Wings of Steel

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andy@climbingmoab

Big Wall climber
Salt Lake City
May 18, 2005 - 09:21am PT
Hammerless aid climbing is sometimes really proud and not contrived, especially in the desert. P1 of the Sundevil Chimney on the Titan relies on a couple of bolts for fixed gear, but otherwise a clean ascent needs only a bunch of creativity and is quite frightening - no fixed pins or anything like that required. The clean aid, free climbing, and rap anchor shenanigans being done to climb new towers in Canyonlands with no fixed gear whatsoever is very impressive as well.

Sorry for the offtopic reply - I am just getting really tired of this particular rant of Pete's that is only applicable to some roadside granite aid climbing areas. Seems like folks should get out and climb at a few more places before lecturing about universal ethics.
WBraun

climber
May 18, 2005 - 09:35am PT
So andy in the moab

My humble question; how do you rappel on the new towers without leaving any fixed gear?
bringmedeath

climber
la la land
May 18, 2005 - 09:37am PT
I've only done small sh#t in the fishers, but I can see how it would get f*#ked if people went crazy hammering. I bet my bathook hole will disapear in a few years!
andy@climbingmoab

Big Wall climber
Salt Lake City
May 18, 2005 - 10:12am PT
aside from the obvious sketchy simulraps, here is an interesting and bold lumber method from Crusher(copied from Desert Rock IV by Bjornstad). There is a classic photo in the guidebook as well.

"To descend the tower legally we had to leave no fixed anchor for the 250' rappel. Therefore we used a 4-foot, 6-inch 4x4 piece of lumber straddling the chimney top as a belay and rappel anchor. We duct-taped a second piece of lumber (a 3-foot long 2x4) under one end, crucifix style. One end of the 2x4 protruded over the edge and was attached to enough rope to reach the ground. Rappel off the middle of the 4x4 down the chimney and then down the north face using enough rope to reach the ground(this will likely require passing a knot). Then pull on the rope attached to the protruding end of the 2x4, and voila! Down comes the anchor."
WBraun

climber
May 18, 2005 - 10:19am PT
That's very cool, Andy, thanks so much for the information.
macgyver

Social climber
Oregon, but now in Europe
May 18, 2005 - 11:58am PT
DESERT TOWERS: Rapping with no fixed gear
There is a great photo in an issue of the ALPINIST (maybe 3 or 4) that shoes the crucifix wood splint. Pretty tight.

Sewellymon

Social climber
.....in a single wide......
May 18, 2005 - 12:15pm PT
I actually met Richard Jensen; we were bouldering at Pirate’s Cove/ Corona Del Mar. This was a year or two after the Wings of Steel debacle.
He was a real nice guy; we chatted about it some. I don’t those guys understood (at the time) what was considered an acceptable hole count (or drilling), versus a travesty. But it also gets back to the fact that- had these been experienced El Cap climbers, the locals would have perhaps been more comfortable that the route would not be a botch job. But when outsiders show up and start drilling and fixing on the Big Stone.. well…… bolts get chopped, ropes get pulled and sh*t upon
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
May 18, 2005 - 12:16pm PT
I don't know anything about their routes, but Jensen & Co. certainly are members of some kind of odd religious cult. I've seen them in public cracking jokes about people who are "politically correct" while bragging about their self-sufficiency, buying houses in suburbia, etc. etc. They certainly don't seem like they are a heck of a lot of fun.
Gunkie

climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 18, 2005 - 01:41pm PT
I have the book 'Wings of Steel'. It's a kind of neat log of their ascent, but unfortunately it's full of sections that are basically religious sermons. And yes, these two fellows seem a lttle odd in their religious fervor. Though, I'm less surprised today than I was five or six years ago.

Apparently Rob Slater got up about 6 or 7 pitches in the late 80's before succumbing to the heat.
Minerals

Social climber
The Deli
May 19, 2005 - 12:58am PT
Pass your daughter over here Pete wrote:
Note: If you are a "hammerless" weenie, then you will have to tap your bathook in place with your helmet or something. Claiming a hammerless ascent of an aid route makes as much sense as drilling bathook holes. "Oh yeah, we climbed it hammerless, we just used 136 points of aid on existing hammered pro, like fixed pins and heads, that fortuitously happened to be in situ so we didn't have to use a cheat stick to bypass missing stuff. Oh yeah, and it was C4. Ain't we bitchin'?" Incidentally, where are the tall claims of clean/hammerless ascents of Zodiac these days?

