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Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Nov 21, 2013 - 12:50pm PT

Trad climber
Nov 21, 2013 - 05:58pm PT
Maybe already referenced on this thread, as I didn't go through every post. But for the record, from previous thread on Bev Johnson:

Beverly and Astroman

I knew Bev from climbing with her some in the 70’s. We did a number of short crack climbs in Yosemite. She had an infectious energy, raw power and determination on the rock which I much admired. I also loved how she handled being a woman climber when there were few and when lots of men were threatened by the thought of a woman entering their prized mostly male sanctuary. She entered the holy place without knocking and blasted around with such confidence and verve it made all the chauvinism look utterly silly.

I have not told the following tale anywhere because it is hardly my proudest moment or hers (I can’t find any writing of hers on the climb either), but Beverley and I did Astroman in the early 80s, nearly coming undone in the process. I was determined to get it free within my old traditional standards of few falls, no hangs and starting over after falls from free stances or pitch starts. I was still in rebellion against style transitions of the day and prone to occasional mad proselytizing on the subject. Beverley respected my desire and knew about my stylistic warring but mostly just wanted to do the climb however we did it. Off we went.

All went well until the Enduro Corner. Beverley tried to lead it but half way up got tired and started hanging for rests. She was angry at herself the more she rested. I was quiet at first, and then in a rising pissy mood protested, “NO AID.” She told me to f*#k off. I said we should rap off if we couldn’t do it in good style. She challenged me right back saying something like, “Let’s see you do it right.” Now I was wildly fired up to give it a go, just the mood I needed looking back on it. Down she came and up I went. She was grim faced but I ignored her. We should have talked it out but didn’t. When I was about a third of the way up the corner, she told me she wouldn’t hold me if I fell and I’d just have to start over. “Fine” I yelled back. The camaraderie we had established over several climbs together was falling apart. I found there were a few edges on the right wall allowing rests here and there and managed to get near the end of the corner without a fall before the crack opens up. Suddenly a batch of swallows burst out of the crack into my face and off I went, screaming. Before I could say anything, Beverly, true to her promise and the very rules I touted for the climb, lowered me away to start again.

At the belay ledge I looked at her and said, sheepishly, “It wasn’t my fault!” She looked at me with her soft but penetrating eyes and slowly started to smile, then laugh. Our temper tantrum melted away thanks to her good heart. She, unlike me, was looking beyond the climbing to its meaning for two people who loved the walls. We sat and laughed for several moments. Then, looking over to Half Dome starting to turn golden she slapped my leg and said, “You’re a f*#ker!” I said back, “I know.” I remember that interchange like it happened yesterday. I guess it was what I needed, because I got the corner next try and Beverly followed it with only one fall and rest, and was fine with it.

Higher, the other remaining challenge for us was the Harding Slot. Beverly wanted a go at leading saying something like, “I want this sucker.” Looking up at it, I was happy to let her give it a go. I had never been on the route and was horrified by the slanting bomb bay look of it. She fired off the lower layback but had trouble getting into the slot. I told her to come down and try it again, though getting down from such an overhanging thing was not easy. She came back after some rope shenanigans, looked out at the waning light and told me to give it a go. Now we were comrades again, trying to get up the wall and get off with whatever combination of climbing worked. Perhaps it was because I was pretty skinny in those years but I found I could get into the slot as it widened without too much effort. The only problem was the minimal protection. In current parlance, I think one needs about a #6 to adequately protect the slot and we had nothing close.

A strange thing happened as Beverley followed: she turned the tables. She tried the chimney part twice without luck, but insisted on down climbing each time to start over. Down climbing the Harding Slot from almost anywhere beyond the beginning probably is harder than climbing up it. I couldn’t tell if she didn’t want to weight the rope or take a big swing. It was getting late. Now I was the one concerned about getting up before dark versus style issues. “Beverley, we’ve got to get going.” Or words to that affect. “Shut up Higgins. We’re doing it your way.” And those words are exactly hers. Even in my frustrated state I thought, What a woman. Third try she got it.

Above, there are a couple of strenuous laybacking pitches. I remember Beverley zoomed up one of them in waning light (I think it’s called Changing Corners). I got the last pitch in near dark, for me the toughest on the climb. While it’s face climbing, right up my alley, it was hard to see and protect and the rock seemed crumbly. Unlike me, Beverley didn’t whimper about the oncoming dark and try to hurry me. She followed with no problem or comment.

We had lights and got down the descent gully gingerly, feeling wasted and not talking much. The minimal dialog I remember with her, and the last we spoke to one another due to her untimely death, went something like:

“Not the best climb,” I said.

