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Big Wall climber
Phoenix, AZ
Jul 23, 2008 - 04:26pm PT
Absolutely friggin hilarious, MrE.

Ron, I hope that's the closest you've ever come to meeting your maker, because that story made my palms sweat. You really should go back and free that last pitch some day...oh,'re familiar with the route already.


Trad climber
primordial soup
Jul 23, 2008 - 08:15pm PT
great story eric
(when do i get to take a dump and use your TP?)
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Jul 23, 2008 - 10:38pm PT
Ok, different take....

Going on a 30 day climbing trek across the western states from CA to Canada east as far as Wyo. Two vehicles, 3 adults, 4 young adults. Fab....until hubbies new climb partner for trip starts hitting on our two teen daughters.

No prob.

I killed him.

Smiles, Lynnie
Jordan Ramey

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jul 23, 2008 - 11:56pm PT
Here's a write up a friend of mine did from one of our first trips to the valley. We were supposed to climb washington column with this professional videographer who wanted to shoot film for a film festival and said we'd get free professional climbing photography. I said "sign me up". He paid to have my friend flown out from oklahoma and well, the rest is below. An epic weekend to say the least.... We have not climbed together since........ But a great story came out at least. Names have been changed to protect the guilty. Oh, and this is the PC version of the write-up, which excludes all the trail pooping episodes (oh well).... Enjoy

Yosemite, May 2007

Well, the trip to Yosemite was great, although it did not go as planned. The plan was that we (Jordan and I) where supposed to meet Big Wall Todd (a guy hired by Yosemite to do some video work for them) and climb Washington Column while he took video of the climb. Big Wall Todd had stated that he was 5.10a/b climber and knew how to jug (ascend a rope using mechanical ascenders and aiders). To get someone up a wall, one only needs to know how to jug. Being a 5.10 climber is helpful, but not required for success as long as you have a leader that can continually fix ropes on the way up. The plan was that Jordan and I would fix ropes for Big Wall Todd, then lower off them and let Big Wall Todd jug them to wherever he wanted to take video from. Then Jordan and I would re-lead some pitches to get top down video and such. Of course, we would take some video of Big Wall Todd. Anyway, that was the plan.

On Wednesday May 9th, I went into work at 5 am so I could get my 8 hours of work in before flying out at 6:30 pm from Oklahoma City. The flight was uneventful the fact I have a phobia for flying. Anyway, I arrived in LA (after a layover in Denver) at around 10:15. Jordan picks me up and we head off to his and Kelly's (his fiancée) apartment in Pasadena. We have a few drinks, sleep 2 hours, and leave for Yosemite at 2 am.

The drive up to Yosemite is uneventful, as it is dark most of way. Jordan dives 2/3 of the way there, and I drive the rest of the way. We both get a little sleep (me a little more than Jordan). Upon entering the park, the sun is rising just in time to light up the spectacular sight of El Cap, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and the rest of the Valley. Of all the places I have been, I can think of no other more awesome site for a rock climber than the 3000 ft vertical to overhanging rock that is El Cap. It is my one of my life goals to climb it in the near future (it beat me once already), but not on this trip. It looks to be another beautiful day in the valley.

Since Jordan and I are a little early, (we are supposed to meet Big Wall Todd in cafeteria at the park at 8:00 am) we eat breakfast while waiting for Big Wall Todd to arrive. Big Wall Todd had sent us a climbing pic of him and said he would be bringing a lab top computer with him. At around 8:30, a little guy holding a lab top walks in door followed by another guy who looks like a park official. I recognize the little guy to be Big Wall Todd and waive him over. We introduce ourselves to Big Wall Todd and the Park Official who turns out to be the Director of Safety for Yosemite. They, Big Wall Todd and Random Park Official (the Director of Safety) go get breakfast for themselves and return to eat with us. Most of the talk is about our plans for climbing Washington Column. Random Park Official also tells us about the first fatality of the year at Yosemite. A 40 something woman was hiking on Half Dome when she slipped on a slopping slab and slid down until she plummeted over a 700 ft cliff. However, he also told us that rock climbers are the least likely to be injured at Yosemite, a nice thing to know. Sometime during our exchange, Big Wall Todd has to use the restroom. Upon leaving, Random Park Official looks at Jordan and I sharply and tells us that Big Wall Todd is a slow climber (apparently Big Wall Todd and Random Park Official had climb together on occasion). We should have taken this to heart, but Jordan and I were in the mindset that Random Park Official meant Big Wall Todd was slow for a Yosemite climber. Seasoned Yosemite climbers are by far the boldest and best in the world climbing lightning fast and using little if any pro. Therefore, Jordan and I think Big Wall Todd will be right at our speed, maybe a little slower.

After breakfast, we move on to sort gear and pack haul bags in the Yosemite Lodge parking lot. With Yosemite falls is roaring from 2000 ft up and less than 1/2 mile away, it is great place to make final preparations. While Jordan and I are trying to minimize gear so we can have a lighter load, Big Wall Todd is constantly packing excess stuff, not a good sign. When wall climbing, you want just enough to be safe, but not to much such that it will make your approach to the cliff, and hauling the supplies up the wall, a nightmare. I concede and reluctantly pack more than I want to. After all, we have 2 1/2 days to climb a wall that would normally take 1 1/2 days.

After packing, we head to the Ahwahnee Hotel parking lot which is were we will park our car and start the approach to Washington Column, a 2-mile hike gaining 1500 feet in elevation. Random Park Official uses Big Wall Todd’s video camera to document the start of our approach, and then we head off. Shortly after starting, I make the decision to ditch Jordans and I’s portaledge to lighten my load from about 110 pounds to 90 pounds, and thus have more energy for climbing. While the portaledge would make for some good filming, it is not necessary for the wall we are climbing, as there are two good sleeping ledges on the way up the column.

Shortly after starting the approach, Jordan and I notice Big Wall Todd has fallen way behind. Jordan I find some good boulders to sit on and rest while waiting for Big Wall Todd to catch up. Not so bad, as resting occasionally is good for us, and gives me an opportunity to take in our surroundings. Once Big Wall Todd catches up, we take off again. Big Wall Todd falling behind would repeat itself throughout the approach such that Jordan and I had plenty of opportunity to rest on the way up. However, one time while waiting for Big Wall Todd to catch up, I noticed something dangling around Big Wall Todd’s feet. A closer look revealed object around his feet to be his harness (he had elected to put on before starting the approach). Hmmm..., I think, harnesses usually do not just fall off people. Anyway, we wait for him to put it back on, and then it is off again.

We finally reach the base of Washington Column South Face route at around 4 pm. We let Big Wall Todd lead the first 5.8 pitch. He does well, and Jordan and I quickly follow. We decided to fix the first three pitches before hauling. I lead pitch 2 (5.10 b) and pitch 3 (5.8) up to dinner ledge. Jordan quickly followed, and I took a few quick pics of him. Then we headed back down for the first pitch ledge.

During my leads and fixing, Big Wall Todd had descended the first pitch and prepped the haul bags for hauling. I set up a 3 to 1 pulley system to ease hauling and started hauling, while Jordan went below and assisted the bags up from below. After about 5 minutes of me hauling, Big Wall Todd offered to take over, and I obliged. About an hour later, the haul bags were on top of pitch one. I quickly dissembled the haul system and moved the bags over to the start of pitch two. Jordan jugged the fixed line and set the haul system on top of pitch 2. We agree that Big Wall Todd will jug the behind the haul bag and assist them up, while Jordan hauls. Then to my surprise, Big Wall Todd asks me, “How do I set up my ascenders and aiders to Jug”. I am stunned, after all, he was supposed to have jugged thousands of feet! Not a good sign! It has just turned dark, we are in a hurry to get the bags up to the pitch 3 ledge where we intend to sleep the night, and I am eager to get to bed since I have only had 4 hrs of sleep in the last 36 + hours. I set his jugging system up for him, and let him give it a go. He falls over, tries again, falls over, tries grapping the rope, struggles, and falls over again. Jordan is hollering down from the top of pitch two wondering what is going on, as he can’t see us in the dark below. Big Wall Todd’s futile attempt at jugging continues for 1 hr without moving one foot up the rope before I tell him to detach himself from the rope and go sit aside somewhere. I jug up to Jordan, and we have a little talk. I tell Jordan that we cannot bring him up, and that he now has become a serious liability to us. If either Jordan or I are hurt on the wall, it will become too difficult for either of us to watch after one injured climber and Big Wall Todd since he would not be able to assist in a rescue effort when he cannot jug. My decision is to call the climb, Jordan is still optimistic that he can teach Big Wall Todd to jug, It is now 11:00 pm. We decide to let Jordan try to teach him in the morning, and if Big Wall Todd can demonstrate an ability to send the rope in a reasonable amount of time in the morning, we will continue.

We rap down to the pitch one ledge, and tell Big Wall Todd of our plans. We make dinner, and Jordan and I drink some whisky. Big Wall Todd is indifferent, and asks if I will set up his portaledge. I told him that he could do it himself and that all he need to do was set up trad anchor to hang it. He tells me he does not know who to set up a trad anchor! What! I set up his ledge off to the side of the pitch one ledge and then proceed to clean and organize our bivy. Jordan has now been crashed asleep for an hour. Finally, at about 2 am Friday, I roll my sleeping bag out on the ledge, 6 inches from a 500 ft drop off and 2 foot from wall heading up pitch 2 which, o’ by the way, is crawling with thousands of ants marching in a trail. It is hard to fall asleep since I keep thinking I am going to wake up with thousands of ants crawling all over me (this wouldn’t have been the case if we could have proceeded to dinner ledge at the top of pitch three). But, for some reason, Jordan and I had decided we should sleep on the first pitch ledge to accompany Big Wall Todd.
6:00 am Friday morning, wake up, wake Jordan up, let Jordan try to wake Big Wall Todd wake. 2 hrs later, Big Wall Todd finally wakes up. Make breakfast, re-hydrated bacon and eggs, yum, yum. Jordan tries to teach Big Wall Todd how to jug for an hour. It is futile. Finally, Jordan sets him up with a frog style system, and Big Wall Todd finally gets off the ground, but is moving slower than an amoebae. It is decided either we must ditch Big Wall Todd, or call of the big wall route. We decided to call of the big wall route as Big Wall Todd has no where to go. Jordan goes up and cleans the upper pitches and retrieves the gear I left on top of pitch 3 while I end up having to take pics of Big Wall Todd sitting in his portaledge. He was adamant he has pics taken before taking the portaledge down. I finish packing the haul bags, and we descend first pitch to the fourth class ramp and proceed to hike out. Again, Jordan and I are constantly finding Big Wall Todd dragging way behind. Finally, we decided to sit and rest a while and let Big Wall Todd get a head of us away. Shortly after, we here Make making some ruckus about a rattlesnake sitting in the trial. Sweet! Jordan and I drop our haul bags and run to check it out. Sure enough, there is what looks to be a 10 year old rattler sitting on rock just next to the trail. I get video and a few pics of it before poking it away with one of Big Wall Todds hiking pools and we truck on. We reach the Merced River about an hour later and stop for break on its shore. The cool water is awesome to wash up. 15 minutes later, we are back at the car.

At the car, we decide to head over to the Royal Arches wall taking a free climbing rack and Big Wall Todd’s portaledge and sleeping gear. The idea is to find somewhere to sleep on the wall so we don’t have to pay camping fees our get a backcountry permit. (In Yosemite, the only free way to camp is to sleep on a wall). We decide we should do the Royal Arches route in the morning. In the mean time, I climb a 5.10c bolted mixed trad sport climb, only to find out that from the second bolt on, they are all crappy ¼ rusted bolts that might hold body weight. Scared out of my mind since retreat is not possible, I carefully and diligently continue on until I can finally place a cam up high. In doing so, I got my first onsite of a Yosemite 5.10. I then work my way over to some bolted anchors to my right and tie in on top a 5.11 sport climb. I belay Jordan up as a second, then lower him out, and set up a top rope. Then I cruise up the 5.11 for another on site on TR. I then fix the rope, set up a haul system, and then let Big Wall Todd practice jugging, hauling, and setting up is portaledge.

While waiting for Big Wall Todd, Jordan and I go scout out the Royal Arches route and talk to a German couple descending the route. From there description, it is great route and worth doing. It is 14 pitches of moderate climbing. It follows a watercourse on the wall for a while before heading strait up. However, every pitch ends at a nice stance, often with a tree that making for easy belays. Jordan and I decide that this is the best route to try where Big Wall Todd might have some chance of getting up. So, we head back down to find Big Wall Todd still struggling up the rope to anchor on his jummars. Jordan and I decide to leave Big Wall Todd there and go the Ahwahnee Hotel for Drink and dinner. That place is high class, and we felt a little outplace in our climbing cloths and dirt all over us. But, they let us in and we had a great Chicken Caesar Salad and some stiff Bourbon. 1 ½ hours later, we had back to the base of Royal Arches to find Big Wall Todd just starting to haul up his portaledge. We jummar up to him, give him some food, help him out a little, then go to our sleeping ledge to start drinking some more. Big Wall Todd needs help again, so I head over to him spend another hour or so giving him a hand before I finally get back to my ledge and drink some more with Jordan. It is now 2 am. Jordan, again, has crashed, or passed out from all the drinking, and I do the same. To finish Royal arches at reasonable hour on Saturday, I calculate we will have to start climbing at around 8 am. That means waking up at 6 am.

Saturday, 5:30 AM I am awoken by some climbers passing by. I get up and wake Jordan up, who says I should try and wake Big Wall Todd up first. I walk to end of ledge were I can see Big Wall Todd sleeping in his portaledge on the adjacent cliff. His portaledge is cocked sideways and it is hard to believe he did not fall out of it. Anyway, I start trying to wake him up by yelling at him. He peaks out from under his sleeping bag, says it is chilly and hides under the bag again. This goes on for 1 hr and 45 minutes. Finally, I get my jummers out, traverse the fixed line to his anchor station, and start shaking his portaledge. Finally, he gets moving about, and I am sure he won’t go back to sleep. Then, I go over to Jordan and find him puking his guts out. Guess we got a little to happy with the whisky the night before. However, he assures me he is good for climbing. It takes us another 2 hours to get ready to go, as I find myself taking down Big Wall Todd’s portaledge and packing everything w intend to leave at the base of climb. Climbing commences at 10:00 AM.

The climbing at the start is easy for me and I often find myself placing just 1 to 2 pieces of protection per pitch. Much of the first several pitches have long sections of 3rd and 4th class. However, I am constantly dragging Big Wall Todd as a second along. Jordan is tied into Big Wall Todd to speed the process along and constantly having to physically help Big Wall Todd up. In addition, the set up allows Jordan to effectively TR solo each pitch. As the climbing gets more technical, Big Wall Todd slows down, and it is taking longer. Keep in mind we have 14 pitches to do and then a long rappel down. As the way goes, the climbing gets stepper, yet there are only two pitches more difficult than 5.7 of which one, you have to go off route a little to do, of course I hit that pitch up. It was a perfect splitter crack going strait up the wall (my favorite pitch). Then we did a cool pendulum and 4th classed over a small waterfall before heading up the remaining four pitches. We topped out at 7:30 (Sweeeeeeettttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!) and started rappelling down at 8. No time to celebrate as we where already looking at rappelling in the dark. Again, Jordan and I were help up by our third, and it quickly turned dark on us slowing things down further. The rope got stuck in tree sticking out from the vertical cliff that took 1 hour to undo and required Jordan to detach the rope and precariously hang out on the breaking tree for while I managed the rope and set up the next rappel. He would later mention that his hang out was one of the freakiest things he did. Throughout the rappels, Big Wall Todd was becoming increasingly lethargic and loopy. It eventually got so bad (after the third rappel) that Jordan and I had to set up his rappel device for him on each rappel and clip him in when reached the next anchor station. Otherwise, we would have to wait 15 minutes or more for Big Wall Todd to do it himself, and pray he did not make a mistake. On the third to the last rappel, I missed an anchor station, partly because I thought the rope could reach the third class terrace below (it’s hard to tell when your only light is your head lamp), only to find out I was thirty feet short and had to re-ascend the rope part way without jummars. Ugggg. All said, it took 9 rappels and 8 hours get on horizontal ground again, time 4:00 am. My flight leaves from LAX in 12 hours.

