One guy had fallen into the hole in the big frozen waterfall room. While this guy ran on down the trail to get rescue help, we all returned to the cave with my rope to help lower a guy down into the pit (75-80 ft). It was several hours before a sheriff's rescue team showed up while we hung around. The guy was OK except for two busted legs.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Jun 12, 2018 - 11:31am PT
I've slogged through waist deep water in Missouri's limestone caves...

Such as Berome Moore by any chance? Tex Yocum took several us back to the siphon many years ago. It was hellacool.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jun 12, 2018 - 12:00pm PT
Jim,

thanks for posting the history of H&L. It is one of the true adventure climbs at Pinnacles National Mounument(it will always be a Monument to me!).
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jun 12, 2018 - 04:58pm PT
whoa! Jumped the oak tree to descend it? That is listed as a route in the original Hammack guide!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jun 12, 2018 - 05:09pm PT
yeah, I think that's right. Looking at the tree nowadays, I gotta wonder if there weren't a different branch somewhere!
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 12, 2018 - 05:53pm PT
Such as Berome Moore by any chance?


Gary, Berome Moore was hella cool. I've never seen so many stalactites and stalagmites.

But the waterworld cave I was talking about was Allie Spring Cave. Brrrrrrr! Still remember how cold I was after that adventure.
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 13, 2018 - 06:26am PT
A little correction is in order here. First, having never been on the Monolith before, I was curious about the first pitch. Standing there looking at it, I decided to give it a try. Surprisingly I breezed right through it, but upon trying to down climb it, I spooked out. At that time a limb from the tree did overhang the rock. I just hooked an arm and leg over it and scooted out to the trunk. That's where it got scary. But once committed, I wrapped my arms and legs around the trunk and slid and scrapped down. The alternative was to have sent Jody down to get a rope.

Most of the Feather Canyon climb is third and fourth class stuff, but I did use an aid sling a couple times above the big crack to be super safe so Jody wouldn't have to hold a possible fall. There's no long runouts above the hard moves anywhere on that climb.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 13, 2018 - 08:07am PT
This thread is a treasure trove!
Between Jim Langford and Bill Atkinson we've got some real granddaddys of American climbing here.

(Not to mention John Gill, who's been spoiling us with his presence for some time now)

 How many young Americans are cognizant of the Korean War, in which Jim served?
(originally described by Truman as a police action and then, actual war having never been declared, simply as an armed conflict)

 How many veterans of World War II such as Bill Atkinson, are still with us?

The latter I looked up, and it appears to be about 3% of those involved:
Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their late 80s and 90s. They are dying quickly—according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2017.
https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/wwii-veteran-statistics

..................................................................

I urge everyone here to give the content of Bill Atkinson's website a good read through.
https://atkinsopht.wordpress.com/front-page/mountaineering/

Reading the second narrative on the Mountaineering tab of his website, I became aware of American climber, fitness advocate and innovator, Bonnie Prudden.
Now here's a woman most from our later generations of climbers have probably never heard of. From Wikipedia:

In 1936 she married Richard Hirschland, a mountaineer and skier.[10] Their honeymoon in Switzerland was marked by a climb on the Matterhorn following one day of training and the purchase of a new pair of boots.[11]

She first climbed in the Gunks in 1936 with her husband along with Fritz Wiessner and Hans Kraus.
...
In 1952, Prudden and Kraus attempted a new climbing route on the cliff known as The Trapps. After attempting the crux overhang, Kraus backed off, handing the lead to Prudden. She was able to find a piton placement that had eluded Hans at the crux, and went on to claim the first ascent of “Bonnie’s Roof”. Since then, she has stated that she and Kraus always climbed as equal partners, always swapping leads.[15]

Prudden bought an empty elementary school in White Plains, NY in 1954 and after renovating it opened The Institute for Physical Fitness.[20] It housed three gyms, two dance studios, a Finnish sauna, a medical unit, two massage rooms, lockers, showers and an office. Taking classes barefoot was a requirement. Equipment, painted in bright colors, was designed after curbs, boulders, fences, railroad tracks, and walls of a less mechanized day. Chinning bars were built in every doorway. Every child used the 42 stairs between basement and top floor for conditioning, discipline and special muscle building. Outside was an obstacle course, that included America’s first climbing wall, cargo nets, hurdles, parallel bars, ladders, ramps, balance maze, tightrope, slalom poles and a rappel roof.

Read more on Bonnie's Wikipedia page, chock-full of interesting facts about her impact on American fitness culture:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnie_Prudden
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Bangkok
Jun 13, 2018 - 01:48pm PT
This thread is a classic on this site and getting better.
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 13, 2018 - 02:15pm PT
thanks for posting the history of H&L. It is one of the true adventure climbs at Pinnacles National Mounument(it will always be a Monument to me!).

Bruce, maybe you can pick out the route more precisely on these photos.

johntp

Trad climber
socal
Jun 13, 2018 - 02:22pm PT
Jenny Lake Ranger Station was a good place to meet pretty girls in the summer time. They were always interested in doing adventurous things.

Jim, given the photos Jody has posted on this forum I have no doubt you attracted pretty girls.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Jun 13, 2018 - 02:23pm PT
Gary, Berome Moore was hella cool.