I’ll support that, however I rarely use a hammer on any kind of hook… “Clean” is a political term… and political terms usually last two to four years… so in two to four years, we’ll have to go back up there again…


The Socialist who lost the last election wrote:
I realize the FA team is taking on the extra challenge of exploring new terrain, but IMO they accept the responsibility to put in decent hardware. If not, they have no right to complain if the hardware is replaced years later with higher quality items. I am not advocating adding anchors, just upgrading existing placement, preferably using the same hole.

What is “higher quality”? Will “higher quality items” affect the nature/difficulty/character/safety of the route (from that of the FA) when they are installed? Socialized medicine sucks and so does socialized climbing.


There was a pretty cool rant posted to a rivet thread either here or on RC.com a while ago by Mark or Richard on the ethics of jigus rivets. I just looked for it but couldn’t find it… maybe he deleted it or I looked in the wrong place…

I too believe that bat-hook holes on blank rock are pretty much bogus. If it’s blank enough that you have to drill a hole, then you might as well place a rivet. Enhanced hook placements are another story, provided there is something to work with in the first place – totally blank rock deserves a rivet, not an empty hole. Bat-hooking on blank, overhanging rock really sucks…

If you can stand up higher on a rivet than you can on a bat-hook, then why not place a rivet? And besides, you've got to be dealing with at least some sort of natural feature to call it climbing, right?
Ammon

Big Wall climber
Lake Arrowhead
May 19, 2005 - 03:42am PT
"Wow show's what you guys know"

Actually, it shows what the person I HEARD it from…… knows. This was information I got while sitting in the Meadow….. you know how that goes.

I’m with Deuce, contrived A5 bat hooks are a JOKE. If you drill em, fill em!!!

Nice post, Minerals
John F. Kerry

Social climber
Boston, MA
May 19, 2005 - 05:30am PT
What is “higher quality”? Will “higher quality items” affect the nature/difficulty/character/safety of the route (from that of the FA) when they are installed? Socialized medicine sucks and so does socialized climbing.

Good points for sure, Minerals. It is seared, SEARED into my memory when I clipped my last StarDryvin bolt with its rusted & visibly pitted Leeper hanger. At least I had my lucky hat on!

I don't mean putting 1/2" SS bolts in place of rivits. I mean putting quality bolts in bolt placements. We have some problems out East here where some FA guys like to place those funky little Petzl self-drills with the aluminum hangers, which I believe are caving anchors. They do so because they don't want the extra work (& expense?) of installing more appropriate anchors.

The socialism comparison really doesn't apply. If the FA teams's actions never affected anyone else, then no one could complain about those actions. Live & let live, do your own thing, etcetera. But since the FA team's actions do affect others' lives (literally), some degree of responsibility comes into play, IMO. At the very least, if some reasonable degree of responsibility is not accepted (and I know that's slippery to define) then the FA team doesn't have much grounds for whining.

If you want to fall back on the "it's not a community service, I do what I want" position, that's OK too. Just don't complain when others come through and do what THEY want. Unfettered freedom works both ways.

I must say, however, that is ironic to see worrisome handwringing about the ethical evils of high quality hardware... on a site operated by the chairman of the ASCA.
Dru

climber
HELL, BABY, HELL!
May 19, 2005 - 02:46pm PT
I read in High Mountain Sports magazine that Thomas Tivadar would chisel copperhead placements on blank slabs instead of bathooking or rivetting, so that he could claim a low hole count.
bringmedeath

climber
la la land
May 19, 2005 - 06:01pm PT
Why doesn't Klaus tell us what he thinks of Thomas T.!
WBraun

climber
May 19, 2005 - 06:09pm PT
I read in High Mountain Sports magazine that Thomas Tivadar would chisel copperhead placements on blank slabs instead of bathooking or rivetting, so that he could claim a low hole count.

