Shiprock Climbing History

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 9, 2009 - 10:38pm PT
Few summits figure into early climbing history as prominently as Shiprock. A complex mountain in the desert, it has been closed to climbing for decades but still draws the committed.

Some background from Roper's excellent survey in Ascent 1970.











And from Summit Jan-Feb 1969.



















Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Feb 9, 2009 - 11:33pm PT
Those guys were haaard!
I so lusted after this choad pile!
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 9, 2009 - 11:36pm PT
I always knew I'd never climb them all but I really regret never having summited Shiprock. I was in the area once with Richard Harrison (who went back later and bagged it - free solo I believe), but we did other stuff instead. That one just got away from me.

So many mountains . . .

JL
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Feb 9, 2009 - 11:41pm PT
Again, another great Thread Steve. Yo, ever read Tony Hillerman and his takes on Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee ? All his books are featured in this geographic area. :)
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:43am PT
Excellent!!!!!!!!


Thor
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:50am PT


We climbed Shiprock in Mar. of 1983;....we had a blast;.......I say, live alittle;...yeah, it's illigal;...so what;.....climbing aint' the only illigal activity going down on the Indian Reservations.....I do believe there is a wee bit of drinking, and all the loveliness that accompanies the drinking. The Navajo have more pressing issues than busting some yuppie climbers sneeking in to climb the crumbly rock on the Res.......as one who lived, worked, climbed, and partied on the Res for a number of years......doing crazy ass stuff ON A ROUTINE BASIS is just something that you do out there.......legal or not, moral or not, right or wrong.......it's boring out there and isolated too.....you got to shake it up a bit, or you go crazy......climbing Shiprock is one of the more mellow and tame activities that go down on the Res........fights, booze, murders, big-time car wrecks, suicides, domestic violence,.....and lots of herb and DVD's........now we are talking some REAL fun Reservation distractions......not climbing Shiprock is something people talk about to be politically correct..(Mostly White folk who aren't familiar with what goes on in the hood...)...but in reality;....it's the wild,wild wild and wooley west out there.....and it's FAR from politically correct.....99% of the people who live, work and play out there would give you the thumbs up....and that one % who say stay off the rocks.....well;....I say catch me it you can.....I'm just trying to have some fun, keep my head on straight, and go to work on the Reservation, just like everyone else...........(Largo;......plan and execute;..you'd love it;....it's funky 5.9, and lots of climbing and one of America's best summits.....you can drive there, do the climb, and return in a long weekend.........)....
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:54am PT
I'm just gonna go out there and meditate by that bad mother.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Damn! Todd has been everywhere!!! :)

Sorry, t*r - I romanticize and lust.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 10, 2009 - 01:10am PT
H wrote: "It's really frustrating to hear climbers romanticize the climbing in this area."

I don't sense that anyone is romanticizing breaking the local law, which I suspect is your point. White men and Indians have been disregarding each other's "laws" for centuries. No party is altogther innocent (BTW, I'm an eighth Comanche, enough to register). Remember that not till recent times did people decide to outlaw climbing on Shiprock, and it was never truly for "spiritual" reasons, but rather from the local indians wanting hegemony over their native lands - no pale faces traisping around private land, in other words. But these are just provisional laws and they are routinely broken by better men than me. Contending that the local tribspeople are being cheated or dishonored by someone climbing Shiprock is a new mindset, not an everlasting one. But granted, private property is just what it says, most anywhere in the world.

I can understand the local's point of view, but wonder if anyone can have dominion over a rock. It's an interesting question. I don't know the answer. Perhaps to my discredit, I've never been of a mind to blindly believe that just because someone says something, it is ipso facto valid. However, if the Navajos are packing shotguns, the adventure suddenly gets serious, doesn't it.

If I was still a real active climber and was within eyeshot of Shiprock, I'm not sure that I wouldn't go for a blitz/stealth solo ascent, and take my chances with the locals (none of whom live within miles of Shiprock). I'm not sure what that would make me in my own eyes, which is what truly matters. It's a touchy one for sure, and for some, packed with emotional dynamite.

Here's an honest article on the whole business:

http://gorp.away.com/gorp/books/excerpts/ship.htm

JL

Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Feb 10, 2009 - 01:15am PT
Well put John. As Jimmy Carter noted it is human to lust. It seems that the summit bans have been tempered by economics at times which does rather lessen one's respect.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Feb 10, 2009 - 01:19am PT
I've experienced what you speak of, not only on the rocks, John, but in my photography as well. You don't want to know how many times I've been bounced out of pow wows and such while trying to get shots for my show in Prague and Europe. I've been told a number of times "It steals our souls".
"OK. what about all those Indians over there with cameras, taking pics?" Then I'm either flat out told, or it's insinuated that if I am willing to pay them, they are willing to let me shoot.

Of course, in my business, I don't have an issue with paying people or compensating them in some way. I guess what bothers me is the hypocritical nature of it all. That it's done under the guise of some sacred/religious belief. It's funny how the rocks at Monument Valley are sacred too - unless you pay a naive guide a $1500 a day guide fee. Then the gods and ancestors smile on you.

dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
Feb 10, 2009 - 01:29am PT
I can see it now in 20 years,Shiprock Casino coming soon! And a tax free cigarette store with a gondola to the top of the stone. But no climbing.
Kofi Donny Annan

climber
darkest of africa
Feb 10, 2009 - 01:51am PT
t*r has left the room
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 10, 2009 - 02:00am PT
t*r.....step back and re-read;....I mean no disrespect to you or to any Native Americans, and I apologize if you thought so.....it's always a hot subject, and I always seem to piss people off. For 2 years of my life, I worked as a 5th grade teacher on the Navajo Indian Reservation.....pretty much submerged myself into a very different and wierd/wild environment, coming from upper crust San Diego background. All day, every day, I was there to make a difference in these kids lives, and all the people in my community I lived and worked with side by side. Yeah, I am not an Indian,....so what;...I'm a person, a human being.....and that people have more in common with each other than that which makes us different. I did alot of climbing while I was there, and 99% of the time, either no one saw us, or the Navajos that saw us were totally cool with us......I treated them respectfully and they treated me the same.....I didn't sneek around to climb;...I just drove around and explored and did MY thing....like everyone else who lives out there does.....why should I be treated any differently just because I'm a white dude?......I've always welcomed people into my world, and I've visited other world's and expected to be treated the same;.....and I was treated kindly and respectfully by my friends, co-workers, and strangers I met on the Navajo Reservation.....I'm sorry if you find my activities, attitude, and stories of climbing on the reservation hurtful or offensive.......but I believe if you talked to any of my Navajo homies who I had lots of big , wild, and awesome adventures with....you would feel differently.........they were some of the greatest adventures of my life with some of the coolest people imaginable..........and I don't feel any shame or regret from my time spent in one of my favorite places on earth...I stand up tall for my friendships, hardships, adventures, and insights I learned and experienced while living with the Navajo people...Respectfully, Todd Gordon Joshua Tree, Ca.
(And the drug abuse, alcoholism, paint/gas/glue sniffing, and the violence and abuse that goes on out there.....I lived it all day, everyday.....it was in my face, in my classroom, at my door, on the road, at the market, and right next door.....and I dealt with it, and visited people in hospitals, at drove children to hospitals, and carried children in my arms who were passed out, beaten up, hungry, and abused...I cried openly and often over the horrible sh#t I saw and experieced on Reservations..........watched by as my white co-workers got shot, beat up , raped, and ripped off by people who f*#ked with them because their skin was a different color........try it sometime;....it aint' that pretty at all.....)..My strong feelings and opinions about climbing on the Res come from actual experiences and some intense times of my life....times that I look back on with mixed feelings of total beauty and awesomeness, ..mixed in with nightmares of horror and unthinkables......it's sort of messed up for me....(sorry...)......no;....I didn't feel guilty climbing Shiprock......nor should anyone else......living on a reservation is bad ass....and climbing those bad ass rocks is appropriate, if not mandatory.....

Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Feb 10, 2009 - 02:08am PT
I get the Navaho chindi thing. And why they officially don't want people climbing various (but not all) formations.
My experience is is that individual Navaho climbers (there are more, than you think) don't always view it that way. It's not like everyone tie-ing in is in that much danger of leaving their Chindi, in situ, at the crags.

yetahey!

Thank you, for climbing with me on your/our land.

I have never climbed Shiprock, but I would like to, especially in the company of some climbers of the D'ineh, who hold it as sacred, as much as I do.


There is, of course some middle ground, here.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 10, 2009 - 02:50am PT
tr seems to have departed. Too bad.
At least it was a climbing right/wrong debate and not a dem/repub one.......
apogee

climber
Feb 10, 2009 - 02:58am PT
“yeah, it's illigal;...so what;....”

“.White men and Indians have been disregarding each other's "laws" for centuries.”

OK, this could get me run out on a rail by the ST regulars, and I have no desire to see this thread gain the notoriety of the SFHD fracas, but here goes.

I can understand the lure of a formation like Shiprock, being an objective that is aesthetic, and has a touch of ‘forbidden’ to it. And while I have climbed a few things that weren’t supposed to be climbed, no, I haven’t climbed Shiprock. (And I am white.) And I well understand the significance of Shiprock in the history of climbing.

The fact is that this piece of stone ‘belongs’ to another culture, who, at least for a very long period of time, believe(d) it to be important to their human history. And for that, their rights deserve respect, until such time that they make another choice about that piece of stone. Does anyone have dominion over a rock? I don’t know that either, but that formation has been pretty dang important to a great number of people for a long, long time, and I’m willing to respect that. I (probably) wouldn’t go buildering on a Mormon Temple (though I’d be tempted), either, but that’s a different thread.

Yes, I know that climbing this chossy dust pile in the desert greatly pales in comparison to the horrible things that go on in Reservations, many others have done it, and there is great hypocrisy in how 'laws' have been created and broken on both sides, the presence of casinos on Native American lands, and that if you are willing to pay a Native American guide, you can still climb it (I am trusting this is true, based on someone’s earlier post.) Those issues are not of my creation, I find them very sad and alarming, and I have little or no influence over them.

What I do have influence over is my own decisions and actions, and I try to do so with as much respect as I can reasonably have for others on this planet. Climbing is ultimately a pretty selfish endeavor, and there are plenty of other objectives where I can serve that selfish need without doing so in a place that has great importance to a number of other people.

Just my .02

Edit: BTW, thank you Steve for this post- another great historical piece that brings perspective to all generations of climbers.
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
Feb 10, 2009 - 03:15am PT
I for one couldn't care less about that piece of stone. I have a life time of climbing in my backyard. That being said, I bet the view from that summit is something to behold.

Bruce
bob

climber
Feb 10, 2009 - 08:48am PT
Bruce, the casino is already there. Its North on 491(666) just before Cortez.
Bob J.
rick d

climber
tucson, az
Feb 10, 2009 - 09:36am PT
i'm not saying sh#t here.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:19pm PT
I have wanted to summit Ship Rock for a very long time. Several friends of mine have, some even with permission. Those who have climbed it without permission, including my friends, and returned to find they have been robbed have NO sympathy from me. You reap what you sow. It has NOTHING to do with "Private Property". I have done more than my share of Bandito climbs. Like when, many moons ago, we trespassed on the Idarado Mine's property to poach Bridal Veil Falls I couldn't have cared less for the Mine's private property rights. Oh course we meant them no harm we only wanted to climb but we were willing to face the consequences if we got caught. Whether it be going to court or being robbed you have to be willing to own up to your choices and actions. For me it is simply and profoundly respecting the sacred nature of some places. I would Not climb at Bear's Hut (devil's tower) during Tribal rituals for example. Accepting the inconvenience and respecting the raptor closures on the Painted Wall is likewise correct action. There are sacred times and places. Maybe not to you personally but to someone and that sacredness is very personal to them. It is very much like you being in your home making love with your spouse in your bed, or perhaps on your Honey Moon, when in bursts a drunken college kid who says "move over I gotta crash" and "I think I'm gonna hurl". Like rocks to climb there are lots of other beds you can barf in so choose wisely. It never hurts to ask permission.
Having lived on the edge of the Res for ten years I made several Dineh friends while working on and off the Tribal lands. Without permission I will NOT climb Sacred land. To say it doesn't matter because of all the bad sh#t that goes down on the Res is bogus in extreme.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:39pm PT
Climbing Shiprock was legal until 1970. From 1939 until 1970 well over 100 ascents were made. Two problems emerged.

There was at least one climber death on the formation. One, apparently, when someone tied their rappel ropes together with a grannie knot. The Navajo had minimal technical rescue facilities, and little money for such efforts.

The second problem was that while the Navajo welcomed climbers initially, and enjoyed, or at least did not mind, seeing climbers ascend these formations, they got tired of seeing parties on the formations weekend after weekend--which is how Shiprock became during the 1960s. Rather like if someone wanted to check out something--a rare flower, say--in my own backyard, I’d let them do it, but if people kept coming, every day, at some point it would become a tiresome intrusion and I’d probably start to notice things like trampled grass, and I’d start saying no.

As described in the Don Liska’s story linked below, there was a big rescue in 1970, that--surprise--involved a party that (from reading Liska’s account) were somewhat under-equipped and under-prepared. This was the last straw, and precipitated immediate closure.

Currently there is not exactly common ground, but there is perhaps a balance. Shiprock is illegal to climb, and this stops maybe 90+ percent of the climbers who would like to climb it. A few climbers do still climb it (with or without the local residents’ consent). I would think that having a climbing ban keeps the kinds of climbers who tie grannie knots in rappel ropes away.

Much more detail on the closure of Shiprock here:

http://lamountaineers.org/History/Topic_6.html
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 10, 2009 - 12:42pm PT
Nice job crunch.

Now go read Reillys "Thread of Life" thread.
A really well written story!
scuffy b

climber
just below the San Andreas
Feb 10, 2009 - 01:04pm PT
The first time I ever saw a climbing magazine,
it was the Summit
that said

"Shiprock Closed"

then I saw the Spidernuts and Trunuts in the counter...

