Half Dome Party with Yosemite Climbing Legends (June 30)

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 19, 2007 - 12:56pm PT
Legendary Climbers Plan Celebration of 50th Anniversary of
First Ascent of NW Face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley at end of June

YOSEMITE, CALIFORNIA– 19 June 2007
An extraordinary gathering of Yosemite Climbing Pioneers will take place the last weekend of June in Yosemite Valley to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome. The visionary Californian first ascentionists – Royal Robbins, Jerry Gallwas, and Mike Sherrick – will be joined there by families and friends to recall their landmark achievement and share stories about it with the public.

On Saturday June 30th, The American Alpine Club (AAC) will host a free special presentation 8:30-9:30pm at Yosemite Lodge Amphitheater featuring Robbins, Gallwas, and Sherrick recalling their life-shaping experiences scaling the unrelentingly vertical 2,000 ft. face of Half Dome, a year before El Capitan was attempted. Noted Yosemite climbing photographer Tom Evans will serve as Master of Ceremonies, weaving together memories from the first ascentionists with comments and perspectives from other Yosemite Climbing Pioneers and luminaries who will be in the audience. Film clips from the Yosemite climbing documentary “Vertical Frontier” will be used to highlight aspects of this climb, one of Yosemite’s first “big wall” ascents.

The first ascent of the NW face of Half Dome took five days, shattering doubts of whether a feasible way existed to scale the final overhanging sections. Yosemite Climbing Pioneer Glen Denny, who has authored books on climbing in Yosemite, explains the magnitude of the challenges Robbins and his friends faced:

“On Half Dome, the physical problems were huge, but I think the mental stress was even greater, because the route got more doubtful as they climbed higher. They didn't know whether it would be possible to find a way around the giant overhang at the top. On the last day, they threw off their hauling bag, hoping to reach the top in one day, if a traverse could be found. If not, they planned to rappel down the whole wall, an unprecedented feat that probably would have taken two days in itself."

The summit was finally reached on June 28th, 1957, where they were congratulated by fellow climber Warren Harding. Yosemite climbing guidebook author Chris McNamara lauds the high standards adhered to on this ascent, and the clever way the team kept warm during bivouacs: ”The Northwest Face ascent inspired the rest of us to climb giant walls fast and with just the basics: a few ropes, a modest rack (of climbing gear), and not quite enough bivy gear. It was noteworthy for many reasons. But one thing they don't get enough credit for is style: they bivied in flight suits, a fashion statement so visionary, few have repeated it.”

Ten years later, Royal Robbins repeated the route with his wife Liz, propelling her into climbing history as the first woman to climb the NW face of Half Dome. She will be among the Yosemite Climbing Pioneers who will be in Yosemite Valley for the special presentation and weekend of celebrations.

Sponsored by The AAC, this presentation is part of its Yosemite Climbers Interpretation programs. Now in their seventh year, these free programs are offered to the visiting public in Yosemite Valley from May to September to convey the rich and dramatic history of climbing in Yosemite, and its importance in the exploration, preservation, and cultural shaping of California and the American West. For example, some of the world’s most successful conservationists have been Yosemite climbers and AAC members, including John Muir, David Brower, and Yvon Chouinard. AAC member Theodore Roosevelt, inspired by a tour of Yosemite accompanied by Muir in 1903, worked to create numerous national forests, refuges, wildlife sanctuaries, and national parks, including Yosemite National Park.





The American Alpine Club is the premier national non-profit organization in the U.S. that has represented mountaineers and rock climbers for over a century. Since 1902, the AAC has been devoted to exploration and scientific study of high mountain elevations and polar regions of the world; conservation and preservation of mountain regions and other climbing areas; promotion and dissemination of knowledge about the mountains and mountaineering through its meetings, publications and libraries; and representation of the interests and concerns of the American climbing community.
Visit our website at: www.americanalpineclub.org


