Roots of the Boulder Free Climbing Renaissance- Briggs 73

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 12, 2009 - 11:04am PT
Chiloe's Naked Edge thread got me thinking back to the first time that I became aware that something amazing was cooking in B town. Climbing Nov-Dec 73 (with the Mace on the cover) has to be one of the all-time best. In it is Roger Briggs' excellent survey setting the table for things to come. Way inspiring!!







The start of a tick-list for the ages!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Feb 12, 2009 - 11:11am PT
What an awesome article about one of the best areas in the
world, home to the Eldo Prancers, like Tarbuster, BrassNuts,
Crimpergirl, and even l'il ole me!
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Feb 12, 2009 - 11:14am PT
Roger in 1974, powering through the direct finish to C'est la Vie. Probably thinks he's on belay.

mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Feb 12, 2009 - 11:53am PT
You start the best threads, Steve.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 12, 2009 - 12:34pm PT
Done them all (on lead), most of them many times over ...
(except, oddly, the 2nd pitch of C'laVie, but I have done the 3rd!).

That last picture, of the third pitch of C'est La Vie, that's a really cool thing that very few people do.
Committing balls out lay back into a great big scoop.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 12, 2009 - 01:34pm PT
Third pitch of C'est La Vie,
Pretty much the only gear, well below the climber's feet.
Nothing in the scoop either; a bit of unprotected moderate face climbing exiting to the headwall above:


From CLIMB!
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Feb 12, 2009 - 01:38pm PT
Wow were those some stiff ratings or what?

I remember when this article came out. It really made an impression on my youthful ambitions.

To Taint or not to Taint that was the question.
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Feb 12, 2009 - 02:29pm PT
I think I know why those ratings are so goofy. We cruised through there in about '73. We were on our way to the high country (Petit Grepon, etc) so only had an hour or so in Eldo to do a classic. Did the Bastille Crack and said, "If that's 5.6 then I don't wanna see no more!" Man, that thing was a grease-fest back then.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Feb 12, 2009 - 02:31pm PT
Yeah -- Rosy, Blackwalk and Outer Space all 5.9+. That was a stout enough grade
back then.

As for C'est la Vie, I used to have the corner pitch wired. But the more serious overhang
still spooked me.

For grades even older than Roger's article, check out these Recommended Ascents from Pat
Ament and Cleve McCarty's blue guidebook. Bastille Crack, along with Redguard Route
(the Birdwalk) and The Bulge, were the definition of 5.6. Grande Giraffe was the definition
of 5.8.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2009 - 08:43pm PT
These shots of Steve Wunsch airing it out off a couple of #1 Stoppers, high on Jules Verne, really stoked my fire back when Climb came out and the lines had images to accompany the reputations.


Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 12, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
See that bit of gear to his left in that second picture?
That's where I put my belayer: bomber number 7 stopper & something like a number 1 or 1.5 friend.
That way, no rope weight and no rope drag.

Then, forget about any other pro, #1 stopper, RP, or otherwise for the rest of the lead until the mean stuff is over...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2009 - 09:44pm PT
I always got the impression from the captioning that those two pieces are #1's?!?
richross

Trad climber
gunks,ny
Feb 12, 2009 - 09:56pm PT
Mike Gilbert on Kloberdanz.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 12, 2009 - 10:05pm PT
Steve,
I'm pretty sure those pieces are in the top of the corner, just above where that overlap heads out right for a couple of feet.

The number one stoppers were to be fiddled in about halfway through the run out where it gets just a little bit incipient.
To me that would've just wasted precious energy and concentration.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Feb 12, 2009 - 10:29pm PT
Like Tarbuster, I repeated all those routes and many other Eldo classics, in '74 and ''75. In '74, my first full season in Eldo, Kevin Donald asked me to do the Edge. Such was the reputation of that route, and such was my desire to make a good, clean climb of it, that I agreed to try only after we'd done about 25, 5.11 routes, prior to getting on the Edge. The routes we did included most of the climbs on Roger's list, which we did - all of them, I think - with no frigging or falls. When we got on the Edge, the climbing was beautiful, but it seemed less difficult than many of the other routes.

Then, in '76, I'd just returned from alaska - where I'd broken my ankle falling through a cornice on Mt Hunter about six weeks before - when Jim Collins asked me if I'd belay him on Jules Verne. Even though the ankle was still weak and sore, I thought it would be OK to belay and follow. But when we got to the crux pitch, Jim took two huge falls from just below the end of the difficulties. Just being polite, I think, he offered to let me give it a try. "Why not?" I replied, and surprised myself - and Jim, I'm sure - by walking the pitch. Jim followed and we swung leads to the top of the route, completing what I think was the sixth free ascent.

