Tahquitz: The Early Years Rick Ridgeway Summit 1976

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Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
May 7, 2015 - 08:50pm PT
Tahquitz provided my first multi-pitch climbs, with Jerry Gallwas, Gary Hemming, Barbara Lilley, Wally Kodis and others.

It would have been ’52 or ‘53. Hemming and I decided that whomever climbed a pitch with the smallest rack accumulated virtue accordingly. It went well for a while. Our balls grew as the racks shrunk. Then Jerry and I attacked the Mechanics with - as I recall - a rack of four pins, poorly selected as it turned out. The first moves went fine. Then I got the lead on the pitch with the big solution pockets.

It was a gorgeous day, so quiet I could hear the stitches ripping in the crotch of my surplus mountain pants.I was spread out like a bug on mostly friction holds on one of the pockets when one of my Converse tennies slipped, and I sort of swung sideways like a door opening, then somehow swung back. I looked down at Jerry, who was goggling up at me with eyes like targets, anchored to a single half-driven pin, briefly contemplated what I would have hit if the door had opened entirely, and scrambled up into that pocket with the bolt, like climbing back into the womb. At that point I decided that accumulating virtue might be Hemming’s game, but no longer mine.

Great learning experience.

I admire the FA of that climb immensely.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
May 8, 2015 - 11:41am PT
Great story, thanks for posting it!

I admire the FA of that climb immensely.


I so agree. Anyone who has done that route must marvel that it was done so long ago and in tennis shoes, like your ascent in the 1950s!

In my recent article in Alpinist 49 about Tobin Sorenson, I recalled a time from the mid seventies when he and I soloed the route on sight, thinking it would be a cruise because it was at least three grades below what we were leading and we had the advantage of state of the art rock shoes,i.e. E.Bs.

We made it through those steep polished scoops you describe, but not before we both had some fraught moments, with ample time to reflect on the unthinkable consequences of a slip, which you describe so well.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 8, 2015 - 01:07pm PT
Largo started a thread about the Master Mechanic Dick Jones.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/845546/DIck-Jones-early-free-climbing-master

When Doug Robinson and I interviewed Glen Dawson I read him the last paragraph of the OP article from his monster-sized font monitor. Glen is very modest and understated but the grin on his 95+ year old face and the pride that came with it was astounding and very memorable.

I wish that I had met and talked with all of the early Tahquitz climbers as each one was an indelible character as best I can determine. Lots of historical work to be done here in the storied crucible of California climbing.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2015 - 01:49pm PT
Tahquitz Bump...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 24, 2016 - 11:47am PT
SoCal pioneer Bump
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 23, 2018 - 08:40am PT
Bump for the birthplace of the YDS...
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