Even More Black Canyon Stories.


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Trad climber
boulder, co.
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 24, 2008 - 03:17am PT
Here is the fabulous original Tarbuster thread.


And hoping to keep it alive here is another phabulous moment in philbert phoolery.

Tom Pulaski is a name that should be familiar to Black Canyon afficianados and aspirants alike. Tall, immensely powerfull, doggedly focused and frightfully fearless Tom was at one time and for a long time the only person to have done all five routes on the Painted Wall including one of his own. That might not sound like such a big deal these days what with the Hallucinogen being climbed in under eight hours and the mind boggling link ups being done but believe me in the seventies it was way tubular.
I consider myself more than fortunate to have had a mentor like Tom Pulaski in those early days and nights. It would be virtually impossible for me to explain all that I gained under his tutilege. And seeing as he and I are both Pollocks no one would believe either of us ever learned anything anyway. But one lesson I will always retain is the value of raisins. Yeah that's right raisins. You know those wrinkled grapes everyone takes for granted.
When Tom and I headed up what was to become known as the Diagonal Will it turned out to be the third ascent of the wall, second free ascent of the route and first unplanned bivy for me. I learned alot that long cold night. We had planned for a one day ascent of the route and seemed certain to make it until a major route decision was needed high on the wall. At the point where the Digonal Will diverges from the original Swallow Wall route a monumental decision needs to be addressed. After so much hard and dangerous climbing Tom was vexed and undecided about which way to go. I was fairly overwhelmed having just realized that the rock that hit me in the arm pit a few pitches earlier had in fact gashed me open pretty good and broken a rib or two. To me both directions looked too terrifying to be burdened with the choice and I was more than glad to let Superman make that decision. So with plenty of daylight left we just sat down on the only available dollop of horizontal terrain and contemplated our future. In the end we waited through the long night unable to choose.
That night I learned that if I had only had knee pads they pretty neatly seal up the cuffs of your Carharts from those nasty cold canyon air blasts up your legs. I learned that cuddling didn't have to be too personal. But I also learned about raisins. Not planning to bivy we had nothing with us. Nothing but the gear we started with which included one quart of water and a box of raisins. Yoy know one of those little packs you might have gotten in your lunch box as a kid. That was it. By the time we were settling in we had only a mouthfull each of water left but we had those raisins.
Tom told me some amazing but oddly believable stories about the incredible raisin.
At the early part of the 20th century when automobile travel was in it's infancy driving from Salida Colorado to Gunnison over what would become Monarch Pass was considered very extreme and chic. The ancient XGames in a way. Well while we sat there all night with Tom carefully feeding me one raisin at a time he told me about an early group of intrepid auto enthusiasts who got stranded in a storm and avalance for a week with nothing but raisins to survive on. These young men and women were eventually rescued but survived terrible conditions and credited raisins for their well being. Allright so I was a little dubious at first but I had to admit that in the early part of the night every raisin did take away thirst and give a enough of a sence of warmth to allieviate the shivering. Every half hour we got another raisin and the goal became trying to savor one raisin til the next. Then as the endless hours before dawn became quite unendurable Tom kicks in another amazing raisin story. He recounts a story of a famous Polish expedition that ran a foul of Monsoon weather up high. They hunker down for ten days with with what turns out to be nine raisins a day each. Then when the storm clears the crazy dudes go up and summit. Coming down unharmed they credited raisins for their well being.
Okay so, enrapt by Tom's stories of the hard men and women of yore, I suddenly realized that I had toughed it out. Sucking my last raisin to pulp as the morning sun began to peal back the night I knew as if for the first time there would be another day. As soon as we could see enough details Tom looked up and stared ahead. Then just like Gandalf faced with the decision between three tunnels in Moria he just said It's that way and that way we went. I credit raisins for our well being.

Where I once was,I think?
Nov 24, 2008 - 03:29am PT
I love the black!! good story.


Trad climber
boulder, co.
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 24, 2008 - 11:34am PT
Now I almost always take raisins on adventures. Thank You Tom.
For everything.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 24, 2008 - 11:52am PT
Nice tale of the art of creative distraction! Please sir, may I have another.....

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 25, 2008 - 11:37am PT
Steve You are exactly correct. Even though raisins are a miracle food and do indeed give you a short term sense of warmth and moisture it was really the clever distraction factor that made that long cold night pass as well as it did. I really do still throw a box of raisins in my top pocket. But I have also used Tom's Tactic on several occassions with great success.