Unfazed, “It was OK.”

More skittering down the gully.

“Sorry I got pissed,” I said.

“OK, f*#ker.”

Farewell again, Beverly, good and brave soul you were.

Tom Higgins

Nov 22, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
I didn't read the whole thread, but it would most definitely be incomplete without mentioning Julie Brugger...

Social climber
Nov 22, 2013 - 05:03pm PT
I think Julie B and Carla Firey were mentioned in this thread. They sure made a huge impression on me in one of my first visits to the valley.
captain chaos

Nov 23, 2013 - 05:34am PT
Great story Tom... Bev was a very special lady, not many like her in this world.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 23, 2013 - 07:55am PT
Long Ago, she's far away,
Still has you on belay.

Very, very good and revealing tale and good of you to come forth with it. Thanks.

Hard ladies are good to find.

Sport climber
Jan 26, 2014 - 04:04pm PT

No Spare Rib. The Advent of Hard Women Rock Climbers. An article by Rosie Andrews in Mountain 97, 1984.

Joyce Bracht, Coral Bowman, Beverly Johnson, Barbara Devine, Alison Osius, Louise Shepherd, Lynn Hill, Carol Black, Jill Lawrence...

Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jan 26, 2014 - 06:36pm PT
I love this thread, so "bump."
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 26, 2014 - 07:06pm PT
Another great women's climbing history thread keying off Rosie's article.

Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Jan 26, 2014 - 07:17pm PT
Remember Wanda Rutkiewicz?

"Wanda Rutkiewicz (Polish), the third woman to reach the Summit of Everest, is regarded as the greatest woman climber ever. 8 Summits of the 14 8000 meter peaks. Wanda was born in 1943 in Plungiany (before World War II it was part of Poland, now it is Lithuania). After World War II, she lived in Poland.She had eight 8000 meter summits before she died on Kangchenjunga somewhere over 8000 meters while attempting via the southwest face route. Kangchenjunga would have been her ninth 8000 meter peak Summit.
Wanda’s Summits: Everest 10/16/78, The third woman ascent, the first European on the top; Nanga Parbat 7/15/85, with Krystyna Palmowska and Anna Czerwinska. They became the first women’s team who scaled this peak. (The first woman on Nanga Parbat was one year earlier – Liliane Barrard with her husband Maurice). K2 6/23/86, The first ever woman ascent to the top. She waited on the top for Michel Parmentier (France, died on Everest in 1988) and the couple: Maurice and Liliane Barrard (France, both died during descent from the top of K2). Shishapangma (the true Main Summit) 9/18/87 with Ryszard Warecki. Gasherbrum II 7/12/89 with Rhony Lampard from Great Britain. Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) 7/16/90 with Ewa Panejko-Pankiewicz. Cho Oyu 9/26/91 solo. Annapurna 10/22/91 South Face, solo. Wanda Rutkiewicz died 5/12/92 or 5/13/92 on Kanchenjunga. She climbed with Carlos Carsolio. They started together at 3:30 am 5/12/92 from camp IV – 7950 meters. After about a dozen hours of climbing in a deep snow Carlos reached the top. He went down and met Wanda around 8200-8300 meters on the way down. She decided to stay there on a bivouac and started for the top the next day. She did not have food, anything for cooking, not equipment for bivouac. No one ever saw Wana again…"


Jan 26, 2014 - 07:19pm PT
She did not have food, anything for cooking, not equipment for bivouac. No one ever saw Wana again…"

She's around somewhere.

She was reborn 9 months later .....

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jan 26, 2014 - 07:27pm PT
^^^^^oh yes! She was a hero of mine. Same with Arlene Blum. Really really the best in my book.
This was a gift from Irene Beardsley, one of the Women on Annapurna. It's from Kathmandu.
Incredible legacy of these women.
From Irene Beardsley
From Irene Beardsley
Credit: SCseagoat

This is a relatively new book but I haven't read it.
Credit: Amazon website


Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 19, 2014 - 03:41pm PT
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 19, 2014 - 04:31pm PT
Ed, you almost did it...filled the front page top to bottom!

Momma'd be proud!

Social climber
Feb 19, 2015 - 11:12am PT
hey there say, all... just adding this link, (thank you to jan for the idea to share it here) >:D<

did not want to rebump too much stuff, but WOW, i just
loved learning about this gal...

as we all know, times were different WAY back then...
but then, 'times be changing' as we all know, :)


SOMEONE always has to go before...
and someone always forges NEW paths... :)
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