When John did Falling Ant Slab without hands it was, with hands, about a grade harder than most of the best climbers were doing at the time, I think. Soon enough the grade ceiling would rise, as it always does, and Rich says the slab is 5.10c? That's pretty impressive that one could do such a climb of that difficulty without hands back then. I think my statement is pretty accurate, although time always likes to deceive us all so that we think we are getting better and greater and that what someone did once isn't so wild after all. It's being there at the time that one tends to get the correct perspective. Before I knew Gill, everyone came bearing stories, and I mean individuals such as Royal and Layton and others, who told me they couldn't touch John Gill's little play things at Jenny Lake. Like others, I suppose, I was determined to be the measure. What a dreamer.
rgold, I made it up that with hands. No-hands wasn't too bad, I made it up about 3-4'. Probably could have made it the rest of the way if I had tried. :)
Well done Jody! But are we speaking of the same route? Gill had two no-hands routes on FAS, and the one I'm speaking of was harder than the other. I eventually managed to teeter up the easier one.
John is very kind to include me in the ranks of no-handed boulderers of equivalent ability, but I never came close to making the high step on the hard route on FAS, and I never saw anyone else make it either. If I had to guess, I imagine Kamps might have repeated it, as he was an absolute master of such things, and of course Jody as well.
While I had my moments as a climber when I lived in Colorado in the 1970's(though I was really just a solid 5.10 climber when I was young and fit, not a 5.11 climber, though I managed to scrape up a few), I was NEVER able to do many of the fingery Gill and Ament boulder problems on Flagstaff or at Horsetooth. Things like King Conquer, and the Monkey Traverse, I could do, after I figured out the sequence that worked for me, but that fingernail hold stuff I just never mastered. But I think it's great that others have been able to do it!
Right Jody. The hard Gill no-hands route was in the center (lake side) of FAS. About half-way up was a very high step onto a very small edge. It seemed like you had to "spring" into it, but the position was tenuous, the lower foot wasn't on much, and so there didn't seem to be anything to "spring" from.
I watched Gill do it more than once. He did seem to spring up. Each time, I thought, "oh, now I see what to do!" But the pudding, and hence the proof, never materialized for me.
Falling Ant Slab was not tall, but the high step was enough above the uneven ground sloping down to Jenny Lake to make a broken ankle a distinct possibility, as well as an ignominious soaking and subsequent drenched walk of shame back to the car and dry clothes.
The semi tongue-in-cheek bouldering guide that John and Chouinard wrote for the Jenny Lake boulders is a true classic, though the satire was best appreciated by those familiar with Ortenberger's Teton Guidebooks--"these are big boulders, they make their own weather". A copy, actually probably the one and only original, used to live in the Jenny Lake Ranger station and was available to be looked at if one asked 'nicely'. I hope it is still there--or at least has a good home in a climbing museum/archive somewhere. I had many humbling experiences on those pebbles.