I'll tell you what I think. Big fu-cking deal, don't worrry about what some other guy did, do it the right way yourself if it bothers you.
Minerals

Social climber
The Deli
May 20, 2005 - 10:33am PT
I don't mean putting 1/2" SS bolts in place of rivits. I mean putting quality bolts in bolt placements. We have some problems out East here where some FA guys like to place those funky little Petzl self-drills with the aluminum hangers, which I believe are caving anchors. They do so because they don't want the extra work (& expense?) of installing more appropriate anchors.

Ok, I think we’re on the same page. Those Petzl caving bolts are crap (one of my favorite to chop…) and it sucks when people place them at belays on walls. Lame. There is a pretty big difference between being cheap and lazy and having your own style/statement/etc. by using certain hardware. I could probably make the “socialism comparison” work if I responded to your last sentence in your post…


Klaus doesn’t chisel head placements into blank rock – that would be way too much work for him… although I hear that Bridwell chiseled heads into blank rock on Shadows because he ran out of drill bits???
bigwalling

climber
May 20, 2005 - 11:08am PT
To Pete I'll happily loan you my bat hooks if you want to try that pitch.
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 20, 2005 - 03:52pm PT
how about those nice guys who drill bat hook holes and slam a crap head into it...gotta love that style.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Walla Walla, WA
Oct 24, 2005 - 11:07pm PT
Hmmm... amazing amount of misinformation... which I guess shouldn't be surprising to me, given that it's been well over twenty years since we put Wings up... and... there was tons of misinformation going around then too. It seems that little has changed in the intervening time, as people who have no first-hand knowledge still feel compelled to "weigh in," and those who should know better than to believe such opinions still do anyway.

Ok, first of all, the bolting-ethics discussions are fine and good, and I might consider offering my own opinions at some point, but the purpose of this post is simply to clarify some facts about Wings of Steel. Of course, anyone is free to call me a liar, but that sort of short-circuits any further discussion, although I guess THAT'S unlikely to happen anyway. Hopefully, though, it will be granted that I'm not lying in what follows, and, of course, the route is still there waiting for someone to prove me a liar (although the first few pitches HAVE been pretty chewed up over the years).

*
To Lambone: No, we did not chop the route behind us as we climbed it. Whoever started this rumor has no reason to think it true, and you have no reason on the basis of this rumor alone to further the notion that the route was done in "bad style."

*
To Wenis: First, we weren't/aren't Mormons. We are Seventh-day Adventists, and we did keep the Sabbath while on the route. So, in reference to your "interminable amount of time" comment, keep in mind that we did lose almost a week of time just to Sabbaths. Oh, and we lost almost a week to storms (kind of hard to do top-looped hooking on slick, wet rock). Oh, and 1982 was a record-setting runoff year, so our line didn't dry up until 11am most mornings--and the main waterstreak we followed did have the most features, which is why we were there. Oh, and we did have a 30% hook-failure rate, so we were taking literally hundreds of feet in falls. ("Hook failure"??? Whaaaatttt??? It was all bat hooks! Right?)

So, yes we were up there a long time, but under the conditions we had, it is unclear that the time we took was inordinate... in fact, Rob Slater told me that after fixing they were making about a pitch a day up to the fifth anchor where they stopped, and they didn't have to drill any rivets from top-looped micro-hooks. Oh, and I have a letter from Rob (which, by the way, he tried to get published in Climbing magazine, and they refused to print it because it was not the "party line" about the route at that time)--in that letter he states: "The route has the most technical hooking I have ever seen... way worse than anything on the Sea or other "hard" Valley routes I've done." But, of course, even Slater can't buck the "party line" when everybody "knows" the route was just a bolt ladder or rivet ladder or bat hook ladder (or wooden ladder, or, damn it... SOME kind of ladder).

Regarding the two-hundred yard long line of "feces and trash," this burst of flatulence alone shows your ignorance. We used paper sacks for solids (which was the style of the times, and is still used, illegally, by many even now), and threw the bags to the ground. Trash went to the ground also. And, to avoid the urine smell at our bivies, our urine went into used water bottles, which also went to the ground. Now, you might complain about what the BASE of our route looked like (and some have), and that would at least be based on a FACT. But, unlike most climbers, we DID go back to the base after the ascent and cleaned EVERYTHING from west of Aquarian Wall down to well past Dihedral wall. That included cigs (we don't smoke), beer cans (we don't drink), plastic bags full of human waste (we used paper), and so on. When we were finished with our ascent, El Cap was cleaner than when we started.

