I’ll start with a bit of background. Squamish is a town at the north end of a fjord, Howe Sound. It is only about 50 km as the ladybug flies from the northern suburbs of Vancouver to Squamish, but the winding highway along the steep-sided fjord takes an hour or more to navigate. (It used to be the most dangerous part of a day climbing at Squamish – we’ll see if the $1 billion+ highway project improves that.) In the 1970s, perhaps 6,000 – 8,000 people lived in Squamish, and it was mostly a gritty industrial town – logging, pulp mill, mining, railway, and port. Probably twice that or more now live there, and in many respects it has become a bedroom suburb of Vancouver and Whistler, and a service base for Whistler. (www.squamish.ca)
Howe Sound is one of the closer fjords to the equator, although some in Newfoundland, Chile, and New Zealand are about the same. The last glaciation blanketed this whole area, and there are big remnants in the mountains just north of Squamish. (See ladybug thread.) Because of the geography, Squamish is known for strong inflow (adiabatic) winds on warm summer afternoons, and even stronger outflow (katabatic) winds in the winter, when Arctic highs sometimes take over. (It sometimes gets as cold as -15 in Vancouver, -20 in Squamish. Waterfall climbing to come.)
Please see Google Earth for maps and stuff – 49 degrees 41 minutes north, 123 degrees 08 minutes west.
Vancouver is at the north end of the fertile river valleys on the west side of the mountains, stretching north from Portland. The view south from Vancouver is of rolling plains and hills, with mountains to the east. The view north is all mountains, although Squamish is at the mouth of a respectable river system. The mountains go on for about 2,500 km to the north, with few interruptions, then arc west into Alaska, aka Palin-land.
Here is a shot of Squamish, from about 5,000 m, earlier this year. A hazy day, but you get the idea. Some of the Stawamus Chief is visible to the right.
The highway opened in 1961. Climbing at Squamish had begun in 1957, when Fred Beckey and friends found their way there by ferry, but really didn’t get going until the highway opened. So it was later than climbing elsewhere in North America.
You’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to stop talking, and post some pictures. So here’s one of the northern part of the Stawamus Chief massif, taken about ten years ago. The Chief is only about 650 m high, and the highest part of the cliff is perhaps 500 m. There are three main summits, separated by big gullies.
The local tourist boosters used to claim that the Chief is the “second-largest granite monolith in the world”, which is even more laughable than Toronto saying it’s world class. Maybe the second-largest within 50 km of Squamish – there are lots more fjords up the coast, and almost all have big walls, mostly accessible only by boat or aircraft.
The town is called Squamish, the mountain the Stawamus Chief, and an alternate spelling for the Coast Salish name is “Sta-a-amish”. I won’t bore you with a discussion of related First Peoples’ legends. About 10% of the people in the area belong to the Squamish Nation (www.squamish.net).
An alternate and perhaps more typical view, from 2007:
The only thing surprising about this picture is that you can actually see the Chief. The rainy season usually goes from mid-October to April, and little rock climbing is possible then, although we do get cool dry spells. Mid-July to late September are the best bet, but some might disagree on that. I was once going to be interviewed on television, about a proposed tourist gondola. Naturally with the Chief as the backdrop and star. It rained, and the interview was therefore cancelled. No star.
Until recently, there was a big pulp mill at Woodfibre, on the west side of Howe Sound, just south of Squamish. When I started climbing, the mill spewed out huge quantities of poison into the water and the air every day. Eventually they were made to stop, but in the 1970s, the pall of sulphuric smoke over Squamish each summer afternoon, drawn in by the winds, could be strong. This is from the early 1980s, when much but not all of the emissions had been curtailed.
There was a sustained burst of climbing activity at Squamish from the first ascent of the Grand Wall by Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper in 1961, through to the ascent of the Black Dyke by Mead Hargis and Al Givler in 1970. Techniques and equipment tended to be a bit behind places like Yosemite, but there was a lot of interaction. Climbers from Squamish regularly went to Yosemite and made a mark, including Baldwin, Steve Sutton, Hugh Burton, Gordie Smaill, Neil Bennett, Tim Auger and others. American climbers such as Fred Beckey, Alex Bertulis, and Leif Patterson, and later others, regularly appeared here.
That suddenly ended in about 1971, and there was something of a gap. It wasn't that these people stopped climbing, or stopped climbing at Squamish. But in context of the times, once you've done a new route on El Cap, the Chief must have seemed smaller potatoes. We didn't see much of them. Which meant that those of us who got interested in climbing in the early 1970s had few mentors to learn from. Most of us got started in local groups such as the B.C. Mountaineering Club, which had weekend trips and some instructional programs. They had members who did some technical climbing, but that wasn’t their focus. Still, a start. We all went mountaineering, and learned the basics. Here’s an example, my friend Len S:
I imagine the adults sometimes found us a bit trying.
Equipment was rather more basic then, and the only book was Freedom of the Hills. Basic Rockcraft appeared in early 1973, and Advanced Rockcraft late that year – Len got a copy which we took on a cold midwinter ski trip, and assiduously read by candlelight. Otherwise, we mostly went to REI in Seattle to get gear, combining our shopping with climbing trips, so we could plausibly claim that it was “used”, and so avoid paying duty. That gradually faded out as MEC got up to speed, in the mid 1970s.
This is from a little later, but an example of how we learned to belay. Physics in action, which come to think about it describes a lot of climbing.
PLEASE DON'T POST HERE FOR NOW - MORE TO COME TONIGHT.
Anders, are you on crack? This is Super Topo. Anybody can post anything anytime. "Don't post here" is just an invitation to the entire Tacoverse to jump in. Maybe you'll be lucky, and nobody but me will take up the challenge. Or maybe just the few here who were actually climbing at Squamish in the 70s will jump in. But to say "Please don't post here" -- in capital letters no less -- is just an encouragement to the crazies who live here to either turn this into another US political thread, or else to post up about tree-pruning or getting a tattoo.
So hurry up. Get posted what you're going to post, or I'll start scanning all my old Squamish pictures and getting them up here.
So anyway, about that New Year’s eve climb. My parents took up mountain hiking, and my father even some climbing, when we moved to Vancouver in 1962. My father in particular was very active in the BCMC, as well as offshoots such as the Mountain Rescue Group and the Mountain Access Committee. (He got badly injured, helping the former, in 1966.) We regularly went on hikes with other families. My first memory of the Squamish area is from summer 1962, or maybe 1963 - one afternoon we crammed two adults and four kids in a VW beetle, and had a family expedition there. A year or two later, we actually went for a hike up the back, but at some point I slipped and gouged a bloody slash in my palm, so we retreated. (I still have the scar.)
Here’s a picture of our New Year's climb, from a few summers later. You have to imagine it covered in knee deep snow, in pouring rain in midwinter. The climb is named Mushroom – a route in Yosemite later was named for it, so don’t be fooled by its appearance. It's on a cliff called the Papoose, which is about 120 m at the highest, and just south of the Chief. The route climbs the crack, then a bolt ladder, then a small corner/crack. A1 then. Unlike the Mushroom climb on El Cap, this one still hasn't been freed.
Like so many else here, I eventually was plunked into an active scout troop, which did stuff like canoeing, hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing, and let teenage males work off some energy in relatively harmless fashion. I was pretty inept and unathletic, but managed to survive. When I turned 14, my mother gave me a book called “The Mountaineers Companion”. As a bookworm, I sure knew what to do with it, and read it from cover to cover. Then I decided I wanted to be a mountaineer, and read every other publication about climbing in the library, and that my father had. In spring 1971 I started to go on BCMC trips, at first with my father and then on my own, but often with people my parents knew. Slowly accumulating experience, and equipment, but mostly in the mountains – the Chief was for the big boys.
One family friend was Leif Patterson, and in August 1972 I was lucky enough to go with him and two others (Henry F. and Ric M.) on a trip to the Adamant Range, north of Golden. I was well over my head, but had a marvelous time. Here we are on the Adamant Glacier, Mt. Austerity in the background:
At about that time, I actually met a few other young people who were interested in climbing. One was Eric Weinstein, who’d got started climbing in Seattle. Others included Len S., Steve M., Dave V., and Dave N. So at least we had company in our ignorance, and could share what little experience and equipment we had. Eric also had access to his parent’s Valiant, although given his driving habits that was something of a mixed blessing. Eric, Dave N., and I went to Leavenworth on Remembrance Day weekend, 1972, our first real rockclimbing trip. We fumbled up some of the moderate classics at Castle Rock and Peshastin, got scared, and all slept in the car.
Here's a picture of Eric, who went on to much greater heights, although he sadly died of liver cancer in early 1984. (Dave N. photo.)
After that, Eric and I went to Squamish once or twice, and even vaguely started up some routes, but late autumn isn’t exactly climbing season. So, full of energy and blissful ignorance, we somehow decided that it would be good to climb on New Year’s Eve. The middle of the Christmas holidays – I was in grade 11, and I think Eric had just graduated. We talked my father, and his little dog Max, into giving us a ride. However, a cold spell had just ended. There wasn’t much snow left in Vancouver, but lots in Squamish. So we waded through knee deep wet snow and brush to the base of the route, and took a world-record six hours to climb two short pitches. I led the first pitch, Eric the second. It was all miserable and scary. We had swami belts, Robbins boots, hand-tied etriers, a mixture of pitons and pre-Chouinard nuts, and it took forever. My father sat patiently in the café. We barely got off and thrashed down before dark, and got home late enough that people were doing antics in the streets.
And that was the start. For the next few years, we slowly did more climbs, acquired more equipment and sometimes skill, and ventured. We often had to hitchhike to Squamish, being underage or not being able to borrow a car or both – sometimes we never succeeded in getting out of the city, even when we figured out that for $0.50 you could take the bus to Horseshoe Bay, halfway to Squamish, and that hanging a rope around one’s shoulders was intended to be a signal to drivers that you weren’t a psychopath. Ha! We did a lot of “mixed” climbing. No females were involved (Ha! Ha!), but we used some pins, some nuts, some aid, some free. It was often wet.
Apron Strings, 1973 (Len S.)
Spook, 1974 (A3 – A4, off the ground – boy were we dumb!)
There weren’t a lot of free climbs at Squamish then – most were on the Apron, plus some short ones here and there, but that was about it. And climbing on the Apron took some getting used to - slabs. Here’s a shot of the Apron, with a climber right in the middle:
It is somewhat broken up by tree ledges, but in the early 1970s there were only eight or ten routes on the whole thing. All we had for reference was Glenn Woodsworth’s guidebook from 1967, including pen and ink sketches of the cliffs. (See below.) Plus we had a few stories told us by the big boys, when we very occasionally ran into them and stopped worshipping. Steve M. and I were at Lighthouse Park once, doing some toproping, when two longhairs showed up and climbed everything in sight. As they introduced themselves to us as Steve and Hugh, and gave us some pointers and even a ride back into town, we guessed who it was.
So we climbed on the Apron, and did scraps of free climbing in the midst of all our nailing. The first climb I did on the Apron was with Eric, in May 1973, a route called South Arete. Perhaps 5.8, some crack, some slab:
Now at that time Eric worked for my father, who had a small factory that made boxes. I promised my father that we wouldn't climb on "The Chief", but only on the kiddie cliffs nearby. (A bit surprising, actually - my father surely knew that all had similar risks.) Being teenagers, we climbed South Arete anyway. Then Eric ratted me out to my father on Monday morning. So I was grounded (so to speak) for a few weeks. As I had a part-time job as a car hop, it let me work a bit more and save up a bit for the next pin or trip or whatever.
Some Apron shots:
Banana Peel, 1974
Snake, 1974 (Steve M.)
Snake, 1975 (Len S.)
Looking back, I’m struck by how much more lichen and moss was on the rock then, now worn off by traffic and ropes, not to mention ”cleaners”. Also, by about June 1974 we got EBs at the Swallow's Nest in Seattle, and that helped with our free-climbing aspirations.
This isn’t from the Apron, but shows another side of life here. Backcountry skiing, and related skills such as snow caving, take up 4 – 6 months every year.
One rite of passage was to climb the Grand Wall, which then was about twelve pitches, and graded 5.7, A2. Naturally the reality wasn’t quite as terrifying as the legend, but it was still an adventure. I did it with Steve M., in June 1974. It was the weekend of my high school grad, but we did the Grand instead.
After a corner pitch, the next three pitches were the famous bolt ladder. At that time, it consisted of 13 year old 3/16” bolts. About 1/3 had hangers, the rest were studs, sometimes with a nut. So the game was to tie dozens of little tie offs out of parachute cord, and loop them over the bolts. At least, that's what the big boys told us.
Here we are part way up the bolt ladder, with the Split Pillar looming. (The lovely cedar at its base is still thriving.)
And looking down, with all sorts of paraphernalia. We liked to think we knew what we were doing.
I got to lead the Split Pillar, and one of my 2” steel SMC bongs is still behind it. When the Pillar falls off, perhaps in the next earthquake, could the finder please return it to me?
At its top, I ate most of Steve's jujubes.
Eric and Daryl freed the Pillar in 1975. A great classic crack. Daryl vividly described afterward how they protected it with the edges of hexes tipped on crystals. They graded it 5.9 - now allegedly 5.10b. There may be one such move, at the bottom, but the rest is simply a steep, continuous, hand and fist crack.
We got to the Dance Platform, about 2/3 of the way up, long after dark, and in the morning scuttled off along Bellygood Ledge. Not before eating dinner from cans, using angles.
(Ghost and the usual suspects welcome to add photos and stories, but all must relate to Squamish, and the period ending December 31st, 1979.)
Too cool. I started a little earlier but your stories and photos bring back vivid memories of learning to climb in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Wool knickers, Joe Brown helmets, pins, Clog nuts, tied 1-inch webbing for slings, Whillans harness, having to figure it all out on your own. Bravo!
great series of posts MH! loving it... can't wait for the next installments of your history.
It is hard to imagine how things were back then compared to how they are now, having to figure it all out when you're doing it! No gyms, no "How To..." reference literature, no internet, almost nobody doing it. But there you were.
And not only that, I learned that we're the same age... you old fart!
Only scanned photo I have from that time is this one. Corina following what I think was the second ascent of a climb called Laid Back, on the Papoose. Note the EBs. She's wearing a Whillans harness, although you can't see it in the photo.
great story Tami, that is the Anders I know (and I don't know him for that long!)....
in 1971 I was 17 but I had a beard, living in Claremont CA, a college town had some benefits vis-a-vis buying beer, that is, if you had a beard, and a local college ID you could buy. Of course a good buddy of mine from high school was attending Scripts College, no photo-ID in those days, so I was him.
This made me very popular on Friday and Saturday nights. I didn't quite have Anders' dilemma as I was underage buying for underaged... but I had no problem. The local Owl Drug store sold beer, can't quite remember where it was but I could probably drive there without too much trouble, down Towne Ave. to Foothill, right on Foothill to a little shopping center, probably in Pomona... anyway, I made that trip a lot during those last two high school years.
I was so well known there that I became very relaxed about this illegal activity. One day a couple of guys and I were there, we were getting beer, probably 24 oz. bottles of some low cost brew when the manager walked up to us, my companions turned noticebly pale, "Can I help you?" the manager asked. Without skipping a beat I replied "Yes, could you get us some boxes to put this stuff in?" and off he went to the back room to get boxes...
...so if I'm in Squamish soon, Tami, make sure you daughter doesn't know that... but I'm sure I'll be with Anders, who will remind me of my elder responsibilities...
Thanks, everyone. I'll try to get more stuff up later - I scanned some photos in advance, but have to remember/invent/write stories to go with them. I do have a Diedre story, though.
We weren't completely on our own at Squamish then, but there weren't many of us climbing. We did sometimes see the "old" guard, and even climbed with them a little, and there were a fair number of people who drifted by to try the water, or had done a bit of climbing in the past, and then dabbled. But there was no "scene" like there is now at Squamish, or as there was in Camp 4, and no transitional figure like Bridwell to bridge the gap. Jim S. was of course around - Squamish wouldn't be the same without him. A few ex-Brits showed up, including Robin B., who's still active. Mostly from rather different backgrounds, and with more experience - we knew they were around, but didn't see much of them. Plus Seattleites visited - Pat T., Don H., Ric L., Dave D., Carla F., Julie B., and so on.
We saw a fair bit of the Seattleites, also at Leavenworth, and learned quite a lot from them. And by the mid 1970s had started to go the Yosemite (aka the centre of the climbing universe), and learn. That helped a lot.
Putting it another way, at that time it was unlikely you'd see other climbers at Squamish on a nice summer weekend. If you did, you almost certainly knew them, or at least had heard of them.
Don's comment about Eric is right on - he was a bit older and started a bit earlier, in Seattle, and was a natural. Plus he put a lot of effort into free climbing, and got very good indeed. I'm keen to see Don's photos and stories about Eric. Daryl appeared a little later, and Tami quite a while later, so I'll keep revenge stories in reserve. She is correct, though - I usually wasn't much of drinker, and even less experimental in other ways. No surprise that I wouldn't buy beer for others - I didn't buy much for myself, and have never been very edgy in terms of behaviour. A mostly modest climber, with much to be modest about (Oscar Wilde).
Some of us had copies of Glenn Woodsworth's 1967 guide, plus things photocopied from the Canadian Alpine Journal. Which made route finding an adventure - luckily we mostly started in the mountains, plus didn't really know anything better. (Those of you who grumble about Roper's 1970 guide don't know how good you had it.) Gordie Smaill's guide didn't appear until late 1975. Mountain had a big impact - we all got and devoured it, and sometimes even believed Ken Wilson's noisy editorials. I sat at the back of grade 12 chemistry, reading it folded into a more innocent book - still got an A. Off Belay and Summit were around, and interesting, but weren't really the zeitgeist. Climbing appeared about then, but we didn't see it much until later.
DR's essay on clean climbing, and all the related propaganda of the time, made a big difference. We all eagerly made a trip to Seattle in 1973 to buy the first generation hexcentrics and stoppers, then the next year to buy the "eccentrics", then the half-size stoppers, then the drilled hexes, and even tube chocks. The death of a thousand nuts - not just marketing, though, as each generation did improve significantly.
For a long while, we did a lot of 'mixed' climbing, but almost always took pins and hammers as well as nuts, especially for aid. Given the few climbers around, and being Canadian, few got too ideological about using the odd pin.
Whillans harnesses appeared in early 1975. Before that we used swamis (1" or 2" webbing), sometimes with a diaper sling for rappelling. A few tied sit or body harnesses from webbing. One big deal was the appearance of coloured webbing, about 1974 - I got some in Seattle, and the next week we used it on the Grand Wall. A nice change from dreary milspec.
By about 1975, we'd gone over from helmets to headbands, and from jeans to painter pants.
The 'Grand' Wall is really a small wall - there aren't any "real" walls at Squamish. Not enough height. (No girdle traverse yet, though - Chris?) The Chief itself is mostly a rock called granodiorite, with basalt and occasionally aplite intrusions. Generally similar to rock in the Valley, but fewer xenoliths.
There are rumours that p'terodactyls were still nesting on the Chief in the 1970s. Possibly eating sport climbers and rap bolters - mortal sins. Certainly the Little Smoke Bluffs were still molten MAGMA, although a few people wondered what was over there, and poked about. The Bluffs were much more visible then, as there was less housing, and the trees and shrubs were much shorter. They are an ideal klettergarten for a damp place like Squamish - south facing and sunny, dry quickly in the afternoon wind, lots of short and moderate climbs. But for one thing, we hadn't figured out the whole cleaning on rappel routine. And we maybe weren't quite ready to take that step.
Anyway, here is some of Squamish, and the Little Smoke Bluffs, seen from above much later. The cliffs in the Bluffs range from 10 – 100 m high, but are largely surrounded and concealed by the forest. The Squamish River is in the upper left corner.
There are several stories as to how they acquired that name, but one plausible one is that they were relatively smoke-free in the afternoons, once Woodfibre started spewing. They were first given the name in print in Gordie’s 1975 guide. Later I’ll have more stories and photos from there, but climbing didn’t really get going in the Bluffs until 1978.
Naturally, being energetic and young, we climbed other things when we couldn’t get to Squamish. Such as Dave N., here at Capilano College.
But almost every year, at October (Thanksgiving) and Easter, we went to Leavenworth (Lemmingworth), for a break from rain. It’s on the dry side of the mountains east of Seattle, and has a fair variety of climbing. Some is granitic, such as Castle Rock:
Quite a pretty spot, especially in autumn. At that time, the ersatz Bavarian village was just getting started, and camping wasn't too difficult. Here’s Angel Crack, on Castle Rock (Carl A.).
The Peshastin Pinnacles are nearby, as are Snow Creek Wall, Midnight Rock, and other delicacies. Peshastin was always good in October, as the orchard owner let us take the apples that were lying on the ground. Note shift to ‘modern’ climbing uniform. (Photo by Len S.)
Climbing at Peshastin is a bit unusual – I suppose somewhat like desert climbing. The whole place seems a bit temporary, and indeed one of the pinnacles, Trigger Finger, fell over in 1978. (Photo by Len S.)
It was part of our annual calendar, the migration to Leavenworth. One attraction was a tacky bar where you could buy a galvanized five gallon bucket of beer for something like $5. Sadly, the legal age there was 21, and many of us were under. Under age, that is – not under the influence.
Once Eric, Dave N., and their friend Andy went for a night in the bar. On the way back to Eight Mile campground, they got stopped. Eric, who was driving, did a truly comical act, attempting to walk straight on the centre line, swaying back and forth. Dave still tells it memorably.
Here is another shot of the world-renowned Mushroom. The lower crack is now a nice 5.9, but the remainder of the wall remains an aid climb. Tommy may have freed that imitation in Yosemite, but the original is still waiting for him.
Earlier, a Ghost appeared on the thread, but unlike most manifestations of ectoplasm, here he is in the flesh. Taking guidebook photos, in 1980. This is at the top of what became the Burgers & Fries cliff, long before development.
Photo taken shortly after we attempted to kill ourselves in a small airplane.
And, if you will permit me a small digression, here is a picture of a cliff in Norway, north of Oslo. It is called Andersnatten, which as you all know, means “Anders’ Cliff”. Anders was a farmer there, who was being chased by a troll. There are many trolls in Norway, and they are (if possible) fiercer than those on SuperTopo. Anyway, our hero ended up at the top of the cliff, and the only way he could escape was by skiing down the face – as is well known, trolls can’t do that kind of stuff. His skiis left the white stripe down the middle, which is imaginatively called “Den Hvita Stripa” – the White Stripe. I have climbed it, a nice six pitch 6a, maybe hard 5.10.
Werner will be pleased that there are some cows in the picture.
So around this time, things started to slowly change. Little by little, there were more climbers. People like Carl A., Scott F., Dick M., and John B., who all went to Prince of Wales High School. My good friend John A. was recruited by Steve M. at an Outward Bound alumni social. Definitely a keeper - he was a bit older, had a real job, and wheels! Which meant we could finally plan to get out every good weekend, and knew we'd get there. John was also nice about getting gear which the rest couldn't afford, and as a bricklayer knew a thing or two about using a hammer.
Daryl Hatten appeared in 1974, and made an immediate impact. He came from quite a different background than many of us, but we all got along fine. A loyal if at times troubled friend, and a great climber. (Photo Stewart W.)
Daryl is standing in front of the Black Dike, a giant basalt intrusion that goes from the Malemute, across the highway, up the wall, and beyond. Years later, he and others did a scary hard route just to its right, which they irreverently named "Negro Lesbian". Much later, the Chief became a provincial park. Every year they publicize the peregrine falcon closure, naming the various routes that are off limits. The list is published on the government website, and they had to get special dispensation to have such a politically incorrect thing there.
Others started to get out climbing then, often from university outdoor clubs, and some stuck. Those of us who were students usually helped at introductory climbing schools that were 'organized', and of course thereby also trawled the class for likely young lady climbers. Some were persuaded to climb, and at times more.
Another rite of passage was to climb one of the longer aid 'walls', after Grand Wall. Either University Wall or Tantalus Wall. Again, neither is more than about 12 pitches, but the use of the "W" word (NO, NOT THAT ONE!) seems to have crept in from Yosemite. Daryl called me in September 1974, to try to persuade me to climb "U" Wall. I was busy getting registered for first year and other responsible stuff of the sort that has always distracted me from climbing, and couldn't go. But two years later I did it, with Jay P.
There are one or two ugly lower corner pitches, that most bypass by some ledges. Here's the first real pitch, which we did on a rainy May morning.
It wasn't getting any drier, so we left a rope, and came back later. This meant we were REAL CLIMBERS - we had fixed a rope!
(Around here in the saga, some of the pictures are actually of me, and the quantity if not quality of my photos maybe improved. I won't say which one I was - we all had big hair then.)
A few days later it dried up. We returned, and jumared up our rope. (Photo Jay P.)
All of the first six pitches are a left facing, leaning, mostly overhanging corner. It's pretty awkward and steep.
Partway up the second pitch. (Photo Jay P.)
In 1982 the route, with significant variations, was done free. (It was originally 5.8, A3, Old Skool.) This pitch, and one higher up, weren't. Peter returned in 1988 and freed them. Somewhat confusingly, he attempted to rename those two pitches as "The Shadow". The whole route is said to be comparable to Astroman, although harder, but we never really figured out the renaming thing.
Looking down the second pitch. I take pride that my nailing made it possible for this route to be freed.
I did manage to fall twice on the route, which was not considered a sensible thing at the time.
One more awkward pitch with a bit of free, and we were at the bivouac tree - a nice cedar sitting at the bottom of a little chimney.
Here one of us is channelling Mick Jagger, or perhaps a young lady who is coming to the FaceLift. (Photo Jay P.)
I'm still sorry that I lost that hat long ago, but not sorry that I stopped letting my mother choose my glasses.
Above the tree, it eases back a bit:
You can see Mt. Garibaldi in the background here, near to which many ladybugs can be found - it was lovely weather. Note accoutrements. (Photo Jay P.)
The last two pitches to Dance Platform diagonal up and right, and are a bit more broken.
(Photo Jay P.)
Thus we arrived at the Dance Platform. At that time, there was a tiny cabin there, the Errol Pardoe Memorial Hut. It could hold four to six people. However, despite our painfully slow nailing - two days for eight awkward pitches - we were in time to traverse off Bellygood Ledge, which is an extension of the Dance Platform, leading off into the forest. The upper parts of both Grand and University Walls converge into four pitches above Dance, called the Roman Chimneys, but we didn't have the time.
So we scuttled off, and tried to hitchhike home. No joy, so we ended up sleeping in the boulders yet again. At that time, people either crashed in the area where the campground is now - no one minded - or sometimes in the big rocks at Cacadomenon Cave. As the boulders were not then overrun and trampled by the pad people, we had a quiet evening. Three days later I left for six weeks climbing and hostelling in Wales and England.
University Wall was first climbed in 1966. Of the four climbers, all university students, only one passed that year.
Here's one last one for tonight. A page from Glenn Woodsworth's "A Climber's Guide to the Squamish Chief", published in 1967. Drawings by Tim Auger.
By the early 1970s, copies were impossible to find - I was lucky to get one directly from Glenn, who knew my father. But even if you did have a copy, it wasn't current, or detailed, and there were no photos.
This page is the sketch and description for Diedre - I'll add a story about that route later, one that DR will like. Note that it is graded 5.4 - although some B.C. climbers got to Yosemite in the 1960s, such as Jim Baldwin and Hamish Mutch, there was more than a bit of a misunderstanding about grading. So such free routes as we had in the 1960s and early 1970s were graded three or four letter grades 'easier' than they actually were. This helps explain the derisory way in which Daryl used to dismiss 5.10s in the Valley as "Squamish 5.7". It also partly explains why were slow to pick up on free climbing. It didn't help when you read about the 5.9s and even 5.10s being done elsewhere, when we were doing what seemed hardish routes that were graded "5.6". So it took a year or two before we figured out that 5.8 was a respectable climb, and that 5.9 and 5.10 required effort, but could be done by mortals.
The pendulum has now swung the other way, and a fair number of Squamish grades are thought by many to be a bit soft.
I've always thought that Glenn's title was just right, and pilfered it for the guide in 1980. It's surprising, and grammatically incorrect, that some guides are now titled "The" climber's guide to - as though it's the only guide that ever has or will be published to an area.
"Many trip reports take some effort on the part of the poster, but fall off the front page all too quickly. Perhaps little refreshers every few days (sometimes longer) will avoid that, and keep up some interest."
"Or maybe every 100 posts or so – if we get that far – I’ll start a new thread."
Jeepers, you think those strategies will really fly?
Sheet howdy, you got the tiger by the tail now 'ole boy!!!
Hang on tight and let 'er rip...
WE crave this action, dude.
Here are scans of a few pages from my xerox copy of my high school math teacher's copy of the Glenn Woodsworth guide. I darkened some of the topo lines back in the day (1975), but otherwise the stuff is original.
before price inflation!
sentimental markup by my math teacher, Ron L., from his ascent with his partner Larry back in his college days at the U.W.
enlargement of one of Tim Auger's line drawings
The route lines were originally dotted, but I overdrew them with colored pencil back in high school, so I can't reproduce the original very well.
Thanks everyone – especially Clint for the nice scans. Maybe Glenn can be persuaded to visit the thread, and offer his two cents – he lives only a few blocks away, so I’ll ask. The tales, as Tolkien put it, will hopefully grow in the telling.
