Hey Coz, Sure would like to hear the story of Southern Belle


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right here, right now
Apr 14, 2008 - 10:05am PT
Thanks Clint.

Hey Cozzy,
When you get back from Holly-wierd, how about a nice little story.

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 20, 2008 - 10:20pm PT

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Apr 21, 2008 - 07:19am PT
44 posts Vs 1750 and growing..... maby few people realy care about museam piece death climbs........... Just a thought.......

Barcelona, Spain
Apr 21, 2008 - 08:54am PT
Who generated more internet noise last year, Britney Spears or Marie Curie? History and style do matter.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 21, 2008 - 09:08am PT
44 posts vs 1750.

Tradman, 44 posts just trying to get Hank and Coz to tell their stories. There's plenty of interest. I hope those guys will get on here and write a chapter. Remember that half of the interest on that other thread comes from each side of the issue.

right here, right now
May 9, 2008 - 12:17am PT
I know Hank's story, sort of.
He was doing great, but his sunglasses got in the way and so he took the big wipper.

But Coz!!!
Your audience awaits you...

Gym climber
May 9, 2008 - 07:04pm PT
Indeed, looking way forward to it. I remember when that got put up, then sent. I'[m not exactly an armchair climber, but I'll certainly take the armchair on this route ;-)

Where you want to be
May 10, 2008 - 09:45am PT
Looking forward to reading it coz. Take your time and make sure it's good.

Trad climber
May 10, 2008 - 11:00am PT
"I am working on as we speak probably post the story here and then send to the mags."

It would be great to read it here, but if you post it here first, won't the mags be much more reluctant to take it?

right here, right now
May 10, 2008 - 11:04am PT
The mags get in line behind Supertopo.
This is where they get their fresh, hot steaming news!
'Always been that way, always will be...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 20, 2009 - 06:22pm PT
Hank Caylor posted this great account of his attempted 2nd free ascent in 1994 with Alan Lester on another thread:

Other stuff is mixed into that thread, so I thought it should go under a thread with Southern Belle in the title, so I've spliced together his posts from that other thread here:


South Face of Half Dome. 94'. Alan Lester and I are in the prime of life. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Scott Cosgrove said that this was the most state of the art thing he'd ever done. If he did it, that means that if I want to be "state of the art", I gotta do it. 12DX no problem.

So Alan and I get this plan together to repeat the Southern Belle. Not try, repeat. We drive all the way from Boulder with one thing in mind, 2nd ascent, PERIOD! All this under the gaze of Valley big shots like Croft and Cosgrove and God whoelse?

And yeah, I had visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. I just did the BY, Midnight Lightning, Astroman blah blah. In Yosemite, those folks don't care about who you think you are and what you just climbed. Kinda hard from a Texas/Colorado hybrid like me to understand.

We drove in one straight shot to Yosemite(get a globe, it's a long way). Marched straight up to the Southern Belle, camped, drank nothing and tried to fire. CRAP!

We had a deal, I do all the freaky runout face pitches and Alan gets the cracks, that's his thing. Alan floats the 1st 5.9 pitch, cruises the shorty 5.12 2nd pitch and then HIKED the12C 3rd pitch with 2 #2cams. He just left one halfway up and milked the second for 60feet. I just pooed myself.

The 4th pitch is the "crux", 12DX, I work the 5 bolts and do what we considered an, A0? followed by a 100foot 12a runout. The scariest climbing moment of my life(in the 90's), almost so far. I tried to put in nests of RPs and just left them hanging cuz' they were crap! Who's foolin' who? I nail the runout and Alan does the 5th pitch in excellent style, 12A.

Alan blows through the 6th pitch, that's right, 1 bolt in a 150' 5.10.

This is where we get to the porn....but not on Half Dome with Alan....ahem.

So Alan nails the 6th pitch and it's all me from here on up, his crack duties(funny) are through at this point. 2 mindless unprotected 5.11 pitches with almost no bolts go by, AND!

Here's where I screwed up. The topo only sez' where the one bolt is and 1 bolt is hard to see. I missed, not hard to do on Half Dome.

If you've ever had to climb 40' to get to within' seeing distance of the bolt. When I say the bolt, I mean the only bolt.

I just could not find the bolt. There was a garbage drawing Coz gave over but dangit. 14 bolts on the back half of Half Dome does not register in the heat of battle.

So yeah I fell(you wanted to hear it and there it is). Crap I thought, where is the bolt. I already climbed 40 feet longer than Coz's(I love him) crappy topo said.

And there the bolt was, 30' to the right of where I was climbing. I had already done way too many moves to downclimb.

Once again, I've said before, this is where I thought you separate the "men from the boys". The Cali boys from the Boulder boys! If you've ever been that far off route, yet so close.What a mind f*#k. A BASE rig wouldn't help you. Largo couldn't help you.

(Any partner affiliation that has to do with death routes is well discussed before hand between the partners. Alan and I did not even broach this subject. We were studs from Boulder and arrived in Yosemite to steal the 2nd ascent of the Southern Belle.) [This was in response to a question.]

