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


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Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 22, 2009 - 12:32am 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 - 12:35am 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 - 01:28am PT
That area between Southern Belle and Karma is waiting ...

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:51am 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 - 06:36am 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.

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 09:13am PT
Very kind words, I really didn't think we had done anything that standard-setting I just know at that time there was nothing that mattered more. We had no thought of getting hurt or getting killed. Sure we where worried, but to turn back just wasn't in our radar.

I hope my story really pointed out that Dave Shultz was the ultimate master of slabs in my book. I have climbed with almost all of the slab master of my day, and none of them could even come close. Me and Leo only repeated his nightmares we didn't establish them.

I would like to hear the real story of Dean and Leo ascent, as I have heard many rumors and hearsay but no stories from the horse's mouth. I think I read that Hank and Allen did not free the 12d pitch? And I heard that Leo and Dean had to fix lines and come back to that pitch for the red point. Croft, is fairly silent on what stopped him as well.

Basically what I am saying is... a true, a one day on-sight may have not been achieved? If I am wrong I'd love to know, because I am sure some kid like Alex Hollond could be the man for the job. Moreover, I would hope that Clint's photo taken form the ground would once and for all put all rumor aside that you need a rappel rope to find the lines and that there are no natural stance to drill from.

I would also like to know from Sean or Doug if they added rappel bolts to the Original Southern Belle? It looks like the lines intersect at a few points.

I leave it with one more quote from the Iron Monkey you all might enjoy. We are sitting at the base of the South Face after our climb, Shultz and I enjoying the view, "I have to tell you Dave that thing is f*#king scary!" Dave laughs,"Cosgrove, if you think that scary, don't ever get on Karma." I was just silent.

Until one person can on-sight karma, can any man or women say, that the routes of today are anymore dangerous and scary than those of the eighties.


Trad climber
Eldorado Springs, CO
Mar 22, 2009 - 09:39am PT
Coz, I did the 12d pitch. Why you would put 5 bolts into a short sport pitch and then make a goofball like me run it out for 90 feet to the belay is beyond me.

What I did, for the record, is worked the 12D portion and then fired. I got gripped, and rightly so at the runout. I hung out on one of those dikes that criss cross that wall and then sh#t my way up the rest of the pitch. Alan and I were going to call it an A0. No I never did the whole pitch in 1 single push.

Coz, a well bolted 12d, (Leo thought it was 13), followed with a horrific 100 foot 11d (Leo thought it was 12) runout is just weird. You Cali dudes invented the phrase Yo Yo and A0.

Yes I sh#t myself, but I did it, and the broke my ankle/legs.

Proud climb dude, the proudest in Cali. By the way, your topo SUCKED for that route. Shipoopi telling me I only needed 1 #3 friend on Astroman was crap advice, and the beta for the BY is 11cX (take a#4 freind) is also wack! You Cali types should just try to chill, and me too!

Did I mention, PROUD Coz and CO.

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2009 - 10:07am PT
I never was good at topo's or so I am told. I think what happen on that 12d or 13a pitch is that Walt drilled a bolt ladder, then was tried and Shultz yarded through and was the reason for that horrible run out. Remember, we never had half size cams maybe you didn't either.

I think at lest you could get some gear at the 12a move now with small cams. We worked it on the FFA for a day and I red pointed it the next, bad-ass pitch none the less.

Good job, I really feel you guys would have sent all those years ago. I remember being lost where you were and have a shouting beta match with Shultz telling me where to go. That pitch you fell on was the worst one. I can remember every move to this day.

Sunny day in Vancouver this morning, I'm out.... check in tonight, all the best brother Hank, ur the shit!

Barcelona, Spain
Mar 22, 2009 - 10:13am 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 - 10:38am 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 - 11:29am 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 - 12:05pm 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 - 12:13pm 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 - 12:38pm 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 - 01:05pm 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 - 01:09pm 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 - 01:24pm 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 - 01:27pm PT
That's one of the coolest looking pitches that I have ever seen!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Mar 22, 2009 - 01:27pm 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 - 01:29pm PT
I want to add a little context to Southern Belle and to Coz’s 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.
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