obscure history

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Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 1, 2007 - 10:51pm PT
I meant to write restroom, obviously. I'll edit it.

I do not speak in any way disrespectfully of Peter. I was the person in the wrong, I'm pretty well convinced.

I'll tell you about two other boulder problems, though, and poke a little fun at my friends Bachar, Kauk, and Long. Do you remember the Foote boulder? It's at the east end of Camp 4, low down the slope to the south, and just southwest of the Kor boulder. The good climbs are on the east face of the Foote boulder. The right side is the classic Foote problem, of course. Bridwell actually pointed out to me a possible route on the left side, about as close to the left edge of the face as the Foote problem is close to the right edge. I was using RDs at that time, pretty stiff edging shoes Gill and Goldstone had used a fair bit. I climbed that route and found it to be pretty delicate face climbing. Actually that is one thin face. I was strong enough then to claw with a couple fingers at times to help me make some of the difficult edging steps. There is a really tiny edge for the right foot, like the width of a nickle or something. I can't recall how many years later, but maybe five or six, or possibly seven, I was strolling around the area and peeked from behind a tree as John and Ron tried the slab. They were having trouble getting started on the initial brutally thin right-foot edging move. They tried and kept staring at the hold and pondering, etc. I finally came over. They were young then and didn't know me too well yet and got a little defensive, telling me the ground had gotten several inches lower from erosion, that the move was really bad now, that it might not even be possible. I started looking at it, to remember what I had done, squinting my eyes down at the holds, and they walked away. I think they were correct about the ground, but I smeared up with my left foot a couple inches off the ground, with the flat part of my foot on the fresh white, newly exposed granite above the pine needles, to make up the difference, and set my foot on the bad edge, and to my surprise stepped right up. I could still do it. Don't worry, I had no illusions about being a better climber than they or anyone, really. But now and then I could call up that bouldering spirit.

One day during that same mid to later 1970s period I met John Long, and he said, "Let's go bouldering, Ament." I wasn't in the mood but came along to watch him. He was amazing, throwing his body upward in wild two-arm lunges and things. I watched him climb Ament's Arete by doing a huge double dyno to the top, from the lower ledge. Incredible dynamic power. I wondered, though, if he could do it the slow, static way. He was too formidable a man for me to dare ask. We strolled down to Columbia Boulder, and he showed me a route on the west overhang. I was very curious that he would show me this route, because here was a route I had done in my heyday in the late 1960s. Bates and others had credited me with that first ascent. Long climbed the route very solidly, as I recall, and I decided to break the news that I had actually done the first ascent of the route. He seemed to puff up with rage, and he said, "There was a big boulder down here that you stood on to start." So, in other words, one had to start from the ground, half a foot lower than that slab of granite that now was moved or gone. I was too frightened to say anything more (I'd only been in karate a few years at that time), but later I got to thinking how I had gone down under in fact and done virtually a one-arm pull from a pretty small hold to get up onto the route, with a direct start. So I had done it, in fact, but no one would know it. I was never given credit for it in any of the write-ups about bouldering. It didn't matter, really, because the new guns were coming on now. My day was done.

Pat
bachar

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jun 1, 2007 - 10:55pm PT
Warbler's right - we always called it the Ament Face...

and I have seen Kauk do it quite statically - very impressive move in EB's !!
WBraun

climber
Jun 1, 2007 - 11:02pm PT
Killer history Pat and Bachar

Just killer .....
Raydog

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Jun 1, 2007 - 11:35pm PT
great stuff
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 12:42am PT
Well that's strange, because you, John, had mentioned to me once that no one had done it, only Ron by running at it. Are you sure you're remembering right? If so, that would be... before the hold broke off... right? In fact I was surprised people were having trouble with it, but I had not heard of anyone doing it. Then the edge broke off... Are we thinking of the same boulder? I mean the face to the right of the Price Eliminate and right of Ament's Arete. By the way, I didn't name anything after myself. Those names came later by others.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 02:28am PT
John, did anyone do my route just behind the Foote boulder to the northwest? It was a small boulder kind of below the southeast corner of Wine boulder, and the route was on the southeast side of the small boulder, an tough overhang above a fire pit... I'd forgotten about that one until now, really hard. The funny part is that I met a girl at Degnan's, and we started going with each other, you know, hanging out. She was smitten and followed me around the boulders. One day I was up on that route, couldn't make the top-out move and said, come here and let me stand on your head. She walked over, and I put my climbing shoe flat on top of her head and stood there to keep from having to jump off. It must have hurt, because suddenly, to my surprise, she said, "Honey!" I'd never been called honey before, and it was too wierd for me. That was the instant I knew I wouldn't stay with her long. I was a bit superficial at that moment in time. I couldn't handle anyone calling me honey. Isn't that silly? But it's true. She quit her job, hitched with me to Salt Lake, where we caught a freight train to Denver. What an adventure for a simple, homespun girl, but as soon as we got to Boulder another girl I knew who worked in Yosemite was passing through and looked me up, with whom I determined I needed to be with immediately. The first girl was crushed and returned to Yosemite and got her job back. It was ugly. I was a bit shameless and stupid at that moment, to say the least. But when I returned again to the Valley, can you imagine who rang my food up at the register? The name of the boulder: Don't Call Me Honey.

Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 02:29am PT
Werner, do you laugh whenever I make a typo? I'm only human.
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Jun 2, 2007 - 10:43am PT
Nice stories Pat. I have seen Ron do the Ament Face static as well. I would think John would agree that Kauk has absolutely amazingly strong feet and exacting footwork. We all talk about strong climbers but generally refer to upper body strength and forget about power from the waist down. Kauk has the strongest feet I have ever seen. He could stand on the smallest nothing of a foothold like it was a good sized edge. The legend of the Kauk calves. Those old time Valley face problems required this skill. A stiff shoe helped. I had RDs as well but Ron didn't require them. I remember going to the problem a lot with Steve Wunsch. He would always try it. I believe he always mentioned it as something you did. He climbed for a while in Chouinards (a very stiff edging shoe on the market for a while in the early seventies)and he hoped that the boots stiffness would help on that little nothing of an edge down low that is so much a part of that problem. Can't remember if he ever did it. Don't think so but I could be wrong.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 05:57pm PT
Wow, thanks for that report. I had no idea Ron actually did it (the facing climbing way). I wish I could have stayed in the Valley for a long period and had those rocks and beauties infuse my entire spirit. One couldn't help but get a lot better by simply living there and climbing all the time. Always home seemed to call me, though, after about two weeks of being there, and then I would feel the call of Yosmite soon after I got back home. So it was back and forth, freight trains, hitchhiking, old Volkswagons that made it on a prayer. I once fell off a freight train in Sacramento and wrecked by elbow, but that helped me fail the Viet Nam draft. I once went out by freights just to see my friend Mort Hempel in Berkeley. He was acting very wierd then, having struggles with the after effects of too much LSD, but I liked him a lot. What a beautiful voice. I had no idea he would phone me one day in the early 1980s, a lost soul. I got him settled in Boulder. He's still there...
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 2, 2007 - 06:14pm PT
These are some great stories. Thank you! More of it should be recorded - maybe some oral history for the Yosemite Climbing Museum?

I need to have a look at the new Valley bouldering guide, and learn some more. Though history is a fluid thing, even in the hands of historians.

I've bouldered a little around Camp 4, and knew there was some history to bouldering there, but no more than that. It's interesting to learn that individual boulders, and even problems, had names even in the 1960s. I knew a few did, but had the impression that naming every boulder and problem and variation was a modern thing.

Digressing a bit, route names are interesting. They seem too often to be a surrogate claim post - if you name something, it gives you legitimacy or ownership or something.

Some routes and boulder problems at Squamish that were climbed in the 1960s or 1970s, but not recorded, have later been written up as "new" ascents. Sometimes the protagonists, or guidebook writers, know otherwise, but allow it anyway.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 06:26pm PT
My bouldering companions and I always named routes, even if only to call them by the name of the person who did the first ascent. Sometimes for lack of energy or imagination, it would be "Higgins' Face," or "Bridwell's mantel," or "Robbins eliminate," or "Ament's Face," or "Kor Boulder," or "Foote Problem," or "Pratt's Mantel." Now that I think about it, few of the bouldering routes in Camp 4, in my day, the 1960s, had very imaginative names. I think about ten mantels were all named "Pratt's mantel." But we knew them, where they were, and in my best gymnastics shape I did them all (Pratt didn't train, sigh)... Pratt, drunk and in army boots at night, once climbed a blank area of Columbia Boulder, starting up to the right of Steck Overhang (on the west face) and angling across the big slab and upward on a horrid lichen face with a huge drop to the ground. I repeated that route in daylight, shaking in my boots (so the speak) all the way (although if you shook even slightly you'd probably slip off).
Rollover

climber
Gross Vegas
Oct 8, 2015 - 06:15pm PT
BBST
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