-Jello
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2009 - 10:36pm PT
RighteousJello!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 12, 2009 - 10:37pm PT
Now that's the way to do it Jello:
No frigging & no falls.

(I was still gripped out on The Trough at Taquitz [5.0] when you were knocking off that route list!)
Although my first 5.11's were in the late 70s, I didn't start getting after that stuff in Eldo until '90.

I like Rich Ross's post of that cover with Michael Gilbert.
Man that guy has been getting after it forever...

Steve,
Here's a good view right through the crux of Jules Verne and looking down into that protection that we are talking about:
 Bruce Miller climbing, handy on run outs and a bit of an alpinist himself!


I've never heard of anybody belayin' there besides myself.
I have very trusting partners.....
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Feb 12, 2009 - 10:47pm PT
Yeah, Tarbuster, we took style real seriously back then. In fact, up until '74 I wouldn't use chalk. Considered it an unsightly blemish on the rock, but when I got on the band-wagon, my consistency on hard routes shot way up.

-JelloAllChalkedUpAndSpewingLikeANoob

EDIT: And Kevin Donald? Now there was a master free climber...and the ultimate ladies' man.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2009 - 11:37pm PT
I quit using chalk because of the way it looked on Eldorado Stone. A Colorado climber, Steve Antel, got me thinking about the whole issue. Having cruxes mapped out in white was a bit of a grim future back then and YC and others were urging restraint.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Feb 13, 2009 - 08:30am PT
Tarbuster:
I like Rich Ross's post of that cover with Michael Gilbert.
Man that guy has been getting after it forever..


Indeed he has. Mike made an early ascent of Jules Verne, maybe the 3rd (?)
around the time of that Climbing cover -- I believe the article inside has photos.

His partner on JV was Wendell Nuss, a relatively unsung climber who led the crux
pitch on their ascent.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 22, 2009 - 02:09am PT
Kloeberdanz!!!!! From Climbing #43 July-August 1977.





healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 22, 2009 - 06:05am PT
I got back from Vietnam to SI in January '74 and started climbing within a couple of months. Made it to Eldo in early '75, and being hicks from lowland hollers we were astounded to just be in Eldo. And coming from a place with little climbing history or culture it was especially curious to see what an elaborate established culture and 'society' there was in Boulder around climbing. Ditto for the Gunks once we hit there to visit Hardy Truesdale after hanging with him and Charlie Fowler in Eldo. My partner and I already didn't have much of a sense of what we couldn't do at the time, but all in all, it was definitely climbing in Eldo that so inspired and lit us off at home. Not sure how many times I hitched the I-70 beeline from SI to Boulder, but we had it pretty well down to a ride to St. Louis for a party on a friday night, step onto I-70 about noon, and be in Eldo bright and early Sunday morning loving it...

P.S. Didn't meet Kevin Donald until '87 in Hood River - he was the realtor who sold me the town's old Luthern church which, for a time, was affectionately known as the Wind Chapel. He was part of an early wave of Boulderites who hit HR for the windsurfing.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 3, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
More roots in the bedrock from Mountain 54 March April 1977.










Pat and Royal battle for Supremacy........meanwhile Whillans had lost interest in the proceedings, and had wandered off to sunbathe! LMFAO!!!
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Mar 3, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
Yeah, but he was a cookbook author...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 14, 2009 - 05:00pm PT
If it takes off I may be able to get Wunsch to join in though he claims to remember very little. LOL
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 14, 2009 - 05:59pm PT
Steve,

Talk Wunsch into posting. He has lots of old friends here.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 14, 2009 - 06:36pm PT
I climbed with him once back in the day and re-connected at the Gunks gathering last fall.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 05:50pm PT
What ever became of the controversial bolt on the XM traverse? Still gone, I hope!
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Mar 17, 2009 - 09:57pm PT
Steve,

The bolt on the XM traverse has remained gone. If one is crafty with HPs it can be adequately protected with two of those.

