Bachar-Yerrian????

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Greg Barnes

climber
Jul 2, 2009 - 09:22pm PT
Schiller was roped, he's clipping a bolt in the picture.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 3, 2009 - 12:07am PT
To be serious here, Tom, your retelling of this is wonderful and shows how crazy, enthused and spiritualized some of us get while others are busy with other things. Thanks tons for the personal tale; it is huge. It is clear that others were watching too. By that point in history there was an amazing amount of surveillance going on both in the Valley and in the Meadows. And the B-y is not far from the highway.

Gentleman as always, scholar as well. Wholly unsupervised might I add. Funniest known man on rock, greatest friend possible to many. How long had this been going on, this soloing thing of yours? We all relish in the retelling of one Tom Higgins up on the B-y fighting his own good fight, fully curious and undaunted, Jumar in hand, a good thing. It is a moment in history. We are all honored to partake in the tale. Not unlike if Royal were at this point to divulge for most of his 60’s Muir solo he was untied because it seemed “ungainly” to be so tethered, foot slings were enough. Kind of frisky actually, you being up there with nothing better than a large roach clip between you and eternity, enormous runouts unavoidable.

Many of us have of course soloed. As in no rope, no equipment, just shoes and a self perhaps as well. This realm is beyond the purview here and really has no pretenses of being anything other than a private experience in extremis. As you suggest, we would need yet another thread on unroping things.

But as for self-belaying on the Salathe, for the record and as I describe in the AAC article of 1972, I had a hefty 8mm prussik that was tripled and worn in earlier a bit specially for the ascent and below it was a jumar. The system was thus double and if Mr Jumar might try to sever the rope it was below the triple large prussik so perhaps that knot might have done its job still. I was confident in the setup.

I tested this affair beforehand and actually had done a bunch of shorter routes this way solo. And while on the Salathe ascent I actually fell on the rig while trying to do a first free ascent of the Half Dollar. It worked just fine and I went onwards, albeit in slings at that spot. It was well known that Jumars weren’t capable of much more than 500 lbs. Now of course I would use a Solo-Aid or a Silent Partner, both of which I own.

I think the dithering between having a jumar device or any other scheme that isn’t competent and just climbing unroped altogether is not only interesting but also kooky because reality just states that the device isn’t capable so why have the Ritual No-Theater of yarding out the slack and managing the medieval process when the whole thing is mere rice paper and Caca? I think you answer all of this; it has been a good thread.






Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Jul 3, 2009 - 01:24am PT
this thread is great and the drifting part is truly wonderful to read. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Tom and Peter etc..a cyber campfire can be so much fun!
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Jul 3, 2009 - 01:38am PT
ST campfire tales. Rowdy Yates.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 3, 2009 - 01:43am PT
Peter, did you attempt, or climb, any long routes after the Salathe? Just curious.

I did a bit of aid soloing, usually with jumars as a belay, backed up by a knot. Probably OK for relatively low fall-factor falls. I wonder what system Robbins used on the Muir, and Porter and Dunn when they did solo new routes on El Cap in the early 1970s?
Geno

Trad climber
Reston, VA
Jul 3, 2009 - 06:27am PT
This is the best ST thread I have read. Thanks all.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 3, 2009 - 10:04am PT

I know what you mean, Tom, about the mental tricks of having a 'belay' in name only. I could often climb calmly high above my last protection on hard ground with full confidence, especially on first ascents. But I could not climb comfortably unroped even on moderate 5th class.

On my aborted West Face of El Cap solo, I travelled to the Bay Area and purchased sailing rope to use as a prussic. It was kernmantel construction but very supple and about 1/2 inch thick. This was on the advice of Charlie Porter, who said that it could be kept loose enough to move easily with one hand, but would catch with out risk of overheating if weighted. My back up was to short the rope with a figure eight knot and double biners on my swami. At every two-hands rest on free I would recalculate the short rope length. I sometimes had a second short rope loop to account for the uncertainty of the next two-hands rest, hoping that I could drop the first loop. I seem to remember a special knot that was supposed to reduce the failure due to the double pull against sharp bends, but I don’t recall if it was real or only a question mark.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 3, 2009 - 10:22am PT
Mighty Anders,

I went to do the second ascent (by solo) of Tis-sa-ack three weeks later, as driven as a sheep stampede. Got up to the Zebra, realized I had only one hammer (BITD August 1971) and had to descend. Plus I hated the process so much by this point---actually sick of it--- all that nonsense with the self-belay devices, the endless endless toil, the absurd loneliness. And it was about 95-100 degrees in the Valley so it was similarly hideous up there. That was the last aid solo climbing I ever did. I had finally gotten the memo! I was finally cured!! lol.

About a week later I did the fourth ascent of the West Face of El Cap with CJ Jackson, a great young climber from Connecticut, one bivy. And although there of course were issues between us, of which I write in one of my stories, I was nonetheless thrilled to have a friend with me finally.

I did plenty of unroped free climbing however for another 10 years. Some of it hard, some of it onsight. I still loved moving over stone with no impediments. And today although I still fantasize about some soloing I am mostly thinking about being on rock with friends.
LongAgo

Trad climber
Jul 3, 2009 - 04:21pm PT
All,

Greg, thanks for opening my eyes. which apparently are so poor I can't see the rope in the Schiller pic. But of course, now, I see his clipping posture, or else he's making a mighty strange move. Perhaps no one has free soloed the BY yet, but it's probably coming and plenty of equally hard stuff has been free soloed and so my points there still stand, or wobble here and there, as Peter reminds us. A bit kooky he rightly observes ...

Peter, so glad to hear you too had the dreaded jumar, but of course only as back up to the big sane prussic, and that you rationally "tested" the system, which I never did. Good too you moved on to devices actually designed for the rope solo logistical nightmare -- exactly the way I came to feel about it in time (did this stuff across 2-3 years), with all the necessary manipulations and need to climb things twice. To your other point, why use a system where the "reality" is it won't work, when the system is so onerous anyhow, well, as you can see from my self talk, I was in full denial, was madly in love with Tuolumne rock, partner or not, and of course still contend some of my denial is part of the whole leading game, all of which is not to justify my kind of denial going onto the BY. As I said in the telling, it was beyond stupidity.

Maybe, though, I should add that I did have the modicum of sense Mighty Hiker and Roger Breedlove describe by using a back up knot they discuss. I got pretty good doing the "recalculation" of rope length Roger discusses, though I had a couple of more funny than terrifying incidents miscalculating along the way, one on an old route I thought I knew well since I had done the FA, i.e. the Vision, though nothing ridiculous happened except some scary down climbing to regroup and rearrange the macramé Peter calls it perfectly. Of course, the problem with employing back up knots on the BY, as you can imagine, is I could get two hands free on the first pitch here and there, but had much trouble with it on the second and ... well, you saw the tale.

Sidebar: suggested new thread topics someday:

 the mentality, self talk, "vision-thing" of free soloing (but not sure any free soloists would weigh in)

 memorable retreats and failures, and lessons learned, and I don’t mean logistical lessons but soul lessons (maybe too confessional for some)

 and a big one: motivation for doing the newest and hardest and maybe most dangerous when young and dumb. As Peter suggests, maybe its quest for love and respect in the climbing community, competitive instinct for place and standing in the same community, a march against the giants gone before, a journey toward self formation generally (Scherer and I argued this one at length), or some combined tangle not unlike the self belay system.
Double D

climber
Jul 3, 2009 - 09:30pm PT
I've got sewing-machine legs and I need to chalk up after reading that.
Walleye

climber
A hard right down Big Tujunga Canyon
Jul 5, 2009 - 11:15pm PT
A bump for my friend and one of the few real heroes I've ever had.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Jul 5, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
He did have a sack on him, that's for sure.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jul 6, 2009 - 01:38am PT
John and I had talked a fair amount about the BY. He was psyched to get on the thing soon. I was super, super psyched about shooting images of him on it, but more than anything of seeing him do this and experiencing it with him, especially after what he'd been through physically with the accident. Such sad, sad news. John was such an inspiration.
LongAgo

Trad climber
Jul 8, 2009 - 07:34pm PT
I think my suggested new thread topics about motive in climbing, solo mentality and working the most dangerous edges should rest for quite some time. I have no words for the death of John, only immense sadness and, now, concern for his son especially and hope there will be a fund or other mechanism so we who stood in awe can take some small positive action in line with our admiration for John, though any such action will hardly stand against the dismay and grief.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo
hooblie

climber
Jul 8, 2009 - 07:44pm PT
understood, tom. and that's an indication of the size of the man.

john had a way of stilling the cluckers who had doubts ready at hand about the propriety of such outlandish acts by incontrovertably establishing his bona fides at the helm of his own fate.

the grace and application at the center of a force field of confidence was contagious enough to turn our hearts into believers. he made it seem reasonable. there martha, that's what it's sposed to look like.

it was art, you knew that when you saw it, and we watched the emulation of it spread
midarockjock

climber
USA
Jul 8, 2009 - 07:52pm PT
Thank's, I can see that now.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 9, 2009 - 10:55pm PT
Other Bachar-Yerian threads, in case they weren't already indexed somewhere above:

Bachar-Yerian??? http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=375380

B Y Conditions? http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=434735
Walleye

climber
A hard right down Big Tujunga Canyon
Jul 10, 2009 - 12:57am PT
One of my cherished e-mails from John was in response to some questions I had for him about the two original first ascent photos that I posted on this thread. He actually asked me if I was there the day they did the route and if I took my own photos. I assured him I was still living in Milwaukee and totally oblivious to the shenanigans that were being performed on the beautiful granite of Tuolumne Meadows. John wrote back and said "hey, I can't remember who was around. I was too busy being scared shitless up there"
Walleye

climber
A hard right down Big Tujunga Canyon
Jul 10, 2009 - 09:15pm PT
Bump to keep John up at the top for now.
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
Dec 29, 2009 - 03:26am PT
i was so blonde i missed this thread until clint tuned me into it. it answers some of my questions about chronology, and scared the crap out of me...a second time. man, what was i thinking, going up to send that thing in 83. shipoopoi
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