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


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Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:27pm PT
Say, Chris Mac, this thread is my vote to be on your monthly email topic mag. One of the best of the best. Lynne
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:29pm PT
I want to add a little context to Southern Belle and to Cozís historic story here. For many years most of us were aware that the back of Half Dome had enormous route potential, even before Galen and Warren finally got their aid route done in 1970. It was not a secret to us. It was obvious that many lines could be established on the wall but which were beyond us in those days. So we yearned for it and talked quietly over the issues.

By the mid-seventies a bunch of us were scoping this incredibly beautiful wall and trying to figure out paths of least resistance, poking around the base for days, glassing it from other vantage points. John Bragg and I even were up there in July of 1975 and while there, established the Call of the Wild, a fun several pitch roof and crack climb on the back of the Pearly Gates area, while snooping around for this bigger game. But in fact no one for 15-16 years after Warren and Galen were done, actually went up there and squared off with the other bigger challenges back there. One of the greatest flowers in Yosemite.

There was a central problem. It was not just a matter of fire power. Obviously requiring a base camp, ground help, money, preparatory climbing and huge amounts of energy, time, and commitment, this salient problem was the enormous runouts that surely would develop up there. They just had to. And the assessment was nightmarish. It looked like climbing for a future era.

So, back to context. That Walt and Dave actually addressed this issue finally in 1987, and Dave got Coz to help him establish the FFA a year later, still signifies a new order of climbing, frankly, that we had not seen before but surely all dreamed off---climbing this hard and this runout was purely fiction before then and mostly still is. Doing 5.11 and 5.12 sections 100 ft above protection. It just had not happened before and we all had been real busy making certain for decades that it DID not. So it did turn out that what we had been fearing for 20 years---that the face would be so terrifying---was true. A huge leapfrog past what was the cutting edge.

I think in the interchange above it is clear that today there would be the possibility of making (while on lead) the route somewhat less runout, but now that this line is historic and with Walt having passed, the surviving FA/FFA party wishes to keep its statement intact. Running out free leads was very much part of climbing expression and especially of steep slab and steep face. And as Coz implies, it was the ultimate and eternal expression of the mastery and genius of Dave Schultz and Coz in their prime.
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:42pm PT
Hi Coz,

I have to agree with you. Schultz was extremely talented and had nerves of steel, a lethal combination. Walt told me that Southern Belle scared the crap out of him. It is a proud route for sure.

tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:43pm PT
I've spent some time up there walking around and looking. It's clear that there are only two ways routes will go, lot's of bolting, or lots of runouts.

Like Chicken Skinner said on the Karma post, those dikes, on Karma look huge from the ground. I guess that's not true once you get there.

Either way, a super proud line and there is tons more room for other routes, but like Peter Haan said, the routes would take a lot of effort, time, money...

Social climber
No Ut
Mar 22, 2009 - 04:54pm PT
I don't know which story is more inspired/inspiring, scary/beautiful or downright perfectly adventurous than Scott's or Hank's regarding Southern Belle. Sometimes people get themselves into a state of mind/body that seems normal to them at the time, but is anything but. It's so gratifying to me that you two have finally fully shared these visceral vignettes from the collective edge of a unique type of climbing experience. You've both done it in your individually inimitable styles such that I predict these recollections - jotted down in the heat of the remembrance of battle - will in years and decades to come be regarded as a high-point in climbing literature.

Thank you, my friends!

-JelloSlimesHisWayUpTheSouthernBelleAlongSideCozAndHankster - InHisMind
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 22, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
The dikes on Karma are huge, but they are like saws mostly---will cut the rope---and for the most part are very very sloping. Their bottom edge is large but tops are steeply ramped.

here is the link to the Ken Yaeger's/Skinner's thread:


and this is a photo from that thread:
Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 06:00pm PT
This is a view looking down the pitch after the one Peter Haan just posted. Southern Belle goes up the wall in the background and this view gives you an idea of how radical Southern Belle is. Imagine running it out on that stuff.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 22, 2009 - 09:15pm PT

right here, right now
Mar 22, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
Peter Haan said:

"Doing 5.11 and 5.12 sections 100 ft above protection. It just had not happened before and we all had been real busy making certain for decades that it DID not."

Good prelude to my point.

In your words, aside from a terrific tell of a horrific and visionary adventure, I see some hints of sadness within you about the regard for this route.

