Mark Wilford

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Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 10, 2007 - 04:12pm PT
Mark's name came up on the Stonemaster thread. He wasn't a real Stonemaster, of course, because he's from Colorado, not California. But he is, in fact, a stoned master. Pot and beer were two important training supplements for one of America's greatest all-round climbers. No question, Mark could throw pebbles with the best, take the lead on the runouts whenever his partner's boldness was lacking, and wield an ice ax with true craftsmanship. But first he'd have a bowl, and maybe a beer to clear the palate. Mark's still climbing strong, by the way, but he's become like most of us, a bit more domesticated, with a cute young wife and two young kids.

I met Mark through Mal Daly, who was another one of tyhe very talented Ft Collins/Horsetooth crowd. It was the early 80's. Mark and I hit it off and immediately started doing new routes together. Mark started working for my old gear company, Latok, in Lyons, Colorado. We had a routine of meeting at 6am every day to get a route or two in before starting work at 9am. We did a whole bunch of new routes in the area - maybe fifty - in the 5.9 to 5.12 range.

These were all done on sight without pitons or bolts, often R rated and occassionally X rated. With Mark it didn't matter. He was just so solid. I've seen a number of those routes credited to other folks in guidebooks, often sporting bolts where there had been none. It's our own fault, really, for not recording our efforts. But we were too busy climbing to write everything up!

Mark and I climbed in the mountains, too, in the same pick-a-great-looking-unclimbed-line-and-go-do-it style. No messing around with over-planning or too much gear. With Mark success was usually gauranteed anyway. One of our best alpine rock climbs was Risky Business, a 9-pitch 5.11+ R route on the northeast face of Chiefshead in Rocky Mountain National Park. When I backed off the scary crux pitch, Mark went up and led us through, as usual. Unfortunately since the first ascent, so many bolts have appeared in and around Risky Business, that the original climb is probably lost.

One of my favorite memories of climbing with Mark also involved Charlie Fowler. Trying to find a mixed rock and ice climb that was chall3enging enough to be interesting, the three of us set out one February morning to ferret out the secrets of a radical-looking line outside of Ouray. We had a great day establishing Bird Brain Boulevard. Although the climb turned out to be easier than anticipated, it was such a fun and inspired time to be out with two of the best alpinists ever, and two great people in every sense of the word.

I miss Charlie. I'm glad Mark's still here.

-Jello

Mark Wilford and Duncan Ferguspn on Hallets Peak

Mark Wilford and Steve Mammen




Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 10, 2007 - 04:23pm PT
Good idea, Jeff.
Here is Mark at Horsetooth in 1978, with Randy Vogel and my wife to be, Gerry, looking on.

Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2007 - 04:31pm PT
Great photo, Rick. Kind of emphasises my point about Mark not needing a lot of gear, or even holds, for that matter!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 10, 2007 - 05:20pm PT
I understand he's already taken an advance on his driver safety manual.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2007 - 05:39pm PT
Speaking of driver safety, Ron, I once loaned a fairly new Toyota PU to Mark during that time he worked for me. He had a slide show to do up in Wyoming and didn't currently own a car that worked. Well, true to MW form, the vehicle was returned after the weekend somewhat the worse for wear, adorned with a deep V-groove in the front grill and hood. Sheepishly, Mark explained to me that he'd dozed off on the drive up and run off the road. The ruckuss made by hitting a signpost as he drifted off the pavement snapped him out of his torpor and he got the truck back under control before anything more serious happened.

He paid for the repairs in full, over a period of time.
10b4me

Trad climber
Hell A
Jun 10, 2007 - 05:48pm PT
Alpinist 19 had a profile of Mark
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2007 - 06:01pm PT
I've offered this before, but it seems appropriate to do so again here. There's an old movie of Wilford and me trying to do a new route in 1984 in Alaska, called Cloudwalker. Lot's of time spent on Mark's ideas and goals; clips of him bouldering and doing a new 5.12 R onsight inear Lyons, and even a bit of smoke being shown just to be true to the subject. I've transferred the film to DVD (scratches and all). Send me an e-mail with your address and promise to pay for shipping and $10 for the DVD, and I'll send you a copy. Bridwell's in the film, too. The feeling of the time is pretty well represented in the film.

-Jello

Incidentally, all proceeds from these sales go to support Ogden Climbing Parks.
maldaly

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 10, 2007 - 09:54pm PT
I spent a lot of time with Wilford and have many great memories. The first good one was following him up Reed's Direct in the Valley during our first trip there in '75 or so. He did the damn thing is Levi's and a swami and from then on Kauk sported Levi's. One night we had the great racoon war with Wilford scoring a perfect 10 on the head of the biggest racoon any of us have ever seen. We had to nurse that thing back to life. Then next morning we had to talk Turk (Steve Mammen) out of skateboarding the Apron. Once he took a good look at it (Remember it was our first visit.) there was no argument.

Here's a great photo of Wilford bouldering (before there was bouldering) and me spotting. Note the talus, my percarious stance and Mark's altitude. Typical Wilford:

Cheers,
Mal
Crimpergirl

Social climber
Hell on earth wondering what I did to deserve it
Jun 10, 2007 - 10:00pm PT
These are great photos! Hope there are more to follow...
N0_ONE

Social climber
Utah
Jun 10, 2007 - 10:09pm PT
Yeah, what crimpy said!

I love it when you older, er, um, I mean more experienced guys and gals from the old school get to tellin stories!
maldaly

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 10, 2007 - 10:22pm PT
Here's another great Wilford story. In Jeff's earlier post he said that he and Mark had developed a bunch of the routes in the area around Lyons. Perhaps the best crag we found was the River Wall below Buttonrock reservoir. Mark discovered this crag in the mid-eighties when Jeff Lowe's company, Latok, was located downstream in Lyons. Four of us (Jeff, Mark, Steve Mammen and I) went up one afternoon to climb here and we all epic'd. Mark and Steve took the thin crack line of what is now called Pocket Hercules so Jeff and I got the Neurosurgeon line. Here's what I saw:

Steve was more of a boulderer so Mark took the lead on their line: Jeff an I took the line which is now called Neurosurgeon. The water was low and the flat slabs at the base were slick so Steve belayed fairly far to the left; maybe 25'. Mark traversed to the base of the crack and clipped in one of his half-ropes to an upward pulling directional. Then he started up and after about 10' placed his first downward pulling cam. He cruised the crack, clipping alternately, and was virtually at the top when he stopped to place a last cam. He got a good one in and was pulling up the rope to clip when his hold broke and he fell. By the time he stopped falling, Steve had been dragged 20' to the right (There's is not much in the way of anchors there) and Mark was hanging about 2' above the water and getting closer as Steve tried desperately not to get dragged farther across the slab. Mark was screaming at Steve not to let him down into the water (the route overhangs about 20' so Mark was out over the water), Steve was freakin' because he didn't want to let Mark down but there wasn't anything he could do about it and Jeff and I were laughing so hard we had to quit for the day. Well, Mark got all wet so they bagged it and we all went for beers.

What happened was that when Mark fell the weight came on the rope which was through the directional. It pulled, leaving about 30' of slack. Between the slack and Steve getting pulled across the ledge Mark ended up taking a 50 or 60-footer.

Same story as for Neurosurgeon here. I told Piana about the epic and the cliff and by the time we got back to climbing there he had bagged the ascents of both routes.

