Pat Ament, amazing interview!

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Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 4, 2007 - 11:21pm PT
Let's put a name with a face here:


-from CLIMB!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 4, 2007 - 11:29pm PT
My 1984 edition is a bit war worn:

Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 5, 2007 - 12:32am PT
That photo of me was taken by Tom Higgins at the top of Nerve Wrack Point, early 1970s. Although the sunburn hadn't quite set in yet, that was the worst sunburn I've had in my life, I think. I didn't know the Tuolumne high air burned one so easily.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jul 5, 2007 - 01:28am PT
When you attain a certain age, Pat, it's OK to entertain a little risque reminisence or two. This is a great thread. I'm glad you're with us.

-Jeff
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Jul 5, 2007 - 02:58am PT
Hopefully this interview is the kind of thing we will see more of from Climbing in the future. There is so much power in so much of what you say in it Pat. How refreshing to read words like integrity, humility, generosity etc. on their site, and this one as well...
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 5, 2007 - 03:18pm PT
Thanks for the kind words. I fumble around in my way.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 5, 2007 - 09:05pm PT
I basically hate interviews. Once on a television feature about rock climbing in Boulder, they had me on as the "historical expert," along with several others such a Jello and Joyce Rossiter, and Dale Goddard. Dale was the new star, Joyce the female representative, Jeff Lowe (Jello) the mountaineer... Anyway, the interviewer started off with me, "Can you give us some of the history of how rock climbing began in Boulder?" I began what was to be a carefully thought-through reply, "The first organized group was the Rocky Mountain Climber's Club, and..." He interrupted, "Tell us, Mr. Ament, what is a carabiner?" He was tired of the history.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 6, 2007 - 02:18am PT
Wow, that last comment, "Shine on you crazy diamond." Syd Barret was one of my favorite people. I wept bitterly when he died not too many months ago. I related to him on such a high level. It was as though his spirit communicated with mine. I've written songs I felt he had some distant hand in creating, as though we were meant to be brothers, but life kept us apart. So many things we had in common. You know those words are about him, right? Quite a few of Pink Floyd's songs were dedicated to Syd, such as "Wish you were here," and maybe even "Dark Side of the Moon," to describe Syd's tragic mental illness...

Thanks for the reminder.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 6, 2007 - 08:25pm PT
Bod D'Antonio said, "Pat...just read your full interview on climbing.com...maybe one of the all time best."

I am very happy a few like the interview, especially people the quality of Bob and Roy and... I was quite worried about it, actually, as I am so opinionated. John Long once wrote to me, "I reserve the right to be full of it." That gave me a good laugh, and I will borrow it, to cover anything I say here or in the interview that clearly doesn't work or is just me sounding off.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 6, 2007 - 08:37pm PT
"If you like this sort of stuff, I have about a thousand stories... "

Which would make Oli the Scheherazade of SuperTopo, in a manner of speaking.

Story on!
Splater

climber
Grey Matter
Jul 6, 2007 - 09:43pm PT
Pat
It's so awesome to see your words straight and unedited.
Maybe you can post your version of the interview that will show what you really meant.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 7, 2007 - 02:27am PT
To post that interview would take too much space. It's a long one, for I am long winded. Better, if you are interested, just to go to the www.climbing.com site and trudge through it. That would be probably easiest. I don't know how long they will keep it up there. Our moment in the spotlight is always ethereal and brief...
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 9, 2007 - 01:13am PT
My friend Roger Briggs just wrote me and said he likes to stay in his own world, away from the negative things people say in the various forums. He says if he can still climb and move his body, that is the most rewarding for him. The thought seemed attractive, though my body is fast failing it seems. I feel I have been blessed with very positive remarks here at SuperTopo, but truly I have trouble with the kind of hate some people have and how they present it and direct it at me, especially those I've never met and who know nothing about me, those who question my every motive. If it were a true rival, someone with whom I disagree or who disagrees with me, we could have an intelligent debate. We could have the respect of worthy enemies and speak honestly and not in the immature, petty, snide ways that some do. We would not need to post ludicrous images to try to injure. The question becomes, is it worth it to me to put up with the inanity of these small minds, in order to be in touch with the intelligent spirits, such as Largo, Bachar, Accomazzo, Tarbuster (Roy), Jello, Bob D'Antonio, Stannard, Goldstone, Werner, Kevin Worral, Higgins, etc. I have loved hearing the thoughts of these higher, finer spirits. But the other stuff darkens my spirit, which perhaps is what those kinds of people seek to achieve. Too bad there isn't a webmaster to moniter and wipe out the garbage the instant it appears... I wonder how many people here have nothing to do with climbing but simply have no life and seek to cause trouble...
bryceman

Boulder climber
Joshua Tree, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 9, 2007 - 01:55pm PT
It seems to me Pat, that you had an amazing ability to get yourself to where the action was. I cannot even imagine how hard it would be to hitch a ride on a freight train and hold on until you made it to base camp.