I thought, there's something strange going on..wonder what it
means..

better go buy that sleeping bag and get out of here.
RRK

Trad climber
Talladega, Al
Feb 10, 2009 - 03:50pm PT
we climbed there in 2000 and 2001 (we poached it both times) and both times the experience was surreal. My entry in the register on the last trip still sums up my feelings about the place. I said "the real world is far away". However the second time I read a good bit of the summit register and found a very recent entry giving instructions for how to get permission to climb there. It seemed to me that the directions were posted in an unusual place, however the fact remains that there may actually be a method to acquire permission from the tribe to climb on the rock. (It may be the way that Eastwood got permission to climb the Totem Pole --- cha-ching?) I don't know if AAA or Access Fund, etc has had any negotiations with the tribe on this, but it would be one of more worthwhile projects that I could imagine.

RRK

PS both times we got down late and went looking in downtown Shiprock for something to eat. The only thing open was Sonic. For me it was like a trip back to my childhood. Round and round the Sonic went a parade of old muscle cars - Rally Novas, 442s, Chevelles, Chargers, etc full of teenage boys with music blaring out the open windows --- The only difference was that the music was Native American. Whoa -- Happy Days goes west

I've got some good pics of those trips that I may get around to posting when things get slow.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Feb 10, 2009 - 04:08pm PT
Hey RRK,

The Tribal Council has a blanket ban on all climbing on all towers on the reservation.

It is sometimes possible to get permission from the residents who live near a chosen tower, and who may have the local grazing rights.

However, as I understand it, the Tribal Council law trumps any individual permission.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 10, 2009 - 05:05pm PT
I was going to dedicate this one to you, Steve, but I knew you wouldn't be long in posting. Had you seen this article before? I was chasing down Doltnuts and came across it.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Feb 10, 2009 - 06:42pm PT
I have to go with Mr. Gordon on this one. I never encountered a Navajo on the res that wasn't cool with our being there. It has one of the coolest summit registers in existance.



We felt like our balls were huge too.



Some famous folks beat us to it.



The view is unreal from the top of this desert mountain.
Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Feb 12, 2009 - 04:47pm PT
The Navajos are what make it special.....
tdk

climber
puhoynix
Feb 12, 2009 - 06:58pm PT
Shiprock on 2/10

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2009 - 08:52pm PT
Because it is THERE!!!
deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Feb 12, 2009 - 09:04pm PT
I wonder if Walt Shipley's and my ascent of all three summits of Shiprock in a day was the first. Certainly the North Summit is rarely climbed, and for good reason, it was rotten and scary as all getout. Still have one of the original Ormes piton from that ascent.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2009 - 09:13pm PT
A Bent Piece Of Iron.......???
RonHahn

climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 12, 2009 - 10:04pm PT
A very interesting thread, especially the section including Don Liska's account of the 1970 accident. I climbed on Shiprock several times around 1956 and 1957, getting as far as The Horn on our last try. I helped recover Bernard Topp's body and I placed the Topp Memorial Plaque.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2009 - 08:26pm PT
Do you recall an excess of bolts on the route in 56-57? How were the locals during the recovery effort? Was any organized search and rescue group present?
Brian Povolny

Trad climber
Seattle, Wa
Feb 14, 2009 - 09:17pm PT
Having lived and worked on the Res for several years, and having climbed Shiprock among other "forbidden" formations, I can only say that I challenge any real climber to live there for years and NOT climb something. The spires, walls, mesas, and canyons were simply too compelling to ignore. The legality/illegality of it ended up being beside the point. Of course there was risk of legal sanction, and we were fully prepared to accept those consequence. Like someone caught jaywalking or speeding, we didn't plan to go crying to our mommas about unfair it was, but assumed that we'd do the time and pay the fine. The idea that the tribal government allowed climbing and then at a point disallowed it indicates that the climbing ban was a legal thing, not a cultural or spiritual imperative. My Navajo associates celebrated my love and reverence for their rocks, and as a parting gift, gave me a stone from a rock that we'd climbed with their names engraved on it. It sits on my living room mantle.

Laws are laws. Rocks are rocks. AS I watched the moon rise over Shiprock, I sensed little connection between the two.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Feb 14, 2009 - 10:29pm PT
Dr. Povolny ; climber and admirer of beauty.

dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Feb 15, 2009 - 02:37pm PT
Well spoken Brian!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Feb 15, 2009 - 03:20pm PT
Posted this one before. The place has got a distinct otherwordly feel to it:



Stuff a few clicks to the NW looks good:















RonHahn

climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 15, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
(Responding to Steve Grossman, 2/13/09 5:26 pm PST):

I do not recall an excess of bolts on the Double Overhang at that time. In fact, I remember that we placed at least one bolt for protection. I think that we had attempted the Double Overhang on at least one prior trip before we had collected enough talent to move on.

I arrived at Shiprock the day after the accident. My impression now is that the Navajo police were helpful, but not in an aggressive way. They played no part in the actual recovery. I am not certain who took charge of the remains, afterward. I do not remember if the State Police were involved.

There was no organized SAR activity that I am aware of. Harry Davis, the leader of the 3-man Southwestern Mountaineers group, out of Las Cruces, called us for help with the recovery after he got down. I do not remember many details of the recovery effort other than preparing Bernie's remains for transport in a Stokes litter, and that is something very vivid that has remained with me for over 50 years. But now I do not remember who was in the recovery party. I am not sure if Harry came up with us.

A word about SAR efforts in southern New Mexico at that time. I had climbed with the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club Rock Climbing Section in the early 1950s. About 1953, Al Baxter and Larry Williams started to organize a SAR group. We practiced raising and lowering a Stokes litter at Cragmont Rock. I think the litter was stored in Dick Leonard's garage.

I took that training with me to Ft. Bliss, TX, where I was stationed for three years. During that time, I climbed with the Southwestern Mountaineers in the Organ Mountains, north of Ft Bliss, and west of White Sands Missile Range. During the course of a few accidents in 1956 and 1957 and training at local practice climbs, there developed a basic SAR ability. I remember the Sheriff stopping us one day as we were driving home from a practice climb at the Cuevas, about 10 or 12 miles east of Las Cruces. After determining that we were climbers, he asked for assistance rescuing a boy who had fallen into a mineshaft. After checking out the situation, we asked the sheriff to obtain a Stokes litter from one of the military bases (Ft Bliss or WSMR) if he did not have one. In a short time we had the stretcher and we went down with it to the injured boy. After placing him in the stretcher, we walked it up to the top of the mine shaft. I think that almost all the participants in that rescue were climbers.

Some of the climbers who worked at WSMR at that time were able to fabricate a three-part stretcher in one of the Ordnance machine shops. The stretcher could be back-packed to a rescue site and then fastened together. it was a clever design, but I always preferred the basic Stokes litter because it was simple and rigid and could stand up to rough handling.
RonHahn

climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 15, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
(Responding to Steve Grossman, 2/13/09 5:26 pm PST):

I do not recall an excess of bolts on the Double Overhang at that time. In fact, I remember that we placed at least one bolt for protection. I think that we had attempted the Double Overhang on at least one prior trip before we had collected enough talent to move on.