jack
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Mar 18, 2009 - 12:56am PT
I guess I should keep quiet. But I have to say
it saddens me to see those articles again, most so
poorly worded, wrong emphasis, wrong focus, just not
good reflections of how things really were, and each loaded
with factual errors. I loved Godfrey, but he was
caught up in that Brit-tabloid kind of writing,
sensationalizing things, exaggerating, coloring up stuff,
and worst of all printing not quite whatever any yokel
handed him, even total lies and fabrications, in and
around some good things. Briggs is one of my dearest
friends and one I continue to love, but his piece
is loaded with much subtler errors. He doesn't pay
proper homage to the shoulders upon whom he stood heavily,
as did Breashears who always admired and honored those
who went before him. David had no illusions really of
surpassing his forerunners, even though in the strictest
literal sense he certainly did. And on down the
list. The various guidebooks had so much wrong I stopped
caring, really. I respect Jim, of course, and Rich, but
in Jim's little Rocky Heights book he makes these
valuations of style. His enormous whipper, nearly to the
ground, off Black Walk was called "After one attempt." My
grabbing a carabiner casually to rest, on a 5.7 move, after
leading the 5.11 section of Vertigo first try in mountain
boots, is called "Dubious style." Jim and I did a lot of
chuckling over those definitions. I guess one can try to hold onto the positive stuff, the happiness, the friendships
that have remained. I have good memories of being with Jim
on the rock. I remember, though, people telling
me the standards had risen beyond my comprehension. I
had no idea what they were talking about. But I did go
up to check some of these routes out. I led Kloeberdanz
solidly and that first pitch of Jules Verne, always
in the evening, it seemed. I found the Jules Verne first pitch
easier than the fist pitch of T-2. Not too long after the
Edge was done free, someone told me how difficult the first pitch was. I went up one evening as the sun was setting,
and I was shocked by how straightforward it was. I thought it
had maybe one or two moves of medium 5.10. I did that
straight up final exit of C'est La Vie and thought it was
really easy, but really airy. More difficult was the dihedral below, that Bob Williams did free, as I recall. I found it to
be 5.11c, or so, one solid tricky move or two. I did a number
of 5.12 routes Christian and a few others put up, and when
Steve Wunsch was doing his hard climbs in Eldorado he and I bouldered a fair bit. He would tell you I was still, at that time, the most dedicated boulderer. On a comic note, I once
bet Steve a hundred bucks I could do Smith Overhang with a sack over my head. He wouldn't take the bet. I bouldered a lot with
Erickson, and he was really good at finding those routes to do
free, you know, the longer routes in Eldorado that the old timers had hurried up and used aid here or there, so that he could focus on those few points and bag the free ascents. He had Popeye forearms, strong at endurance, but
a weak boulderer. He couldn't do the easiest B1. Each of us had his or her strengths and weaknesses, I guess is one of my points, while the write-ups always tend to lump us into some kind of easily understood (and conveniently reduced) categories, thereby never really understanding any of us
in any real way. I remember doing XM free right after Dalke did it, because in fact I knew it would go, but then I saw where Erickson was credited with the second ascent. Who knows? Most of the climbs in Eldorado, up to a certain time period, were used as training for the longer climbs we envisioned doing in Yosemite or the Black Canyon. It often disappointed us when something went easily free and we had been looking for something to aid. Then Rearick came along, and we started more and more to focus simply on free climbing. I stepped out of the limelight but found I could sneak in at times and do many of the hard new routes, though I would read how the new generation had left us in the dust... Not too long ago I went climbing with Richard Smith, with whom I did the first free ascent of Super Slab in 1967 and who is author of Smith Overhang on Flagstaff. He lives in Idaho now, and he was climbing solid 5.13, one of the old timers who was left in the dust... a very quiet fellow who was the example of humility. For some, it seems to be necessary to the development of their sense of identity to feel they have risen above their predecessors. And of course some do rise above. But I have always felt my whole experience largely relies upon what I learned from those who went before, who set the example, who put in their own important rung on the ladder of progression, without which I would have fumbled helplessly, people I continue to love and admire and to whom I remain deeply grateful, whatever grade level they stopped at and that I may have surpassed...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 18, 2009 - 01:28pm PT
Climbing history is eminently subjective, Pat. Yours is an opinion on the topic and is, with all due respect, neither necessary or sufficient in and of itself.

When you are looking up, you are at your best. When looking down, your worst. You cannot help but swing wildly with the axe of judgment as long as your blood isn't spilled.

Nobody really gives a damn about the scorecard that you seem to need to keep with the rest of the world, Pat. Clear enough?!? Nor do I need you telling me what to post or whom to listen to. "I write what I like," Biko once said, and you should really have more respect for the rest of us in your almost entirely self-centered, critical intellectual internal world.

"People that I continue to love and admire and to whom I remain deeply grateful, whatever grade level they stopped at or that I may have surpassed."

Pull your head out into the light, my friend. The numbers and grades are meaningless, the experience and commonality of climbing is what matters.

This is your work- please do it.
o-man

Trad climber
Paia,Maui,HI
Mar 18, 2009 - 04:36pm PT
The wind is light, and the waves have disapeared for a while but there is always "the tako". I lived this thread and every one mentioned in it and posted on it were and remain my inspiration an heros.Thanks!
Olaf Mitchell
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 29, 2009 - 07:29pm PT
Bump it.
Climb hi!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 16, 2009 - 06:46pm PT
Another groundbreaking early free ascent of the Diamond ala Briggs and Candelaria!