Wow, LOTS of misinformation in your post... on to my mom. My mom did date Warren Harding for many years, but this started about three years after our ascent of Wings of Steel. So, the nature of your "history repeated itself" statement is obscure and quite strange. Indeed, the smug tone of your entire post, as though you know something about the route, is quite baffling. It a well-known adage that that "knowledge is power," and it seems that acting knowledgable makes people FEEL powerful. Perhaps that feeling is what you are after in this forum. At any rate, the ONLY thing you got right was that our route was chopped while we were fixing the first two pitches, although at the time only a few people claimed credit, and we know first hand who was involved in the chopping.

Point of info, Bill Russell was one of the chopping party members, and he later attempted the second ascent of the route so he could "chop it legitimately" (you know, actually CLIMB the route first). His partner, a guy named also Richard, as I recall, in that aborted attempt later told us that he had completely changed his mind about the route after that experience. Bill was unable to climb even the first pitch, ended up lowering off of a bolt, and was then so furious that he was determined to climb Horse Chute, rap the slab, and chop the route that way (all thoughts of "legitimacy" out the window at this point).

So, Wenis, please try to get your facts straight before you pontificate and draw conclusions, including moral judgments. ("Terribly misguided"??? Oh, help me.). It's easy to blast someone quickly and in a few sentences--it's much harder and time-consuming to set the record straight after being the brunt of such defamation.

*
To Ammon: As I hope I've clarified by now, the route was not a rivet ladder. Although, I must say, I am unclear what "put up in poor style" adds to such a claim. I mean, IF we had put up a rivet ladder, doesn't "put up in poor style" add nothing to that fact? Or, do we feel the need to constantly clarify that a rivet ladder JUST IS poor style? Is it possible to put a rivet ladder up the side of El Cap in GOOD style? I don't know--please clarify what "style" has to do with rivet ladders. But, anyway, the route is not a rivet ladder.

*
To Wbraun: You haven't done the route, and you don't know anybody who has. What justifies your "terrible mess" claim? Rob Slater is the only person I have heard of who has gotten as far as the fifth pitch anchor. He was a credible person and climber before his untimely death, and he certainly didn't think the route was a "terrible mess". So, I guess you are free to THINK whatever you want, but you do have a moral responsibility to SPEAK according to the facts. I've seen precious few actual FACTS on this topic.

*
To Halhammer: I appreciate the tone of your post, certainly. But please allow me to clarify. We did NOT use bat hooks on the route. At all. Period. We were using Leeper Narrow hooks on tiny edges (like quarters in thickness). We DID (rarely) use the tip of a drill to LEVEL an edge slightly so the hook wouldn't skip down sideways. (Although we found this practice VERY risky, since the "leveling" process tended to weaken the flakes; "leveled" flakes failed more often than natural ones.) But MOST of our 145 hook placements on the slab were completely natural.

After we did the fifth ascent of the Sea of Dreams (in "good" style, by the way, under intense scrutiny), we realized that we could have made Wings of Steel MUCH easier on ourselves, while rating it MUCH harder, by DEEPLY "modifying" our hook placements (as was done on all the "hard" hooking sections on the Sea). In response to my article in Rock and Ice, "How Many Holes?" some have stated that the "modified" hooks we found on the Sea were drilled out after the first ascent party. Well, I don't believe it, for these reasons: First, ALL three of the teams prior to us and after the first ascent were VERY respected climbers, and I'm not going to be the one to claim that they ADDED holes to the route. WE certainly didn't, and MANY people know that is true, because we were being scrutinized by telescopes EVERY day we were on that route BY people who were LOOKING for us to screw up, and Eric Brand and John Barbella were putting up the first ascent of Heartland right beside us most of the time we were on the Sea. They were watching closely, and high on the route they told us that they had changed their minds about us, as they had seen that our style was impeccable. (We even ended up lowering them a couple of gallons of water when our routes crossed, because they were running low.) Nobody has been more closely scrutinized than we were on the Sea, because EVERYBODY thought we were going to "drill it down to [our] level".