I arrived at Shiprock the day after the accident. My impression now is that the Navajo police were helpful, but not in an aggressive way. They played no part in the actual recovery. I am not certain who took charge of the remains, afterward. I do not remember if the State Police were involved.

There was no organized SAR activity that I am aware of. Harry Davis, the leader of the 3-man Southwestern Mountaineers group, out of Las Cruces, called us for help with the recovery after he got down. I do not remember many details of the recovery effort other than preparing Bernie's remains for transport in a Stokes litter, and that is something very vivid that has remained with me for over 50 years. But now I do not remember who was in the recovery party. I am not sure if Harry came up with us.

A word about SAR efforts in southern New Mexico at that time. I had climbed with the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club Rock Climbing Section in the early 1950s. About 1953, Al Baxter and Larry Williams started to organize a SAR group. We practiced raising and lowering a Stokes litter at Cragmont Rock. I think the litter was stored in Dick Leonard's garage.

I took that training with me to Ft. Bliss, TX, where I was stationed for three years. During that time, I climbed with the Southwestern Mountaineers in the Organ Mountains, north of Ft Bliss, and west of White Sands Missile Range. During the course of a few accidents in 1956 and 1957 and training at local practice climbs, there developed a basic SAR ability. I remember the Sheriff stopping us one day as we were driving home from a practice climb at the Cuevas, about 10 or 12 miles east of Las Cruces. After determining that we were climbers, he asked for assistance rescuing a boy who had fallen into a mineshaft. After checking out the situation, we asked the sheriff to obtain a Stokes litter from one of the military bases (Ft Bliss or WSMR) if he did not have one. In a short time we had the stretcher and we went down with it to the injured boy. After placing him in the stretcher, we walked it up to the top of the mine shaft. I think that almost all the participants in that rescue were climbers.

Some of the climbers who worked at WSMR at that time were able to fabricate a three-part stretcher in one of the Ordnance machine shops. The stretcher could be back-packed to a rescue site and then fastened together. it was a clever design, but I always preferred the basic Stokes litter because it was simple and rigid and could stand up to rough handling.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2009 - 11:19am PT
Thanks, Ron!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2009 - 11:26pm PT
Some more history from Summit June 1964.


Gene P. Neil photo.


An interesting Dolt photo.

The account of the Roper-Pratt clean-up operation!





dr. jay

climber
petaluma, ca
Feb 22, 2009 - 02:54am PT
the place is so far away from anything nobody was around when we were there a few years back. we drove in, did the climb, and drove out without seeing another person or vehicle, let alone anyone who cared we were there. great adventure, it was.

LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
Feb 22, 2009 - 03:20am PT
dr Jay! didn't know you climbed there! H and I did it on invitation of two friends, one another md on the res. who received permission. We did park the truck in a wash to avoid leaving it in plain view of the approach. Long circuitous climb, damn special. Some sketch spots with little to no protection. The view looking down on the great extrusions spiraling out from the rock is something. Very cool place deserves mucho respect.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2009 - 10:45pm PT
Radial dike bump! Nice photo, Dr. Jay!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Nov 9, 2009 - 12:20am PT
I could tell you some things and maybe will remember
to do so when I feel better, about Shiprock. Rearick recently
shared with me the whole story of the free ascent of the
Ormes Ridge, with Kamps, Chouinard, and Herbert. It was cold,
and Yvon wasn't dressed properly and stood around shivering...
lot of good atmospheric stuff.

My own ascent of Shiprock in early September 1964, with Royal
and Liz, was a rich and beautiful experience. We started late,
went slow, really dinked around, and then got to the top just
as the sun set across endless desert. We had to make our way
down those three thousand feet by starlight. We got to the ground
and at our camp at midnight or even later and cooked a steak
dinner right then and there.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 9, 2009 - 12:39am PT
Been there, done that. 1978 or 79 I think.

Now that you've reminded me, I think I'd be into another run up that beauty next time I'm in the S.W.

my only question is, has ASCA replaced the bolts yet? (kidding)
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Nov 10, 2009 - 11:34pm PT
Shiprock 16 hours ago.


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2009 - 11:43pm PT
Sailin' a ship of the desert...Do not throw lassos or lower litters!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 11, 2009 - 12:19am PT
hey there all, say, thanks for these marvelous pictures... and sharing..

say, ron hahn---thanks for interesint shares you did here...

and patrick oliver... thanks for you wonderful climb share, for the old days... loved the starlight supper...

say, have always loved to see pics of this... only once, i actually DID see it from very very far off... on a road trip...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 22, 2009 - 05:38pm PT
Bump!
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 30, 2009 - 03:49pm PT
wow. bump
smith curry

climber
nashville,TN
Nov 30, 2009 - 05:54pm PT
traverse pitch
traverse pitch
Credit: smith curry
My first desert climb was Shiprock.... Talk about starting with the best! It was probably 1997, and I had called the old Moab climbing shop and asked the owner if it was OK to climb it, and he said he thought it was. Ignorance is bliss! We used the beta from "50 Classic Climbs"[photo
Kirk Brode on the summit
Kirk Brode on the summit
Credit: smith curry
id=136594].
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2009 - 10:10pm PT
Welcome to the desert! Nice!
Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Dec 2, 2009 - 05:30pm PT
Luke Laeser and I cleaned up a bunch of graffiti in exchange for being...
Luke Laeser and I cleaned up a bunch of graffiti in exchange for being allowed to climb a new route on SR. Meet Sheila.
Credit: Cameron Burns
Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Dec 2, 2009 - 05:33pm PT
Painted right over her...
Painted right over her...
Credit: Cameron Burns
Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Dec 2, 2009 - 05:34pm PT
...and rubbed dirt into the brown paint....
...and rubbed dirt into the brown paint....
Credit: Cameron Burns
Lost-Arrow

Social climber
Hawaii
Dec 2, 2009 - 06:04pm PT
This is my first post to ST, but I've been enjoying it for a few months now.

I climbed Shiprock back in 87' while a graduate student at New Mexico Tech. It was a great climb and if the slides weren't in storage in Colorado (living in Hawaii now), I would post some.

I went back in 89' to climb it again and got rained off, but in the process rescued 2 Navajos off of it. On the pitch that you repel down; the one before the long traverse if memory serves me, they pulled their rope and couldn't climb up it.

I don't even remember if you could climb up that pitch, but it was raining pretty hard at that point and it was very slippery. We planned to leave a fixed rope on that pitch and met them at the bottom of the repel just as the clouds opened up.

We decided to retreat and they joined us. I think my ascent in 87' was in the high 300's. Anyone know what the number of ascents is currently?

Thanks for all the memories, insights, history and fun, Greg
Bowser

Trad climber
Red River NM
Dec 2, 2009 - 06:36pm PT
Just passing by a few years ago.
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
Currently in San Diego
Dec 2, 2009 - 09:09pm PT
Bump
Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Dec 22, 2009 - 11:52pm PT
Bump
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 23, 2009 - 11:32am PT
Cameron- Nice reward for some service work! How was the route and how were the authorities?
guyman

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 23, 2009 - 11:47am PT
Bump.... good read.... on a cold day.

I don't wish to break any laws.... but I have wanted to climb this one for like 36 years.

Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Dec 24, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
Cameron- Nice reward for some service work! How was the route and how were the authorities?

Steve,
"Authorities" (cops, etc.) were non-existent. The "authority" was just the local grazing permit holder and his family. You should read my piece in Postcards from the Trailer Park on Navajolands.
The route was a new one----Friggin' in the Riggin', named for the Sex Pistols song about sailing. It followed an entirely natural line. We placed 18 bolts, all at belay/rap stations. None for upward progress.
The route was first described in World Mountaineering (www.amazon.com/World-Mountaineering-Worlds-Mountains-Mountaineers/dp/0821225022/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261707891&sr=1-1).
Cam
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 15, 2010 - 02:29pm PT
Bill Amborn graciously donated his Sierra Club Bulletins to our collection and was really excited about this 1940 account of the FA of Shiprock. Bill picked up the 1940 issue at a garage sale to supplement his run.

Thanks Bill for this valuable resource!

























tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Aug 15, 2010 - 03:23pm PT
not to mention the environmental consequences of decades of U mining and the tons of U mill tailings still present on Navajo land including Shiprock.



Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Aug 15, 2010 - 04:34pm PT
bummmmmmmmmmmmmp
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Aug 19, 2010 - 08:34am PT
i started climbing in new mexico in 1978 with a club called southwest mountaineers at las cruces. dick ingraham, a physics prof at new mexico state, was lead instigator of much of the climbing in the local organ mountains, but he and his friends would speak wistfully of the old days on shiprock and blamed the closure on "a misunderstanding". they used to go up there regularly, a special trip to a special place--wouldn't mind taking a look at that register myself.

i believe bernie (?) topp was the climber who died in the rappeling accident. they named topp hut, the stone shepherd's hut on the rough road into the organs, in his memory. don't be uppity about such things. several great climbers, including giusti gervasutti and tom patey, died because of simple rappelling mistakes. rapelling at the end of an exhausting day involves considerable emotional vulnerability and savvy climbers are always on their guard for that.

if you're a tony hillerman fan, his novel the fallen man deals with a body found on shiprock by sneaky climbers. i've read all his stories, but for some reason i remember this one not making me feel very good about either navajos or climbers, and it showed regrettable unfamiliarity with climbing.

i'm a fan of navajo culture and particularly their theology. i won't get into that here, but a friend lent me an interesting book, blood and thunder by hampton sides, a history of the rancorous times of indian subjugation in the southwest, including the navajo's exile to bosque redondo. according to sides, prior to being messed with in a major way by the whites, the navajo had quite an egalitarian society, a chiefless tribe where no one presumed to exercise authority over anyone else, and women often spoke their piece and were influential far in advance of the feminism of today. the tribe's one bad habit, alas, was raiding, stealing livestock and children as well, although those who thus joined the tribe often elected to stay when attempts were made to liberate them.

the policing rhetoric of the tribal council in this ban on climbing sounds like a killjoy spirit they picked up from their conquerors, nothing like the old spirit of the tribe. it doesn't surprise me that individual navajos are sympathetic to us, and that some of them appear to be giving our sport a try themselves.

when mariko and i were leading sierra club hikes for youngsters, a schoolteacher from navajoland took part in our topanga canyon hike with his young child. we got to talking climbing and he invited me out sometime and even promised a sneak attack on shiprock. was that you, todd? never got around to that, mostly out of respect for the ban, but these reports put that in a new perspective.

hillerman's entertaining stories depict a profound appreciation of beauty at the core of the navajo spirit. i can't claim to be an expert on the culture and religion, but i've certainly become a fan. it looks like that "misunderstanding" has had some amelioration. it would be nice if our society could learn in turn from the tribe's original egalitarianism.

cheers to todd, brian, cameron, lost arrow (rescuing navajo climbers!) and others who seem to have connected with the navajo and made a case for climbing as part of a shared spirit.
wbw

climber
'cross the great divide
Aug 19, 2010 - 10:39am PT
It's difficult to take the ban seriously from a "spirituality" point of view, having seen the picture of the car that was flown to the top of the Totem Pole for a French commercial. Philo's point about accepting the consequences if one is caught climbing a forbidden tower is well taken, however.

I think Todd's first post is excellent, and also Brian P.'s post as well.

Shiprock is not particularly difficult to poach because it really is more of a mountain - complex, and pretty hard to spot climbers because the route is often in a deep gully thing - and not a desert spire in the true sense. The Totem Pole was much more difficult, and in fact we were detected but not busted on our 1987 ascent.

Spider Rock. Now that would be a difficult and worthy tower to poach. I have always trespassed to climb the towers on the Res. with a great sense of respect for the Navajo, even though I know that sounds like a rationalization.
gazela

Boulder climber
Albuquerque, NM
Aug 20, 2010 - 07:19pm PT
I've always wanted to read the original article that Bestor Robinson wrote re: FA of Shiprock. Thanks for posting!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2010 - 02:12am PT
Anyone have a good scan of the Saturday Evening Post article, "A Bent Piece of Iron?"
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 18, 2010 - 01:07pm PT
Bump for A Bent...
crunch

Social climber
CO
Sep 18, 2010 - 02:30pm PT
Hi Steve, your wish is my....

Saturday Evening Post, July 22, 1939

Gripping story from Robert Ormes, a really original and bold climber. Back then they had neither Supertopo, nor Youtube, nor Rock and Ice; it was reading this very article that galvanized the Sierra Club group into urgent action.

(as usual, click on each pic for a larger one)


Piece of Bent Iron-1
Piece of Bent Iron-1
Credit: crunch

Piece of Bent Iron, part 2
Piece of Bent Iron, part 2
Credit: crunch

Piece of Bent Iron, part 3
Piece of Bent Iron, part 3
Credit: crunch

Piece of Bent Iron, part 4
Piece of Bent Iron, part 4
Credit: crunch

Piece of Bent Iron, part 5
Piece of Bent Iron, part 5
Credit: crunch

More details and some previously unpublished photos of Ormes and Brower on Shiprock in my book, Desert Towers, which is on its way from printers to Colorado--will be here within a week or so (shameless plug...)



Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 18, 2010 - 07:00pm PT
It's a plug for The Plugs really!

Buy Steve's Desert Towers Book Everybody!!! I can't wait to see the finished book!

Thanks for the Post article!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2010 - 03:02pm PT
Impending Book Bump!
crunch

Social climber
CO
Sep 19, 2010 - 03:21pm PT
Saturday Evening Post, Feb 3, 1940. Photo taken after the first ascent...
Saturday Evening Post, Feb 3, 1940. Photo taken after the first ascent of Shiprock
Credit: Mrs Robinson
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2010 - 04:17pm PT
Shiprock was "there" and it was getting to be "there" to a good many people besides ourselves!