How did you find the courage to ride a method of transportation that might have been more dangerous than any of the climbs you put up when you got there?
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 9, 2007 - 04:53pm PT
The dangers of freight riding were sometimes subtle. Of course you usually tried to ride alone and not with others, because someone might jump you. On occasion I found that couldn't be done. Fortunately no one jumped me, and I made friends with a whole lot of hard-travelin' men, not the phony kind that sing songs about it in Nashville, but the real loners and hard-luck cases who were as genuine as any people I've ever met.

One time during the coldest weather I'd ever ridden in, I jumped into a boxcar with another fellow, much older. We both seemed to appreciate the company. I had my warm sleeping bag. He had nothing but a tweed jacket (and his worn jeans and boots). He squatted down and stayed in that position all night, shifting his weight slightly, from one leg to the other, and back and forth, smoking cigarettes, as he said, "to keep warm." I thought I was going to freeze to death with my big coat and sleeping bag. I offered to switch off with him with the sleeping bag, but he refused the offer and said he could make it. Anyway, it could be dangerous to travel with others. But not on that occasion. He could have clubbed my head in at any time but didn't. It felt to me as though I were in a tent in a storm near the top of K2, unable to move and only desirous of sleep.

Another danger was the boxcar door slamming shut when the train jerked. It was important to know how to block the door open, with a wooden block I always carried. A number of people died when the door slammed shut unexpectedly, and they couldn't get out, and their yells were like wind blowing through the yards, for weeks. Another danger was having your had cut off by the door slamming shut, if you were standing there looking out.

Of course you had to know where the long tunnels were, and get inside your sleeping bag and hold your breath as long as possible. Some people were found dead of asphyxia. I found another state of mind, a kind of suspended animation, that could occur from too much diesel smoke. It is wise to always fill up with as much air along the way, while it's there.

In terms of danger, I wouldn't compare freight riding to climbing, although climbing is not really dangerous so much as people are dangerous. It's a bit like taking a shower. You have to take care not to slip and fall. Some people always have one foot on the banana peel, so to speak. John Glenn was the first to orbit the earth and then fell in the bathtub and seriously injured his back...
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Jul 9, 2007 - 06:27pm PT
"That photo of me was taken by Tom Higgins at the top of Nerve Wrack Point ..."

What, the climb wasn't scary enough so you had to tie in with a Goose knot?

___


"Life is full of virtual worlds that compel people to create them."


One of my favorite quotes, thanks Oli.
bryceman

Boulder climber
Joshua Tree, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 9, 2007 - 06:34pm PT
I have listened to other people talk about blocking the freight doors but I had no idea about the danger of asphyxiation. You must have felt like you had arrived in paradise by the time you were in the Yosemite Valley.

Were you the only climber riding freight to Yosemite or was that something everybody did to get there? In other words did every one at base camp shake their heads in disbelief that you would take such risk to get there or was it such a common mode of transportation back then that no one even gave it a second thought?


looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jul 9, 2007 - 06:52pm PT
Excellent interview. Too bad the whole thing (or most of it) wasn't published in the Mag. But, the short attention spans of most of Climbing's readers probably would preclude that.

It is nice to see Pat posting here.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 10, 2007 - 01:06am PT
Freight riding wasn't that comman a practice. Quite a few individuals may have hopped some freight here or there, as an isolated event. Robbins had ridden freights a little in his juvenile youth and in L.A. pulled off one great stunt of jumping from the top of one moving boxcar to the top of another moving boxcar going the other direction. He used to catch freights back to California on leave, when he was in the Army. Pratt did the same, a bit. He and Chouinard got arrested once and put in striped clothing for a week, set out in a big field to catch horses, as their punishment. They never caught one horse. I think that was somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona, if I recall. A few others had done or did a tiny bit of freight riding, but I think I may have gone into it more than just about any climber I knew. Those few who rode the freights, I think, may have valued that mode for its pure utilitarian function, whereas I became romantically involved with the whole idea of trains. It had something to do with the fact that my father worked for the Rio Grande for 17 years and took me down to the railroad yards in Denver when I was very young. The trains captured my imagination... I longed to be on the freights, out there being rocked to sleep among the canyons and deserts, under the stars, or in the dustblown sunlight of day...
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 10, 2007 - 01:09am PT
k-man, I don't know what a goose knot is. That's just a bowline, tied to a few strands of webbing around my waist (called a swami belt). That's how we did it back then, or sometimes simply tied the rope in a single strand around the waist (Kamps style). I guess the idea was to discourage falling, rather than make it easier and more comfortable.
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