And, finally, MOST of those holes were drilled into sloping ripples and irregularities that could not have held ANY sort of gear unless they had holes drilled into them at the perfect position to hold a pointed Black Diamond hook--so the first ascent team could NOT have used these slight and wildly sloped irregularities in the rock without the holes. The Sea was put up USING hundreds of holes, and we even found long, thin, vertical flakes that were chipped into horizontal ledges at regular intervals to hold sling loops. Again, these features were useless without the "modifications," and we didn't even count such obvious "chipping" in our hole count as we did the route.

The point is that the Sea was an awesome route, and the fixation to count "holes" completely obviates that fact. The boldness and value of a route CANNOT be determined solely BY the number of holes and modifications that make it "go". There is some indefinable ratio of "natural" to "modified" placements after which a route becomes "contrived" or even "bad style". Who am I to say where that line is drawn? Like many fuzzy ideas, we know that the edge borders are well-defined, but there is LOTS of ground in the middle, and the climbing community would do well to take a large dose of charity with every meal.

So, the long and short of the matter is that we learned on the Sea what sort of "hooking" is acceptable practice, but we were too ignorant on Wings to realize that we could have made it much easier on ourselves. Instead, our hooking was almost entirely natural, and we did peel about 30% of our hook placements. We would often spend two or three hours painstakingly working out a sequence of hook flakes, only to have the fourth or fifth one peel on us, dropping the leader anywhere from twenty-five to forty feet, losing us those hours. Yes, there were bolts and rivets whenever we couldn't find hook flakes, but there are LONG sections of just hooks, and these hooks were NOT bat hooks.

Our ratios were better than the Sea of Dreams, but I repeat, counting up "modifications" is NOT the way to decide the value of a route.

So, I'm not sure how our choice of style is "painful". We did take seven haul bags. We hauled over 1200 pounds off the deck, planning to be on the wall about twenty-five days. Would seiging the route have been better style? I don't think so. Instead, we opted to commit to the wall after fixing merely two pitches, and we committed to starving for two weeks to make it in one push, even though we quickly realized that the route would take MUCH longer than we had planned. Should we have not done that slab because it was too "contrived" to do in "good style" (whatever THAT is)? Well, we were the THIRD team to try that slab--Tony Yaniro told me that he and a partner had tried the slab before us, and he had decided against it because it became clear to him that he would either have to seige the slab or "spend a month trying to climb it in good style." So, we DID spend a month climbing the slab in "good style," and then we're blasted BECAUSE we spent a month on it instead of seiging it! Hmmm... damned if you do....

So, there are multiple issues at play here, and they all seem to get conflated. Everybody seems to be agreed that we "botched" the route somehow: We put up a bolt ladder (we didn't); we put up a rivet ladder (we didn't); we put up a bat hook ladder (we didn't); we chose a "contrived" line (other, respected climbers tried the same thing before us); we spent "too" long on the route (who's to say, given the conditions, etc., AND we didn't seige the route); we "modified" our hooks (rarely, and a little, and WHAT "hard" El Cap routes haven't had modified hooks?) On and on--I remain baffled about HOW we "botched the route" or exactly WHAT stylistic issues we violated.

I do thank you for your tone, however, as it is as least one inviting dialog and an exchange of FACTS.

*
To Wbruan: I know that you WERE there during the "mess," having talked to you during that time. Unlike your previous post, in this post you seem to indicate that the "mess" WAS the "people flipping out," etc. I agree that people's reactions to our efforts WERE ridiculous (we had people actually telling us that El Cap was "God" in all seriousness). We were threatened with physical violence, yelled at (usually in large groups), and slandered in almost every climbing periodical for years after the ascent (and the "mess" goes on in this forum). However, actually, the real "mess" was what was left on our ropes by the chopping party after their cowardly night-time ascent of our fixed lines.

*
To Bringmedeath: We did do Ring of Fire, and we DID use bat hooks instead of rivets on that route. You say that you THINK the Nightmare crew supposedly filled these holes, which implies that they got past the same sections without drilling. Well, in this forum, I read people "thinking" lots of things I KNOW aren't true, so I suspect that to be the case here as well. I await to hear the true story about this, because, having done some of the supposed "hard" climbs in the Valley and in Utah (we did the second ascent of the supposed A6, by the "new rating" system, Intifada), I think I'm qualified to state that nobody was getting past our holes by any sort of traditional climbing. And, by the way, we downgraded Intifada to A4, by the old rating system--we found the supposed "death anchors" totally bomber, we found tons of solid bat hooks and deep trenches for heads (and alumaheads are bomber in that sandstone), and we found BOLT anchors for the last two anchors of the route (which gives the lie to Beyer's claims that if you fall on the last pitch, you will rip everything out for three anchors before heading on to the deck)!

In short, we have found almost nothing but crap and misinformation RIFE in the climbing community, and I wouldn't give a RIP, since I have never climbed FOR impressing anybody, except that it has gotten to be a real pain to be the BRUNT of such crap for so many years. Imagine if for years YOU found people yelling at you and gathering around you threatening violence at every climbing area you went to. Imagine years of people writing trash about you. Would you still remain a climber, or would you move on to some other "sport"? And don't blithly say, "Well, you have to endure the consequences of your actions." That's pretty trite when the "consequences" have been OF the actions of OTHERS, namely the lies they have told for decades, and these lies are repeated like gospel by those who know nothing. So, let me know when you can say more than you "think" you know something about what happened.

Rob Slater actually got up five pitches on Wings. He tried to set the record straight and was ignored on the subject until he died.

It would be fine with me if Wings was just completely ignored, because we didn't do that route FOR anybody (despite the claims that we "hyped the route"). But I really had higher hopes for the climbing community than that it would still be passing off the same old rumors and lies from decades ago as though they were true. So, don't pontificate about what you THINK has happened, thereby just adding to the same sordid rumor-mill. Talk humbly about what you KNOW.

*
To Spinmaster: I know I'm beating a dead horse here, since you clearly believe the misinformation that has been poured into your open head over the years. However, we did not "force" any line more contrived than MANY others on El Cap. In fact, our drilling ratio per foot of route, AND our drilling ratio to hooks, is lower on Wings of Steel than the vaunted Sea of Dreams! So, how contrived is that?

Any WHY must a route be "repeatable" in order for it to be "valid" or "commendable"? (I'm asking as an aside, because I deny that Wings isn't repeatable, since, clearly Rob Slater was able to repeat more than half of the slab.)

It seems that we are held to so many standards at once, that no matter how many standards we rise to, we must fall short on some others. But, let's at least get clear about a few simple FACTS. Ok, now repeat after me: Wings of Steel is NOT a rivet ladder; Wings of Steel is NOT a bat hook ladder; Wings of Steel is repeatable; Wings of Steel was ascended from the ground up, in one push, by two guys committed to living on the wall instead of seiging it; AND Wings of Steel has more total (natural) hook placements and a lower drilling/hook ratio than the Sea of Dreams. There. Are we all clear now?

Given the shoddy critical thinking skills and credulous mindset of many in the climbing community, I'm GLAD tar and feathers are not readily available in Yosemite.

*
To Wbraun: Wow, you actually got the "standard of truth" thing right, in principle. The problem is that Mark and I have been held "accountable" to a standard of lies foisted off on the climbing community by the likes of Bill Russell, which lies have been believed and further developed by the rumor-mill. Lines like "A thousand bolts to Horse Chute" were funny even to us at the time, but somehow such garbage has taken on a REAL life of its own, and it's not funny any more.

Mark and I have remained largely silent for decades, because we don't climb FOR anybody else, so the rumor-mill has seemed distant and otherworldly to us. Also, anything we tried to say in our own defense was treated by the periodicals as "hyping the route," so our efforts to set the record straight were blackballed. Oh well, we could live with such stupidity and hope that it would fade over time. But to see the same old crap repeated as gospel lo these many years later... well, I must say that the "standard of truth" in the climbing community is nowhere to be found. So, I have taken the time to write here and now BECAUSE it so pains me to see the climbing community JUST as petty and pathetic as it was decades ago. I KNOW that most of the people who climb do so for reasons akin to my own. So, it saddens me to see the sport I have loved since I was ten years old still so riddled with ego-mongers and liars. Is this the best we can do?