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 25, 2008 - 12:59pm PT
This story about Pulaski was previously posted in the Hooray for Ouray thread but is still classic. Tom is one of the most accomplished climbers I know, I would tie in with him and let him belay me anytime anywhere. He came to Boulder (to enroll his son at C.U.) and we all met at the Boulder Rock Club for a little diversion. I was running late with kids in tow (like herding kittens) and when I got there Tom was standing back with a stupid grin on his mug. He sheepishly told me he had flunked his belay test. I croaked laughing. The kid who gave him the test had probably been climbing less than a year and flunked a guy who climbed things beyond the testers wildest imagination. Seeing belay banned Tom standing next to a tiny ten year old with the belay OK was too funny.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Nov 25, 2008 - 02:38pm PT
Two pics of Tom in his prime (1976)

Sorry first pic is out of focus, bad scan of slide.

Handjam Belay

Gym climber
expat from the truth
Nov 25, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
Does he still play on the thin ice?

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 25, 2008 - 03:11pm PT
Hey MossMan Thanks for posting up. How's the new digs?

Social climber
Nov 25, 2008 - 08:39pm PT
Bump for the great storyteller Philo with tales of Black Canyon sickness.
Jack Burns

Nov 26, 2008 - 01:21pm PT

thanks for sharing, philo.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Nov 30, 2008 - 01:33pm PT
Hey Philo,
Still trying to get settled in, but I've traded sand and palm trees for rock and snow, kind of seems like an appropriate trade in my sore old achey years!
Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Nov 30, 2008 - 03:11pm PT
I have a friend that took about 600 hits of acid as a kid.
Results were that he has this incredible idio-savvant memory.
If you are driving to Oregon and you ask him what kind of blue car that was that passed us an hour ago,
"Oh that was a 95 Nissan, the one with the water skis stickin out of the trunk you mean?"

I mean, the guy would have made a great cop.
So he memorized this animal book, knows every animal in the world, and the stories of those animals interacting with humans in weird ways, so the dudue starts rappin zoololgy, and we are dinkin Jack at midnight, then the sun comes up, 6 hours of total enrapture, what a lecture, he covered every story known to man, this is the stuff you didn't get on Marlon Perkins wild kingdom.

The best was probably the Cape Buffalo who circled it's hunter and then treed him.
The Cape could not reach the guy, so he chewed the heels off the guys feet and waited for him to bleed to death.
On and on, good guy to have on a "seconds seem like years" early morning nausea freeze out.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Nov 30, 2008 - 07:55pm PT
Great raisin story.
Tahoe climber

Trad climber
a dark-green forester out west
Nov 30, 2008 - 10:14pm PT
I've always thought that grapes are the best fruit -
eat them as is
ferment them to make GOD'S BEVERAGE
dry them for raisins
freeze them for a hot day's refreshing snack

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 30, 2008 - 10:30pm PT
Gee. This was real writing. First thing that I have read on ST tonight after getting back home. No blow by blow account--- tedious engineering style---of what they did, but rather their much more interesting human issues: their fear and concern detailed and how they related to each other and to their own particular live and what might happen tomorrow. The peculiar mantra of the raisins, a idee fixe that we all understand, those of us that have been through stuff like this. And the general stunning willingness to keep going, to finish in face of all of that.

Just a great tale. You can expand this too quite a bit if you want, Philo. you might be surprised how five or ten pages could come out of your efforts, going back into it. Thanks tons for your gift.

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2008 - 11:54pm PT
Wow Mr. Hahn thank you so much for your kind words. That was one of the finest compliments My writting has ever recieved. A lot of that fine-ness is due to who the praise came from.
I really do enjoy writting up these little recolections but my usual concern is keeping them short and to the point. It is easier for me to wax onward for pages and pages. It is refreshing to know that some folks would actually appreciate reading a bit more. Thank you again.

Social climber
Dec 5, 2008 - 12:05am PT
hey there philo, say... thanks for the great raisin share (and of course, the WHOLE stories)... i may not be stranded on the rocks, etc... but, after not having much food around, when i get to buy rainsins, it is like a "bit of heaven" ....

they are special to savor, sure enough...three cheers for the joy little rainins can bring... and for the survival that they helped those folks with...

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Dec 5, 2008 - 09:37am PT
And he draws too! A true renaissance man (of the Black Canyon persuasion). And please tell us some more stories.


right here, right now
Dec 5, 2008 - 10:33am PT

Yup, following that glowing accolade and cheerful vote of confidence from Peter, it looks like you will have to continue to toe the line buddy.

Wind up your pen...
More stories if you please!!!
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