The fashionable Ray Jardine on Separate Reality


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Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2007 - 11:33am PT
Hey Synd, I think that you totally missed Peter's complaint.

For Peter's and my generation, along with lots of others on ST, hanging on gear meant that you didn't do the route. If you backed off, pulled your rope and re-climbed the section, you could claim that you did the route, but all the up front climbers stated that that is what they had done. Climbing is different now. Peter was talking about then.

Also watching others climb was and still is very common. What was not common was to claim a style that you did not make.

Anyway, I don't think Peter ever hung on gear. He tried stuff that he couldn't do, just like the rest of us did, stuff that was later climbed free. But on the stuff Peter did do his style was really simple: rope up, climb and place gear on lead (if you are lucky), go for it, scare the holy hell out of your partners, create climbs that no sane person would ever repeat, and encourage your second as they flail away.

John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
May 24, 2007 - 12:45pm PT
Well said Roger.

May 24, 2007 - 01:03pm PT
During the previous century I occasionally thought about some of this. But then I realized no two people climb the same. What is more to the point, why should anyone care what others do? Climbing is a very personal thing that frankly does not create anything lasting. (Is it really an obviously good thing to develop a new route and thereby destroy a piece of wilderness?) We do it because for some reason it pleases us. That is an end to it. I’ll say it yet again. Whymper has been dead for a long time. It is a rather strange pretense to think otherwise.

IMHO Ray’s best contribution came when he started walking. I have read some of his PC Trail books and don’t sense whatever it is that people object to in that work. What do they offer? New ideas. Lots of them.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 24, 2007 - 04:33pm PT
Stannard, you always climbed “personally”, some may call that “a rather strange pretense” .

John, you were a PhD physicist and in your post is the clear taint of lazy condescension. Many of the rest of us instead climbed as very hardworking outdoors professionals. We got our jobs based on our record; we wrote articles, books, and worked hard in talks and forums as notable figures in the art or sport. It was not a hobby as it clearly was for you. Many of us got very very far with it.

Some of this climbing oeuvre shall last forever, by the way; we will have Terray’s writings forever, John, clearly. We will always understand now that people have been on the summit of the Matterhorn. We will see our world differently than superstitious cavemen had when we look up at huge peaks, and know that instead of demons living there, that there are perhaps right at this moment teams climbing them have wonderful experiences. We climbed with this in mind, in order to not just scale the ladder of life, not to simply just feed ourselves but to do what every artist dreams of, making a difference before we vanish. Many of us did this to such an extreme that literally everything else in life was bracketed. The “games climbers play” view (Lito and others) is just an opportunity for comedy; this view does not deliver on the subject at all but of course is fun reading, in a similar fashion to your post.

All you butter-knife guys, those of you who want to simplify things down to a personal and relativistic state where nothing matters are the ones who are merely dreaming and do not consider the insane amount of devotion and professionalism that hundreds of men and women have given to us, some of them even their lives by the way. Nor do you acknowledge the world even in this view. It looks like you are afraid of conflict, frankly. In fact, though, such a point of view is disrespectful.

What happened, especially back then, 35 years ago, really DID matter and as it has turned out, DOES matter now, as Rog pointed out. We knew it would, you did not. The first free ascent of the Nose was not important to any journal of physics, but when it happened on Lynn Hill’s watch, climbing and just being in Nature, did change for all time. You will not minimize this. If climbing doesn’t matter, than nothing else matters as well, given your thinking. If climbing is just “fun”, you sure did not seem to be having much “fun” when you were in the Valley back then very briefly.

So, getting to the point, if climbers lied about what they did, or similarly if they chopped holds right into million-year-old granite faces the likes of which are incomparable in the world, it mattered not only because it was cheating in a major professional game where certain sorts of survival were at stake, but also was morally repugnant and unbelievably solipsistic, underlined when the natural world had to once again pay for it as well and permanently so. I think it is rather peculiar to think otherwise .