*
To 'Pass the pitons': Repeat after me: Wings of Steel is NOT a bat hook ladder. Try falling fifty feet down that 80-degree slab (which is close enough to vertical to give you GREAT velocity, WHILE being less enough from vertical to ensure that you will flay yourself on every irregularity), and THEN let's talk about how "bomber" our placements were! I dislocated my ankle on Wings, and I'll take the wildly overhanging stuff on the South East side any day by comparison.

*
To Sewellymon: Thanks for your post--after talking with you at the beach, we did do the fifth ascent of the Sea of Dreams, and we found that our drilling ratio was actually much lower than that route, both in terms of holes to vertical feet and in terms of holes to hook placements. It is true that when we did Wings of Steel we were ignorant of what sorts of ratios were "acceptable," but it is also true that we believed (and still believe) that such ratios are NOT the issue in deciding what counts as a "valid" ascent. WHO you are counts for MUCH more than how many holes you drill (a point I made in my Rock and Ice article). I think that you have hit the piton on the head when you make this very point in your post. Had we been Jim Bridwell et al, we could have done EXACTLY what we did on Wings of Steel, and that route would be counted a TRIUMPH of technical skill and tenacity. But, it was just outrageous to the "valley boys" that we would have the audacity to come into "their" valley, climb on "their god," and presume that we actually knew how to do it "right". Your insight about this is appreciated!

*
To Bruce Morris: Hmmm... I'm trying to take this forum seriously, so I'm not as much "fun" in my response here as I usually am in real life. Should I be taking YOUR post seriously? Surely you jest. I'm not much "fun"??? That's the most amazing indictment to have come down the pike in the last twenty-odd years! Of all the attacks on us over the years, I think that one is the most irrelevant. Grats!

Your comment about our religion is, however, most baffling: "certainly are members of some kind of odd religious cult." Whoops, your ignorance is showing. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination is a mainstream Protestant denomination, sharing traditional beliefs with more than two hundred other Protestant denominations. True, we do worship on Saturday rather than Sunday, but that hardly qualifies us as an "odd cult". I'm TRYING to take you seriously, but I guess that you INTEND that I share in the "fun" of such "light" comments, so I'll try to be more "fun" now.

"Houses in suburbia"??? Uhhhh... uhhhh... ok... I'm trying HARD now.... uhhh... blankness.... uhhh... the point here??? I'm trying to get it... very... hard... uhhh... I... see... blackness... uhhh... not... getting... it... uhhhh.... brain in vapor lock!

Nope, sorry, I just can't be that fun.

*
To Gunkie: "Odd in their religious fever"? Again, it seems that no matter how many standards we rise to, there is yet another one we cannot rise above. WHEN did being fervent about one's God become a BAD thing? At least, unlike our critics, we are HONEST! And WHAT does our religion have to do with Wings of Steel, other than the fact that keeping the Sabbath cost us longer on the route than most people take to climb El Cap? Ok, that aside. :-)

Let's try again... well, you get the point. Yes, we are committed to our religion, but it's not like our RELIGION leads us to go on suicide bombing runs or stuff like that. So, we kept the Sabbath on the route. Hmmm... is there something worth comment about that? I would just let your comment slide except for the typical negative twist that always accompanies discussions about us and Wings of Steel. Again, if Jim Bridwell had done EXACTLY as we did, his religious commitment would be "noble" rather than "odd".

Take the red pill, people!

(BTW, Slater got to the fifth anchor before succumbing to the heat.)

*
Well... ok... I could say lots more, but that's my rant for the decade. See you again in another decade or so. I'll check back in thereabouts to see if any clarity/sanity has infected the climbing community or this forum (doubtful). Meanwhile, I guess I'll just keep doing routes for myself that will never be repeated, seeking that internal state that makes it all worthwhile, and enjoy those few kindred spirits who are also seeking as I am. Meanwhile, I'll TRY HARD to be less "odd" and to be more "fun" so that more people will LIKE ME, cuz that's sooo important.
phile

Trad climber
SF, CA
Oct 24, 2005 - 11:34pm PT
now *that* was a long post! sounds like you got the short end of the stick, but what do I know. thanks for an interesting read.
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