Royal Robbins' Definitive El Cap Commentary 1973

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 1, 2007 - 12:06pm PT
From Mountain 25 (Jan 1973) the straight poop from the man himself. Enjoy.









Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Sep 1, 2007 - 12:17pm PT
Nice job Steve!
How is the pin bolt project coming along?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 1, 2007 - 12:23pm PT
I was down in the Valley for the 50th anniversary of the Half Dome NW Face and planned on getting to it. It was scorching hot so I pushed the Space Babble project out into Fall when Kevin is more available and you might actually have some fun up there! I gave two prototypes to Ken for the museum but still haven't set one. Stay tuned....
yo

climber
The Eye of the Snail
Sep 1, 2007 - 12:35pm PT
The Man.

Fascinating. I read the New Routes section ten times trying to figure out why he said what he said. Could he not see them or just couldn't bear to hand them over to the next generation?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 1, 2007 - 12:56pm PT
I think that it is more a matter of running out of lines that wouldn't involve a lot of holes. You have to keep in mind that none of Royal's FAs on the Captain had more than 13 holes! His failure while soloing on what would become the Tangerine Trip was actually fortunate in that he was spared all of the unsavory drilling that the route entailed. Royal is a complex guy so you have to read between the lines a bit.
In 1983 I arrived in the Valley with no partner and my rack already up on the wall. I sat in the meadow and figured out where all the routes went and more importantly where they didn't. For two weeks I dreamed and came back to a big group campsite just about every evening with the standard "yup, spied another new line" and the grin to match. Needless to say, my campmates were quite skeptical. I saw eight undone lines and climbed three of them.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Sep 1, 2007 - 01:21pm PT
Thanks, Steve. Hugh Burton wrote a similar article in Mountain in 1975 or 1976, essentially covering the "take over" on El Capitan from the old guard to the new wave (Sutton, Burton, Porter, Dunn et al). I haven't yet mastered the art of scanning things from Mountain in a readable format but still reasonable size, but may try.

Robbins et al used 38 bolts on the North American Wall.
426

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Sep 1, 2007 - 01:41pm PT
You have to keep in mind that none of Royal's FAs on the Captain had more than 13 holes!

True. But Tissiack (sic) had 110 (?) holes in 2,000 feet...

"Worth bolting for," was I think what RR said.



"All men are hypocrites. The difference is that some admit it. I, myself, do not." -HL Mencken.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 1, 2007 - 01:44pm PT
Anders- I will post that one soon as folks tire of this one. Both are definitive history along with Charles Cole's later survey.

Edit- Like I said, Royal isn't a quick read. Warren said that it all came down to fine points of "callgirl morality." LOL
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 8, 2007 - 10:55am PT
Historical bump...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 20, 2008 - 11:32am PT
What a great grand bump it is after all!
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Nunya, America
Sep 20, 2008 - 12:13pm PT
Historical re-re-bump...
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Sep 20, 2008 - 12:21pm PT
Steve, kudos for your ongoing historical posts. I looked at the Alpinist 25 photo
last night, showing a dense red spiderweb of routes covering El Cap. Seeing that photo, I
vaguely recalled reading Robbins' much different perspective from decades ago --
and here it is, on ST's front page as well.
guyman

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Sep 20, 2008 - 01:08pm PT
Good read, thx for posting.

"call-girl morality" Ha... Just spit coffee through my nose!

RR sure changed his tune as time went on. I guess we all do.

gk
east side underground

Trad climber
crowley ca
Sep 20, 2008 - 03:51pm PT
Hey steve, nice post. Any plans to come to Sierras this fall? S. Ayers is coming to town today. It would be great to get some of the Murrys together..... Murry
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 21, 2008 - 11:32am PT
Not going to hit the eastside this season, Mammoth Murry. Next one for sure.

Amazing that some of these threads go south so quick! Folks would rather carry on about sticking their lips on a pig or somesuch brouhaha. LOL
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Sep 21, 2008 - 11:42am PT
Anders wrote:

"Hugh Burton wrote a similar article in Mountain in 1975 or 1976, essentially covering the "take over" on El Capitan from the old guard to the new wave (Sutton, Burton, Porter, Dunn et al)."

So, right after Sunday morning cartoons are over can we maybe read this one Steve?
Double D

climber
Sep 21, 2008 - 12:16pm PT
Steve...that's a great read on historical El Cap and the minds that made it. I especially enjoyed reading Royal's take on Porter's distain for copperheads. I always wondered why he bolted and rivited for miles past so many usable corners.

It was also interesting to read about the "need for speed" in subsequent ascents. By the mid '70's it seems that most wall rats could care less about speed. Bridwell and Schmitz use to always harp about the lack of motivation regarding speed in that era. It's amazing to see how that has come full circle and how fast the records are on routes.

Thanks for the post!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 21, 2008 - 01:10pm PT
Hmmmm,... "usable"?


Perhaps temporarily exploitable would be a more accurate expression.







Hey Steve, good talking to you last night. Hope the trip goes well.
Double D

climber
Sep 21, 2008 - 05:18pm PT
"temporarily exploitable?" Not in the least! You'd be able to see a fine line of fuzzy wires sticking out after about the 5th ascent. Don't they make micro-prusik spectra for tieing off such mank?
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 21, 2008 - 05:54pm PT
I'm glad to see you're not myopic, merely in denial.
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