Contact: Linda McMillan, Yosemite Committee Chairman
The American Alpine Club (415) 309-7961
consultants@lindamcmillan.com
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 19, 2007 - 02:38pm PT
Sure wish I could be there. Wonder if they'd be willing to do a reprise at the Facelift in September?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 19, 2007 - 02:50pm PT
Might be a good occasion to chat up and do some planning around how to fund and push a real climbing Museum...
Tahoe climber

Trad climber
a dark-green forester out west
Jun 19, 2007 - 03:43pm PT
what a cool event
i'm going to try to get there
Standing Strong

Trad climber
look around look around, tell me what you've found
Jun 19, 2007 - 03:47pm PT
yea really! as it turns out, the company i'm working for sucks ... i'm gettin' a new job then i'm gonna quit this one... cuz i won't let anyone push me around... i'm gonna try to time it around this so i can make the - what comes before part b? - PARTAY!!!
up2top

Big Wall climber
Phoenix, AZ
Jun 19, 2007 - 04:00pm PT
I'll be there!
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 19, 2007 - 07:12pm PT
Chris, you say Tom Evans will be MC. Don't you mean Tom Frost? I was told it would be my friend Frost.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2007 - 07:15pm PT
pretty sure it is our own elcap-pics that is mc... tom evans, you out there to confirm?
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 19, 2007 - 07:26pm PT
Ok, that's fine. I had just read elsewhere and heard it was Frost. So I'll have to check it out with Royal again.

Thanks.

Pat
elcap-pics

climber
Crestline CA
Jun 19, 2007 - 07:51pm PT
Yo... tom frost is not in the best of health to attend the event so I am taking up the slack... hope you come anyway
tom evans
wack-N-dangle

Gym climber
the ground up
Jun 20, 2007 - 01:53am PT
Any chance that it could be recorded and archived? Or distributed to raise cash and awareness. It would be nice to be in Yos. Valley, but not possible for me.

Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:12am PT
Thanks Tom, for the report, although that troubles me about Tom. When I was out there last to visit him and Royal and Higgins he didn't look good, too thin and losing muscle mass, coughing a lot. Any specifics? He is a beloved friend. I hope he can hang in there.

Pat
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:13am PT
Tom, I forgot to mention, but I wrote a piece about the original Half Dome ascent and fired it by email to Royal. You might ask him about it. All or some of it could be used, perhaps, if nothing else in some kind of "program notes?" Royal said it was a beautiful tribute...
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:31am PT
Just to look back at the first reports of this celebration, I see one I happened onto in May where I might have gotten the idea Tom Frost was MC:

"At Coffee Talk at Camp 4 on Sunday, I heard that on June 30 Royal Robbins, (and I believe Mike Sherrick, and Jerry Gallwas) will give a presentation on the FA of the North West Face of Half Dome for the 50th Anniversary!!

Tom Frost will MC.

I was reading over by Midnight Lightning and my ears perked up when I heard it. Don't know all the details, etc. But it's gonna be fantastic to hear first hand about a climb that changed the world."

It will be a good event no matter which Tom is there.
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Jun 20, 2007 - 02:18pm PT
Yo... tom frost is not in the best of health to attend the event so I am taking up the slack...

Sending energy to Mr. Frost, stay healthy and keep the spirit alive!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 21, 2007 - 11:25am PT
I just spoke with TF and he is on the mend and planning on attending the gathering. So am I!
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Jun 21, 2007 - 10:25pm PT
Bump.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 22, 2007 - 03:06am PT
So hard to imagine Tom not bursting with life. Glad he's mending.

Bump too

Karl
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Jun 25, 2007 - 11:53am PT
Bump.
wack-N-dangle

Gym climber
the ground up
Jun 25, 2007 - 02:26pm PT
Bump, and some positive words...

Some friends who unknowingly rented a place from Tom Frost in Colorado said they regret not being able to make it. I've only heard good things about him. Also, I'm glad that there are pictures and words to describe him in his prime climbing form. Sounds like quite a bit of history will be shared at the event.

Neat also to see Oli getting up to see his mentors/peers again. A different story, but it reminded me of how my uncle sounded when he talked about meeting some of his instructors from a little while back. Once a climbing mentor, always a climbing mentor.

Respectfully...
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