The top of the Chief looks like this in mid-winter, perhaps 5% of the time. We’re on the south summit, which most hikers go to, and which is the “top” of the Grand Wall. The middle but not north summits can also be seen.
Now about that Diedre climb. Diedre is a French word which means corner - not to be confused with the English name Dierdre. In the 1960s, guidebook writers, especially for granitic climbing areas, looked far and wide for synonyms for “corner”, which got a little tiresome. Some of the alternatives include diedre, dihedral, and open book. It was natural for Canadians to use diedre. (A Norwegian synonym for corner is “diederet”.) As you might guess, Diedre is a climb that mostly follows a corner. The first pitch and a half ambles around on moderate slabs and cracks, to the base of a low angle corner, which leads in four or five pitches to Broadway. Climbs on the Apron are mostly 4 – 7 pitches long, and end at Broadway, although it is possible to continue up things like Boomstick Crack (logging term), or the Squamish Buttress. Anyway, Broadway is a ledge system, some treed, which traverses off to the right into the forest that comes up between the Apron and the Grand Wall. Some is class 3 – 4, but it’s not too scary.
Anyway, here’s a photo of the middle part of Diedre, from 1976. It then had a reasonable number of shrubs and things, including some nice cedars. (Does anyone know if ladybugs like cedars?) The climbers are Dave L., Scott F., and Perry B. None are actually doing Diedre, which is just to right of the climber with the pink shirt, but other routes come and go nearby. Later I’ll say more about them and what they’re up to.
Higher up, Diedre gets fairly low angle, and is water worn. (Photo from 1975.) Glenn graded it 5.4, but in modern grades it’s 5.7, with a move or two of 5.8, including a little step right at the end.
Diedre is perhaps comparable to Nutcracker, in terms of the nature of the climbing, and who climbs it. IMHO, it’s somewhat tedious – essentially, a five pitch moderate lieback. Several other nearby routes on the Apron are similarly graded, but have much more variety, and a bit more adventure. I’ve only done it a few times, first in 1974. But many others seem to like it. (It’s even been sort of done as an ice climb, as Tami will tell us.)
I mentioned that we got started at about the time of the ‘clean climbing’ revolution. In about 1973, when hexcentrics and stoppers appeared, and made it all believable, two quite experienced climbers thought about it, and DR’s essay. One theme of the essay was that it was sometimes better to place a bolt or two, instead of repeated hammering of pitons. So what they did was climb Diedre, and place a single bolt at each belay. The idea was that then climbers would be comfortable setting off up the route with just nuts, knowing that at each belay a reliable (1/4” x 1 ½” Rawl compression!) bolt was available, to combine with nuts to make a secure belay.
This was naturally a scandal – unnecessary bolts placed anywhere, let alone on such a moderate climb, with a good crack. So not long after, the bolts were chopped. For some years they weren’t there, but sometime (I think) in the 1980s they were replaced with double bolts at each belay. This may have been related to the appearance of commercial climbing, motorized drills, and reliable bolts. And some modern Canadian climbers are a little less ideological about these things. The result has been that the route has ever since been overrun, and is the scene of the most horrifying clusterf***s you can imagine.
Diedre is, in modern portentous parlance, a “MULTI-PITCH”. (Definitely not a lower-case noun, given the way people pronounce it.) It’s not just a climb, like any other – it’s a “MULTI-PITCH”. A BHD (BIG HAIRY DEAL), possibly a BFD. Although a 20 m fall is usually as lethal as a 200 m fall. The fixed anchors at each belay lure the innocent, the ignorant, the insecure, and the plain unprepared into trouble. It’s a classic example of convenience bolting rebounding, and having the opposite effect from that intended. It’s supposedly convenient, or speeds up climbers, to have fixed belays. But it would be difficult to safely climb Diedre, and place protection, without the ability to create reasonable belays. One bolt at each belay, perhaps, for the “just in case” scenarios.
IMHO, there is an excess of convenience bolting at Squamish, and its full implications aren’t always thought through. For one thing, climbing by definition can never be convenient, or safe.
We did do a lot of aid climbing in those days, and it was one way to get quite good at placing gear, and judging how good it was. Still strongly recommended – if you’re learning how to place gear, go out on a rainy day, ‘lead’ up moderate cracks with a loose toprope, and experiment. At the very beginning we had 120' ropes, although I mostly missed the goldline phase. 150' ropes appeared a year or two later, then 50 m ropes, which for a long time were the standard. They were generally 11 mm, but once Edelrid sold 11.5 mm ropes, which naturally were marketed as being more robust. You could barely get a jumar around them. Daryl bought one, for use on El Cap, but had an exciting time on Never Never Land or Dihedral Wall, when the sheath slipped a bunch while he was jugging.
So here are some shots of aid climbing, mostly 3 - 5 pitch routes on subsidiary cliffs.
Hallucination on the Papoose, 1975 (Steve M.)
It really did overhang, though not quite as much as it appears.
Hallucination, looking down at climber turning the roof. (Photo Steve M.)
Unfinished Symphony, 1977. (Len S.)
Now a free route, with some nice pin pockets. There was never enough traffic at Squamish for there to be grotesque problems, but it doesn’t take much nailing to significantly improve shallow or narrow cracks.
Add: I note that Dr. Hartouni is in fact several years older.
My field is in part history, but I wouldn't claim that what I'm posting is history. Just stories and pictures, detritus from the past. One climber's perspectives on people, a place, and a time. Other have their own stories, and may even disagree at times - to which I can only say that they may be right, and I hope they post their two cents. And undoubtedly people have things to correct, and add. And maybe questions?
We did occasionally have visitors from the US (not just Washington), and it would be interesting to hear what they thought of it all. Most found the rain a bit oppressive - we had some rainy summers, especially 1975 and 1976, at a time when there were fewer things to do.
Some random thoughts, or at least reminders to myself. I have some slides of ice climbing at Squamish (really!) which might be a fun time out somewhere. No one took dogs (child-substitutes) climbing in the 1970s, although I'm sure some climbers' families had them. We did climb at Cheakamus Canyon then - the belay/rock photo is from there. It was obvious that there was lots of rock there to climb, especially as the area had been logged and burnt over in the 1960s. But we had other priorities. I won't comment on popular culture in the 1970s, and its results - clothing styles speak for themselves.
One thing to emphasize is that lead falls were then considered something that tended to happen occasionally, but not part of the routine. Falling was a fairly high risk thing to do, what with nuts pulling, less than reliable bolts, and so on. Although belayers may if anything have been more reliable than now, given the way in which they were trained - even given hip belays. Falling while slab climbing was thought a bit safer - some control was possible for the agile and quick. And if you never fell at all, it suggested you were a bit too careful. I went about 20 metres once, on the Apron, to loud cheering from the peanut gallery in the parking lot.
We did also boulder a bit, although the idea of cleaning and then climbing the boulders in the forest beneath the Grand Wall had not occurred to anyone. We camped amongst and under them, especially the giant ones at Cacodemon, and even explored the tunnels beneath them. We also nailed some of them - one popular winter route, called RURP Riot (overhangs 45 degrees), was later freed, and in that version is called Dream Catcher. (Not likely to be confused with Dream On and Dream Weaver, other routes at Squamish - both slab climbs.)
Naturally being climbers, we liked jargon. Nothing very imaginative, and mostly borrowed from the US or England. All the shoes were known by their initials - RRs (Robbins' tight blue wall shoes), PAs (Pierre Allain - not sure we ever had them), RDs (Rene Desmaison), and in 1974 the EB (E. Bordignon), which dominated the shoe market from then until the early 1980s. A classic example of abuse of a monopoly.
Sometime around 1974 or 1975, things began to quicken. There was no one cause, but slowly there were more climbers, and standards rose. We had a little bit more experience, a little bit more and better equipment, a bit more exposure to more mature climbing cultures, and a lot of fire. Maybe a bit more money, too, as people got older, and had real jobs, or were students. We got to a critical mass, and things suddenly started to happen. Which, with the usual digressions, is where we'll go next.
The other thing that helped is the discovery then that it was possible to aid climbs, or rappel down them, and clean out the dirt, shrubs, moss, and lichens, making it possible to free them. Squamish is in a near-rain forest, and most cracks that are less than vertical are full of dirt and green things. Which very much limited what was possible, given that the options were slab climbing, or crack climbing. The latter only possible if you could get your hands and nuts into them. People had been cleaning cracks at Squamish since the 1960s, at least to some extent - Fred and friends took a Swede saw on Tantalus Wall, for tree removal. But in 1974 or 1975, people suddenly started 'cleaning' climbs.
I'm fairly sure that Greg F. has been custodian of Peter's mangled jacket, since 1985. Collateral.
There was probably nothing particularly distinctive about the evolution of climbing at Squamish through the 1970s. (It definitely wasn’t intelligently designed.) Energetic young people, working things out as they went along, with all the usual challenges and adolescent behaviour that goes with it. And we did have fun.
We’ll now digress again. I blame Tami. Committed rock climbers may want to avert their eyes. Some of you may think that Squamish is a summer-only climbing area. You would be wrong. It isn’t quite the Rubblies, which in winter are covered in ice and snow which, even if it sometimes avalanches, at least covers up all the ‘rock’. But we do from time to time get cold clear weather, when Arctic air spills out from the interior. Usually between late November and early February. Often three to five day outbreaks, sometimes 7 – 14 days, and occasionally longer. Usually beginning or ending in heavy snow.
I see from Environment Canada’s website that the mean temperature in Vancouver in January 1993 was -0.4 degrees. The coldest night was -14.1, and for the first eighteen days of the month it barely got above freezing. Colder in Squamish, and windier – the outflow winds at the onset of an Arctic front are chilling. For January 1969, the mean temperature in Vancouver was -2.9, and the coldest day -16.1, with 65 cm of snow that month. (We had 122 cm in January 1971.) For January 1950, the coldest month on record, the mean was -6.3. (Ask if you want the URL.)
You get the picture. Cold, snowy weather isn’t unusual in Vancouver, or Squamish. It’s not consistent or reliable, as elsewhere in Canada, and it’s less usual than it was. But it does happen. And when it does, we go ice climbing. Sometimes even up in the local mountains.
We started with pretty basic stuff – single leather boots, Salewa ice screws (not slotted), hinged crampons, Salewa ice hammers, wart hogs, etc. No Marwa killer screws, thankfully. And we just kind of figured it out. This is from Mt. Seymour, just above Vancouver, January 1976.
Another ice climb in the local mountains is at the Baker ski area:
I got a bad case of the screaming barfies on this climb – toes and/or fingers chilled to the point that it hurts like hell when circulation returns, but not quite to the point of frostbite.
We had a good winter in 1978 – 79, with a big cold front that arrived in mid-December, got very cold after the 25th, and lasted through mid-January. With advances in ice climbing, we all had our eyes on Shannon Falls, and it firmed up by late December. Everybody climbed it. It’s grade 2 – 3, but rather a novelty climb.
4 – 5 pitches, but you can continue behind what’s visible, up fun steps.
(Ross B. in all three.) Shannon Falls freezes hard enough to be safely climbable every 5 – 10 years. When it does, it’s now crowded with a full on clusterf**ck, even worse than Diedre. A terrifying bowling alley for ice boulders.
This is a short climb just left of Shannon Falls. One advantage of Squamish is that there’s lots of water around, so when it does freeze, there’s lots of things to do.
(Natty attire, eh?)
There are even some nice climbs in and around the Little Smoke Bluffs. (Jay P.)
As we seem to be on a novelty theme, one of the classic and first climbs at Squamish is North Gully, done in 1958. Class 3 – 4, mostly scrambling under, around, and through house-sized chockstones. Not a “cool” climb, but still lots of fun.
(Both Steve G.) Steve is someone I did a lot of backcountry skiing and mountaineering with, who never quite understood that despite the appearances, backcountry skiing is far more dangerous than rock climbing. I’ve had too many friends killed in avalanches. Still, when the real rock climbers couldn’t be bothered with a mere gully, he was willing to give it a try. Possibly the only route he ever climbed at Squamish – a distinction he shares with my father.
I will say no more about the possible fates of other people’s down jackets.
Just thought I'de give this thread a bump to keep it up there. I like your writing, Anders and Tami's sense of humor. It would be really great to hear some of the others you've mentioned chime in. I have some observations about my trip to Daryl's Memorial with Dave Y. and Rich A. that I'de like to share on this thread if it's O.K. with you.
The more I think about it, this thread is probably not the best place for my comments. I think what I have to say might cause somewhat of a shitstorm among the yanks, so with respect for Anders, I'm going to work up a seperate trip report. Cheers. gotta get to work. Anders, you too,more stuff.
The more I think about it, this thread is probably not the best place for my comments. I think what I have to say might cause somewhat of a shitstorm among the yanks
Wayno, I really don't know how anything you say could cause more of a shitstorm among the yanks than what they already yell at each other in every second post in every second thread on this forum.
Daryl was part of Squamish climbing in the 70s, and this thread is about Squamish climbing in the 70s. Perfect place for stories about him.
I'm on a very tight deadline right now (which is why I'm working on a beautiful Sunday instead of climbing at Index with Mari), but I've got a Daryl story that I'll try to dig out and post to this thread tomorrow. It even involves a "Who's-the-manliest-man contest" between Daryl and a yankee. Which the yankee lost. Of course.
Hi, I’m back! I went to Squamish today, and after visiting family, hiked up all the summits of the Chief, collecting a big bag of garbage en route – FaceLift training. I bet none of YOU climbed three summits today! I found three plastic bottles, so earned $0.30 for my efforts. I considered blueberry picking, but maybe next weekend. I may be able to post some photos later – the next subject will probably be slab climbing. But first some editorial.
All posts having to do with climbing at Squamish in the 1970s, or the dramatis personae, are all welcome. Especially from those who were there, or knew the people. Questions or comments, too. There probably wasn’t anything really different about us or what we were doing, but we had a flavour of our own.
Daryl was quite a character. We used to get pestered by the people at the border, en route to Leavenworth or Yosemite. Sometimes to the point of strip searches. I’ve always tried to keep a low public profile when it came to authority figures – picking fights with bureaucrats, let alone cops, is rarely wise. Once we crossed, on the way to the Valley. Daryl was asked what he did, and he replied “I’m a topper”. He was quite proud of it, as it’s specialized and dangerous work – a topper is the guy who goes up a long way up a big tree and cuts off the tip, to reduce splitting of the main trunk when it falls down. (The “tip” can be 10 m long, 1 m thick, and weigh hundreds of kilos.) Daryl wasn’t just a logger, he was a topper. It was fun hearing him explain this to the border guy.
Eventually Daryl morphed into urban tree work, and in a sense that’s how he died. But in his glory days, he was handy with a chain saw – that is, one with a 36” or longer bar. One for real men. In some climbing areas, it’s a “rite of passage” to buy a power drill. In Squamish, it may instead be buying a chain saw – lots of climbers own, and think they know how to safely use, them. Scary stuff. But none of them has what Daryl would have considered a “real” chain saw.
I am astounded that Erik W. took a long fall on Seasoned in the Sun – it’s an eminently protectable climb. Although soon after the first ascent, a guy from Victoria “went for it” on the upper half, and took a 30 m+ fall, for which he earned the nickname “Death Fall Steve”. He just missed cratering. As Eric mentions, there’s a ledge above the climb, with the usual gravel and rocks. When we first did the route, a well-rooted stump had to be left in the middle. Some years later, we went back, and spent several enjoyable hours trundling boulders off the ledge. Eventually, we scored the desired direct hit on the stump, and knocked it ass over teakettle into the forest.
Anyway, it was a nice walk today. Some now claim that the Chief has four summits – they are separated by the imaginatively named North North, North, South, and South South Gullies. (Shades of “Left Side of”, “Centre Route” and “Right Side of” XYZ Pinnacle!) The summits areas are generally rougher rock, perhaps because the receding glacier exposed them first, and they’ve had longer to erode. And it is a lovely walk. There are little sub-loops that lengthen it. Plus a swimming pool size pothole right at the north summit, which is filled with water year round. The only pothole I know of at Squamish.
Another fun climb is Sunshine Chimneys, which is directly behind what is now the campground. Quite a variety of stuff, including tunneling between two giant blocks for quite a way, then popping out onto a steep wall at treetop height. Nominally 5.6 or so. I did it with Eric on a rainy day in May 1973, and am still not quite sure how he got up the slab at the end. He always was gifted. Later that day, I took a good fall out of the top of Big Daddy Overhang, trying to get over to Sentry Box and off.
As far as clothing, hair styles, music, and popular culture go, perhaps the less said the better. The first wave boomers (1946 – 55) had, as always, left devastation in their wake. I will never forgive them for disco or polyester, just for starters. Luckily, few of us were much concerned with fashion, except with respect to music, and perhaps as exhibited by members of the opposite sex.
The town of Squamish and its popular lumberjack mayor, Pat Brennan, provided a lot of support to Baldwin and Cooper in 1961. Their climb of the Grand Wall got Squamish a lot of attention, right after the highway opened. By the early 1970s, climbing had mostly fallen off the radar there. We went into town to patronize the low budget restaurants, such as the Tastee Freeze and the Lotus Gardens (“Chinese-Canadian Cuisine”), but that was about it. Most of us weren’t of legal age for a few more years, and usually couldn’t get into the bars. Eric and Daryl, and then John A., were a bit older, and able to get beer for others who wanted. Once we got cars, even if borrowed from our parents, we would sometimes drive the 3 km into town, and see what mischief could be managed – there were a few confrontations with the adolescent males of Squamish, but nothing too scary.
Knowing the characters involved, it is much more likely that the collateral down jacket that Tami refers to was the Langtang one, not the exploded one. The timing is just right.
Yup. the Mighty Hiker is on a roll with this one - sweet stuff.
In 1970 I was hunkered down for three months amidst the monsoon deposits on the Queen Charlotte Islands digging prehistoric curios from the bowels of the earth -totally oblivous to the mayhem and heinous activity to the far southeast. Pretty much oblivious to climbing totally - no intersection at all in my youth other than a a wildly inept affair of a small unit of Boy Scouts practicing "rapping" down a steep gravel bank of the Klondike River (using some wild Euro body wrap technique - against all odds we survived). But climbin was in the air and I recall my Charolotte's boss mentioning Baldwin because there is a prehistoric time period in the Fraser Canyon named after him. He was a student of the germanic father of B.C. archaeology - Charles Borden out at UBC. In any case, after falling into this late life passion in 2001, and having absorbed some intro stuff here, in Canmore and in Jtree (under the tutelage of Clark Jacobs - I finally foraged north from Van to Sqauamish - linking up with Bourdon and Morehead. That would have been 2002 and somewhere in there Anders showed up - don't recall precisely whether it was at the crag, Climb On , or the Starbucks early am launch pad. Maybe all three! Or maybe as celestial vision late one night at the Brew Pub! Obviously, still waters run deep - the Mighty Hiker has a mighty history! He is also psychic - here I am wrapping plans for another foray into Squamish in a couple of weeks time and he comes out with this little enticing thread! To hell with Harper and his gang's election - why don't we just install Anders as Governor of Squamish, Howe Sound and related ancillary aspects of the Coast Range and save a few gazillion dollars. And this will reserve him for the land of the Maple Leaf as he has been wandering way too far south to the valley and might just end up with the remainder of our donations to lower 48 culture - Gretz, Celine Dion, Paul Anka, Steve Nash, Captain Kirk, Mike Myers, Leslie Nielsen,John Candy etc. :) Don't even think about it! Like Tami, bolster yourself against the lure of Hollywood and the big bucks. Great renderings of the early guides but they only tell half the tale - I happen to have clipped onto a couple of Squamish heirlooms - one being the spicey little rendering " Vicious Lies an' Heinous Slander Vol.2 - from a Supremely demented little corner of the Coast Range!!!)! Circa 1989 - when I finally dug that little gem out of the dusty antique store I was overcome by a feeling not unlike the chaps who found the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Chapter "How to Climb Offwidths" provided, no doubt, sublimbinal motivation to getting up Agamemnon at Araps . Forget Indian Jones and his quest for freaking holy grails,crystal cups, saucers, whatever - he needs to focus on the important stuff we are all interested in: Vol. 1 of Vicious Lies an' Heinous Slander - from a supremely demented Little Corner of the Coast Range". The younger generations and even some ancient ones are seriously deprived/depraved if our garage sale scouring can not come up with this little beauty. It should be reprinted, with appropriate attribution as an appendix in the next " The Climbers Guide to Squamish" - that way the cake has some icing.
Keep it going MH - and work some magic with the early October weather at Squamish - it would not be that great to see a repeat of Oct 2003 and the tsunami's careening off the apron and having to bail for Skaha. Not that that was a bad deal but time is of the essence on this one.
You should visit your sister here and do it in the summer when we can go do a few routes out at White Mountain or Golden Canyon! And I can point the way to the Bugaboo's like granitic spires lying to the south of us but beyond the reach of the BC border.
Great thread, Anders. These are well told stories. I visited Squamish three times in the late '70s. It became part of my climbing circle's yearly circuit. The circuit was basically the Valley in the Spring, Tuolumne in the early summer, work a bit in the summer in San Diego, and then go to Squamish (and/or the Bugaboos) in the Fall. The others is the group were Tom Gibson, George Manson, Rob Rohn, and Mike Tschipper.
On almost every trip it rained at least a bit, but we always managed to get in some exceptionally good climbs. I feel honored to have got to hang out with the likes of Perry Beckham, Dave Lane, Ward ?, Daryl Hatten, and even Tami on one or two occasions. Pretty sure I met Gordon Smail on one trip, and got to climb with Peter Croft on another.
Our group ended up doing a few first ascents, the best one being Freeway on the Tantalus Wall by Tom Gibson and Rob Rohn, in 1979. We did these with the best wishes of some of the locals, who happened to be some of our best friends. It was a casual, friendly atmosphere in that regard. I can't think of a Squamish climber I've met that I didn't like.
I wanted to talk to Yerian before I posted up and viola, he called me this morning. He's in total agreement with what I have to say.
We were touched by the welcome and hospitality we received from all you folks in Squamish. I didn't realize it at the time but it was the who's who of Squamish climbing in the seventies. Never in Yosemite had I experienced the comradeship and sense of community that you folks showed, and I think it shows on this forum. With some rare exceptions my experiences in Yosemite reek too much of elitism, aloofness and plain old back stabbing. I would say some of that has changed, but not much. From all the good words I've read here from yanks about Daryl, I kinda expected more of us to show up. I realize there are travel constraints and some people don't do well at memorials but how often in life do you get to know a guy like Daryl. Dave and I want thank all of you for making such a sad day one of the most memorable experiences we've had. Dave is coming up here in a month or two and we really want to come up to Squamish and say thanx.
I apologize in advance for the poor quality of the photos.
Here are a few pictures of the Grand Wall in December, 1971. Don’t ask me what possessed us to go up there in December. We got what we deserved. It rained the whole time. The truly amazing thing was that there were two people in front of us. Another Seattleite, John Stebbins and I met a young Canadian from Vancouver Island who wanted, in the worst way, to climb the Grand Wall. We allowed him to tag along. He was a great guy and a great addition to our group. A few months later I got a letter from his father saying he had taken his life but had raved about his adventure with us.
Pat Timson and I had done the Grand Wall the previous June in flawless weather. We started out at noon and flopped on to Bellygood ledge after dark. We didn’t take a single nut and nailed every inch of the climb. We woke up the next morning after a miserable, sleepless night and saw the beautiful cabin with 4” foam sleeping pads that had just been built that neither of us knew about. We were the first people to visit. That whole weekend was stellar-beautiful dry rock, warm temps. There wasn’t a single other person climbing in the whole Squamish area. We finished by climbing the Roman Chimneys.
Back to December, 1971…
More December, 1971
June, 1972 Doug McCarty and I set off to climb Tantalus Wall. Of course it rained the whole time and being of semi-quick wit, I backed off the dreaded offwith since I had nothing that would fit it and my nut-sack was too small.
We rapped off in a downpour
and ended up partying in the cave…
A couple weekends later Bruce Albert and I went back to Squam. Here’s a shot of Steve Sutton and Richie Doorish on Ten Years After
Here’s a picture of Bruce on the road in front of the caves (when you used to be able to drive there) watching Steve and Richie
Around this time there was a weird local guy that used to hang out in town in full climbing uniform. We used to see him in The Chieftan wearing climbing shoes, harness, hammer, and racks of hardware over his shoulder. Never could quite get a handle on this person. About the same time there was a rash of vehicle break-ins with climbing stuff being stolen. It was my understanding that Sinclair and a few others caught this guy stealing stuff and dumping it into Shannon Falls. He was dealt with in a Canadian manner.
Sinclair was another story altogether. After the first serious sandbagging we (yanks) got from him, we took everything he said with a grain of salt.
August 1972 Tom Nephew and Ed Gibson and I did University Wall. I made the mistake of bringing my under-age girlfriend along on the trip and we were met on our descent by the RCMP’s where I was hustled off to the Squamish jail. That was where I learned what the Mann Act was.
Ed Gibson jugging somewhere low on the route
The obligatory cool shot in the dihedral
Tom Nephew jugging up high
Don Brooks on the Grand Wall 1973
Doug McCarty on the Grand Wall 1973
An interesting piece of hardware we found set on the ledge at the top of the Split Pillar
My last trip up the Grand in the 70’s was with a group of Seattle hoodlums in 1977…
The group in front of the caves
From right to left: Kit Lewis, Rob Harris, Lenny Peoples, and Dickhead
I tried to edit my post and resize all the pictures but it didn't work. What you see is what you get.
It was 1978, and I was living in the state of Washington with my college buddy and his girlfriend. Chehalis, Washington. We escaped there after finishing college in California.
Typical college grads with no direction, no jobs in our fields, and no real interest in our fields even if jobs existed. So, we fled to the state of Washington where my friend knew some people who owned a small farm. We lived in the barn and did odd jobs in the community for money, until I landed a job working with delinquent youth in a group home. In our spare time we climbed Raineer and St. Helens (before it blew). We did some routes in the North Cascades, Index Town Wall, and the great climbing areas around Leavenworth. My college buddy was the one who introduced me to climbing in the late 60’s, and who also introduced me to steelhead fishing. Washington had plenty of both, and if it wasn’t for the damn rain I might still be living there today. I stayed in Washington for another year, and then decided to head back to So Cal via a long climbing trip through Canada and the Western United States. I loaded up my VW Van with all my possessions and headed north for Squamish.
I picked up a hitch hiker North of Vancouver who had done some climbing, and knew how to get to Squamish Chief. After dropping him off in a small town South of Squamish I quickly made my way up the old road at the base of the Chief and pulled into what could only be described as a “squatters” campground. I saw people bivied under the big rock cave, and out onto the old road. I pulled off to the side of the old road, got out and was greeted by a dozen climbers who noticed my California plates. They welcomed me to the circle where everyone was cooking or drinking beer and talking about routes in the area. A sandy haired blonde kid was talking about how classic the Grand Wall was, and then invited me to join him on a short crack climb called The Exasperator. He fired up the thing in the time it took me to get a harness on, and then watched me labor up it encouraging me the whole way. That evening, he shared with the group, his fascination with the DNB in Yosemite Valley, and how much he wanted to travel to Yosemite and do all the classic routes. He finally introduced himself as Peter Croft. Next to him was a very friendly Canadian by the name of Perry Beckman, and there was also an older guy by the name of Walt Dembisky who was with the U.S. Navy stationed in Alaska and on leave. He claimed to have climbed with Chouinard back in the day, and we made plans to climb some routes on the Slab just North of The Chief. Hearing this, Croft immediately recommended a climb called Diedre, and went on for twenty minutes about how classic the route was and how much we would enjoy it. Meanwhile, Perry Beckman invited me to join him on the Grand Wall the next morning after hearing how fascinated I was with this route. I reluctantly agreed to join him the next morning after unsuccessfully arguing that I wasn’t up to the grade. The next morning, I followed Perry up to the base, and listened to him describe, in great detail, all the features of the Grand Wall. We ended up doing four or five pitches that resulted in my balls ending up lodged in my throat, and then hung out at a belay checking out the upper pitches of Grand Wall which were really spectacular. We then rapped off, and I found Walt and headed for Diedre.
I spent a week at Squamish Chief and it is one of my best climbing memories. Since then, I have climbed in many areas throughout the Western United States, Great Britian and Europe, and have never come across a friendlier, more supportive group of climbers.
Hey Anders, this looks like the seam and overlap between Dream On and Unfinished Symphony. The Dream Symphony traverse pitch (10b) gains the overlap (to the right of the photo) and then moves left on slab to the first of the 10d Unfinished Symphony corners.
Thanks, everyone - we seem to be gathering some momentum. Thanks especially to Don for those amazing photos.
Hopefully eeyonkee will tell us about the first free ascent of Pipeline, in 1979. I have a story about the first ascent, but that was in 1966, so maybe a bit early for the thread. (The photo of the Foodeater was a bit late - he may not have appeared at Squamish until the 1980s.) Maybe Grug even has a bit of aluminum pipe? My father would be pleased to have it back. The first recorded use of tube chocks.