Wonder who has the bent piece of iron?
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Dec 7, 2010 - 02:29am PT
Missed this first time around. Very in teresting to me. How many routes are on the peak. It looks likt there are dozens of seperate summits and the possibility of hundreds of routes. What is the length of the routes that have been established?
Gal

Trad climber
a semi lucid consciousness
Dec 7, 2010 - 02:32am PT
wow, great. Will read through soon!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Dec 7, 2010 - 02:52am PT
I had the joy and privilege of climbing Shiprock at age 17 with Royal and Liz Robbins. We did it all free, no big problem, and started late so descended in the dark, then had a moonlit, starlit steak dinner at the bottom that late night... Very good memories.
rincon

Trad climber
SoCal
Dec 7, 2010 - 12:02pm PT
Climbing bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2010 - 05:36pm PT
Desert Classic Bump!
corniss chopper

Mountain climber
san jose, ca
Dec 10, 2010 - 06:57pm PT
Shiprock Via Ferata!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_ferrata
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 21, 2012 - 12:37pm PT
Bump for the glorious plug...
Q75

Trad climber
Shiprock, NM
Jan 23, 2012 - 11:49am PT
Anyone wanting to climb Ship Rock or on Navajolands should join the 'Dine' (Navajo) Rock Climbers Coatlition' on Facebook or feel free to contact me @ qetutt@yahoo.com. I am a tribal member and also a climber as well that enjoy having visitors and as for the 'No Climbing' rule, it still applies but if you're out and about along with a tribal member, you're most likely to get away with just a warning but go 'without a tribal member' you will get your gear confiscated.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2012 - 02:26pm PT
Q75- You clearly have a unique position and perspective.

Beyond some uneven enforcement (LOL) could you describe the tribe's position on continued closure. Are certain summits still closed for spiritual reasons? Or is responsible and respectful resource use the sticking point?
Sierra Ledge Rat

Social climber
Retired to Appalachia
Feb 12, 2012 - 02:38pm PT
Closing peaks for religious and spiritual reasons, while within their rights, is a big crock of sh#t.

I was invited to climb a "sacred" Navajo peak once, on the reservation in northern New Mexico. We never even got close to the summit because we spent the entire day picking up garbage.

This "sacred" peak was littered with thousands of empty beer cans, strewn all over the approach trail to the peak. These cans were thrown there from the Navajo themselves.

We spent the entire day filling large garbage bags with empty beer cans, and trying to clean up after those drunks.

Maybe something is lost in the translation, but "sacred" to me means something different than dumping your garbage all over the place.
Q75

Trad climber
Shiprock, NM
Feb 21, 2012 - 03:23pm PT
As far as I know, the only ones that are strictly prohibited and enforced are the spires and buttes located in Monument Valley and also Spider Rock, which is in Canyon de Chelly, which is also a National Park.

As far as I can say, all others are GAME just so you're with a tribal member. I climb on the reservation and will continue to do so til I'm either caught, chased away or imprisoned but I think the latter is highly unlikely.

What can I say, coming to the reservation just to climb is an adventure and will always be an adventure.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 21, 2012 - 05:56pm PT
I wonder what the market would bear in terms of 'peak fees'. I would prolly
pay $250-300 for Shiprock. I'd prolly go $500 for Spider. You couldn't
pay me to climb Totem Pole. It'd fall over for sure if I got on it.
Same reason I feely uneasy going into those cathedrals in Europe.
TKingsbury

Trad climber
MT
Feb 21, 2012 - 06:00pm PT
interesting, thanks for posting Q75.

For those having trouble finding the FB link:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/136258816435327/
Q75

Trad climber
Shiprock, NM
Feb 23, 2012 - 07:21am PT
Here's a video that was put together by the last guests I had accompanied. The spires climbed in this video are Cleopatra's Needle, Venus Needle, Chinle Spire, Angel's Wing Spire and Ship Rock. The one that wasn't captured was the Navajo Spire, in which the photographer/videographer was climbing that day. Enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/22749387
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Feb 23, 2012 - 10:10am PT
Nice video.

That string of vintage bolt shots starting at the 2:46 mark is pretty wild. Need to link that to the Wayback-Bolt thread.
TKingsbury

Trad climber
MT
Feb 23, 2012 - 10:51am PT
Very cool vid!
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom
Feb 23, 2012 - 10:52am PT
Bandito bolts. Lots of 'em no less.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Feb 23, 2012 - 12:00pm PT
Shiprock, last weekend. With its own summit plume.

Shiprock, windy, stormy day
Shiprock, windy, stormy day
Credit: crunch
Jeremy

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Feb 23, 2012 - 12:56pm PT
Couple years ago I went to climb Shiprock with my buddy Joe...in winter of course. The route was TOTALLY snow covered but we figured what the Hell and went for it. Frozen fingers, snow and ice covered choss. We rapped the gully to get to the traverse pitch...by the way the WHOLE f*#king gully was FILLED with ice...instead of bailing then and there...we pulled the ropes. We were now COMMITTED as we didn't have ice gear. Turns out the traverse pitches were covered in snow covered ice. All the anchors were buried in ice. I tried the traverse but backed off as I was looking at a 100 footer if sh#t went bad. We were pretty much F*#KED and sat down to figure out what to do. There was no way we could rap down as the rock really has no cracks...and we didn't have a drill or much of a rack. It was starting to get cold...but at least we had a lighter. We reckoned that we could start a fire with all of the bushes around us to keep warm and to use as a signal fire...we had no phone.

So...we sit there and try to figure out what to do. We figure that someone was in this situation before in this same spot. What would they have done? We have some laminated pics of the route and also have some images of the peak from different angles...so we are able to figure out where we are...and hopefully find the shortest way (rap) down.

We start to look around for any signs of passage...as we scramble around I see it...a TINY 1/4 inch stud...then another...then another...somebody way back in the day must have drilled a ladder and bailed this way. THANK GOD.

Being the lightest one, I head up these ancient studs as Joe belays me off of a stance. Soon I am at the top of this little saddle...then I see the anchor.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#141761

Jesus...the only thing there is an ancient "bolt" with what appears to be a lariat wrapped around it...a rusted/bent ring hags from the end of the rope. There are no other anchor options...no cracks...no horns...no drill...nothing.

Joe comes up and we both know what we have to do. We rig the bolt with a new sling and Joe heads down with me on the other side of the notch to take his weigh if this thing blows. Time slows down and eventually Joe is able to excavate a crack and fill it with a bunch of Aliens. You can almost hear the angels singing. I gingerly yet quickly rap down to Joe...we are almost outa there.

Right before I rapped I took this photo...hoping at least that the people who found our mangled bodies would be able to look at the pictures and see what happened...

photo not found
Missing photo ID#141769

Then we go to pull the ropes...and we pull...and flip...and curse...and yell...nothing happens...ropes are stuck.

Again...being the lightest...I have to jug back up to free them. I grab a Tibloc and a prussik and get to work...longest/scariest jug of my life...but the thing holds and I fix the ropes and we rap off.

Once we hit the ground, Joe and I just look at each other for what seems like an eternity...saying nothing...we both know how lucky we were.