It's as though the assessment of the community, either by way of subsequent rap bolted routes, lack of attempted repeats, lack of other routes done in kind as was yours, a dearth of aspirants stepping out to carry the torch forward by way of emulation; that all of this somehow devalues your effort.

Were I in your shoes on this one, I'd start by owning the intrinsic value of my ascent as a stand-alone experience. Sure, all of us want to make a contribution and likewise garner a degree of appreciation from the community along with reinforcement and positive feedback based on our creative and highly invested efforts.

But you guys just blew the doors off of all of this; we'll be lucky to see one or two attempts per generation on something so committing. With this, the net effect is that it doesn't get readily absorbed by the community.

But, but... now that we have your stunning & detailed report, the star gets a little brighter to steer by...

right here, right now
Mar 22, 2009 - 10:45pm PT
Fair enough Coz,
A thoughtful reflection and elucidation of your internal contours.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Mar 22, 2009 - 10:46pm PT
Good Words Tarbuster and Warbler. Some on ST criticize the fact that not more post to these climbing threads. The fact is some of the threads, like this one, can overwhelm.

This Thread of incredible climbing history is something no one wants to reply to with some trite, lame response. I spent years with a fairly good climber and his friends so understand a little bit about what's involved. It has been beyond special to view and enjoy this thread. Lynne


Old Pueblo, AZ
Mar 22, 2009 - 10:51pm PT
I hope this doesn't sound trite, or lame but


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 22, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Coz- Truly fantastic account and, as I had hoped, a tale of power.

Chouinard and Frost once wrote that "but every climb is not for every climber; the ultimate climbs are not democratic. The fortunate climbs protect themselves by being unprotectable and remain a challenge that can be solved only by boldness and commitment backed solidly by technique."

You and Dave took a little stroll through a magic place. Other than maintaining the quality of the anchors, please leave your accomplishment as it stands and be at peace with the exclusivity and grace with which you solved the problem left by Walt and Dave in the first place.

You never find out what have until you have to use it and use it all! Makes me want to jump around and howl at the thought because I've had many a taste!

A selfish thing wouldn't inspire your peers as it does. A pure and proud effort does it every time. Don't go changin' a thing.


Mar 22, 2009 - 11:18pm PT

Cashner? hahaha what irony. I just had breakfast with Rick today and yesterday in the cafe. If I would have known I would have asked him about it.

Next time I see him I will ......
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Mar 23, 2009 - 12:26am PT
Coz wrote

"I never set out to be a great climber, but the Belle threw me into another realm of self, an enlighten being if only for a moment. The run outs and the danger slipped me into a gap, I can not and do not want to find again.

I for whatever reason held that face as holy, beautiful and divine, the rap route (Growing Up), killed me inside, and Dave for that matter. It was if some one spray painted the Mona Lisa. But I know the same could be said for drilling period.

The Buddha said," you can not perceive what you can not understand," I do not understand why I climb, so I can not perceive an answer. I am just a climber, who loved climbing, I know not what I do or why. Do any of us? Really? Maybe that sounds simple, but trying to answer question with no answer, is a waste of time and thought.

As far as the future having value and morals, then yes, I am sad, when the last great places are tarnished what then do we do, what then do we value. I am no saint, I have my sins, if others feel different great. I still say we should leave the face alone from rap-bolting, so others one day, can swim with the red serpents in the golden desert of the South Face."

We've had our differences about this whole question but I want to acknowledge this fine post.



Edit for Warbler, I edited my post after Coz edited the quote. They match now.

Not here
Mar 23, 2009 - 12:33am PT
Big happy "BUMP!"

beneath the valley of ultravegans
Mar 23, 2009 - 01:26am PT
"A huge leapfrog past what was the cutting edge."

Beautifully said Peter!

Trad climber
here to eternity
Mar 23, 2009 - 04:14am PT
Wow... I'm at a loss for words other than I am truly appreciative of the magnitude of that ascent and thank you for sharing its tale.


Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 23, 2009 - 11:14am PT
where the threshold of friction meets the threshold of gravity,
stout men and women dance.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 23, 2009 - 11:20am PT
Again, Mr. Grossman is right on the money.

Southern Belle is not a democratic climb.

A tribute to those who did it. Unbelievable.

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