Don's pictures are amazing. Probably more true-to-Squamish than mine - I don't have many in which it's raining! Attempting the Grand Wall in December 1971 - you must have been nuts! A cold snowy month, too. How did you get across Bellygood? Many get a cheap thrill on it at the best of times - it's a horizontal ledge/almost chimney, that traverses the wall. Class 3/4, but exposed! (Even more fun with a haulbag.) There are two sections where you just shuffle along in a sort of undercling. The timid can belly crawl (hence the name), at least one person has done it facing outward, and Dick Culbert did it while carrying a segment of the Pardoe Hut. Which, coincidentally, was designed by a distant cousin, Byron Olson. Perry and friends removed the hut in the early 1990s (?), as it was severely damaged by falling ice.
Thieves were an occasional problem then, and a more common one now. Before my time, but the story was that the hard core (Sutton, Burton, Smaill, Bennett et al) caught the guy, tied him to a tree, and either threatened to stone him, or actually did.
Yes, the aid climb is the first part of what is now called Anxiety State. Terry R. and I did it in 1975, and nailed it. We called it Trivia, and it was even written up somewhere. It's surprising how many climbs we did during the 1970s, some of which had even been done previously, that were later climbed by others and renamed, or given a name. Black Bug's Blood is one, the climbs on the so-called "Bog Wall" at Murrin Park another. A sociologist friend once explained that much climber behaviour can be explained in terms of adolescent males. Territory being one of the traits, and renaming a manifestation of it. Kind of lame, and luckily it's never really caught on - although some guidebook writers could work on their historicity.
As has been mentioned, Daryl Hatton was a major influence on Squamish climbing. Here's my memory of our first meeting...
Sometime in the seventies, I don't remember exactly when, Daryl and I were sitting in the dirty drinking hole known as the Chieftain. I don't know who either of us had been climbing with that day, or how we came to be sharing a table that night. We didn't know each other, and I don't remember what we talked about. Climbs we planned to do, probably. I do remember being surprised to find that he wasn't what I had expected from the stories that I'd heard. Rough around the edges, sure. But mostly quiet and friendly -- hardly the wildman I'd been expecting.
Then, without warning, he jumped to his feet, and confronted two strangers who had just entered the bar. It was clear they were his friends, but his way of greeting one of them was pretty strange. He said something like, "Whhhoaa! Man." Then hit him. Hard -- really hard -- in the shoulder.
"Heeyyy! Man." The other guy responded, and pounded Daryl just as hard.
They must have taken three or four shots at each other, any of which would have collapsed me to the floor in pain. The other visitor sat down and introduced himself as Bill Price, and said Daryl's good friend was Big Wally. I think his real name was Mike, but even though I climbed with him the next day, I never did find out for sure.
Eventually Daryl and Wally stopped pounding each other and sat down, and we were joined by a few other climbers. But where Daryl had been relatively quiet earlier, he now switched into another mode. Loud and uncouth probably sums it up best. And where the conversation had earlier been mostly about climbs, for Daryl and Wally it quickly turned into a macho fest. Starting with, "I can outdrink you, easy."
Boat races followed. The two seemed evenly matched, both able to swallow a glass of beer faster than I¹d ever seen it done before. I don't remember what other tests they gave each other, but eventually it boiled down to something along the lines of "None of that sh#t matters. I'm just plain harder than you."
At which point Daryl pushed up a sleeve and slammed one of his forearms down on the table. I guess Wally didn't know Daryl as well as he thought, because he went for it. He pushed up his own sleeve and laid his bare forearm on the table, tight against Daryl's.
I didn't know what macho ritual I was about to witness, but what I saw was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Daryl picked up his cigarette, drew hard on it till the end was glowing bright red, then laid it down in the groove of their matched forearms.
Wally was tough, I guess. He had to be, not to jerk his arm away right away. He held on longer than I, and probably any of you could have. Hair burned, then flesh burned, then finally Wally gave up. And throughout it all, Daryl not only didn't flinch, he laughed.
Many of you knew Daryl better than I did. I was certainly never a close friend, but I ran into him regularly enough after that. Sometimes he was the quiet guy I'd been having a beer with at the beginning of that first evening, and sometimes he was the outrageous wildman he turned into toward its end. I often wondered which was the "real" Daryl, not realizing what most of his friends had probably figured out long ago, that he was both, and both were him.
That night, all I could think was how amazing it was that all the punches he took, and the burning flesh, didn't hurt. These decades later I know they did hurt. Daryl could just take it better than anyone else.
Daryl did like to drink and go to bars, and indulge in male rituals like arm wrestling and fighting. We could easily turn this into another Daryl thread, though we might have to put "R" if not "X" with the title. His fall on the attempted second ascent of Zorro's Last Ride, in 1978 (?), was one of the longest ever at Squamish. Above the big roof, he did some hard nailing, then some rivets, then got to a bolt. Which he clipped, weighted, and broke. I believe he went over 25 metres, maybe more. Several of us were down on the old highway by Cacademon Rock, but given that aid climbing isn't exactly a spectator sport, weren't paying attention. Naturally we looked when we first heard Daryl squawk as the bolt broke, but that was several seconds after it happened, given the intervening distance. So we didn't actually see him fall, but it was a LONG way.
Daryl also had endearing habits intended to fortify his friends, including his epithets "lightweight" and "little baby...(insert name)".
Psyche Ledge, as it's sometimes called, was actually part of the original highway. Rerouted in 1969. We camped and partied there, and in the nearby boulders, through to the early 1990s. To the extent that we had a camp/social/bullshit scene, as in places like Camp 4, that was it. Probably the last climber event that will ever happen there was the memorial bonfire for Daryl.
Once Eric and Dave N. were on University Wall. Several of us were watching, and bored. They'd left Eric's little Fiat there - quite a crappy car, though we did go to the Bugaboos in it. Anyway, we decided to rock Eric's car, and by bouncing it up and down, and moving it sideways at the high point of the bounces, rotated it 180 degrees. Eric and Dave were hooting and hollering, thinking someone was vandalizing or stealing it, and totally unable to do anything about it.
When I did Half Dome with Daryl I asked him what he did when he wasn't climbing. "Drinkin', f*ckin', and fightin". I laughed, he was serious. He never mentioned the tree topping. A few times he would yell out these outrageous expletives that I couldn't repeat here. As for strength, I would be rigging a haul on 9 mil and he would just start hand over handing and then go, "here hold this while I light a smoke". After I almost let go, I got the lightweight bit. Coming from him, it didn't bother me at all. He was right.
Trees and shrubs are to be found everywhere at Squamish, except on rock that is vertical or steeper, or that was only recently exposed. Pictures of the Chief from early in the 20th century show much less foliage on the cliffs than at present. There are two theories for this. One is that winters from the 17th - 19th century were fairly severe, which in Squamish means a lot of freeze/thaw, lots of snow, and lots of falling ice. Which isn't good for trees - the damage to the Pardoe Hut, which was a bit more exposed, graphically showed this. In the 1970s, the winter accumulation of snow and ice at the base of the wall was often ten metres or more, and it didn't disappear until April. The other theory is that in the mid-19th century there was a giant fire during a dry, windy summer, which raged north from what is now Murrin Park, burning everything in the way.
Probably both theories have some merit. Either way, in a general sense the trees at Squamish are winning, and especially at the base of cliffs sometimes need active management. Alders can grow several metres/year. Removing trees and shrubs on routes is generally unnecessary, and tends to destabilize tree ledges - usually it's loose gravel and rocks underneath, ready to go. As Erik apparently found.
There have been some minor modern fires at Squamish, including one on the Apron in 1973, and in the Little Smoke Bluffs in the 1980s. The Chief itself and Murrin Park were never logged, but most of the surrounding areas have been, and they were often burnt over after, that being the prevailing silvicultural technique then. There have been two fire-hazard closures at Squamish, first in July 1985, then September 2003. Climbers were partially exempted from the latter, on basis of providing an active patrol program to ensure everyone was behaving. (One boulderer, insistent that he had a 'right' to smoke regardless, was physically escorted out.)
The last significant earthquake was in the late 1940s, and the last really big one in 1700. Vancouver and Squamish are somewhat east of the main plate boundaries, but we're overdue for something, and it will rearrange our little world. As a granitic pluton, there are lots of exfoliation flakes, and they get detached by freeze-thaw action, root action from trees, and sometimes earthquakes. As can be told by the giant boulders below all the larger cliffs.
Some believe that a climb at Squamish isn't a climb unless at some point you must depend on use of vegetation for progress, or least a belay. And the vegetation does often provide helpful holds and anchors. A little knowledge of tree species can be very helpful - cedars are usually far better rooted and stronger than firs and pines, let alone alder, salal, and huckleberry bushes.
One fellow spent a lot of time, money and energy over the last few years cleaning a route called Crap Crags. More or less a gully and low angle corner, facing northwest and wet most of the year. A classic adventure in dry conditions, involving all sorts of antics with trees. Anyway, he did a lot of work digging, trundling, and sawing, more or less on the same line. It's part of the routine here, but the difficulty with Crap Crags is that the falcon closure area is right in the middle of the route. You can never climb it between April and July, leaving at most two months of decent weather to do it. The fellow also gave his variation/'new' route another name, although it may not catch on.
More on thin cracks, cleaning, slabs, and the Little Smoke Bluffs to follow.
By then we had something like a critical mass, of perhaps a dozen regular climbers, most of whom had a year or two experience or more, and a reasonable amount of gear. There were another dozen or more who were around, but less active, plus many who came and went. Some people had by then made the long trip to the Valley, in a few cases hitchhiking, which provided a lot of experience. We’d also done many of the established free climbs, and knew there must be more to do. We’d read about all sorts of things happening in the Valley – it was the summer of what was advertised as the first 5.12, Hot Line.
Another very helpful thing was Gordie Smaill’s new guidebook, mentioned above.
It had about 140 routes, as compared to the 40 or so in Glenn’s, and even had radical stuff like pictures. Many liked the style in which it was written, plus it had some nice drawings, I believe by Gordie’s brother. Here’s one, for Ghost:
We had also climbed most everything there was on the Apron, often repeatedly. Slab climbing is very good for learning about climbing, as it forces you to focus on footwork and mental control. Strength isn’t much help. The Apron is the fan-shaped area in the lower left of this photo:
There were then perhaps a dozen free routes on the Apron that anyone ever climbed – Slab Alley, Pineapple Peel, Banana Peel, Sparrow, Sickle, White Lightning, Diedre, Snake, Vector, Saint Vitus’ Dance, and Vector. Most of the aid routes had bits of free climbing, but the only other entirely free routes that got much traffic (apart from Murrin Park and such) were Apron Strings, Mercy Me, The Phew!, Missled, the first pitch of Exasperator (all at the base of the Grand Wall), the first pitch of Mushroom, and the Sunshine Chimneys area. None considered harder than 5.9 then. Tantalus Crack on Yosemite Pinnacle and Crescent Crack at the Malamute were not for mortals.
Here’s one more photo of the early Apron climbs, Slab Alley. It was the first route on the Apron, in 1961, climbed by Jim Baldwin and Tony Cousins. Sadly, Tony died a few weeks ago. (John A.)
It shows Apron climbing reasonably well. There are glacially polished sections, but it generally involves a bit more use of crystals and little dishes, rather than pure friction.
The Apron had quite a lot more lichen and moss on it then, and the shrubberies were in better shape. 30 years of climbing, new routes, cleaning, and simply ropes brushing over every bit of rock, do a lot of cleaning. Then, routefinding could be a real challenge, especially pre-guidebook, and given that Leeper bolt hangars (on the few bolts) looked a lot like a bit of lichen. Sometimes you just had to set out, knowing there was a route, and roughly where it went. None of the routes mentioned were harder than 5.9, and at the time we thought White Lightning was 5.9 also. There was one harder route, Grim Reaper, which Gordie and Neil had done in Robbins shoes in 1969. It was actually thought to be 5.10, had not had a second ascent, and was known to have only one or two bolts/pitch. Neil described it as “marbles in oil”. An obvious thing to try.
One route was a rather visionary climb at the base of the Grand Wall, called the Phew! Jim S. and Jeannine C. had done it – a mostly bolted three pitch climb that linked up little corners and dikes and things, on fairly steep rock, with some aid. We didn’t have many climbs like that – Jim may have scoped it out when they were filming the Vertical Desert in 1973, about the Grand Wall. (Steve M.)
ps I’m not sure who Doug McCarty (sp?) is – someone else mentioned him.
There’s little doubt that the leaders of our community were Eric and Daryl. They were more committed, Daryl to aid and walls, Eric to free climbing, and put more time and effort into it. By spring 1975 both had been to the Valley, and done things like the Nose and Triple Direct, as well as many free climbs in the 5.10 range. Eric and I did what was probably his first first ascent at Squamish in 1974, when we freed Papoose One, on the Papoose. I actually led the crux. Last time I ever did that with Eric.
In 1975, Dave Loeks and Bill Putnam from Colorado visited, and a bit of a competition started. Eric and Daryl beat them to the first free ascent of the Pillar, and probably Perspective, but Dave and Bill got Brunser Overhang first, and also bagged Angel’s Crest. The spring trip to Yosemite and the visitors seemed to stimulate Eric, as he did a bunch of 5.10 cracks, including Caboose, Rainy Day Dream Away, and A Pitch in Time, and started working on things like Sentry Box. That summer, Daryl and Eric also did Up From the Skies, on the scary expanding flakes to the right of Grand Wall, and Daryl and Dave N. did Drifter’s Escape. Dave was working in a mill, fiendishly strong, and liked wide cracks. In late summer he led Hypertension (Les Fleurs de Mal) by Nightmare Rock, after many tries, and much fiddling to try and get a reasonable tube chock at the crux roof. Australian Nic Taylor made a lightning visit late in the summer, and with compatriot Peter Peart freed the left side of the Pillar – probably then the hardest free climb in Canada, still considered 5.12a. For years few believed it - we didn't really even have any 5.11s then.
The Apron did allow scope for wandering around, not possible on cracks and walls. It was lower-angle, and you could explore, especially on a top rope, without too much anguish. "I'll just try that bulge over there, instead of following the route - it looks like there are some holds." So suddenly, over the next few years, we did a bunch of new things on the Apron, some up to mid-5.11. Always on lead, never inspected or cleaned. Eric and Gordie did a climb on the upper Apron in 1975, called Eric’s Route, and that autumn Carl A. and I explored what became the start of Bloodlust Direct, on a very wet day. The next spring Carl, Scott F., and maybe others finished its two pitches, both now 5.11, the first slabs of that grade at Squamish. Here is an early ascent, in 1976. (Dave L.)
There are five protection bolts in about 90 metres of climbing.
This is the third (crux) pitch of White Lightning. (Dave L.)
It was the testpiece for human beings on the Apron, pre-1976. I did it in September 1975, with Joe T., another of our veterans. It was thought 5.9 (now 5.10b, perhaps), and the first pitch, although only a true 5.9, has only one bolt. There are three bolts on each of the second and third pitches – as always, slab climbing mostly happens upstairs.
Dave L. was an energetic teenager who appeared in early 1976, and did some amazing stuff. Another photo of him, following the second pitch of White Lightning in June 1976. He may be channeling TM Herbert. In the background, Scott F. and Perry B. do battle with Bloodlust.
Eric naturally lusted after the second ascent of the dreaded Grim Reaper, and tried it several times in 1975, usually with Carl A., who was preternaturally good at slabs. The third pitch is the first of two hard ones – you climb a moderate crack, place protection, downclimb quite a way, then climb way out and left. The hardest part (now 5.10b or c, but then also more lichened) is right before the belay, perhaps 20 metres straight left of the protection. Eric came off several times there, as he reached for the shrub, and ended up penduluming at high speed all the way across to and past Unfinished Symphony. The peanut gallery was highly entertained, and cheered him on with supportive remarks such as “Eric, you’re going to die!”. We had some growing to do.
Yup, I have more slides scanned, and nope, you don’t get to see them until tomorrow at earliest. Life calls.
Thank you, everyone! Keeps those cards and letters coming!
Let me rephrase that. Please send A card or letter, or at least a post.
Yes, Jim S. has been a fixture at Squamish since the early 1960s, as has been Fred B. Jim does like his coffee and a cigarette, and tells very good stories, some of which may be true. He provided some continuity during the 1970s - he was around, and sometimes provided information or inspiration, although I don't remember him climbing much.
The winter ascent of the Northeast Buttress of Slesse was in 1985 or 1986. Given the times, Kit and partner named one of the pitches the "Dead Lycra Faggots" pitch.
Next, maybe some pictures from crack climbing, new slab routes, in 1976 - 78. Perhaps not until Wednesday. It looks like the thread may not get to 1978 and beyond until after the FaceLift, which will leave Tami on tenterhooks, wondering which stories and pictures of her I may have. Nyuk, nyuk!
Upthread, Don reported on an ascent of the Grand Wall in December 1971. The Environment Canada website says that the mean temperature in Vancouver that month was 0.7 C, with 80 cm of snow. It would have been colder, and snowier, in Squamish. (No weather station there then.) You guys must have snuck in on the few rainy days between snowstorms that month. Nuts! http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climateData/dailydata_e.html
Bump again. Gawd, Anders and Tami, I'm loving your posts. I also like that pic of "Foodeater" (that's funny), and his smile, somewhere between a cherubic smile and a sh#t-eating grin. The pics of the Seattlites are a nice addition. Goad some of comrades to post up. Keep up the good work.
A summary of the Squamish cast of characters, as of 1976.
Those who'd been climbing for 3, 4 or even 5 years: Eric W., Daryl H., Steve M., Len S., John A., Dave N., Dave V., me.
Those who'd been climbing for perhaps two years: Carl A., Scott F., Dick M., John Bryan (who sadly died in a helicopter crash in 1977), Simon T.
Started 1976 or so: Dave L., Perry B., Peder O. All very keen.
There were a few others who were less active, but around, or who'd just started climbing, and whose names escape me. And of course our precedessors - the hard core (Hugh B., Steve S., Gordie S., Neil B., Paul P., Greg S., etc), Jim S., Frank B., Robin B., Joe T., Bill M., and others. Some still active, all sometimes around. Robin B., an ex-Brit, was quite active. And visitors, mostly from Seattle.
In 1976, nine of us went to the Valley for the autumn. Daryl, John A., my brother and I went in John's van. Eric came down on his own, later. John B. also. Scott, Dave L., and Perry took the bus. The first time they got to the border, the amused immigration people asked for a permission letter from Dave's mother. He was then 15. Of course they had to go back to get one. When they got back to the border, there was yet more amusement amongst the guards. Not something they saw every day.
They staggered into Camp 4 a few afternoons later, as I think they'd ended up on the milk run. As Scott said, "It went better when we got to Portland, and a guy got us some beer, which we sat in the back drinking".
In other developments, Steve S. and Hugh B. popped up in summer 1975, and finished the Breakfast Run line on Tantalus Wall. I saw Steve lead Tantalus Crack in about ten minutes, and was very impressed.
More tomorrow or Thursday - climbing on the Apron, cracks, new routes, and walls from 1976 on.
And DBL shame for not buyin' the young Tami her beers
Indeed. But don't worry, the poor little lass had plenty of other folks willing to supply her with beers and such.
You been postin' up a cuple years now and it took you this long to pony up with this stuff??
I've got a few crates of slides and prints from the 70s and 80s at Sqaumish stashed in the basement somewhere, and will try to scan some of them for this thread... If this thread lives for a little longer, that is. I'm going to be on the road for the next couple of weeks (Miami first, which sucks dead rats, but then a week in the Needles, which I hope won't suck at all), but when I get back I'll see what I can find.
Thanks - I'll try to get more stuff up later. No promises. I'm sure the thread will vanish during the FaceLift, then reappear as more is added. I really do hope others add their stories and photos - it would add a lot. I've got the whole thing saved as a word document, in case it's needed elsewhen.
I'd been thinking about a thread like this for a while, but was very sidetracked by family and work responsibilities over the last year. It takes a lot of time. There are some Canadians who participate in SuperTopo, but I wasn't sure if there'd be much interest, or if this was the right place. The Canadian climbing websites I know of don't have these sort of reports, although perhaps there should be a link from them. I may even get criticized for not putting this on a 'Canadian' site, or for doing it at all. A balancing act.
I've mostly abbreviated last names to initials, in case anyone's sensitive about their name/picture appearing. And they can be removed, if need be.
Tami reminds me of some faces and names. Not sure how I forgot Simon T., who was quite active then and now. I do remember lanky Randy appearing then, and have a good bouldering picture of him to post later. Kon K. was around, but I don't remember him climbing much - Ghost may know more? I don't remember seeing much of Kevin Mc., although he was around, and did a few things. I think he was more focussed on alpinism then, and didn't do much at Squamish until the early 1980s. Jim C. also appeared in 1976.
Then there's the question as to when Ghost (David H.) appeared. I certainly remember him from early 1977.
I don't remember meeting Peter C. or Richard S. until early 1978, but both had much experience by then. Perhaps they drifted in in 1976, and I missed them in 1977 as I was in the mountains a lot. Same for the others mentioned.
We’ll now talk a bit more about Squamish guidebooks, a subject of some interest. Today I got a note from a friend, who it turns out is a Taco-lurker. He first climbed at Squamish in 1961/62, with Jim Baldwin amongst others. He sent scans of a few pages from a handwritten guide that Jim wrote, in 1962. Jim’s guide was later typed out and circulated in mimeograph form, and I have a copy of it. This post will just be a few pages from Jim’s guide, followed by a few posts about Diedre through the ages. Then I promise there will be some climbing photos.
Moving right along, here’s the description and photo from 1980s “A Climber’s Guide to the Squamish Chief”. (photo by Ghost)
The photo appears as though a three year old had been doodling on it, which has some resemblance to the truth.
There were two supplements in 1984 – “Rock Climbs of the Little Smoke Bluffs” (Jim Campbell) and “Squamish the New Freeclimbs” (McLane), neither of which of course included Diedre. Then, in 1985, Jim Campbell came out with his topo guide, “Squamish Rock Climbs”. It was 8.5” x 11”, and a few years later he produced a reduced-size version. Description (brief) and topo, but no photo.
(Copy from a route ticker.)
The most recent guides for Squamish as a whole were in 2004 and 2005 – we’re fortunate to have such choice. Marc Bourdon came out with the second/third edition of “Squamish Select” in 2004:
The third full edition of Kevin McLane’s “Climbers Guide to Squamish” was in 2005:
It appears that Diedre has gotten harder as the years have passed, despite advances in technique, equipment, and knowledge.
Other Squamish guides:
“Squamish New Climbs 1992 -95” (McLane, 1995)
“A Guide to Sport Climbing in Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor” (Bourdon & Tasaka, 1998)
“Climbers Guide to Squamish” (McLane, 1999)
“Squamish Select” (Bourdon & Scott Tasaka, 2000)
“Squamish Bouldering” (Peter Michaud, 2000)
“Squamish Bouldering” (Bourdon & Tasaka, 2003)
“Squamish Select” (Bourdon & Tasaka, 2004)
“Squamish Big Walls” (Matt Maddaloni, ~2005)
“Climbers Guide to Squamish” (McLane, 2005)
There are also a few short publications – crag topos and such – which aren’t widely known.
The mountain is properly called the Stawamus Chief, or I suppose could even be the Sta-a-mish Chief. Another name was recently suggested, and I’ll try to find it. Anyway, most guide writers dexterously avoid the spelling issue by saying the guide is to Squamish, rather than the Chief.
Tami said: I leaned back against the backpack and gear strewn about and........fell asleep.
Yup. Did that same thing at around the same time -- maybe a year or two earlier, but definitely in the 70s. John Wittmayer (whom none of you have ever heard of but who was a supremely talented climber) and I decided one afternoon that we should climb the Grand Wall. Since it was clearly too late to start that day, we sat around making plans and drinking, and making plans, and smoking, and making plans. At about 10:30 we realized we'd better get moving if we wanted to hit the liquor store on our way to Squamish (it closed at 11).
So we did that, and headed north in John's wife's microbus, drinking, planning, smoking, planning, etc. When we got to Squamish we parked on Psyche ledge, and since it was hardly even past midnight, we decided to do some more planning. This involved opening the jug we had picked up at the liquor store, and also filling the pipe a couple of times. Once all the planning was done, we set the alarm for 4:30 and went to sleep.
Two hours later, when the alarm woke us, we packed up and headed up the trail. Because of all the planning we'd done, we decided to cheat a little bit and hike up a ledge system to the base of the bolt ladder, skipping the textbook start, which involved two or three pitches of actual climbing.
John had won the draw, or lost it, and was assigned the first pitch. I put him on belay (same hip belay that Tami was using in the story above) and made myself comfortable on the ledge. John clipped the first bolt off the end of the ledge, and led upward.
Now, if you've done much aid climbing, you understand that time passes differently for the leader and the belayer. For John, half an hour or so went by as he bumbled his way up a ladder that had hangers only on every third or fourth bolt. For me, no time passed at all until I woke up with the rope lying on the ground beside me and John a hundred feet above me and about five hundred feet above the ground. Needless to say, I wasn't anchored to anything (who needs to tie in on a ledge below a bolt ladder?)
"We gotta talk."
So we had a little chat, in which I told him I could probably jug the route as long as I could sleep through every one of his leads. It took him a while to undestand that this meant no belays, but eventually he decided that even though he was feeling fine and manly, his partner obviously wasn't up to the challenge.
Down he came to the ledge. Down we scrambled to the top of the trail. Down the trail we started to hike, with John explaining at every step how deeply disappointed he was at my lightness. But then, coming up the trail who do we meet but Keith Nannery, on his way to solo the Grand.
John asked Keith if he would like a partner. Me reminding him that maybe last night had taken a toll on him as well as on me was to no avail. He was burning to get up the thing, and although Keith was kind of keen on the solo, he eventually relented and said he wouldn't mind some company.
Up went John and Keith to do their manly thing, while down went I, to sleep for hours and hours in the van. And because I was asleep, I missed seeing John take a factor-two fall off the Sword pitch (seems he was too wrecked to do it free, and too wasted to remember to place any gear). I didn't see it, being asleep and whatnot, but I heard all about it later. John, with his last vestiges of intelligence, realized as he started to peel off the wall that unless he did something extremely manly, he would deck on the ledge about twenty feet below. So, he pushed and twisted himself outward in what was described by a witness as a perfect swan dive, and cleared the ledge.
Of course, when the rope came tight he was rocketed head first into the wall below and lost consciousness. Fortunately he was wearing a helmet (really unusual thing to do back then), and he survived without damage. Keith wasn't so lucky. He was belaying on a Figure 8 off the anchor, and his hand got sucked into the device and burned to the bone as the rope ran over it.
I recall Dave Loeks mentioning he was a climber awhile back - he has been around these parts for a while - don't think he does much climbing anymore. He was involved in a Siberian eco-tourism gig briefly and some other things. Haven't come across him recently. There are a few legends licking their historical wounds around these parts. Wayne Merry hunkered down in the Gomorroh of Atlin, B.C. And Eric Allen and his climbing mob - Eric of Jtree derivation - done it all but now completely wired on bouldering - he puts together the annual Ibex Bouldering Fest in the Ibex Valley every August - been about 5 or 6 of them and he produced a large two page bouldering guidebook for the sweet location as well. He is the man with the beta - for lots of sweet climbling locales in wild places. He winters now in Costa Rica but returns every summer to tend his fish production operation at Little Fox Lake and his beekeeping - Fireweed Honey - and after getting into latter almost exits the planet early due to a highly negative reaction to bee stings.
Keep it going Anders and use your considerable talent and influence to ensure the Apron is dry in early Oct. - having done Deidre, Banana Peel and Sickle - I may have a go at Snake and I prefer kayaking in Howe Sound rather than body surfing on the Apron!
A number of years back I managed to convince one of my Aussie climbing connections - Simon Carter to slip into Squamish and take some pics to add some depth and variety to his climbing pic portfolio - he was down in the lower 48 at Indian Creek and other suitably decadent locales and I indicated he was missing one of the classics. So he actually turned up and recruited ex-pat Aussie Abby Watkins, ice climbing fiend Sean Issac and another lad whose name I forget - to do some itinerant "modelling" on Freeway and the Grand Wall. Apparently the trio chalked up a a couple of 30 ft whippers on the route so they obviously had some fun that day.
I told Simon that now he taken the leap of faith that he should not turn down the momentum but check out "The Cirque' and or the Vampire Spires. He did get into Canmore subsequently so he is coming along.
Returning to climbing on the Apron, after only a few digressions. There is a big steep open slab between Diedre and Unfinished Symphony. It has a lower slab (one pitch), then an arch (two pitches), then it gets steep and hard. Obviously LAST BIG CHALLENGE stuff. There was an aid route up the left side of the arch, which ended up in Unfinished, and Eric and Gordie’s route Bloodlust climbed the right side of the arch, eventually diagonalling up and right to parallel Diedre. Scott and Carl, and maybe others, got the idea of a route right up the middle of this slab. They worked like fiends on it through 1976, and into the following years. It was named Dream On, and Carl and friends did eventually finish it to Broadway, with a few bolts for aid. When sticky rubber appeared in 1984 the route was freed, at 5.12a. (Heaven knows what such slab routes should actually be graded.)