The 3rd worst moment of my climbing life was on the Belle. I had climbed to far to the left to ever get to the 1 bolt. 40' of 5.11 that I just could not downclimb. I yelled my ass off to Alan, get me the bolt kit!

Seriously people, I was wearing a baseball cap. I leaned in a little to far and the brim of the ballcap clicked on the rock and chucked me off. Alan needed 150' feet of rope, we didn't, have to send up a bolt kit. I started sketching as much as you can halfway up Half Dome. Mentally, I had a meltdown. Seriously, Alan was 100' below me separated by a #2 TCU and a tiny Lowe Ball Nut. If those two pieces blow, ugly factor 2 straight onto Alan.

This brings up a situation I've always fancied. Do you wanna take a 200' fall and blow out your legs, or do you wanna hold a 200 foot fall as the belayer? Behind every earthquaking leader is a bold unheralded person holding the other end of the line. The belayer of freaks should be recognized!

So 1 pitched, I knew I was going to pitch. The mental process of pitching the kind of pitch that Doug Robinson would write about and make Coz cringe is a many splendered thing. Getting so far up all the rad sh#t on Half Dome, and then tossing so far was unthinkable.

Anyhoo, I went 40' into a dike (the kind that runs all over the S. Face of the Dome). I knew I broke my ankles very quickly. Actually, I knew they were toast way before. I then skidded like a dog dragged by a truck for another 40'.

My two pieces of gear held. I asked Dean and he never saw them on his ascent. This was easily the biggest fall Alan ever held. He lowered me down 8 gruesome pitches(thank you Coz). Anybody who knows about the South Face of Half Dome knows what a train wreck it is to get there. A freakish rescue is unbelievable. I begged and pleaded for a YOSAR rescue, a helicopter or whatever. Alan then looked me straight in the eyes and said "dude, were from Boulder and we won't be rescued in Yosemite". Alan literally carried me on his back to Little Yosemite Valley, a coupla miles. I then took a horse ride down to the bottom. Another crazed experience.

if you ever break your feet on Half Dome and got to be carried out. Alan Lester is the man for the job. I just want Tami to do all the play by play toons!

The horse ride to the Valley floor with air splints on is a sobering experiance.

[on his 3 worst moments in climbing:]
#1 is the 3rd ascent of Sheer Terror here in Eldo. Closest I've ever come to killing myself.

#2 is blowing the exit mantle on Midnight Lightning. Pads had not been created then and I almost broke both legs for the first time.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 20, 2009 - 06:35pm PT
Here is my most recent photo overlay guess, trying to match up the Southern Belle topo with where it crosses the South Face route:

Is it even close?

The published topo ("Yosemite Climbs: Free Climbs", Don Reid, 1994) agrees with Hank's description for the first 5 pitches (except the end of p4 is 5.11a on the topo, vs. 5.11d/5.12a 100' runout as per Hank). Then it has:
 p6 5.11b, no bolts (vs. 5.10 one bolt as per Hank)
 p7 5.8, one bolt, diagonals left (first of two 5.11 pitches as per Hank)
 p8 5.11a, 2 bolts, diagonals left, crosses South Face (second of two 5.11 pitches as per Hank)
 p9 5.11a, 4 bolts, diagonals right then up, long ways to first bolt (on the pitch where Hank fell, he was 30' left of the first, bolt, but 100' above the belay, with a TCU and nut 40' below him)

I could scan part of the topo and post it, if it would help.

Boulder climber
the greasewood ghetto
Mar 20, 2009 - 08:47pm PT
" Some 5.11 pitches near the top have only three bolts apiece, which could be considered over-protected since the last 5.9 pitch has none . "
Who lead the last pitch ? Was it protected at all other than the belay ? The imagery of the rope drag , maybe factor in the heat / some fatigue (?) and the exposure - being that high on the face is pretty impressive .

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 21, 2009 - 01:42pm PT
Thanks Clint.

Has there been a second yet?


Old Pueblo, AZ
Mar 21, 2009 - 03:12pm PT
Thanks coz. I can't wait to hear more.
{{{GOOD CHIT}}} man.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 21, 2009 - 04:51pm PT
Wow, thanks for sharing this, Coz. The description in the mags at the time was way too short, and I knew there had to be much, much more to it!

Hank, your thread is still here, but I copied your posts from it into one post, on the previous page of this thread - to make sure people could find it.

Monument Manor
Mar 21, 2009 - 07:12pm PT
Nice read coz.....grammar & punctuation need work for the mags....heh heh*
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 21, 2009 - 07:32pm PT
Another Southern Belle thread is at http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=278940&f=0&b=0

Does anyone know why the route was given that name? Of course, it faces more or less south, but I thought there might be a story.

Boulder climber
the greasewood ghetto
Mar 21, 2009 - 09:05pm PT
O-M-G Thanks for that story . Forget the mags - A book is in order .

Trad climber
Mar 21, 2009 - 11:32pm PT
Thanks for putting that down coz,
Messages 41 - 60 of total 186 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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