After getting down, I grabbed as much of or gear (haul bags, portaledge, sleeping bags, climbing gear, etc) and ran toward the car to start sorting out gear while Jordan waited on Big Wall Todd to make his last rappel. It would take another 40 or so minutes for them to get back to the car. Apparently, Big Wall Todd was dazed, confused, and getting lost on short trial back to the car and Jordan had to retrieve him. One hour and 15 minutes passes before we are able to start heading out of the park and we still have to find Big Wall Todd a hotel in the first town outside Yosemite. Finally, we find Big Wall Todd a Hotel, drop him off and race off to LA. Thankfully, Jordan and his red bulls drove most of way. It takes 7 hours to get back to LA from the time we started leaving Yosemite. Time 11:30 AM.

I had just enough time to take a shower, go eat some good Mexican food with Jordan and Kelly, and watch about ½ of TV and chat, then off to the Air Port. I arrived in OKC at 11:10 PM Sunday night, got home at 12:00 AM Monday, finally got to sleep at 1:30 AM, and was at work Monday morning at 8:00 AM. I was very tired at work.

The trip was awesome, in spite of Big Wall Todd not being nearly as proficient of a climber he clamed to be and ending having to serve as guide for him. Overall, I lead 17 pitches. In addition, while not very difficult climbing, I did lead 14 pitches (approximately 1300 feet) in one day and Jordan effectively got to TR Soloed all the pitches. I led and on sited my first Yosemite 5.10 and TR on sited a 5.11. I mention that because the ratings there tend to be more difficult than anywhere else I have climbed. After all, the ratting system we use to judge the difficulty of a climb is the Yosemite decimal system. Jordan and I alone, probably could have gotten up the Royal Arches and back down all during the daylight. Yet, our third bogged us down severely. However, it turned out to be a good lesson in patience and excellent nighttime multi-pitch rappelling. In addition to the climbing, it is just awesome to be at Yosemite. The scenery is the best I have seen in US. One could never get board looking at all the granite cliffs, half dome, the snow capped peaks, waterfalls, trees, Merced River, and wild life.

As far as the Video goes, I am not sure what Big Wall Todd is going to do. We all took pics and Video with our camera’s, however, we were rushing Big Wall Todd so much after Washington Column that he had little time to whip out camcorder and stuff. I have made a cool 13-minute video from Jordan and mine cameras that contain the highlights of trip. I will try and it post soon.

Below is Post from Big Wall Todd that set in motion the whole trip.

Looking for partner to film an ascent of Washington Column or any other bigwall is Yosemite in 2-3 weeks.

I am a filmmaker and free-climber (10a/b) and I have always wanted to go to Yosemite and do a big wall, or at least a very long multipitch. I want to film the assent and make a nice short film of it to put on the web and maybe submit to a film festival.

I was asked to do some film and video consulting work for the park service so I’ll be taking 2 trips up there.

I have never been to Yosemite and don’t know any of the routes there, but have done many multipitch routes in Mexico (canyon Tajo), Australia, Nepal (Island Peak), and on Taquitz rock in Idlywild, California. I don’t have much experience doing aid, but have done lots of jugging (mostly in deep technical caves, and on mountaineering expeditions), but I am a quick study. I’ll probably do more filming and jugging then climbing.

I am hoping to find a partner or party to join so I can get a wall in during the 2 times I will be in Yosemite.

The dates are not set yet. The dates are actually quite flexible, so I can work them around any climbing opportunities.

I have jumars, a small haul bag, aiders, and some other gear. I can rent or maybe borrow port-a-ledge if needed.

Let me know if I can join any party doing a wall or if someone with Yosemite bigwall experience would be willing to be my partner to do a climb and make a film.

Thanx in advnce,

Big Wall Todd

The names and E-mail address have been changed to protect the guilty

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jul 24, 2008 - 12:20am PT
Yikes. I have seen and heard stories about similar guys getting way over their heads in deep caves down in Mexico. One celebrated story had these two old salts get asked if this guy could go caving with them in Cheve, one of the deepest caves in Mexico. The experienced guys quizzed him about rope ascending of course, that being the harder part of the bargain, and whether he could negotiate crossing knots and rebelays. Guy assures them he is competent. Like BWT, he proves not to be, requiring many long waits at cold, wet ledges for the slow guest. Finally, one of the experienced guys says, "This is where you cave alone." And they left.