Mal

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 10, 2007 - 10:36pm PT
hahahha!
good one.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jun 10, 2007 - 10:48pm PT
Little known Wilford fact: Not only is/was he some kinda driver, but... Thought drift: Roy, remember the rental car they (Skip, some accountant, and Wilford) were jumping for distance out in the open desert behind Petes in Hueco.... then drove it around for another week or more with a dead jackrabbit hanging out of the hood.... then had the accountant take it back in to the agency and say he has never been so embarrassed than when he had to pick his mother up in that POS car and the condition it was in..... oh... and the story of the Firebird that was rolled in Mexico and then something about using the engine as bail after many nights in the klink..... or when he earned the nickname "Boom Boom Wilford" after KO-ing that guy in the Boulder mall with Cilley.... man, there is a million of them.. but one time in Hueco with Tom Henry and Mike McCarron the truth came out.... "Willy" as they called him, was a Webelo!!! He proved it to us by building a fire without the use of white gas!

Damn... that Wilford is a gas! I always liked that guy! Got a pic of him here somewhere... I'll post it later. Some freesolo 5.12 thing at Hueco.
Standing Strong

Trad climber
real eyes realize real life
Jun 10, 2007 - 10:53pm PT
*bump*
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 10, 2007 - 11:04pm PT
Um,
Yes Mr Fish', those were also the driving skills which gave birth to the snappy maxim:
"All rental cars are 4 wheel drive"
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 10, 2007 - 11:19pm PT
I met Mark in the Colorado University fieldhouse. I often went there just to get a little exercise or watch other people fool around. There was some pretty good indoor climbing, up over big rafters, and roof-things, where you could climb horizontal, as in Separate Reality, or if not climb one could run around the track and we sometimes took huge leaps from the upstairs balcony onto a pole vault pad below... Erickson was trying to be a sprinter and often was there running the hundred or fifty, in bursts. I had been the fastest runner at Boulder High School in 1964, at the 50 yard dash (anyone could be me at anything longer than that), and Erickson didn't know that. I casually challenged Erickson to a race. He chuckled at my foolishness, but I beat him in a sprint around the track. He went dark for about a week, he was so humiliated, but then Paul Hagan came along and was running, and I challenged him to the same race, thinking I make quick work of someone else too, and he left me in the dust.. a real spead burner. Mark came and was doing some hellacious mantels up onto a big horizontal piece of metal. It was not a bar you could jump to. It was too high up. You had to climb up and then out to the end of it, hang there at the end, and then, with hands on the very end, do the mantel. I was good at mantels and thought I might be able to manage it possibly, but Mark went right out and with no trouble at all did a pure muscle up onto that piece of extending metal. I saw his full strength in action there and knew this was one of the new generation, one of the true stars here and now and to be. I was especially taken by how cordial and warm he was. I mean, here I was, an old has been, couldn't climb my way out of a paper bag anymore, and he treated me with all sorts of honor and respect...

Pat
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 10, 2007 - 11:30pm PT
Hank,

Donít want to hijack Wilfordís thread, so Iíll try to keep this brief. I learned that my law partner represented the owner of the building whose plate glass window you flew through only after the case had been going on for some time.

There are also mitigating circumstances in that I have provided legal advice to more than one El Cap base jumper over the years, including defending charges before the Yosemite federal magistrate and advising another jumper who narrowly escaped capture in El Cap Meadow. If it werenít for the conflict with the building owner in your case, I would have been happy to help you as well.

Hope there are no hard feelings. I would be happy to buy you a beer and discuss it in person some time.

Very truly yours,

Rick
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 10, 2007 - 11:38pm PT
There are two things about that cover photo that always get me; the EBs and Malcolm.


Hey, I remember when EBs were the hot ticket to replace my RDs and PAs (and we won't talk about the Kronhoffers).
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2007 - 12:38am PT
This is a lot of fun, roasting Wilford slowly and lovingly over the coals...

-FlameBroiledJello
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 11, 2007 - 01:06am PT
Rick, You have always been the nicest guy, and I can't imagine anyone could ever offend you... unless it would be some strange person suffering all kinds of health problems, depression, etc., and who for some reason might say all the wrong things...
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