We were in a crawlway so tight, I got a quick flash of claustrophobia. Not cool so far down and so far from an entrance.

I was fortunate enough to get into Mystery Cave in Missouri as well. No show cave I have been in was as magnificent as that. I doubt they let anybody down there nowadays.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Jun 13, 2018 - 02:27pm PT
How many young Americans are cognizant of the Korean War, in which Jim served?
(originally described by Truman as a police action and then, actual war having never been declared, simply as an armed conflict)

The Korean War was the subject of M*A*S*H*. One of my favorite TV programs ever.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 13, 2018 - 02:39pm PT
Just watched Robert Altman's original 1970 film version of M*A*S*H !
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Jun 13, 2018 - 02:44pm PT
Just watched Robert Altman's original 1970 film version of M*A*S*H !

That was a great film! My dad served in the Korean War but fortunately was never deployed overseas; he served his duty at Fort Smith, AR
Tom Patterson

Trad climber
Seattle
Jun 13, 2018 - 04:53pm PT
This thread has been absolutely fascinating. Thank you, Mr. Langford, for sharing your recollections, and Jody, for chiming in additional commentary with amazing photos!

Regarding the Korean War, my father in law got a Purple Heart, after they marched too far north and were chased back. He has a couple of bullets still in him (too dicey to remove), and is missing a good portion of his right leg. He'll be 89 in July. I've spent many hours asking him questions about his experiences, which were many. My wife has the telegram that was sent to his mother, informing her that he was "slightly injured" in combat. It was most definitely not "slight."
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jun 13, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
Jim,

I think you nailed the route line of H&L Feather Canyon in the second photo.

When Clint and I went up to replace the old bolts we got to the top of pitch 5(the pitch above the water groove) when it started to get dark. It took a while to replace the bolts not to mention hauling all that gear up the climb.

Well, Clint and I have never done the climb before so we were a bit concerned trying to follow the circuitous route especially since the next few pitches didn't have any bolts to let us know if we were on route and the last pitches only had a couple of bolts. So, we bumbled upwards in the dark, replacing a few bolts along the way and finally got to the top of H&L about 3 hours after dark(that time of the year it was about 10pm). That was really fun, but a long, long day!
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jun 13, 2018 - 07:01pm PT
Am well aware of Bonnie Prudden, as many East Coast climbers of a certain vintage are.

Her pressure point relief-of-pain still works.

She is eponymous for Bonnie's Roof and Boston at the Gunks.



1952

on lead

no swami





https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnie_Prudden
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 14, 2018 - 08:22am PT
Yes, this latest offering by you Jody, of your dad Jim, is emblematic of the perennial climber.
Presumably he's carrying twin axes to lighten the leader's load?
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Jun 14, 2018 - 10:33am PT
Man, this thread is the real deal, powerful stories. The talk of turning points and becoming smitten with the mountains triggered a visceral memory; I may be sitting in a cafe right now in Olympia WA but I swear I felt a warm waft of Ponderosa scented wind and tasted the tang of stream water drunk from a stainless steel sierra cup, leftover senses from a boy scout backpacking trip in the Sierra probably around 1970, a fork in the trail that has led to me to so many friends and places over the years. Thanks everyone.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 14, 2018 - 12:03pm PT
Lucky you are Jody, to have had a dad like your's!

So many parents today sequester their kids in air conditioned game rooms so that they can go about their day uninterrupted.
Tom Patterson

Trad climber
Seattle
Jun 14, 2018 - 12:28pm PT
What Off White and donini said! ^^^^
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 14, 2018 - 04:01pm PT
Why is it that dads of old look super cool in their mountaineering gear and we later dads look like dorks?

Zardoz--it's genetics.

When a guy looks that good in knickers, you know he's in a league of his own. :-)
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 14, 2018 - 04:07pm PT
Yes, some people looked great in knickers. Nobody, and I mean nobody, looked anything but pathetic in neon lycra...and that is equally true for women. What about kilts?
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 14, 2018 - 04:18pm PT
Nobody looked anything but pathetic in neon lycra...


Freddie Mercury?


;>)
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 14, 2018 - 04:19pm PT
What about kilts?

Aaaahhhhh...kilts. Now there's some manly attire!

Dangerous to climb in though, as I believe preoccupation with the sights to be seen by the belayer would doubtlessly lead to ground falls and such.
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 14, 2018 - 04:31pm PT
Ha! My army surplus mountain pants were wiped out. I needed something in a hurry. Found those Swiss corduroy knickers on sale at the ski shop in Jackson. Those boogers turned out to be tough and comfortable. Better than Kilts!
riverxing

Mountain climber
Templeton, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 14, 2018 - 04:51pm PT
No one was wearing neon lycra back in the fifties, were they, John? Only ballet dancers. Many years ago climbing the Half Dome cables I got caught behind several ladies in dresses and skirts. Had to risk my life going outside the cables to get ahead of them!

For "L's" sake, we've come a long way, baby.
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
Jun 15, 2018 - 04:04pm PT
For "L's" sake, we've come a long way baby.

We certainly have Jim...at least here in the US.

Across the pond in the UK, however, things are lagging....

Messages 1 - 94 of total 94 in this topic
Return to Forum List
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta