What and who inspired you to start climbing?


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Double D

Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 3, 2008 - 03:54pm PT
I know a lot of you have some pretty cool stories about who turned you on to climbing and what inspired you to do so.

Stories on a stormy day...please come forward with yours!

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Feb 3, 2008 - 04:35pm PT
Whillans... Scott... Bonnigton... Brown... I lived in the library and read 'em all. Actually had the opportunity to meet Doug Scott once to discuss his early work on Baffin.

The stories and the photos just took me away to a new dimension (or should I say New Dimensions.) Soon I convinced my dad to purchase some RD climbing shoes and I took a class at the local climbing store. As a 12 year old I had to be blindfolded and, using a hip belay, had to catch a full grown man who jumped from a beam across the ceiling. PAIN! Just about tore my skinny body in two.

Then my friend since nursery school, Mark (aka Blinny) and I walked up the local creek and started exploring a 40-fott high rock. We had maybe three 'biners, a prussick, some clothes line and a few knifeblades. Weird rack! I took my first fall a few weeks later on a crap rock when, while doing an "aid pitch" I leaned back on a runner "tied" by my friend that had exactly HALF of a grapevine/Fisherman knot in it. My first grounder!

Anyway, from there the rest was (and is) F U N !!!!

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 3, 2008 - 05:14pm PT
My parents said I was climbing before I was walking. In Boston and Chicago as a kid in the 50's and 60's I was always up in trees and on top of roofs. In the navy my photo lab and the signal radio room were boxes welded on opposite the stacks eleven stories over the main deck at the top of the superstructure under the antenna arrays and reached by a ladder of welded wrungs. It got pretty exciting climbing up to and inhabiting it during typhoons. On getting back from Vietnam and starting school, I was climbing around in Giant City down in Southern Illinois to photograph orchids and other plants in the highly pocketed rock. One day while just sitting in the sun studying at the base of the main cliff (it has a lawn up to it) a sport rappeller threw a hank of goldline down on top of me and I mistook him for real 'climber'. He had me suited up with a diaper sling gloves and a Budwieser before I could spit. I was rescued by some nascent climbers about a week later and the rest, as they say, is [a minor footnote in] history.

Social climber
The West
Feb 3, 2008 - 05:22pm PT
Have to cogitate.. Great unusual story, Khanom! mine is more along the lines of Healy-joes; cottonwoods in Cook County, then a family vacation in the tetons and an introduction to the CMC.

Mountain climber
San Diego
Feb 3, 2008 - 05:39pm PT
Watching the movie "SOLO" as a young boy at the Ski Chalet in Point Loma, San Diego, when we went in there for some clothes for me for the snow.

Probably about the time the movie first came out, 1970?

I have a real soft spot for that movie as a result. Way ahead of it's time, for a fantastic all-around climbing experience and visionionary link-up, even if it was fake. Just the idea was awesome. I don't think I knew it was a fantasy climb until much later when I knew where all those different places were, then duh, I knew it couldn't be the same climb.

But the illusion was done real enough for the time. It inspired me as a young boy, and gave me dreams to dream.

Social climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 3, 2008 - 06:08pm PT
I was a whitewater kayaker for years and years. Paddling Seneca Creek and the New River Gorge in West Virginia, I'd see climbers up on the rocks and think they were nuts. Then, after 7 or 8 shoulder dislocations resulted in my not being able to maintain a reliable roll, I gave up boating and was looking for something else to give me that same level of excitement. One of my paddling buddies whom I met after moving to California had done a lot of climbing in Yosemite back in the day and took me under his wing and got me started. I started way too late in life to ever be worth a damn but am pretty much hooked at this point.

Feb 3, 2008 - 06:34pm PT
Lemme see?

Inspired? I was inspired when I rapped down to Double D on half dome and gave him the radio to save me.
Double D

Topic Author's Reply - Feb 3, 2008 - 07:05pm PT
Ahh come on Werner, if I remember right you told Bill & I prior to going up there to "get stuck on Big Sandy and call for a rescue...I need the cash."

We just followed your instructions but missed Big Sandy by about 600'. teeheehee.

Thanks for the many fine memories!

Double D

Topic Author's Reply - Feb 3, 2008 - 07:26pm PT
Great posts dude and dudettte's!

As a kid I read tons of books about early American explorers, Indians and mountain men. My favorite character was Jim Bridger. Later, The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer got me totally stoked! I spent countless hours climbing all the large trees on our block, often in the dusk so as not to get caught. I made it a point to do ascents of all the greats, and repeated anything that didn’t get me in trouble. My buddies and I had a lineman’s phone hooked up to one of our tree perch’s that we spent countless hours making prank calls and calling girls. We especially like going up to the top of trees in high winds and getting whipped and tossed too and fro.

At age 12, my grandfather took us out to Vedauwoo for a family picnic where I first got turned onto the idea of rock climbing. Donning PF flyers I scrambled my way up to the summit through chimneys and gullies quickly to avoid the eyes of the family elders that might quickly squelch such a summit attempt.

My mom was way into spontaneous adventures and would drag my sister and I all over God’s creation. On spring vacation she announced that we were going on a road trip through the Sierra gold country with no particular agenda. This amazing week long journey ended up in Yosemite where we took the swan slab basic rock class. Although it would be years before I returned, I was hooked.

In Jr. high, my buddy’s sister had a boyfriend, Peter Churney, who was good friends with Rik Reider and took us up to Castle Rock for some 5.6 top roping (actually Goat Rock). From that day on I tried to weasel a ride whenever I could. Both Rik and Peter were agents of stoke and really gave me a vision for training and honing my skills. My first visit to camp 4 was with Rik Reider when you could drive in…imagine that! That weekend was when the first ascent of Stoner’s Highway was committed to with haul bags and bivi gear. Although I could climb trees like a monkey, physical training like pull-ups was a long, slow road.

We got to choose high schools and I was fortunate enough to have Ravenswood, an experimental integration school, as an option. They had a mountaineering club of sorts headed by an incredibly dedicated teacher’s aid, Dave Lund, who took us out at least a couple of times a week to local crags like Castle and Henly’s rock. I had bought a used pair of PA’s and was in heaven (EB’s weren’t out yet). On weekends we went on trips to Yosemite, Mt. Shasta, the Minaret’s, North Palisades and numerous other way cool climbing places. By the time I was a sophomore, I scarcely saw my family as we had a daily routine of riding the school bus to our local crag, Rattlesnake rock and we were always gone to the Sierra’s on weekends. We finagled our way to get P.E. credit for climbing and had a bunch of very talented climbers that came from there; Kathy (KB) Besio, Augie Klein, Kurt Reider (Rik’s brother), Kevin Ludwig, Bill Price, Annie Whitehouse and Dave Yerian just to name a few. Dave Lund schooled us in the art of belays, anchors, self rescue and so much more. I can remember he tested our belaying prowess by hooking up a 150 lb. weight with 15 feet of slack and throwing it off the bleachers while we belayed from below. At 115 lbs and on a gold line rope, I got thrusted up in the air and severely burnt (no belay devices then) but had the confidence that I could catch a leader fall.

We pretty much had our local crag, Rattlesnake rock, to ourselves and developed some awesome bouldering problems there but my true inspiration came from the talent at Castle rock in those days namely, Barry Bates, Ron Kauk, Ed Barry, Rik Reider and many others who had pioneered many fine problems and were always encouraging to us young pups. We also did a lot of buildering…particularly at Stanford and this 100 year old building in Palo Alto called the Ross & Wilson building. We got way honed on vertical face climbing on thin edges. I remember taking Yabo there and being really pumped up by his positive reaction to these obscure areas.

Eventually we graduated to the Valley and groveled our way from being 5.8 climbers, up the food chain. I remember Fred East, Ed Berry, Tobin S., Kevin W. the Bird, Werner, and Mike G. being very cool to us. When Kurt, Bill and I first attempted the Nose, Fred took us over to Kevin’s famed VW van and explained that this was the “basic equipment unit.” In those days, if you were in the loop, you could borrow equipment for walls by signing it out like a library book. Leaving racks or equipment at the base of routes wasn’t a big deal and theft was either rare or non-existent. Beta for routes came from Ropers green guide, the register in the box in camp 4 or from hanging out with the boys. Sandbagging was prevalent and secrets where next to impossible to keep.

Many fine memories and highly stoked friends!

Feb 3, 2008 - 07:32pm PT
Just so you all know.

Double D is a bad ass aid and free climber. This guy climbed some really serious sh'it in his day.

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Feb 3, 2008 - 07:46pm PT
First, my dad, who is now 89, STILL remembers watching SOLO with me. We both saw it as beautiful, interesting and poetic. So easy to be drawn in.

Second, Mark (Blinny) and I were sleeping in the rain on Dinner Ledge when we started hearing cries (not crying) from the NW Face. Knowing we were hosed (literally... rivers of mud flowing into our bivi sacs) on the South Face we rapped off and ran into rescue to report what we heard. That began the BP/DD rescue. I also remember a story from Werner telling people about how he almost dropped his radio on the rescue. Something about it wasn't much use to him at the time...

Social climber
Way Out There
Feb 3, 2008 - 07:52pm PT
I had a choice of learning to surf or climb in the early 80's. Given the horrid OC localism at that time, I went with climbing.I buildered warehouses in an industrial park that were covered with stone, got the Hunk's Guide and scoped out every crag in the county, then moved to Berkeley and climbed every day after work at Indian Rock, Cragmont, or Remillard.


Trad climber
Nor Cal
Feb 3, 2008 - 08:34pm PT
Watching the movie Solo in Middle School on a rainy day in PE class was one the seeds for me. Must of been about 1970. But I had already been backing and skking skiing for years.


Trad climber
new york, NY
Feb 3, 2008 - 10:24pm PT
The wife took me to the gym!

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Feb 3, 2008 - 10:31pm PT
Almost too old to remember, but the book, "Vertical World of Yosmemite", to this day, motivates me to seek out the next vertical adventure. Harding's recollection of the use of the call "Lock!!" for "Rock" on Leaning Tower will have me in stitches well into my 70's !!!

Trad climber
Feb 3, 2008 - 10:32pm PT
Marvin the Marvel...
Didn't want to go, too scared to go, and had no interest in climbing.
He kept asking and one day on an impulse I gave in.
Thanks Marvin for everything! You gave me a gift I never stopped receiving.

I did climb trees, roofs, etc. all throughout my childhood. I just didn't connect the rush to mountains until that day...

Trad climber
In the mountains... somewhere...
Feb 3, 2008 - 10:49pm PT
Like Locker I was sucked in by Spencer Tracy on The Mountain. Now that was a REAL man! The first time I watched it shown in 10 minute increments on The Mickey Mouse Show in about 1957. I was fascinated but it was many years until I was exposed to climbing at Stoney Point and have been hooked for 35 years now.

Feb 3, 2008 - 10:49pm PT
I couldn't think of anything else to do when I dropped out of college. I knew people were climbing in Yosemite but I didn't know the exact nature of the scene. I hitchhiked there with some PAs, a swami belt, a couple of nuts and a couple of carabiners I bought at REI in Seattle after working a job in the mountains. C4 was full so I walked to the other walk-in campground across the river (can't recall the name of it - it's long closed). The first guy I saw there was sorting gear so I went up and asked him if he wanted to go climbing. The next day we went to Manure Pile Buttress and did After Six. How many people do all the pitches of After Six? We did.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 3, 2008 - 11:35pm PT
Kent Maiden, working for Challenge/Discovery program out of Presscott College, Ariz. (Outward Bound type program)....I was sent on this program by my father to " give me leadership and responsibility."......too bad I became addicted to the dirty sport of climbing and all the nasty things that go with it.............It was Summer 1972.............36 years later, ....still slumming around the crags every weekend........


Feb 4, 2008 - 02:21am PT
I never intended to go ever go climbing. However, after a few exposed escapades during some cross-country backpacking trips, a climbing class was offered at the local outdoor shop and it sounded like a good idea, only from a 'survival' standpoint.

The instructor was Tex Bossier from Chouinard Equipment. There were about twenty of us in the class (surprising for Bakersfield, eh?) and the outdoor portion was divided over the weekend. It was cool, but I wasn't really focused in on climbing right away. 'Still didn't interest me much...I went out with a few of my former classmates begrudgingly. Being the least enthused, I am the only one out of the 20 that is still climbing.

What inspired me to climb was my realization that there was so much unclimbed rock out there in the Southern Sierra and adventure (or epic?) in every trip. However, it was difficult at times to find partners willing to suffer the rewards. LOL. I even used to keep a whole extra set of harness, shoes and the works (backpack and rain gear) so a potential partner could not use lack of gear as an excuse to back out.

'Still some more adventures to be had...gotta go.
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