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 24, 2008 - 01:53pm PT
oh, nightmares! i don't climb w/ people until i know them a little, and then we start small!

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jul 24, 2008 - 01:59pm PT
eric, you promised me you would never mention my bowel problems. it was to be our little secret.

i feel so betrayed.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Jul 24, 2008 - 03:31pm PT
I doubt that Peterson and Robbins ever climbed together again.

Trad climber
Jul 24, 2008 - 04:37pm PT
Amusing stories but it shouldn't discourage someone from looking for a partner on a climbing forum. I've had amazing luck and never had a partner that I wouldn't climb with again. Most have become partners and friends for life.
Ask the right questions, be honest, and bring your own TP.

Trad climber
Jul 24, 2008 - 06:58pm PT
Great stories! I'm sure I've been on both ends of a dysfunctional rope-team before.

My first ever trip to Yosemite 5 years ago ended in me and long-time friend and partner saying "we'll never climb together again". Nothing as crazy as some of these stories; just generally incompatible attitudes (him very driven and suffering from "mission creep", me not willing to push my limits).

We're still great friends, although he lives across the continent from me; but we probably won't ever go on any even remotely serious climb together again. But we've had fun cragging together since.

Pretty much almost all of my climbing-board-pickup partners have been awesome, though!
Jordan Ramey

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jul 24, 2008 - 07:33pm PT
I agree that you can indeed find good partners through various internet sources and I've found plenty. The guy I currently climb most with I found on mountainproject right after I moved to LA. BUT, there are always the special cases to be avoided and often it's hard to know until you actually get out with 'em. Oh well, makes for great stories.
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Jul 24, 2008 - 09:42pm PT
A few years back (actually, somtime in the mid 90’s – damn how time flies!) I spent 3 weeks in Yosemite Valley with some friends. The first week was going to be spent climbing with my friend Dave. We had come to the Valley together 3 or 4 times during the prior years and had always had a blast. For the final 2 weeks several other friends were planning to join us including Dave’s new, non-climber, girlfriend.

Well, as luck (or should I say Love) would have it, the two lovebirds couldn’t bear to be separated for the first week so I found myself for the first week of my climbing trip spending it listening to the sounds of young love (or should I say lust) emanating from the, oh so ever soundproof, walls of their nylon tent. Oh well, I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I could tell that waiting on Dave to fulfill my climbing desires was a losing proposition. Thank god for the Camp 4 bulletin board.

Thanks to the board I did manage to get a few stellar climbs in and met some fine folks in the process. But still, there was a lot of down time and I was pretty frustrated, when along comes the California surfin dude, Dhuuude for short. Wild hair and that California Surfer Dhuuuude accent; he was up for anything.
I met The Dhuuuude because he wanted to borrow a pair of ascenders so he could hook up with some other guy to do a big wall. Cool thought I, a big wall climber and, like dhuuude, he was like totally solid on tens ya know. Yeee ha, I’d hit the jackpot!

I have a vague recollection that he wanted to run right over and speed climb the Nose or something like that. I had less lofty goals and suggested Central Pillar of Frenzy. I figured Central Pillar would be a good low stress intro for Dhuuude and I to get to know each other. He was stoked and I was psyched since he agreed to lead the first pitch which made me happy since it is my least favorite pitch on the climb. Plans were set.

Next day, Dhuuude starts up the first pitch. Pretty soon it becomes apparent that, well, maybe he isn't, like, ya know, totally solid on tens. Actually, it becomes pretty apparent that he isn't, like, ya know, totally solid on nines, or eights, or whatever. The first pitch goes at a well protected, albeit awkward nine. About 10 feet up he begins to mutter. Pretty soon the mutter turns to swearing, and then swearing to whining, and whining to whimpering.

He got his first piece of gear in at about eight feet up. By the time he'd made it to fifteen feet, he'd gotten another four pieces in and resorted to blatant hanging and pulling on the gear. And two or three hours or so later, he was at the belay. Good thing he brought that big wall rack with him.

When I got there the first words out of his mouth were a shrill: "I want to go down". Now normally, I'm a pretty understanding partner, but this guy passed himself of as some big, experienced climber and I'd turned down several other people after I'd told old Dhuuude that I'd go climbing with him. I knew if we went down now, my day was shot, so I was a little bit unhappy about the prospect of going down. After explaining that it was my lead and that all he would have to do would be to toprope the next pitch, he agreed to go on.

Let's just say that the second pitch wasn't much better for old Dhuuude than the first one was. The book calls it a nine, but it's pretty straightforward. Well, old Dhuuude fell, and hung, and called for tension all the way up. I kept him on a tight leash because I knew he was nervous, and frankly, I didn't want him bailing on me.

The belay station at the top of the second pitch was a pretty good stance, but since I was afraid of old Dhuuude bailing, I wanted him to be as comfy as possible when he got there. I shifted all the way to one side so that I was basically in a semi-hanging belay.

Now picture this, he has this pretty good two person stance all to himself, and there I am, hanging out on this shitty old rats nest of slings. Of course, as soon as he gets up, he wants out. I try to reason with him. I beg, I plead. I offer to lead all the pitches (pretty generous of me, huh?).

Pretty soon I realize that there’s no way he is going up so I relent to go down. No sooner do the words pass my lips when all of a sudden I see the flash of cold steel. A silver blade slashes through the air as Dhuuude starts sawing away at the webbing that is my only connection to this earth!

Of course I was perfectly reasonable with him as I explained the laws of physics, climbing etiquette, etc. to him. That was AFTER, I ripped him a new as#@&%e and shoved his head into it. But when I found out that the reason he was cutting the webbing that I was hanging on was to replace it because he didn't trust it to rappel on, I was much more understanding, NOT!

Well, the story has a happy ending……....I survived.

Actually, there is a little postscript. A couple of days later I was climbing with this Canadian dude up on Camp 4 Wall. He starts telling me how he's going to go do some big wall in a few days with some laid back California Dhuuude as soon as the Dhuuude can borrow some ascenders....

Jordan Ramey

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jul 25, 2008 - 03:07pm PT

EPIC MIKE is BIG WALL TODD from my really long post above. I changed his name. I read the epic mike story yesterday and nearly crapped my pants i was laughing so hard. I can't believe that someone else got the same con job that me and my partner did.

To add to my post (or in summary):
He pooped in the royal arches creek 50 ft from the Ahwahnee

He pooped on the P1 ledge of South Face of Washing Column (grade V wall) 10 minutes before rappelling down

His harness fell off (more than once, we made him suspenders to prevent death)

Nipple ring fiascos

Could NOT jug a line after 3 hours of training

Was “solid on 5.10’s” yet fell repeatedly on the only 5.8 pitch he led

Would NOT wake up on time to start climbing

Got “lost” 50 ft from the ahwahnee for 30 minutes. We had to go rescue him.

Insisted we take copious pictures of him “big walling” in his portaledge

Ended up in the hospital after we took off due to “exhaustion” (he just got some fluids and they released him). Apparently having someone rappel you off royal arches is strenuous, especially while sleeping at belays.

Trad climber
the south
Jul 25, 2008 - 03:42pm PT
This is the best thread in a loooong time!!!

I think the reasons I don't have any stories like these are, 1) carefully sorting out new unknown partners at very short user friendly crags, and 2) being extremely lucky to usually run into great and experienced climbers who comprise the bulk of my partners.

But maybe Mr Noffsinger will tell why he decided to name me bear on our first climbing trip to the BSF, if he sees this. But I really can't figure how anyone can take hours and hours of training and trying and still not be able to jug or follow aid. I learned in about ten minutes on both, and it was free hanging out from under a roof aid too, LOL. Jeff gave me 5 minutes instruction before he led it, and then I was on my own, hehe. Maybe that's why I hate aid climbing so much. Thank god for Yates wall ladders. Thank god for Noffsinger. Long live Box Car Willies!

BTW, jugging and aid still suck, free climbing rules.

