Wings of Steel


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 41 - 60 of total 2810 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Social climber
Joshua Tree, CA
Oct 25, 2005 - 03:27am PT
I do remember that it took those guys some time... When they were still fairly low on this Mike Corbett, Scott Cole and myself got ready to do the 3rd on Cosmos, got on it, and completed it. After then I returned and did Aquarian, and descended and it really didn't look like they had made a whole lot of progress in that time...Just an observation from back then...

East Coast US
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 25, 2005 - 10:21am PT

I said 'religious fervor' not 'religious fever'. Using the later rather the the former completely changes the tone of what I wrote. I reread my apparently offending post a number of times; I see no place where I referred or implied that religion was bad. For clarification: IMO, it would have been a better read had the parables been left out of the text. Perhaps the word 'odd' was a poor choice of adjective on my part. I found the book to be interesting and the story, gripping.

If it's any consolation, I'm in your corner with regards to the 'Wings of Steel' history and legacy.

Scott Ghiz [Gunkie]
the Fet

Trad climber
Loomis, CA
Oct 25, 2005 - 10:58am PT
I take it the route name was a response to the "mess", but I can't help but think there would be less long term controversy if it had been named Wobbly Hooks instead of Wings of Steel. ;-)

Trad climber
New York
Oct 25, 2005 - 11:37am PT
Weenis? Ammon? Lambone?...anything else "you've heard"?

Oct 25, 2005 - 12:10pm PT
Richard and Mark

Decades later you decide to clear up misinformation about your ascent. Thus the misinformation is then attributed to your fault as not bringing any information in the first place to the public.

Speculation is always rampant in our modern world so what do you expect people to do? They are not saints. They start to speculate. I remember all to well that day you came to the SAR cache to try to talk about your situation on El cap and the various people that you were dealing with. That is why I said it was a “terrible mess”. Thus you too have fallen prey to speculation as to what I meant. I never attributed “terrible mess” to what you were doing on El cap, but only to the social aspects of all the fighting. I actually tried to diffuse some of that for you but those guys where having the time of their life and where so far deeply into it that there was not much hope at that point in time. They were fixated in their way.

When I heard what happened as to their sabotage tactics later I was pretty angry about that. They had no such right nor did it help whatsoever, as we know it just made the whole thing even worst. One of the perpetrators we in later time actually ran him out of YOSAR. Another story altogether.

Thus you have been held accountable to the misinformation due to remaining largely silent for decades, …..“because we don't climb FOR anybody else.”

I believe the real reason none of your routes have not been repeated is your lines really do not have the aesthetically pleasing magnetism as some of the other more popular lines and not because of the “so called controversy” or difficulty.

People are attracted to the lines that stand out to them. Do not jump to the conclusion that I’m knocking your line.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Oct 25, 2005 - 12:43pm PT
"Weenis? Ammon? Lambone?...anything else "you've heard"?"

Nope, I take back what I said....which was admittedly just a hearsay rumor that I decided to repeat on a whim.

I did think the part about chiseling the hook placements was kinda lame...but whatever, not like I would try a route like that anyway. Otherwise a great long post. I usualy don't read the long ones, but he only repeated himslef a couple of times.

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Oct 25, 2005 - 12:52pm PT
I remember talking with Shaggy a long while back )I think we were on the Free Blast?); we were both sort of learning about aid climbing and he was particularly curious about what exactly one can hook: "like those-- (points to tiny flakes on SW face apron)- do they hook those things??" I couldn't imagine that anyone did, but now I guess we know. Yikes.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Oct 25, 2005 - 03:33pm PT
Repeating an ugly slab route is a lot to ask. Why would you want to do ten or so pitches of hooking on a slab? Does this route have anything to recommend it? Also if I recall correctly, the drilled hole count is disproportionately high compared to other El Cap routes. (Source: Charles Cole article in Climbing in the late '80's?) Fact or fiction?

Still it would be interesting to get a modern opinion of the quality and merit of the route by a party that got to the top.

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Oct 25, 2005 - 03:38pm PT
If you were really into seeing just exactly what kind of teensy flake would hold up, didn't have a problem with long skidders(Minerals? I bet you've got a bitchen set of leathers, you could combine passions!)it would be a good way to do that. Other than that, sure, climb something else.

Ugly is kind of in the eye of the beholder. The shitstains are doubtless long gone...unless the slab-hooking thing really scares you and they make a comeback.

Mountain climber
Portland, Oregon
Oct 25, 2005 - 04:05pm PT

I came across this thread the other day and had chosen to not respond. Since you address your post to me (how do you know I’m lurking out here?), I think I should. First, I want to state that I think you and most of the others who have contributed to this thread do so honestly, so don’t take my comments to follow otherwise.

Thanks for clarifying that the “terrible mess” was your view of the response to the climb and not the climb itself. In just looking at your initial post I took you to mean that you viewed the climb as a mess in that it was in poor style (a rivet ladder). (To the post: “I … heard the route was a rivet ladder and put up in very poor style,” you replied, “Yes Ammon, it was a terrible mess for sure.”)