The first pitch was pretty hard but had some rests, the second ‘easy’ 5.10, the third was quite sustained hard 5.10. In those days of EBs, Carl, Scott et al stopped where possible (barely), drilled a quick shallow hole, popped in a pointy Leeper hook for support, before finishing a ‘real’ bolt. (And now it turns out that Steve and Hugh had done it on White Lightning!) Pitch 4, going over the arch, was finished in 1976, and a bit of pitch 5. Dick M. and I tried the thing in August – I had a big fall on the first pitch, and here he is on the second pitch.
(I’ll try to find other, later, photos.)
In 1977, Peter P. and I did A Question of Balance, on the upper Apron – a slab above Broadway, fairly featureless and smooth. For years we’d walked by the base, and I’d noticed some intriguing chickenheads (xenoliths, for nature and Minerals). Eric and Gordie had done a short route on the left side, there were some features visible, so we gave it a try. Here’s the first pitch:
I’m in the middle of a15 m runout to the belay. At that time, there was a lot more salal on Broadway (foreground), and lichen on the rock. While doing the runout, I could see what sort of looked like something about half way, then something else much further. I set out, got to the ‘break’, stopped long enough to take out the drill and have second thoughts, and went for it. People have twice placed chicken rap-bolts in the middle of the runout. I figure that as I went back and brushed off all the lichen a year or two later, and there are now “real” bolts, they don’t know how easy they have it. But for a few years, there were some quite impressive skid marks on the lichen, where people had come off just before the belay, and gone quite a distance. Until all the lichens around got brushed off by rope action, anyway. When I retro-cleaned the climb, it looked a bit like a question mark from a distance – the second pitch hooks right and back.
In 1978, I went back with Tami, Peter C., and Richard S. (?), and we did a silly squeeze route a few metres left of QB, called Bran Flakes, which was and probably still is Peter’s favourite breakfast. Shared lead/bolting duties.
Edit: Self-bumped, to see if there's any interest.
Anders, keep it coming. There's plenty of interest. I got the impression at the beginning of the thread that you didn't want it to get too cluttered. I think a lot of readers are hanging back more than usual to make sure there is room for people like Tami and Ghost to pop in with additional stories.
This thread is great. Keep it growing. It doesn't have to grow fast.
Thanks - I'll try to get more stuff posted in the next few days, but then there'll be a two week+ FaceLift hiatus. I doubt I'll ever get to the 1980s or 1990s, although I may have a few pictures and photos. I was fairly active throughout, though naturally the standards advanced faster than me, and I was less involved in the 'scene'.
I'm reviewing and revising the earlier posts as I go along, as I remember more details.
I'd be happy if others had stories and photos to add, whether of Squamish climbers and climbing in the 1970s, of trips to Squamish, or recollections of the Squamish gang in Camp 4. We often were there in spring and autumn, usually camped together, and often hanging out with the Seattle gang. Daryl and Eric, at least, should have left some impressions.
Some other things that happened in 1976, although I don't have pictures. Daryl and Eric (and others) had a good spring in Yosemite. Daryl did the second (?) ascent of Electric Ladyland, the North America Wall, and maybe other long routes. Eric did a number of fairly hard free routes. In May, they teamed up and did an early ascent of the Shield - something like the 6th or 7th. (Listmasters Ed and Clint?) As Daryl put it, the first ascent by humans. A harbinger.
In June, Eric finally freed Sentry Box (originally called Artifical Land), a one-pitch Jim Baldwin route. He'd been working on it for a year, and had been stymied by a thin section near the top. After his trip to the Valley, he was very fit and focused. So focused that when he first tried it, he zed-clipped the protection before the crux, and had a good fall, before then getting it. Then thought to be Squamish's, and possibly Canada's, first 5.11, but now graded 5.12a. Though you could also say it's 5.10+, with a boulder problem at the top.
We did somewhat focus on thin cracks during that time. Squamish seems to have proportionately more of them, plus they were easier to clean out. So we did lots of them - there aren't that many routes at Squamish with obligatory wide sections, unlike the Valley. More photos of some thin cracks later, perhaps.
During summer 1976, the Eric and Daryl did a route called Cerberus, on Tantalus Wall. From below, it looked liked there were all kinds of grooves, so they took something like 40 copperheads. They rented a swager to make them, or maybe went to Kits Marine. They did a pitch a day, but found that the "groove" pitches were in fact big flakes, involving the usual scary expanding stuff. Much later the route was freed.
Toward the end of the summer, Scott and Dick (?) did the second ascent of Up From the Skies, a fearsome proposition.
Edit: Self-bumped. Better than political and solipsistic drivel, anyway.
Hey Ghost, *I* know John Wittmayer. I met him in the Co-op, about 86 or so + we hung out a bit. Sue
Wonderful guy. I shared a house with him when he first moved to Canada. A natural-born climber, and his guitar playing wasn't too shabby either. He lived through a Himalayan epic on par with Doug Scott's crawl down the Ogre, but it pretty much trashed his knees and he didn't climb much after that. I haven't seen him or heard from/about him for many years, but if you're still in touch, please give him a big hug for me.
And if you know him, and I know him, then maybe we know each other. Sue who?
Ghost, matisse - I last saw John Wittmayer and his son in Vancouver, around ten years ago. At the aquatic centre. His son was then about 10 - 12, and they had lived on one of the Gulf Islands for a while. PM me for more - Don S. probably has contact information.
Hopefully more photos and stories on Sunday evening - a busy few days, trash talking and other important stuff.
The Curious Incident of the Bear, and the Dog, on the Apron
It was autumn 1974. One day I went climbing, with some friends from UBC's outdoors club. A few of us decided to do Sickle, a moderate route in the middle of the Apron, with a short 5.9 bit in the middle. It has the same first pitch as Diedre, then goes up and right, instead of left. One of the group, Chris, had a dog, a German Shepherd named Friend. They went everywhere together - an exception to my earlier generalization. Chris was an active mountaineer, backcountry skier, and something of a rock climber. Friend lived up to his name, and was a very civilized dog. He could teach many modern "crag dogs" (and their owners) a thing or three about doggy etiquette.
At that time, Friend was only a year or two old, and so quite energetic. He followed us right up to the base of the climb - I don't remember if he got a boost at the little rock step. Probably not. We did the first two pitches, while Friend waited - generally he eventually went back to the van, and curled up there.
Then we saw Friend coming up the first pitch of the actual climb. It's mostly easy low angle cracks, but there's a few metres of real slab climbing near the start - maybe 5.6. He had a bit of trouble there, but got past it with four paw drive, and ended up at the belay, although we were another pitch higher.
Then we heard some noise, and saw a black bear at the base of the climb, wandering around and snuffling and doing bear stuff. It eventually got up to the horizontal crack which is the start of Banana Peel, and ambled toward Slab Alley - several hundred metres sideways. There wasn't a lot we could do, so we continued, and when we got to the van an hour or two later, Friend was waiting, and Mr. Bear nowhere to be seen.
Black bears are frequently seen in the Squamish area, but in autumn are mostly either near the rivers (salmon), or high up (blueberries). Or eating human garbage. I don't know of any other sighting of a bear on the Apron. Grizzly bears are all through the mountains north of Squamish, and are known to wander around on glaciers, and even over quite high passes. Wolverines, too.
Friend is perhaps the only dog to ever be memorialized in the Canadian Alpine Journal - volume 68, 1985, page 36. He probably did more mountaineering than many SuperTopians.
On another subject, I was in Squamish today, and climbed South Arete - far upthread I posted a photo of Eric, when we climbed it in 1973. It was the first time since then that I've done it. The first pitch has been cleaned, and is now a nice hand/fist crack, maybe 5.8 or 5.9. (It was a sort of steep bushy gully/crack.) Sadly, whoever did it messed up the second pitch a bit, by adding several bolts to the upper slab.
Chris advises that: "As I recall Friend continued up further almost to the end of the second pitch until I rapped down to where he was. He then rappelled down with me. He seemed quite comfortable leaning against my legs as I rapped down. I took him back to the van and closed the window tighter so he could not get out and join the fun again. The bear was still hanging about on the approach ledge but quickly disappeared when Friend saw him and headed towards him. I was worried for the bear since it went down a very steep slab and crashed into some trees below, then disappeared over a rise. Friend wisely decided to stay with me."
Chris is going to look for photos. I suspect what he calls the "second pitch" was actually the first pitch, which sometimes used to be broken into two. The meandering pitch. You belay at its end, then traverse left into the base of corner of Diedre.
My memory of the events is clearly incomplete. I vaguely recall that Chris insisted on using a body rappel, as he believed it more rope-friendly than the carabiner brake. But I don't remember him rappelling to rescue Friend, or rejoining us.
As mentioned, around 1974/75 people started to clean and free climbs around Squamish. Most but not all were existing routes, which by definition had been cleaned somewhat, in nothing else by piton action. Often thinner cracks – the wider ones were not susceptible to 1970s technology, and had to wait for tools of moss destruction to be invented. And most were shorter routes – typically one pitch, or longer routes with a few sections to be cleaned. Our tools included only the Chouinard Crag Hammer (the one with a pick, for light nailing), wire brushes, swede saws, and nut tools. A few did get into things like ice axes and crowbars, but mostly not until a bit later.
Some routes could be cleaned on rappel, especially the short ones. The longer ones usually involved more effort, and often featured a very bored and uncomfortable belayer holding the rope while Eric aided up and down something, gleefully fixing (other people’s) pins as he went. (Several of my pins that he placed are still there.) The cleaning was of course as much to be able to place nuts and protect the routes, as it was to have something to put one’s hand in.
Eric did several routes during 1975, mentioned upthread, and here are some photos of some early ascents. I don’t have shot of all, of course.
Exasperator – first pitch (1976).
This was an unusual phenomena – a naturally clean crack. I’m not sure when it was first freed, but I saw Eric solo it in 1975, trailing a rope for the rappel. A few weeks later he freed the second pitch, which was somewhat harder. This photo is from the second free ascent of the second pitch, April 1976.
This is the third (second?) free ascent of Caboose, on the same day. (Dave N.)
Dave fell soon after, and was held by a pin. My pin, though for once I’d fixed it myself, years earlier when nailing it.
Clean Crack is right beside Caboose, on the Malemute. For some reason, we got interested in it, although it’s quite technical. At that time, you climbed to the pocket about 6 m off the ground, then just made a few more moves to a downhanging cedar, so it was pretty short. We had lots of fun bouldering out the start, and sometimes the railway guys on their speeders would stop and chat. So this is from 1975, a visiting climber from the U.S. at the pocket – you can see the shadow from the tree above.
I spent five or six days during winter 1976-77 cleaning all the rest of the crack, which was a lot of work. By the end it was climbable as a hard free climb, though others have done some more cleaning.
I’ve never been quite able to lead it.
Also at the Malemute was Hand Jive. We somehow talked Carl into going there one very wet day, and digging it out. It had never been an aid climb, and was then full of salal, and a big effort. Carl hitchhiked back to Vancouver late that afternoon, and came into MEC, which was then a little place on west 4th. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so dirty in my life. Soon after, he and Eric freed it, and here’s a shot of an early ascent.
Winter/spring 1977 were quite dry, so the season got started early. One day we were up at the base of the Grand Wall, and while walking along I noticed an interesting looking crack. Better yet, one accessible from above from the scramble approach to U Wall. So I returned a day or two later, dug it out, then a few days later came back with Simon T. and Dave L., finished cleaning, and freed it. It is called Seasoned in the Sun, and for such a pleasantly named route has featured some astonishingly long falls, as mentioned above. Anyway, here is the first ascent, and as I’m leading, you can’t blame me for the “quality” of the photo.
Some ascents over the year or two after:
The eventual removal of the obstinate stump, with an inspired trundle, was quite clever.
There were other naturally clean lines at the base of the Grand, especially the Flake Route (the proper start to the Grand), and Apron Strings. The latter has always been a bit of an effort, especially when it was still graded 5.9 – now 5.10b. Particularly for those unable to find the obscure no hands rest just below the crux. It is a fun climb, though a bit precarious. Here’s the second pitch:
It leads to the top of the Flake, and one can then continue up Mercy Me, a lovely exposed 5.8 dike climb for two more pitches, into the middle of the wall.
This is now the usual approach to the base of the Split Pillar – you turn right halfway up the second pitch, and do some fun stuff with flakes. A few convenience bolts have been added, but it’s still a good airy adventure.
A member of my posse who speaks French has pointed out that the proper spelling is Diédre, not Diedre - the "é" has an acute accent. It is pronounced as though it was "eh" - thus "dee-eh-dra". Very Canadian. I suppose I will now have to go back and make the necessary amendments to earlier posts.
Speaking of which, what is the quintessential Canadian grade?
I just thought I'd give the thread one last bump before leaving for the FaceLift. More stories and photos to follow, and I hope others will also chime in with theirs. We're only at 1976/1977, so really only halfway.
Anders mentioned this thread to me on the 4th of September and I'd been too busy playing to even have a chance to peek at it. Wow, I was missing out. This is one of the best threads to date for sure! Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to more...
OK OK, I'll try to add something in the next few days. Maybe a mini-essay on how the Chief became a park - one of the story ideas I had while driving home from the FaceLift. More context. It takes time, especially when also scanning slides.
Of course, any of YOU can always add stories and photos from the period. :-)
Edit: Randy's over-exuberant bumping reached its limit when he started bumping bumped threads off the front page. So this is a sort of anti-bump. All you have to do is delete one of your earlier posts (within last week), then re-post it - it bumps the thread right back up, without adding to thread clutter.
Now where were we? Ah yes, mired in 1976 or so. But it’s time to get moving again, as winter’s rain gradually seeps into our world, and we turn our minds and hands to more sedentary activities. First a little more history, as I stall for scanning time. But future history this time, to provide a bit more context.
The Stawamus Chief and surroundings only became a provincial park in 1995. Yosemite of course has been a national park for over a century, and protected for longer, although there is still much squabbling about exactly what that means. Not the Chief. From one perspective, this was good – it meant that for the most part, as long as we weren’t too visible or annoying, and didn’t burn or cut down many trees, no one cared much about what climbers were up to. We could camp on the old highway, or in the boulders or the forest, party, and have fires, and it was no biggie. But this also meant that there was no protection for an icon, and eventually something needed to be done about that.
I’m not sure when the backside trail was built up the Chief, but would guess sometime in the 1950s. Climbing didn’t start there until 1957, and didn’t really get going until the highway was built in 1961. There’s some excellent footage of the highway, and of Squamish and climbing in the early 1960s, in a 2003 film about the Grand Wall, called “In the Shadow of the Chief”. Also footage of Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper. Another film is “The Vertical Desert”, a National Film Board documentary from 1973, of Jim Sinclair and Jeannine Caldbeck climbing the Grand Wall. Finally, Dave N. made a film of Dave V. and Eric W. climbing (aiding) Sentry Box, in 1975, which they later converted to video, and added a soundtrack to. Extremely cool.
For most of its history, most of the Chief was nominally on land managed by the Ministry of Forests. However, two key parcels were privately owned. One encompassed what is now the campground and the base of the trail, and indeed there was once an attempt at quarrying there. The other parcel, of which more later, is now (temporarily) the gravel pit occupied by equipment for the highway project. It would be interesting to find out what the Ministry of Forests knew of hiking and climbing at the Chief and area in the 1960s and 1970s, and whether that influenced its management policies. As a non-forester, it always seemed to me that most of the trees could not be removed except from the air, given all the boulders in the forest getting in the way of road-building. But there also seemed a significant number near Stawamus River Road particularly (north of the Apron) that could be easily cut and moved. We may owe some unknown bureaucrat thanks for far-sighted decisions.
People just seemed to have assumed that the Chief was some sort of park or something. There were trails and signs that were occasionally upgraded, and somewhere to park, and it just seemed the sort of place that would be a park. And indeed several organizations and individuals approached the provincial government in the later 1980s, as climbing became more popular, to promote the idea. There was negligible interest, due to a somewhat reactionary government, and to any and all possible new parks being entangled in the huge logging-environmental debate at that time.
In about autumn 1990, there was a big windstorm. Forest-wind dynamics are complicated, but trees at Squamish are often shallowly-rooted, and so aren’t that hard to blow over. Indeed, as they get bigger, they’re more vulnerable. Plus once a few trees have been tipped, it creates an opening and more follow. The 1990 storm left a lot of wind-throw trees in an area just behind the Chief, across Olesen Creek. If you look east from the top, there are some bluffs directly opposite, above the creek valley. The wind-throw area is immediately below and around them. The trees in that area were fairly fine and straight grained, and so valuable. Forestry in B.C. then was having serious troubles. So a year later the Ministry of Forests advertised that it would be removing “dead and down” trees from the area.
Now “dead and down” has a pretty clear meaning to me, anyway. English can be like that. In spring 1992, the contractor actually went in and took quite a lot of standing timber on the edges of the wind-thrown areas, plus bits and pieces of the fallen trees that weren’t too badly smashed. It seems likely that the Ministry knew full well what was going on. The trees were removed by helicopter, and for several weeks the trail was ostensibly closed. I got wind of this, and snuck up one afternoon to spy things out, and take pictures. As a result, a group I was then working for issued a press release denouncing what was going on, but spun toward the idea that the area should be a park. It got big news media attention, and an immediate reaction from both the Ministry of Forests (helicopter tour of the area with the news media, commitment to replant, apology), and better still the government, which committed to studying it for park status.
Luckily, a new government had been elected in autumn 1991, and had committed to resolving as many land use and conservation issues as it could. And the local B.C. Parks office and manager were quite supportive. So over the next three years we had a long series of planning meetings involving all the usual suspects, to decide whether the Chief should be a park, and if so some parameters for it. In mid-1995 it was made a park, subject only to the unresolved claims of the Squamish Nation. The clincher was that Drew C., the local parks manager, was able to find funding to buy the land at the base of the trail, create the campground, and do some trailwork. He’s never really got the credit he deserved for that fine bit of work.
Sadly, we weren’t able to get the Malemute included in the park. Also, the day the park was officially announced in Squamish, by a government minister, some loggers upset that they were out of work circled the area in their trucks, honking continuously. A sad day.
Over the following years a management plan for the park was developed, followed by a climbing strategy. Always involving climbers, and generally acceptable to us. That didn’t mean the Chief was free of development threats, or that all climber and land use issues at Squamish were taken care of. But it was a good start.
"trees at Squamish are often shallowly-rooted, and so aren’t that hard to blow over."
As an example of just how easy, think back to a day many years ago when you and I were climbing the Smoke Bluff Connection (Late 70s? Early 80s?). It was really windy, but otherwise a fine day for climbing. I led the first pitch (Mosquito), you led the second (Phlegmish Dance). When I got to your belay -- which was a small but solid-looking tree -- you were not entirely happy with life. I remember you pointing to a similar tree, lying on the ground a few meters away, and saying "It just blew over."
The cliff just north of the Chief was unofficially nicknamed the "Squaw" in the 1960s - which gave us a Chief, Squaw, Papoose and Malamute. In the context of the times and knowledge then, it perhaps made sense - those who invented the latter three names are decent progressive folk, who meant no harm by it. However, squaw came more and more to be seen as a derogatory term, so in 2000 the government announced that all features with the word squaw in their names would be re-named. Our Access Society immediately informed the climbing community, and suggested that the Squamish Nation provide a new, acceptable name. It was recently done, and the proposed new name is Slhanay. It's unknown whether it will be officially recognized, or simply local usage.
There has also been a suggestion that the Chief itself be renamed Siyam, which means chief in the Squamish language. It wouldn't be surprising if it ended up with a dual name.
Following on from Ghost's comment, I did mention upthread that tree identification was a useful skill for all Squamish climbers. Both quantity and quality are usually possible.
I don’t know the proper pronunciation of the Squamish (Coast Salish dialect) names mentioned in the previous post. Presumably “St'a7mes” is something like “Stawamus” or “Squamish”.
Very few climbers actually lived at Squamish in the usual sense of the word until the early 1980s, and not many until the early 1990s. Joe T. may have been the only climber who actually lived and worked in Squamish in the 1960s, and he still lives there. But apart from summer campers, most of the Squamish climbing community lived in greater Vancouver, as is still the case. (The community, although an amorphous thing, now extends from Chilliwack to Whistler to Nanaimo to Bellingham, with outliers.) Starting in the early 1980s, a few climbers began renting places in Squamish, first on a seasonal basis and then longer. The best-known perhaps being the house on No Name Road (really!), and the cottage at the Kindree’s. Eventually some found or made jobs, bought houses, and settled down. So there is now something of a local climbing community, although given the proximity to Vancouver, and the mobility of many climbers, it’s not a very distinct thing. It is amusing to hear climbers, some of whom have only recently moved to Squamish, or who live there only part of the year, going on about this. Canadians do like to squabble about “distinct societies”.
There was no commercial climbing at Squamish until at least the early 1980s. In the 1970s, guiding was mostly seen as a suspect un-coastal activity that was carried on by German speakers in the Rubblies, and rigging hadn’t been invented. Scott F., Mike D. and Cam C. did develop an interest in guiding, and we did sometimes see Alberta climbers at Squamish or in Yosemite, and many spent at least some time ice climbing in Banff. But there really wasn’t a commercial presence, with its attendant pressures, until the mid 1980s.
Very few if any climbers then were pure rock climbers. At the least, most got started as mountaineers of some sort, and eventually morphed into rock climbing. Even so, almost everyone did at least some alpine climbing, if only in the Bugaboos, a bit of ice climbing, and some backcountry skiing. Long winters were a factor – you can’t reliably plan to climb at Squamish between October and April.
Thanks to Todd for the photo – I was going to use it in my last post in this essay, when/if I eventually get there. A natural for The End. It is a sculpture by Jack Richardson, made to commemorate a sixteen-person (!) ascent of the Grand Wall in 1969, which I believe was masterminded by Steve and Hugh. It is just off the trail to the base of the wall.
Bump. Because it is a climbing thread. And because some content was recently added, even if it's the boring historical/editorial stuff I so like. Also so the thread isn't misplaced - hoping to actually add some photos soon.
Plus it would do us all good to practice our Coast Salish pronunciations.
The Malemute is a complicated subject, which I could touch on more - although most of what could be said is from post-2000. Including closure by the company that owns the railway (and right of way) that runs along the base of the cliff (2001?), their placing warning signs in several key locations, and then logging of much of the top of cliff in 2007, although it has now been somewhat tidied up and replanted.
Rainy season is here, it's dark and grey. Just a tiny bump, even if to be overshadowed by politics for a day or two. See if anyone's still interested. (?) Remind myself to scan some more photos, post some more stories and stuff - if I can't make it to the Valley this weekend.
Thanks, Andy! That's quite the lovely p'terodactyl - I didn't know they came in pink. (Perhaps there's a 'creation scientist' around who can advise.) I'll get back to work this weekend, scanning and posting.
At what in the world of today is a stately, possibly even glacial pace.
"Take your time - though it’s late
heart strings will sing like a string of twine
if you take your time"
South Arete is a good route. We discovered it a couple years ago by accident after starting up a line of bolts just left of St. Vitus and then going a little further left. It has its own start, of course, which we have since been back to do. The route follows a loooong corner/crack but seems to be invisible from any distance. Quite the mystery. I think the bolts on the slab at the top are for another or other route(s) that have multiplied like ladybugs and dispersed across all the available rock.
We were also surprised and amazed to come across the feature whose upper aspect is shown as "unsure" in one of your ancient photographs, and which has since been correctly identified as being in the vicinity of Anxiety State, although that route makes an improbable traverse leftwards a little below the place shown.
I have nothing to add directly to a history of Squamish climbing in the 70s. A strong woman climber, Laura Jasch, came out to Vancouver from Chicago in the late 70s and on a return visit she told us a little about the Grand Wall (and about Cathedral in Manning Provincial Park). Laura was once cited for climbing in a no climbing zone and her reaction to that was published as a letter to Climbing in 1976 and in Games Climbers Play. She may be in need of a lawyer.
When I moved out to Seattle in '79 I did begin to hear about and develop respect for a few of the Squamish legends.
It is hilarious to think of Clean Corner as 5.6. Old Guy N.B. did that one with me and claims that in the era you are recalling he did that climb, "with a few pins and wires."
Once, just for a moment, the mists of time parted as I was belaying some guy, as he was leading out left beyond that crack on Teetering On the Brink, and as he paused on blankness and lifted one foot and then the other and carefully rotated his ankles to relieve the strain of relentless steep friction.
Sorry. Laura Jasch died in August 1984, from a rock and snow slide off Snowpatch Spire. There's an obituary in the Canadian Alpine Journal 1985, page 35. She was a professor at UBC, and of course a very active climber and mountaineer. I don't believe she climbed at Squamish a lot, but I remember seeing her occasionally in the late 1970s.
I'm flattered that Andy decided to be MH2. As they say about stamp collecting, imitation is the sincerest form of philately.
Very cool! I found 14, but didn't search the entire photo. Hard for me to tell what routes folks are on on the Apron with the fore-shortening. Thanks for posting the photo (and lets move on to the '80's!)
It is hilarious to think of Clean Corner as 5.6. Old Guy N.B. did that one with me...
Ah hah! Finally, someone who has actually climbed Clean Corner. I've gone looking for it, and never found it. Or maybe one of the things I rapped down was Clean Corner but since it looked like 5.11 OW I just assumed it couldn't be.
Would you be willing to climb it again? With Mari & me? Or at least hike to the top and show me where to rap in?
Jim Baldwin did the first Canadian ascent of El Cap, the Dihedral Wall. I'm not sure who was first after him, but could well be Neil and Gordie.
Edit: And Chouinard's parents (?) were Canadian, so maybe that would count for something. When did he first climb El Cap?
I like those photos of Clean Corner, a stout route done in 1962 by Dick Willmott and Dick Strachan. Originally graded 5.6, by the 'old' Squamish grading system, though maybe they used bits of aid. Probably 5.9 or harder in reality. Apparently lots of wide stuff - Ed, JayBro and Russ would approve. It's rarely climbed - I only know one other party that's done it lately. So the photo of Neil, who climbed a lot at Squamish in the 1960s and still is climbing, and the route, fit well, even if slightly pre-1970s.
And yes, OK OK, I'll try to take the hint. I was at the Access Society annual meeting tonight, so that has to be a good excuse.
Well, I’m finally back, and have some more pictures and stories. My apologies for the delays – I’ll try to do better.
I've got some stuff in reserve now, which you'll just have to wait patiently for. But a question - should I start a new thread for this, Climbing at Squamish in the 1970s, Part II?
As time goes on, most of us realize more and more that our climbing adventures, while a great challenge in and of themselves, are memorable as much because of the people and the places as the actual climb. So I thought I’d now show a few pictures of Squamish climbers in the 1970s. There have already been some upthread – that is, photos with recognizable climbers, instead of the more usual blurry rear end from below. Daryl, Eric, Ghost, me, and others. The next sequence of shots will focus on climbers rather than climbs, with maybe a few stories - pointillist vignettes. Departing from my usual rule, some of the shots are from elsewhere than Squamish, as for now it’s about the climbers, not the climbs.
You may even recognize a few of the people – many spent a fair amount of time in the Valley during the 1970s, and indeed a few are Merrycans. I'm only sorry that I don't have more photos, though I gradually took more, and have some that will have to serve as retrospectives.
I’ve never shown many of these pictures, except perhaps to the person(s) who may be in them. There’s been vague talk about doing a slide show, maybe at the film festival here, or even writing these stories and pictures up in some publishable form, but that’s as far as it’s gone. At this point, it’s a sort of private slide show, which friends and lurkers can enjoy.
One friend who I’ve had many fine adventures over the years with is John A. (I’ll continue to omit last names, out of propriety.) He was recruited in about 1974, and as a somewhat older working man, with a vehicle, was good to have involved. He, Steve M. and I made our first trip to the Valley in late June 1974. One afternoon I wrote my last grade 12 scholarship exam, then we were off. We couldn’t believe how hot it was once we got there, but had two great weeks anyway. Here’s John soon after we got back, on the Wedgemount Glacier, just northeast of Whistler. (Other photos of it in the ladybug thread.) A nice weekend mountaineering expedition.
And speaking of Steve M., here he is, on Slab Alley in 1975.
A steady fellow, though I eventually lost touch with him.
Another activity we then did was backcountry skiing, though far less so than people do now. Access, techniques and equipment are much improved. Still, winter here lasts from October to April, and you need something to do. So with our double leather lace up boots, wooden skiis, strap-on skins, cable bindings, frame packs, and avalanche cord, we set out. Probably much the most dangerous thing we did in the outdoors in those days. Anyway, here’s Scott F., on the way into the Himmelsbach Hut at Russet Lake, just east of Whistler, in late 1973. That was the trip on which we read Advanced Rockcraft by candlelight.
Scott was then in grade 10, but an avid downhill skier. He went on to become an outstanding climber. On the trip, the screws on his bindings pulled out of his skiis – we fixed them by filling the holes with candle wax and matchsticks, then cramming the screws back in. The pointy peak in the background is the Black Tusk, home of many ladybugs. At that time, it was an adventurous day to get to the hut from what was then the top of Whistler, well to the west of where it is now. As the ski area has grown and encroached on Garibaldi Park, access has gotten easier.
I should admit that I was actually a snowshoer before I started skiing – the story that Norwegians are born with skiis on their feet apparently isn’t always true. Though I have been to Øverbø, the birthplace of Sondre Norheim, in Telemark.