In sum, there are and have always been occurrences in mountaineering and rock climbing that have been really unfortunate and fueled by very real pressures of career or other kooky human needs. By buttering over these occurrences you turn your back on reason and reality and you contribute once again, nothing to the art. And you cavalierly belittle the tremendous accomplishments and sacrifices in our sport. What we do matters quite a lot and, as Rebuffat said, a climber’s integrity is everything.

Peter Haan

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 24, 2007 - 04:55pm PT
"Perving from the base..."

KP Ariza

May 24, 2007 - 05:04pm PT
I second that one Mellissa. Snyd, whats up? Still crankin'? Hope you are doing well man-


May 24, 2007 - 06:34pm PT
Thanks for your piece. Very well said, as one would expect from a very excellent writer.

I never thought of myself as lazy, but then what is a perception. While working I would get up from the desk on one hour centers to work briefly to exhaustion on door jams etc. That was what I had chosen. I made my choices. You made yours. Neither of us has regrets as far as the decision itself goes.

For me as the years went by it seemed more and more that the climbing we carried in our minds does not have long legs. It will not go the distance. Each generation tries to leave as little as possible for the children to do and to wonder at. We enjoy reading heroic tales from all the way back to ancient Greece. But what do those tales make us want to do? Go out and be heroes, of course. Hard to convince yourself you are that when the routes are all bolted up and spaced six inches apart. We need to leave stories for people. Perhaps more importantly, we also need to leave them room.

I would be somewhere near the last person to say you did nothing lasting, in the way you look at the question. But, for a moment, imagine you are a hundred years down the road and many many waves of the change we see around us right now have washed over climbing, as they assuredly will. The stories about Peter Haan are legends. But what more is there for the people? Do they have vistas of rock bathed in mystery that they can roll over in their minds? Wondering. I am only saying what we think we have left of a lasting nature, while good, will pale in significance to the other consequences of what we have done.

What you take for condescension is actually deep regret for what we are doing.

What you take as conflict, I do avoid. Would you say one serves a purpose by fighting to affect what will be here one hundred years after one has died? That is surely a fight only a fool would undertake. In such matters only one thing is left to us. We may only advocate. We may talk about the costs posed by the decisions ahead. An honorable course, surely. One for which the question of success or failure, is really quite irrelevant.

The decision itself must lie with the people who will live it.

John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
May 24, 2007 - 07:41pm PT
“What is more to the point, why should anyone care what others do?”

I'll take a stab at this. We care what others do because we are social creatures. We impose our “rules” on activities and we make value judgments about others and their accomplishments according to those rules. We find meaning in our personal experience, but for most of us that meaning is determined to a great extent by what we learn about the activity from others. Our experience does not occur in a vacuum.

“Climbing is a very personal thing that frankly does not create anything lasting.”
Define lasting. Forever? Yeah, you're right. Climbing ethics are indeed ephemeral. A lifetime? You're wrong. We still admire, even revere, courageous climbers. In the 1970's, courage was admired as much as skill. But the pursuit of harder routes was slowed to a crawl by the ethics of the day. Over time, expediency won out, and hangdogging and other tactics that were once anathema, became the new paradigm.

Now a few, thankfully a very few, who learn to climb in a gym, or in a park with closely spaced bolts, look at the Bachar-Yerian and wonder why he didn’t stop to put more bolts in—or worse—why someone doesn’t go back up there now and bolt it so “the rest of us” can have a crack at it. It won’t happen in your lifetime. It won’t happen in my lifetime, and judging by the admiration for this route and others like it on a recent thread, if it does happen in the next 50 years, the added bolts will be removed.

I agree that eventually what climbers did here will be forgotten. That does not in any way diminish its value and meaning for the participants and for those who learn of and appreciate the deeds of bold climbers back in the day.