“Decades later you decide to clear up misinformation about your ascent. Thus the misinformation is then attributed to your fault as not bringing any information in the first place to the public.”
Well, I suppose there is some truth here, but it is not the case that no information was provided and quite the case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I did write an article published in Climbing in 1983 which was sufficiently detailed to clearly dispel the false notions in this thread. For that article I was attacked as “hyping the route.” So I do think that sufficient info was out there, including a topo that shows the location of EVERY hole on the route and what type of hole it was. I think that more info was unnecessary and would have fostered the belief that we climbed the route for attention. But you’re right that speculation is rampant in our world and is to be expected. As for me, I am I’m sure for you to, I try not to advance speculation as fact. What isn’t acceptable in this thread are statements claiming first hand knowledge of things such as “a streak of feces and trash 200 meters long below their hangin' bivy camp.”

Our climbs not repeated [by anyone, ever!] because they aren’t aesthetic? Perhaps. But a number of parties have been intrigued enough to start an attempt, beginning all the way back to the winter of 1982.

BTW, a 20+ year belated thanks for acting as a moderating influence in the Valley.


Social climber
The West
Oct 25, 2005 - 04:15pm PT
Interesting thread. I am glad to read the post from the team member, a lot to digest.
Like Watusi, I climbed Aquarius during the Wings episode. It was truly something to see; portaledges right and left, many haulbags, we refered to them as the "Window washers™" 'cause that's what their movable camp resembled. I will post a photo.

I didn't know firsthand, many facts about their ascent in progress, just that they took an amazing amount of stuff, they went incredibly slow, and they had sparked ill will locally. I listened to a lot of the innuendo, I knew about the chopping / defacating thing, my prefudice was inclined against the washers. I heard it was their first El Cap route, "What audacity!"

We climbed Aquarius incredibly slowly, it was our first el cap route, and we sat out one of the same storms mentioned, too. They were a landmark. On the hike in we were very aware of their, ejecta, ( I particularly remember the, Odwalla ?) pee bottles, it was easy to go with the prevelent views.

While we were slogging up our route, it was an event when, one day, the window washers moved their camp. Took a day or so to move up to where they had fixed. You had to see it to believe it. They were doing something different than we were, no doubt; we were doing an early ascent of a trade route, they were, what were they doing? and everybody seemed to hate them.

We finished our route, hung two days, (Tuna pancakes)and climbed the Nose. The window washers were still there. We climbed some more, I had a birthday, and evenetually the washers were down.

I met one of those guys, his car (280-Z?) was parked next to the colonels rig in the lodges old back row. Enthusiastic, very upbeat, blasting "Rainbow" on the Stereo, "They're the best, man." Seemed a lot like other climbers I'd met. Not any more wierdo-esque than the rest of us.
I had reason to hike the west base of the capitain after that, Somebody, sure cleaned it up.

Another part of the mosaic.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Oct 25, 2005 - 04:37pm PT
"I didn't know firsthand, many facts about their ascent in progress, just that they took an amazing amount of stuff, they went incredibly slow, and they had sparked ill will locally..."

sounds like another prolific poster around here...


Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Oct 25, 2005 - 05:52pm PT
There seems to be an assumption that the drilled holes on the fifth ascent of the Sea were all original. Not sure if that's true, if I remember correctly the route got drilled out pretty early. For certain, variations with more holes than the original pitches were added.

In any case, at the time, 50 -75 holes per new El Cap route was a lot for the standard of the time. In the 90's, things changed, and 100 was a low number for many of the "new routes."

BTW: hole = anytime a drill was used to create or enhance a placement. According to the standard of the day, anyway.

Better ask the Bird....

Social climber
The West
Oct 25, 2005 - 06:26pm PT
"sounds like another prolific poster around here..."

kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Oct 25, 2005 - 08:40pm PT
For what it's worth, I talked to Slater after he was up on Wings of Steel. He was very impressed with the difficulty of the climbing and said it was much harder than the Sea.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Oct 25, 2005 - 08:44pm PT
Dingus wrote,

"Hey ptpp... seems like you might have inadvertantly painted using the same broad brush that has been used against you... ie repeating inuendo and gossip as if it were fact.

Are you going to accept the Wings of Steel challege? Can you go where Slater backed off???


Yes, I have thought about this, and reread my post several times. I hope you notice that I quoted HalHammer, and then wrote "It sounds like...." based on what HalHammer wrote. Since Hal seemed to write with conviction, I'll confess I probably believed him, though covered my ass more or less by using the quote. At any rate, it was inadvertent.

So I'm not sure I need to apologize or not, but I'll add a "sorry 'bout that, mate" just to be safe.

As for the second part, Dingus, are you freakin' nuts?! That route sounds way too hard and scary. However if you wanna go halfers on the hook pitches, then let's do it.

Thanks, Richard and Mark, for telling us your side of the story. Until such time as someone actually goes up there and repeats it, we'll take yer words for it. It's amazing that there was so much controversy and misinformation regarding this route? Why do you suppose that is? You really shoulda oughta have spoken up a little more vocally, eh?

But there's one thing I just don't get:

You say you spent a month up there or so, and hauled 1200 pounds of stuff, yet took no beer?

