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


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Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Mar 21, 2009 - 11:40pm PT
Say Mr. Coz, it was cool running into yo in Josh awhile back with Beth and Al. You saw the lost arrow I had and said mayhap if yo ever had time you might help bury it in a special place where it would be "lost" forever.

If you ever have time, let me know. appreciate, lynne


right here, right now
Mar 22, 2009 - 12:42am PT
'Bout time you ponied up to ride your pen out over those memories for us Coz!!!

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:45am PT
I looked in the dictionary under the term "epic adventure" and it pointed me to this thread. Thanks to both Hank and Coz for sharing what the spirit of climbing is all about.

Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:52am PT
Thanks Scott, maybe I can email yo if that's ok. Lynne
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:58am PT
Coz, and Hank - thanks for keeping the dreams alive.
Shoot, it's been 15, 21 years and the memories of those pitches and the leadup are burned in like it was last week.
Like what Tom Higgins once wrote about how you have a limited time at your peak and you have an opportunity to create memories that will last.
To go to the edge and survive it - I think it's what we all aspire to, but for most of us the edge does not stand out so much from the routine.

I suppose my particular slant is to look at the rock and try to envision finding the route on the FA. Being a slacker in the internet age, it's amazingly easy to find good photos and play the game without even hiking up there. Here's a photo I found today and tried to match up with the topos of Southern Belle and the South Face (some of the belays may be off...):

I think you can follow Coz's description of pitch 10, which leaves the belay 9 in the "Middle Tri-Clops Eye":

"Little did I know the real amazing climbing lay above. Shultzy took off and flew up an easy but run out pitch that put us in the pot holes. Just huge scooped out holes of rock. Galen Rowel,l had said on the first ascent of the South Face that, a door would open, we'd walk inside and the key to all knowledge would be printed on the walls. But all I found was the crazed Iron Monkey with an old sling tied around a horn of diorite, that he called a belay.

I knew this was the second to last aid section left on the wall. Shultz and Walt both thought my size would help. Climbing up the outside of the first pot hole I reach up on to the blank vertical wall and found a small hole about 12 inch in diameter, pulled up, mantle, reach as high as I could and found another hole the same size. I repeated the mantle and looked in depression as the four feet to the next golden dike was overhanging and blank. I dime edged out of the hole, searched for an edge and to my complete shock found a four finger crimp. I pasted my feet high and threw a four foot dyne just grabbing the dike, mantling and walking the the top of the dike to the bivy ledge on the South face route. I couldn't believe our luck and the beauty of the line, so impossible and improbable that if just a single feature where missing it would never go free."

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 22, 2009 - 03:32am PT
Being a lover of slab climbing, this is like gold for the soul! I'll never fire something like that but even if my limit is less, this story of perserving will remain etched.

Thx Coz for posting up.

I know a lot of the guys that climbed in and spent a lot of time in Yosemite are reticent to speak up online about their climbing experiences. But it is a worthy goal. A futuristic way of rekindling the apprenticeship ways of climbing.


Hobart, Australia
Mar 22, 2009 - 03:35am PT
Awesome Coz-mamma

Nice bit of writing. I think we should all collaborate and each write a chapter of living in the dirt in the ditch in the 80's together.

ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
the greasewood ghetto
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:28am PT
That area between Southern Belle and Karma is waiting ...

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:51am PT
I remember climbing the snake dike with my brother what seemed like a million years ago (probably 5 though!). We were kinda new to climbing, and knew nothing about these routes. We were teenagers, and looked up at the South Face.

"Wow, look at that arch! I wonder if there is a route up there!"
"Nah," I told him. "Its impossible. Its too steep, no one can climb slabs like that. Maybe someday in the future, though."

Crazy.... just crazy. Always was one of the big, looming, scary faces I had seen. Up there with my first view of El Cap and flying over a 17,000 foot volcano.

One of the best peices of climbing literature I've ever read. Thanks for sharing, Coz.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 09:36am PT
Scott, if you ever questioned your achievement, don’t.

When “between myself and Dave, we had climbed almost every scary climb we could think of and wanted to do something beyond, something that would in the long run prove that the media darlings of the time were not the only ones doing scary stuff”, you two entered a realm where almost no one has ever been on earth but which realm is the basis for all climbing.

A truly incomprehensibly profound experience and contribution to---I have to say it---mankind.

Barcelona, Spain
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:13pm PT
Whoa, we had to wait for that tale, but the wait was worth it! Thanks! Walt told me his part of the story (multiple times, sometimes twice in a row, I think!), and he always got a little more excited than normal for him when talking about this route. Now I understand why. How did you manage to keep that story inside yourself for so long?

A request (Clint?, anyone) - Karma and S. Belle must both be on this photo. Could anyone sketch their lines on top?


Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:38pm PT
Reread the entire thread again this a.m., last night I was blown away. Needed chalk just to finish reading the thread. Was the hard part negotiating the cajones wheelbarrow up the trail? Incredible face, incredible climbers.....incredible.

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Mar 22, 2009 - 02:29pm PT
Great stories Scott!

One of the proudest routes in North America. The lack of complete ascents & the number of unsuccessful attempts is rather revealing. You & Schultz really scored with that route. I agree with you that Walt would have wanted it left the way it was bolted. The ethics applied to the routes creation are so sharply contrasting with the ones SJ & DR used to create Growing Up.

Hearing a detailed account of this route is something many have anticipated for a long time now. For some reason, the whole South Face of Half Dome area had not got the attention it deserves, until recently. I would imagine that more people will be seeking to do some of the routes over there now that better info & pics temp one to dream of sunny skies & dreamy rock.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 03:05pm PT
mcreel, actually this overlay is on the second page of this thread:

Southern Belle & South Face cross each other, but Growing Up stays left.

I think I have the lines a little better in this one (from the Long, Hard and Free page http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/longhf.htm#half:

I'd like to improve the topo, too - Scott's and Hank's stories should help a lot with this. (I'll need to hike up there with a telescope or something to positively locate some of the features).

It's still so impressive that Hank and Alan went up there onsight, 6 years after, with an untested topo and without Dave to tell them where to find the bolts!! That is full-on adventure and beyond.

A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Mar 22, 2009 - 03:13pm PT
So great to hear the story of Southern Belle. I think the South Face of Half Dome is one of the most striking, mysterious, and awe-inspiring faces around. Everything back there seems so untouchable to mere mortals.

Lets hear some more, how about Autobahn and The Fast Lane? JM you were in on The Fast Lane. What about Autobahn (no guide in front of me right now, can't recall the FA). Those both look incredible and maybe (a little) more plausible to mortal men...

cheers and thanks

Mar 22, 2009 - 03:38pm PT
Wow ... what cool looking pitch. This must be the pitch Croft told me about. Didn't Peter and Bachar or Shultz do this before "Southern Belle" was done? I've always wanted to do this pitch.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:05pm PT

On page 1 of this thread, John Bachar said he did it with you....

"Me and WB did the first ascent of the crack on pitch two...

Remember that old buddy?

Thought I was gonna take the ripper of my life. One of each Friends.... hahaha"

(OK, it's been over 20 years so memories may not be so clear...)

Mar 22, 2009 - 04:09pm PT
LOL Clint

That's too funny. But to tell you the truth I never did this climb.

I believe it was John and Peter because Croft told me about that pitch and how cool it was. Some OW to thin hands on that overhanging dihedral.

Best to you Clint, hope to see you in the Valley soon again .....

P.S. The Valley is getting heavily hammered with wet heavy snow today from that storm.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:24pm PT
Thanks for the correction, Werner. Although Croft went up there twice with Dave Schultz to try to repeat the route, too.

What an outrageous crack, though. And to think that something so steep leads to a freeable face.

Social climber
wuz real!
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:27pm PT
That's one of the coolest looking pitches that I have ever seen!
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