Another good climbing friend was Len S. He was a football player in high school, and very solid and reliable. Here he is on Snake, in 1975 – we were eventually defeated by seasonal wetness, and had to make about eight 20 metre rappels to get down. Not my worst descent – John and I retreated once from very high on the east ridge of Bugaboo Spire, in foul weather, and had to make 16 rappels. By the end, we were taking the slings out of our nuts and friends, and tying them together to make anchors.
We often climbed at Lighthouse Park, in the northwestern suburbs of Vancouver, not so far from some of the sea cliff shots that Andy (MH2) has been posting. One or two evenings a week from April to September, bouldering, traversing and toproping. Another challenge was this odd stump on the trail down – the real challenge was doing it no-hands. Somehow John got up it. Note his natty red plaid lumberjack shirt.
I suppose this activity might be called stumpaneering.
Another seaside cliff is the Malemute, later the scene of various access problems. Robin B. and friends had done a good crack pitch up the middle of a sort of headwall, Quagmire Crack. One rainy August he dragged me back, and we did an aid route that diagonally bisected Quagmire. I wasn’t very happy about some hooking I had to do near the top, my first ever, and so Robin wittily named it the Unhappy Hooker. But he meant well, as always.
And another visit to Leavenworth. Here Eric leads Angel Crack – he’d just bought a new rope and some nuts, but as you can see his harness was a bit faded. That was Labour Day weekend 1975, a weekend which featured quite a lot of beer for several Canadians in Leavenworth, though not me. There was no way I could pass for 21.
The Scott F. entry in the Waddington Hut log which begins, "I don't know whether it was the snafflehounds or the garlic pancakes..." is a gem of mountaineering literature.
That stump at Lighthouse famous?? Never considered climbing it. I always think of Tintin in Tibet when I go past it and try to keep it on the right shoulder (or is it left?). More than a few tourists have mistaken it for a bear in the dusk.
I think I recognize the flake the guy in the orange windbreaker is standing on.
Well, I did say the effort might be intermittent. But I’ve now got a bunch more slides scanned, and even written up ready to post. Little by little – patience! First, some more people pictures. Apologies for the intermittent quality – most were taken with a 1930s era Paxette camera, with exposures estimated, and usually with one hand. I never did drop anyone, either, even with hip belays.
As mentioned, a bunch of us went to the Valley in autumn 1976. John A., Daryl, Eric, my brother, Dave L., Perry B., Scott F., John B., me, Clarence (?), and maybe others. A great deal of fun was had by all.
Dave L. – not to be confused with Dave Loeks, who it turns out lived in the Vancouver area for a while, although I believe he was from Colorado – was then 15. Here he is leading the Anathema. Later he went on to all sorts of climbing feats, an ascent of Bhagirathi III with Scott F., and then to co-found Arc’Teryx.
Naturally we had to do this climb – doesn’t everyone? Scott F. found it interesting.
Several of us were climbing hard 5.10s and sometimes easier 5.11s, but Eric was a bit better. One day we went up to the base of El Cap and did Slack Centre, Sacherer Cracker, and Short but Thin – this is from the latter. Eric is wearing baseball tights, in those innocent pre-lycra days, although the de facto uniform then was baggy white trousers. The Seattle gang was quite keen on the baseball pants, as they were stretchy, left your lower leg and foot visible, and were more durable. Either that, or they were more stylish.
Most of us eventually attempted longer routes in the mountains near Vancouver. The season isn’t that long, the approaches arduous, and the weather poor, but we still had some adventures. There is some decent rock, and people found more, e.g. in the Chehalis and Anderson River areas, although many made regular trips to the Bugaboos.
The great classic is the northeast buttress of Mt. Slesse, first climbed by Fred Beckey, Steve Marts, and Eric Bjørnstad in 1963. It’s only 100 km east of Vancouver, as the ladybug flies, and at the north end of the Cascade Ranges. You approach it by a 10+ km hike up logging roads in a valley to the east, starting at nearly sea level, do the climb, descend the opposite side, and hike back out the same distance. Sometimes the logging roads are driveable to quite close to one end or the other of the route, sometimes you have to walk. If you have to walk, it’s a 2 – 3 day trip. Still not quite an “easy day for a lady”, as A. F. Mummery characterized some climbs, although its appearance in a book titled “50…” has misled more than a few. Luckily, most of the unprepared and unwary are rebuffed by the approach before they get into serious trouble.
Here’s Slesse, taken from Mt. Rexford, across the valley to the east. You’re looking at about 2,000 m of relief. Most parties now miss out the bottom 1/3 of the buttress, bypassing it via the hanging snowpatch to the left. Which has now developed a nasty habit of falling off in late summer.
We did it in 1982, just outside the “1970s” theme. Anyway, we parked just off the Chilliwack Lake road, in my reliable if not entirely comfortable black bug, aka HAL. And set off hiking. David aka Ghost and his wife had fed me pancakes for breakfast, so it wasn’t an early start.
(I tried “autocorrect” with this photo, but it still didn’t turn into a Ferrari.)
Six or eight hours later, having forded the Nesakwatch River and thrashed up the moribund logging road, we had gotten to and crossed the hanging glacier, and were up on the buttress proper.
A fairly alpine spot. The mountain in the background is Rexford. David may be the amorphous blob in the foreground.
Slesse was a bit of an initiation rite. You got to bivouac, and have adventures. Plus see neat stuff.
The next morning we were on our way early – it was a Sunday, and I had a job interview in the city on Monday afternoon. (VERY bad strategic decision!) This is what you see looking up – we’d traversed onto the buttress above its toe, and done a few pitches before Dave was allowed to display his (non-red) underwear.
You can climb the buttress directly, that is more or less the left edge, or go right up grooves and stuff, eventually coming back to the ridge at the base of the headwall. The right hand edge is the upper part of the North Rib, done in 1972 by Jello and Rob Kiesel.
In autumn 1956, a commercial airplane hit this side of Slesse, due to icing. 62 people died, although the wreckage wasn’t found until the next summer. There’s still a lot of debris scattered all over that side of the mountain, which adds to the foreboding atmosphere.
We’re now partway up the bypass grooves and ramps.
Imitating Scheherazade (The Thousand Nights and a Night), I'll see if I can add some more tomorrow. :-)
The story of the Pardoe Hut on the Dance Platform is about half way through the thread, including a photo by Mastadon (Don H).
I'm going to add something about Eryl Pardoe in the next/last Slesse post, as he had a connection with the area. Although originally from Wales, he was one of the first Vancouver-area climbers to die in the mountains. Elfrida Pigou, who found the debris from the Slesse crash in 1957, died in a serac fall at Mt. Waddington a few years later, with three others. Jim Baldwin died in a fall on Washington Column in 1964. He's commemorated by a lovely weathered bronze plaque on a pretty ledge just above the Apron at Squamish. (I'll look for a photo.) Eryl died in 1970. After that, Gray Nourse died from a fall at Waddington in 1974.
For 1970s-era Squamish climbers, we felt somewhat more connected when Leif Patterson, his son Tor, and Jeremy Saarinen died in a fall/avalanche in December 1976. Leif lived in Golden then, and probably hadn't climbed at Squamish for some years, but was well known. Quite a tragedy. In 1977, John Bryan, who we all knew and who came from a Vancouver mountaineering family, died in a helicopter crash up north. A difficult year.
The first climbing fatality at Squamish was Grace Wong, in early 1992.
During the 1970s and well into the 1980s, it was quite common to have Volkswagens. Beetles, busses if you could manage it. None quite as elegant as EKat’s, but often a home away from home. They were reliable, economical, and not too hard for amateur mechanics to work on. Plus had high clearance, rear wheel drive, and an engine over the wheels – which was good in snow, and for getting up the poorly-maintained logging roads which so often feature in mountain access here. Not very comfortable, perhaps, but you can’t have everything.
Here's Hal, temporarily parked in a water bar - these are put into disused logging roads, to reduce erosion of the road surface in the heavy rains we get. A great deal of time and cunning goes into addressing these barriers.
Early model sport utilities. Not exactly avant garde, except perhaps in the sense of “avant garde a clue”, but they did the job.
My black bug was a ’69, but my first Beetle was a ’66. Six volt engine, chassis ground electrics, shoulder belts. Still, it did the job. (No photo.) In spring 1979 I gave Tami and Peter a ride to the Valley. I picked them up at Tami’s parents’ house in West Vancouver, where we were fed nice soup by her mother. We then loaded a large and heavy wrapped up tarp into the roof rack – I believe it contained comestible cans which the penurious pair had purloined from the pantry – and then set off. We stopped at REI in Seattle, and when ready to leave, I asked “Who wants to drive?”. Tami replied “I can’t drive standard”, and Peter said “I don’t have a licence”. Which was rather a surprise. So I got to drive almost 24 hours straight at 55 mph, endlessly hearing Blondie and Dire Straits on KNBR, once we got in range. (No tape deck.) I was very happy to finally arrive, make camp with Mazama Rick and the gang, and conk out. Peter & Tami were a little disappointed when I wouldn’t detour to the Ahwahnee, so they could look at “Peter’s Out” (another bad pun, by naughty Canadians) or maybe “Pigs in Space”, to see if there was evidence of any recent ascents. Still, a good trip.
If you got past water bars using time and cunning then I am envious.
Did you previously mention or know of a Clarence D., presently a realtor but BITD,
"then he told me he was a part of the first ascentions team of the Black Dyke, years ago! (he's not mentioned in the guide book). then he told me he watched Eric Weinstein on the FFA of Sentry Box!! wow. he said he slipped out of the upper crack before the mantle, and got it next go on lead. then he did early repeat ascents of White Lightning and the third ascent of the Rostrum in Yosemite (before it was freed)."
Usually we got (and get) by water bars by filling them in, and/or strategic planks.
I tried autocorrect on the second VW photo, and it still didn't turn into a Ferrari. Not even a BMW. Maybe I need to learn more about the program.
Clarence is a vague memory - I think he was a friend of Daryl's from Victoria, and had a VW van. I may have done a climb with him. Mead Hargis and Al Givler did the first ascent of the Black Dyke at Squamish in 1970, and Clarence could not then have been more than 13 or 14, if that. Perhaps he was involved with a climb in the area of the Black Dyke, somewhat later? Or maybe did it with Daryl, in the mid 1970s? It's possible that Clarence saw Eric free Sentry Box in 1976 - Dave V. might remember. His story is consistent with what happened. And it's possible that he climbed the Rostrum, e.g. with Daryl, but I don't know anything about that.
Edit: I've been keeping the text of this semi-soliloquy in a word document, in case it's useful. So far it's 42 pages long, with 123 photos - counting my posts only.
Back to Slesse, day two was very long and dry. Late in the afternoon, we got to the headwall. At its base, there’s a snowpatch, which helped a bit, but at that point it gets fairly steep and very exposed for 4 – 5 pitches. As you can see.
But finally we got to the summit ridge, not long before sunset. It’s a fairly complicated descent, but luckily Dave had done it before from that side. Still, we barely got down to terra firma by dark. No water, and a miserable night.
I got instructions from Dave, and set out very early in the morning. It was a 1,500 m descent to Slesse Creek, via a formidably steep and even exposed trail, followed by the hike out to the Chilliwack Lake road. The idea was that I would gaily venture ahead, fetch the car, and drive back to meet Dave at whatever point he’d gotten to. It was a nice sunrise – here is Canadian Border Peak. Eryl Pardoe, after whom the Pardoe Hut on the Dance Platform at Squamish was named, died in a self-arrest accident there in 1970.
Anyway, I ran off down the trail, feet crammed into my tight Vasque Shoenards. I was overjoyed to get to the creek, drink my fill and wash my face, then plod off down the road. A blistering hot day. I got to the main road, and stuck out my thumb. This was an act of optimism – there are several low-security prison camps in the area, and even the rope draped artistically across my shoulders probably wasn’t very convincing, given the signs warning people not to pick up hitchhikers. Plus not much traffic on a Monday. But wonder of wonders, after so many hitch-hiking misadventures over the years, someone stopped, and gave me a ride right to the bug. Ten second turnaround, as we had neither food nor beer in the car. Intercepted Dave just as he got in driving range, and we vamoosed for Vancouver, stopping only in Chilliwack for a drink. The black bug went faster than it probably ever had, and I was just able to get home, get washed up, and get downtown in my suit for the interview. SERIOUS culture shock.
I didn’t get the job, although my line was that I’d been out in the mountains “on a rescue” that weekend, to explain my somewhat worn appearance, and a front tooth that had gotten chipped. Assuming that self-imposed self-rescues are a form of rescue, my conscience was clear. But I didn’t get the job. And my feet were a bloody mess for a week.
Access to Slesse varies depending on the condition of the logging roads – when they’re working in the area, the roads are more driveable. But usually it averages out, and a typical party takes 2+ days for the round trip. For a while in the later 1980s, some cheated by flying to a knoll, perhaps an hour from the hanging glacier at the start of the climb. Kind of missing the point of the route, given that the approach and descent are half the fun. A tactic for what Ahhhnold might call girlie-men.
Soon I'll post some more people photos, before eventually meandering back to some actual climbing at Squamish in around say 1978.
A morning tidbit, and for once some pictures of Merrycans. A few of our friends from the U.S. during the 1970s, particularly from Warshington. Very occasionally Americans from elsewhere came by, but Squamish was not then a climbing destination.
One was Rick LeDuc, aka Mazama Rick, who was always hospitable, and great company. Plus a fine climber. This photo is from 1979 – I finally got a bit better about taking pictures where faces were not only visible, but identifiable. Though I still had exposure problems that autocorrect is no better at fixing than my VW/Ferrari.
(In 2005, Rick and Missy hosted a fun gathering of climbers from that period, at their home in Mazama.)
And, as posted to Peter H’s Wheat Thin thread, leading Wheat Thin. Seattle-style baseball trousers.
(The photo is tilted about 20 degrees – corrected in the Wheat Thin thread.)
The Seattle contingent included Pat Timson, Julie Brugger, Carla Firey, Jim McCarthy, Don Harder, Bob Crawford, and others whose names escape me. (Rick?) They took their off-season training quite seriously, as you can see from this shot of Pat.
Bill Zaumen was an honourary Canuck/Warshingtonian, and we saw lots of him. Known to many of you, I believe – he’s quite a lot of fun. Here he is on the Apron, again 1979. Bill came to Squamish for a visit in 1982, and was delighted that there was a bakery up the street from my parents' house called "Pascal's" - a geek thing. My mother, a keen opera fan, was flabbergasted to discover that a friend of her son's also liked opera.
I’ve always enjoyed going climbing with people who know about science and natural history. Bill could be counted on for an interesting, if not entirely understandable, discussion of issues in physics. Somewhat like Ed H., or Bryan L. when discussing geology.
I used Irvanview (free software) on Windows.
First I used auto-adjust levels, but his hair was too dark.
So I then increased the brightness, then gamma level, then contrast a little.
I also cropped off the top (blank part of the slide).
Kevin, thanks - I caught your 'adjusted' photos, but now they've vanished. The great god PhotoBucket has spoken.
Thanks for the thoughts on the photos, and the retouching. Though I am somewhat averse to "posed" photos, and other trickery - the magazines are already full of that crap. I kind of like it 'real'.
Luckily, there are few pictures of me from that period, as not many others had a camera at all.
I figure I'm doing fairly well to get the old slides scanned, reduced to a manageable file size, and maybe tinker a bit with cropping and autocorrect, usually to brighten them up. Most aren't very good in technical terms, and have probably aged - can't help that. I wish I had time to find and learn how to use programs to "enhance" the slides, but for now all I have is MS Photo Editor.
I'm afraid that Clint lost me when he said: "So I then increased the brightness, then gamma level, then contrast a little." I'll leave irradiation of slides to Ed. :-)
Don's (mastadon's) slides upthread have much the same 'real' quality - a bit like many other hoary old photos, their technical attributes are mostly irrelevant. Unique moments.
Possibly Rick? could have been Rick Graham, as natural a crack climber as I have seen and pretty well supplied with 'character', too. He had a bar encounter with a center for the Seattle Supersonics which was defused when Rick suggested they, "take it out back", and the much much taller and bigger b-ball player broke up.
I agree that in photography technical excellence and emotional impact are different issues and sometimes in conflict. I think that both climbing and photography can be pursued for their own ends but that their goals diverge as either is carried to a high level. However, even older iconic images surprisingly often turn out to have a degree of posing or other planning in them.
Ander's photos are evocative of the time he is recalling.
I've finally found another picture of that cliff in Norway, Andersnatten. Here it is, showing Den Hvita Stripa, the classic moderate climb on it. In the winter it forms a respectable ice climb, hence (perhaps) the story about the troll and skiing.
(Someone else's photo, of course - I got it from Google Earth.)
Now for some more people photos, though there are more climbing photos on the way. It took the Little Smoke Bluffs a long time to cool down from magma and become climbable in 1978, which is about the time where my tale will resume. So for now I’ll add some photos of people who were active in the early to mid 1970s who haven’t already appeared, or for whom I have decent photos. Some may even be recognizable.
One of the gang from Prince of Wales (PW) high school was Carl A. He was particularly good at slab climbing, including some in the Valley, but did pretty much everything. I believe he eventually moved to North Carolina, of all places.
Another was Dave L., who’s already been mentioned. Note classic Canadian "stubby" beer bottle.
And then John A. He and Dave were both captured on film near the base of the “Neat and Cool” cliff (and route) at the Little Smoke Bluffs. This is from 1979, long before the adjacent residential development happened.
You can see the word “eat” in the background, part of a graffito at the base of the route and cliff called Neat and Cool. It was first painted by a Squamish high school student, and said “I Am Neat & Cool”. The student, named Paul, later took up climbing, and was possibly the first born and bred Squamish climber.
The whole area in and around what are now the Neat & Cool and Burgers & Fries cliffs at the Little Smoke Bluffs was then a popular party place for local teens. Fire rings, graffiti, broken bottles, all that stuff. One year, after we started to do clean-ups and other do-gooder stuff there, we rented a sand blaster and erased as much of the graffiti as we could. Either that, or space aliens invaded.
The “Neat and Cool” graffito is getting a bit faded, and I suppose we should renew it, a la Midnight Lightning. (We didn't sandblast it.)
One of the gang from Prince of Wales (PW) high school was Carl A. He was particularly good at slab climbing...
Here's a fun Carl Austrom story: He was a pretty good all-round climber, but he did have momentary lapses of common sense, as hilariously (for me) shown on the second pitch of Zebra-to-Zion at Smith. Which isn't really in Squamish, but it's close.
I did a lot of my climbing on double ropes, and Carl decided he wanted to try it on Z-to-Z. It's a four-pitch classic on the main wall, which I'd climbed in the past and he wanted to lead. The first pitch traverses a long way rightward on big pockets, and as Carl moved across he placed gear -- some high, some low, wherever a pocket of the right size appeared. But he somehow hadn't quite got the concept of "one rope for placements on one side, one rope for placements on the other side" Or, in this case one for high, one for low. He just cruised along randomly clipping whichever rope he felt like clipping, crossing them over and under one another. When he got to the corner and headed up instead of sideways, he continued this pattern -- sewing up the crack and crossing the ropes crazily. He fought the increasing drag to the belay, and I followed.
By the time I got to his belay, the ropes were half piled and half hanging in the biggest snarled-up clusterfuk you can imagine. He, of course, was about to rocket off up the next pitch as soon as I clipped in.
"Carl, we gotta untangle this mess. It's gonna jam up something fierce."
"It'll be fine. It'll untangle as you feed it out."
"No, it won't. You'll get a little ways up and it's just going to be so tangled it'll never go through my belay device."
"Who cares? You can untangle it. It'll be fine."
And off he went. Got about 30 ft up, with me frantically trying to untangle and belay at the same time. He hit the 10b finger crux just as the rope snarl hit my device in an totally untangleable way.
"Ain't no slack."
So he hung there off 10b finger jams, cursing and completely forgetting that dropping in a nut and sitting back on it would probably be the sensible thing to do, while I tied him off, untied myself, spent over ten minutes undoing the mess he'd created with his clipping, stacked things neatly, retied, put him back on belay, and told him he could now have some slack.
Funniest damn thing I ever saw while belaying. He had sewed the crack up below him, so he was in no danger, but he was so freaked by the immovable rope that he just clamped down on the rock and hung there instead of taking a break.
About twenty posts back, Lynne L posted "Will post pics later, but for history .... Dan Leichtfuss, Todd Gordon and newest Zip." On December 1st.
This continues to intrigue me.
Short track speed skating, on the other hand, does not. There are real winter sports that any red-blooded northerner can be proud of. Long track speed skating. Cross country skiing. Biathlon. Sleds and luges. Downhill and slalom skiing. Ski jumping. (I have been to the tops of the 90 m jumps at Holmenkollen and Lillehammer, and instantly shriveled when I looked down.) Hockey. Spare me the contrived stuff - curling, figure skating, ski ballet, etc.
Edit: Bumped. As one of 11/30 threads on the front page currently that has something to do with climbing. Even given that it's Friday night, and people would probably rather drink beer and sh#t talk.
Just another little bump from a captivated yank. I love this frostie banter. Keep it comin' youze guys. Hey Anders, maybe a little about the hard aid stuff. Any excuse for a Daryl story. I always wanted to know about Negro Lesbian.
I confess at this point that, although I've done a few longer routes, at Squamish and elsewhere, it would be a considerable exaggeration to say that I'm a wall climber. I still haven't gotten up El Cap, though the idea is still there.
We really don't have any big walls at Squamish anyway - typical Canadians, we only have medium walls. The longest routes are perhaps 12 - 14 relatively short pitches, at most 500 m of climbing. A competent team would probably have difficulty taking more than two days on any of our 'walls', three at very most. (I except PTPP from this generalization - I don't know if he's graced us with a visit, but even he might have trouble spending more than a week on any route at Squamish.) It might be possible to contrive a girdle traverse that took longer, but none so far.
So I was something of a bystander when it came to the wall climbing at Squamish in the 1970s. Often bystanding on the old highway, watching the show. I've mentioned a few stories upthread - rocking Eric's Fiat when he and Dave N. were on University Wall, Daryl's whopper on Zorro's Last Ride. A few other things that come to mind. There are probably few photos of these climbs, but I'll ask around.
Eric and Daryl did Up From the Skies, to the right of Grand Wall, in 1975. It's still graded A4, and climbs a bunch of expanding flakes. On one of them, Eric climbed part way up the flake, then placed four or five bolts to get around a guillotine flake before tensioning back to the main crack. They did a pitch a day, their favoured strategy, as it allowed more time at the bar. (Gordie described them as "strictly lightweights" in the 1975 guide, so they had to train.) Scott F., Dave L., and maybe others did the second ascent in 1976. It may have had few subsequent ascents, although some of the lower pitches are now also part of routes like Cruel Shoes.
In 1975 Steve Sutton and Hugh Burton appeared, and did a route called Breakfast Run, on Tantalus 'Wall'. Really only finishing the last two pitches - Tim Auger had previously taken a big fall out of them, so given the cast of characters, it must be fairly hard. Maybe unrepeated.
Also in 1975, Eric, Dave N., and Bill T. did a climb to the left of University Wall, called Drifter's Escape. Probably unrepeated.
Daryl and a friend (maybe Stewart?) tried to do the third ascent of Zodiac Wall somewhere there, and were defeated on the last pitch - I think there had been rockfall or something.
In 1976, Daryl and Eric used the "pitch a day" strategy on Cerberus, a route to the right of Tantalus Wall. They did a start which may not have been repeated, to the right of Yosemite Pinnacle. Having scoped it out, they were sure the upper part involved endless seams, and so Daryl got a swager and supplies from a marine place, and made a ton of copperheads. Some were double or triple swages - Daryl's idea was that you just kept pounding it until it held, and so the more metal, the better. The upper parts turned out to be mostly dykes and horrific flakes, and the route was later (more or less) done free. They wanted a name that was underworldly, that would fit with the Tantalus theme, so I suggested Cerberus, the hound guarding the Greek underworld. (For those interested, probably pronounced with a hard "k", not a soft "c" - Anastasia?)
The Sheriff's Badge is a giant pentangle of white rock, underneath the Angel's Crest. (The latter a lovely free arete, about 14 pitches, first freed by Dave Loeks and friends about 1975.) The Badge may not be the ideal climb for those paranoid about authority figures - or it may provide a way for adolescents to show the "tools" who's boss. Anyway, Greg Shannan and Paul Piro finally climbed it in 1976, and for years it may have been the hardest 'wall' at Squamish. I believe that Steve Sutton soloed it shortly after, probably the first major solo climb at Squamish. Brian Norris had soloed Unfinished Symphony in the early 1970s, when it was still a respectable aid route, but that's not at the same level.
Now Daryl had quite a lot of energy. He did a fair amount of wall climbing with Eric, but otherwise climbed with anyone he could get hold of. (He even tried to persuade me, once or twice.) Here's his Squamish wall partner list, at least based on what the guidebook claims re FAs:
Up From the Skies (1975) - Eric
Cerberus (1976) - Eric
Getting Down on The Brown (1978) - Cam C.
Negro Lesbian (1982) - Clive T., Rick B.
Son of Pan (1982) - Greg F.
At one time or another, though, Daryl probably climbed or at least attempted most of the existing longer routes at Squamish, and did many of them, and tried other new ones. With a wide variety of partners.
Negro Lesbian wasn't climbed until 1982. It's near the Black Dyke, on Squamish's equivalent of El Cap's crazy wall. Dykes, expanding flakes, blocks, seams, big roofs - lots of fun for all, apparently.
Wayne had a good point earlier - important for the narrative to be driven by the stories, not by the pictures, recognizing that my old slides are as incomplete a record, or more so, as my memories. And we've all been to boring slide shows, where several hundred slides are introduced with the words "And this is...", because the speaker can't tell a story.
Wrist Twister, being only three pitches, doesn't qualify as a wall even by Squamish standards. But it is fairly hard, bottoming cracks, on the far right side of Tantalus Wall. South South Gully below. Dave seems to have more hair in that photo than when I last saw him three years ago...
As we are talking a bunch about Daryl, and have already seen some shots of Eric in action, here are some pictures of Daryl, provided by Stewart W.
All are roughly from the period 1973 - 75, but I don't think any of them are from Squamish.
Thanks Anders, that was quick work, or was that waiting in the wings? I don't know about any of these other yanks but I think this thread is the shizzle. I appreciate all the work you've put into it.
There are supposedly pictures of the ascent of Half Dome that I did with Daryl and Dave Y. and Gush H.. Gush has them, but he and Dave are not getting along, so I may never see them. I'm still going to try and get some copies.
Negro Lesbian goes thru this terrain for pitches 4,5 according to McLane 2005 pp 410,411. The large tooth a bit down and left of the arrow is obvious on the flake emerging from the larger overhang in Kevin's photo (p 411). The white speck a little to the left at bottom is a climber on the Black Dyke. The arrow indicates a bolt and slings seen close up in the next picture.
If I can figure out how to scan images off an 8MM movie, I'll post some U-Wall shots circa 1973. My partner got the cedar tree bivy and I got the slot 20'higher. Quiet night listening to harbor traffic and Woodfibre belching aroma therapy. Almost as comfortable as the Stovelegs in belay seats a year or two later. God we were slow.....
I would be delighted to see stills from a 1973 eight mm movie of climbing University Wall, or the movie itself. Apart from the footage of Baldwin & Cooper in 1961, it may be some of the earliest film of climbing at Squamish – Dave N.’s movie of Dave V. and Eric on Sentry Box was from 1975. They had the latter converted from 8 mm to video, and are now getting it further converted into a DVD. Perhaps we need to have a movie/slide night.
Steve Sutton and Hugh Burton did the first ascent of Uncle Ben’s in 1970, a bit before the era if not decade under discussion. A solid test climb. Uncle Ben’s was named for a cheap, popular draught beer called Uncle Ben’s, which in turn was named for a lively character named Ben Ginter - http://www.harbourpublishing.com/title/Ginter (Not for the brand of instant rice!) The kind of swill popular amongst poor teenagers, and Americans. The climb, and another called Ten Years After, were on the fairly blank face between the Grand Wall and University Wall. (Ten Years After was either for the rock band, or for being ten years after the Grand Wall – except the latter was in 1961.) Anyway, fairly modern climbing, up flakes and face cracks and so on. Steve and Hugh had been to the Valley once or twice by then, and done the Nose, and so were bringing back and applying some new things.
Uncle Ben’s was probably also the scene of the first ‘real’ rescue at Squamish, in 1983. (Steve S. and Hugh B. had been lowered a line on the Black Dyke in 1970, to jumar out in a rainstorm, but that doesn’t really count.) Jim B. fell a pitch or two below Dance Platform, and broke one or both wrists. I was sent to get the RCMP, and we had the usual Q&A session with a bullhorn. In the end, a posse was formed and flown to a shoulder of the Chief. Some people crossed Bellygood and hoisted up Jim et al, they got him back across Bellygood, and he was then flown off. As Squamish has slowly come to have a number of experienced climbers who are resident there, a rescue team has gradually evolved. They get some government backing, and put in a lot of effort, although as with all search & rescue groups, most of their efforts are for non-climbers.