Bob D'A

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 16, 2009 - 07:27pm PT
Brick wrote: Oh now I get it. Of course.

If you re-read the Briggs article, he does not mention Ament. Not even once. Bet that was no accident.

Hence, the bent feathers 35 years later...



Well anyone who know the history of free climbing in the Boulder area and then not mention Pat seems a little strange to say the least. Not matter what you may think about Pat he was way ahead of his time when it came to free climbing and his vision of what could be climbed.

Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Aug 17, 2009 - 03:02am PT
Didn't Bachar and Harrison make the first free ascent of the Diamond??


JL
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 17, 2009 - 03:59am PT
> If you re-read the Briggs article, he does not mention Ament. > Not even once. Bet that was no accident.
>
> Hence, the bent feathers 35 years later...

No, that is not Pat's point. Roger Briggs' article was about "Recent developments", in 1972/73. Roger was not saying that nothing important was done before then. He was just focusing on recent stuff.

Pat's objection is to the inaccuracies in Godfrey article, and subsequent book.
Pat has his own book, Wizards of Rock: A History of Free Climbing in America (2002), which should correct the mistakes in the Godfrey/Chelton book.
I don't think Pat is telling Steve what not to post, just commenting on its accuracy.
I welcome Pat's comments and his examples of what happened and how they were described in print.

I don't agree that "Climbing history is eminently subjective".
Or, at least it shouldn't be, and does not need to be.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 17, 2009 - 04:05am PT
> Didn't Bachar and Harrison make the first free ascent of the Diamond??

No, Goss and Logan did the FFA of the Diamond in 1975, via a combination of D.7 and other routes.
Bachar and Harrison did the FFA of the complete D.7 route on the Diamond in 1977.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Aug 17, 2009 - 10:12am PT
Great thread, as always, Steve. Anybody who has done any of those Eldorado climbs must wince when they see those old ratings. I started climbing in 1970 and was climbing in Yosemite by 1973. I don't remember Yosemite climbs being later uprated to the same degree as those at Eldorado. The first time I climbed in Eldorado, in 1977, I was climbing a full 2 letter grades below what I regularly climbed in Yosemite. I STILL find the older, upgraded 5.11s harder than 5.11s just about anywhere else. Briggs, Erickson, Wunsch, Ament and the rest of the guys who were putting up that stuff in the early '70s (even earlier for Ament)...amazing.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 20, 2009 - 10:13am PT
Diamond Bump!
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 20, 2009 - 12:51pm PT
Thanks for the bump on this, I missed it the first time around. I also grew up with these articles as the holy grail of climbing. I was one of those sandbagged neophytes that started climbing in Boulder in 1972 and was coerced into "5.8's" like Grand Giraffe and Umph Slot, they sure made you question your abilities. Ament and McCarty's book High Over Boulder was always in my pocket, dreaming of new feats of daring doo.

With reference to some of the pictures of Michael Gilbert above, here is a shot of Michael on one of the early ascents of Jules Verne (courtesy of MountainProject.com, and my good friends Philo and Jimmy Newberry the Black Canyon WallCrawler). I didn't know Michael well but I was good friends with his little brother Scotty, a Gunnison legend that passed too early in an avalanche on Mt. Edith Cavell in Canada.

Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 20, 2009 - 01:09pm PT
Michael Gilbert's partner on that early ascent of Jules Verne was Wendell Nuss, a less-known
but excellent climber. I believe Wendell's the one who managed to lead the big pitch on JV, when
Michael and he first climbed it.

Hard to tell from the photo above, but that might be Wendell on the sharp end.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 20, 2009 - 01:17pm PT
Chiloe, interesting, I'll have to run that one by Philo. One thing is for sure, who ever's on the sharp end doesn't exactly have that thing sewn up.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 21, 2009 - 08:15am PT
I am sure that is Mike on lead and I think it is the second ascent.
wack-N-dangle

Gym climber
the ground up
Aug 21, 2009 - 09:21am PT
Sorry to interrupt, but I didn't really read much judgment in what Pat wrote. If there was, it seemed balanced by the considerations that respect for each other, not taking things too seriously, and remembering both those who came before you, as well as those who are around you are all equally important.

Maybe also, if you exceed the limits of your predecessors, may it happen because you are pushing your own limits, like those who came before you did too. Perhaps, its all training and improvement. Once a teacher, always a teacher, no matter your relative ability.

Finally, I think the discussion about style is key. Maximum respect to those who worked to free climb those routes, as well as minimize their impact on the climbing areas. I believe that a style based in those ideas would likely develop the strength to reach some incredible places.

link: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=936193

Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 21, 2009 - 10:51am PT
I am sure that is Mike on lead and I think it is the second ascent.