Trad climber
Jul 25, 2008 - 03:43pm PT
does anyone have pics of bigwall epic todd? I just have to see him. also I want to know who to look out for.
Dingus Milktoast

Jul 25, 2008 - 03:52pm PT
I climbed with an internet date for 3-days. This dude was all "I climbed this" and "Let's climb that!" and took 2 hours to lead the 2nd pitch of West Crack while I froze my ass off in the shade below.

He didn't do well on the descent and had to rap where I walked off. (gave me time to bowl up so not all was lost)

But the thing that irritated me about this person is he treated me as a guide (an unpaid one at that) and never said thanks, not once.

I'd get up in the morning and brew up some Joe and being a decent enough sort I'd hand him a steaming hot mug of my finest french roast and he'd take it without so much as a 'f*#k you.'

The more he did it the more grumpy and obstinate I became.

On our 3rd day he announced he was too tired to climb and how bout we just sit in the sun by Tenaya all day. I'd taken time off from work to climb (at his request no less). picked him up at the airport, driven him 140 miles to the Meadows at no charge, led every pitch but one on every climb we did, provided food and coffee sans thanks and NOW he's TOO TIRED and wants me to babysit him on the beach?

"No.... F*#KING... WAY." I told him with a tone that brooked no argument. "We're climbing today."

SO I drug him up South Crack. Now mind you he climbed ok enough and the route wasn't so hard for him that he struggled or anything. We were just not compatible.

After you leave the crack and do the first slab pitch? The next pitch is either runnout or WAY RUNNOUT eh?

Irritated, grumpy, not really thinking, I went the WAY RUNNOUT way.

Way runnout as in NO PRO for 50 feet, one piece then no pro till the belay, full length 165 stretcher.

I'd gone this way before and knew it wasn't overly difficult or anything - just keep yer sh#t together.

Well I'm like 30 feet below the belay bolts? He hollers up '30 feet!" I say nothing. I KNOW the rope reaches the belay and this last bit is all frictiony and requires some concentration. No place to f*#k up eh?

"Twenty FEET!" He hollers in a more intense tone.

'Yeah yeah yeah' I think. Be there in a minute pal.

So I'm just below the last bit. You go up this friction runnel and then have to make a high step or two to stand on a ledge, then literally walk left to the belay station. I bet yall know exact the spot I'm talking about. The more normal way of doing the pitch comes directly up from beneath the belay station.

Anyway I'm in the middle of the first of two friction high steps when he literally screams (and I mean literally),

"TEN FEET! YOU'RE RUNNING OUT OF ROPE!" I guess he was freaked out by the prospect of having to simulclimb with a grumpy assed and seemingly suicidal madman. I blew a f*#king fuse, I mean I really BLEW A MOTHERF*#KING FUSE, releasing all the pent up antagonism of 3-days of inconsideration right at the butt end of a 100-foot slabbo runnout:


That last sentenced I shouted so loudly I was hoarse for a week and tourists standing next to a bus down by the lake all ducked back inside out of fear. I mean heads turned on every route on Stately - each climber feeling this invective was directed at them personally.

I made the belay in a few seconds, rope stretched tightly as predicted and brought the dude up. Not one word passed between us, not so much as a whisper. We finished up and down the slabs we go. I didn't wait for him either. I down climbed the little bit of 4th class friction before he could get it all in view. As a result he ended up rapping that bit.

I was down in the shade roadside for a half an hour before he got down. In that time I'd sparked a fatty and had regained some measure of calm.

Drove him to the airport at 90 mph, dropped him off in the outbound lane and got the hell out of there haha.

He finally said 'thanks' throught the window as I drove off. I could tell he didn't mean it.


Where you want to be
Jul 25, 2008 - 04:04pm PT
Agreed. This thread is useless without pictures.

Social climber
My Inner Nut
Jul 25, 2008 - 04:41pm PT



Trad climber
Jul 25, 2008 - 05:09pm PT
the OP makes me think of the Seinfeld where Jerry haas to "break up" with an old friend, way funny.
Jordan Ramey

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jul 25, 2008 - 07:50pm PT
Alright, Alright.... pics are for pansies. Here's video of Epic Mike (AKA Big Wall Todd, Big Wall Mike)

reliving these moments has had me laughing for the last two days.... All the suffering was well worth it for the hilariousness we've gotten out of it!

edit: video's removed from post so as not to crush any egos.
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