Big Wall climber
Phoenix, AZ
May 24, 2007 - 07:45pm PT
Prime example of why this website is so unique. Thanks for the input from all of you who have climbed in past generations. The opinions and history you record here can't be found anywhere else and I value them as priceless -- regardless of your point of view.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 24, 2007 - 07:55pm PT

I join with you in the deep regret and fear that what we have done outside will affect the human race in ways not only regrettable but even more disturbingly, unforeseeable. I think you are raising a flag that it has not been all wonderful, what we have been able to achieve in climbing and outdoorsmanship. A two-edged sword one would think. I sense you are perhaps reflecting on the outdoors as a kind of super-commodity, that we in spite of best intentions are “using it up” in all kinds of unquantifiable ways, spiritual ways as well as physical resources, leaving, what? a fully discovered and very tired Nature. But perhaps that is only a chimera.

Certainly we now are going to have a globe whose systems are taking on way more energy than in centuries prior, and so will have unpredictable and clearly horrible results. But for climbing, we have to do it, it is in us like the sense of smell.

I don’t know, but we HAVE left stories for our children who will come along. Terray, Patey, Gervasutti, Pratt, Herzog---need I go on?---all have; now hopefully the youngest crop of adventurers will as well. Not getting your point unless the whole point is set with a backdrop established in the paragraph above. That it may all come to naught. But all this, this life, was never given to us with any guarantee that it would be endless and painless.... Surely there are no a priori nor a posteriori discoveries in climbing that are immutable like Pi, or Avogadro’s Number or Fermat’s last theorem, or the hoped-for Unified Theory one day. What there is for us is an awfully broad literature, amazing climbs which shall probably remain nearly forever for us. What we have is a really wonderful, jazzed-up branch of the humanities, frankly . If not, then this end you imply would be really be The End of all things, and a larger worry and discussion, and of course, yes, a real possibility.

No John, everyone knew how damned hard you and Richie and others worked out. It was legendary too. We all saw it and did understand. I was referring to moral rather than physical engagement.

We cannot go down the dinosaur’s way, as Robinson Jeffers inveighs; we have to strive in all things and when events like the Jardine Traverse happen, we have to speak out, we have to join together in the usual human behavior of disapproval and banishment, that’s all. Something many of us here on ST are good at. . And it does help right the Good Ship of climbing, believe me. And if people did not attempt to alter the course of things that “will be here one hundred years after one has died”, then the world would be very very different from what you experience it to be today. It is almost as if you know something about entropy that I don't (grin) . I really hope you are well, and thank you for your gentlemanly yet troubling reply.


May 24, 2007 - 08:43pm PT
Peter there really isn't a hair breadth between our deepest convictions.

You bring up Richard and I have to tell you a story so typical of the collection of people we are. It actually happened in the Valley, believe it or not. We came accidently upon a chinning pipe suspended between two trees. Of course we had, somehow, to do something with it. Richard jumped up to it and his body moving at a controlled and exactly constant velocity pulled the chin up, passed through into a mantle, and completed the full possible range of motion. Jumping down he said as an aside, "You have to smile throughout, or you lose style points." If I had not run into people like this I would have been entirely happy to wander in the Adirondaks. Once you have seen this though, how could anyone leave?

May 24, 2007 - 09:05pm PT
I agree with Peter. It does matter when we go chisel some rock like Jardine blatantly did with no regard.

I was there with Jardine and Dale before they pinned out "Dales pin job" climb.

They were trying it that day and couldn't for the life of them do it. I said, "it won't go unless you pin it out", as a joke, but I knew Jardine wouldn't hesitate to debauch the thing for his own conquest. He even influenced Dale that day to go along with it.

He just couldn't leave it alone. It was "I must have this one too".

I saw what he did on that Jardine traverse above Dolt tower. Chiseled like a demon across the thing. Every hold was blatantly "enhenced" without regard again. There is the first toe hold that was chiseled like hell all around it to so you could toe power off it. Then he has the gall to tell us he didn't chisel. His partner told us he did. How stupid does he think we are?

Take a good look at "Phoenix" and the "Cringe".
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 24, 2007 - 11:11pm PT
Thanks Werner, I have ALWAYS wanted to hear exactly what it looked like up there on the Jardine Traverse, so now we know. Pretty serious and clearly what Ray was all about. Let this be the record. Call a spade a shovel.

This was the man who developed Friends but who also had a project to hack his way across perhaps the most beautiful stretch of supreme granite on the globe. And....his hysterical work will remain for hundreds of thousands of years. No wonder he is so obsessed by traveling light; it is nothing but transference due to his hideous acts on the rock.

ST people, you are looking at a blood feud that has been going on for over 30 years.
John, as you know, I spent a month or more with Richie Goldstone when he came to the Valley back in what, 1971? He was such a cool brilliant friend... I was so grateful. What you describe his doing was a kip, I think. Richie could do planches, inverted levers, iron crosses, olympic crosses,, one-arm pullups by the bushel, and just was so elegant and clear in his work. And he wore white mostly and was always showering...he said: “Cleanliness must ensue at some point”. He had a wife (Evie?) back East). I have to believe he was the strongest man ever to enter the Valley.... We did climb a few routes; the powers he totally owned on bar, rope and mat, did not transfer easily to weird Nature and her vagueries in smooth crack-filled Yosemite, but damn, he was absolutely such a great brilliant guy as well. Had he spent a year or two in the Valley, I am sure he would have owned it like no one has, ever! He used to needle Bev Johnson, ‘cuz they knew each other from back East. Bev thought it was cool too and of course enjoyed the needling good-naturedly. Richie loved hunting his friends , it was loads of fun. I have to think he still does! He left with us a wonderful legacy of his own.

Werner, related to what you just posted, Dale was kind of losing it then and hardly was an authority; hell, he was eating off of abandoned plates in the cafeteria and elsewhere and had become desperately compulsive in all kinds of ways. Without going into details, I knew him and his brother Alan when they were teenagers from Alameda and kept in touch for years into the mid 1970s. They started out as proteges. As time went by and the inevitable problems of larger life crept in like a sick old dog, it just got messy for him. He had been under the wing, as well, of Bridwell, who was also kind of having to re-figure what climbing was going to be and thought radical measures might be required. At times Jim was mistaken. Those times weren’t perfect or pretty, but quite a lot was going on.

best to you all, P.

john hansen

May 24, 2007 - 11:39pm PT
I asked once before on another thread a few months back,, but,, does any one have a picture of the 'traverse' and also didn't
Lynn Hill, Caldwell, Rodden use this it to free the Nose?

May 24, 2007 - 11:58pm PT
You know

I am not the one to rip Ray Jardine the person. He was a friend to me and we got along. He just did weird things on the rock at times and a lot of us just did not agree with those ideas he had.

His thinking was; this big rock face, El Capitan could go free. So what if we chisel a few feet here and there. But he also applied that philosophy to other routes.

John Bachar wrote an article about that debauchery on the Nose in a magazine somewhere with photos a long time back.

That's just how it was/is ......

But yeah John Hansen, to free the Nose you use the Jardine chiseled traverse to archive that status.

john hansen

May 25, 2007 - 12:04am PT
Very ironic Werner... Is there any chance at all of some 'pure' 5.15 variation or something between the traverse and the top of Boot Flake?
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
May 25, 2007 - 12:40am PT seems you are much more forgiving to Dale and Jim for the same actions/acts than Jardine did.

Why is that??


May 25, 2007 - 12:43am PT
Well you know Kevin,

Ray originally took a bad ground fall and got seriously hurt physically and psychologically. He couldn't lead a pitch without pro at his waist at all times after that.

Crack a Go Go was impossible for him to lead. Run out!

He told me he invented friends so that he could lead climbs again with minimal fear.

Anyways ........


May 25, 2007 - 12:47am PT
Bob D

Dale and Jim's actions were definitely not on the same scale as Ray.

Ray took it way out there .......

May 25, 2007 - 01:25am PT
LoL just see .......
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