'Wall' Climbing at Squamish in the 1970s - Part II
After Cerberus, the next long route was Humpty Dumpty, which takes a tenuous line of flakes in the middle of the Grand Wall. Scott F. and Carl A., maybe with helpers, did it during winter and spring 1977, an extraordinarily dry winter by Squamish standards. In the middle of the route, there’s a flake named Humpty Dumpty precariously sitting on the wall – and getting around him is part of the fun. I believe that Scott did the last pitch or so by himself.
Daryl and Cam C. did a route in the Western Dihedrals – a series of big bottom to top corners to the right of the Grand Wall – in 1978. Just left of Freeway. It’s called Getting Down on (or in) the Brown, and although mostly aid, involved lots of gardening. It’s probably never been repeated, although with enough effort seems likely to be freeable.
Perry B. and Dave L. did a more interesting route, Zorro’s Last Ride, in 1979. It’s on the wall left of the Black Dyke, and forms a giant “Z” (zed, that is) when seen from afar. The usual stuff – overhangs, seams, flakes, rivets. This is the one which Daryl took a giant fall on, when he broke a buttonhead and ripped a bunch of gear. He went a long way.
And then there’s Pan Granitic Frogman, a six pitch ‘wall’ high on the upper left side of the Grand Wall. Half the battle is getting there, but it’s a very airy spot. (For those who’ve done Squamish Buttress, where the climbing resumes on that route at the end of the forest, go up and right along the narrowing exposed ledge, instead of up and left.) Despite the approach, it’s very exposed, about as exposed a spot as exists on the Chief – very headwally and atmospherish. The routes match, with seams and face cracks and flakes and hooking and stuff. Daryl did this route in 1978, with John S., and then in 1982 another route in the same area. Very rarely done, but quite aesthetic spot.
One unusual hazard of climbing at Squamish in the 1970s was the risk of being corrupted by un-Canadian influences. Most conspicuously the sordid fleshpots of our somewhat rambunctious southern neighbours. Despite many temptations, most of us were able to resist, with one notable exception, who now lives in Bishop. One of those temptations was regularly seen on the drive to Leavenworth. About 2/3 of the way there, east of Seattle, this is what our tender young minds were exposed to.
Yes, it’s that notorious den of iniquity, the Steven’s Pass Motel, after which a route in Leavenworth was named by Peter. We never actually dared to go in, but it all seemed rather Nevada-like. The “ceiling mirrors” bit seemed particularly promising, but I can’t remember if they also had vibrating beds. The kind of stuff they got Socrates for – corrupting the young.
Later they converted to paintball games, which was rather disappointing.
What an amazing thread!
I hadn't followed it because I never climbed there, though I climbed with a bunch of those from there. Gawd what a stupid merkan I am.
I need to read closer but, any of you Northern types know My brother, Dave, Anderson? Pretty sure he was from Vancouver, a piano tuner by trade, into the wide (runs in the family, what can I say?)did the first ascent of Lost World, on El Cap, had a bunch of Squ-ish stories, met a tragic end in a helicopter accident in Utah, late 90's, I think he was about the same age as Dr Hartouni, not young like Anders and myself (class of '56?)
I'm psyched to go climb up there, though I hear they don't allow n'er do wells such as myself, to pass their borders, these days, sigh.
Not literally, we used to say that, as a joke. Since we had the same last name. Dave started it, he could go on for a long time with a straight face. In salt Lake (where we both lived) we used to spin a whole story about having gone on a mission together and all sorts of nonsense. Those were funny times...
I wish to state for the record that neither JayBro nor DaveBro is my son. (Raspy, tortured, wheezy mechanical voice): I....am.....not.....your.....father.
Now I wonder what eeyonkee has gotten up to? He needs to add some stories about their climb of Freeway, not to mention his adventure on Pipeline, a climb which Jaybro would firmly approve of. Paging Greg!
I wonder if my photo of Steven's Pass Motel is unique? Those not from Washington should note that that house of ill-repute is quite close to Index, and I've sometimes wondered if their proximity was coincidental.
I was a sophomore in HS the first time I went to Leavenworth ('78 or so). We came up from the Columbia Gorge and drove in from the east so didn't have the opportunity to see the Stevens Pass Motel. By the time I lived in Washington (mid-80s), the infamous motel was shuttered and the descriptive signs carted off.
While we are - ahem! - waiting patiently for stories if not pictures from the first ascent of Freeway, and the first free (solo) ascent of Pipeline, I'll add something about the first ascent of Pipeline. It's from 1967, which is a little pre-1970s, but a good story.
Pipeline is a 4 - 5 pitch route on one of the subsidiary cliffs at Squamish, now called Slhanay. (Formerly the 'Squaw'.) Some aid, and mixed aid/free routes, were done on the cliff in the mid to late 1960s, and then it was largely unclimbed until the early 1980s. With one notable exception.
Pipeline is to the right of "Birds of Prey". In the middle of the photo, there's a big grey slab, which slants up and right. Its left side is bounded by a clean white wall, forming a right-facing corner called Right Wing. To its left, in the middle of the big white wall, is a left-facing corner that swoops up. That's Pipeline. The whole thing is a giant hourglass-shaped flake, tilted to the right.
Pipeline was first done in 1967, by Barry Hagen, Glenn Woodsworth, and Leif Patterson. The first half, to the point where it branches off from what later became Birds of Prey, probably wasn't too bad. However, they got to the base of the big corner - it's over 60 m long - and realized they had nothing that would fit it. Not even these, in Leif's arsenal, and now in the YCA collection:
The largest bongs ever commercially made.
At its narrowest, Pipeline is about 6" (15 cm), and it steadily widens. There's a pod in the middle.
So they left a rope or two and retreated. All three were scientists, and had thought about this problem. Indeed, Leif had a doctorate in mathematics from MIT. So Glenn and Leif visited my father, who then worked for Alcan. He had some aluminum tubing in the basement, which was donated to the project. I'm not sure if they cut up the pipe into correct lengths and took it up, or hauled it up and did it on the spot. Whichever, they cut segments which were seated/cammed by hammer, and so got up the climb. (They placed a bolt belay half way - rope not long enough.)
Perhaps the first use of what later became called tube chocks.
Probably the second ascent of Pipeline was in 1979, when Greg went up one fine day and free-soloed it - a very stout effort.
That's gotta be one of the burliest first free ascent stories I've ever heard. Done in the day when there were no sponsers, camera crews, people on the ground cheering, rescue top-ropes, nothin'. Zip, zilch, nada... No one to hear you scream when you fall.... That's the kind of life-defining event that would change a person forever.
Another good friend from Squamish in the 1970s, who’s still climbing, is Simon T. He appeared about 1975, through mountaineering like most of us, and has graced us with his presence ever since. An always cheerful and energetic companion, and a fine climber, too. Here he is climbing at Hedley Bluffs, a cliff that is most of the way from Vancouver to Penticton (Skaha).
We climbed at Hedley sometimes in the 1970s – hoping to find somewhere dry, and Canadian, to climb in spring and autumn. Skaha wasn’t really explored until well into the 1980s. However, there was an Outward Bound school at Keremeos, a town not far from Hedley, and they climbed regularly there.
There was also a semi-commercial climbing program called Mountain Craft, which operated in the mountains northeast of Whistler. It was run by some ex-Brits, one of whom went on to start an outdoor recreation program at a community college in Vancouver. Other than that, some of the local clubs had instructional weekends, focusing on mountaineering skills, with some rock climbing. That was about it. We might have learned more quickly had there been courses and books and guidebooks and all that, but many of us mightn’t have been very keen on that kind of structure.
I’ve done my share of introducing new people into our little world, sometimes in a fairly structured fashion. Despite that, I still firmly believe that the things that are central to climbing can’t be taught – responsibility for one’s self, accepting and managing risk, having the fire that makes you want to climb, judgment, and leadership. Some of which was brought home by an adventure that Simon and I had in 1978.
“We were climbing on the Chief one day, in the merry merry month of May…” Except it was June, and we were climbing on the Malemute. A nondescript route called Mirkwood Forest, which is three or four pitches, up to middle 5.10. Here’s Simon, following the second pitch, which leads to a two bolt stance belay in the middle of a slabby face.
Just above, there’s a corner that’s often wet. We got partway up it – I can’t remember who was leading, or if it was wet. Anyway, the leader went to clip a buttonhead, and the shaft broke off. It is kind of funny, in retrospect – we thought the darn things (Rawl ¼” x 1 ½” compression bolts) were reliable, and behaved accordingly. But there we were, hangar and a bit of steel in hand, looking silly.
There were shenanigans getting back to the belay. We decided to rappel. I went first. About half way down, I heard a ‘ping’, and dropped a little bit. Simon said “Try not to bounce. One of the belay bolts just broke.” I slid as gently as I could, clipping one of the ropes to any bolts and other anchors available – I figured that if the other belay bolt went, we might then have a chance. Not long after, Daryl took his big fall off Zorro’s Last Ride, also due to a bad buttonhead. There was a defective batch in circulation.
These events quickly led to the introduction of Bosch power drills, five piece stainless bolts, rap bolting, chipping, gluing, and the end of climbing as we knew it. And it’s all my fault! If only we’d kept quiet, joked about it…
Don’t let me get started on people who write guidebooks.
So those tubes were definitely in place when I did the route in 1979. They actually gave me pause with each encounter, as I had to get my shoulders in really well in order to bring my leg over the tube. The tubes actually made the route a fair bit harder for me. Frankly, I wish could remember the day and climb a little better than I do. Not only am I a lousy story teller...I can't hardly remember the story I'm telling.
As far as Freeway goes, I remember even less, since I was not personally involved with the ascent. I do know that it took Rob and Tom a few days of effort, and we were all psyched for them. I believe that they rated it 5.12a (back then, 5.12s were pretty rare for our group), and it still had a little bit of aid on it which has since gone free. While Tom and Rob were on Freeway, George Manson and I did the FA of a rather obscure climb with OW, Wild Turkey.
Anders wrote: "There were shenanigans getting back to the belay. We decided to rappel. I went first. About half way down, I heard a ‘ping’, and dropped a little bit. Simon said “Try not to bounce. One of the belay bolts just broke.” I slid as gently as I could, clipping one of the ropes to any bolts and other anchors available – I figured that if the other belay bolt went, we might then have a chance. Not long after, Daryl took his big fall off Zorro’s Last Ride, also due to a bad buttonhead. There was a defective batch in circulation. "
Some of this batch must have made their way down south to Index. Around 1984 Jon Nelson and I had a perfectly good looking anchor blew out on us adding some spice to an otherwise already exciting day. We thought we were doing an FA until we got to the anchor. After hearing about the Squamish bolts we always blamed these bolts on visiting Canandians!
I had some correspondence with John Dill about the "bad bolts" problem in 1979 or so, after meeting him the Valley. The epidemic at Squamish seems to have been from part or all of a box owned by one person, though he gave a few to others. There were half a dozen breakages or more, plus I suspect a few while bolts were being placed.
There wasn't a lot of contact between Squamish and Index climbers at that time, but I suppose it's possible that somehow a bad batch got shared. If I remember rightly, quality control and reliability of Rawl compression bolts generally was an issue then, due to incidents in several places. People were experimenting with other makes, too.
The recent article in Rock & Ice about climbing in Oklahoma during the 1970s was quite interesting. It reminded me that at that time, there were many more distinct regional climbing cultures around North America, and the world. Including Squamish. Some very distinctive, of course, but relatively few were parochial. There was enough contact between different places – magazines, visits, etc – that there were many commonalities. But we also all had our local characters and peculiarities, and differences in what we had to climb. It made for more diversity. Particularly as transportation and communications have improved, not to mention equipment and techniques, and as incomes have risen, more homogeneity has developed. I’m not sure it’s always a good thing.
The history and historiography of climbing are interesting things. One aspect of which is that the most difficult/significant ascents are not always those that get the press, or in the marquee areas like Yosemite.
Anyway, returning to our saga. It’s about 1978, and suddenly more climbers appeared. At least it seemed sudden to me – I spent much of summer 1977 in the mountains. But a fair number of new climbers appeared 1976-77, and some stuck with it and got quite good, quite quickly. One of them was our first serious ‘girl’ climber, none other than the estimable Tami. (Or should I say ‘grrrrl’?) In fact, women climbers had contributed right from the start – Elfrida Pigou was on the first ascent of North Gully in 1958, perhaps the first route at Squamish. Alice Purdey was a partner on several significant ascents during the 1960s, and Jeannine Caldbeck in the early 1970s. And of course various girlfriends came and went, and some did a fair bit. But Tami was the first serious female climber at Squamish in the later 1970s, and here she is.
She’s climbing a route called Black Bug’s Blood, on the central Apron. Leading, too. It was, previously, a ‘route’ called Slim Pickins – more or less, anyway. Few if any bolts, simply finding a way through the lichen. Bits and pieces may occasionally have been climbed. Anyway, Peter and Tami and Richard (?) and I set out one day to work on it – I think they’d already done some of the lower part. Typical slab climbing. It probably had the occasional partial ascent. Then, a few years ago, someone who has established a fair number of new routes at Squamish came along, scrubbed a line which is about 90% the same, added a pile of bolts, and attempted to rename it. Go figure.
was, previously, a ‘route’ called Slim Pickins – more or less, anyway.
Mostly less, but it did get the odd ascent. I remember following John Wittmayer up the pitch that Tami's on in your picture. He didn't have short shorts, or a cute bum, or EBs, though. Just mountain boots and an amazing ability to focus. The pitch after that, which can be done as a sort of direct variation to the second pitch of Sparrow is pretty spicy.
No idea where the original Slim Pickins goes after those two pitches though.
Tami came from a background in high-level gymnastics, and so had something of an advantage in athleticism and competitiveness compared to many of the males, who had often been repelled or inept or both at school sports. She was also quite determined, didn’t take any guff from the boys, and worked hard. Her regular partner in crime – in fact, soon after a route by that name appeared – was this fellow from Nanaimo named Peter. He was really determined. Nanaimo is not exactly a hotbed of climbing, even now – although you can see mountains from it. He nonetheless appeared, and started to do lots of climbing – often with Tami, also with Robin B., but with the whole gang. Here are the two, attempting a climb opposite Browning Lake at Murrin Park.
I hiked around the back and rappelled part way down to take pictures, which was fine – until Peter asked for a top rope. Had I known he planned to hang around for a bunch, cleaning and practicing – on a hip belay – I might have said no.
But we did have lots of fun – here’s Simon, Peter (in natty cardigan), Tami, and A. Nother, goofing around that summer.
Ferget the EBs, Robbins, mtn boots: Who was climbing in sabots??
Black Bug's Blood is one of those climbs I remember, too, but not the year or shoe ware, just going up a long ways, clipping a rusty bolt, looking at a little overlap with no obvious way above it, traversing about 30 feet left, and spending many long minutes thinking before stepping up what is now a part of One Scoop.
I'm fairly sure that the clogs were Tami's. She had a lot of trouble finding EBs that fit, as she has dainty small girl feet. Tami also came from an established Vancouver mountain family - they even had a tiny cabin on Hollyburn Mountain, on the north shore.
Edit: Corrected below - but Tami & Peter did live in a cottage on Hollyburn, about 1983.
One distinctive thing about Peter and Tami, and earlier about Eric and Daryl. They pretty much lived to climb. Most of the rest of us at least pretended to be students, or to be working on trades or careers of some sort. Tami went to art school a little later, and so nurtured her cartoonist skills. But otherwise they all climbed, a lot. Which meant the usual dirtbag lifestyle, but also meant that they got a lot of experience quickly, and improved from there. There was also by then a bit more of a base to build on at Squamish - more climbers, more free routes, more knowledge of what was there, more of a sense of possibilities. Critical mass stuff.
In 1978/79 Friends appeared, plus we discovered that the Little Smoke Bluffs had some possibilities, which we were ready to make the best of.
Tusen takk for historien (jeg aer 1/4 norsk)! I just crawled out of my hole in SoCal and discovered the Cascade Climbers and SuperTopo forums. I'm finding them very therapeutic and perhaps usefull in forestalling Alzheimers. Whew, I couldn't possible reply to all the 'hits' that acted as a big hand grabbing what is left of the hair on the back of my head and giving it a good jerk.
I was part of the Leavenworth scene. In early '71 I met Bruce and Ellie Hawkins and we hit it off quite well even though I couldn't inhale as deeply as him. After bagging the Town Crier at Index we figured we were ready for the U Wall. I don't remember how we got our 'beta' (my new word for the decade) but I think it was from Givler. He was too nice a guy and didn't mind slumming. I don't recall much info other than getting us to the route's start.
We were fairly flush so we checked into the Hotel Squamish. They were fairly bemused when the three of us asked for a 'single' with a cot chaser. That was one classy joint! I can still picture the single bulb, sans accoutrements (see, some of us 'Merrycans' got some culture), hanging from the ceiling. I think we also did the 'direct' on the chinese with the loggers' bar chaser. Both Bruce and I are/were well over 6' so despite our extremely disreputable looks we felt relatively safe. Having Ellie along probably provided us the most security, even if she had to come in through a separate entrance. How quaint that tradition was!
As for the climbing since we were already 'hardened' by a stiff grade IV it went quite well. I managed to dislodge a tied-off 5/8 angle on the first pitch which wouldn't be worth mentioning but for the fact I expected and so had left my daisy clipped to the last pin. Needless to say I never did that again; that was one abrupt stop. I led the pitch off the bivy ledge and took great pleasure in utilizing my reach to make Bruce's job of cleaning the traverse as miserable as possible. The hut was already on Dance and I recall a bit of a register in it to which we proudly added our names. I think we were about the 6th or 7th up the U Wall. Is Bellygood Canadian for 'next time I'm going to the top'?
In the interest of full disclosure I should state that Ellie did not do the U with us despite her having jugged the Crier. I don't recall the rationale. For those of you who don't know she was the first 'girl' to do the NA on the Cap'n a few years later and more than pulled her weight, so to speak. In fact, she, and her 95 pounds, were shamelessly thrust onto the hardest nailing pitches. She also gleefully recounted leaving a tied-off tampon in the hardest placement on the route.
After the U we headed all the way around the Cascades via Stevens Pass up to Liberty Bell for 'The Crack'. They were just starting to work on the road. Bruce had a 4 wheel drive pickup with a camper so we just moved the roadblocks aside and motored unmolested right up to Washington Pass. I don't know why they weren't working on the road as there were a number of large graders and such parked at the pass. We spent 2 days there watching it piss. Hanging out with Bruce for 2 days in the rain in a camper was tough duty, believe me. It took an ironclad set of lungs.
OK, I'm getting a headache from remembering so many great days and people. Next time, boys and girls, I'll tell you about how Uncle Bob Crawford tried to both kill me and get me put away for a long time in one memorable Leavenworth weekend. With no apologies to Ray Milland our weekend made his look a kindergarden tale!
So one last thing, how come everyone seems to be so shy of using their real names? Are that many of you in the Witness Protection Program? Mastadon especially, we must have rolled one up!
Since you climbed with Bruce and Ellie, I wonder if you knew Keith Nannery (who was on that NA Wall ascent with them). A really nice guy who lived in Vancouver and climbed in Squamish in the 70s, and climbed all over the world, completely below the radar.
Welcome to Reilly Moss. I hope he tells us a little more about Bob Crawford. He made the Seattle news twice for being rescued without needing or asking for it. He broke the solitude and silence of my first Cascades alpine rock trip with a brilliant red shirt and the tonk-tank-tink of a piton, as Bryan Burdo and I stared across at him and Pete Doorish doing the FA of the North Rib on Triumph.
Always wondered where you wandered off to. Figured you disappeared into Never Never Land with a Russian princess or something.
Ran into Crawford last summer. A totally random occurence. At a 4th of July party in Tuolumne, I sat and listened to this guy tell stories for half an hour before I realized that it was him. As it turns out, he was campground host at the Saddlebag Lake campground at Tioga Pass. Considering the last time I saw him (mid 70's) he had a rifle and was threatening to shoot me, things went OK. It was actually good to see him.
I remember you always used to carry a camera, so post up Buckwheat......
A brief diversion into Bob Crawford stories would be just fine. For example, Mastadon being threatened by him with a gun. It seems out of character for someone who's now a campground host, but you never know. Maybe MazamaRick is around somewhere and can help...
I never met Keith but I do recall B & E lauding him.
As for those 'babes' Catherine was scary good, Julie was so nice and so tough, but I think Carla was the best on rock. Ellie got really good living in the Ditch. A couple years after the U Wall I went down to do Half Dome with Markov. After a 2 day epic snow storm (a fine excuse to not free more than necessary) which involved a night standing on that pathetic ledge below the friction pitch (we didn't know and couldn't see the A1 alternative to the top! I saw it the next morning) I found Bruce and Ellie and headed for some fun and sun on the Apron. Ellie was sporting these weird shoes called 'EB's'. Fine, but nobody is peeling my cold dead fingers off of my RR's, right? "Hey Ellie, wouldn't you like to slow down enough to clip the few manky bolts there are?" I couldn't wait to get off that stinking rock and burn rubber all the way to Modesto to have Carson fit me for a pair at Royal's!
Yes, Don, I almost didn't come back from that trip to the Pamirs with Sylvester, Kroger, and Hacket. But even a blonde ballerina couldn't make up for the worst beer ever brewed on the face of the earth! Besides, I was headed to norskieland where they had plenty of both; oh yeah.
As for the Bob, well, let's just say that I cherish all the characters I've met climbing. I think our 'Lost Weekend' deserves its own post as it was pretty freaking epic. Did the midwife drop him on his head?
Yes, I do have some shots but I've only just joined the digital age photographically speaking. Most are slides but I am scanning them. I did post some over on the CascadeClimbers about my routes on Mt Constance with Pete Doorish and my Swedish friend, Ulf Bjornberg, who got the chop a few weeks later when we hit the Ditch. I just found a couple of Osiander and whoever he did the FWA of Stuart's N Ridge with when we shared a snow cave at the base. I went up the Ice Cliff the next day to practice tunneling up through massive cornices unbelayed. Stay tuned!
I would love to tell a LeDuc story too but I don't know if it is politically correct enough for this age. I don't think he would mind but I wouldn't want to start a hate-mail avalanche!
In closing tonight here's a PC Givler gem. So, a herd of us are up in the Enchantments-Linda, Steve Harder, Heinz, the Hawkins, and a few more. Nobody is really very gung-ho except Al, of course. He starts egging and needling us to put the bongs away and DO SOMETHING! With that sly wicked grin of his he casually lets slip that there's this 'interesting' slab he tried a year or so before with Mead. Being from Chicago originally I can see where this is going in a heart beat. I had wondered why his pack had been so big walking up there and now I knew why. It was all the damn sand bags in it! OK Al, let's have a look. Well, it was interesting all right, if you are into grounders. Everybody dutifully has a go at it but about 20' up it gets too interesting, at least on such a nice day. Finally, Al has his turn. He gets up to 'the move' and gives it about 3 goes without joy. I can see he's got a slight burn going but the landing would not have been pretty. He eases onto it for the umpteenth time and then starts screaming bloody murder! He backs off onto the mini-stance and we're all staring dumbfounded at him. He hasn't roasted like it sounded he was about to. He's just standing on this tiny knob shaking his head. "What Al?" Completely dead-pan he looks down and announces, "I just stepped on an ant." Needless to say, that was the end of climbing that day; how can you climb when you are convulsed with laughter? Here's looking at you mate!
I went down to do Half Dome with Markov. After a 2 day epic snow storm (a fine excuse to not free more than necessary) which involved a night standing on that pathetic ledge below the friction pitch (we didn't know and couldn't see the A1 alternative to the top!
Is there a pattern here?
We did a route in WA Pass once that didn't match the description. After a lot of other asking around I got the idea to look Greg up in the phone book.
"The weather was poor and we weren't sure which summit we had reached."
After that weekend I was afraid to know him any better!
Back in those days weren't we pretty used to bad or no info? I'm not putting this on Greg's head, he didn't order up the weather and we were on route. However, I will say that we reached that ledge, the first one you reach which is only about 6" wide (not the one you can sit on down to the left-we couldn't see it!), at about 4PM. It was snowing pretty good and the slabs had at least an inch on them. Visibility was maybe 25' although I could see the first overhang at times. The crack that runs up the slab from the belay certainly appeared to carry through the roof and I was for trying it. Greg wouldn't hear of it, "you don't know for sure, that's crazy!" I'm not too proud to admit I let him talk me out of trying it. We pulled the 2 man bivy sack over us and stood there for the next 14 hours! 'nuf said about that! At first light it had stopped precipicrapping and I announced, "I'm outta here!" Sure enough, I was up in about 45 minutes! Oh well, it takes two to tango.
Great list Tami, "Some skookum routes were closed - Clean Crack, Caboose ( 5.10b classic corner ) Hand Jive ( 5.10 gorjuss crack ), Crescent Crack ( 5.10d crack to make you go woo woo but also to thrash the snot out of weenies ) and a few other, harder routes that were also quite classic."
On our trip we did those and Exasperator and maybe a couple others on the lower wall...been to long to remember clearly. Clean crack and Crescent stand out in my mind as being as good as any thing I had done in Yosemite. To bad they unaccessable now.
The Malemute serves up a virtual feast of crack climbing. Exasperator is often cited as one of the finest crack pitches at Squamish, but on the Malemute it wouldn't stand out at all. My fave has always been Quagmire, which has the advantage of still being open to climbing. Not as hard as Clean crack but harder than Crescent Crack (which is a beautiful climb, but only has a couple of hard moves) and definitely in a much fine location.
Here's a Clean Crack story: I was climbing with Kon Kraft one day in the late 70s or early 80s. We'd headed up The Peasants Route at the base of the Grand Wall, but Kon was Having A Bad Day. Couldn't climb sh#t, and was getting incredible pains in his toes. So bad that when he finally got to the top of the first pitch he was screaming in anger at his feet. So we bailed, and went to the bar. A couple of beers later, we headed home, but as we drove by the Malemute I got this weird desire to jump on Clean Crack. So I pulled into the parking lot, and we hiked around to the base.
I'd made it to the top a few times, but either on a top rope or with much hanging and pulling on gear. I think my plan, insofar as I was capable of forming a plan that day, had just been to aid it for something to do on a pleasant afternoon, but when we got there, I somehow decided I should do it right.
And I did. Led it clean. Despite having two pints in my relatively small frame.
Back to Quagmire Crack though. It's a single pitch, but you have to either climb one of the bottom-tier routes to get to the start (now illegal), or hike to the top of the Malemute and scramble down to the top of Quagmire and then rap and pull your ropes. It's a long pitch of fairly sustained 10c fingers and hands, on a nice open face a couple of hundred feet above the ocean. Gorgeous setting and a terrific climb.
There's a bit about the Malamute, and Clean Crack, somewhere up thread. I cleaned out most of the upper crack in the winter of 1976-77, including cutting off the cedar that previously hung down and provided handy holds. Leaving the stump which Reilly liked so much - I spent four or five days digging away, and got most of it pretty decent, but the stump wasn't doable. Cedars tend to be well-rooted, and perhaps I should have left it, although the other cleaning would have at least compromised it with time. Trundling something onto it to lever it out wasn't on, given the proximity of the train tracks - when cutting things there, I had to time it so that it was right after a train, and did things to direct the debris so it wouldn't end up on or near the tracks. (They're 2 - 3 metres from the base of the climb.) The stump finally got removed in the late 1980s, but there may still be bits of root deep in the crack.
This explains why so many crack climbs at Squamish are finger cracks - anything wider is often hell to dig out.
Tami has mostly summarized the 'official' access situation at the Malamute. Lower part closed since 2001, upper part logged 2007. It's a pretty sad situation.
Sometimes the guys on the speeder would stop and talk with us while we were climbing, if they had time before a train. Once a guy claimed he'd been a good friend of Dougal Haston's, and knew enough to make it believable.
We met the railway guy in summer 1977 or 1978. He said he knew Dougal, and seemed to have been in Leysin at or soon after his death. He said that Dougal died as a result of neck injuries from a cornice fall, or some such, not an avalanche per se. Although there was still an avalanche, etc - splitting hairs.
I don't remember the fellow having an English accent, which I think was a reason it stuck in my mind - the story would have seemed more likely from a Brit. It just didn't seem likely that an 'ordinary' Canadian would have been involved, but he seemed to know things.
There was really only one ex-Brit regularly climbing at Squamish then - Robin B. Joe T. emigrated as a young man, and didn't take up climbing until in Canada. Kevin Mc. sporadically appeared, but he and a couple of other ex-Brits didn't really become active at Squamish until 1983 or so. Quite different from what happened in Calgary, and the influence that ex-Brits had there.
Edit: Note "REGULARLY climbing". Various ex-Brits came and went, but a look at the guidebooks is indicative of who was doing what.
There was really only one ex-Brit regularly climbing at Squamish then - Robin B
There actually were plenty of Brits climbing then. Maybe outside your circle? Long-gone-John Howard, Clive Davies, couple of others I don't rembember. Keith Nannery, too. Strong climbers.
And even stronger partiers. I remember one night when the Al and Ad Burgess were in town and we all got on it. Wound up in some bar with a great band, and Clive got too involved with drinking and talking to respond to his wife's demands for a dance partner, so I hadda step up and offer the lady my hand. Found out later it really pissed him off, but what can you do?
I was patiently waiting for 1977 to roll around. Certainly I thought you would take a moment or even a full post to comment on your first ascent of the North Ridge of The Sphinx. Maybe even some photos of hairy men in flannel and welted leather boots with a few dirty slings hanging off their Willams sit harnesses. But here we are 1978 and…nothing?!
I mean if someone was talking about the history of Yosemite Valley the inclusion of some events that occurred in Tuolumne would not be considered horribly out of line.
From the Chief, Mount Garibaldi towers over the north side of Squamish. In spring it’s a beautiful white pyramid but by late summer it transforms into a putrid grey mass of crumbling volcanic “rock”. Hidden on it’s backside is a vast wilderness of gentle glaciers punctuated by granite peaks where the rock quality is every bit the equal of The Chief. Fifteen miles from the nearest trail sits the Sphinx in splendid isolation. It’s north ridge, only 500’ long, is good. But maybe more important is when you stand on the summit you can’t help but think that this just might be The Center of The Universe.
The problem with Sphinx, or maybe it's the Sphinx's salvation rather than a problem, is that although it's only a few miles away from lots of places, it's damn hard to get to.
We've all skied past it, around it, and under it, in the winter, and getting to the summit is no problem, but not via the N. Ridge. In the summer, when the temptation hits to climb the ridge, the thought of getting to it with the lake not frozen kills that urge pretty fast.
But one summer, I think in the late 70s but possibly in the very early 80s, one of the Squamish crew (or possibly his gf) got a temporary job up in the park and had access to the park service boat.
With the approach cut from two days to half a day, a small group of us hiked up to Garibaldi Lake, hopped in the boat, and half an hour later were on the beach below all the peaks at the east end of the lake. I'm pretty sure John Howe was there, and I think John Wittmayer, I know Corina and I were there, and I think there was a fifth, but I can't remember who it was.
What I do remember is that the next day two of our party climbed the North Ridge, and the day after that Corina and I climbed it. I believe these were the second and third ascents, but maybe they were the first and second -- not sure about that. What I know for sure is that it went from being a fun climb to me wishing I'd stayed on the prairies with mummy and daddy in a real hurry.
I thought of myself as a 5.10 climber back then (having led a few 5.10 slabs and cracks at Squamish), and word was that the N Ridge of Sphinx was only 5.8. In fact it probably is 5.8, but the wide cracks on the top pitch were all iced up, and I was climbing in mountain boots, with a pack, with a rack of a few hexes and stoppers that were far too small to be of any use...
Had to dig pretty deep on that one. Probably my first glimpse into what climbing is really about.
And yeah, you're right about the view from the top.
For those interested the "2 day" approach is long and involves a lot of elevation gain but is mostly gentle, involves zero brush and is stupifyingly beautiful. A megaclassic of the Pacific Northwest, though of course not everyone (including my partner) wants to carry rockgear 30 miles for a 3 pitch rock climb.
Peter Croft did the route car-to-car in less than 24 hours which is an accomplishment that can simply not be appreciated until you've been all the waaaaaayyyy back in there. Maybe another story worthy of this epic thread?
but the wide cracks on the top pitch were all iced up
You shoulda read Joe Brown - The Hard Years and Don Whillans: Portrait of a Mountaineer. Seems they were always running into those iced-up cracks. Of course, reading about them doesn't necessarily lead to avoiding them.
Yeah, but Joe and Don knew there wasn't any hope of pro so they didn't sweat it; ignorance is bliss. I had the thrill of my life meeting Joe in Wales in '78. That woulda made him 48 which sounds good to me right now. Of course to me he looked like Father Time. It was middle of November which is, of course, prime rock climbing season for the Anglesey sea cliffs; nice and toasty. He had just led a 10c chossfest known also for its poor pro; standard procedure for Joe. I think he was maybe 5'-6".
I met Whillans in Tahoe City at the legendary Tahoe City trailer park (Camp 4 North) in the early 80's when was visiting Pete Minks. He was an amazing person and had me in stitches with his stories and demeanor. I wish I could have gotten to know him better but he died a few years later.
Well, by popular demand, yet another digression. “Aren’t we ever going to get there?”
There are many (summer) pictures of the Garibaldi Lake/Black Tusk area on the ladybug thread, at http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=655919 They include photos showing the Sphinx, which is perhaps 10 km away. There are also distant shots of the Tantalus Range, which is just northeast of Squamish, and perhaps the most alpine climbing area near Vancouver. Here is the Sphinx, from the top of the Black Tusk. The peaks in the background are the Mamquam massif, which can be seen from Squamish.
The Sphinx itself is fairly solid granitic rock, but the peaks to the right are mostly volcanic rubble.
My good friend Len S. (the football player) has already appeared several times, including a 1972 photo near the start of the thread, from the top of Ben Lomond, a nice bump in the Sky Pilot area. (East of Britannia Beach.) I won’t repost the photo or references, but here’s another one of him, from autumn 1972, with suitably prehistoric equipment. We went with some people from the outdoors club at UBC to climb at Keremeos and near Oliver, in the Okanagan – before Skaha had been discovered.
The Varsity Outdoors Club was and is typical of university clubs, in that there is a wide variety of experience and enthusiasm, many activities, and it goes through cycles. But many Vancouver area climbers were at some time or other members – if nothing else, a way to meet chicks. Some of them quite well-known climbers and mountaineers, not just in a local context. One of the things the club did for years was an annual ski camp in April, at the west and later the east end of Garibaldi Lake. You could sign up for when you had breaks in your exam schedule, and they organized food and supplies that were flown in. To begin Sphinx Camp was in tents, but in 1968 they built the Burton Hut at the east end, to provide a base. It’s a fairly long day to get there on foot in summer, but in spring you can ski across the lake, 5 – 6 km.
Here’s the Burton Hut, some years later, with the Sphinx in the background.
From about 1967 to 1982, a dozen or so public huts were built in the mountains within weekend range of Vancouver, mostly by the B.C. Mountaineering Club and the Varsity Outdoor Club. Simple, sturdy shelters designed by Werner Himmelsbach, an architect/climber. They were quite basic – sleeping platform plus tables and benches. No heating, often no stove. But they kept the rain and wind off.
One of the huts, the Plummer Hut, is in the Waddington Range. Several were damaged by the elements – the hut at Brew Mountain (southwest of Whistler) had to be moved twice due to damage from snow creep. The Batzer Hut, in the mountains east of Chilliwack, was obliterated by an avalanche in early 1971. The Pringle’s Ridge Hut was also wiped out by snow creep. The Wedgemount Hut was shifted some metres by high winds that same winter, which was quite fierce. In fact, some people went to the Mountain Lake Hut, east of Britannia, in March that year – and couldn’t find it. The apex is 7 – 8 m off the ground, plus it had a pole sticking up from there. Still no go. Eventually they found it through probing – and had a hell of a time digging down into it.
Did I mention that thing about copyright and such? See first post.
Here is another, perhaps better shot of the Sphinx, taken in mid-1972 from the top of Castle Towers, a higher mountain to the north.
The triple peak in the right background is the Sky Pilot massif, including Habrich. And the murky stuff in the far background is smog over Vancouver.
Len was a student at UBC, and in spring 1973 we came up with this idea of going to Sphinx Camp. Rudimentary backcountry ski gear – Silvretta cable bindings, Head Standard skis, clip-on sealskins, frame packs. But lots of energy, as a substitute for experience and wisdom. I was in grade 11 then, and it was Easter week, so had the time off. We went for six days, knowing that spring weather can be great or lousy. Hitch-hiked up from Vancouver one afternoon, and slept on the road. I remember eating freeze-dried vanilla ice cream, “as used by Apollo astronauts” – pretty gross. No wonder they stopped going to the Moon. Slogged in the next day, with not only camping and skiing gear and food (we hadn’t made ‘reservations’), but also climbing gear.
After a day of pea-soup weather, it cleared, and we set off. We wanted to climb the left ridge of this, which looked quite promising.
I don’t have any pictures from the actual climb, but do have some vivid memories. Here we are arriving near the base:
(One of the WORST PHOTOS EVER POSTED on SuperTopo - even once improved with modern technology.)
Our gear was one bright yellow 11mm x 150 foot MSR rope, SMC hexes, miscellaneous wedges (MOACs, etc), slings and carabiners, swami belts, pitons, and hammers. Probably just ordinary mountain boots - I think we had double leather lace up ski boots, and carried our climbing boots. A bit earlier that spring my mother went to Seattle, and I persuaded her to go to REI and buy me a Chouinard alpine hammer. It was their spring sale, so she got to wait in line for a while – as she was a sociable person and liked shopping, probably not quite as bad an experience as she later claimed.
The climb was covered in knee deep wet snow, except where it was too steep. I led the first pitch, up a sort of face, then left around an outside corner into a sort of crack/gully. Then we climbed back to the ridge, and followed it up. About five pitches altogether, though fairly short ones – we didn’t have much gear. A lot of digging was involved, some pretty marginal climbing and anchors, and bits of French free. Len led most of it, including the last pitch – there’s a step just below the summit which is fairly hard. I belayed in a sort of notch while he wrestled with it in the setting sun. We then had to descend the gentle ridge – most of the peaks in the area have at least one easy route – and slog back through deep wet snow to the base of the ridge, where we’d left our skiis. And then ski down in the dark, at first through slush, then breakable crust, then ice. We got down very late, and were very tired – luckily they’d saved some dinner for us.
The next day was more bad weather, then the following day we skied/walked out. I think my father came and picked us up. Anyway, I had a part-time job then as a car hop at White Spot, a local burger chain. (No roller skates, though.) I was working that night from 6 PM – 2 AM, and fell asleep part way through. They sent me home – they were used to my going skiing or climbing before or after work.
I believe the north ridge of the Sphinx was first repeated in 1978, by John H and friends.
Nice. Based on the summit register, the North Ridge of The Sphinx seems to be climbed on average about once a year, and a majority of those ascents are by Garibaldi Park Rangers who have access to canoes or boats on Garibaldi Lake (significantly shortening the approach)
Phyllis’ Engine is another small but excellent summit located in the vicinity of The Sphinx.
The geometry is more reminiscent of something you would climb in the desert than your typical northwest spire. Again, it's a long ways to go for a three-pitch rock climb.
50-meter contour lines can hide 99-meter holes. I discovered this a long time ago. I was using a map with 500-foot countour intervals, and found that something I'd assumed to be relatively flat was actually almost 1,000 ft and way too steep for me to ski.
Of course, "way to steep for me to ski" could be just about anything, but this particular bump was pretty steep.
Here is another photo of Phyllis’ Engine, from above. Lots of interesting geology around there. The spire was named in the 1930s for Phyllis Beltz, who was on one of the BCMC camps near the Black Tusk. She observed that it looked like an engine, and so it was given its name. And it does look quite like an engine – although it won’t be running on the tracks at the Malamute any time soon! It wasn’t climbed until 1969.
SuperTopo may never have had a train thread, although we’ve had ones about riding the rails. And both t*r and jstan are train fans. There is a cheery kiddy song from 1968 about trains, which is very vaguely on topic, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YP7GCXqdqU&feature=related Nothing substantial, but quite pleasant – sung by one of the 1960s great female vocalists, Judith Durham.
Snow and ice conditions when crossing Garibaldi Lake in spring were always of concern. It was rarely safe before late December, or after early May, especially near the inlets and outlets. The latest it was ever crossed was early June. Usually it gets interesting later in April. In the autumn, as it starts to snow and get colder, the surface eventually freezes, and snow accumulates on top of it. As the area often gets 3 – 4 m of snow, soon there’s enough that the surface fractures, and floods. Then another snow/ice layer forms, separated from the one beneath by a lens of water. The lower layer tends to consolidate into a quite solid ice layer. As you cross in the spring, sometimes your leg sinks through whatever’s on the surface, and into water. But just as you’re having a heart attack, you hit the solid layer below.
Skiing across Garibaldi Lake in the spring might be likened to a sort of slack walking - with several hundred m of ice water instead of air beneath.
Once or twice I've encountered a fully frozen Garibaldi Lake, and ski-skated across it. Bit of an effort with an overnight pack, but possible. I've always dreamed of being there when it was not only icy, or at least hard snow, but also with a tailwind. A tent fly makes a fine sail in such circumstances.
Edit: Bump-posted, because it's about climbing. Plus who'd a thunk that Squamish would be in Mad Magazine?
The players in the 43-Man Squamish include: left and right Inside Grouches, left and right Outside Grouches, four Deep Brooders, four Shallow Brooders, five Wicket Men, three Offensive Niblings, four Quarter-Frummerts, two Half-Frummerts, one Full Frummert, two Overblats, two Underblats, nine Back-up Finks, two Leapers, and a Dummy. Maybe we should give it a try at the next FaceLift?
Slabby D: The Phyllis' Engine group saw some serious climbing in the late 80s/early 90s. Can't remember the exact date, but I was editor of the Canadian Alpine Journal at the time, and someone submitted a story about going in there and doing some pretty hard (5.11+) rock climbing. I think it was Michael Spagnut, and I think Kobus Barnard was involved. Not sure about Kobus, but when it came to hauling serious loads into the back end of beyond and then doing serious climbing, he was pretty much the man. So he probably was involved.
Maybe I can find the issue with that piece in it and scan it. Although it does fall outside this thread's 1970s frame of reference.
I notice that one of the penalties in the 43-Man Squamish is "Walling the Pritz". Russ?
At least a few SuperTopians visited Squamish in the 1970s, or later, and many of you knew the "hard core" in the Valley in the late 1960s and early 1970s, not to mention the later infestations of Canadians. Any perspectives? Squamish wasn't a centre of world rock-climbing then, and relatively few advances in technique, knowledge or equipment originated in Squamish. But it also produced some very fine climbers, who made their mark in Yosemite and elsewhere. A conundrum.
Thanks, Ed. I'll get one of the gadgets, though I've scanned ahead, and have a bunch of photos on PB ready to go, once I've written up narrative. 1978. The Year of the Little Smoke Bluffs. Some smoke, some fire.
Thread currently taking 516 seconds to load on my machine...
What is this button? Was it:
A. Worn by Custer at Little Big Horn?
B. A relic of the 1958 Diefenbaker campaign?
C. Something that Todd G. got, while teaching?
D. A pin worn by climbers at Squamish, to ensure that the natives are friendly?
E. Something the pizza guy got for delivering to the McCain/Palin office in Walnut Creek?
Hint: It doesn't have much to do with climbing at Squamish in the 1970s. But it should be OK as a place-holder, while I finish making marmelade.
In 2005, the Petzl Roc Trip was in Squamish, more or less a joint effort by Arc'Teryx, Petzl, and our Access Society. The opening evening included a memorable drum dance by members of the Squamish Nation. They were reported in the (U.S.) magazines as being "Native Americans", although up here they're mostly known as the Squamish Nation, or the Squamish People.
We now return to your irregular programming, hoping that you are regular in all other ways that are important to you. Prior to digressions into ascents of the less than inscrutable Sphinx, the 43-Man Squamish, the Malamute, Clean Crack, railways, and other whimsy, we were rounding out the cast of characters of those climbing a fair amount at Squamish in around 1977/1978. So we’ll do a bit of that, and then see some climbing at the Little Smoke Bluffs, which by then had congealed from molten magma and were climbable.
One of them was Randy A., here seen wearing his trademark sweater on top of Orchard Rock at Peshastin.
He was tall and lanky, and put a lot of effort into his adventures, of which he’s had many over the years. He’s also added some very fine routes at Squamish, particularly on Zodiac Wall, and including the first free ascents of routes like Cerberus and Freeway. Plus a whole bunch of routes at Skaha.
Randy did have what then seemed an odd interest in overhangs. Most of us had enough problem climbing anything that was vertical – if it’s vertical, and granitic, it’s probably pretty hard. But he thought overhangs were something to do, as you can see.
This is a since destroyed boulder by the old highway, part way down the hill from Eleven Bolt Rock to the Apron. Fond beliefs to the contrary, bouldering at Squamish did not start in 1995 – Jim Baldwin may have bouldered on what later became the Black Dyke boulder in about 1961. (And while I’m at it, the first boulderer of record, per se, was Oscar Eckenstein – in the 1880s, at Pen y Pass in Wales.)
Another long-standing member of our community is of course Perry B., who is known to some readers. Perry got started in 1976, and his climbing career throve. He’s still at it, plus does bluegrass music, and is great company.
In this shot, we are somewhere low on the Prow on Washington Column, in 1977. We probably could have managed it, had one of us (me) not forgotten the tieoffs. To compound this egregious blunder, I suggested that we could just push the wires out of wired stoppers, and loop them over pins, as ersatz tie-offs. Eventually one of us had a little fall, or we got stymied by a full-on cluster or something. But we tried.
Here’s Randy again. We’re climbing at the Malemute, the first ascent of a one-pitch climb called Seaside Rendezvous – which seemed appropriate, inasmuch as we agreed to meet there, and it’s beside the ocean.
I think we had aided it or something previously, to clean it up a bit. There’s an easy bit at the bottom, which Randy is doing, then a vertical crack which gradually curves left. It is now invariably hand traversed, but for some reason I got this notion to walk it. The crack is offset, and provides a little lip on the perhaps 75 degree wall. So I tippytoed across it, trying very hard not to breathe deeply. Of course, I couldn’t get any protection in, and was totally committed. After 7 – 8 m, I could reach a tiny crack, and slipped in two #1 stoppers. That felt good, inasmuch as it was much better than nothing. It would have been a hell of a pendulum.
For some reason (knock knees?) I do OK at walking cracks. I did it on the second free ascent of Exasperator, too. They’re ungradeable climbs – all you have to do is keep your balance, place your feet carefully, and do smooth weight shifts. We called it 5.10a, for lack of any better idea.
That afternoon, we went over the the Little Smoke Bluffs and did the first ascent of Partners in Crime. My mother was rather keen on mysteries and such. I'll say more about that later.
I suppose I should add a reminder about the copyright thing - see the very first post.
Several times I have hand-traversed along slanting cracks only to see the next guy walk up with much less effort. They can't look in the crack to place gear, though.
I've moved a few times in my climbing career and find that the locals can seem stand-offish to the new arrival. Perry Beckham was anything but. I hear that his retirement savings plan has to do partly with music [edited for discretion]. I bet he will ride out the current economic difficulties as well as anyone.
Tami, ghost and MH2 have too much insider knowledge
Tami and Andy might have insider knowledge, but I haven't got a clue. If I had to guess I'd go with what Wayne said -- It looks like something a conservation group would give you if you made a donation to whatever cause they were promoting on your doorstep.
The first time I met Perry he had just come off the Prow. He had taken a short fall that was stopped by a piece on his hardware rack that lodged in a crack...not much elongation in a Chouinard hardware sling! We thought it was funny at the time, but he's lucky he didn't break his neck!
Eventually I'll get around to saying more about the button, and a victory for the forces of light.
There is another photo of Perry somewhere upthread, which may even have been posted twice. Rick's story has resonance - maybe what finally stopped us on the Prow was a fall by Perry, where some of the rack got 'hooked'.
A last few photos of the usual suspects who were climbing at Squamish in the later 1970s, or at least those for whom I have photos, and then we will naturally segue into other things. The first is my brother Peder, who started climbing in 1976. He was quite athletic, and so quickly caught on. Looking at it another way, I taught him everything I knew – which took about 15 minutes. And he’s still at it, though this shot is from a well known climb elsewhere, in the mid-1980s.
Another, a mountaineer who gradually did more climbing at Squamish, is Bruce F. He also is clambering up something or other (not at Squamish), a few years later.
(Anyone guess where the photos were taken?)
And then, of course, Jay P, who you’ve seen upthread. A geologist, mountaineer, and rock climber – indeed, he was on the first ascent of Warbler Ridge on Mount Logan. Here he is working off some energy, or working off his sentence – breaking rocks, anyway. He had access to a rock saw, and we were making some paperweights out of the Chief.
To round things out, some miscellaneous various minor adventures. Here’s someone, possibly Dave L, on Perspective in 1979. A climb which has shed several chunks over the years. Eric and I did (nailed) Sentry Box, in spring 1973, which is just to the left. Late afternoon, using nuts and pins, taking forever. PTPP would have been proud of my rate of climbing, though not my skills and armoury. As I got to the top, I saw there was a big ledge, and so cleverly threw my etriers (we never called them aiders) and some stuff onto the top. After I mantled, I was dismayed to find that there was a big crack running parallel to and behind the cliff, and my stuff had vanished forever. Something for future snarkyologists. Then it started pouring rain, and got dark.
Another one, probably Randy A – I’d recognize that grey speckled sweater anywhere – on Crescent Crack at the Malemute, a few years later. Height a real advantage there.
And here’s my good friend John, on Dream On on the Apron – the appearance of sticky rubber in 1984 definitely helped with such places.
Just for fun, the gang one fine summer morning, bivouacked on the old highway by Eleven Bolt Rock. The photo includes Tami, Randy A., and Joe B., and perhaps others. Beat up cars, beat up climbers – the morning after the night before.
Pretty much the usual scene - most just slept by or in their cars, but sometimes we'd go off in the woods, or even under the boulders. Occasionally someone would camp in the boulders, or at what later became the campground, for weeks. No money and/or doing lots of climbing. Sometimes there'd be a fire and things to eat and drink and such.
For a combination of reasons, 1978 was the first year we did a lot in the Little Smoke Bluffs. At that time, they were quite visible from the highway and downtown Squamish – to take one example, you could then see Split Beaver quite nicely from the Tastee Freeze, now the Mountain Burger House or some such, but still a fine place for a triple bypass meal. Residential development had started to encroach on the Bluffs from south and west, particularly the Hospital Hill loop, but there was none right beside any cliffs.
Here’s a photo of the Bluffs from the top of the Chief, in early 2005.
Nice crags, mostly 10 – 40 m high, with a few bits getting up to 100 m or so. Mostly one pitch stuff, largely south and southwest facing and so quick to dry. Quite a bucolic setting – nice forest, things spread out, but little trails. The klettergarten we’d always wanted – there were scraps of such sprinkled throughout Squamish, but not really anywhere one could just go and do a bunch of moderate climbs, for much of the year, without too much effort. Or anywhere very novice-friendly. It’s pretty clear that to become really good at anything, you have to spend a lot of time doing it. Pele and juggling his soccer ball, made of rags. Gretzky on his parent’s backyard rink. And Croft and others at the Bluffs. (Well, maybe a bit elsewhere too.)
There were a few climbs on the fringes of the Bluffs from the early 1970s. Gordie S. and friends did some climbs at Alexis in 1973, and in February 1974 Len S. and I bushwhacked in to the bottom of what became the Penny Lane cliff, and did an interesting chimney which we called Satan’s Slit. Not difficult, and involving a neat move getting behind a chockstone. There were already some trails through the area – it had been logged and/or burnt over in the 1960s, and the residents were fairly quick to explore the nearer areas, if only for dog walking. Every year or two in the spring, one of us would poke around. In spring 1977 Dave L. and Perry B. did Flying Circus – here’s a later photo of it, from above.
A pleasant moderate finger crack, now quite polished due to over toproping.
That same spring – it was a very dry winter – Carl A. and I explored, and eventually nailed what later became called Digital Dexterity. Yet another unrecorded, unnamed first ascent – BHD. I did pick some early pussy willows from the bog for my mother, though.
Early in 1980, ghost and I were at the Bluffs, to take pictures for the guidebook that was published late that summer. So, in a case of art imitating life, I took some pictures of the photographer. They illlustrate how the Bluffs looked then – both are taken at the top of what later became the Burgers & Fries bluff. Before the ill-conceived developments that have intruded into the area. At one time a few of us even slept out there.
For some reason, things at the Little Smoke Bluffs really took off in 1978. It was a decent summer, but nothing unusual. There were a few more climbers than there had been, and more of us were sniffing around. Finally there were a few climbs there, to show that there were possibilities. It’s funny how that happens with climbs and cliffs – some go and in out of favour, others seem invisible for years. Then suddenly there’s climbers all over them. In the case of the Bluffs, it helped that most climbs could be reached, inspected, and cleaned from above, if one was willing to crash around a bit in the bush. Most of the existing short climbs, often formerly aid, had by then been cleaned up and freed, so it was time to look at new things.
Early in 1978, Carl A. and I went exploring, and eventually ended up over by Penny Lane. There looked to be several possible lines, so in early May I came back with the usual gear – saw, rope, jumars, dastardly digging devices, etc etc. Over two days, I dug out Penny Lane, Crime of the Century and Partners in Crime. (The former named for a lovely little song with delightful piccolo trumpets – same as in the Brandenburg Concertoes. Concertos. The latter are two famous crime books, the former about the Leopold & Loeb trial, the latter an Agatha Christie. My mother liked mysteries.) The neighbours below were probably quite mystified as to what was going on – if only they had known! A few weeks later, John A. and I returned. It was pretty clear that two of the climbs would be hard – not many surprises when you’re cleaning. So we gave the “easy” one a shot first.
At this point, I am scoping things out, having just placed a piton to protect the bridging bit. (Too much dirt etc, and inadequate nuts, to do otherwise.)
It’s fair to say that Penny Lane is a modest climb, with a fair bit to be modest about. Much like the climber who "set" (it's not concrete), "authored" (it's not a book), "sent" (it's not a letter), "conquered" (puhleese!), "opened" (I mentioned the book bit), "developed" (no D-8 involved), first ascended it. But it is a quite pleasant route, and has provided many climbers with a nice adventure. We initially thought it 5.10a, but as it got cleaner and better known, it became 5.9. The ‘difficult’ bit is right at the bottom, and only decently protected, but the rest is just fine.
There is an old saying “Never lieback when you can bridge. Never bridge when you can faceclimb.” The technique being used by the climber in this photo, on an early ascent of Penny Lane, demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the saying, or perhaps inability to apply it.
He went on to become quite a good climber, so must have learned his lesson. Note that he has not placed any protection for the first five or six metres - there really wasn't much there, pre-TCUs. Some scruffy stoppers.
The gang that day, apart from your humble photographer, is as shown here:
Simon T., Tami K., Peter C., and A. Nother.
We tended to do stuff in groups at that time, for no reason I can remember. Being sociable, I suppose.
Through the course of 1978, and the wonderful summer of 1979, we did a tonne of climbing at the Bluffs. Because they were there, perhaps.
Hmmm, I only wanted to post some stuff, and get to over 300 posts, tonight. Even if half of them are mine. Oh well, progress of a sort. More on its way.
Is Bruce climbing anywhere near Lworth? I ask only because I think you have already shown us pictures of every sunny day around Vancouver for the entire 70s decade.
Penny Lane modest??? It is iconic of Smoke Bluffs climbing.
Here it is in the first installment of climbing at Squamish in 2009, dog included, also note the modest finger crack on the left. That is Crime of the Century. John Stoddard told us, "It was a trip to see Croft lead that thing." That was before sticky rubber or SLCDs.
In the picture above Satan's Slit is seen just right of the lead climber's butt. Here it is from the inside. There is an odd pairing of water-smoothed and rough cut chockstones at this point.
Who is Bruce, and why would he be climbing at Leavenworth? I'm fairly sure that the person in the second PL photo is Richard S., but could be wrong.
So the weekend I cleaned out PL, I also did the other two routes. They didn't require as much work. The idea with Crime of the Century was that the bolts at its top would allow one to rappel from PL with one 50 m rope - two short rappels. Plus that it looked possible. I put two fixed pins in it, one a few m off the ground, one just below the ledge - both in places where it would have been hard to get 1978 era protection in. I really hammered them in, but sometime in the 1980s they disappeared. I've never been able to lead COTC, but have gotten up it (sort of) on a top rope once or twice.
Randy and I came back late in June 1978, and did Partners in Crime. I led the first half of the hard part, and got it sewn up, then Randy took over. At the time, there was a big flake at its base, sticking straight up, just out from the wall. It was quite helpful, but someone later pushed it over. Once or twice I've thought about putting it back.
Ding ding ding... And we have a winner. Mastadon has correctly identified the first climb as Lunatic Fringe.
The second puzzle picture, of Bruce F., remains unidentified - the guess that he was somewhere at Leavenworth wasn't close. Anyone? Hint: Some people here will be embarrassed when I tell them. I haven't been nearly so obscure as Simon aka IHP and his puzzles. But then I don't have any postcard prizes either.
It's interesting to contrast MH2's current photo of PL with the 1978 version. To begin with, and for several years, it had several helpful shrubberies which you can see in 1978. Long gone now. The rock is also much cleaner - all lichen and moss long since eroded, mostly by rope action I'd guess.
RPs appeared in spring 1979, at least in Squamish. So did Friends, in any quantity that made a difference - although Dave L. had one the autumn before.
There were originally two anchor bolts at the top of COTC - I'd never have just used one, given that it was pretty clear it would be frequently used for rappelling and toproping. Curved stoppers, and small TCU-type things, sure help on that climb.
"Oooooh, good thing Mikey din't have a camera, eh? Snappys of me nethers on this fekkin' site ?"
Mikey was 2 hungover. And my Squamish slides have disappeared.
All the boys were in love with Tami bitd. Except for the boys who were in love w. each other. NTTAWWT. Can't recall the color of the shorts, but they might've been those unwashed blue onez in the other slides. Prolly were.
Squamish wuz great. Tami + Randy + Perry + Pete kept me from killing myself as I grovelled up into the elevens. Darryl encouraged me to kill myself, but then that wuz Darryl.
I’ve been following this thread with much interest and joy.
I also bounced back and read an earlier thread re: brother Croft. I saw that picture of a young croft there. How cool to have been there to see that talent bloom into something massive.
(also stunned by rick grahams’s photo of Croft’s entry in the Temple Crag Register: Moon Goddess, Dark Star, Sun Ribbon, Venusian Blind … then back home in time for cocktails!)
The remarkable brother Croft has always fascinated the heck out of me.
way BITD at the end of my teens (’82?) I took my first trip to squamish (a long way from my college in new haven). Somehow I met this guy named Stephen and he had some solid local knowledge. We do a bunch of the classics together. Proves to be a really good guy and (within our then frame of reference) a good climber.
Eventually we end up on something way on the left side of the main wall. (I can’t now begin to remember the name of the route – and as I am on the road I don’t have a guidebook photo to look at, I can't even point at a guess).
Stephen hasn’t done this one before, but he has long looked at the line and wants to try it. My recollection is that it was .10something-ish. Off we go.
The first pitch is as good as it looks from the ground, Stephen’s lead. Then it is my turn and the next pitch proves to be a rather confusing pain in the asz. The line isn't at all obvious, and i rather doubt i stayed on route. In many moments it tested what little I’ve had.
I finally get up close to the obvious roof mentioned in the text description – and as noted therein, avoid the .11 finger crack straight up and over the roof and instead go right of the roof as instructed to find 'easier ground'.
I flail like crazy on this ‘easier ground’ and soon wiff for some noteable airtime. I try it again and somehow just barely manage to weasel my way up and onto the small ledge with a tree above the roof. I just lay there hyperventilating and trying to get my head on straight for a very long time before finally setting up the belay and bringing Stephen up. He too puts in some airtime on the ‘easier ground’ but eventually makes this ledge, like me all wheezing and dazed.
As I am trying to get the great wad and mess of our rope straightened out (i knew how to thread a rope over a leg or sling -- but was simply too wasted to stay on top of it) -- this so I can figure which end is actually attached to Stephen and with that actually tie him in and take him off. In the middle off this clusterfook, this head suddenly pops up from out of nowhere less than two feet from my own mug -- right where that .11 crack topped out through the roof I had carefully avoided.
Hardly expecting this, I shout something on the order of “Ho Sh!t!” Eventually I actually breath and realize that this guy is climbing unroped. At this another “Ho Sh!t!” -- and I say “Oh man, I’m sorry, let me get all this crap out of your way – c’mon up dude, don’t wait for us.”
And this calm blond creature just hangs there in finger locks and says “No rush man, I’m good, you take your time and set things up the way you want.” (“Ho Sh!t!”)
Eventually he tops out onto the ledge in a single hop, and as he takes a momet to dip for some chalk he says “You guys looked good – the rest of the route goes like this” And with that he's off in a heartbeat and quick tops out. (“Ho Sh!t!”)
We looked good? Bwaaaahaaaahaaa! We had both just flailed like stunned fish on a dock. But I have since learned that that is just the kind of guy he is. Calm, polite, forever reassuring. It was, of course, brother Croft. First time I ever ran into him (in this case literally -- “Ho Sh!t!”)
Quite a few years later I talk a pretty studly rope gun pal into dragging me up Astroman. While I had done a few very carefully selected routes (to fit my personal skinny self and few talents) with slightly higher numbers -– this one is as a whole surely the hardest route I’d ever tried.
And there were oh so many times when I was flailing and trying to figure out just the next 5 feet. In those moments i would force myself to stop whining for a moment and just breath and say to myself out loud “Croft _soloed_ this thing!" (Ho Sh!t!). And if he can do that, perhaps even just me can figure out just this next 5 feet with a comfy functional top rope.”
I lather, rinse, and repeated this train of thought (endlessly), and somehow it gets me to keep my head in it and find a way (just barely) to top out.
Croft soloed this thing! (Ho Sh!t!)
A remarkably on-target guy. Stunning climber. More importantly, a truly, truly good soul.
ok, maybe a bit of thread drift cuz it might've been 1980 or 1981 but first trip to squamish:
smoke bluffs. maybe 830 or 9 a.m. some mossy wet thin crack. we walk up to climb it, but there's a party already on it (unusual in these years.) it's some skinny kid, a few years older than me, tying into his swami for a go. his hands are shakin so bad he can barely tie the knot. i have some familiarity with the dts, so i recognize the syndrome.
oh man, he asks us, do you guys have a beer? (9 in the morning, remember.)
no, we say, no beer.
too bad, he says, it's a lot better with beer.
randy atkinson on some random 5.11 that he proceeded to fire, shakin' the whole way.
Some of us actually had girlfriends at the time, and so not all necessarily had the hots for Tami.
Yes, the Little Smoke Bluffs - a nursery for Peter C. and others. From 1978 through to the mid 1980s he spent hundreds of days there, soloing up and down routes. He rightly believed that if you were going to solo up things, you ought to be able to solo down them. It helped to form a very sound base for later adventures. A lot of well known climbers may have similar places in their roots.
Self-bumped, so as to comply with Eric and Jay's order to bump history threads.
From my first trip to Squamish (81/82?) with Bryan Burdo, I remember meeting a group on the spur of the old highway under the Chief. There was Tami and... some others. John Stoddard must have been there because he later left a note to Bryan on our windshield. I think he climbed Cruel Shoes.
One rainy time in Leavenworth we saw a car with a rat drawn in the condensation on the rear window. Next day we weren't the only ones who thought of at least one dry climb.
Washington Rock Climbs (Smoot, 1989) says the FFA of Bomb Shelter was by Barber, in 1974. Earlier guidebooks don't provide FA or FFA information. Jim Donini is on ST occasionally, and may be able to comment - if he sees the thread.
Still no guesses regarding where the picture of Bruce F. was taken? (About 30 posts back?)
As far as the red button goes, one word: gondola.
Bumped per Karl Baba and MisterE's command.
Later I may post something about bolt chopping, convenience bolts, and Penny Lane. We haven't had a good thrash about such atrocities lately, though I'm afraid that no rap-bolting was committed.
Sorry, didn't mean to be anon. I guess my full name is in my profile on a couple of the other sites. klk=kerwinleeklein
there's a couple period photos (at larrabee) on the shining sea thread.
haven't posted much on this thread cuz i didnt get to squamish until '80 or '81. bud miller (from b'ham) was my 1st partner there. i climbed mostly with scott young, jean bonner, andy b, gordie a bit. peter a fair bit, hamish a few times. tim and stuart, later. tami will remember me only as a grommet.
i knew randy a bit, perry better. joe b and that crew. doug fir, etc. jim c of course. anders, i think we met once, but it would've been only briefly and ages ago, and the memory is pretty fuzzy. lots of sq memories, but they'll presumably fit better into an 80s thread. most of the pix are lost, unfortunately.
lived in vancouver on and off for a year or two. haven't climbed at squamish since 89 or 90, my last trip. then i was mostly hanging at pet wall. got back to lighthouse with scott a few years back.
Bolting controversy. Picture puzzle, Yosemite oriented. I'd have thought for sure those'd generate a few more bites.
Here's the photo again:
With regard to Bomb Shelter at Peshastin, Jim D reports on another thread that "Mighty Hiker, I climbed in the area but a little later- around 77 or 78. If Bomb Shelter is that 11- in Peshastin I believe it was freed by Henry Barber and considered the first 5:11 in Washington."
I think Jim actually lived in Leavenworth then or a bit later.
Ding ding ding!! Yes, Clint is the winner. The photo was taken somewhere on the upper part of the Knob Hill cliff. I was soloing up some modest route, and grabbed the shot. Bruce is the person who nicknamed me Mighty Hiker. And I guess that Knob Hill is a good cliff for people with Knock Knees. Both my brother and I have them, and are regularly mocked for them by a certain climber-cartoonist. She ceased and desisted when we threatened to hold her down and tickle her until she wet herself.
The Little Smoke Bluffs became something of a core to our climbing community. The place you'd go first in early spring, and last in late autumn, and sometimes in winter - when everything else was wet. Sometime in the early 1980s the "Smoke Bluffs Morals and Ethics Committee" was invented, in a sort of tribute. What happened was that some Vancouver climbers - few if any lived in Squamish then - started to go to a peeler bar, the Cecil, on Wednesday nights. Essentially to drink, and yak about climbing. It turned out that no one watched the peelers, plus the beer was cheaper at another bar - and perhaps, as more women started to be involved, we didn't really want to be at a peeler bar anyway. So sometime about 1981, we started going to the Ivanhoe instead.
The Ivanhoe is a bar quite close to what is now the bus station, in the centre of Vancouver. In a fairly gritty neighbourhood, not far from both Chinatown and the notorious downtown east side. The area has since improved a bit, but then wasn't so great. But the Ivanhoe let us take over a corner every Wednesday night, and we usually had the same waiter, a big guy named Ian. The management and the usual patrons were probably a bit puzzled by us, but all was well. A few times the more adventurous of us visited the American down the street. Another seedy hotel with a bar on the ground floor, and a sinister name. It was the local biker bar.
The Smoke Bluffs Morals and Ethics Committee met every Wednesday night in these unpretentious surroundings. It's a bit blurry now, but I believe that at one time or another, all the world's problems were solved there. Except for some of the knottier/naughtier climbing problems, where a great deal of smoke and heat was evident, but not necessarily a lot of light. Still, it was a great common denominator, and a chance for everyone to talk about what they'd done and planned to do, see the gang, and at least try to sort things out. Usually nothing important, in retrospect - at worst, minor transgressions.
I wouldn't claim that we were all angels, or all got along smoothly. Not likely, with an energetic bunch of (mostly) adolescent (mostly) males, doing something we were passionate about. There were real and imaginary rivalries, we sometimes got on each other's nerves, and there was the odd hissy fit. But the Ivanhoe provided a sort of leavening, and social scene, that we otherwise only tended to get when a big group went to Leavenworth for Easter or Thanksgiving, when we'd camp together and have fun.
Sadly, we stopped going to the Ivanhoe in spring 1986. Expo 86 was in Vancouver, and essentially took over the neighbourhood for six months. After that, we never really reconvened. Maybe we were all growing a bit, too, and our lives were diverging as they tend to do.
What happened was that some Vancouver climbers - few if any lived in Squamish then - started to go to a peeler bar, the Cecil, on Wednesday nights. Essentially to drink, and yak about climbing. It turned out that no one watched the peelers, plus the beer was cheaper at another bar - and perhaps, as more women started to be involved, we didn't really want to be at a peeler bar anyway
Anders, the Cecil wasn't a peeler joint when we first started going to it. I think I probably first went to the Wednesday night thing in '75 or '76, and at that time it centered around the British crew that had emigrated to the Vancouver area. John Howard and co. The move to the Ivanhoe came because of the Cecil's decision to bring in strippers a few years later. I doubt any of us objected too strongly to the stripping, but the loud music that came with it made conversation tough.
And next time we get together (at Wayne's place?) I'll arm wrestle you for the right to claim the first unrecorded ascent of what later became Digital Dexterity.
Hmmm. You're probably still bigger than me, so maybe arm wrestling is not the best choice. Maybe beer-drinking. I was always better at that anyway.
In any case, I was wandering around the bluffs one day with John Wittmayer and Corina. They had some project in mind, so, with nothing else to do on a pleasant Saturday afternoon I started up a thin crack. They got back from whatever it was they were climbing in time to take this shot:
Thanks, Chris! That seems like a fair amount of interest, although there's nothing really to compare it with. I guess it's somewhere between "Rap Bolting South Face of Half Dome" and "Clash of Civilizations" on the interest meter. Anyway, as long as I'm not talking to myself - although keeping track of all the identities has sometimes been a challenge, and I'm running out of libraries and cybercafes with independent terminals to work from. :-)
An entirely new guidebook classification: FUA (First Unrecorded Ascent).
The golden age at the Ivanhoe was the early 1980s. Vancouver and B.C. were badly hit by the recession then, and unemployment was well over 10%. Which included a lot of young, and recently graduated, climbers.
Please use Anonymous' Batso impersonation above to illustrate it.
Who you calling Anonymous, Andy? Batso might have been my hero when I first tied in to a climbing rope, but I soon surpassed him. Why, the pitch I'm soloing in that photo was almost 50 feet long. Fifty Feet! And not only were a couple of the placements A2, there was actually one that was A3.
The FUA has considerable potential to cause consternation for guidebook writers, and people who write about the history of climbing. Not to mention climbers who like to keep little lists of everything they've ever climbed, and claim every bit of credit they think they deserve. Worth pursuing just for those reasons.
A sociologist friend says that most climber behaviour can be explained in terms of adolescent male behaviour, especially the whole 'territory' thing. The only unusual thing being that it sometimes continues well into middle age.
A friend recently told me he freed Papoose One, five or six years before Eric and I did it in 1974. As he helped with the 1980 guidebook, and didn't say anything then, I suspect a conspiracy involving rocky knolls.
The most famous FUA would of course be Mallory & Irvine on Chomolungma, in 1924. If they got to the top - very big if, and evidence to prove it seems unlikely to now appear - a lot of things would have to be changed.
I'm no arm wrestler, so even wee ghost may be able to down me.
But Daryl was, and so was Hugh Burton. Once John, Daryl, Scott and I went drinking at a blue collar bar in New Westminster. Daryl fancied his arm wrestling, and got in a challenge/bet. Predictably, the other guy cranked before Daryl was set to go - tactics are everything. They got in a fight, and Daryl got bounced out the back door. He later said he was quite worried, as he knew it led out onto stairs. Luckily there was a landing.
I've heard stories about Hugh and his arm wrestling, but have none first hand. Being lanky and strong must be a big advantage.
On another note, I'm still wondering how to interpret the following:
Page views: 3,692
Unique views: 3,217
I'd like to think we're all unique. And I didn't know that electrons had pages. Hopefully someone can enlighten me regarding these obscure subjects.
History projects turn up the most interesting treasures. Some friends have lent me a photo of climbers at Squamish, which was taken in 1966 or 1967. That's a bit outside the thread parameters, but it's such a cool photo that I had to post it.
It is probably a picture of a "rock school" by UBC's outdoors club. A friend who was active then says he's not sure who most of the people in the picture are, but at the time there were less than a dozen active climbers at Squamish, and most aren't in the photo. The person on the right is Tony Cousins (died last summer), and the short person next to him with a can is Tim Auger. The person in the centre with a beer bottle is Jim Sinclair, and the one with the helmet may be Gordie Smaill. My informant (also an ST lurker) astutely notes that only the adults have beer (stubbies) - the outdoors club people were too young and prim to drink, and beer did not then come in cans in Canada. He's tentatively identified some of the others, so we'll see what they say.
Some classic stuff in the photo - stubby beer bottles, Trapper Nelson frame pack, knickers, etc. It's framed, and has the signature "Wade Chernenkoff" on the back - one of the climbers then.)
As the larger history project unfolds, it will be fun to sort through all the photos and things.
Ironic, the Calgary Mountain Club used to meet in a grungy Calgary bar called the Cecil. I think they started going there in the 60's. The CMC has always been a different club than most because there are no club trips, instruction, sponsership, mentoring or anything like that. It exists for social purposes only. One year it was discovered that the newly elected president was not an official member! Blanchard calls it a drinking club with a climbing problem.
AP: That business with the Cecil was always funny. Two separate groups of climbers, two separate cities, both doing a "Wednesday night at the Cecil". What are the chances of that?
The Vancouver Cecil group was even more informal the the CMC, in that it wasn't a club at all. Just anybody who wanted to drink beer and talk about climbing. Heavily Brit-influenced in both cities, though. There's probably a Cecil in Newcastle where climbers hang out.
On the other hand, while the CMC was loose, rowdy, and informal, it did produce the "CMC World News" - the greatest climbing journal in the history of the world.
A reliable source - someone who's in the picture - advises that the photo was taken as part of a mock rescue exercise at the base of the Grand Wall, in 1968. Which might make it one of the first such at Squamish.
I've found out more about this wonderful photo. It was taken about 1966, at a practice by the Mountain Rescue Group, a volunteer body based in Vancouver. The MRG looked after most searches and rescues in this part of the world from the mid 1950s to the late 1970s. That day, they practiced raising and lowering a stretcher from the top of the Flake, at the base of the Grand Wall. (80 - 100 m vertical.) They practiced with a dummy and then a person, using techniques set out in Wastl Mariner's "Mountain Rescue Technique" book.
My source (who's in the picture) says: "For the operation we used a Tufor Jack that I had modified at a local engineering shop to handle a ca. 1/4 inch stainless wire rope. The Tufor Jack was a compact manual construction jack (ca. 10 kg.) that fed the wire rope through a set of modified mechanical dogs.
The wire rope was about 100 meters long, 25 kg, carried on a backpack spool. One person carried the jack and another carried the spool of rope. Raising and lowering on the wire rope was belayed with ordinary climbing ropes. The system was quite effective."
He also says (get this): "The teddy bear on the left of Jim Sinclair was our dummy body." Avalanche poodles? Check! Inflatable sheep? No problem! Teddy bears?
The people in the picture (R - L), many of importance in local climbing history: Tony Cousins, Tim Auger, Linda F., Mike W., Bev W., Gordon Smaill (helmet), John W., Jim Sinclair (Big Jim), Man D, Teddy Bear, Man E, Man F, Mab B., Colin O. (A friend who'll be back later this week can probably ID the rest.)
The photo itself was taken in the boulders under the Chief. One of the first if not the first technical rescue practices in this part of the world.
Unless there's some overriding reason for not doing it, could you include last names in your stories and photos? All this "Joe A" and "Jill B" stuff is kind of frustrating. And it makes them sound like characters in a bad 19th century novel instead of real people.
Sorry - not trying to be mysterious. Just bearing in mind that some people might not want their full names to appear, or even perhaps their photos with names. Much may be a matter of fact and record, but not all, and people don't always appreciate attention. I also omitted some names, photos, and stories out of caution.
Sorry - No way to go back and change the posts now, and apart from someone who confused the two Dave Ls (Loeks and Lane), no one mentioned this earlier. I believe I mentioned my policy on this in the first or an early post, and no one said anything.
The projected history of the first 50 years of climbing at Squamish (1957 - ) will naturally use full names, but would be very different in nature than the stories here.
Tami, Ghost: you are right about Dave Dornian. His writing is great, he manages to put inflated egos in their places, and has a healthy disrespect for the eccentricities of the climbing world. Maybe I will scan some juicy bits from the CMC World News and post them up here (but only if you promise some cartoons).
One of Dave's finest moments was when Jeff Lowe came to Calgary for a slide show. Dave put an advertisement in the World News offering 1 years free membership to the first person to ask Jeff what was the highest altitude he and Catherine Destiville had sex at.
So as to divert from a discussion about Jello's personal life, we could talk about grading. At the Little Smoke Bluffs, anyway. Climbs at Squamish were badly undergraded under the TDS until the early 1970s - something discussed far upthread. Although people like Jim Baldwin and Hamish Mutch had been to the Valley by 1962 or 1963, and had a pretty good idea as to relative standards, the application led to routes like Snake being graded 5.6 in the 1967 guide (now 5.9), and the left side of Yosemite Pinnacle being graded 5.8 (now solid 5.10 wide).
Many say that climbs in the Bluffs are overgraded. It may be more that the climbs there tend to be relatively short, and in an often comfortable environment. The cruxes are often not long, climbs and protection can be assessed from the ground (originally on rappel, of course), and many routes are not sustained. The result is that climbs in the Bluffs are often of the advertised technical difficulty, but aren't as serious, sustained or strenuous as those elsewhere at Squamish.
Some suggest that grades at Squamish generally are soft, but as with so many areas, they seem internally consistent. Those in the Bluffs are simply different in nature - as those who are fine on moderate 5.10 there find when they try the Split Pillar.
In a somewhat similar vein, many "5.9" routes put up in Yosemite in the 1960s are famously strenuous and sustained, and comparable routes are now more likely to be graded 5.10. The TDS/YDS supposedly graded based on the hardest move, ignoring other factors. Perhaps less so now than formerly, in many areas.
However, the grades at Skaha really may be soft....
At Squamish in the 1970s it is likely that climbs were given onsight difficulty grades, as is proper if you do not allow up to 2 years of repeated efforts to get up a pitch. At Skaha it may only be that climbs are graded according to redpoint difficulty.
However, as a Skaha onsight A Step Beyond seemed to be about right, grade and name-wise.
Stories from Calgary et al may fit better on a thread of their own. My tale will gradually wind down over the next while - we're getting fairly close to 1980. The thread might end with that year's guidebook. Still, even with digressions, it has mostly stayed on topic, and I'd like to keep it that way.
It was a lovely spring day today, and so a visit to Squamish was in order, if only to see if the Chief was still there, and get a little fresh air and exercise. I planned a short hike up the back, and then some climbing at the Bluffs. In the parking lot, who should I run into but Dave L. (photos and stories thereof somewhere upthread) and his wife Sheila B. So we had a lovely hike and chat together. It was somewhat more adventurous than planned – the upper 1/3 of the Chief still has a fair amount of snow and ice. Almost alpine, in fact. Not that we were prepared for it or anything.
We hiked up to the gap between the first and second ‘peaks’. It is not simple to go directly from the first to the second peak, certainly not without some climbing equipment. If nothing else, there’s a 10 m rappel into the gap (or serious tree climbing), plus some fairly exposed ledge walking. Much to our surprise, someone has installed a ladder at the gap, with rungs bolted into the rock, and a fixed rope.
Here’s Dave trying the ladder, which I predict will lead some tourists into trouble. It wasn’t there last fall, and it will be interesting to find out who/what/why.
The icicles in the vicinity make it a potential mixed climb.
In 1995, just as the Chief was being made a provincial park, B.C. Parks got some grant money. They used it to do some work on the trails on the Chief, a job creation thing. In some places they overdid it, adding unnecessary ladders and chains. However, here’s one that probably is necessary. That section used to involve some quite interesting tree root climbing.
It’s on the way up to the second peak – lots of snow, knee deep or more in places, but also icy in places.
And here’s Dave at the top. In a change from my usual style, there’s a mountain growing out of his head instead of a tree. Mount Garibaldi.
Two of the team on top, lots of snow about.
We went on to the third peak, then descended a different part of the trail. It was rather shocking to see that someone has painted graffiti at the base of the White Cliff, one of the minor cliffs lurking in the forest. Another research project, but it will be removed. There are two graffiti, quite similar.
Otherwise, the thread is slowly winding to a close. I will probably take it up to the 1980 guidebook, and then must turn to other things. But there will be some posts on changes in equipment and technique, what new and old climbers were up to, new routes and areas, photos, and stuff, to tidy it up.
This is Bruce MacDonald, and I have volunteered to provide Anders with whichever he wants of my photos from the 70's 80's and 90's
So I guess I have a fairly big task of going thru a thousand color slides and getting them scanned. I have a lot of good pictures from climbing with the usual suspects of Squamish in those days, so I am sure this group will enjoy them once I get going on it.
In the meanwhile, a hearty hello to everyone I haven't seen or talked to in the last 13 years !!!
Bravo to Anders for initiating another fine project.
Thanks for the bumps, Erik and Steve! I may be able to do some work on this over the next few days. (Raining here.) It would be nice to get the thread finished off, perhaps ending with the 1980 guidebook.
In the meantime, I've been wrestling with things like historiography, partnerships, planning, and the proposed history of the first 50 years of climbing at Squamish.
The '70's iz too long ago fer me to remember. Sex is much better when yer over forty yrz old.
What y'all have to understand is that when she was young, Tami devoted herself to climbing. Anything that distracted from the purity of ascent was forsaken. Consequently, she was a virgin until she gave up climbing at age forty.
The stories of epic pregnancies are about as real as all that sh#t she cartooned about. Those kids were adopted.
Cracko: Your last photo is Diedre - the first pitch in the diedre.
In the group photo:
Lying (on left) - ?
Standing, blue top, face toward camera - Peter C.
"Bendover" (behind Peter) - ?
Red duvet person - Simon T or Randy A. (Someone tall.)
Blue hat, salt & pepper sweater - ?
Slug in purple sleeping bag - Tami.
Returning to the fray, there is another thread with considerable information about how the Grand Wall gradually came to be freed from the 1970s through the 1990s, at http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=20466 It includes the story of the freeing of Perry's Lieback and other fun stuff, with contributions from some of those involved, including Perry.
For those interested in esoterica, there is a letter in Rock & Ice 179 (page 11) about Mushroom (at Squamish - mentioned in the very first post to this thread) and its being the inspiration for the naming of Magic Mushroom. It doesn't seem to be on the R&I website, though.
I haven't forgotten that the thread has stalled, hovering in about 1978, with only a year or two to go.
Theories as to why I wasn't smiling:
One of us had to look serious.
Tami stomping on my toe, as revenge for the other photo.
Life is too serious to smile.
Wondering whether to tickle or pinch Tami.
Oh, the mirth. It looks like you guys and gals had a fun time.
Tami does a great impersonation of my cousin Blinky from Appalachia country. How did you get to be so damn funny, girl? There is a sublime balance between you and Anders in that pic. I'm still laughing.
Tami's parents constantly warned her that if she didn't stop making faces, her face would eventually freeze that way. They told her and told her, but did she listen? Nooooo! And there's proof - zygomaticus abuse if I ever saw it.
Here is a Squamish story from before the 1970s, but still a nice one. There is a lovely clean ledge at the top of the Apron - a fan shaped area of slabs about 250 m high, with 20 - 30 commonly climbed routes, and several dozen variants and less frequently climbed routes. A tree ledge - Broadway - traverses down from the top of the Apron into the forest, and is the descent. The left edge of the Apron is something of a buttress, and indeed the Squamish Buttress rises above.
The ledge is right at the crest of the Apron, and juts out from the buttress. It is a pleasant airy spot with a fine view, and I like to sit there and think. (It would be marvellous to bivouac there, but I haven't yet done so.) I was up there last Thursday evening - I was doing a bit of graffiti removal and other cleanup, planning to meet friends for a beer later. A good place to watch the sun's going.
It is named the Baldwin Ledge, although some call it Memorial Ledge.
There is an oven-sized rock perched fortuitously on the edge of the ledge, and on it is a plaque. Here it is:
The plaque was placed in memory of Jim Baldwin by his family and friends, after his death on Washington Column in 1964. It has weathered quite nicely. (Brass? Bronze?) The quote is from a poem by Walt Whitman, called "To Those Who've Fail'd" (I believe it's from Leaves of Grass):
To those who've fail'd, in aspiration vast,
To unnam'd soldiers fallen in front on the lead,
To calm, devoted engineers--to over-ardent travelers--to pilots on their ships,
To many a lofty song and picture without recognition--I'd rear
High, high above the rest--To all cut off before their time,
Possess'd by some strange spirit of fire,
Quench'd by an early death.
I'm not big on such plaques and memorials at Squamish - they just don't feel right to me. But this is one hallowed by time and usage, and is just right. A place special to the memory of Jim Baldwin, a leader in Squamish and Canadian climbing.
I don't know whether the bleaching is due to electrolysis, chemical effects, or both. Perhaps there's an 'ologist in the house who can advise? It may depend on which metal it is. There could also be interaction between the bolts (probably soft steel, 1/4" compression, but not sure) and the plaque. The bolts themselves - there are only two, as the surface of the rock is uneven - look like they need replacing.
There are now two other plaques at the Baldwin Ledge (in the 1970s we called that general area "the Baldwin Plaque" = ledge + memorial), placed well after the 1970s. Parks' policy (since 1995) prohibits placement of memorials anywhere at the Chief, which in the long run makes sense. I've suggested that they have a program for friends and families to donate to projects or a fund, with an 'updateable' plaque or similar in the campground on which names could be recorded. It might be a reasonable solution.
The Baldwin Ledge really is a very pretty place. I sent the photos to several of Jim's friends, most of whom hadn't seen the spot for 30 or more years, and one of whom didn't know the memorial existed. I'm hoping one or other may add a bit to this tidbit of history, and thought it worth a small detour from our main theme. Not that I would ever digress, naturally...
The ashes of several climbers have been strewn from several locations on the Chief, including Daryl's from the south summit in 2004.
It looks like 'commercial bronze' to me which is basically brass which means about 12% zinc which probably explains the corrosion. Prolly the only way to stop it is to remove it, kill the corrosion, coat it, and re-mount.
That makes sense - the plaque was probably made at a commercial monument place, and so would have 'standard' composition. I've seen many similar ones from the 1960s.
Still hoping to get a bit more background about the origins of the plaque. The two bolts holding it on are very corroded, more so than those from that period would usually be. Perhaps galvanic action again. Anyway, I may ask those who placed it if it would be OK to replace the bolts - it should be possible to completely remove them without harming the plaque, and to reuse the holes. I need to measure what diameter bolt the holes on the plaque would accept.
You mention coating the plaque - what would be used, and what would the implications, advantages and disadvantages be?
It's interesting that the poem is titled "To Those Who've Fail'd", even if failed is used in the poetic sense. The metaphors in the poem are of those who tried their best, but didn't succeed - which isn't quite the same as failing. I may know who chose the trope, and will ask what the reason was.
We all eventually 'fail', as we grow older and weaker. But in modern English, Baldwin didn't fail - far from it. I haven't read Leaves of Grass, though I know a bit about it. Perhaps the context of the poem would explain more.