Philo, I'm not so sure myself ... but the memories are old. Here's a similar photo I took about
the same time (in fall 1976) as the one upthread, showing Wendell Nuss and MIke Gilbert
on the crux pitch of Jules Verne.


Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 21, 2009 - 10:51am PT
But to Steve Grossman, Tarbuster or our other archive-scanners -- has someone got the issue
of Climbing, 1976 or 77, which had Mike Gilbert attempting the Kloeberdanz on the cover? I
believe there was an article inside that also had a pic of Mike on Jules Verne.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2009 - 11:32am PT
From the Sept-Oct 76 issue of Climbing, as requested.


Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 21, 2009 - 12:01pm PT
Thanks, Steve. I'd forgotten what an impressionistic piece Mike had written.

Have you got a scan of the cover, while we're at it?
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 21, 2009 - 12:31pm PT
All the photos of that climb....must have been a media event.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 21, 2009 - 12:56pm PT
No, I don't think it was a media event. Mike and Wendell were low-profile climbers at the
time, and they started up pretty quietly. Tom Gries and I joined them for the first pitch.
But when they began working the upper crux, people down in the canyon took notice and
grabbed a camera if they had one.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 22, 2009 - 12:08am PT
Chiloe that wasn't "about"the same time, that WAS the same time. Amazing, simply amazing.

Mike was and is a great climber and a good guy. But for my money Scottie had more raw talent. What a loss.

YDPL8S, Scottie died on Mt, Kitchner not Edith Cavell.
jstan

climber
Aug 22, 2009 - 01:24am PT
My brother lives in Denver so I spent a little time in Eldorado in the late 60's. The climbing there is superb though I thought their taking down the high wire, in a weird way, tore its heart out.

It fit.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2009 - 10:33am PT
Rich already posted that cover shot upthread. The tone of Mike's piece certainly resonates with my thoughts of late...
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 22, 2009 - 11:51am PT
Chiloe that wasn't "about"the same time, that WAS the same time. Amazing, simply amazing.

Philo, maybe we can meet up next month and trade recollections of the day.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Aug 22, 2009 - 11:57am PT
Thanks for keeping this thread alive and sharing your experiences...

i have one question about who soloed the casual route on the Diamond first. I thought Steve Monks did it a few days before Charlie Fowler. Does anyone know whether this is true. I know Charlie got the credit for it.
Tom Gries

Trad climber
Olympia Washington
Aug 23, 2009 - 10:35pm PT
Mike and Wendell were both great lesser known climbers in the early-to-mid 70's. I really don't know who was in the lead in the color photo, but ... Wendell had longish red hair back in those days. I'd lay my $ on that being him in the lead. I hear Mike is still climbing hard stuff. I tried to hook up with him for the first time in 30 years in July while on a family vacation to CO, but it didn't work out. Why doesn't someone just contact either Mike or Wendell and ask instead of all the speculation? I can get in touch with either of them, but I never really thought who was in the lead on what climb was ever really so important ...
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 23, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Hi Tom, welcome to the SuperTopo campfire. Hope you'll check in now and then, it's
sometimes a home for old climbers.

Which is why the discussion about Jules Verne really had less to do with who led
what, but more to do with the quality of our own aging memories. ;-)
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 23, 2009 - 11:17pm PT
No speculation at all, that IS Mike Gilbert on lead. The only question is whether it was the second or third free ascent.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Aug 23, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
Wonderful recollections of a wonderful time in Eldo. I lived in the Canyon from the mid-70's to the early 80's (from about 1979 to 82 in the "U-need-a-rest" cabin next to the one Chiloe lived in, and Hankster more recently.

Mike Gilbert was (still is) a great climber. I met him about the time of this article. He wanted to learn ice climbing, so we made a road trip that winter to Ouray and Telluride. Mike's first ice climb was a new route, Cascade Falls in Ouray. Then we went over to Telluride and made an early ascent of Bridalveil Falls. Obviously, Mike was pretty quick on the uptake!

If Wendell's and Mike's climb of Jules Verne was the second ascent, then Jim Collins and I must have made a very early ascent when we did it the next summer. The interesting thing about our climb was that I had recently returned from Alaska, where I'd fallen through a cornice on Mt Hunter and broken my ankle. Jim needed someone to belay him, and even though my ankle was not completely healed, I thought I could belay and follow with a tight rope. But Jim took two extra-long whippers off the crux, and it seemed that would be it for the day.

For some unknown reason, though, I asked if I could take a look. We switched ends of the rope, and up I went. My ankle felt fine, and the climbing never felt too hard, and shortly I found myself at the belay at the end of the pitch. Jim and I swung leads to the top.

-JelloSurprisedHimself
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 23, 2009 - 11:26pm PT
Yup - I still keep up with Wendell and I'd side with Chiloe that it is Wendell in the lead on the shot up there. Wendell was taller than Mike and rail thin back in those days. But, someone took the picture and knows!

Here he is about 10 years ago with daughter #2.


Edit: I'll ask Wendell

Edit#2: Here is what wendell recalls!

"Mike,

Great to hear from you!! Whoa blast from the past! Of course I remember
Larry [Hamilton-mb], lots of great climbing followed by beers at his place in Eldorado
Springs.

The photo is me on a free ascent (I'm pretty sure but it could have been
a failed try) of Jules Verne. I'm on the lead and Mike Gilbert is belaying.
My fingers are sweating just thinking back! It was quite a day.

Hope you and your family are doing well. We should get together sometime.

Later - Wendell"
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 24, 2009 - 12:44pm PT
Mike, that's a happy shot of Wendell. I've lost touch with him over the years, but from what
I hear he's done impressive things with his life. He came through New England many years
ago en route to a winter season chasing big storms in P3s, out over the Gulf of Maine. For
science of course (prolly settled down a bit since then).

Back in the day ... Wendell on the Yellow Spur in 1978:

Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 24, 2009 - 12:48pm PT
Of course I remember Larry [Hamilton-mb], lots of great climbing followed by beers at
his place in Eldorado Springs.


Just to complete the circle, the place mentioned is that same (recently Caylor-occupied)
trailer. Leslie and I always had a case of Old Milwaukee on hand, for post-climb rehydration.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 24, 2009 - 02:02pm PT
No disrespect to Mr. Nuss as he was an amazing climber, but, Jimmy Newberry took the shots and he contends that it was Mike on lead. In support of that it should be noted that Mike was a blondie and the belayer certainly is not. I am more than willing to admit I am wrong but I sent a note to Mike to see what he remembers.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 24, 2009 - 02:19pm PT
I will keep tuned in for the latest version of "As the Verne Turns"

Philo, I guess I got it wrong. That's unfortunate because I took a trip up the "Icefield Parkway" from Calgary to Jasper, in the early 80's (the most spectacular piece of highway I know of) and made a stop to pay homage to Scotty at Edith Cavell on our way up to our backpacking trip to Mount Robson. The thought was there, I guess I was just at the wrong place.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 24, 2009 - 02:37pm PT
Don't want to side track a great thread too much with the photo ID question mark!

Like many of the older climbing folk out there, I was captivated by the incredible images of wunsch out on the face with the sketchy gear. I'm in awe of everyone who was out there at that particular cutting edge in Boulder at the time, Mike G. Wendell, Jello and the rest!
Michael Gilbert

climber
Ouray, CO
Aug 24, 2009 - 07:15pm PT
Michael Gilbert here, and that is definitely Wendell on the sharp end. I'm also pretty sure that it is the third (or so) ascent; as I recall, Roger Briggs led the second.

Also, my brother died approaching the N. Face of Kitchner, not Edith Cavell.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 24, 2009 - 07:20pm PT
Thank you Michael I stand well and fully corrected on the Jules Verne debate.
I miss Scotty all the time.


Welcome to the TacoStand.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 24, 2009 - 09:19pm PT
It could be a new Taco record that this who's-in-that-picture question brought out
three definitive new voices, folks who know.

And Philo, the answer is not as simple as "Wendell." As I remember things, both
Michael and Wendell tried to lead the big pitch on that day. The black-and-white
Climbing magazine photo actually shows Michael on the sharp end, while the two
color photos upthread are of Wendell. Wendell was the one who broke through,
though obviously it was a great day for them both.

Anyway, the lead changes leave plenty of room for onlooker confusion.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 24, 2009 - 09:54pm PT
Well Chiloe that would be one explanation for Newb's confusion. I could think of a few others though I would probably just be blowing smoke.
The one thing I hope doesn't get lost is just how monumental those early ascents of Jules Verne really were. A huge step up in boldness and commitment that rocked our world at the time. Still rocks mine! You all were so totally amazing.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 24, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
You all were so totally amazing.

Pretty sure that I was never amazing. Tom, Wendell and Michael would back
me on that one! :-)
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 24, 2009 - 11:15pm PT
Yes Michael, thanks for the correction. I too think of Scotty often, it's good to hear from you. I only met you a few times and I'm sure you wouldn't remember. The past always brings up both fond and sad memories, it is the way of life.
Tom Gries

Trad climber
Olympia Washington
Aug 25, 2009 - 01:44pm PT
Boulder climbing partners. My first was Mike Munger. He and I learned the slow hard way - on our own. He went on to do some pretty darn gnarly stuff and probably still does. I tried to hook up with him this summer but didn't quite manage to ... Dudley C. was my 2nd consistent partner and I loved climbing with him. I remember Duncan F. giving the two of us some crash courses in crack climbing techniques before our first Yosemite excursion in '71. Dud (rightfully) 'graduated' and went on to climb with the likes of Duncan, Jim E. and Chris Reveley - the more dedicated ones. Speaking of Chris R. - there was an under-rated, under-acknowledged all around climber. "Chiloe" was one of the most versatile and interesting people to climb with and generally be with. I recall the Old Mils at the trailer with fondness. His aid and mixed climbing days were awesome, but I'm glad he found the error of his nailing ways to become a PDG free climber too. Mike G. was one of the stongest and most competetive Boulder climbers I had the pleasure of knowing. Sometimes that energized me and sometimes that's not what I sought. Wendall was (almost) always the most calm and elegant climber. Also liked him for his diverse interests. I am still disappointed that he did the lion's share of planning our Denali trip and was then unable to go with the rest of us. I remember Kevin Jackson as an unheralded boulderer who, after only a few attempts, climbed over the Kloeberdanz roof without lunging for the lip (back in those days)! I enjoyed hitting the low ones with him, and sometimes "the Jims". As much as I liked the Boulder area and front range crags, I grew to love even more doing high mountain routes (altho' not the more extreme ones). Anyone know who's credited with the FFA of the NE face of Pingora and when that was done? Ah - the good old days!
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 25, 2009 - 02:43pm PT
There are a lot of stories underneath that short post, Tom.

By way of further introduction, here are a couple shots of Tom BITD, on
the first free ascent of Kor's Door on Longs Peak (1974). Historically,
that FFA fit in as (a very minor) part of the 1974 breakthrough applying
Boulder free climbing standards to routes on the high peaks.


philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 27, 2009 - 11:39am PT
Chiloe, you may not believe that your climbing skills measured up to the hotties of the day but if nothing else the incredible photography of yours and the historic moments you captured puts you in the amazing category in my book.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Aug 27, 2009 - 11:48am PT
Chris Reveley
Now let's hear more ...
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 27, 2009 - 12:34pm PT
Yep, how many times have we all (except for Chiloe, Tarbuster, Todd Gordon and the pros like Chris. Phil et al.) kicked ourselves for not taking more photos back then? Chiloe has an amazing collection.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 27, 2009 - 12:40pm PT
So to get back to the OP let's talk about how truly amazing Roger Briggs was and still is. Plus a little shout out to Dan Stone, an old friend of mine who I initiated and taught what little I knew about climbing to. What a strange reward for the mentor's student to leave the teacher in the dust. That kid could CRANK!
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 27, 2009 - 12:49pm PT
Hey Mike. There are remarkably few pictures of me climbing as I was always the one taking them. As a dirtbagger I didn't own a camera and was always using my partner's. So all those shots ended up in other people's collections. There is one pic of me that I would dearly love to get a jpeg of. It was on I Can't Believe It's a Girdle in Joshua tree. It was right after major reconstructive surgery and I was mugging for the camera, wearing my oh so fashionable beret and using my approach cane on the wild dike traverse of the second pitch. There were several folks who shot that scene as it was rather humorous. But I never got a copy. Maybe someone out there in TacoLand knows about it and could put me in touch with the shutterbug,

My admiration for Chiloe's photography is boundless.
local

Social climber
eldorado springs
Aug 27, 2009 - 01:02pm PT
Sometime in the mid to late 70's I belayed Reveley on the first free ascent of the Obelisk, or the "Big O", as he called it. He had been thinking about it for some time, and when he heard that the Yosemite boys were on their way out to snag the 1st, he called me up to go, presumably because no one else was available at such short notice. I picked him up at the Boulderado after his shift in the restaurant, and we headed up to the Park in the afternoon, me with my jumars hidden in the bottom of my pack and Chris with hollandaise sauce splattered all over his pants. We made a quick stop on the way for bivi supplies; quarts of kefir and oreos. I can't remember where we bivied that night, but we got to Broadway pretty early, and it was typically grim and cold. Chris led the climb completely free and clean, no hangdoging, and no bs; at a couple of points yanking fixed pins out of the crack and tossing them over his shoulder into the void. After each pitch, we'd hold the rope into the corner, the dihedral overhung both ways. On the last pitch, Chris put on the most impressive show I've ever seen in the mountains. He stuffed his left side into the crack and powered up with only a single tipped out tube chock and a couple of little wires on the left wall. None of it would have held even a short fall. I remember the crack as being super smooth and cold, with ice lurking in the back. I was incredibly relieved when he pulled over the top to the ledge. He laid up there gasping for ten minutes or so before he brought me up. I was glad I brought the jumars.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 27, 2009 - 02:22pm PT
Local, you've got more and better stories than most. Even back in the old days
you did, and now they are all the old days.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 27, 2009 - 02:27pm PT
Chiloe has an amazing collection.

One photo from that collection, of Roger Briggs in fact, was possibly gonna appear
in Levin's new Eldo guide. I haven't seen the book yet (has anyone?), so I don't
know if that happened.

But as for the collection itself -- that literally sat in my closet for 30 years, with no
place to show, until Al Gore invented the interwebs and stuff.
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 27, 2009 - 02:33pm PT
Larry..do you get your guide yet??
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 27, 2009 - 02:36pm PT
Hah, I certainly did, Bob. I've been paging through it like a novel (I do that with
guidebooks) and adding sticky tags to pages with stuff that's new to me and looks fun.

It boggles my mind that there is so much more rock in Boulder Canyon than there
used to be.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Aug 27, 2009 - 02:43pm PT
Terrific tell there local.
When you look at routes with Reveley's name attached, they tend to be STOUT.
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 27, 2009 - 03:03pm PT
Larry...hope you like it? It is already outdated by about 50 new routes.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Aug 27, 2009 - 03:08pm PT
It looks great on the table, but if I get lost I'll blame you!
Climbing a few Boulder routes each year, I'm unlikely to catch up.
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Aug 27, 2009 - 09:06pm PT
It is a really great book Bob, congratulations.
Now let's get back to the history.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 31, 2010 - 01:40pm PT
Forward into the past...LOL
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 25, 2011 - 12:19pm PT
Eldo Bump!
steve s

Trad climber
eldo
Jan 25, 2011 - 11:43pm PT
Roger Briggs was a inspiration to many climbers,not only did he do many first ascents but he also was one of the first climbers to truly perfect a system for rope soloing free climbs. Watched him lead Country club crack all free in one pitch...rope solo,then rappel down to a small ledge at the base of Never a dull moment and lead that all free rope solo. He would also rope solo lots of stuff here in the backyard of Eldo that are pretty stout>
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Feb 27, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
bump
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Mar 8, 2011 - 12:15pm PT
I'd just love to see those pics of Roger leading Death and Transfiguration..did I miss them?
o-man

Trad climber
Paia,Maui,HI
Mar 8, 2011 - 02:37pm PT
I never tire of this articl and the subsiquent thread line!There are some very heavy hitters mentioned in the article and posting comments here as well.
BTW:That dynamic image on the cover of Climbing of Michael Gilbert on Kloberdanze was taken by BUC TAYLOR. He told me the other day that the slide was never returned to him and that he dosen't even have a copy of it. Also Climbing spelled his name wrong in the credits.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 27, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
Boulder Bump...
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 27, 2013 - 08:10pm PT
Just the title of this thread alone is a misnomer.
The real roots of free climbing in Colorado were in the days
of Cary Huston, Dale Johnson, Baker Armstrong, maybe even
Tom Hornbein and some of those classic figures, and many who
were learning and at the top of the standard of their day.
Then Layton and Northcutt, and Rearick and Kamps, and
the great Bob Culp. Larry Dalke and I stepped into the scene,
but we saw the horizons of our day from the shoulders of
some great individuals who went before. Royal led Final Exam in
'64, a route most think of now as 5.11a, but he did it without
chalk and hung there with one arm to hammer in a piton for
protection. That was a significant, however small, route.
Royal also led the very thin first
pitch of Athlete's Feat virtually unprotected (no bolt, just
a single upsidedown, manky bugaboo under a dubious flake far
below). That single piton he had would not have kept him from
hitting the ground, or that bad flake, had he fallen off the
crux move. That was solid 5.10, in 1964. I led the second
ascent of the route soon after I got back from my trip to
the Valley with Royal. The real renaissance began, though, in
the mid-1960s, when 5.11 became a reality in Eldorado. And
of course John Gill was doing some bouldering.... Layton's
lead of Overhang Rock, Rogue's Arete, in 1963, is still viewed
today as something rather horrifying. Roger Briggs calls it
"futuristic." One could simply change the thread title to:
"The 1970s free climbing Renaissance." But it would be a
better piece to mention those who were the founding climbers
of the '60s and who inspired many of the '70s stars. We never
operate in a vacuum....
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 27, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
Pat- The thread title is an invitation to talk about the very history that I expect YOU to elucidate going as far back as YOU like.

Being inclusive was my intent so the title is no misnomer at all.

Just look at the OP. The majority of routes under discussion are from your crew so I don't get your beef.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 11, 2013 - 01:14am PT
bump
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 20, 2018 - 07:52pm PT
Bump in search of Eldorado...
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