Soon we are back in Farmington at the hotel...so happy to be alive.

Here we are about to get HAMMERED.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#141991

photo not found
Missing photo ID#141992


We got lucky...our bones should be up there right now.

My cams are still there...go get em.




Jeremy Aslaksen
Rcklzrd

Trad climber
San Juan Capistrano
Feb 23, 2012 - 04:58pm PT
Flying up from Phoenix to Durango on Mesa Airlines Turbo Prop you can see it pretty good, even on a cloudy day.
Credit: Rcklzrd
AKTrad

Mountain climber
AK
Feb 24, 2012 - 12:40am PT
Shiprock, March 1961 or 62
Shiprock, March 1961 or 62
Credit: AKTrad
Spring break, March 18-20, 1962 (or was it 1961? I'm getting old) my friends Milt Hokanson,Dave Wood and I loaded my little Jeep and drove from Salt Lake City to Shiprock, NM. I had read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", and road trips were in my blood. We checked in with the Navajo Tribal Police in Shiprock and left our names and contact information. They were kind and helpful, wished us well, and we headed to the base of the rock in the dark. A few hundred yards short of the campsite I dropped the Jeep into a steep ditch onto its side. With the gas leaking out, we three lifted it back upright and continued on. I don't know how we did it, but I remember it was a super pain, with lots of digging and lots of pushing. I must have been stronger then; and we had Wood, nicknamed "The Logger" with us.

My first lead off the ground in the cave at the base of the rock.
My first lead off the ground in the cave at the base of the rock.
Credit: AKTrad
Early the next morning we climbed up in the dark and surmounted the initial overhang in the cave at the start of the climb. I did much of the leading, and I remember being appalled by the quality of the rock after the great quartzite and granite at home. We had the description on a postcard and made good time.


Climbing up the black chossy rock on the west side to a notch.
Climbing up the black chossy rock on the west side to a notch.
Credit: AKTrad
Climbing into the notch in the early hours of the morning. I have on a...
Climbing into the notch in the early hours of the morning. I have on a red nylon anorak I bought through the mail from REI. Rappelling back down this face in the dark with no headlamps was a trip.
Credit: AKTrad

The climbing was fairly vertical, but blocky, so there were a lot of holds and the climbing was fast. We climbed over a notch and found a type of rhyolite, rather than the basalt-like choss we had been climbing

Dave Wood leading the traverse out onto the SW side of the mountain. I...
Dave Wood leading the traverse out onto the SW side of the mountain. I scanned the slide poorly, so the border shows!
Credit: AKTrad
We carried an extra Goldline rope to fix the two 80' rappels; we left it hanging so we could climbing the overhanging water gully on the return trip. This left us two more ropes between the three of us for the summit.

Dave steps up in a home-made etrier.  Cool socks!
Dave steps up in a home-made etrier. Cool socks!
Credit: AKTrad
After rappelling down Dave led across the traverse out of the gullies which had a couple of 1/4" bolts for protection. It was winter, but here in the east bowl, the sun warmed us, so we had lunch.

Milt Hokanson belays me as I lead the Horn Pitch
Milt Hokanson belays me as I lead the Horn Pitch
Credit: AKTrad

Milt was as strong as an ox, and he did a lot of the belaying. I'm glad I got a photo of him; it may be the only one I have of the hundreds of climbs we did together as kids.


Yours Truly starting the Horn Pitch.  Cool nickers!
Yours Truly starting the Horn Pitch. Cool nickers!
Credit: AKTrad
Steve Roper had climbed the peak the previous fall, and we knew he had done the Horn Pitch free. I remember leading the Horn Pitch to the summit in a strong wind as the sun was sinking.


Nearing the horn
Nearing the horn
Credit: AKTrad
I clamber over the horn.
I clamber over the horn.
Credit: AKTrad
At the summit there was a little register, we saw the first ascent party's names: David Brower, Raffi Bedayn, John Dyer, and Bestor Robinson. Fred Becky had been bolting a direct route the previous year. We knew Becky from his trips through Salt Lake, but I'm sure we hadn't asked him anything about the climb. He was an old guy then...maybe 38 years old. We were 18 or 19.


Yours Truly rappelling off the summit.  The sun set soon afterwards.
Yours Truly rappelling off the summit. The sun set soon afterwards.
Credit: AKTrad
During the descent we had to climb up the hanging ropes; I led hand-over-hand, because we didn't have much to tie a prussik with. I remember using parachute cord around little horns for rappel anchors; we knew it would hold 550 lbs, so it should be good. We rappelled most of the climb in the dark, completing the climb in under 18 hours or so. The little white jeep eaded back to Salt Lake in the morning. It was awesome! Dave wood went to medical school and became a psychiatrist, but unfortunately passed away many years ago. Milt Hokanson, the guy I started my climbing career with at age 14 lives in St. George. I count him as one of the most influential people in my life, and likely among the toughest sons of bitches I've ever known. Together we explored the West, floated the Glen Canyon in tiny rafts in 1956, learned to climb and made our first ascent of Lone Peak in 1957, and made our first ascent of the Grand Teton in 1959. It is sheer luck we are still alive.





adrian korosec

climber
Tucson
Apr 30, 2012 - 07:09pm PT
Boulder Problem start
Boulder Problem start
Credit: adrian korosec
Black Bowl (basalt intrusion)
Black Bowl (basalt intrusion)
Credit: adrian korosec
Memorial
Memorial
Credit: adrian korosec
Ramp to Sierra Col
Ramp to Sierra Col
Credit: adrian korosec
Sierra Col
Sierra Col
Credit: adrian korosec
Ormes Rib
Ormes Rib
Credit: adrian korosec
Rappel Gully
Rappel Gully
Credit: adrian korosec
Rappel Gully Anchor #1.  Pretty sure the small bolts in upper left cor...
Rappel Gully Anchor #1. Pretty sure the small bolts in upper left corner are some the first placed in the USA. Not sure though.
Credit: adrian korosec
Rap anchor #2 in gully.  Would you rap off one bolt in Tuff Breccia?
Rap anchor #2 in gully. Would you rap off one bolt in Tuff Breccia?
Credit: adrian korosec

I've got many more but not sure if anyone is interested.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Apr 30, 2012 - 08:40pm PT

Great photos!

Rappel Gully Anchor #1. Pretty sure the small bolts in upper left corner are some the first placed in the USA. Not sure though.

I recall that reading that one the first ascent, that rappel was anchored by pitons--no bolts. The FA party placed just four bolts, one at base of the Double Overhang pitch (which is not done these days) one midway up that pitch, one atop that pitch, and one atop the Horn pitch at that belay. All others were added later.

Great pics of the route and the hardware found up there. Interesting, that pic of the modern shiny bolt; evidently folks are retrobolting to this day. Nice colorful pic of Ormes Rib.

WhiskeyToast

Social climber
Hawaii
Apr 30, 2012 - 09:07pm PT
Great shots. Keep them coming.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Apr 30, 2012 - 09:09pm PT
Pretty sure the small bolts in upper left corner are some the first placed in the USA. Not sure though

yeah, big moment.

they likely practiced on i-rock first.
adrian korosec

climber
Tucson
May 1, 2012 - 03:25pm PT
One-bolt belay at start of traverse pitch after the 2 single rope raps
One-bolt belay at start of traverse pitch after the 2 single rope raps
Credit: adrian korosec
The Traverse Pitch
The Traverse Pitch
Credit: adrian korosec
First bolt on traverse.
First bolt on traverse.
Credit: adrian korosec
Sucker bolt #1
Sucker bolt #1
Credit: adrian korosec
Bomber LA
Bomber LA
Credit: adrian korosec
The high traverse (where you don't want to go).  There is a pi...
The high traverse (where you don't want to go). There is a pin around the corner that allows you to lower 30' to the correct anchor.
Credit: adrian korosec

Next up, double-overhang area to ramp.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 13, 2012 - 12:08am PT
Bump with bolts...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 18, 2013 - 11:13am PT
Happy idiot has posted a couple of interesting magazine articles about early Shiprock climbing history here.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2047590&tn=0#msg2047618
crunch

Social climber
CO
Jan 18, 2013 - 11:47am PT
Hey, adrian korosec,

nice photos.

the funny thing is, on the first ascent that traverse had no bolts. Not even the belay. I believe they used the bottom of their fixed rope as an anchor.

David Brower (who led that pitch) placed a single piton for protection about 60-80 feet across the traverse. Not bad for 1939, in whatever footwear (tennis shoes?) they had back then.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Jan 18, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
"I was in the area once with Richard Harrison (who went back later and bagged it - free solo I believe), but we did other stuff instead. That one just got away from me."

I would love to hear how Richard free soloed Shiprock.

Richard, you out there....John?
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 19, 2013 - 02:24am PT
Given the climbing ban, how is it that people are still climibng Shiprock?
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Jan 19, 2013 - 08:15am PT
i drove through new mexico last fall--it only took one enchilada in gallup to remind me how much i love the place.

i had an interesting adventure driving through jemez pueblo towards los alamos, then being diverted by a road block to a forest service jeep trail down through cochiti mesa, which i recognized as the scene of backcountry skulduggery in tony hillerman novels. i followed a forest ranger outa there. it took some discussion before we both decided to risk the stream crossing.

i also came across another "ship" rock--battleship rock--anyone climbed that one?

http://www.scenicusa.net/images/SP10%20Battleship%20Rock%20PD.jpg
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 19, 2013 - 11:27am PT
Funny.. I'm right in the middle of reading Cadillac Desert - the American West and it's Disappearing Water (a must read BTW) and I last night I got to the chapter about David Brower. His ascent of Shiprock is briefly mentioned just before they launch into his extensive conservation efforts.

Just an odd coincidence two Shiprock threads and mention of David were on the front page this morning.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Jan 19, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
Given the climbing ban, how is it that people are still climibng Shiprock?

The climbing ban is a complex subject.

The Tribe announced a ban on climbing in 1970. Yet never drew up laws to back this up. So, it's complicated.

Currently there's a small but enthusiastic group of Navajos who climb. They have a Facebook "group" page. Members have climbed on the rez, proudly, some members have climbed Shiprock.

This makes it even more complicated. They wonder if they will get arrested at some point. Even locals can't get an official answer about the exact legal status of climbing.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Jan 19, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
Letter sent to Steve Roper and to all climbers in 1971
Letter sent to Steve Roper and to all climbers in 1971
Credit: crunch
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 22, 2013 - 09:27am PT
Another bump for history
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
...Yet never drew up laws to back this up...

Back it up? Back it up?

Isn't it enough that the landowners said "No?"

So you think that you have the right to ignore the landowners just because they "never drew up laws" to back it up?
Alexander Pina

Big Wall climber
Arizona
Feb 21, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
This letter is Bull shit! i live here on the REZ and i am a proud member of the Navajo tribe. yes some of these areas are concider sacred sites but alot (MOST) are just some badass formations that should have no restrictions to climb. Just be respectful which most of us are!!
CHeck out ..Dine' Coalitions of Climbers on FB..
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 21, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
Alexander, thank you! Now we have someone with some street cred! But you
sound as mystified about the ban as anyone. With all due respect your Nation's
government is like any other - a trifle wrapped up in bureaucracy these days and,
with far greater problems to be dealt with, the climbing issue is far down the list.
Would I be correct to assume that when you speak of acting with respect
that the people who live nearest to a formation are less likely to call
the Tribal Police if we don't act like rock climbers often act?

And I just want to know if any of you guys have climbed Spider Rock? I'm
fine with that being banned to the rest of us but I sincerely hope some of
you get to enjoy its sacredness.
Alexander Pina

Big Wall climber
Arizona
Feb 21, 2013 - 04:26pm PT
No i don't know of anyone but the LEGENDS that have had the chance to climb Spider Rock. Canyon De Chelly is a National Park now and access to that area of the canyon is restricted and you need a guide just to be there. Also Spider Rock is a sacred site with interesting history.

As far as the so called ban on climbing, I do not agree so you if you do want to climb and minimize any potential trouble its best to know a Navajo.

If you are serious about climbing on the REZ...dineclimbers@hotmail.com
Nilepoc

Big Wall climber
Tx
Feb 21, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
When I did it in 2004 I got "permission" from the grazing rights holder. Cameron Burns did the same when he put up routes on the tower in the 90's and 00's.

We had no hassles and the next day the Navajos I was working with in the hospital there congratulated me and asked for the tale. It was a great climb and I hope to do it again in the future.
Cam Burns

Social climber
CO
Feb 21, 2013 - 07:36pm PT
Yeah, nilepoc (whoever you are). Just gotta be friendly. Not enough of that in the world.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Feb 22, 2013 - 01:49am PT
One of my best memories was to climb Shiprock with Royal Robbins
and his wife Liz, in the early fall of 1964, when we were on a
little tour of the southwest desert. We started late, went slow,
and got to the top just as the sun got really beautiful at the
west edge of the earth. We climbed and rappeled down in dark,
with stars and wind. Royal was very somber and said virtually nothing.
At every belay spot, though, Liz and I had memorable conversation,
our whispers in the still dark. Finally we had a steak dinner at
about midnight in the quiet black desert night. What
a great adventure for a 17 year old. The climb wasn't difficult,
by any standard, though the Horn had one or two 5.9 moves,
as I recall, nothing too taxing. It's just wonderful, though,
to be up, away from the world, on that big eerie mass of stone....
crunch

Social climber
CO
Apr 16, 2013 - 03:18pm PT
The Shiprock register reconstruction, made by Ray Jacquot. This is from the legal years.

Based on earlier work by Ernie Anderson. A hardcopy (these scans are from the hardcopy) is at the AAC library in Golden.

Thanks to Beth Heller, who made me a copy of the document. Also thanks to The American Alpine Cub Library, who house the register.

•••• Click in any image for bigger, easier-to-read version ••••

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch

Credit: crunch
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 27, 2014 - 01:21pm PT
Bump for Crusher who is out getting restless with the Natives for a change...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2014 - 01:26pm PT
Bump for a TR...
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