The First Ascent of the Needle's Eye

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 256 of total 256 in this topic
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 27, 2007 - 04:01pm PT
Note: this account also appears as a trip report at http://www.supertopo.com/tr/The-First-Ascent-of-the-Needles-Eye/t222n.html . The ensuing discussion and photos there are completely separate from what appears here.


In the spirit of living---or at least not entirely dead---history at SuperT, I offer the following reminiscence of an epic adventure a long time ago.
-------------------------------------------------------------


"He's more interested in her boobs than in me."

When a guy has this thought about another guy, the observation itself would seem to be a no-brainer. But the circumstances here, even if they did not alter the truth of the observation, nonetheless distorted my reaction to it.

"Pay attention, dammit," I shrieked, failing to note that Don could have perceived this as a hearty approval of his current focus rather than a plea to change it. How, I wondered miserably, did I ever get myself into this mess?

It wasn't hard. The year was 1964. I had come across some articles in Appalachia by Fritz Wiessner, articles with spectacular photos of a forest of slender pinnacles. The Needles in South Dakota! I headed out with almost no information about what I would find.

What I found was Don Storjohann, a strapping farm boy from Minden, Iowa with a booming voice, a twinkle in his eye that made women melt on the spot (why can't I do that, I wondered hopelessly), and a passion for teetering precariously on the sometimes breakable crystals of the spires of Custer State Park. Don suggested that we try to make the first ascent of the Needle's Eye.

OK, ok, it wasn't a first ascent, but it was, by Needles standards. A line of 14 aid bolts on the West face, placed in 1953, led to the summit---if you could find appropriate hangers and screws. There was a rumor that Layton Kor had chimneyed to the top of the Needle's Eye and then aided out. But no one had free-climbed the pinnacle. Herb and Jan Conn, who had rediscovered the Needles in 1947 and established amazing classics nearing 5.9 in difficulty, using a single 60 foot rope (requiring them to downclimb every pitch) and $1.95 tennis shoes, set the Needles ethics agenda by declaring free ascents to be the only ascents. So the Needles Eye was unclimbed.

Don had picked out a possible route that started in a gulley at the lowest point of one face of the eye, traversed out to a belay at a flake on the face, then followed the left edge of the face to a fold or crack delineating a kind of "cap" of the pinnacle. From there, a traverse right led to a bulge guarding the lower angle rock to the top.

Hmm. The face above the flake was unprotected. We'd be in groundfall range at or before the fold. If we could get a piton in the fold, we'd have some protection for the bulge. Otherwise...we were young enough not to think about otherwise.

At least not right away.

The Needle's Eye is located at a turnout on the Needles Highway, a sinuous track snaking through the heart of the spires and ducking through a narrow single-lane tunnel at one edge of the turnout. In order to avoid the tourists, we started up at 6 in the morning, Don quickly led the short pitch to the flake belay, and I sallied forth on the unprotected face above.

Well, sallied isn't quite right---dilly-dallied would be more like it. Hours went by as I traversed back and forth and climbed up and down. In truth, the climbing wasn't especially hard, but the thought of making even one irreversible move and then arriving at the "fold," only to find no protection available, brought the hitherto distant thoughts of "othewise" sharply to the foreground. My attempts were nothing more than an elaborate dance of defeat, which I had the bad grace to prolong until the conclusion was inevitable. I turned over the lead to Don.

Bursting with Midwestern corn-fed enthusiasm, exuding the "right stuff" that got us to the moon, and utterly oblivious to my gloomy procrastinations, Don launched up the unprotected face with hardly a pause and rocketed on up to the fold.

A pause.

The sound of a piton being driven, a hollow sound, lacking the musical confirmation of solid pro, and abruptly terminated by the lugubrious vibrating note of a bottoming placement. Some more attempts to place pitons to no avail, and suddenly Don became fully aware of just how bad his situation was, especially since he could see that the bulge was going to be much harder than anything he had done so far. Unlike me, who had been battered by doubt, Don was decisive. No hours of delaying tactics for him. He announced that the pin he had placed was highly suspect and he didn't trust it to lower off of, so he would climb down with a belay through the pin, realizing fully that it might not hold his weight if he slipped, and that the consequences in that case would be an almost certainly fatal fall to the ground.

I held my breath. He made it back to the belay.

It would have made perfect sense to give up at this point, but rationality is not a strong suit of the young. I had on me a very distinctive gold Charlet-Moser piton that I had failed to pass over to Don. It had a thicker blade than he had with him, and he thought it might go in where his gear had failed. And so, armed with the hoped-for magic bullet and comforted by the knowledge that Don had climbed up and down the face below the fold, I headed up to see if more progress could be made.

Now all this had taken a lot of time, and the road was now choked with tourists and backed up for almost the entire length of the Needles Highway. Our 6 AM start had been wasted, and we had become the gladiators in the arena, battling a ferocious nubbin-encrusted beast while the hoards waited, not always patiently, for some a catastrophe to enliven their day. They had no idea how close we were to satisfying their morbid craving for a moment of entertainment.

Locked inextricably into the traffic jam was a convertible with a young woman in a peasant blouse as a passenger. The blouse was revealing enough at eye level, but from the vantage of the belay flake directly above, little was left to the imagination. Don almost immediately engaged his moltenizing twinkle beam in an effort to...well, you know what guys do.

And so it was that I found myself up at the fold with my belayer locked in a mammaric trance below.

The first thing I did was to test the piton Don had placed. A single blow of the hammer knocked it out of the crack and sent it on its way down the rope to Don, who, in an admirable display of concentration, barely acknowledged its arrival. So now I'm up at the fold with nothing in, having lost the only one of Don's pitons that he had been able to place, staring wildly at the spot where my gold Charlet-Moser special was going to go. First some delicate loving light taps---we don't want this baby to bounce out---then some harder blows, and finally all-out pounding, mercilessly overdriving that sucker for whatever extra security it might acquire.

I traversed right, yelled ineffectively at Don, and started up the bulge, which was indeed much harder than the climbing below. (The 5.8 rating of these moves does not convey the cumulative psychic distess I was laboring under as I advanced.) Pinching two crystals, I high-stepped onto a small blackish blob and started to pull through.

I think my nervous system registered the departure of my foothold before I heard the cracking sound, certainly before the the loud thunk from below announced the impact on the hood of the Breastmobile. The bad news: the boyfriend of the Peasant Fantasy was shrieking obscenities at us for damaging his car and I was suspended from two pinch-grips with my feet flaying about ineffectively and one piton between me and oblivion. The good news: I finally had Don's undivided attention.

An adrenaline infusion coursed through my veins and I suddenly found myself several feet higher with no memory of what I had done to get there. With the apoplectic tones of the offended boyfriend wafting up from below, I floated ecstatically up the ever-lessening angle of the final summit slope.

The Needle's Eye had seen its first ascent.



Don Storjohann soloing up the Eye the evening before the ascent. The actual route traversed out of the eye at the bottom of the picture onto the face whose profile is the left edge of the formation.
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
Jul 27, 2007 - 04:19pm PT
Great story. Thank you.

Ken
426

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Jul 27, 2007 - 04:26pm PT
here here!
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Jul 27, 2007 - 04:30pm PT
Wonderful Rich...great story.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jul 27, 2007 - 04:41pm PT
Did you write that recently, or long ago? Great story, thanks for sharing it with us.

I climbed in the Black Hills in the 70s but never had courage to try Needle's Eye. Henry Barber was impressed with that route, and described its seriousness in detail. And it looked intimidating enough from the ground. You could see that climbing above the fixed pin would be an all-or-nothing deal.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 27, 2007 - 05:12pm PT
Great story, Rich.

I envision a Rube Goldberg like setting titled "Climbing is 80% mental. The rest is breastwork."

Climbers start, breastmobile arrives, belayer is distracted, leader is distraught, leader pounds in pin, leader moves up, foothold breaks away, hold hits breastmobile, boyfriend hollers at leader, leader clears crux, climb completed.

No wonder we think of our sport as rational and precise.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 27, 2007 - 05:14pm PT
Thanks Chiloe. I just wrote this account, after posting to the "Living History" thread got me thinking about...living history.

Whatever the Needle's Eye represented in terms of boldness (or stupidity, or youthful naivete, depending on your perspective) was overwhelmingly eclipsed three years later by Pete Cleveland's paradigm-shifting achievements on Super Pin and Hairy Pin.

Cleveland was easily among the very best climbers in the country in the late sixties, but his choice of out-of-the-way locales for his revolutionary achievements meant that he never came to the attention of the general climbing public.

I should add, as I hope is evident from the account, that although it was me who ended up at the top on the sharp end of the rope, I would never have gotten there had it not been for the truly bold effort by Don, who was the real hero of the ascent, if ascents may be thought of at all as a context for heroism.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Jul 27, 2007 - 05:32pm PT
Excellent.

The Needles made me nervous just due to the nature of breakable crystals and not much pro. I can't imagine putting up an FA with that gear at that time, BRAVO!
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 27, 2007 - 05:48pm PT
Hey Rich,

Pete used to work at NASA here in Cleveland didn't he? Have you kept up with him at all?

Roger
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 27, 2007 - 06:05pm PT
I spoke with my old friend Pete Cleveland by phone not but a few years ago, while working on my history of free climbing. He sounded good then. He and I climbed in Boulder together quite a bit, when he was yet to do those bold runouts. I took him up some hard offwidths, the likes of which he'd never experienced. He floundered a lot, but I detected some real tenacity. I enjoyed him a lot and, at the time, had no idea he was to become one of the real legends of climbing.

Rich, your story of the Needle's Eye is great of course. I should pilfer some of it for the revised version of History of free climbing, which will come out one day... I remember soloing up to about the point of the fellow in the photo, on a rainy day in about 1966 and wonderng where the route went. And on that trip of course I got an up front look at the nearby Thimble. It was before I'd met John, but he was already a living presence in my life. I first heard about you from my student Fred Pfahler, who showed up one day at my house in Boulder asking if I'd like to climb. He mostly knew nothing about climbing, other than having met you and having done a tiny bit at Devil's Lake or the Gunks. He was a bit gullible at that point, and a climbing shop had sold him a full bin full of pitons, enough for forty climbers, with a few pins to spare. But that bin and the fact that he had a working car (his Scout) were like striking gold, so I adopted him on that basis, then found out I liked him. He had a heart of gold. He kept talking about Rich Goldstone, and how good Rich was, and how Rich was a disciple of Gill's, etc.

Hey, I just remembered. You were there, at the top of the Black Canyon to greet Fred and me when I led that thing they now call Ament's Chimney, that big corridor where I was spread out, feet on one wall, hands on the other, and had to dangle at the top by one arm, to get into and squeeze up through some chockstones, runout a hundred and fifty feet... I imagine you remember those days.

Didn't you know Ray Schragg too? I haven't heard from him since I drug him and Stultz up the Crack of Fear in 1966...

McCarthy and I had lunch several times together in Idaho Falls a few years ago. He is always great to be with...
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jul 27, 2007 - 06:44pm PT
Nice Story!

In 1983 I climbed a lot, winter ascents in LCC, the month of April in Josh (onsighted the monkey roof, almost died soloing sail away, etc) Climbed Zodiac (first ascent after a major Rob Slater clean up the fall before) -my first wall as head nailer. The needles, a failed attempt on the window @ Deto and much other shid.

-the most scared I got was leading The Needle's Eye-

I Knew a crystal would break on that half pitch runout, the old pin would pull and I would die on the hood of a Vistacruiser™. Didn't work out that way, but man, that was a scary lead!!

A few years earlier I was climbing something in that parking lot with Roadkill Phil, can't even remember what it was, cause out of nowhere, stepped a tube-toped Venus ... We stopped what ever we were doing (climbing, belaying, setting anchors, who can tell?) as she exited her car and wandered up the trail uphill and left of the tunnel.

another time I was there with Chasbro bouldering @ campground boulder and there was this new york talking hippie Rich Golds-omething or other ("didn't we see him in that Gill book?") attempting and doing these 4' (maybe longer) dynos. That was something, but that memory has faded somewhat, not like the tube top vision.


Bleeding heart liberal that I am, style edit; I realize that I am going to sexist hell, but what's a guy to do?
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 27, 2007 - 07:49pm PT
Pat,

Here's a picture of myself, Steve Derenzo (a climber from the University of Chicago who you never met) and, at the wheel, Fred Pfahler driving his Scout.



I lost track of Fred years ago.

Edit: You can't see Fred's face in that picture. Here's one of him and me in the Long's Peak shelter.



Here's Raymond Schrag on the Hagermeister slab with an amused Gill looking on.



Schrag is a lawyer in NYC. I still talk to him from time to time.

golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Jul 27, 2007 - 08:13pm PT
Thanks for the story. Climbed up the face of it in the early 90's. I dont remember if it was the same route, I dont recall entering th chimney but I do recall the car directly below the route.

The needles was one of my favorite climbing destinations.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 27, 2007 - 08:24pm PT
Golsen, you probably did the 5.9+ or 5.10 variation straight up the face to the flake. We thought about it in '64, but we weren't ready for it then.
Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Jul 28, 2007 - 01:12am PT
I love this place. This is what this forum is all about. Thanks for sharing the mamories.
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jul 28, 2007 - 01:24am PT
Thanks for the beta on the key jugs!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 28, 2007 - 01:36am PT
thanks Rich, wonderful story...
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 28, 2007 - 02:54am PT
Great shots on Fred and you. Yes, that's the old Scout. I wish I knew where he was. He had started to study some kind of eastern religion, if I recall, chanting and such... after a few bad experiences in the psychedelic later 1960s... Say hello to Ray Schragg for me, Rich. What were you and Fred doing up on Longs? Now you've jogged my memory, as Fred and I did some 6 or 7-pitch thing way up south of the shelter cabin, on the Meeker wall, RURPS and all... That doesn't look like Gill below Schragg, in the photo. But my computer doesn't bring up the photos very well.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jul 28, 2007 - 09:08am PT
For the benefit of those who haven't gazed up at the Needle's Eye,
here is an image (photog Gary Schmidt) borrowed from MountainProject.com.
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/south_dakota/needles_eye/needles_eye/105714959

The crux bulge is above and right of the climber, pretty much up the skyline.
I believe he is at about the position of the only protection crack.


Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jul 28, 2007 - 09:10am PT
Nice photo, worth going big, for!


edit, liked the bigger on better.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jul 28, 2007 - 11:38am PT
Nice thread, Thanks y'all.
Zander
dirtineye

Trad climber
the south
Jul 28, 2007 - 02:11pm PT
That's a great story!

You really oughta submit it to a magazine or something.

Mamaric trance, what an expression. But I think it needs two "m"'s-- Mammaric Trance, yeah, that's it.



I had a girlfriend in the 70's with large perfect breasts, who was fond of tube tops. So was I. I guess I spent a lot of time in the thrall of magnificent mammories myself.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 28, 2007 - 03:01pm PT
In the Gold"stone" age, long before the Bachar-Yerian, there was the Needle's Eye...
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jul 28, 2007 - 10:32pm PT
Rich, your writing is rich and true. What reckless fun you've enjoyed, and lived to tell about it. Thanks for openning the gates.

-Jello
Curt

Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Jul 28, 2007 - 10:43pm PT
Nice story Rich--too bad you couldn't make it out to the Needles with us earlier this month. Oh well, there's always next year...

Curt
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jul 28, 2007 - 11:05pm PT
Per Jaybro's request, here's the large version of the Summitpost photo by Gary Schmidt I posted earlier on page 1.

The user formerly known as stzzo

Trad climber
SF bay area
Jul 28, 2007 - 11:29pm PT
Awesome TR. Thanks!
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 29, 2007 - 12:07am PT
A marvellous story, and pictures. Thanks!

Someday I must climb at the Needles, and Devil's Tower.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 29, 2007 - 12:16am PT
Chiloe,

Cool picture. I've added the approximate locations of the belay flake and the piton crack. The face above the crack may be forshortened---at least it felt a lot longer than it looks now.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 29, 2007 - 01:22am PT
I've done a few things in The Needles, but I sure didn't jump right up on that one, as it is cause for pause, looks pretty stretchy in the mental sense and is physically quite intimidating.

'Love the writing and the picture of the boys in/on the Scout is a gas!

Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jul 29, 2007 - 11:49am PT
Really enjoyed the story, Rich. Would love to hear more from you and other Needles pioneers. That place has a magical quality, similar to the Meadows.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 29, 2007 - 11:08pm PT
Rich, you didn't mention Higgins above. Didn't you climb a bit with him in the Needles? He went out frequently with Kamps, and I know you met him and knew him (you and he and Kamps and I were together in Tuolumne in '68), but I wondered if you actually climbed with Tom in the Needles.
WBraun

climber
Jul 29, 2007 - 11:14pm PT
Yikes!

You guys ran it out all the way to that first piton placement?

I'll settle for a top rope only, thanks.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 29, 2007 - 11:50pm PT
Pat, I think I missed Tom in the Needles. I know he was there at least one of the years I was there, in late August 1966, when he made the first ascent of the Pooper Pin, which I remember having some scary 5.9 climbing. I should have been there around then, but I don't recall doing any Needles climbs with him.

Werner, I don't think I exaggerated the location of the belay flake in my diagram. I remember traversing around the corner and out to it at a point below where the eye opened up. I guess it is possible that the flake might be a little higher than I indicated, perhaps at the level of the lower-angle profile in the picture, but no higher than that. I'll look around the web and see if there is a picture of the Needle's Eye that shows the belay flake.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 30, 2007 - 01:53am PT
One of the funniest pieces of writing I've ever read is by Gill, in my Master of Rock, where he talks about the bus getting stuck in the Needle's Eye tunnel, and the Hell's Angels showing up just as he's climbing some nearby steep thing, and how one of them sits on the hood of a tourist's car, crushes a beer can in his hand, and throws it at another car, and how Dorothy drops the belay rope and runs off to the camp... We should post that story. Gill is an exceptional writer.

I also like his story about the girl seeing him climb and asking who he was, and his answer, John Gill, and her saying, "You're not nearly good enough to be John Gill."
LongAgo

Trad climber
Jul 31, 2007 - 06:01pm PT
My diary is pretty foggy on the Needles, with one exception. Scrawled pages agree with Rich about August '66 visit. Notes on first ascents indicate Pop Top, Stupor Pin (maybe now called Tiki) and Pooper Pin, but no details or ratings. Where the diary is clear is on a near death experience on Super Pin, unclimbed at that time. Kamps and I attempted it from the northeast corner. On one attempt, I got way up on the corner but couldn't stop to drill. I shakily down climbed from my high point and Bob and I decided to call it quits. Pete Cleveland climbed this pinnacle shortly thereafter with little or no protection, creating an incredible mind game which may not have been repeated (Barber?). My understanding (from some climbing magazine article way back) is his route has since been bolted sport style. Sigh.

Tom Higgins
Long Ago
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 31, 2007 - 08:34pm PT
Tom,

Super Pin definitely was repeated by Henry Barber, and making sure he did it in the same bold style Pete Cleveland demonstrated.

Pete did it in 1967, at 5.10d or possibly 5.11, totally unprotected. He didn't even try to place a bolt and had resolved to running it out, from the start. He said there were a few moves that were not reversible. Of course the story goes that he so scared his partner, Ron Cox, that Ron asked if he could give up the belay (which was not going to help anyway) and go up and watch from the road where he would be unable to see the results of a fall.

August 1977, Henry made the second ascent. He admits to following a slightly different route than Pete's, but he felt it was equally challenging. Henry had somewhat polished his Needles climbing and that kind of boldness by putting up his own masterpiece Quartz Jester (on King Pin, with Lee), about the same grade as Superpin, and having a 60 or 70-foot runout to the top. Henry had been doing some 5.12 routes in other locations around the country and was very fit. Chip Lee was his partner, along with Dennis Horning.

Dennis then led the third ascent. After this, a bolt was placed...

Pat
BadInfluence

Mountain climber
Dak side
Jul 31, 2007 - 08:55pm PT
Bravo Rich
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Jul 31, 2007 - 10:27pm PT
The Needles are a very special place to me for many reasons. The influence Wisconsin climbers had there is one of them.

This is living history that I've only glimpsed from Piana's guidebook and rare conversations at the crags themselves.

Thanks guys.

EDIT: Super Pin has not been bolted sport style thankfully.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2007 - 12:14am PT
"August 1977, Henry made the second ascent. He admits to following a slightly different route than Pete's, but he felt it was equally challenging. Henry had somewhat polished his Needles climbing and that kind of boldness by putting up his own masterpiece Quartz Jester (on King Pin, with Lee), about the same grade as Superpin, and having a 60 or 70-foot runout to the top. Henry had been doing some 5.12 routes in other locations around the country and was very fit. Chip Lee was his partner, along with Dennis Horning. Dennis then led the third ascent. After this, a bolt was placed...

Pat, John Bragg and I repeated both the Superpin and Hairy Pin Routes. These were early ascents, but after Horning, and, I think, a few others. I can't remember the year, but it could have been as late as 1980. There was no bolt when we did it. By 1983 when Paul's guidebook came out, the bolt had appeared.

Super Pin Henry's way was a "reasonable" X-rated lead. After a few feet, Henry moved left where Pete went right. Henry's route is lower angle and at least a grade, maybe as much as two grades, easier than Pete's route. Placing a bolt after several parties had already made the ascent Henry's way was a travesty.

Tom, Pop Top and Tiki are both 5.8.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Aug 1, 2007 - 12:33am PT
Here is a picture of Superpin, circa 1982.

Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Aug 1, 2007 - 01:56am PT
Really iconic image, Rick.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 1, 2007 - 02:02am PT
Rich,
My understanding was that a bolt was placed soon after Henry's ascent but removed by someone who didn't like it. Later other bolts appeared. If I recall these and maybe even others were placed by some circus maneuver from a rope hanging off a nearby pinnacle. Are you sure about the difficulty of Pete's climb vs Henry's? How would anyone know which was harder unless they led both routes? Not that I doubt you, since you have so much knowledge of the area, but it did sort of make me wonder. Runout like they were, those routes were both pretty serious. How could Pete's be "two grades harder," though, if Henry rated his 5.10d or 5.11? Henry would have something to say about all this, I'm sure.

You guys certainly must have led Superpin. Which route did you do? Pete's or Henry's?
LongAgo

Trad climber
Aug 1, 2007 - 02:45pm PT
Thanks to all for Super Pin history and great pic of pinnacle. Route I "downclimbed" (see previous post) is left skyline, from somewhere after it tapers off. Strange, looks like I should have been able to stop to put a bolt in, but decided better to go down than try. Funny calculus as mind warped.

Can anyone describe Cleveland route and Barber variation? I assumed Cleveland went directly up face, then to right ridge in pic. Maybe Henry went left to same ridge I descended in total fright?


Tom Higgins
LongAgo
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 1, 2007 - 02:56pm PT
Apparently some guy climbed up a little over half way and froze in fright. Some friends then climbed a nearby spire (Tent or Tricouni come to mind but I think it was King) and tossed a rope over to Super to save the climber frozen in fear. A tyrolean?

It was at that point a bolt was put in.

I've only seen one bolt on that spire but I've never been very far up it. It doesn't look all that crazy from the base.

If no one else chimes in before tonight, I'll re-read the account and post here.

Here's a bit from Kris Gorny on Mountainproject.com

Barber Route


Here's link to the larger pic:
http://www.mountainproject.com/images/95/33/105979533_large_d88334.jpg

Protection
Few 48" slings, 1 quickdraw for the bolt at the crux, 24" sling to equilize a pair of bolts higher up.

Description
From the base of Super Pin climb up a dirty vegetated crack into a chimney. Go up a chimney onto a comfortable stance between Super Pin and Tent Peg. From here take a step across the chimney onto Super Pin. Sling a flake (or place a large nut behind it), go up, clip a bolt and pull the crux bulge. Continue on fun but run out 5.7 crystals to a pair of bolts on the right. From the bolts a finishing section of 5.8 face climbing leads to the top.


WIclimber edit: The description of the beginning of the climb seems contrived to me as I do not remember there being a chimney there, nor does Tent Peg actually touch Super Pin. "Step across onto Super Pin"??? Not sure about that.

I've climbed Tent and Tricouni several times each, but I guess I could have forgotten the chimney? Maybe.

rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2007 - 03:18pm PT
Pat,

You may well be right about bolts placed and removed. That would explain why Bragg and I found none.

Bragg and I did Henry's route, which I remember as 5.9+/5.10-, but the grade is relatively meaningless, given the problems of mental control required. Bragg led the route (with absolutely perfect poise and control) so as a follower I probably shouldn't even try to grade it here. I think Paul called it 5.10 in his guidebook.

I haven't gone Pete's way, but I think climbers such as Dennis Horning, who led Henry's way, took at least one fall trying to toprope Pete's way, which is why I suggested that Pete's way is at least a grade harder if not more (depending in part on how hard Henry's way really is). By the way, Pete's ascent was before chalk was in common use, and he had none. Trying to hang on to slopey Needles crystals with sweaty hands while soloing the upper half of the climb must have been stressful, to say the least.

This is not to minimize in any way the magnitude of Henry's accomplishment, especially because Pete's way makes very little routefinding sense; after the initial moves common to both routes, he headed right onto vertical, perhaps a touch beyond vertical, ground rather than stepping left to the left skyline in Rick's photo and climbing that. I'm pretty certain from his description that Tom's attempt started up the path Henry eventually took.
jgill

climber
Aug 1, 2007 - 09:13pm PT
Pete and I had been doing some bouldering a few days prior to his Superpin ascent, and I seem to recall him using chalk - perhaps my block. But I don't know if he took some along on his famous climb. I suspect he did, but I could be wrong. Nevertheless, he complemented his great technical skill with the most impressive mental control of any climber I've ever had the privilege of observing.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2007 - 10:26pm PT
John's appearance here reminds me of an addendum to the Needle's Eye saga. It turns out he was one of those caught in the traffic jam caused, at least in part, by my indecision. As I was making various ineffective climbing motions, he walked up and recognized Don Storjohann, and the two had a brief conversation. Later, Don remarked, "That was John Gill. He does the most amazing mantle-stands on the Sylvan Lake boulder."

Somehow, John escaped from the traffic jam (or perhaps just went off climbing somewhere in the Needle's Eye area). After our ascent, we met up again, Don introduced us, and soon I too was trying to do those damn mantle-stands.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 2, 2007 - 12:55am PT
What do you mean by a mantle-stand? Where you do a mantel and then put a foot where your hand was and stand up?

I would be very surprised if Pete did not use chalk. He was using it with me, when we climbed together in Boulder, quite a long time before he did SuperPin.

Tom Higgins, you are very humble about your fear and failure. We all know you were one of the best of your generation and right up there with Pete, in terms of boldness and mental control. These routes are strange, you know, get on a set of knobs or crystals just a few inches off the correct ones, and it can be two grades harder. Whether or not you backed down that day, there are plenty of bold testaments with the name of Higgins attached to them, and Pete would be the first to speak his admiration of you, along with me.

And who is that John Gill fellow? And what would he know about climbing in the Needles...?
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 2, 2007 - 05:05am PT
Now John, don't go in and hack me...
the idle rich

climber
Estes Park, CO
Aug 2, 2007 - 01:28pm PT
Rich

I climbed Super Pin in May of 1981 with Kevin Bein. I recall that there was a fixed pin to start the climb and a bolt in place higher on the route. I seem to remember climbing right from the bolt across the face to the ridge and then to the summit. Kevin told me that on the first ascent, Pete Cleveland was on the lead for a long time. Long enough that the sun was in his eyes and he kept traversing around the spire to avoid the glare. This might 'shed some light' on the route that Cleveland took. We also top roped the ridge directly above the start of the climb. It seemed much easier than the other route, but the rock quality was questionable.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 2, 2007 - 02:55pm PT
Hi Rich, great to hear from you! It seems that the history of the routes on Superpin will remain somewhat fuzzy.

Here's a picture of Matt Hale on Cerberus that always seemed to me to capture the flavor of Needles climbing.



This route was a brilliant contribution by Royal Robbins in 1964.
Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 2, 2007 - 03:04pm PT
Wow,

This is some great stuff. Finding threads like this one is sort of like finding a new secret bouldering area, with tons of gems to pick from.

This is a great thread, thanks guys.

Prod.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Aug 2, 2007 - 03:11pm PT
Just a footnote but,'64 was a banner year for RR in that area, I don't know what else he might have done in the needles (Tricouni/Cerberus is a fantastic, truly memorable climb) but I believe he added Danse Macabre (10+ hard, especially with then-contemproary, shoes, pro and ropes), and The window ( A-4, I bailed on it in '83) on Devil's tower. Try that trinity on a long weekend and attempt to avoid acknowledging whose shoulders you stand on.
-Wasn't that also the year of the NA wall?
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 2, 2007 - 03:20pm PT
Great pic Rich.

You can see the climber straining to find the last bolt. He should be looking straight right and slightly down for big footholds, for that is where the line of least resistance goes.

Interesting to see the slings there too. When did the Needles rappel become en vogue? I would have thought by that time.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 2, 2007 - 03:22pm PT
Oli:
Of course the story goes that he so scared his partner, Ron Cox, that Ron asked if he could give up the belay (which was not going to help anyway) and go up and watch from the road where he would be unable to see the results of a fall.

The story's true, I think. Ron Cox was a colorful character as well as a solid climber in his own right, living in Eldorado in the early 1970s (FFA of King's X with Paul Sibley, 1971). In SuperTopo's recent spirit of living and ancient history, here are a couple of unpublished photos of Ron, 1971-72.




rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 2, 2007 - 03:48pm PT
Wiclimber, I assume by "Needles Rappel" you mean a rappel that leaves nothing behind on the summit. For much of the time I was active there, it was a point of honor (going back to the Conn's) to get down without leaving anything, and there is no spire in the Needles that cannot be descended without leaving slings or anchors on top. What happened was that such practices went out of vogue rather than coming into vogue.

I'm sorry to say that a lot of climbers were more interested in convenience than in preserving the untouched look of the spires, and perhaps they suffered as well from a lack of imagination.

For a while, we would cut down any slings left on the summit, but of course after a while it became a hopeless task.
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 2, 2007 - 04:00pm PT
Rich,
The Needles rappel is back in style for the most part. Slings on Tricouni don't last more than an ascent or two. Usually someone will scamper up there right away and clean it up. Same with most the other promminent spires, though rappel bolts are favored over downclimbing now :) when a simul-rap is not available.

Chiloe,
Is that 1st pic of Ron on the first couple moves of the Northcutt variation? Looks like he took a fall right before that pic was taken. An embarrassed look on his face!

I can't quite nail the 2nd pic, though it looks like the west face of the Bastille...
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 2, 2007 - 04:13pm PT
Chiloe,
Is that 1st pic of Ron on the first couple moves of the Northcutt variation? Looks like he took a fall right before that pic was taken. An embarrassed look on his face!


Actually, he had just fallen after an all-out attempt on Tiger's Tooth (5.10) up on Twin Owls, in cold November conditions with a wind from the high country blowing through the crack. At this point Ron was exhausted and discouraged, but he soon recovered energy and redpointed the climb. Of course we would not have said "redpoint" back then. Note the period details: mountain boots, CMI piton hammer, knickers, balaclava, patched Holubar NP-22 parka. That might even be a goldline he fell on, though he seems also to be tied into a Chouinard "fantasia" perlon (don't recall our logic).


I can't quite nail the 2nd pic, though it looks like the west face of the Bastille...

You're right, that's the direct start to the West Buttress of the Bastille.
MZiebell

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
Aug 3, 2007 - 12:16pm PT
Bump!
LongAgo

Trad climber
Aug 3, 2007 - 07:34pm PT
Thanks Pat for the complement about my description of descending Super Pin in terror on a failed first ascent bid. One of the harder "climbs" I did at the time (especially after a hold broke)!

More generally, I don't know if it's humility to discuss failures or, as it seems now, just reflection about another important part of the game. Maybe there should be a thread on "My Favorite Failures." Guess I could chime in with a wild tale of near death using a stupid self belay jumar system on the Bachar Yerian and You Asked For It. At any rate, failures tell us we are not invincible, the rock can beat us back or down (or wipe us out as a random, uncaring event), all of which makes some successes extra rich and improbable. Then there's the realization someone better past, present or future is a full on reality, another way to knock us off any high horse and shift focus to the rock, joy of movement, air, sky - the act itself rather than our bit part in history. In hindsight, all that seems a good thing for the soul.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Aug 4, 2007 - 10:48am PT
Jello-Thanks. That picture of me on Superpin was taken by the late Pete Steres on a road trip we took in 1982. I did not think it was too hard technically, maybe 5.9 or easy 5.10, but I gratefully clipped the one tainted bolt that had been added after Henry’s ascent. My understanding was that Pete Cleveland’s route went up the middle of the side facing the camera and it is clearly steeper and harder than Henry’s route, which climbs the left skyline in the picture.

Jgill- Thanks for joining the ST conversation. We look forward to stories from a legendary career.

Another Superpin story involving ST regular maldaly. I went to the Needles with Malcolm in the 1990’s for an Access Fund meeting. We stepped out of the car after the long drive from Boulder and Malcolm led Superpin and then Hairypin for his very first climbs in the Needles! No warm up necessary for the talented Mal.
pc

climber
East of Seattle
Aug 4, 2007 - 12:07pm PT
Rich, Great TR. Thanks. Is this new writing or did you write it at the time?

Cheers,
pc
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Aug 4, 2007 - 04:09pm PT
mammaric trance has forever entered the lexicon.

Way to go, Rich! Very well done story. Quality thread, too.

Even more tittilation from a place that evokes hushed tones and moods of magic.

Someday...

Doug
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Aug 4, 2007 - 07:04pm PT
Strange that Oli should ask what a mantle-stand is. The only one I've seen done was by the same person who was roped to him when I first met Oli, but later in a different place.

When reaching the top of a climb he finished off with a mantle but did NOT put his foot next to his hand.
Instead, after doing the press up part of the mantle, he showed incredible gymnastic strength, balance and control by levering his legs backwards and continuing into a handstand which he held for some time.
I'm hurtin . . .

Ice climber
land of cheese and beer
Aug 4, 2007 - 07:56pm PT
Great thread regarding Superpin, which scared me sh##tless the first time I led it about 25 years ago. Since then, I've been fortunate enough to be able to reach the summit (and occasionally stand on it) many times.

When doing Henry's route, the crux (5.10a/b) is getting past the fixed pin (now a bolt) and getting to a reasonably secure stance with fixed pro a foot or so below your feet. (The bent and twisted pin was replaced by a bolt 3-4 years ago) From this point and with no additional pro, Henry went straight left to the NE ridge, and then up to the summit wich involves some 5.9 climbing.

Pete went up and right from the stance and is solid 5.11. And as others have stated, I do not believe this lead has been repeated. Pete Cleveland exerpt from Piana's TOUCH THE SKY:
"Looking up from the bottom after the climb, the route I chose appeared to be the most unlikely way, especially since it required climbing a near-vertical section that was made all the more memorable because several of the moves could not be reversed, the holds were small and occasionally loose. I can still remember the sensation of my fingers starting to perspire and the holds feeling moist and less secure. I put all thoughts aside and climbed with full commitment and intensity over the new difficulties to the top, to the considerable relief of Ron"

Just reading this description make my fingers perspire!!

When climbing Henry's route, it is possible to step right about 20-25' above the .10a/b crux and clip a bolt (there are two bolts actually) and then either continue up and right to the summit or go back to the ridge and up.

Dave Rone
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 6, 2007 - 12:29am PT
I used to do mantel stands (note the correct spelling, as opposed to mantle), if you mean doing a mantel and then pressing into a handstand as you continue upward. Both Rich Goldstone and GIll have seen me do that. That wasn't too hard for anyone who was a practicing gymnast. Certainly Candelaria didn't pretend to think he had invented that little press. But, Rich, is that what you meant when describing the Sylvan Lake mantel stands? I'm curious.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 6, 2007 - 12:43pm PT
No, no, not at all. I was trying to convey Don's midwestern enthusiam and naivete by quoting him exactly. My amusement at his use of the term "mantel-stands" has lasted lo these 43 years. Don was an excellent climber, but self-taught (as many of us were in the late fifties and eary sixties). Whatever books he may have read (and there were hardly any, at least not in English), his vocabulary was not quite contemporary, and "mantel-stands" was his made-up name for...something Gill did that amazed him.

Perhaps John will correct me on this, but I only remember one problem on the Sylvan Lake boulder that might have involved manteling, and even that had manteling as one of the options rather than as a requirement. Moreover, the serious difficulties began after one pressed out, since the wall above bulged, and so that particular mantel was not an occasion for any feats of balance.

Thinking of Don reminds me of another aspect of climbing with him. He was so enthusiastic that he literally rushed at the rock as soon as we arrived. This often resulted in him being fifteen or twenty feet up, as often as not in a bad position, without any of the gear and, indeed, without having roped up yet.

Now various people would, over time, extract some lessons from these experiences. The lesson that Don learned was to be extremely good at tying a bowline one-handed while standing on poor footholds and clinging to a greasy crystal with the other hand.
wootles

climber
Gamma Quadrant
Aug 6, 2007 - 02:54pm PT
Excellent account Rgold! And excellent work on the route, it was pure visionary.

I made an ascent of that route in the late 80's and remember two things: I figured it was going to hurt an awful lot when I hit the pavement, and that Mr. Goldstone must have a real steely pair.

Does anyone know if the summit register is still there? It would be really cool if some entries could be copied out and posted, the earliest ones in particular.
I'm hurtin . . .

Ice climber
land of cheese and beer
Aug 6, 2007 - 08:21pm PT
Hey Wootles,
The summit register on Needles Eye is long gone . . .
Rone
Curt

Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Aug 7, 2007 - 12:39am PT
Rich,

You're right. Even the north mantle problem on the Sylvan Lake boulder only requires that you to somehow manage to rock over a high right foot placement.

Curt
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 7, 2007 - 02:14am PT
Thanks, Rich, for clearing that up for me, about mantel stands. I hadn't heard the phrase before. By the way, John did some very difficult mantels in his day. I was with him on any number of occasions when he manteled up and over some horrific smooth bulge or did a mantel on some really small thing. He alway said he didn't like mantels and avoided them, but he was so gifted at climbing, as we have all noted, that he sometimes simply did them. I remember one particular mantel of his at Split Rocks that really seemed next to impossible when I first tried it. I got it finally, but it wasn't easy. That was before I got much better at manteling, though I expect if I had returned in my manteling "prime" I would have still found it to be a challenge.
Hammer

climber
Aug 7, 2007 - 06:03am PT
The Needles Eye is a classic in this area and is climbed many times each summer.

For those of you who don't know, there are two pitons at a horizontal crack about seventy feet up that are the only protection above the flake and that represent ground fall potential if they pulled or if someone were to fall before clipping.

The local "climbers Coalition", a small handfull of people who dictate Needles "ethics", has decreed that pitons should not be replaced with bolts in order to keep the Needles "pure", perhaps the ultimate "living history".

I know of one incident in which a crystal broke off about fifteen feet above the pitons resulting in a thirty foot fall in which the pitons held but I wonder if they can be trusted after having been in place more than twenty or thirty years.

Should this route remain a museum piece or should the protection be upgraded before someone dies on this route?


wootles

climber
Gamma Quadrant
Aug 7, 2007 - 08:43am PT
uh oh.......
Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 7, 2007 - 10:06am PT
Hey Hammer,

Good point, but maybe for another thread. The history here is too good to get mired down with politics. IMHO...

Anyone have a picture of Don?

Prod.
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Aug 7, 2007 - 10:34am PT
the idle rich said "We also top roped the ridge directly above the start of the climb. It seemed much easier than the other route, but the rock quality was questionable."



Thats basically the route I took in the early 90's. The questionable rock (?) was fortunately pretty moderate. I too clipped the added bolt without remorse, but in retrospect its too bad that it was added to such a unique climb. I may not have done the climb without the bolt, but then again, I dont need to climb everything either.

My climb was important to me because on my first trip to the needles it was my main goal. But after looking at it I was a bit scared and kept putting it off. On my last day of the trip the fog came in and it was looking like I could blame the weather for my lack of balls. I took my kids up a spire across the road and up from it, a 5.4 something or other. DAMN! there were two guys climbing Superpin. I could not in good conscience then blame the weather for my lack of sacking up and I decided to go for it. The mist was swirling through the ten pins and it was pretty cold and threatening rain, a magical moment for this average climber.

It is those moments of overcoming doubt and fear that become etched into my memory. I went back again and it was no big deal, the fear of the unknown had been overcome.
RhoadsClimbs

Trad climber
Madison, WI
Aug 7, 2007 - 11:27am PT
Xciting! I put this one down to the horror of several touristas after proclaiming "That was the most terrifying thing I've ever done!" And it was.....supposed cam placement to the left of the fixed pins in a crumbly notch is worthless. Enjoy!
diggler

Mountain climber
Oaktown, CA
Aug 7, 2007 - 12:23pm PT
(in reply to the original post) Thanks & congrats- excellent story.
Don S

Mountain climber
Hockessin DE
Aug 7, 2007 - 02:03pm PT
Thanks Rich for telling the story of our great adventure! Just happened to come accross this forum by accident. Those days of climbing in the Needles were indeed wonderful. I will add a couple of pictures and additional comments shortly.

First I am most concerned that somebody might get killed on this climb so I want to offer my vote to encourage the addition of a couple of really good bolts to prevent a possible ground fall.
jstan

climber
Aug 7, 2007 - 03:31pm PT
Don:
I have long wondered where you got to. Welcome.

I still remember our first meeting. You and Pete Cleveland were running down hill with big packs on a trail coming off the Tetons.

Don't tell me, I know. You still have that permanent big smile and you still run uphill faster than you do down. Right?

Stannard
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 8, 2007 - 01:35am PT
Welcome, Don.

Pat Ament
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 8, 2007 - 08:11am PT
Summit register?...no problem, I'll put one up there as soon as I get home from this work trip I'm on. Will be back the end of the month, will get register up in september.

Nice to hear Don's thoughts about the route, and thank you Don for your part in establishing the route, will be thinking about the situation. I understand the reasons to leave it as is, and I understand the reasons to make it safer.

wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 8, 2007 - 08:43am PT
Wow, this thread keeps getting better and better.

Would be great to get a crew out to the Needles some week in Autumn.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 8, 2007 - 10:47am PT
Whatever doubts I had about writing up this account for SuperT, the fact that it has lead to getting back in touch with Don certainly makes it worthwhile.

I do hope that my descriptions of Don's enthusiasm for female anatomy have not obscured the fact that the first ascent of the Needle's Eye was his idea, and that it would never have happened had he not been bold enough to launch up that face without any idea at all whether he would find adequate protection up at the "fold." I happened to have arrived at the top first, but the Needle's Eye is primarily his achievement.

One of the things about Don I didn't dwell on is his modesty and decency, but I think those traits shine through in his immediate reaction about the need to make the climb safer. Whatever your particular take on the gains and losses associated retrobolting, and I personally think the issue is indeed complicated, Don's immediate reflex here to protect those who have come after us is typical of the humanity of the man.

Welcome, Don!
wootles

climber
Gamma Quadrant
Aug 8, 2007 - 11:12am PT
I'm curious. Have there been many falls held by the pin/s? If it is a common occurrence it would probably be a good idea to place a bolt at the level of the pin/s with the dual purpose of perhaps saving a life and preserving the rock. Certainly the pin/s could be replaced, but how many times before the placement is destroyed and useless? Not that my opinion should matter in this case; just a thought to chew on. I would say it's largely up to Rgold and Don.
Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 8, 2007 - 11:16am PT
Hey Wiclimber,

I would come if you set up a get together. Sounds like I'd be getting the VIP tour from this group.

Not that I carry any weight here but some time in mid to late Oct would be best for me....

Prod.
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Aug 8, 2007 - 11:29am PT
About the pins on Needles Eye. My opinion doesnt mean crap; however, anyone venturing up there should be in the mindset that "the leader must not fall", a good mantra for many Needles climbs. The best pro is found within oneself on many of those climbs.

I do respect and understand why Don would want them replaced with a bolt. Nobody wants others to get hurt or die on a route that they happen to put up.
jgill

climber
Colorado
Aug 8, 2007 - 10:35pm PT
Hey Don,

It's been a long time! Good to see you show up here. Here is a photo of you starting Cutfinger Crack at Jenny Lake, some time in the mid 1960s I would guess.


Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Aug 8, 2007 - 10:46pm PT
It's not the kind of 5.8 lead that a 5.8 leader should even think about.
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 8, 2007 - 11:01pm PT
If you can't down climb it, you shouldn't lead it.

That's how the Conn's climbed.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Aug 8, 2007 - 11:19pm PT
The Conns did what they did and seem to work for them. This was a special climb at special time.

Nice thread.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 9, 2007 - 08:10am PT
The fall I described earlier was a total surprise to the climber when the hold broke (the leader must not fall).

The Conn's didn't climb this route (don't lead it if you can't downclimb it).

5.8 was as hard as I could lead the first time I led this route (I had followed it before).

The opinions of all climbers are appreciated in these discussions and yes, Rich and Don have the final say.

Thank you all for your opinions.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 9, 2007 - 10:31am PT
Rich, I'd be curious to know more detail about the Needle's Eye, for example if you had any chalk, or if you were using a swami belt, or if you'd tapped into the new Chouinard pitons yet, or where the sun shines, what direction it comes from in the early morning when you were climbing, and what the actual grade would be. I hear 5.8 thrown around, but it seems that might be a "Needles' grading." Would that climb actually be 5.9 by any normal standard? Psychologically it sounds like 5.10... Were you using RD's then or some other shoe? How far out were you from your piton, at the hardest moves, exactly? And so forth... Was it easy to get off the top? How did you do it? Did Don follow? How did he get down? Were you both on the top at one time, or separately? Exactly how tall is the spire? Does a single rope reach doubled?
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 9, 2007 - 10:45am PT
To give another perspective (no doubt a bit foreshortened) on this intimidating climb, here's Tony Bubb's photo from MountainProject.com http://www.mountainproject.com/v/south_dakota/needles_eye/needles_eye/105714959

Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 9, 2007 - 10:52am PT
Hey Chiloe,

Is the fixed Piton in this pic or is it below the bottom of the pic? Also it looks like there are anchors at the top? Is that the case?

Prod.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 9, 2007 - 11:43am PT
The horizontal break near the climber holds the only piton opportunities. The crux moves go right and then up -- Rich or somebody who's actually led this should give the play-by-play.

From this perspective it looks deceptively un-steep. See the photo I linked earlier for a better sense of the angle.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 9, 2007 - 05:29pm PT
"Rich, I'd be curious to know more detail about the Needle's Eye, for example if you had any chalk,

No.

or if you were using a swami belt,

I was, but I think Don was still tying in with the rope.

or if you'd tapped into the new Chouinard pitons yet,

No.

or where the sun shines, what direction it comes from in the early morning when you were climbing,

Well, the face we were on faces Southeast, I think, so it is possible that the early morning sun would be in your eyes. However, I don't remember any problem with the sun.

and what the actual grade would be. I hear 5.8 thrown around, but it seems that might be a "Needles' grading." Would that climb actually be 5.9 by any normal standard? Psychologically it sounds like 5.10...

I think 5.8 is about right. Around twenty years later (then in my early forties), I found myself in the Needles Eye parking lot once again, at the end of the day, with Kevin Bein, who was living in Custer at the time with Barbara. On the spur of the moment, I decided to see what kind of nonsense I'd been up to as a callow youth, and did the route again. I was kinda hoping the bulge at the top would turn out to be harder than 5.8, but I don't think so.

The problems of the Needle's Eye, even then but certainly nowadays with the tremendous increase in standards, are primarily psychological. The first ascent took place right next to the Thimble, which Gill soloed at 5.12 three years earlier, and just a short distance from Superpin, which Pete Cleveland climbed at 5.11 three years later, so I don't think anyone could look at our ascent as at all significant in terms of its difficulty.

Were you using RD's then or some other shoe?

I hadn't yet discovered RD's. I think I was climbing in kletterschuhe called "Spiders." They were kinda stiff and had a lugged sole and looked alot like another klettershuhe called "Zillertals." Sticky rubber wasn't even a twinkle in Bachar's eye yet...

How far out were you from your piton, at the hardest moves, exactly? And so forth...

Exactly? I don't know, but not that far; perhaps 15 feet. Felt like 1500 feet though...

Was it easy to get off the top? How did you do it? Did Don follow? How did he get down? Were you both on the top at one time, or separately? Exactly how tall is the spire? Does a single rope reach doubled?

Don followed easily, and we were both on top together. We rappelled off the top. I don't recall whether we had to do one or two rappels; you go first to a shoulder high on the Northwest side. The entire climb might be 100 feet or so; someone who's done it more recently could answer with alot more precision. Our ropes at the time were 120 feet.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Aug 9, 2007 - 09:01pm PT
Priceless.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 10, 2007 - 03:34am PT
Rich, did you hammer some pitons in at the top, to rappel, or was it possible to drape some slings around the summit? How did you anchor the belay and the rappel? I'm just trying to really get the full picture in every detail...

Thanks so much for the fine memories.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Aug 10, 2007 - 08:08am PT
Rich, Great memories. I really like hearing those sorts of details--Spiders, tying into the rope, 120 foot ropes and terrifying 5.8. Nowadays, those sorts of details are totally irrelevant.

Best, Roger
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2007 - 09:50am PT
Pat, I don't remember how we anchored or got off, but I don't remember much fussing to get it done. Perhaps the party that had bolted up the West face from the shoulder left some kind of anchor? I really don't recall.

Somewhat later, after I had met and climbed with Kamps, I became very sensitive about leaving anything on top of a spire, and we improvised various ways (not including simul-rapping, actually) to get down without leaving anchors or slings.

I also have come across some pictures of me climbing at Devil's Lake, WI with some Chouinard pitons on my rack, and this would have been at approximately the same time as the Needle's Eye ascent, so maybe we did have some Chouinard hardware. But I remember Don placing a Simond horizontal and I especially remember the gold Charlet-Moser horizontal (with the eye twisted at a 45 degree angle to the blade) that I placed.
Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 10, 2007 - 10:22am PT
The Conns? Who are they?

Prod.
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 10, 2007 - 10:34am PT
Herb and Jan were speleologists. They did "a bit" of climbing in the Needles too.

Jan and her female climbing partner were the first women to have climbed Devil's Tower.

rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2007 - 11:12am PT
The Conn's turned to cave exploration, in Jewel Cave and Wind Cave, but were first of all rock-climbers. Originally from the Washington DC area, they moved to the Needles in 1947, at a time when very few climbs had been done there and the place was nearly off the map for American rock climbers.

Climbing almost daily in sneakers with a 50-foot rope and US Army soft-iron pitons, they made over 200 first ascents in their active period from 1947 to 1960. Some of their routes, like the classic East Face of the East Gruesome, approach 5.9 in difficulty. Rarely if ever has a single team of climbers had such a profound effect on the development of an area.

Herb was, I think, a civil engineer before they "dropped out," and put his surveying skills to work by creating extensive maps of the spires, maps that enabled all those who followed to find their way to new climbs and old ones.

Around 1959, the Conn's began exploring and mapping Jewel Cave, and this has been their passion, replacing rock-climbing, since then.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Aug 10, 2007 - 12:59pm PT






Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Aug 10, 2007 - 01:20pm PT
The Needles of SD has some of the spookiest knob climbing you will ever do,
Although this one is quite moderate for the area,
Tricouni Nail:

goatboy smellz

climber
colorado
Aug 10, 2007 - 01:59pm PT
Oh boy Roy, I sure am glad you retired so you have more time to post.

Maybe we need to set up some sort of trust fund so we can keep your electricity up and buzzin.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2007 - 02:02pm PT
Tar, I think the picture you posted is the Tent Peg, not the Tricouni Nail.
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 10, 2007 - 02:07pm PT
They most often climbed with a 50 foot rope and always down climbed their ascent route. If they didn't feel they could down climb it, they left it for another day.

They completed hundreds of 1st ascents.

Jan quote, "You climb anything in the Needles, if you have enough guts".

They lived in a cave too, right? Anyone ever see that cave?
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 10, 2007 - 02:11pm PT
RG,

It may look like Tent Peg because the flake looks larger than it normally does. It's Tricouni. That's Queen to the immediate left.

Super Pin in the background gives it away. Tent Peg is out of view to the right of Super.

AK

I love the pro on Tricouni. In ascending order: pin pin pin, medium nut, bolt, bolt.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2007 - 02:33pm PT
Yeah, WiC, I guess you're right. The flake looks so much bigger than I remember it.

I've been to the Conn Cave years ago; maybe it was '64. It was actually a large overhanging boulder that the Conn's walled in. Both Herb and Jan were quite short and most people couldn't stand up all the way inside. I recall being amused that the built a proper garage for their VW van.
jgill

climber
Colorado
Aug 10, 2007 - 04:57pm PT
Yes, the Conns were (are) quite short, which meant they could wriggle into little crevices that left me pinching nubbins on the outside sometimes! The Conncave was really very pleasant, with a stone patio and a natural shelf inside that they made their bed. I think that Herb may have been an electrical engineer, for I recall him showing me an experimental device he had built. But I could be mistaken. He worked for the Navy during their time in DC. Jan, a very competent musician, taught guitar and maybe flute in Custer. And at some point they got a trailer they put up near the cave. But all this is recollections from almost 50 years ago, so I could be wrong. I do recall a friend and I made the second ascent of their route on the South Tower, which we thought was quite nice.

It would be wonderful if they would (could) contribute to this discussion. As Rich mentioned, they were real pioneers in American rock climbing, especially the Needles. Incidentally, they "bouldered" on long nubbin traverses close to the ground.
sweet sue

Trad climber
Hill City, SD
Aug 10, 2007 - 05:21pm PT
First time I've seen this site. As I've been a Needler forever, it seems, it is wonderful for Rich to share his stories. The Needles are one of the few places left in the country where you can't just clip and go on everything. It developes skills of assessing yourself and your partners, knowing what you really 'can climb'. The Eye is a super super classic, bring some gear for the horizontal to back up the old pins... and keep a super cool head for the 5.7 arete.

I once saw a guy take a whipper from the horizontal, just as he was moving into the dish. He yanked his belayer up about 10 feet and they both dangled 15 feet from the deck. Good thing a car wasn't parked there that day!

Cheers,
Keep on writing Rich. You should come back some summer for our annual Pinfest!
Susan Scheirbeck
Hill City
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 10, 2007 - 05:28pm PT
Susan,

Are you the Susan who guides out there (owns a climbing shop too maybe)? If so, I ran into you in the Outlets a few years ago.

Anyway, when is Pinfest?

Adrian
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 10, 2007 - 06:48pm PT
The 5.7 arete is actually about 5.4.

Hmmnnn, a Needler heh?
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Aug 10, 2007 - 09:32pm PT
Great thread Rich...wonderful writing from you.

Funny story.

I did Roadside Attraction with Kevin in 1983. Kevin couldn't follow do to rain..I rapped off and pull the gear except for a number one friend that was stuck. Kevin told me not to worry that he would get it. I left the next morning and it rained for three straight days. Kevin went back and the friend was gone...so we thought.

I met Lew Hoffman in 1984...first trip to the San Luis Valley for Bob Murray and me. We meet Lew at the Ballon Ranch and he tells me about a crack he tried to do and there is a stuck friend on it. I asked him if he has/uses many friends...say no...just one that he found in the Needles last summer.

Make a long story short...it's my long lost friend...I do the route and get my friend back.

Small world.
I'm hurtin . . .

Ice climber
land of cheese and beer
Aug 12, 2007 - 12:00am PT
Hi Sue! Good to see you here!

I posted this photo last year, but with the conversation of the Conn's coming up, I think it's worth posting again.

This is from last year's 100th anniversary party at Devils Tower for Devils Tower. Some influential Tower climbers also happen to be influential Needles climbers. Jan played her guitar and sang climbing songs and ballads for at least an hour. She is (still) an amazing lady!


L to R: Todd Skinner, Dennis Horning, Jan Conn, Jim McCarthy, Paul Piana, Herb Conn

I'll have to dig up a photo of Sue . . . also an influential Needles climber!
Rone
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 12, 2007 - 03:38am PT
Nice shot, nice group of people.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 13, 2007 - 07:33pm PT
So, what about the question of replacing the pitons with modern bolts???
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 13, 2007 - 09:02pm PT
It is what it should be, with 1st ascensionists approval when possible, a concensus of the local climbing community and common sense with what type of protetion is available.

(nice try at starting something :)
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 14, 2007 - 01:49am PT
You guys sure have been having fun while I was away in Tuolumne and at the trade show. Though, referring to the photo upthread, I did meet Jim McCarthy in SLC.

bump.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 14, 2007 - 08:34pm PT
So wiclimber, your common sense tells you the protetion (sic) on the Eye is adequate?
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 16, 2007 - 07:07am PT
OK, no one wants to talk about the tough issues.

Don said, on this thread, that he would like to see not only the pins replaced by bolts but also a new bolt to prevent the ground fall potential and Rich praised him for his concern that others not be hurt on a route he put up. Maybe this is enough for me to go ahead and 'upgrade' the route.
LongAgo

Trad climber
Aug 17, 2007 - 08:48pm PT
Just for fun and the thread record on Needles climbs, here's old pic of first ascent of Tiki (another name too?) near reservoir. Fun, about 5.8 and OK pro as I recall ...

Tom Higgins
LongAgo



jgill

climber
Colorado
Aug 17, 2007 - 11:05pm PT
Hey Tom (LongAgo), here's a pic of you (in classy Bermuda shorts) climbing probably either at the Ten Pins or possibly on Tiki, back in the mid 1960s. You were working on a 1st ascent. Remember which one?

The other pic (long pants) is one of the few in my collection that I can't place. I think it's either Pete Cleveland or Bob Kamps - again mid 1960s - but I don't know what 1st ascent he is on. I realize with the many square miles of rock in the Needles, it would be a miracle if anyone could recognize this climb, but I'll ask anyway!





Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Aug 17, 2007 - 11:17pm PT
So what is the latest word on Pete Cleveland? Anyone kept up with him?
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Aug 18, 2007 - 02:35am PT
Here's a little synopsis of the ethics applied to the needles for anyone interested.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/south_dakota/needles_eye/105714255?highlightphrase=black%20hills%20climbing%20coalition#a_105715830
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 18, 2007 - 03:29am PT
Last I spoke to Pete Cleveland was when I interviewed him rather extensively by phone, about 5 years ago, for the free climbing history. He was still living near Devil's Lake and sounded as though all was well with him. I should get back in touch. He was still climbing at that time quite a bit, at Devil's Lake.
LongAgo

Trad climber
Aug 18, 2007 - 03:27pm PT
John, sorry I can't help with the unknown climber in the second pic or the climb I was on in the first pic you posted. On the other hand, maybe my Bermuda shorts are best left to obscurity anyway! I mostly bought climbing garb from the Salvation Army, but these shorts are quite a low even in my shabby collection.

Johnboy, thanks for link to how climbers negotiated an agreement on sport versus trad approaches in Needles area. Long ago, I called for such agreements to quell the rising, divisive tide on climbing styles beginning in the late 70's. You may (or may not) be interested in a recent (2006) ramble on climbing style issues at my website, including reference to an agreement among Pinnacles (CA) climbers paralleling what your link describes. Here's the link:

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=19

Tom Higgins
LongAgo

Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 18, 2007 - 03:56pm PT
Edit.. Enough said Jstan, thanks.

Prod.
jstan

climber
Aug 18, 2007 - 04:41pm PT
Don emailed me from the same address in his profile. The person at that address is the real Don Storjohann. And what he had to say was exactly what Don would say under the circumstances, IMO.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 18, 2007 - 04:58pm PT
I haven't looked at the links to Needles 'ethics' because I've heard all the arguements many, many times. The fact is that the very small group of diehard Needles 'ethics' makers don't climb in the Needles any more so we don't put much stock in their opinion.

Some of us who do climb some of the X rated routes every summer, sometimes several times each summer, are aware that fixed pitons that have been in place for thirty years or more are likely to be much less dependable now than when they were placed.

While we know Don's opinion on the matter, Rich never really got back to the issue and he is technically the first ascentionist. We would like to hear a yes or no from him.

Reasonable people should be able to discuss this stuff without getting their ropes in a twist.
jstan

climber
Aug 18, 2007 - 05:41pm PT
Without saying anything specific Prod seemed to have some sort of reservation as to what the facts were. I responded merely to relieve him of any doubt as to whether the "Don" was actually Don or an impostor.

Apparently you have no such doubt so my job is done.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 18, 2007 - 07:05pm PT
I'm the one he thought was the imposter. I didn't see any point in telling him I'm not although I guess now I just did. Thanks for straightening him out.
I'm hurtin . . .

Ice climber
land of cheese and beer
Aug 18, 2007 - 10:52pm PT
Hammer writes:

I haven't looked at the links to Needles 'ethics' because I've heard all the arguements many, many times. The fact is that the very small group of diehard Needles 'ethics' makers don't climb in the Needles any more so we don't put much stock in their opinion.

I'm wondering who the 'we' is that you are referring to? The fact is that there are still a good number of people who support the opinions of the 'ethics' makers. Do they have to climb in the Needles for their opinions to matter?
Rone
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Aug 19, 2007 - 01:11am PT
Tom, thanks for the link, a good read.

Hammer, I quit climbing in the needles back when they started charging entrance fees year round. Plenty of rock in the hills without looking to hard.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 19, 2007 - 05:40am PT
'We' are a group of climbers who climb in the Needles every year. 'We' are the people who have established over a hundred new routes in the Needles in recent years. 'We' are the people who have replaced dozens of old button heads with modern bolts. 'We' are the people who have replaced all the old button head and webbing anchors with modern bolts and chains. 'We' are the people who climb the R and X rated routes that others won't. 'We' might want to replace suspect old pins with new bolts and 'We' might want to add a bolt here and there.

Yes, they have to climb in the Needles for their opinions to matter... and they have to climb the R and X rated routes that they haven't climbed in years (or never) if they want to be taken seriously by 'We'.

The 'ethics' were agreed upon by fewer than a dozen people over twenty years ago, people who no longer climb the routes they 'govern'. It is time for a new discussion of Needles ethics that includes the people who use the resource.

bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Aug 19, 2007 - 11:58am PT
Don't ruin this thread...start a new one or contact Rich G. by email.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 19, 2007 - 03:19pm PT
Ruin this thread???
jstan

climber
Aug 19, 2007 - 03:58pm PT
I think Bob has a point. Getting into a discussion of how to proceed in an orderly fashion as regards protection in the area is a substantial change in topic. To do that on this thread both short changes your new topic and potentially can shut off the purely historical thread. Capech?
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 19, 2007 - 04:11pm PT
Hammer, for what it is worth, I don't think my opinion is worth any more than anyone else's. I think issues like this should be settled by the regulars of an area, who hopefully will cast an eye backwards to tradition and forwards to what their acts may do to influence the future.

With all due respect, I don't think anyone here has any idea what standing, if any, you have in the local community. One thing is clear at the moment: there are no other contemporary local voices clamoring for the changes you propose.

In the case of the Needles, it seems to me that the route forward in this case is crystal-clear, to coin a phrase. There is a Black Hills Climber's Coalition whose membership is open to all Needle's climbers, and the BHCC has a fixed anchor committee that monitors and repairs anchors. They are the poeple who should do the work, and it is there that the discussion you are so interested in having should take place.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 19, 2007 - 06:47pm PT
I agree that these issues should be settled by the regulars of the area. Coalition members are no longer regulars of the area so we need some new voices.

Since both Rich and Don have weighed in and don't want anything to do with the issue, I'll drop it here and take it up in the Needles with the regular climbers in the area.

This has been productive because the first ascentionists don't consider the route their property and don't claim the right to decide.

Thanks to all for your comments and opinions.
I'm hurtin . . .

Ice climber
land of cheese and beer
Aug 19, 2007 - 10:47pm PT
The thread began with the recollection and description of a route put up in the traditional ground-up Needles style that embodies adventure, vision, and commitment. And of course there are hundreds of Needles routes on which one can still get the traditional experience. And when you talk to sport and traditional climbers from across the country, you'll find that most of them have visited the Needles, and of course the routes they remember best and appreciate the most are routes like the Needles Eye, Superpin, and Hairy Pin.

Unfortunately, most (not all) of the new routes are top-down and lack that vision and adventure. Not because the opportunities don't exist, but because the new 'regulars' don't want to put in the effort to go find them.

And to say that the Black Hills Climbing Coalition members are no longer regulars?! Truly demonstrates lack of vision and narrowness of mind.

Dave Rone
hogger

Trad climber
great plains
Aug 25, 2007 - 11:38pm PT
I've so enjoyed this thread and the history it is producing, my thanks to the responders who created some of the old, bold classics. I'm reluctant to comment on the upgrade issue for fear of furthering the discussion here but am concerned about any rash changes. The new routes mentioned are fun, safe and appreciated but my two cents say that the classics along the road shouldn't be made "safer". I witnessed a lead of the 5.10 route on the Eye last week where the leader placed 5 nuts along with clipping the bolt on the way to the shoulder, slung a crystal with a nut backing it up for a directional halfway up the arete, and got a bomber nut and two cams besides the pitons in the horizontal seam near the top.
Back to history please, more pics would be great!
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Aug 29, 2007 - 03:33pm PT
"...FOR FEAR OF FURTHERING THE DISCUSSION..." ??? Jeez, that would be horrible, we don't want to know what other climbers are thinking.

What about the fact that Don, the climber who put up the route, stated on this thread that he would like to see bolts to replace the pins with the first bolt placed lower to protect from ground fall. Is that too scary to talk about?

The 5.10 variation from the parking lot to the horn/shoulder doesn't count toward this discussion because its not on the route. The original way to get to the horn/shoulder involves about seventy feet of unprotected climbing at about 5.6/5.7 here and there. No one is suggesting that should be changed.

Sounds like the climber you watched placed a lot of psychlogical pro...and doing so means he didn't climb the route Don climbed so whats the point?

Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 4, 2007 - 10:23am PT
It appears that discussion of replacing the pins with bolts has ended.

Having taken an informal pole of regular climbers who climb in the Needles every summer, the consensus seems to be that replacing the two pins with two bolts is a good idea. It also is in agreement with Don Storjohann who posted his preference on this thread.

Next season should see the change.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 4, 2007 - 04:58pm PT
Perhaps not quite. I'm glad you didn't try to cite me as agreeing with your plan, since I clearly do not. The only entity that has the resources to actually consult local climbers is the BHCC. Your definition of who constitutes local climbers is, well, just your definition. Someone else might have another definition that excludes you. In view of this, and to the extent that first ascentionist's views count for anything, I am opposed to you carrying out the proposed bolting. Since you are fond of quoting Don's position, I hope in any future discussions you will remember to bring up my opposition as well.

Please note that this has nothing to do with whether there should be zero, one, or two (now its up to two?) bolts. It has to do with finding a mechanism that genuinely reaches and considers the opinions of as many users as possible before making any decisions.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Sep 4, 2007 - 05:15pm PT
Looks like a tie. = don't mess with it!

jstan

climber
Sep 4, 2007 - 05:55pm PT
Mr. Hammer:
If it is your hope to do work that advances the
enjoyment climbers in the Needles get from their pursuit,
my experience in the Shawangunks from the 60's and 70's
may be of use to you in your effort.

The people there engineered a major change in
what we did, with very little rancor, a high level of
cooperation and that change has persisted now some forty
years. I don't know whether I helped or I hindered that
change but I did unilaterally decide to speak and to hold up
for public consideration the problems we faced. On one
occasion I put some blue ribbons in the bushes to see if
trails might help and some good friends perceived this as
unilateral action of an irreversable nature. Quite rightly they
took them down and I apologized.

My point. In these situations any action perceived as
being unilateral is highly destructive of the common good.
The well is poisoned and no matter how good one's
intentions may have been, only damage to everyone will
result. In the process the usefulness of the instigator will be
permanently destroyed. The danger you face is very high.


Now I certainly don't want to discourage those who
want to help make visible the problems we face. The
rewards you get for doing this successfully are immense
and stay with you permanently. There is no better feeling
than knowing you helped people do a very hard job and to
do it well.

I also learned something of great value. At the time
I knew I was, by nature, not well qualified for the job. So I
determined to think only in terms of getting better at it. Just
the way one has to approach climbing itself. What comes
out is one is constantly learning from people, many of whom
will be disagreeing with you.


Anyone wishing to lead, has first to decide they are willing
to follow. For that is what leading is.

EDIT:
There are a number of people on ST, and elsewhere,
who have much experience in these kinds of things. So
there are many places from which you can get help and
counsel.
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Sep 4, 2007 - 05:58pm PT
I don't believe the needles eye belongs to the climbers themselves for their discussion only. It happens to be one of the most photographed places in the hills on a highly traveled road of people from all over. Why don't you ask everyone? This is exactly why I took the path of less visability years ago. Some people have a very narrow minded view of public property. They climb it, they own it.
Give me a break.

Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Sep 4, 2007 - 07:44pm PT
jus' my opinion, yo. From a one time local who grew as much as the Grinch's heart did, leading that pitch.

Johnboy, do nonclimbers care where pro is or whether it's fixed, or whether it works, as long as they get to enjoy and take the odd photo? Do we tell them how to drain their holding tank?

"This is exactly why I took the path of less visability years ago. Some people have a very narrow minded view of public property."
-does this make some inherent sense that escapes the eye? please advice.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 4, 2007 - 10:22pm PT
Fantastic thread! Don't rule out the use of a stainless steel pinbolt for refitting historically significant routes. These are cut from 3/16" stainless angle and can be shaped and ground to fit custom. Also shown is a Leeper replica cut from the same angle stock. I make these things and may be able to help you preserve the unique flavor and feel of Needles classics while still providing a solid, lasting protection point. You have to have some solid tool skills but the installation should be pretty straightforward. I also have a blackening agent to reduce shine and visibility.



jstan

climber
Sep 4, 2007 - 10:43pm PT
I can't speak for John's message but, of course, can't avoid
expressing mine.

If I held legal title to the Needles, including all associated
rights such as for minerals, the law says I could strip mine
the place. In the case of the Needles I would probably face a
lawsuit extraneous to simple property rights, but that would
be adjudicated by a court and/or legislative action.
Personally, in the scenario I paint, I would hope the state
would buy out my interest or in some other way send me
packing.

When ANYONE who cannot prove they hold legal title to
land, nonetheless argues they can use, modify, or deny its
use by others on an equal footing, they face the burden of
proof to the satisfaction of all other parties that what they
propose is not prejudicial to anyone's interest. In the case of
lands owned publicly, it is a simple matter of equity. My
interest supersedes the interest of no other taxpayer. If I
want to change a wilderness in a way that reduces the
enjoyment another user can get from that area, I face a
substantial burden.

Even though I have had some experience in climbing I have
to say when I am wandering around in a wilderness area in
JTNP, enjoyimg the peace and natural environment, my
enjoyment is materially decreased when I encounter a grid
bolted wall. (So that there is no misunderstanding, Jaybro, I
don't for a minute believe you and I are in disagreement.)


Land management policies are the mechanism that will
thread this needle for us all. They are difficult but that is the
lay of the land. Climbers need to get used to this difficulty if
they want to survive. To those climbers who believe we have
the right to do as we please anywhere, I can only suggest
they take the time to look for the check stub showing where
they checked their brain.


johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Sep 5, 2007 - 12:10am PT
"Johnboy, do nonclimbers care where pro is or whether it's fixed, or whether it works, as long as they get to enjoy and take the odd photo?"
Some do, and some don't. If asked if they'd prefer a picture without pro hanging on it, my money would be that they prefer with out. But the catch there is, "if asked"

"Do we tell them how to drain their holding tank?"
No, not how, but where they can.

""This is exactly why I took the path of less visability years ago. Some people have a very narrow minded view of public property."
-does this make some inherent sense that escapes the eye? please advice."
It merely means I decided to take my rock enjoyment to less public places instead of partaking in the wars that insued.


Sorry I got myself sucked into this off topic discussion and am detracting from a great thread. No more out of me.
wiclimber

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Sep 5, 2007 - 09:26am PT
I'm thinking Hammer is out to rile the group.

Anyone that goes up there and does something like that to a climb like that after only "consulting" her little group of climbing friends is asking for major trouble.

I wish her luck. I think she's smarter than that.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 5, 2007 - 09:46am PT
Rich,

I cited people who climb here in the Needles every year, people who have been questioning the trustworthiness of pitons that have been in place for forty years. I haven't seen you here in the twenty two years I've been climbing here.

BHCC members do not climb in the Needles anywhere near as much as the people I've cited, that's why I say they no longer represent the local climbing community. I don't know how many members they have but I do know that a very small handful (fewer than six) are responsible for defining the local 'ethic', and again, they don't climb here anymore.

I think replacing the existing pins with modern bolts will not change the character of the route, just add an element of 'safety', the route will still be very run out and will still be R/X rated, and will still be climbed very infrequently.

Of the climbers who come here from other areas I am guessing that fewer than one percent lead the Eye. Do we really want to save a 'risk your life' route in its original condition for so few ?

I have heard no reasonable arguement for leaving the route the way it is.

And wiclimber, I've been trying to consult the rest of you but you are all to afraid to let your opinions be known until you are pushed to the brink, as evidenced by this thread.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 5, 2007 - 09:56am PT
The surest way to lose something is to undervalue it. Hammer- are you climbing the routes that you propose to retrobolt?
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Sep 5, 2007 - 11:20am PT
This has been a great thread. Kind of hate to see it degenerate into an ethics thing.

I only visited the Needles a few times and that was many years ago. One of the reasons I went there was for climbs like Superpin, Hairy Pin and the Needles Eye. Kind of funny, but I really wanted to do the Chimney thing on Needles Eye but it looked to scary so I opted for the direct face which was harder but I at least knew what I was getting into (the moves getting out of the chimney onto the face looked scary from below). As an outside visitor I mixed my trip up with the sport climbing at Rushmore.

What you have there is a very special area. It would be great to preserve the boldness. If you are going to go to all the trouble of re-bolting, why dont you just go replace the pins? IMHO that would be the right thing to do. If memory serves me correctly werent those pins in a horizontal?
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2007 - 12:44pm PT
Hammer,

Your propensity to dismiss other local groups is precisely what worries me.

The Black Hills Climber's Coalition has a website at http://www.bhclimbers.com/. On June 30th, they had 25 climbers for a clean-up activity. On July 27, they sponsored a lecture by Paul Piana to raise money for...why, bolt and anchor replacement in the Needles of all things. The next day they hosted the Ten Pins pumpfest.

The Web site has a route repair page, which mentions a focus on areas in Custer State Park, and contains lists of work done. They say, "please come to a meeting or get a hold of the Bolting Committee member if you have a route suggestion." The head of the bolting committee can be contacted at rich.barry@crazyhorse.org. Other members are Mike Cronin, Bruce Junek, Brent Kertzman, Duane Martenson, Ron Yahne and
Jason McNabb. Perhaps you should join this committee.

In making decisions about changing the historical nature of routes, I would urge the committee to cast a wide net in soliciting opinions. The Needles is a complicated area and is quite capable of supporting various climbing groups without their being much communication between them. I have been there for several weeks at the same time as friends who I never encountered. And even the definition of locals is complicated. Don Storjohann was from Minden, Iowa, but had a large number of Needles ascents, including the Needle's Eye and also a route on Edison Memorial. Perhaps there are others as well. Kamps, Gill and I were arguably "locals" for a ten-year period, even though Kamps lived in LA, Gill lived in Kentucky, and I lived in New York.

Once again, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating placing or not placing bolts. All I'm saying is that the decision to alter historical routes should be as broadly based as possible, and in my opinion an official group with a relationship with the authorities and the web resources to solicit opinions widely is the appropriate way to go.

John Stannard has posted various comments that are worth reading. I believe there is no one in the history of American climbing who has had such a profound effect on the direction of a climbing area. His wisdom is substantial and his effectiveness was unprecedented at the time and is unequalled to this day. Remember that actions that appear narrowly based and unilateral can generate severe reactions. Bolts can be removed. And replaced. Surely no one wants to see such a scenario played out on the Needles Eye.

The discussion may be over here. But if you really care about the Needles, you should make sure that the discussion is just beginning.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Sep 5, 2007 - 02:39pm PT
"To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."

 Winston Churchill, speaking at the White House in 1954

I've never been to the Needles, but certainly agree with rgold and jstan's comments above.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Sep 5, 2007 - 02:56pm PT
Cool photos, Steve G, I'd be psyched to see those crop up in new and replacement spots.

-Coiuld you scribe "No gud" on a couple?
hannaht

Sport climber
Madison, WI
Sep 5, 2007 - 03:17pm PT
In reply to someone a few pages back - I met Pete Cleveland while climbing in the old sandstone area of Devil's Lake just this past weekend. He was out with the Chicago mountaineering club. I talked with him for a while about science (he has a PhD in chemistry), but actually had no idea who he was until he mentioned that he had at one time soloed a climb that we were trying (and mostly failing) to top-rope. So long story short - he's still at it! I'm happy to have found this thread so as to learn some more details of his history (as well as that of others) outside of Wisconsin. Keep the stories coming!
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Sep 5, 2007 - 04:44pm PT
Emotions not reason usually take over when it comes to a subject like this.

Replacing the pin with the FA consent seems like a logical thing to due.

Climbers don't always....

Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Sep 5, 2007 - 04:51pm PT
hard to argue about upkeep, it's the spectre of additional bolts that raises the hackles.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Sep 5, 2007 - 04:56pm PT
Jay...as it should.


That pin has outlived any sense of security it served forty years ago.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 6, 2007 - 10:15am PT
Steve,

I'm not proposing to retrobolt anything, I'm proposing to replace old pitons with modern bolts, and yes, I've climbed/led the route Many times. Usually in these discussions someone suggests we keep a low profile lest the Park gets closed to climbing. In my opinion, the surest way to see the Needles closed to climbing is to see a climber splat, dead at the base of the Needles Eye in front of all the fat tourons and their kids.

I don't know about you Rich, but I hate dealing with a beauracracy and the Coalition is just that. You submit requests for route maintianence, wait some period of time for discussion and voting, wait longer for availability of funds/bolts/hangers, wait for a decision on who will do the work, get a permit from the Park to use the Bosch, etc.,etc.

We climb in the Needles all summer, every summer, when we see an anchor that needs replacing we do it on the spot at our own expense. When we see old leeper hangers held to the rock with button heads we replace them at our own expense.

There is just no way we are going to subject ourselves to the beauracracy of the Coalition just so they can be 'in charge' of climbing in the Needles. And again, ad nauseum, we never see any of the guys you mention climbing in the Needles.

Don said on this thread he would like to see the pins replaced by bolts. In the past the Coalition has argued that the first ascentionist has the right to change the route any way he wants (the ownership concept).

I still have trouble understanding why so many of you think discussing this stuff is such a bad thing. We have some reasonable pro and con discussion going here and I think this is the perfect thread to do it on. Think of it, both climbers involved in putting up a classic route over forty years ago are part of the discussion.

Thank you to all who are participating.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 6, 2007 - 11:44am PT
Patience is more than a virtue when dealing with these issues. Before sport climbing philosophy entered the picture (the send justifies the means) the experience of the first ascent party was held up as the yardstick for subsequent ones. The process of discovering and arranging protection (including fixed pins) is central to the challenge met by every subsequent party. Bolts require little from a climber and are usually placed in positions based on convenience rather than adaptation.
Once the fixed pin leaves and the nearby bolt is substituted, there is an immediate disconnect from the experience of the FA. Leaving the pin there anyway just confuses the situation. That loss of flavor and character does matter and should be factored into any alteration decisions on a route of historical value. Most fixed pitons are suspect with respect to holding power even when they are routinely replaced with newer steel. The quandry here is obvious, the solution less so. My response has been the pinbolt in the absence of any other available stainless steel pitons.
The upside of dealing with organizations is that sound policy can result which has a more lasting and widespread effect on the larger climbing community. The Shawangunks experiment is a great example though certainly not free of controversy or dissent.
The downside to wading into the quagmire of democracy is already apparent to you through your ongoing efforts. While there is certainly a place for a personal stand on action amidst the debate, impatience or haste often leads to regret or animosity once the collective mindset is shunned. The resources and the effects of our use and decisions are our responsibility as a community of climbers. I urge you to cast a broad net in your discussion of action before choosing to simply add more bolts.
Land managers have respect for orderly consensus and bolt wars do a lot of damage to our image as one user group among the many competing for their attention and resources.

And in the interest of historical discussion...... Which route in the Needles is Bob Kamps proudest effort?
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 6, 2007 - 01:10pm PT
Again, no one is choosing to simply add more bolts, replacing old, suspect pins with bolts is quite different than adding more bolts.

There is already a disconnect with the experience of the first ascent, they weren't clipping bolts that had been there for forty years. A further disconnect is that most 'repeats' of the route don't actually do the original route. Most lead off from the parking lot taking the 5.10 variation start thus avoiding the seventy foot groundfall potential the FA party subjected themselves to.

Apples or oranges anyone?



jstan

climber
Sep 6, 2007 - 01:33pm PT
Hammer:
A discussion requires its participants each to be willing to change their position when the discussion requires it. Without this, there is no discussion.

You have stated quite clearly it is your intention to retrobolt the climb at your next opportunity. That statement ended the discussion.

As regards your aversion to bureaucracy, tell me about it! When you do find a new planet free of the need for this, take care not to tell anyone before you go.
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Sep 6, 2007 - 09:11pm PT
"And in the interest of historical discussion...... Which route in the Needles is Bob Kamps proudest effort?"

Steve, would that be Kamps Crack on the Bell Tower?
A lot of leg pump and it will tear up your arms.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 6, 2007 - 10:22pm PT
Hammer-How about a photo of the piton placement in question or the size and type. Do you remember the size of the original pin Rgold? I would be happy to cut a couple of pinbolts out for you if you can narrow the size range down by inspection. The pinbolt is the best option for the restoration of a classic.
The Needles has been on my list forever but I won't be out there this season.
goatboy smellz

climber
colorado
Sep 7, 2007 - 01:28am PT
No offense Steve but a pinbolt is nothing more than a glorified hanger.
The imagery of seeing a pseudo pin in the original placement does not take away the fact that a bolt has been placed.

Others have mentioned upthread a gathering in the Needles to climb together. October is prime season... can we come to a consensus to show up then put up...or throw up...
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Sep 7, 2007 - 10:36am PT
Funny that people in CO are telling climbers what to do in SD.

I think it's between the FA party and locals.

Replacing a 40 year old pin is kinda a no brainer...or so you would think so.
Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Sep 7, 2007 - 10:41am PT
Funny, this used to be an awesome historical thread with contributions from some of the sports pioneers.

By the way, if you are still around, Thank you Rich.

Prod.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 7, 2007 - 10:56am PT
Goat- the problem with fixed pitons are: (1)that they loosen and corrode over time becoming less reliable and (2)boneheads tamper with and steal them. The pinbolt solves both problems directly.
The issue is where does the replacement bolt end up once you abandon the piton placement. If the bolt is placed as close as possible to the original piton position, the pinbolt is still the better option. If the new bolt is placed in the optimal spot for falling and rope drag then the climbing experience is altered as compared to that of all the previous repeats. Whether that sort of alteration is meaningful or desirable is the core of the dilemma. The positioning criteria for a bolt and pinbolt are completely distinct.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 7, 2007 - 11:08am PT
We're getting some real discussion now and I appreciate it, thank you.

I do intend to replace the pins with bolts but I am willing to change my position if I hear a good reason to.

Here is a related question. I managed to get an onsite first ascent (trad) in the Needles over the Labor Day weekend. The problem is I was exposed to a forty foot groundfall before I could get protection in a crack. Should I leave it as is (very dangerous start), or should I go back and add a couple bolts to take away the runout/groundfall potential?
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2007 - 12:50pm PT
Kamps was particularly good at what other people often call "awkward" climbing. Many times, I'd watch him lead something and think to myself, "man, he's screwing this up, I can see how to float that sucker when I get up there." (Ok, I don't really say those words to myself, but I think they fairly represent a non-verbal state of mind.)

Well, the moment of truth occurs when you actually get up there, of course. And then you realize that Kamps has actually been a model of economy, that some of his apparently awkward movements are effective but inimitable, and the horrible scrabblings, flailings, and thrutchings that you substitute for his now desireable but sadly unachievable awkwardness make him look like Nureyev and you like the spaz you really are compared to him.

Kamps did a load of good climbs in the Needles, and the Bell Tower route mentioned earlier is certainly one of them. I was with him on that climb in 1967, and backed off the lead low down before he took over and did it. I haven't repeated all of Bob's routes (come to think of it, this would be a cool project), but of the ones I know (many by virtue of having been the second), I think I'd vote for the Freak's Fright, also done by us in 1967, as the best.

HJ

Social climber
Bozeman, Montana
Sep 7, 2007 - 01:12pm PT
Hammer,

I'm not sure if I know you since I don't know who you are, but my family has been in the Black Hills since the 20's and I've been scrambling and then climbing here my entire life. I have climbed the needles eye numerous times.

It is possible to protect the traverse on the needles eye with either a .5 or a 1 tricam. If the pin ever comes out, my guess is that slot would protect with a modern tiny cam unit, until then you can clip it with a screamer, giving it a better chance of holding. Use double rope technique, clip one to the tricam and the other to the pin with a screamer and this should work pretty good.

A few years ago the pin on superpin was replaced with a bolt. It turns out this was unnecessary as you could protect in the area of the pin, (with the pin in) with modern gear. My feeling is that it may on occasion be reasonable to replace a pin with a bolt if nothing else will work, but in many cases SOMETHING ELSE WILL work. Also, I agree that placing the bolts in different orientations than the original pins is very bad form and definitely changes the nature of the route.

I have provided a reasonable argument for leaving the route the way it is.

cheers,

HJ



rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2007 - 10:31pm PT
According to Bonnie Kamps, Bob probably didn't have a favorite route in the Needles, and she thinks many of his 59 first ascents in the Needles wouldn't qualify as favorites of his. Bonnie relates that the routes Bob climbed the most were probably those he liked best, and they are all in Tuolumne. He climbed Great Pumpkin 15 times and Aqua Knobby 8 times. The only route of his she ever heard him actually refer to as a favorite was Lucky Streaks, which he also climbed 8 times.

According to the route database at bobkamps.com, the Freak's Fright is 5.10A and the Kamps Crack on the Bell Tower is 5.10D, which would make the Kamps Crack Bob's hardest Needles first ascent. Personally, I remember the Freak's Fright as harder, but after 40 years, who knows...
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2007 - 10:46pm PT
Two shots of the Sore Thumb, a terrific route by Bob done in 1965.



Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Sep 7, 2007 - 11:14pm PT
Bob Kamps was quite a guy,
In the mid-70s, we were just wiry teenagers learning to work the crimps and smears out at Stony Point and we often saw the gray-haired guy edging about with polished aplomb: of course it was Kamps.

Just before he died, I had been doing some repping at the Phoenix bouldering contest and as I was leaving the motel, packing up my car, I spotted him walking out of the room next to mine. He didn't really know me, but I hailed him “you are Bob Kamps!”, and in a jolly manner he replied by asking me out to breakfast: sadly I had to hightail it 15 hours to another gig, a couple states northward.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Sep 8, 2007 - 12:52am PT
In about '88 I onsight soloed the Sore thumb, didn't bring a rope. Had to downclimb afterward, scared the beejeezus out of me. And I had sticky rubber, '65? hoh man!
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 8, 2007 - 01:50am PT
Nice to hear a few more praises sung for Bob Kamps, one of our all time great climbers and individuals.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 8, 2007 - 10:52am PT
No one ever walked the walk better than Mr. Kamps! Top of my list for double sure. I am interested in just about any route that he did when I see his name on the FA.
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 9, 2007 - 11:38am PT
Since several of you say you can protect the horizontal seam with cams I see no reason to leave the pins in, they're just booty like any other piece of gear left behind. No need for the pins and no need for bolts, problem solved.
jstan

climber
Sep 9, 2007 - 06:55pm PT
OK Hammer
Now that you are getting expressions of opinion you ridicule those with whom you disagree.

How many times have I seen this kind of thing?

But back to the historical thread.

You all know that William Shockley with Bardeen and Brattain wrote the papers describing the invention of the transistor; that being the device ultimately allowing each of us to do what we do minute by minute through each day. (By the way those last two guys were no slouches, Bardeen for example getting two Nobels). And many of you are also aware Shockley, like Mr. Harding, said what he thought was right and did not give “a rat’s ass” whether anyone approved. Typical climber kind of thing, which he was.

Now I was not there myself when Shockley was climbing in the Gunks but I was told this by one who did climb with him. So this is second hand. After the day of climbing Shockley would usually go back to what would today be called a “bed and breakfast” and spend the entire night writing “Electrons and Holes in Semiconductors”. (This seminal book is very hard to get. The best I could do was an illegal knockoff printed in Taiwan in the 60’s.) Now if you think Shockley’s Ceiling was the most radical thing he did, you misjudge how boring it is to write a textbook, seminal or otherwise. He in fact would get entirely snockered, probably at Emile’s bar and grill and would then set off with a friend to climb by moonlight without a rope. Those of you who have climbed there realize the cliff is “pretty steep”. So in the dark you have only a certain amount of time in which to find a hold and then even after that you have only a certain amount of time in which you can use that hold. Now here is something of which many may not be aware. Wasps in eight inch diameter pancake nests also find the cliff a good place. If, in the dark, one would attempt to use one of these as a hold one might expect to face a fairly urgent situation. Suffice it to say, and here I try to repeat what was said by my source, “the world is as it is – quite by chance.”

Something to ponder.
jstan

climber
Sep 10, 2007 - 11:13pm PT
I need to apologize to Hammer for that last post. Perhaps he did not realize the long and tragic history of what can follow when some one publicly suggests removing any kind of protection for “ethical” or “logical” reasons. Not that they themselves will remove it. Some one else may be stimulated to do so. Situations quickly go totally out of control with disastrous results.

I will repeat myself however, that when one asks for input you need to value all contributions very seriously. It is the people who disagree with you that teach you the most.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 11, 2007 - 12:51am PT
Hammer- Let me get this straight. You were about to add a bolt to the classic route being discussed at length here because you don't like the piton and the other nearby abundant cam placements! And now you want to scarf the much celebrated pins too! Have a shred of respect and leave the route intact, troll, because its condition matters to people with far more sense than your own. Unnecessary bolts are an eyesore and no joke unlike your silly position.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Sep 11, 2007 - 02:04am PT
There are other threads for this retrobolt- du jour debate between the crusties and the kids that know it all.

How about more bold needles stories? especially Kamps/Gill et al related?
Curt

Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Sep 11, 2007 - 02:17am PT
"...You all know that William Shockley with Bardeen and Brattain wrote the papers describing the invention of the transistor; that being the device ultimately allowing each of us to do what we do minute by minute through each day. (By the way those last two guys were no slouches, Bardeen for example getting two Nobels). And many of you are also aware Shockley, like Mr. Harding, said what he thought was right and did not give “a rat’s ass” whether anyone approved. Typical climber kind of thing, which he was..."

Bardeen got two? Jesus, Germer really got screwed.

Curt
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 11, 2007 - 10:30am PT
I have ridiculed no one, on the contrary I have thanked everyone for their input.

Many of you have described ways to do the route other than the way the FA did it (adding cams, slinging knobs, etc.) so none of you have really followed the route in the style of the FA. If you're not going to climb it the way they did why keep it in its original state? This 'ethic' is turning the Needles into a museum with routes to look at rather than climb.

You are all dismissing the fact that the man responsible for the first ascent wants the pins replaced with bolts. I believe he is concerned about a dangerous route that he is responsible for and would like to make the route more reasonable for future climbers. I think you should respect his wishes.

There is a place for routes that require the climber to risk life or death, the Needles Eye should not be one of them.





Prod

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Sep 11, 2007 - 10:45am PT
What happened to this Hammer?

"Since several of you say you can protect the horizontal seam with cams I see no reason to leave the pins in, they're just booty like any other piece of gear left behind. No need for the pins and no need for bolts, problem solved."

This is just getting back to some great history. For the love of god man, back off a bit or start another thread, I think one was started for you use that one.

Prod.
WBraun

climber
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:11am PT
Hammer did make an interesting point that made me think about this problem we are now facing every day in climbing areas around the country.

"This 'ethic' is turning the Needles into a museum with routes to look at rather than climb."

It seams this was also the core argument/idea that weschrist was trolling a while ago also?

Are "we" the so called "old guys" unconsciously trying to "overprotect" the past?

Another point hammer made "There is already a disconnect with the experience of the first ascent, they weren't clipping bolts that had been there for forty years."

How many of you would go out and clip 40 year old bolts and do the death run out with no feeling of "Oh sh'it I'm gonna die now feeling?".

Sometimes it does seem that "the old skool is making museum climbs which nobody can climb anymore?

On the other hand the young guys that have been coming all these years have been doping incredibly hard scary ass sh'it,
that will make any seasoned hard man piss in his pants just standing at the base.

Just some thoughts of mine, so don't go ape sh'it over them.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 11, 2007 - 11:23am PT
Hammer- How about being direct and asking if rgold agrees with you or anyone else indiscriminately adding unnecessary bolts to routes in the Needles based on whim ,fright or whatever it is that drives your actions. Go ahead and drill fool but they will be removed on principle, you will have scarred and blemished the stone and your name is mud. What is your actual name anyway just in case I do visit the Needles so that I can inquire after you? If you aren't straight enough to disclose your identity, that would confirm the troll.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2007 - 02:31pm PT
Every time it looks like this discussion might go away, it springs back Phoenix-like from the ashes of the flogged dead horse. So be it then...

I for one feel no inclination to "go ape shit" over Werner's comments, which raise a genuine issue for the climbing community, which for years has been moving away from a risk ethic to a pure difficulty ethic, although certainly not in a uniform way.

As far as the Needles are concerned, I think the idea that they are being turned into a "museum" with "routes to look at rather than climb" is an extreme perspective that does not reflect reality. The "museum," if that's what it is, has a handful of routes out of hundreds and hundreds. Whether a few exceptional cases are worth preserving for those who would like to experience the challenges these routes present is all that is under discussion. There is no question of turning the whole area into an archive of routes unavailable to the general climbing public, and couching the discussion in such terms is misleading and inflammatory, and so only serves the purposes of those who wish to cloud the issue with essentially irrelevant emotion.

I might add, however, that the "rights" of those who aspire to repeating the challenges of bold routes are almost always ignored when discussions about retrofitting routes take place. Apparently, such individuals do not count anymore.

Even if a few routes in the Needles do qualify as "museum pieces," it can hardly be argued that the Needle's Eye is among them. The route has been climbed over and over by climbers from all over the world, it is guided by the Exum guides, and although not every leader will want to do it, it is hardly restricted to the mythical bold fanatics of some previous heroic era. Consequently, as true and as important as Werner's observation is, I don't think it is relevant to the Needle's Eye discussion.

So then, as far as the Needle's Eye goes, the issues raised by Hammer are quite restricted.

First, if it is indeed true that the current protection is 40 years old, than as Bob has already remarked, no one can question the need to upgrade at what is already there, and this is all that Hammer has ever proposed. We are not speaking here of adding bolts to formerly unprotected sections.

It is the nature of "upgrading" that is the issue. The possibilities are

1. Replace old pins with newer ones.
2. Replace old pins with bolts.
3. Remove all fixed pro and use modern gear.

I think most people would agree that if option 3 is genuinely viable, then it is certainly the preferable one. This returns the route to its original state and presents potential leaders with something like the original dilemma, eliminating the mentality of "going for" the fixed pro one knows is up there. However, if the modern gear is going to be questionable or if it will require great sophistication to place effectively, then one might argue that this is much too demanding an "upgrade."

As for the choice between pins and bolts or perhaps Steve's ingenious solutions, there are arguments on all sides, and my oft-stated opinion is that the answer should come from a concensus of local climbers, with "local" broadly interpreted.

So the issue really is who should decide among these options, and how should the decision be reached. My opinion is that Hammer, by virtue of the attitude of superiority he's displayed here, his preference for polemics, his inclination to justify with half-truths, his dismissal of other interested local parties, and his impatience with genuine discussion in spite of his call for it, has just about disqualified himself from the job.

But it is not only true that folks can change, it is also true that many people come off very differently online than they are in person, so it is possible to hope that, perhaps after some off-line moments of reflection, Hammer may find himself able to be a catalyst for the real discussion that needs to happen, a discussion that I think should be centered in the Needles community (the real community, not anyone's restrictive definition of it). That discussion, and not the one here, is the appropriate place to resolve this and similar questions about Needles routes.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Sep 12, 2007 - 03:58pm PT
That's a cogent statement there rgold: very refreshing.
Well done.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Sep 12, 2007 - 04:19pm PT





Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Sep 12, 2007 - 04:22pm PT
Richard has maintained a level tone throughout, despite much needling by "Hammer." Every one of his posts has been thoughtful and worth reading.

I would disagree on one point, however. By its architecture, location and boldness the Needle's Eye really is among the handful of iconic Needles routes, in the same cultural if not difficulty class as Superpin, the Thimble and a small handful of others. Moreover, the protection in that horizontal crack has, from the first ascent onwards, been central to the climb's character.

All the more reason to seek a real consensus, not just among someone's friends, before trying to make any changes. Otherwise a bolt war, messing up one of the Needles' most classic routes, seems the most likely legacy. Meanwhile, nobody has to climb this R-rated route if they don't like its current state of protection.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 12, 2007 - 08:03pm PT
Well said Rich. I took offense at implied and tacit approval for foolishness being claimed by fiat in the absence of "historical ownership."
What would a list of the twenty wildest (and not necessarily lethal) routes in the Needles look like. Certainly the Needles Eye and the Barber and Cleveland variations on the Kingpin would be three. Sore Thumb is four. Which others would make the list?
Hammer

Social climber
Custer, SD
Sep 12, 2007 - 10:13pm PT
I have thought about the rights of those who would aspire to repeat the challenges of the bold routes...and I have witnessed many dozens of leads on the route over the past twenty plus years. In not even one case have I seen a 5.8 leader lead the route... those who aspire to lead the Eye have always been climbers comfortable leading .10's and harder.

When you are leading two or three levels easier than your comfort level I don't think you're getting the full flavor of the FA, but I didn't witness the FA so maybe I'm mistaken.

Before one of you asks, I first led the route at a time when 5.8 was about as hard as I could climb, but, I had followed the route twice before so I didn't really appreciate what the FA was really like either.

As for option #3, We're talking about a flaring seam, not a crack. I don't believe it can be protected adequately with gear but I will take another look with some gear in hand to be sure.

The 'real' local community has had plenty of opportunity to join this discussion but they have not. That says a lot about their sense of superiority.

Thanks for your input Rich, I still don't understand why so many people are so reluctant to discuss this stuff.

Steve, you could have clicked on my handle at any time, emailed me and requested my name or just done a whois search. Its not like its really hidden.

WBraun's 'Museum climbs?' thread has people discussing this topic rationally...maybe because its not talking about a specific route?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 29, 2007 - 03:59pm PT
A tidbit from Richard DuMais' Great American Rock Climbs 1995. The area classic by his estimation.



Prod

Big Wall climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:29pm PT
BUMP for a great thread.
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Oct 8, 2008 - 02:57pm PT
Note, handy buick spotting the thimble.
MH2

climber
Aug 29, 2009 - 01:30pm PT

I would like to thank rgold for being shameless and linking to this thread.

His story of the F(free)A of The Needle's Eye is great.

Also, the other stuff strums a lot of chords from my own climbing past.

Such as meeting Jim McCarthy at Steve Komito's boot shop, and he expressing wonder how a guy as big as Gill could climb on the unreliable crystals of the Needles. The answer being that no matter what broke off, Gill could hang on to what was left.

Such as numerous dinners at Pete Cleveland's place just outside The Lake and hearing him describe the Super Pin ascent. "And then the sun started to come out."

And many other names and events.

The Needles. Modest heights but a vast surface area of brain-like contours. The only place I've been lost 50 feet from the road.



mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Aug 29, 2009 - 03:30pm PT
"And so it was that I found myself up at the fold with my belayer locked in a mammaric trance below."

Absolutely classic writing, short and concise, spelling out the adventure in but a mere page.

Mucci
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 29, 2009 - 04:19pm PT
Mark Powell is great face climber and spent lots of time poking around the Needles often in the company of Bob Kamps and Beverly.

Prior to an interview, Rich helped me out by researching Mark's accomplishments in the Needles of South Dakota. Here is part of our correspondence:

Entries from Touch the Sky, Paul Piana.

If only a grade is given with no route description, the route is the first ascent route of the spire and still the only route on the spire. If there is now more than one route, I tried to add a minimal description, and in such cases if the route was the first-ascent route for the spire, I've indicated that as well.

I only had time for a single pass through the guidebook, so it is possible that I missed an entry or two and/or made some mistakes transcribing what is here.

SYLVAN LAKE AREA
Duet, cracks right of SE Corner, 5.9, with Bob Kamps 8/18/66.
Robnobs Spire, left-leaning flared crack, 5.8, with Beverly Powell, 8/7/65 (FA of spire).

NEEDLE'S EYE AREA
Gnomon, steep crack on S. Corner to SE face, 5.7 with Beverly and Kamps, August '66.

SWITCHBACKS AND TENPINS AREA
Dave's Dinghy, SE Corner, 5.9, with Beverly and Don Lauria (no date) (FA of spire)
Phallus, 5.8, with Kamps, Rearick, Lauria, August '65.
Twin Pins "These pinnacles may have been climbed as early as 1965 by Mark and Beverly Powell" ---Piana
Split Pin 5.7, with Beverly, 8/14/66.
Podunk Pinnacle, W. Chimney, 5.5, August '65, with Beverly (FA of spire?).

CATHEDRAL SPIRES
Javelin, reg route variation, 5.9, with Beverly and Kamps, August '65.
Laureate Tower, South Chimney, 5.7, with Beverly and Kamps, August '65.
Station 13 variation, 5.7, with Beverly, August '64.
Khayyam Spire, S. Face, 5.6, with Kamps, August '62.
Rubaiyat Spire, N. Face, 5.7, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/11/66.
Aku Aku, 5.9 (FFA) with Rearick and Kamps, 1965.
Frug 5.3, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/15/66.
Freak's Foot, NE Face, 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/15/66.
Eye Tooth, 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, August '62.
Unapproachable, 5.7, with Beverly and Kamps, August '64.
Empire State Building, Wavy Crack, 5.9, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/7/64 (FA of spire).
Spindle, uphill side, 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/5/64.
Spool, 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/6/65.
Bayonet, 5.9, with Kamps, August '64.
Caboose, SW Face, 5.6, with Beverly, August 1970.

PICKET FENCE
Stile, 5.3, with Beverly 8/17/70.
Wicked Picket, W. Face Variation, 5.2, with Beverly, 1963.
Connspire, 5.7, with Beverly and Kamps, August '63.
Pud, two routes, 5.4 and 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/8/64.
El Mokana, E Face, 5.6, with Beverly, August '69.
Auntie, 5.7, with Beverly and Kamps, August '66.

NELSON CREEK AREA
Bosun, 5.2, with Kamps, 8/12/70.
Beacon, 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/10/70.
Prow, W Face, 5.2, with Kamps, 8/12/70 (FA of spire).
NE Face, 5.8, with Kamps, Dave and Judy Rearick, Chuck and Ellen Wilts, Tom Higgins, 8/9/71.
Helm, 4th class, with Kamps, 8/12/70.
Next to Nothing, 5.6, with Beverly, Higgins, Dennis Horning, 8/11/71.
Five Freaks and a Friend, 5.4, with Beverly, D&J Rearick, Higgins, and Horning.
Argument, 5.6, with Beverly, Kamps, and Horning, 8/14/72.

LOST FORMATIONS NEAR THE CHESSMEN
Geek, with Richard Goldstone, 8/5/69.

GRIZZLY BEAR CREEK AREA
Alley Oop, 5.8, with Beverly and Kamps, 8/11/70.
Patriarch, 5.6, with Beverly, Kamps, D&J Rearick, 8/14/70.

He also had this tale to tell about doing a route with Mark and Bob Kamps.

Steve,

Although we always camped together in the Oreville Campground, I don't recall many times when I ended up climbing with Mark. In fact, the only climb I can remember was an ascent with Mark and Bob Kamps of Sandberg Peak, a preposterously named precarious-looking pinnacle perched right at the edge of a Cathedral Spires pullout.

Probably the most memorable feature of that climb was an interaction I had with some tourists, a story which now has been told and retold, having now been appropriated by others and recounted as if it had happened to them. But you twisted my arm so I'll tell it again...

Mark was leading, Bob was belaying, and I was on the ground watching. A tourist pulled up and watched Mark lead for a long time, long enough to see him place a piton or two and clip into them, and finally reach the tiny summit. After watching all this, the guy got out of his car, walked over to me, and asked, "How'd they get the cables up there?" (Mind you, he and his wife had just watched how they got the cables up there.) I was very polite, and in my best imitation of the professor I would become, I offered a careful and detailed explanation of exactly what Mark had been doing. At the end of this mini-seminar, his wife (whose size seemed to preclude an exit from the car) leaned out the window and shouted to her husband, "How'd they get the cables up there?" To which her husband replied, in tones rife with exasperation, "I don't know, I can't get a straight answer out of this guy!"

Experiences like this caused me to print up a bunch of tee shirts with the legend "Needles Repair Servce" on the back. Bob had one; I can't remember whether Mark got one or not. These shirts were, as I had hoped, self-explanatory to most of the tourists who stopped, the clanking of iron and occasional banging of pitons only reinforcing the repairing theme. Pinnacle repair was a notion they had probably already been exposed to by postcards sold locally showing Herb Conn rappelling down George Washington's nose while on one of the Park Service's periodic missions to patch cracks in the sculpture. The tee-shirts were more successful than I anticipated, leaving us to ponder the fact that many people are happier with a false explanation that conforms to their preconceptions than with a true explanation that does not. One cannot help but wonder, 30 odd years later, what role this phenomenon may have played in the civic and political life of our nation.

Curt

Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Aug 30, 2009 - 01:58am PT
The Needles are great. Nice bouldering, too.



This was 4 weeks ago.

Curt
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
the base of the Shawangunk Ridge
Aug 30, 2009 - 01:01pm PT
I am so psyched to go through the Needles! This will be our second time climbing there. If I can lead tent peg and tricouni, it will be sweet. I am but a young n00b, but the tradition of the Needles makes the feeling of inherent value of every successful climb escalate.

It definitely makes me want to sack up and take inspiration from those who came before. If I could find a job out there I would move out that way...
Chinchen

climber
Anacortes, wa
Aug 30, 2009 - 01:57pm PT
Nice pic Curt.
Curt

Boulder climber
Gilbert, AZ
Aug 30, 2009 - 01:59pm PT
Thanks. My wife Lisa took it.

Curt
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Aug 30, 2009 - 02:18pm PT
Now that I have an official "Dolt" t-shirt, thanks to the Taco, I think Steve Grossman's post above points toward the next logical t-shirt revival, rgold's classic:

"Needles Repair Service"

How about it guys? Please?
adam d

climber
closer to waves than rock
Aug 31, 2009 - 11:59pm PT
I started up this feature once with no beta...HA! I was somewhere left of the "needle" and made it up a little past half way before downclimbing to a nut and bailing. Bold FA for sure! though I could do without the tourons. (makes me snicker about a female friend who stood on top of one of the 10 pins naked, arms up, glorious, stopping traffic)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 1, 2009 - 11:12am PT
Well, you can do it yourself, the way that Bob did! Bonnie Kamps just sent me this shot of the real deal done in the Oreville campground with iron-on tape! Absolutely classic!



Thanks Bonnie!!!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 13, 2009 - 01:40pm PT
Pinnacle Repair Bump!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Oct 16, 2009 - 03:32am PT
hey there say, thanks for the link rgold...

:)
Pate

Mountain climber
The Ocean State
Oct 25, 2009 - 03:21pm PT
If there is a thread more chock full of legends from practically every era of American climbing I haven't found it.

Thanks so much to all of you for the hard work, dedication, the documentation and the technical information.

Awesome.
jstan

climber
Dec 6, 2009 - 03:37pm PT
Since I have not seen any good photos of the Conn's I went looking.

Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Credit: jstan
Herb Conn
Herb Conn
Credit: jstan
Jan Conn
Jan Conn
Credit: jstan


http://www.flickr.com/photos/maedeans/sets/72157603920375950/



Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Dec 6, 2009 - 03:41pm PT
Nice! Whaddya expect climbing with a guy named Don 'Big-John' (translation)?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 17, 2010 - 07:46pm PT
Eye Eye Bump!

More on the crafty Conn's here...with leather!

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1243312&msg=1260675#msg1260675
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:52am PT
How'd ya get that rope up there?!?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:56am PT
After guiding in the Tetons the summer of 75 Steve Wunsch and I, thinking we were pretty hot stuff, headed East on a climbing trip. First stop the Needles...you know the rest of the story.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:57am PT
After guiding in the Tetons the summer of 75 Steve Wunsch and I, thinking we were pretty hot stuff, headed East on a climbing trip. First stop the Needles...you know the rest of the story.

Whoh? I don't know anything of it....got a link or a remembrance? This probably should get it's own thread and 200 replies.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:01am PT
Which one was of you guys was the weak link? LOL

I haven't heard the rest of the story either...do tell!?!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:09am PT
We were immediately chastened by the long runouts on scary looking knobs. We developed immediate respect for the local pioneers and gradually worked our way up thru the grades. We eventually, with much fear and trepidation, got up Super Pin and Hairy Pin and did a new CRACK route on Barbizon. With a vast sigh of relief we continued on our trip- next stop, Seneca Rocks....you know the rest of the story. Phew...my palms are sweating- off to clip bolts (nicely spaced) again today.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2010 - 11:26am PT
One might add that the Superpin Wunsch and Donini got up was the original Henry Barber version, not the currently enfeebled modification with the added bolts.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:28am PT
Who did that?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:32am PT
Added bolts on Super Pin???
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 12:10pm PT
That is my question...
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2010 - 01:29pm PT
From the current description on Mountain Project:

"Take a step across the chimney onto Superpin. Sling a flake (or place a large nut behind it), go up, clip a bolt and pull the crux bulge. Continue on fun but run out 5.7 crystals to a pair of bolts on the right. From the bolts a finishing section of 5.8 face climbing leads to the top."

The "pair of bolts on the right" were added at some later point in time, after quite a few parties (I'm guessing around ten) had already repeated Henry's ascent. I don't know who added the upper bolts. Actually, I think the first-mentioned bolt may also have been added, there being, originally, a fixed pin.

The original route was X-rated because of the lack of protection for the finishing "5.8 face climbing," which I recall as not being noticeably harder than the 5.7 below it. There is also some debate about whether or not the route is still X-rated even with the added bolts because of potential severity of a fall just below them.

In any case, Henry and the other parties managed without those two added bolts. I mention this because the climb was not in the "museum piece" category of never being repeated. There were and are parties up to the challenge of X-rated 5.8 (if that's what it is) as established by Henry's brilliant first ascent.

A lot of space on this thread was taken up with arguments about whether the Needle's Eye needed a bolt to replace the deteriorating pin I placed on the first ascent in 1964. I have since heard quite a bit privately and a bit publically from people who say adequate protection is available with modern gear (more than one piece can be placed), which I would think ought to settle that issue.

As for Superpin, the deed was done some time ago. I guess there will never be an end to the arguments about whether X-rated routes should be left for those who are both capable of and interested in repeating them, but it is not as if anyone who aspired to Superpin was going to be surprised to find runout climbing.

People made a choice to climb Superpin, often after a considerable period of physical and mental preparation. Custer State Park has many relatively bold climbs, but also has enough well-protected routes to keep climbers occupied for years, and nearby Mount Rushmore has well-bolted sport routes for those who seek high difficulty with low risk.

It is, consequently, impossible argue that Superpin had to be bolted because of some communal need for more routes. Someone decided that the original ten or so ascents were "too risky" and that further bolts had to be installed. I think this is a travesty personally, but I'm also beyond tired of arguing with people who clearly will never get it (and who are, of course, convinced that I will never get it).
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 01:35pm PT
Like Hammer back upthread...
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 19, 2010 - 01:50pm PT
Well put, Rgold! I was never one of the boldest, the needles eye and tricouni nail held my interest. But you gotta respect history, rather than revising it!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 14, 2011 - 08:46pm PT
Bonnie sent me a scan of the cover of this super-rare guidebook first put out by Bob in 1971. A labor of love containing several maps to the complex landscape.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 12, 2011 - 12:17pm PT
Neddles Bump!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 12, 2011 - 01:14pm PT
I have been in touch with Mark Powell's wife, Beverly, now Beverly
Powell Woolsey. She dug up some old footage of Gill on the Sylvan
Lake boulders, for my new film, and some footage of Kamps and Gill
playing volley ball in the Black Hills, etc. etc., and of Kamps and
Mark climbing some difficult-looking spire... Good stuff. Also of
Dave and Judy Rearick playing some music in the campground...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 14, 2011 - 12:02am PT
Beverly just sent me this classic shot of The Black Hills Hillbillies as she likes to call this crew.


Rich Goldstone, Bob Kamps, MaryAnn Raio (skiing friend of Bev's), Beverly and Mark Powell. Sal Raio likely took the photo.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 14, 2011 - 08:35am PT
Yee haw! Which way to them rocks we heerd tell about?
BG

Trad climber
JTree & Idyllwild
Aug 14, 2011 - 01:36pm PT
Credit: BG

photo by bob gaines
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Aug 14, 2011 - 03:06pm PT
I'ma swing by, anyone up for some easy bouldering tomorrow, maybe the Needle's eye aerea or Campground boulder??
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 15, 2011 - 01:11pm PT
Nice shot Bob!
jstan

climber
Aug 15, 2011 - 01:23pm PT
Our specie has long demonstrated an amazing capacity to achieve wonders while at the same time behaving mindlessly. We do anything. And do it without shame.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 20, 2011 - 09:13pm PT
Touch them all...Bumps, that is
Kris Gorny

Trad climber
Rochester, MN
Sep 15, 2011 - 12:23pm PT
As of August '11 there are NO bolts on Superpin. Zip. Henry Barber had them all chopped. Check out updated route description and related posts on Mountain Project
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 15, 2011 - 06:36pm PT
Henry don't need no stinkin' bolts!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 15, 2011 - 08:40pm PT
Yes I saw the other thread. IF any of this is true, and
Henry did recently chop a bolt, well, I would tend to respect
the judgment of someone of his ability. I know Henry, have
climbed with him many times, and he was one of climbing's
true genius free climbers. I think he would see an added bolt,
on a climb as significant as Super Pin, as a desecration,
while I understand others would see it as a way to make a
climb accessible that would not be otherwise. I understand
both views but support the view of the master, who adheres
to the high principle that we should not bring a climb down
to our level but rather raise ourselves to the level of the
climb. I've done several routes without a bolt to which
climbers later added a bolt (Athlete's Feat, for example,
and Super Slab, in Eldorado). I got tired of arguing the point,
as they would replace their precious bolt if I chopped it,
and only the rock lost. Super Slab, for example, a recent
question was whether or not to change the location of the bolt,
move it up higher to a more strategic place, and make the climb
easier and safer. I voted no, in part because the bolt was
an added one anyway. It shouldn't have been there in the first
place. I did the climb several times with no need of it, then
suddenly everyone needs that bolt... whatever. I'm retired, so
I really have no voice anymore, but our history is worth preserving.
Pete Cleveland did something very special on Superpin, something
more important than whether or not future climbers feel
safe on that route... Best to leave some climbs alone, perhaps?
funkazzista

climber
Italy
Sep 26, 2011 - 05:43am PT
@rgold: I have sent you a message.
Did you receive it?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 2, 2012 - 12:35pm PT
Shameless nostalgia bump...
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 2, 2012 - 12:57pm PT
Nice to see this account popping up again after five years, thanks to Steve. It now has an awkward dual existence here and as a TR at http://www.supertopo.com/tr/The-First-Ascent-of-the-Needles-Eye/t222n.html. I don't know if there is any way to consolidate the two files...

Happy New Year to all!
WyoRockMan

climber
Flank of the Bighorns
Jun 9, 2013 - 03:14am PT
BBST
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jun 9, 2013 - 06:33am PT
I went to the Needles in 1978, inspired by a cover of Mountain magazine. We had no guidebook - just some suggestions from Bob Kamps and the Mountain shot (I'm sure Steve will have a scan of it somewhere).

Credit: jaaan

I don't remember anything about the Needle's Eye. I suspect that I never got any higher than where I am in the photo, though could be wrong...? I think maybe I just wanted the photo. I just assumed the route went where the Mountain shot had it. I never suspected that it should be on the outside of the eye. Is there a route where I am? If so where does it exit? How hard is it?
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 9, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
We heard stories that Kor had chimneyed up to the top of the eye and then aided out from there. I think Pat Ament told me that Kor had no memory of doing this, however. In any case, the route, or something close to it, has been freed at 5.9+ (old-school grade warning). Apparently, there is no protection after the top of the eye, and there has been an eighty-foot fall as a consequence. I don't know who did it, nor did Piana when he put it in his guidebook.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 9, 2013 - 06:29pm PT
I remember in... about 1970... leading up that Needle's Eye
in the rainy evening, and I knew nothing of the route or which
way to go, only that some route had been done. I climbed to the
very top of the eye, as I recall, leaned out behind me and
made a wildly exposed move onto the south face. I was scared
and had no protection. I thought I must have been on the wrong
route, or else it simply was too unprotected for me. I have a
memory, though, of seeing some kind of horizontal indentation up
to my right that looked as though a piton or two might be driven.
But I carefully reversed the moves and downclimbed that chimney....
Layton certainly never shared with me anything about an attempt
on the Needle's Eye, though I do seem to recall he did some
climbing in the Needles. Not much. I don't think it really suited
him....
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 9, 2013 - 06:36pm PT
I always wanted to go back but for some reason never did....
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 24, 2014 - 04:43pm PT
Bump for the one that got away...
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2014 - 09:30pm PT
Since Don and I did the climb in 1964, it seems that this summer marks the (gasp) fiftieth anniversary of the climb.

Eek.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
May 24, 2014 - 09:40pm PT
Wow!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 25, 2014 - 02:33pm PT
Happy half a C Rich!

You continue to be the one that got away and may it long remain so!
Messages 1 - 256 of total 256 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews