First Ascent of the Heart Route 1970- Kroger and Davis


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scuffy b

Frigate Matilda
Apr 29, 2009 - 02:58pm PT
I got to climb once with Andy. He, Mike Graber and I
went up on the Central Pillar. We climbed six pitches then
rapped off, an uncommon combination.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
May 1, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
Bump for one of Mr. Grossman's great threads.

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Jan 6, 2012 - 07:54pm PT
Too good not to bump.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 6, 2012 - 08:34pm PT
Wendell, that was a great and well told story! Thanks!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 6, 2012 - 10:20pm PT
Holy frig, TGT - how the hell did Andy fall asleep on the back of your motorbike, and knott fall off? That's bloody amazing!

Social climber
So Cal
Jan 6, 2012 - 10:45pm PT
I had a Wixom touring setup and the back bag had a backrest. You couldn't slide off the back.

I just sold that bike in November. It had sat in the shed for fifteen years or so waiting for a restoration that I never got around to.

It found a good home with an enthusiast who is restoring it and calls me every couple of weeks with an update.

Got four times what I paid for it too.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jan 23, 2012 - 01:12am PT
bump for Heart Route coolness

and rip, Andy

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jan 23, 2012 - 03:19am PT
Here is a short Chuck Kroger story....

A friend of mine lives in the Berkeley hills and Chuck used to make some cash as a house painter. He told me that Chuck also helped out a time or two rescuing local residents who had somehow locked themselves out of their houses by using his climbing skills to climb into their second floors.

This might have been told elsewhere....

Chuck Kroger was part of a prank while at Stanford where they rapped down the side of Hoover Tower while painting feet that made it look like somebody had walked up the outside of the Tower.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 23, 2012 - 11:05am PT
I worked with Scott in Seattle. To call him erudite does him a disservice.
He wrote a book about his time in Syria in the 70's that was very good.
I can't find it on amazon. He has reprised it though and I am sure it is
as good or better than his first one. It would be a timely read.

Apparently the former US Ambassador to Syria agrees:

"Meticulously observed. Davis went far off the beaten path—into side streets
and mountain villages— and saw a Syria that escapes nearly all Western travelers."

—Talcott Seelye,
Former U. S. Ambassador to Syria

The Road from Damascus: A Journey Through Syria

He also wrote an eclectic work on climbing and construction:

Lost Arrow and Other True Stories

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Apr 30, 2012 - 02:27am PT
I'm going to check that Syria book out for sure

two points: (1) that cartoon is hilarious; (2) those photos from Embick/Dunn are historically significant.

that's all.

oh, and the Kroger/Davis ascent is, in my opinion, a watershed moment in El Cap climbing history, on a number of levels.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 10, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
Bump for doing an FA right!

Trad climber
Orange CA
Mar 10, 2013 - 03:32pm PT
I’ve spent a good bit of time on this route in the past few years. The roof pitch and the pitches after are all steep and spectacular. The Heart route would be well traveled classic if the lower half wasn’t so dirty. I wish I had photos to share...
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 10, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
Does anyone know who did the THIRD ascent of the Heart Route? During our second ascent in 1971, we discovered that there had been a huge rockfall between the first ascent (a year earlier by Scott Davis and Chuck Kroger) and our climb. The route was substantially changed and the "White Tower" feature on the original climb had simply disappeared! The entire 300 foot section of the Heart Route was dusty, full of loose rock, and brittle sections. I'd be interested in hearing from whomever climbed in subsequently whether they also encountered these loose section during their ascent.

Me and a couple of friends went up to Sickle Ledge about the time of the rockfall mentioned above. On the way up, every tiny edge and ledge was covered with a fine dust, and whenever the wind came up, the find dust blew into our eyes. It was just a practice run up to Sickle and later that same day, we hiked around to the west side to climb on the short climbs there, and discovered where the dust came from. The trail and environs over there were devasted. It was like hiking through the loose moraine rubble left after a retreated glacier. For a long time aftertward there was unpredictable rockfall that came down on that side of El Cap. Surely others remember this. I'm pretty sure that the large devasted area of forest that can be seen when looking down from El Cap is from that rockfall, since there was quite a large number of splintered trees on the hike along the base. It would not surprise me if the rockfall had happened the night before. If it had happened during the day it may have been a highly reported event.

For whatever reason, I had a good helping of rockfall events and accounts when I was young. There were so many! I sure remember the stories of when Mike Dent was on Sickle Ledge ( cant remember if they were bivied), and I think I recall some photos, but the story was enough to create some nice images. Mike was lucky to be alive. I can't remember who rescued them, but his team's ropes were so cut up and pulverized and melted into the rock, that I'm pretty sure they had to be rescued (given assistence with ropes). I don't recall anyone being hurt - just mental hurt!

I forgot to say too, that the Davis and Kroger story is one of my all time favorites. El Cap was so big......and still is.

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Mar 10, 2013 - 08:53pm PT
Hey Dan, I remember, as an impressionable youth, humping loads up to the base of el Cap for your solo and watching as huge slabs of ice broke away up high. They sailed down like a magic carpet unsure of their final destination. They final reached earth crashing into the trees all too close. I remember walking out keeping as close to the wall's base as possible!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 10, 2013 - 09:46pm PT
Chuck Kroger, near the end, in Telluride. From a prior post on Supertopo.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 11, 2013 - 10:34am PT
Shown here with the love of his life, Kathy Green. A very formidable team.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 31, 2015 - 11:44am PT
Long overdue bump for Scott and Chuck's excellent adventure.

Trad climber
Tel Aviv
Jun 1, 2015 - 04:33pm PT
Hey Steve, Thanks for the bump. I believe that Mike
Corbett, Bill Russell and myself did the third ascent of the Heart Route. I think that it was the summer of 1982. All three of us had broken up with girlfriends and the valley was crowded with people so we thought we'd go do some obscure route to occupy our troubled lives.

That wall is an adventure. It's a natural line that was climbed in super good style. The Heart itself was jungle warfare and there was/is gardening but overall the climb is proud.

I led Sacherer Cracker and all through to the jump pendulum and one of the hook pitches to Heart ledge. The left side of the Heart is Rototiller country. We had ski googles and wore them. Sometimes I'd hook on the slab to the right to avoid digging for placements. Being comfortable in wide cracks, well, I got all of those leads too. I also got the "A5 traverse" as well.
That place is so exposed and steep. The aid was A2 or so but I'm so glad that I didn't have to clean it or lower out as the third.

I do remember the third pitch above the Heart's "Iron Curtain" or "No Reverse Traverse" that had some very bodyweight placements. BITD I'd have called it A3/ A4. Pitches took time because of routefinding, loose rock, gardening, nothing fixed and having to set up huge belays for the three of us with all of that gear. One hanging belay bivuoac had at least ten (10) pins in a roofed corner.

Way cool adventure. Very few bolts, no fixed nothing, tons of food and best of friends spending a long week avoiding the cluster. Will tell more if needed.

Thanks, Peter
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Jun 1, 2015 - 04:53pm PT
Good Stuff.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 1, 2015 - 06:52pm PT
Peter- More by all means including photos if you have any.
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