I just spent two weeks on El Cap, hauled less than a quarter of what you guys took [yes, there were two of us], and we brought PLENTY of beer. Booze notwithstanding, what the heck did yous guys bring up there, anyway?????

Trad climber
Oct 25, 2005 - 10:10pm PT
I'm not sure all the info I posted was exactly true or not. One of the best sources I got the same opinions from was a guy named Mark Spencer who seemed to know the whole scoop. With the only exception of this one thread I've repeatedly heard the story that the Wings of Steel climbers used a lot of bathook ladders over and over again from other sources too. One of the only other on-line postings I've been able to find from Mark Smith I believe; was a debate by him over why bat hook holes are better than rivits, so that makes even less sense If now the story is no bat hooks were used. I've never been on the climb. Looking at the route topos seems to agree with this at a glance??? Somebody else should climb the route, that's been said enough.

Working for the company in Wawona longterm, all I know is I still get a lot of shiat everywhere I go for being affiliated with these guys and the Wings of Steel at all as a Seventh Day Adventist. Camp Wawona? Oh that's where those "losers" who drilled El Cap were from!!?!??!?!?!? They your friends, your boss???? I was given a hard time again when I applied for my first AMGA course. On a side note, I was even refused sale of a bolt kit from the Mountain Shop. This is decades later; and I can't say I don't get fed up. Certainly I haven't taken to endorsing their refuted tactics.

If the rumours and seeming reputable stories about your routes aren't true... Mark and Richard why have you not defended them until now? As far as I can see your ascent has gone down in the books as the most disgraceful and poor style climb is Yosemite valley history regardless of what the actual story might be. I don't care if you don't climb for others, who does? You can't not defend yourself; there is no way I'd let a reputation like that continue, especially one that's not true. Heck...I've been told by an extremely famous modern day valley climber that he would out right kill you guys if you went for another ascent on El Cap again; something along the lines of: "burn their houses, steal their cars, kick their arse, and if they go anywhere near a trade route I'd be so mad I'd kill 'em."

4 questions though...

1. How did you haul 1200 lbs of gear with you up the route? How many ropes did that take?

2. Did you do the 2nd free ascent of a Blue Moon on Wawona Dome after Floyd Hayes and Mark Spencer?

3. A few names: James Hanson, Jerry Dodrill, Tony Yaniro, Daniel Moore do you know or did you work with any of these guys?

4. Mark what happened at Swan Slab with Ken Yager and YMS?

You can also E-mail me at thanks.

Oct 25, 2005 - 10:38pm PT
Richard in his original post said:

"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)."

So he only talks once a decade .......?

Now why would someone say something as stupid as this if they are trying to defend themselves? ("See you again in another decade or so")

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Oct 25, 2005 - 11:05pm PT
I remember reading about this sh#t in the rags. Imagine if you will, a climber learning during the Granite years, a time where YOS was reverred as THE WORLD CLIMBING CENTER. And I learned on a granite area , LCC, with RR's books as my guide. Then there is so much sh#t flyin.

It seemed totally counter to the sport. Lets face it, we have no WRITTEN rules, but if you f&&&in cross the unwritten line you had g**damn better not show your face!

Unfortunatley, the way it was portrayed in the climbing media at the time was that the FA team of Wings of Steel crossed over an unwritten Yos rule: If you want to do a FA on El Cap, you must first pay homage to those locals that at that time consider themselves GOD. You must pay homage in the right way, as we see fit. We will not tell you what way that is.

Sorry, these are observations from a person who has climbed for 30 years and has done a few things in their time. Nothing to be famous for except in my own mind.

The other thing! Where did all you guys who heard on good faith that what the FAist did was horrible? HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO CLIMB THE THING AGAIN? GET REAL! IF CLIMBERS OF THE YEAR 2005 ARE BETTER THEN THOSE OF OVER 20 YEARS AGO, WHY HASNT ANYONE REPEATED THIS CLIMB?

Sorry, I get real tired of climbers reading the mags as I did, or hearing it on good faith saying these guys screwed the pooch. Those of you that are doing that are spreading the same kind of stuff my father did on the lawn when i was a kid.....All it does is make the grass grow.

While my opinion of Rob S is not the highest for good reasons, I respect the fact that he let these guys know their route was a hardmans route. SH&&ing on their ropes was chickensh#t. And those of you who were not even climbers then and said bad rumours are so FOS that I want you to come visit my lawn next spring......

There now, my rant for the evening.....
mike hartley

Oct 25, 2005 - 11:53pm PT
My bet was always that Mark and Richard had been given the shaft. Not that I knew them or had ever seen their route. I had a friend put up a new route on Middle Cathedral about the same time. Good style - ground up, hand drilling from stances. He was threatened with a beating later by the locals for not asking permission first. Same for Jimmy Dunn. There are others easily added to the list.

Sh*tting on the guys ropes? Definately showed the character of the local rock police.

People's perceptions and memories are always distorted and inaccurate to some degree but I'm betting on Mark and Richard even more after reading their reply above.
Messages 41 - 60 of total 2810 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta