Don Jensen

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Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 26, 2009 - 11:36am PT

Friend, mentor, creative gear designer, and the driving force of Palisades climbing in the Sixties. Which, now that I think of it, made him the dominant High Sierra climber of that era, the era that ushered in a flowering of new technical routes that peaked in the Seventies.

Hard to believe he was barely thirty when that patch of black ice took him out. He was already the leading Alaskan climber of his generation when a post-doc appointment in mathematics invited him to Scotland that winter. He was on his bicycle on his way to school and the ice patch sent him head-first into a stone wall.

When I met him, '66 or '67, he already had an odd puffy spot on one lip where it was torn falling into an Alaskan crevasse far beyond the help of stitching, and sometimes a little mustache. It didn't detract, though, from that boyish enthusiasm. Don was wiry and powerful with big shoulders, and he always seemed to be bursting out of his knickers with sheer physical energy. Something innocent about that energy too. Coming from Yosemite, Don’s style seemed to me distinctly different from the Camp 4 mainstream -- barely emerged from provincialism at that point to even be seen as a mainstream. It wasn't until 1969, after all, that Mountain 4 published a Yosemite issue.

It's odd, maybe, but I don't recall Don ever going to the Valley. He grew up in the Bay Area, Walnut Creek, and I know he got as close as Fresno, because it was after he gave a slide show there about Alaska that Joan came up to talk to him. They were married in the Palisades and had a wedding feast on the Banquet Boulder, a fine block of erratic granite off the trail in the idyllic meadow of Cienega Mirth just below Lon Chaney's old stone cabin.

But then again avoiding the Valley had been something of a pattern among Eastside alpinists. Norman Clyde did it, kind of gruffly disdaining the place, and so had Smoke Blanchard.

On the other hand, climbers who started out in the Valley had always come up to the high country, beginning with John Muir and the boys from the Whitney Survey, and notably the crew in 1931 who first wielded the rope in California: Eichorn and Dawson and Brower and Richard Leonard. When they stormed into the Palisades that August on Clyde’s heels it was obvious what peaks had been bugging them, like Thunderbolt, just beyond what they might solo. Later Harding broke out of the Gulch to climb Conness and the epic 8000 vertical of that NE ridge on Williamson.

Further out on this tangent, I notice strong skiers in that progression, from David Brower to Allen Steck. Don Jensen had skis in the Palisades too, though his rig was far out of the mainstream. Three feet long, a crampon-style binding I think, and permanent skins. Pretty utilitarian, but they gave him full freedom of the place when he roamed the range during the late spring, quite alone.

Don's Twilight Pillar goes right up the center of Clyde Peak, surely the standout climb of the South Fork


Yes, on one level he was just training for Alaska. But it was quickly obvious that he loved the Palisades for themselves. Built paper-mache relief models of both the Palisades and the Alaska Range. And he made up a second pair of those unique skis to take clients in for big climbs like the Twilight Pillar on Clyde Peak -- probably the most outstanding climb in the entire South Fork -- and even bigger traverses. He had spotted several bivouac caches just down off the backside of the crest in Kings Canyon NP. It's more than a day's stout travel just to get to those spots, and there he was setting them up with a pair of sleeping bags to be able to drop off the ridge with a client. No one since has done that level of guiding, let alone climbing, in the remote South Fork, and the location of his caches vanished with him, not to mention a lot of his lore of the climbs themselves.

If Don had survived, I venture to say that the tone of that Golden Age of High Sierra development that germinated from his Palisades era in the Sixties until it flowered up and down the Sierra Crest into the Seventies would have ended up with more of an alpine flavor than the mood of pure rock climbing in an alpine setting that actually developed. More winter ascents of the hard climbs, just for starters.

Don set a vigorous tone at the Palisades School of Mountaineering. He put up many of the FAs of the Celestial Aretes on Temple Crag, for instance, with a hand-picked client out of the weekly classes. And the Celestial Aretes -- his name, his vision -- have to stand out as the most prominent centerpiece of the Sierra part of his legacy.

A toast to Don and his Celestial Aretes on Temple Crag

Now that Bob Swift -- Swifty -- has joined our campfire, I hope he will fill in some of the transition at the Palisades climbing school, then known by its original name Mountaineering Guide Service. Larry Williams started it in I think 1958, and it was the first, and for over a decade the only, commercial climbing school in California. The Sierra Club's Rock Climbing Section, where I learned to tie-in that same year, was the other big venue. I missed by two weeks the chance to meet Larry before he augered in off the Bishop runway, trying to bump start the second engine of his twin-engine plane. Bob Swift was the bridge from Larry Williams to Don Jensen. He was Chief Guide when I showed up, and I vividly recall leading a second rope behind Bob in my apprenticeship, including the East Face of Whitney.

It would be interesting to hear more about the early tone set by Larry Williams, who was a school teacher in the winter. Swift himself, who had been on the FA with Harding of the East Buttress of Middle in 1954 and of YPB with Steck in '52 -- not to mention the first American FA of an 8000-meter summit,, Hidden Peak, in 1958 -- was a classically calm and steadying influence to balance Don Jensen's energy and enthusiasm, as he burned onto new ground.

You can glimpse the man partly by his tools. Those skis, more like literal snow-shoes. A stiff pair of LePhoque boots, advanced alpine footwear with plastic midsoles and distinctive rubber spats sewn on, sleek and hiding the speed-lacing. He never wore rock shoes. I can see him still, miming the crux move in the firelight, as he pulled over a small ceiling with those fine boots poised on tiny edges. It’s the 26th of July Arete, named in honor of his and Joan’s wedding anniversary, one of his small gems of a route now rarely repeated. That move is a classic sandbag. Don had no idea how much his rock climbing, even in mountain boots, had improved during those years of working over Temple Crag. It got to be a running joke, “Don Jensen 5.8.”

The Jensen Pack evolved into this Ultima Thule

And let’s mention for a moment the Jensen Pack. Fine few ounces of light nylon, form fitting what little he carried every day to guide Temple Crag or North Pal. Imagine a wraparound belt bag clinging nicely to your hips, with two vertical compartments mounted on top, like tubes running up both sides of your back. Gone was the sway of a normal sausage pack that got more unstable the tighter you stuffed it -- rolling sideways on your back and trying to upset the alpine edge of your balance. I ballooned out the basic genius of Don’s layout into a 17-ounce version that would carry 70 pounds while skiing the John Muir Trail for 36 days in the spring of 1970. I so admired his design that I passed on Don’s patterns to Larry Horton at the Rivendell Mountain Works, who produced a thousand of them over the next decade. And then I couldn’t resist refining the cut into the Ultima Thule at Chouinard Equipment. All of it was inspired by Don’s breakthrough design.

The MacInnes North Wall Hammer

Then there was the MacInnes North Wall Hammer. It was his only tool, and I've always been amazed at what he did with it. Not water ice -- given the straight, fat pick, he wisely stayed away from that -- but with nothing more for purchase than that 50 cm shaft plunged in, he down-soloed the FA of the V-Notch in snow conditions. No one for miles around if he got in trouble. It had a hammer face for rock, and he wore it in a holster on his belt.
The thing was absolutely indestructible, which turned out to be good, and not just for pounding pins. Don did a certain amount of sculpting on sharp arêtes, wailing away with it powerfully held in both hands. You might be tempted to call it chipping, but you would be wrong. No climbing holds ever got improved, that’s for sure. But once in awhile, where the rope would fall over a sharp piece of the arête and there was no avoiding the spot, Don would round the edge a little. It was purely a safety move, and knowing how easily a taut rope will cut over a sharp flake, Don protected his clients coming along behind and all of us climbing along after, by taking the edge off. Many of you have trailed a rope over just those spots along the Celestial Aretes and never noticed. Once in awhile I’ll come across one of those subtle traces of Don’s legacy, and smile in thanks.

So I just had to get one of those MacInnes ice hammers too, in total imitation of Don Jensen. I was a puppy, an apprentice guide. He was not only Chief Guide in the Palisades, and later owner of PSOM, but he was the real deal cutting-edge alpine climber. His West Face of Mt. Huntington from '65 or so was the Alaskan climb of the decade. (Can't recall if the Cassin Ridge was done in the Sixties too, but anyway it was easier.) He trained for all his Alaskan climbs in the spring in the Palisades, and down-soloing the V-Notch was just one snapshot out of weeks of soloing around up there, all alone. Not only is 50 cm a pretty small shaft to anchor a self-belay while kicking steps downward, but in spring conditions I always worry about how bonded the snowpack is, really, to the burnished green ice below.

Let’s take another look at that studly photo of Don

He's up a steep arête in his winter double boots. Don is in his favorite basin, the South Fork; you can tell by that striking arête in the background, the Mahogany Wall he called it, on The Thumb. The arête he’s climbing is really just a bit of practice, a few hundred feet of fun in the afternoon after reaching the high camp at Merlin’s Well. But the photo is in obvious imitation of one in Gaston Rebuffat’s book On Snow and Rock, which inspired us all when it came out in 1960. More than inspired, we were awed by it really, especially this shot.

Gaston Rebuffat

It’s no wonder, then, that Don set up one so frankly in homage, and put it straight onto the cover of the brochure for the Mountaineering Guide Service. Nice little piece of alpine legacy, bumped over from Chamonix to the Palisades, with its vision carried onward from here to the cutting edge of alpinism in the Alaska Range. Pure Don Jensen.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:01pm PT
wow, thanks DJ, now that I have my ride back I'm itching to get over to the Eastside this year!
F10

Trad climber
e350
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:02pm PT
Good post,

Way to keep it real !!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 12:14pm PT
Yes, a spiritual nexus.

I think immediately of Norman Clyde's favorite Norman Clyde story, which Don Lauria laid out for us recently. That was at Third lake in 1952.

And back in the Thirties when Clyde lived at Glacier Lodge every winter, he used to ski up the canyon most every day. I like to think of him lingering in that little crows-nest-like spot nestled in the rocks on top of the peninsula jutting into the lake. I'm sure you know it. I slept up in that sandy nook scores of nights, because of course it had the perfect backrest for drinking in the view of Temple Crag in the morning.

And yes, those boulder problems. Some outstanding ones on a granite edge right next to the trail. Don put up the most obvious hand crack going through a ceiling at its top. Actually a top rope, it was the only thing I ever recall him rating 5.9. Yeah, right. "Don Jensen 5.9."

I spent all summer, '71 I think, working a double crack further right. More like twin seams, overhanging gently. Finally got it on top rope late in August. I named it in honor of the breakthrough climb in the Valley at the time. Called it Few Dimensions.

I had a vision once -- actually I was on DMT -- of a spiritual progression of Palisades climbers, and it was set at Third Lake. I was lying on the sand there, the way I have slept countless hundreds of nights. But I was dead, just a skeleton with cold breeze running right through my ribs. Behind me I could feel the spiritual mentors who had come before, Clyde and Jensen and Smoke Blanchard. And out of the loins of my skeleton there was a long line of climbers stretching into the future.



And yes, Walleye, of course it's gin.
The Wedge

Boulder climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
If im back in the south fork working this summer I may have to try to duplicate that photo. Thanks Doug -eric
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:23pm PT
Great post. And brings back a lot of memories. I never met Don, but I sure did love the pack he designed.
Joe Metz

Trad climber
Bay Area
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:26pm PT
Nice post, Doug. I've long admired Don Jensen from a distance. Never had the privilege of meeting him. And I second DMT's comment - there's a presence in the Palisades, to me a sort of melancholy feeling of great times that have since blown away with the wind...
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 12:35pm PT
Hi Eric,

If you know the South Fork you've likely already come upon the timberline tarn we called Merlin's Well. It would be up and left climbing out of Finger Lake. The grain of the pluton and a faint climber trail lead you that way. It's just the most lush little paradise ringed by glaciated dome rocks with a short margin of meadow between. The cliff Don was on is to your right, toward Disappointment Peak. Another spiritual nexus, so we had to name it in honor of a Medieval Wizard.

Maybe I'll see you up there. It's time to climb that stellar third class face on Middle again. One of the very best of its grade in the Sierra. And of course the Twilight Pillar too.
hooblie

climber
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:47pm PT
very glad to be let in on your remembrances of don jensen. i carried one of the rivendell edition of his pack and was always eager to credit him with the design because i admired it so much. nobody who gave me an opening got away without a full and enthusiastic explanation of it's elegant simplicity. i would cheerfully tailor the load to fit the pack. on many a ski tour in the interior of alaska, and most especially for thousands and thousands of hitch hiking miles i was acompanied by his pack. in a sports car for instance, inverting the bulb to sit on the floorboard, the narrows between the legs and the wrap around waist compartment as arm rest in front of my belly, the efficient package just rang true.
i more than admired the profile of mt. deborah for years, inspired me to learn to fly, appreciated the humilty and ambition described in "mountain of my fear." might have had something to do with my never becoming an alaska mountaineer. huntington says all one needs to say in one word.
but back to that pack. fabric and stitches, or i guess material and seams. that's what you see, but the intelligence is imbedded in the pattern and that makes all the difference. i've used that metaphor more than once to remind myself about the essence of things. reductionism by jensen. thanks for letting me "meet the man" so to speak
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:49pm PT
Doug,

Please keep writing and sharing! If you remember, you came to my middle school some years back and presented a slideshow/lecture. You then met with my GATE Language Arts students after school to talk about writing. I want to tell you that I recently had a visit from one of those students, and she told me that one of the most memorable experiences she recalls from middle school was when Doug Robinson came and talked to us. She is currently attending UCLA as a Journalism major. You are a teacher Mr. Robinson, and don't ever forget it!!!!


Cracko
klk

Trad climber
cali
Mar 26, 2009 - 12:50pm PT
great post. i especially love the photos and design history woven into the narrative.

in fact, i'd like to hear more about the design history.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 26, 2009 - 01:22pm PT
Nice to see you put this one out, just as promised Doug!
1958: I didn't know the Palisades school went back that far...
(you probably noted this in an earlier thread)

Fun reading it; also interesting to note some of us in Southern California were inspired quite a lot by this whole approach of climbing alpine rock in the Sierra and intentionally avoiding Yosemite. (I can't say we abstained too long though)

We also climbed strictly in our leather mountaineering boots; typically up to about 5.8. No doubt we got all of that from reading you, from Jensen, from Clyde et al.
We climbed the Thunderbird Wall; I remember a nearly perfect mantle right on to the summit. So Jensen's Twilight Pillar awaits a return...
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 01:22pm PT
Hi Cracko,

Great to hear from you. I am so honored to be remembered by your student. As you know so well, those moments are the one true reward from teaching and mentoring. And so often when we've touched someone, we never hear about it. Which is fine, of course, just the way of the world. Publish a major article and get one or two passing comments. Actually, I've gotta say that the Taco format here is really an improvement that way, hearing so many things back and joining the conversation.

Anyway, it means a lot to occasionally catch a story like yours. So thanks. Next time you see her, tell her hi and congratulations and pass on my email.

I tried to email you soon after I joined the Taco and recognized you, but it bounced back. So this is a belated hello!

Doug
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 01:57pm PT
klk,

I veered away from posting more about the design history, afraid I would bore some people who don't roll that way. But since you ask, I'll go on a little more. Some of this was posted on an equipment thread awhile back, with parts of Don's alpine climbing history woven in from a slightly different tack.

When I was preparing to ski the Muir Trail -- as I mentioned -- in the spring of 1970, I was lucky to have both Don's patterns and an eager sewer, my ski partner P-Nut McCoy's girlfriend Claudia Axcell. (A few years later Claudia and I were married briefly. But that's another story.) We made two Jensen Packs and a Jensen Bombshelter tent. The total weight of all three was five pounds. Incredibly efficient.

The Bombshelter tent was a refined A-Frame, with batwing side pullouts and a ridgepole. It's pretty tiny, and I modified our ski poles to form the A-shaped ends so the only extra pole we carried was the ridgepole. I have no photos of either those Jensen Packs or the Bombshelter. I did snag a photo of the Rivendell Bombshelter off the internet, but I can't find it this morning. There's a guy in Oregon whose website includes a shrine to Rivendell. You can Google it.

A bit more on the heritage of the Jensen Pack:

You’ve spurred me to think again about this ingenious contraption for hauling our sheer pile of “stuff” around the mountains. A remarkable breakthrough, considering the beasts of burden of the times. Packframes were it then, and the external frame had reached the height of its development.
The Kelty Pack, TIG-welded aluminum tubing bent into the shape of a human back, was the state of the art. Lesser models had canvas fittings, but the Kelty was snappy with olive green nylon shoulder straps and a packbag that even had an aluminum spreader-bar to hold it open. It was all the more remarkable against the backdrop of straight, wood-framed “Trapper Nelson” packs. A lot of those still around then, which made the Kelty look aerospace futuristic.

There was another way, though, more directly in line of the alpine tradition. Recall that Rebuffat’s book On Snow and Rock was freshly translated in 1960. It swept me away with alpine inspiration while still in high school. Gaston in the frontispiece with a hemp rope coiled on his back. And inside we see him packing a canvas and leather alpine sack with twin oak stays. My climbing partner John Fischer got one, giving me a first glimpse of the beginnings of an internal frame pack. That was a bigger and heftier model than the classic, frameless Rebuffat “Guide” packs that made their way into the Valley.

When I met Don Jensen he was working on his Doctorate in Math. In the last half of the Sixties Don was living in an apartment near UCLA with his new wife Joan. His big Alaskan climbs were behind him, but hardly forgotten. In 1963 his fledgling trip to Denali (well, it was still “McKinley” then) -- the Harvard Mountaineering Club trip -- had blazed a new route up the Wickersham Wall on the north side of the peak. Not to mention walking in all the way from the highway, carrying huge loads through bogs and over muskeg. Call it Don’s “Freshman Orientation.”

Then there was Huntington. I’ll say it was the state-of-the-art alpine climb in the world then. But I don’t feel expert on that, so maybe someone with more of a global view can step in here to confirm or deny. We know a lot about that trip too, thanks to the early and prolific writing career of Don’s classmate, Dave Roberts. The Harvard Mountaineering Club of the day was one of those localized explosions of creativity that pushed the cutting edge of alpine climbing, much as The Valley was doing for rock climbing.

And Deborah – jeez! No wonder Don and Dave Roberts were inspired. It looked a lot like the French Ridge on Huntington, freshly climbed by the great French guide and Annapurna veteran Lionel Terray. A low summit too, only 12,339’ – shouldn’t be that hard. Dane Burns gave us the sobering perspective [on that other thread], though, of twenty subsequent failures to get up the thing. Its FA party in 1954 is a clue: it included Fred Beckey and Heinrich Harrer. Around Palisades campfires Don talked about the shockingly bad weather there in the remote eastern Alaska Range. Stuck in their Bombshelter tent during days of blizzard, Don drove Roberts nuts by calmly disassembling a watch and spreading the gears and springs around as he patiently repaired it. A pretty good glimpse of the stormbound mathematician and fledgling equipment genius.

After all that, after his fits and starts at Harvard, after dropping out to train alone in the Palisades and work the cutting edge in Alaska, Don seems to have settled down a bit in SoCal and focused more of his huge energy on the Palisades. Maybe Don Jensen’s happy absorption in climbing there is as good a recommendation of the range’s importance as I can muster. I’m still pretty amazed that the place never seemed to me to get the respect it was due. I mean out of the whole Eastside, Norman Clyde chose to winter at the foot of those peaks for decades. And the ten-mile-long Crest of the Palisades, first traversed by John Fischer and his client Jerry Adams – it took a week! --is still the only one of the great Sierra ridge traverses that Peter Croft has not nailed in a single-push traverse.


In the 1960s in the Palisades Don Jensen was the Lone Ranger of alpine climbing in the Sierra. Sure, Harding was putting up bigger rock climbs on the alpine walls of Conness and -- yes, let’s not forget – Keeler Needle. But those were really sunny rock climbs that happened to be on high peaks. So were my later efforts to put up Dark Star, deliberately homing in on Summer Solstice to squeeze max sunlight and warmth onto a north wall. Don’s spring training rambles through the Palisades were a whole different deal. Deliberately climbing in the snowiest season, approaching on skis. Just by repeating sections of the ridge under those conditions he was forging new ground.


It’s so unfortunate that the details of most of what he did up there seem lost. My recollection of his down-soloing the V-Notch plunging in his pre-Terror MacInness with a handle no longer than a framing hammer is like a tiny surviving fragment of significant climbing lost to us now. Don had a little card file of what he’d done, 3x5 cards with neat, tiny lettering kept in one of those flip-top recipe boxes at the Mountaineering Guide Service roadhead basecamp, a wood-framed canvas tent like the ones in Camp Curry. Where has that card file gone? I often wonder. Joan has long since moved to the Yukon.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:06pm PT
Dave Roberts and Don Jensen. What a team. Mt. Deborah.
Incredible read. Of course, The Mountain of My Fear too.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:10pm PT
We want the cardfile.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:16pm PT
thanks, doug. i had always assumed that the pack design was inspired by the evolution of the rucksack in the post-war alps. but it's cool to hear the timing.

where were you sourcing your materials? tech fabric wasn't terribly easy to come by in most parts of the country, even though the collapse of the us textile/sewing industry was just getting underway.

gaston had a huge impact on photo composition in the states. if you look at period (1960s, esp.) climbing photos, you can find echo after echo of that ridiculous aiguille shot.

given the small size of the alpine community in the us at the time, it's not that surprising that the palisadaes didn't draw more interest. the closest urban center was los angeles, not a likely source of serious alpinists. and the tetons and cascades were already well-established as centers for serious mountaineering.
Dolomite

climber
Anchorage
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:38pm PT
Thanks so much, Doug. Every word here will be much-treasured by many.

I read an interesting note regarding Don's death in Roberts' 'On the Ridge Between Life and Death: A Climbing Life Reexamined' (which, by the way, I think is the most thoughtful consideration of the climbing life that we have). Roberts says that he received a note from Joan in 2003 that says Don was actually hit by a truck. The original report was simply that "Don was killed instantly while bicycling on slippery roads." Roberts seems to think that he himself was somehow responsible for the "crashing onto the stone wall" part of the story. There's a lot about their friendship in the book, full of both love and regret.

Thanks again, Doug, keep it coming, please!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 02:46pm PT
Thanks for pointing out more on Don in Roberts' book. Now I'll read it for sure.

Got an excerpt for us?
mastadon

Trad climber
quaking has-been
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:57pm PT

This couldn't possibly be the "Diamond Don Jensen" who sold Kassbohrer snow grooming machines in the Tahoe area could it? His brother Bill Jensen was the GM of Northstar.........
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 03:07pm PT
Nope, sorry, not "Diamond Don."

Also no relation of Jay Jensen, a next-generation Palisade guide from the same Bishop High School class as Gordon Wiltsie. They both worked PSOM through the early 70s.
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Mar 26, 2009 - 04:03pm PT
Doug what great energy you've put into this thread.
Very similar to your book A night on the ground.....
thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts of your good friend

murf
10b4me

Ice climber
Rustys Saloon
Mar 27, 2009 - 12:42am PT
bump
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 27, 2009 - 01:57am PT
Thanks Doug, superb posting and I think this one will open up numerous tangents down the SuperTopo highway.

cheers

Guido
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 27, 2009 - 02:01am PT
beautiful on all different levels.

I love your vision, I've had similar in similar circumstances. I sensed the serenity of that experience in your writing too. Powerful, awesome, expansive and then intimately close.

You wrote about this in the 1969 Ascent once... here is a link:
http://home.comcast.net/~e.hartouni/doc/Climber_as_Visionary.txt
someone here said that it was an influential article to them. I can see why.

And Roberts' book Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative paints his portrait of Don Jensen.

"In the parking lot we set up our rain fly again, as we had on the first day of the trip, and crawled into our sleeping bags beneath it. An electric light glared over us like a watchman, and a generator roared noisily from a power shed beside the driveway. It looked as if it might rain again. I asked Don how his feet were. He said that they felt all right. In his single, short answer I heard all the vague sorrow that was also building inside me. Don fell asleep just as it began to rain lightly. I lay there, on the verge of sleep, thinking of ice-cream cones and baseball games and the wonderful ease, the ease of walking on sidewalks and of driving cars, the luxury of soft chairs and indoor fires, and especially the ease of unanxios sleep. But sixty miles north of us, already touched with winter snows, Deborah lay fathomless in the darkness, and nothing would ever be easy again."

WBraun

climber
Mar 27, 2009 - 02:01am PT
The Jensen pack was a very good design. Bev made some and I asked her for one and I used it for many years.

It would still be a good pack today ....?
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 27, 2009 - 02:40am PT
hey there dr... say, thanks for this very wonderful lesson and post share, about don jensen...

very nicely done and very nice history..

thank you so very much... i really love the picture...
bob

climber
Mar 27, 2009 - 09:17am PT
Wow Doug, nice piece there! If I knew I was going to read things like this every morning with coffee I'd probably get up even earlier!!!!!!! There are so many great stories to be told eh? Would love to get my hands on one of those packs. When did you put that design to work at Yvon's?
Keep it coming please. Thanks.

Oh yeah, the guy has got to have one of the best last names ever in my biased opinion! hee hee.

Bob J.
#310

Social climber
Telluride, CO
Mar 27, 2009 - 09:31am PT
Last week I day hiked with friends in death Valley. Hugh and Janet had these new looking Jensen packs made is some of Chuck's (Kroger)vintage nylon material. I asked when Chuck had made those packs. They burst out laughing and told me that I had made those packs in the late 70's! I had forgotten that Chuck had had me make a bunch of them becuase the one's he made were falling apart. ah - memory...I knew they looked familiar.

I do remember that Don Jensen was a huge influence on and mentor to Chuck. Chuck had the one glorious summer working with Don and DR in the Pallisades. Don inspired Chuck in mountaineering and especially in inventing things and making his own equipment and clothes. DR inspired Chuck in clean climbing altough it was hard to take the love of hammering anything and everything out of Chuck.

I think I threw away a bunch of falling apart gear that Chuck or I had made during our 2003 remodel but maybe it is in the attic. I might have to light a candle and start melting the edges of nylon just for old time's sake and maybe i will remember what I made.

Thanks DR for keeping the spirit and legends of Don Jensen alive. Please keep telling us these grat stories & memories.

Kathy

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 27, 2009 - 10:31am PT
Here is a shot of the Harvard Mountaineering Club and a somewhat rare shot of Don's face. From Climbing in North America.


Left to right; Don Jensen, John Graham, Dave Roberts, Pete Carmen, Rick Milliken, Hank Abrons and Chris Goetze. 63 Wickersham Wall expedition.
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Mar 27, 2009 - 10:50am PT
thanks doug, are those martinis " shaken not stirred? "
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Mar 27, 2009 - 12:16pm PT
DR- Great post and photos!
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Mar 27, 2009 - 12:48pm PT
Awesome thread! Doug, thank you :) Had to add these. Great pack by any date or standard.

Jensen in lwt pack cloth with Galiber Hivernal and a McInnes axe

Jensen in 8oz duck with Galiber Makalu and a hickory Chouinard piolet





N face of Deborah, the steep East Ridge in cloud.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 27, 2009 - 04:22pm PT
So many great responses, and so personal! Thank you all.

Ed, so intriguing to me that you report similar visions in similar circumstances. That is very encouraging, as I have never before publicly mentioned my, to me, striking vision -- especially the imagery and the experience of feeling my skeleton as cold as the ground and feeling totally at peace with that. And of course it's slightly edgy to admit that the circumstances included the influence of DMT, which is perhaps the most powerful psychedelic known. It is of course covered by the Analog Act of 1988, but I have my suspicions it will never be tested as the Feds are aware that the very compound has been demonstrated in healthy human brain tissue in at least 5 studies. Most particularly it is produced by the pituitary, where it ebbs and flows a diurnal cycle that some suspect is tied to our circadian hormonal rhythms. (It peaks at 3:00 AM -- what's the weirdest time of day for you?) Though none of that is at all well understood. Pretty hard, though, to presume to bust anyone because their brain contains a compound that their brain indeed makes.

Anyway, I'll quit this line of reasoning for now, but it verges on the book I am writing, The Alchemy of Action, which is all about where the high comes from, out of the hard work and edge of danger of climbing. This follows on from the ideas I laid out in that 1969 article, "The Climber as Visionary."

Must get back to work here, but thanks again all.

And Dane -- I looked all over the internet for a photo of LePhoque boots, and here you drop them into the thread. I loved those boots!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 09:39am PT
Here's one of Don's little-known routes, The Surgicel, along the broad Northwest wall of Temple Crag. Several pitches to the obvious twin spire. He did a route up the left side "5.7" with his wife Joan, that's named for its first pitch up the Chinese Mustard Dihedral. Even in this light I think you can see yellow lichen on one wall and red on the other. His line up the right skyline, which he called "5.8" finishes in the striking cracks on the prow. Going up the talus of the Third Lake Gully in front of it, you will stop to catch your breath underneath The Surgicel, and it's pretty obvious that both lines look a lot harder than Don's ratings.



BTW, Norman Clyde's August 11, 1931 Northwest Face route starts up that talus fan (usually a snow gully) just behind The Surgicel. First technical route on Temple Crag, and I guess you could say he was as much a sandbagger as Jensen by rating it "fourth class." Clyde had the all-star team with him that day: Robert Underhill, who the week before had introduced modern ropework to the Sierra, and Glen Dawson and Jules Eichorn, the hot young Valley guns of the day. The following week they all put up the East Face of Mt. Whitney.


For context, here's the whole NW Face. Even Mt. Gayley way right.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 28, 2009 - 06:51pm PT
The team Doug just mentioned from Climbing in North America.


Gotta love that Sierra cup on Underhill's belt!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 08:01pm PT
Check out the gaiters over tennies on Clyde. Here they are again on the FA of the Milk Bottle summit block of Starlight, two days before that FA of the NW Face of Temple Crag, which itself was just 5 days before they posed for that shot after the FA of the East Face of Whitney. In between, they copped the FA of Thunderbolt.

Those boys were gettin' busy!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 28, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
I was poking around Roper's High Sierra guide and noticed that Chuck Kroger and Don did two routes on Temple Crag. You did one with Chuck too, Doug. Any recollections?


Half of the routes listed here are his including one with Joan Jensen. Anyone know about these routes?

Jensen's Temple Crag----?!?
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 08:57pm PT
Yep, it sure is Jensen's Temple Crag. I have a route picked out to name in his honor over on that NW Face.

I'll get to that as soon as I finish another route, also on the complex NW Face, that's going to be the Clyde Arete. I got about halfway up it 3-4 years ago at 5.8R. Stymied there by a 5.10 section, but then it got dark and we rapped. It appears that spot will have a solution nearly as novel as the tyrolean on the Sun Ribbon.

That NW Face is more subtle than the Celestial Aretes side.

But 40 years before it became Jensen's Temple Crag it was Clyde's. He got the second, third and fourth routes. 1926 and 1930, solo. Then 1931 with the boys above.

Looks like I misspoke about where that last route goes. That gully just past the Surgicle is Clyde's 1930 route, the first route on the entire NW Face of the peak. I'd call that pretty bold to launch up that huge and complex face, all alone. The 1931 route is up the big gully left of there, the most obvious snow gully from Third Lake.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 09:34pm PT
1969 was Jensen's big year on Temple Crag, the year of his Celestial Aretes.

Mountaineering Guide Service (pre-PSOM) moved down from Sam Mack Meadow to Third Lake and Jensen became Chief Guide. That meant he assigned clients to the other guides, after taking his pick of the litter.

Don ended up guiding on sight the FAs of the Venusian Blind, the lower half of the Moon Goddess and the lower half of the Sun Ribbon. Both of those latter two climbs have convenient bail-out spots into gullies.

I had a private client for that whole summer. Not a bad gig, and we toured the West, mainly climbing in Wyoming. By August I was fat and happy and took off with Roper to try for the second ascent of the Lotus Flower Tower. We were snowed out -- yep, in August -- and by the time I got back to the Palisades I could not believe how transformed Temple Crag had become. In just one season, thanks to Don Jensen's vision.

So the next spring I moved up to Third Lake in May, along with Tim Harrison and "Crazy Lester" Robertson. I went right over and started working on Dark Star. You could call it the logical progression from aretes onto walls, but really if you took the Celestial Aretes side of the Crag, the NE Face, Dark Star was all there was left. By the time the climbing school cranked up in June, we had freed the crux second pitch at 5.10c and were well established on the wall.

That climbing was too hard to tow clients up, so we didn't get back to it until September. In the same two-day stretch, Don and John Fischer finished Dark Star while Chuck Kroger and I climbed parallel up Barefoot Bynum. Both were all free, 5.10c and 5.10b. I'm not sure how Roper ended up reported them at 5.7 A3.

Dark Star was the name of a long and particularly spacey Grateful Dead number I was listening to on my boom box that summer while moonlight played across the Celestial Aretes, and Barefoot Bynum was the wine we drank out of gallon jugs partying with our clients every Friday night.

A glance at your FA list shows that 1970 was Temple Crag's second biggest year.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 09:57pm PT
And the third biggest surge of Temple Crag FAs was by Clyde from 1926 to 1931.
drljefe

climber
Old Pueblo, AZ
Mar 28, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
Thanks for all this DR, and the routes too!
This is perfect kindling for the fire under my ass!
Cannot wait for some fall Sierra.
Shall we go.....
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 10:02pm PT
...Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds



Now my 15-year-old is listening to The Dead. How cool is that? We've got Tix for the Shorline show on his birthday, right after we ski down off a new variation of the Sierra High Route in May.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 28, 2009 - 11:00pm PT
One man gathers what another man spills........Thanks for the details, Doug!

That old Dead especially the Skullf*#k album (Live Dead) is timeless stuff.

A couple of mood shots from around then....


Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2009 - 11:42pm PT
The old neighborhood. I lived 3 blocks from the Dead the winter of 68-69. Right off the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. Sunday afternoons they would pull a flatbed out into the panhandle, plug into someone's apartment and people would come out to dance.

In the fall of '66 one of their first gigs as the Dead was playing for the opening of The North Face. It started out as just one store, in North Beach between two strip clubs. Kool Aid was served. I spent the evening leaning on Pig Pen's organ watching him play. Miss the bluesy funk he added to the mix -- he was the first one to go.

Good mornin' little schoolgirl...
drljefe

climber
Old Pueblo, AZ
Mar 28, 2009 - 11:44pm PT
If ever there was a worthy thread drift...
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 01:22am PT
One man's worthy...

I agree, of course. But it's equally likely that everyone else drifted off to parts of the party where they can relate, leaving you and Steve and me in the corner humming along to One more Saturday nite...which it happens to be.

I was thinking about this drift too, actually, but from a slightly different angle. Ready? Catch my drift...

I just finished putting together a presentation to take to Mammoth next week. It's about my ski tour of the John Muir Trail in the spring of 1970. Thirty-nine years ago tonight I would have been camped around Glen Pass, right by a bit of open water under Fin Dome.

This comes back around, really. See, I'm going there to talk to a bunch of academic historians of skiing. From all over the world they're coming to Mammoth to talk ski history, so I'm going to give em a little backcountry. No idea if they even care, really. The subjects of their own talks don't run that direction. But someone thought it would be cool to bring in locals, so I'm going there to be history.

Token old fart -- who knows? It's part of the intrigue. But it all got me to thinking like a historian. What really influenced me as a skier? And what as a person, that led to my switchbacking up from Whitney Portal into the wild snow when I was 25? It was the best expedition of my life, the next 36 days.

So remember upthread that I mentioned Don's 3-foot skis with permanent skins? He was hardly an influence, but Norman Clyde was. Little-known fact: Orland Bartholomew, who soloed the first ski tour along the Muir Trail in 1928-29, invited Clyde along. Norman didn't think he was a good enough skier. Yet. But it wasn't long before he admitted that his quiver contained not only six-foot skis, but also a five-foot pair "for doing christiania swings down the steep gullies."

Think for a moment about those climbs in August 1931 we've been talking about. Dawson and Eichorn were the hot Valley boys, but just kids. I'm sure Clyde was mentoring them, just as I'm sure he was setting the agenda of climbs for the group. Well those city kids turned out to be tight partners with the Berkeley group, the Cragmont Climbing Club that became the nucleus of the Sierra Club RCS. There were only about eight of them, including David Brower, Richard Leonard, and Alex Hildebrand. All of whom, as the Thirties progressed, became California's leading ski mountaineers.

    Stop to pour myself a drink. One more Saturday night --

This gets to be fun talking to you guys about this, and not because of any kind of Deadhead Brah thing, but because unlike my historians I know you actually care about where our California climbing -- and BC skiing -- thing came from, and are actually tracking the players. This next jump is a good one.

WW II came along, and those CA climbers and ski mountaineers became the core of the 10th Mountain Division, teaching the instructors, designing the gear -- and writing the military operations manual. Conveniently, in 1942 they had already published the Sierra Club's Manual of Ski Mountaineering, which they flipped into an Army Operations Manual.

The Manual of Ski Mountaineering was my first climbing textbook. And BC skiing too, since I took up both at the same time early in my teens. For my presentation I copied out all the inspiring b+w photos from it including the Palisades and especially Rock Creek Canyon.

So without ever meeting them, I was indirectly mentored by David Brower and that whole Berkeley crew. I did meet Clyde, and got direct transmission as from a Zen Master. After being raised on those photos of Rock Creek, Clyde personally recommended it as the finest ski canyon on the Eastside, and by the time of Terrapin Station I was living up there winters. (My summer canyon was still the Palisades, of course.)

Then I thought I'd have a little fun with the academics. So I expanded to cultural influences. Kerouac and On the Road and Neal Cassady who was Kerouac's model for Dean Moriarity and I think the pivotal person of the whole Beat era. Now I'm on a roll, and out comes Gary Snyder, who worked trail crew in the Valley and the high country and became the hero of Kerouac's The Dharma Bums.

Next I throw in the Dead, a portrait of Albert Hoffman, the chemist who synthesized LSD, and a blow-up of a fat bud.

I mean truly, all those things followed me out of the Haight and had as much influence as Clyde and Brower on the guy who found himself switchbacking up out of Whitney Portal on that nice March day in 1970.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 02:18am PT
Wherever you go....there you are!

I defintely groove on the turns that you are linking.......

Brower was grooving on that mountain blend of grand alpinism and that book with all the enticing imagery sure made me want to get on the bus!

A pipe-full of the Brower blend....







Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 02:34am PT


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 02:51am PT
Goin where the wind don't blow so strange,
Maybe off on some high cold mountain chain.....
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 29, 2009 - 02:53am PT
You boys are burning the midnight oil tonight.

Doug the Scanner Man, circa 1973?

Keep then rolling Doug. Or should I say keep rolling them?

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 29, 2009 - 02:59am PT
A fascinating thread - thanks!

The thread on Albert Hofmann is at http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=585940 DR might be interested to know that I've been to Øverbø, the birthplace of Sondre Norheim in Telemark. I'll try to find, scan and post a photo tomorrow.

I wonder if anyone from my corner of the world will be at the ski history conference? Lots of backcountry history to be found hereabouts.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 03:13am PT
Any Don Jensen stories, Guido?
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Mar 29, 2009 - 09:09pm PT
Back to page one. Thanks to all for this.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 09:36pm PT
Anders,

I passed right by Telemark without a moment to go to the museum, which I hear is really good. Kids and schedules... I can't complain though, cuz we were coming from a week in the Lofoten Islands. Perfect weather, no less.

I'll scan the ski history event for your countrymen and report back. Is "Jackrabbit" still the secret password?

Truth be told I'm slightly afraid that their historical interest may stop at the ski area's out-of-bounds ropes, so I have structured my presentation to tweak any preconceptions that run toward the lifts. Should be interesting, and they are staging longboard races!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 10:14pm PT
Doug,
You could easily tie Sierra adventure skiing and its traditions to European terrain and travel skiing. The ski mountaineering game started there and I would hope interest in the non-competitive aspects of skiing and the mountains ala Messner remain strong.

Audacious outings like Maysho's ultralight trans-Sierra solo dovetail right in with the technical backcountry chute skiing. It has been a traditional four season range with reasonably benevolent weather. Muir ,Brower, Clyde and yourself have made the effort to live in hoarfrost, wind and storm in order to get another fresh perspective. The more elemental side of the pursuit.

Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 10:30pm PT
the more elemental side...

I like that.

Maysho, check. He loaned me a nice photo. Dude rips on his skating skis.

Muir -- He barely got on skis once, that I can find, at Tahoe in later years. I'm guessing it was just to humor some high rollers and not really his thing. Worth a mention, tho, so he's in there.

Clyde, check. See above rant, one of them.

Brower, check. Also see above.

Marty Hornick, check. He worked for years shaving down his own record from Rock Creek to Mammoth. Totally non-competitive. I don't think anyone else ever joined him or bid against him. I guided it once in 6 days. Marty -- 8:34

And of course the usual steep stuff: Landry skiing Mendel Right at a measured 55 degrees. (I used to carry a clinometer -- measured all those gullies. Bottom of the U-Notch is only 38 degrees, but the top rolls up to 50.)

Personally I love the old Euro boys who first began adapting the literally "Nordic" skiing from Scandinavia to the Alps = "Alpine" skiing. I like showing slides of Mattias Zdharsky all proper in white shirt, tie and sports coat demo-ing a stem turn. But I left all that out this time. I suspect the history guys are somewhat familiar with that progression, and I'm zeroed in on what happened in the Sierra. I only have 20 minutes...

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 29, 2009 - 10:33pm PT
I just finished putting together a presentation to take to Mammoth next week. It's about my ski tour of the John Muir Trail in the spring of 1970.

Just what is it that I need to do to get you to come to Boulder to deliver this pearl?
Gary Neptune loves ski mountaineering stuff.
His customers will snuggle right up to it I can assure you...

Perhaps the long version?
We can conspire via e-mail.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 10:37pm PT
I mentioned Muir more in the spirit of winter mountaineering than skiing. He had to have used snowshoes!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 10:43pm PT
I'd love to do that, Tar. Thank you for asking. I did a show there once, I forget what. Oh -- it was my book tour. Nice venue, good audience, Gary is a prince.

And then there's his museum. "You will be issued a drool cup at the door..."

But be careful what you wish for. I once did a ski show that took three trays of slides... Longboard racing alone took half a tray.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 10:46pm PT
Even on the feet of John Muir himself I'd have to say that the only good thing about snowshoes is that early longboards were called "Norwegian snowshoes."

Postholing, however -- now John Muir would have no trouble at all making that sound kinda noble.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 10:59pm PT
If he learned something in the process, you'd know it!

How often did PSOM run ski related activities, if at all?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 29, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
This is the statue of Sondre Norheim, outside the Norwegian ski museum in Morgedal.
He was born in 1825, and is considered a or perhaps the father of modern skiing.

There's an excellent website about Morgedal (in English) at http://www.morgedal.com/

And an even better one about Sondre Norheim at http://www.sondrenorheim.com/ It includes photos of the cabin where he was born, which I've visited - but I can't find my photos of it.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 29, 2009 - 11:17pm PT
PSOM never ran ski events.

Jensen was gone before BC skiing boomed.

Smoke had skied on Mt. Hood as a young man, but seemed to like his rock course in the winter by the time I knew him. That's when he was home, of course. He led treks all over Asia, loved the languages, culture, Buddhism. Scrambles in the Port Hills of Hong Kong were more alluring to him.

Fischer took PSOM to Central and South America.

I built up a ski guiding business, but not under PSOM.

Dave Beck brought his guiding business over from Sequoia and it thrived in Mammoth.

Bela Vadasz (ASI) was based at Donner but came down the Eastside quite a bit.

Tim Keating from clear up at Shasta made regular trips.

Bard and Carter (Alpine Expeditions) were the first Bishop guides to really advertise ski guiding trips on the Eastside, and they had started out winter guiding for Beck so there were a few feelings over that.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 29, 2009 - 11:34pm PT
How good are the records for first ski ascents and traverses?
mark miller

Social climber
Reno
Mar 29, 2009 - 11:43pm PT
Thanx DR, I grew up on stories of Pierre Mazeaud, Gaston Rebaffut(sp) and you. Filling in"more" of the real history is one of the truly beneficial things about ST. .....


......now back to more worthless political bantering.......(What ever happened to going out for a hike or actual craggin'?)
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 30, 2009 - 11:18am PT
The records are variable, Steve.

I have to assume that the older records are in order, cuz they were done by Sierra Club boys, and the Club published the first guidebooks. That said, Clyde lived all those years in roadhead lodges and camped out high up Rock Creek etc. every spring and we don't hear much about his ski summits or traverses. His climbing records seem pretty intact, but it's possible (likely, I'd guess) that he viewed skiing in kind of the same way as early Joshua Tree climbers looked at their "scrambling" in the desert: why bother to write that stuff down.

Clyde said, for instance, that he skied upcanyon nearly every day for all those winters at Glacier Lodge. No records. OK, now that I think of it perhaps he actually did have little to report. I think of my own winters in Rock Creek. My cabin is at 10,000 feet, and when I lived there it was easily the most remote habitation in the Sierra. I skied upcanyon nearly every day too. But no summits. Skied Bear Creek Spire, for instance, scores of times, but I nearly always turned around at the notch 700' below the top. I probably summited in winter under four times. Skiing gets to be about the skiing, and summits can feel way irrelevant -- especially if you have to stash the boards and hike. Why bother?

Clyde lived lower. Glacier Lodge is about 8000'. Third Lake at 10,200' would be a healthy day, and above there the snow would be gnarlier from wind. I'll bet he skied Mt. Alice a couple of times and not much else.

Back to the records. For modern stuff, say 1970 on, there is no central record keeping. The memories of a few locals, but that's about it. Secor doesn't seem to collect ski info. People skiing peaks don't seem to write it down. Stories are catch-as-catch-can.

The Structure of the Sierra leads folks to tour, not mountaineer. There's no repository of touring records. Of course there should be.

For speed touring, it is so esoteric and so little-known that if I joke that only half a dozen people even care, that's actually perilously close to the truth. I guess I have the best info on it, but it's all in my head. I've written one or two short pieces about blazing the Sierra High Route in 22:05, and referred to Marty's records in passing, but nothing else is published. Guess I should just list it out here when I get back from doing my presentation. And post my obscure speed-touring pieces. Can ST stand this much ski drift? I hope so. Can't say I even know where to find BC ski forums.

My show for Mammoth is titled Wings of Glass. (Guess which El Cap route gave me the idea?) I harbor an intention of writing a book by the same title that would draw together stories, inspiration, context, history and maybe a sidelight of guidebook-type trip suggestions, all for Sierra skiing. But realistically it's the second or third book in the lineup, so don't start holding your breath out there for a good five years.

I think it will be fun though. I know I'd like to hold it in my hands and know that some of the delight and the poetry and the photos out of all the inspiration, sensuality, goofiness and sheer fun we've had sliding through winter here in my lifetime gets passed on.

Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 30, 2009 - 11:41am PT
Thanks DMT!

I've told you this before too, but I have been inspired at times by the meaning of your moniker -- sometimes out of my gourd. And I love the wide-ranging wit and stories and seat-of-the-trousers southern sense you bring to this tribe.

Sometimes I catch myself musing about a winter version of sushi-fest. (Does Nature ski?) Could be borderline too much fun to gather this lot on tele boards...

And, just to bring this down a notch or six, the last few days have found me at times up to my elbows in klister sorting out some ancient waxes ("I'll never use THIS stuff again...") to dump on, ..er, make that "donate to" the ski museum. The sad truth is that the King of Wax, not unlike his rap-bolting summer counterpart, has fallen so far from his Muir-Trail-without-skins former glory that he doesn't use the stuff much anymore.

Oh, who can resist a light coat of blue on the fresh and cold, or even an occasional klister kicker in the spring? Sure, that's the ticket. But day in and day out, whether it's jumping onto the touring tracks for a workout in the twilight or taking laps to ski the trees up behind the cabin, waxless is mostly how I roll. I know, I know, I hate to break it to you like this in the harsh cold light of a Monday morning.

But the sad truth is that the Sierra is a very tricky Range to wax for (Tar and those Rockies boys got it easy: just slap on some hard green and it's good for the whole winter, right? So goes the myth, anyway). Blame it here on the maritime influence on our climate. Very real, and in the same proportion as it makes waxing gnarly, it also lowers our avy hazard. So I'll take it with a smile.

So instead of scraping off yet another coat of wax that doesn't quite work I'm out there, moving over snow.

Just climb on my waxless boards, "step on the gas and wipe that tear away."
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 30, 2009 - 02:00pm PT
Tar and those Rockies boys got it easy: just slap on some hard green and it's good for the whole winter, right? So goes the myth, anyway

It's a myth.
Although it is often cold here, we get lots of sun, so temperature changes in and out of the shade can wreak havoc with the wax program.

In the 90s, when I moved out here, I started with a very narrow pair of waxless skis (not quite a racing profile) and did all of my backcountry touring on that set up. Then I decided to become a man, don something with edges and wax like back in the bad old days. That lasted for a couple of seasons; we also had to make many adjustments throughout any given day.

Now I use kicker skins 24/7 (touring).
The only thing I kick wax is my classic racing set up, for use in the set tracks.
And yes most of the time that's blue wax. When it's green, whether for glide, skate or kick, it's almost too cold for the skis to run nicely.

[end of Colorado thread drift]

Can ST stand this much ski drift?
Back to *ON SuperTopo TOPIC backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering*
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Mar 30, 2009 - 02:07pm PT
"Just climb on my waxless boards"
A shocking revelation! You're a big man to admit it!
You mean they make waxless boards that work now? I gave up on 'em 25 years ago.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 30, 2009 - 02:23pm PT
The new-age backcountry waxless: Fischer S-Bound or Atomic Chugach. They are 175 cm, about the width of a classic downhill ski but with more parabolic sidecut of course, metal edges, waxless in the center (yeah, it still slows you down, downhill) and very light.

75 mm classic pin bindings. Garmont Excursion boots. Kick and glide 20 miles, then ski off the cornice.

Downhill performance is about 75% of what you get with latest hottie tele skis. I can turn them well down black diamonds, but start to look like a sloppy geezer on the double diamonds.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 30, 2009 - 07:51pm PT
Sierra Ski Mountaineering is OT as far as I'm concerned. Don would certainly agree and it's his thread!

Mo blend....


Ahhhh- Supreme Wilderness.....just rolls off your tongue!
klk

Trad climber
cali
Mar 30, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
easy on the "academics," bro.

one of my students is writing his dissertation on a comparative history of ski resorts in central europe and the western u.s.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 31, 2009 - 10:43am PT
Is this fine hut still in operation?

aguacaliente

climber
Mar 31, 2009 - 08:35pm PT
Looks nice. Google turned up links and quite a few pictures of the Benson Hut.

http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/huts/benson.asp

http://redwood.sierraclub.org/chapter/outings.html

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 31, 2009 - 08:42pm PT
"The combination of skiing and mountaineering is the finest of all sports"
 Sir Arnold Lunn
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 31, 2009 - 09:03pm PT
Nice links! Looks like a fun hang 5 miles in.

Frank Smythe liked a good ski too! Classic photos from My Alpine Album, 1947.

Eiger in the background.

Betcha can't post just one! Matterhorn and the Riffelhorn.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 6, 2009 - 11:49pm PT
A little DR even if he's not on! From Climbing August 1998.





Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 7, 2009 - 12:05am PT
I'm turning 50 in a month or so and I'm just happy that, as evidenced by all the classic black and white shots in this thread, that there are many on this forum far older than even I

Gloat

;-)

Karl
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 7, 2009 - 12:11am PT
Happy Birthday Karl!

You may have to wait a bit, though, to really get your gloat on. I've been behaving as if 60 really IS the new 40. So far it's working out just fine.

Cheers,

Doug
hooblie

climber
Apr 7, 2009 - 12:20am PT
just happy to be here so i could help out son. it's my reward for turning back at just the right times cross referenced by all the times my number wasn't up. but to be spared and acknowledged...sweet. ain't life grand?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 23, 2009 - 10:34am PT
I had to fish around for this one and found it in Mountain 31.
Ze Bomb Shelter!!!

hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Apr 23, 2009 - 12:14pm PT
I had a pretty good winter in Minnesota- I knocked down about 1000 kms of skiing
I usually do a 10-15 km loop.
I skate 50% of the time and I'm trad the rest- But if the temp is around freezing I'm on my waxless Rossi's- they ski really great- Just as fast as my Peltonen Infra's ( well maybe not) I have been on boards since 1974 and The new Generation of Waxless has been great- much better than the original trak fish scale pigs. I have Rossignol Xium's- the model just below the top shelf- $200 retail I scarfed up mine for $100.
Sad to see the snow gone

Hey Doug i just re-read A night on the ground.....The story of the ski tour is my favorite from your book- nice job

murf
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 23, 2009 - 07:16pm PT
An excellent read!


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 25, 2009 - 05:54pm PT
A little more Summit funk from May 1966.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 7, 2009 - 09:27am PT
Funk Bump!
T2

climber
Cardiff by the sea
May 7, 2009 - 10:21am PT
I don't know how I missed this incredible thread first time around. Thanks for the bump Steve.

DR: Thank you so much for taking the time to post this.

Jensen's jount is one of my favs at Tahquitz.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 7, 2009 - 01:24pm PT
There's a Tahquitz Tales thread that Lauria started if you are so inclined. What was the route like?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 19, 2009 - 09:43am PT
Bump in the Sierras...
Fuzzywuzzy

climber
May 19, 2009 - 11:29am PT
Doug -

I climbed the 26th of July Arete with Allan thinking the name had something to do with the Cuban situation. Funny. Also did the Twilight with Bardini - excellent. Advise - stay right on the arete - it goes at 5.8.

The Jensen pack design has never been surpassed. Its evolution culminated with Dana's Terraplane then overdeveloped into a bloated wearhouse with a waistbelt.

Knowing how to pack the Jensen - Ultimate Thule - Terraplane allowed us to ski those lines! Thanks for introducing us to the way!!



Carter
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
May 19, 2009 - 11:34am PT
Haan,

Amy Brennan took that picture of Pratt in the summer of 2000. She sent it to me to be published in the Winter 2000-2001 issue of the Bardini Foundation newsletter.
Don Wittenberger

climber
Seattle, WA
May 25, 2009 - 12:19pm PT
I'm the present owner of the original Rivendell patterns for the Jensen Pack and Bombshelter Tent. I purchased the Rivendell Mountain Works assets from a federal bankruptcy court in 1981. The Jensen Pack patterns are currently loaned to Eric Hardee of Monroe, Washington, who maintains the Rivendell Mountain Works web site, and makes and sells a few dozen Jensen Packs every year. Eric's regular job is maintenance supervisor at a ski area in Washington State. The Bombshelter patterns are currently stored in my home in Shoreline, Washington. I'm interested in making the tents, but it takes time, effort, and some money. All I can say right now is that it has taken much longer than I expected, but is much closer now than when I purchased Rivendell's assets 28 years ago. I simply want all of you to know the patterns were not destroyed, the packs are available now from Eric, and the tent may reappear too.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - May 26, 2009 - 12:23am PT
Hey Carter,

I didn't realize before that you credited the Jensen Pack - Ultima Thule evolution with helping you guys ski stuff like the Red Line. I posted a shot of you doing aerial turns in the big gullies on your thread. Here it is again:


Knowing how to pack them was definitely key, and not easy. Seems like another key element was keeping it down to short stages of just a few days so the loads could stay under 25#.

But help me here, cuz then you say the evolution continued into the Terraplane. All I remember of that pack was after it became, as you say, "overdeveloped into a wearhouse with a waist belt." Heavy too. Was there actually an early Terraplane that was light and Jensen-like?

And as an elephant-in-the-room kind of a by the way, is it not amazing and disappointing that in nearly 30 years no one has repeated the Red Line?
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
May 26, 2009 - 12:31am PT
hey DR, really? no repeat! wow, got a route description?
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - May 26, 2009 - 12:53am PT
Hey Underground,

Yeah, no repeat. Everybody's skiing gullies now, then off to happy hour. Not that I have anything against either pastime, but...

They never published an exact route description, but the basic deal was to ski from Mt. Whitney to Mammoth without deviating more than half a mile off the Sierra Crest. Or as Bardini quipped, "It was the first time that Mt. Russell got used as a pass."

Along the way they made, on those skinny nordic mountaineering skis (Karhu Comps), first ski descents of scads of gullies. Starting with the North Face of Mt. Whitney and including the North (or NW?) Couloir of Mt. Sill. And the one in the photo above, which I'm pretty sure is Mt. Humphreys.

They did it over a couple of years, in short bursts of 3-4 days when the conditions were perfect.

We should scan up their article. Pretty hilarious.

But, no... Nothing to see here folks... Move along now... Off to Happy Hour with you.
gimmeslack

Trad climber
VA
May 26, 2009 - 08:17am PT
Back in the 70's(is that right?) i owned two packs, which in retrospect were very "jensen like".

The first was a Jansport, which *did* have internal frame, but had the "twin tube" style upper with a separate sleeping bag lower which wrapped your hips. It was in fact a really nice pack, though not of same build quality as other top-line packs of the day. A couple of years ago I sold it online to a Japanese collector, for much more than it was worth(!).

But the REALLY great pack, was a Yakpak, which I foolishly discarded a decade ago. It was a softpack, very carefully shaped to hug your hips, bomber construction, and which carried beautifully. It also incorporated an "x" suapension, meaning that the shoulder straps crossed over in front of wearer, which resulted in great carry, but a PIA to don/doff. I miss that pack.

So, I've been curious if anyone else knows the hereditary lineage, particularly of the Yakpaks, with regards to Jensen?

I routinely google for Yakpaks (ebay and such) and have never seen another.

Great to see that Jensens are being made again...
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 26, 2009 - 11:34am PT
gimmeslack

Trad climber
VA
May 26, 2009 - 12:07pm PT
I must be pathetic and old... makes me feel all warm and nostalgic...
Don Wittenberger

climber
Seattle, WA
May 26, 2009 - 12:32pm PT
Tarbuster, I can answer your question about the Yakpak, as I was the Yakpak's designer. I'm also the inventor and owner of the patent on the Yakpak's X-Suspension. The Yakpak was conceived and designed independently of the Jensen Pack. I was looking for something that would balance better in climbing situations than the popular packframes of the era. There are some significant differences between the two packs. The Yakpak was larger than the Jensen, and had an internal slot next to the back for carrying the sleeping pad inside the pack, which provided cushioning for the back and limited vertical support for the load. (In general, though, the Yakpak like the Jensen used the load itself as the "frame.") Unlike the Jensen, the Yakpak also had a separate padded waistbelt like a packframe. The key feature of the Yakpak's design was the X-Suspension you mentioned. Yes, a PIA to get on or off, but it allowed the shoulder straps to lengthen or shorten in opposition to each other. For example, if you reach upward with your right arm, you can get the needed slack in that shoulder strap by taking up the slack from the left shoulder strap, so you had greater freedom of movement without any looseness in either strap. We all know many things that look good on paper don't work in real life, but this idea worked pretty well. I left the Yak Works shortly after acquiring Rivendell Mountain Works, as a result of irreconcilable conflicts with my former partner, and the Yak Works went belly up a couple years later. When I left, I retained ownership of the patent and Yakpak design, and licensed it to the Yak Works as part of the legal settlement with my former partner. I have no plans to bring back the Yakpak, but from time to time I've toyed with the idea of putting the Yakpak's X-Suspension on a Jensen Pack. I've casually mentioned the subject to Eric Hardee, who makes the Jensen Packs under a licensing agreement he has with me, but we haven't seriously discussed it, because he's busy making packs and my focus is on the Bombshelter Tent. If someone wanted a Jensen prototype with the X-Suspension, there's no legal reason why Eric couldn't make one, if you can talk him into it. Because I'm the legal owner of both designs, I can (and would) give him permission to use the Yakpak's X-Suspension on the Jensen Pack, at least for the purpose of field testing it. The two packs are similar enough that I don't see why it wouldn't work on a Jensen. Playing with that hasn't been one of our priorities, though. It took 25 years just to get the Jensen Pack back into limited production, and nothing about that was easy. Eric and his wife live in a log house they built themselves in the mountains above Monroe, Washington, and they don't have electricity up there; he has to run the sewing machines off a generator.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 3, 2009 - 04:49pm PT
Soft goods bump!
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Jul 3, 2009 - 07:58pm PT
Had a yak works gortex suit back in the eighties- skied in that "fag-bag" for years!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 4, 2009 - 09:56pm PT
My focus is on The Bombshelter??? Present tense correct here?
Fat Ba$tard

Social climber
St. Paul, MN
Jul 9, 2009 - 03:52pm PT
I may have posted this previously, but here's a bombshelter in color.

Back side with rainfly.

One of these days I'll get around to photographing my Jensen and Jensen knockoff collection and will post photos.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 9, 2009 - 05:53pm PT
The Bombshelter.
Nice.

Not your run-of-the-mill A-Frame tent.
All kinds of sexy curves and triangles 'n sh#t.

Ridgepole, snow flaps, zippered cooking hole, the works.
Fat Ba$tard

Social climber
St. Paul, MN
Jul 9, 2009 - 09:41pm PT
Also a removable frost liner - not in the photos.
Fat Ba$tard

Social climber
St. Paul, MN
Jul 10, 2009 - 01:51pm PT
I believe your Jansport was the Greatsack model. This is the early version with optional side pockets, the later version had a horseshoe zipper opening on the side for the bottom compartment rather than a horizontal zippered opening.

Fat Ba$tard

Social climber
St. Paul, MN
Jul 10, 2009 - 01:59pm PT
Here's a Yak Pak Troi Jours.



gimmeslack

Trad climber
VA
Jul 10, 2009 - 02:34pm PT
YES that's the Jansport!

It wasn't nearly as burly as the Yak or Jensen's but in truth, it carried nicely and was a good design (rip off?). And yes, mine had the side zip and no extra pockets. Of interest, I ebayed it to a Japanese collector for a very reasonable $ years ago. Nevertheless, I kinda miss it.

Funny thing is just yesterday I got my new CCW pack delivered. It really is BITD quality and surely will be with me for years to come. I hope companies like that are always around...

Thanks ;-)
Fat Ba$tard

Social climber
St. Paul, MN
Jul 10, 2009 - 03:27pm PT
I sold my greatsack on ebay hoping to score some decent coin and didn't do well on the auction. So it goes, sometimes you get lucky on ebay and sometimes you don't.
oldcragster

Gym climber
WA
Jul 13, 2009 - 11:15pm PT
I met Don in 1966 in Sam Mack meadow. My younger brother and I got dropped off by my dad to spend a week climbing in the Palisades. Hiked up in one day to morraine and scurried over in the morning to do Mt. Gayley. I was new at this and my brother was about 14 at the time, a belay slave. We freaked out and headed out, stopping at the meadow where we saw this group practicing. Decided to camp and rest for the day. As we watched and visited several things came to the fore. First, Don and Bob Swift said we had to keep our distance since every else had paid, and of course we couldn't do anything with them (top-rope, belay, etc.) Oh did we watch and learn. I learned that a shop in Santa Monica sold me all the old 'heavy' stuff - european biners (steel), soft-iron pitons and so forth. It wasn't till a year later I found out about Chouinard Equip. in Ventura, 12 miles from my home. By the time I did I was in Sacramento in the Air Force. Anyway, we acclimatized and learned so much from watching thanks to their kindness that we hiked up behind them at the end of the week, and while they did the Swiss Arete on Mt. Sill, we did its North Face, thrilled to death at our transformation thanks to Mr. Jensen. Actually, I think Bob was guiding the arete while Don was on N. Palisade with his team. He gave me his address, in Fresno I think, and I did write him to thank him and he wrote back. I was shocked when I heard he had died in Scotland. He had the most amazing calves I have ever seen. I wanted to be an alpinist, for a short time, no doubt because of his positive influence....so its great to read everyone's memories of him. Thanks. Gene Drake
gimmeslack

Trad climber
VA
Jul 16, 2009 - 01:29pm PT
YakPak was on ebay last week. didn't make reserve and peaked around $50 IIRC.
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jul 16, 2009 - 01:57pm PT
I believe this was the prototype I tested for Jan...

When Al Givler fell out of the helo on a 'rescue' his back was possibly saved by the carefully packed Jensen he was wearing.
Ray-J

Social climber
east L.A. vato...
Aug 5, 2009 - 10:58pm PT
Great thread!
Doug, where would we be w/out you?
Fuzzywuzzy

climber
Aug 6, 2009 - 11:14am PT
DR -

Definitely more history on the pack evolution - most would find it rather dull.

However, yes, back in 78 Vern, Claude, AB and TC were found lurking on the streets of Boseman (after a "interesting" visit to the North) in front of the Dana factory. Gleason showed up after being notified by the cops that some skulkers were drooling while window shopping the outlet. We attempted to buy 4 packs on a maxxed credit card.

Gleason understood. His early stuff was sterling.

Great pack. It might be the one in the photo?

The Redline was just a lark. What a fun time to explore the Sierra.

Thanks for all the encouragement!!

Sorry, I don't stay current on this ST stuff so comm is discontinuous.

TC
Ray-J

Social climber
east L.A. vato...
Aug 6, 2009 - 11:28am PT
Had an Ultima thule (navy blue w/ light green canvas backpanel)
That I bought as a used rental from A-16 in the 70's.

It worked as advertised :)
And I took the thing all over western sierra for a couple summers.

Cool pack, cool idea.

Great hearing from all the contributors/developers etc.

Remember really wanting a yakpak and thinking the 'biners
On the shoulder straps was cool.

Thanks again everyone.
hooblie

climber
Aug 6, 2009 - 11:30am PT
skulkers indeed. don't under estimate the interest level in your remembrance fuzzy. '78 was the year of my transplant from the cauldron of yosemite climbing to developing the alpine walls in montana. i was treated generously as well by dana upon my visit to the shop. i came away with a bounty of prototypes that didn't fly, got a little treatise on design philosophy, and visited the home front where i learned the the terms rugrat and curtain climber with a convincing performance by the demonstration team.

a few years later i enjoyed his comedic talents as we watched the world comps at snowbird. at that time i expressed my admiration for the jensen design, and although he had produced many iterations of that design as his craft progressed thru the years, he made it pretty darn clear that nothing of the sort was going to be forthcoming from him ever again. i was a little crestfallen.

it would have been a revelation to run into you guys at that time because i would have recognized each of your crew from yosemite days, and the novelty of seeing old familiar faces out of context would have animated me right out of my typical stealth mode.

i'm hoping your trip was winter of '78-'79, as that was a banner season of abundant powder that locals still talk about
AuDoubleEagle

Mountain climber
Tucson, AZ
Aug 29, 2009 - 06:17pm PT
The Yakpak S/N: 8799845 obtained in the mid 70's has served me well over the decades in scouting, explorers, search & rescue even through several trips into the Grand Canyon. My son is starting scouting & we may reverse engineer this pack and build 3 or 4 for family members. The pack strap suspension system, patent no. 3,964,654 is the best I have found & used to date.
The significant advantage is when your raising your arms above shoulder height blood flow in the arms, shoulders, deltoids, lats continues while balancing the load. I recall SAR mission on Mt. Hood for lost climbers where the temperatures dropped, winds increased, and you can use that pack for a half bivouc bag / shelter.
Ray-J

Social climber
socal
Sep 23, 2009 - 03:11pm PT
Bump for us gear heads and for DR's
And other great writing and posts.

Hey DR, many of us payed attention to
What you wrote about this BITD and,
It made a difference.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 31, 2009 - 07:40pm PT
A classic shot of the Harvard crew en route to Huntington, 1965. Left to right Dave Roberts, Don jensen, Matt Hale and Ed Bernd. From a profile on Dave Roberts in Rock & Ice, May/June 1989.

dogtown

Trad climber
JackAssVille, Wyoming
Oct 31, 2009 - 07:57pm PT
Love your posts Doug! still looking in the mail box for your book?

Bruce.
Marcus Smith

Mountain climber
Kooskia, Idaho
Jan 15, 2010 - 04:33pm PT
Don Jensen was my cousin, son of my mother's sister, Francis Cook Jensen. I had no idea he left such a legacy on the climbing community until I read this post. I don't remember a lot about him honestly. He was older and away at college or off climbing when I was a child. Never-the-less, I followed his adventures and read, "Mountain Of My Fear" over and again, and he was an influence on my subsequent career in the outdoors. I couldn't believe it when he was killed on a bicycle after all the "outer edge" pioneer climbing he had done. FYI, his elder brother, Lin, is still alive, residing in Quebec Canada. If anyone wishes to contact him for legitimate reasons, I can be contacted for his address. Thank you, Don, for all the adventures you left us to live for you. See you on the summit someday.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jan 15, 2010 - 06:01pm PT
Any relation to Bert Jensen, who climbed the upper section of the ridge bearing his name on Symmetry Spire in the Tetons in 1938?
Marcus Smith

Mountain climber
Kooskia, Idaho
Jan 15, 2010 - 07:35pm PT
Hmmmm.. no relation to Bert Jensen, that I know of -- Don was the only mountaineer in our side of the family. But then, Don's father was Irv Jensen, one of the builders of the Golden Gate Bridge. Could have been some related climbers in his paternal lineage. Might have to check with his brother and get back to you.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 24, 2010 - 04:36pm PT
Jensen Bump!
BooDawg

Social climber
Paradise Island
Jul 24, 2010 - 06:03pm PT
What a GREAT THREAD! Thanks to Doug for starting it off, to all the contributors, and to Steve, once again, for another of his bumps that show the newcomers to the fire what's gone before here on S.T.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 25, 2010 - 07:24pm PT
This is one of the memorial gems in the ST crown. A very big talent back when the landscape was uncrowded.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 17, 2010 - 08:25pm PT
Far from the madding Bump!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Sep 17, 2010 - 11:30pm PT
Good Bump Mr. Grossmen, Sir. Memorable memorial gem indeed and off to my database of classics.
hooblie

climber
from where the anecdotes roam
Sep 18, 2010 - 12:14am PT
up thread there's a picture of a crew that includes pete carmen. i'd be interested to learn some context and stories about him. i traded for a simple sack BITD that was credited to him. there was a denim panel that felt better than cordura when shirtless. it was set up for hauling and had a flat lid with one long strap threaded through a steel spring loaded buckle.

i always liked the way that strap would swing rather merrily while chugging up the trail. best plan was to carry the rope and rack and fall in behind the gf with the jackets, shoes, water and lunch in that sack
and enjoy the hypnotic effect of the whole kit and kaboodle
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 18, 2010 - 01:06pm PT
I bet DR has some PC stories...or other than PC stories! LOL
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 18, 2010 - 03:34pm PT
DR is on the Eastside again, Stevie. It won't be good DR hunting until October and even then the dance card has some foxtrots in it as well. He has a new lady friend that is kicking his ass all the way up and down the Rang of Light as we speak.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 18, 2010 - 07:57pm PT
Love will do Range things to a man ^^^^^^^^ ^@^
oldgear

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Jan 1, 2011 - 02:36pm PT
Hello everyone! "Better late than never, right?" I noticed very belatedly that my website re: Rivendell's history was mentioned by Doug back on March 26,2009. My name is Bruce Johnson and I'm a person lurking in the shadows of several of the comments. I know Don Wittenberger and Larry Horton, for example. I've been in Eric Hardee's pack workshop in Monroe, Washington. And the poster named Fat Ba$tard (Alan)has been my long-term collaborator in my self-titled "History of Gear" project. In fact, the picture I am posting today of the Bombshelter ultimately derives from Alan-- this was his Bombshelter, which then went to Larry Amkraut, and now Larry has loaned it to me so that I can add to my history.... Now, on to the picture I've posted: the concept was to compare the classic Bombshelter to another highly-rated assault tent, the Sierra Designs Tiros.
I asked tent designer Bob Howe for his opinions and he nominated the Tiros as one of the strongest tents. Bob had designed a geodesic dome that would have competed with the North Face Oval Intention had Snowlion not gone bust in 1977(Bob's tent the Meridian was about to be introduced by Snowlion; their last catalog featured it). So my picture sets up what is arguably the strongest A-frame mountaineering tent ever made with what is arguably among the strongest of the new generation of geodesic dome tents. I wanted to show the differences in size, which is one reason why the person was included in the picture. Note also that the Tiros is set up on pavement, with no stakes, whereas the Bombshelter requires nine stakes. The Tiros is a pleasure to be inside, whereas the Bombshelter feels cramped, and would be terrible for two big climbers caught in a multi-day storm. Nevertheless, my guess is that ultimately the Bombshelter is the stronger of the two tents. Before I forget, here is the link to the entry page to my site about The History of Gear: http://www.oregonphotos.com/Backpacking-Revolution1.html (--- there are now over 45 pages and over 50 of the old classic companies).
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 1, 2011 - 02:52pm PT
Nice Post!

The Bombshelter had to be the best straight pole design out there, hence the name!

I had Sierra Designs 3-Man that I loved to death!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 1, 2011 - 03:36pm PT
Hi Bruce,

Thanks fro your historical website, and glad to see you here.

That is one sweet Bombshelter! Way tight construction from Larry Horton. His execution of designs was always to be admired.

The Bombshelter is indeed tiny, but way more bombproof in blizzard winds than any geodesic in my experience, especially the VE-24 which I used quit a bit. Mind you, I have no complaints about the VE-24. It is traditionally thought of as the most, uh...bombproof out there. And they always stood up fine for me in rager conditions. But the Bombshelter is just hunker-down solid!

Likely I mentioned taking one to ski 36 days along the John Muir Trail in 1970. Cut it myself and modified our ski poles so it would set up with just the addition of a ridgepole. Two pounds for bomber shelter for two people. Pretty cramped, though, the third day in a snowstorm!
Swifter

Social climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 6, 2011 - 06:11pm PT
Hi Doug! What a great thread. I was introduced to your writing avatar in Ascent...Mt. Lyell in the Shadow of T.S. Elliott or similar. Keep that typewriter clicking! (I'm losing everything these days, most recently a photo of Don's wedding reception that I uploaded, but I don't know where it went. If S&R can locate it, it was meant to go here.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 6, 2011 - 10:58pm PT
Hi Bob!
In the fullness of time I'm sure you'll find Don and Joan's wedding photo. I would love to see it. I still think of them every time I walk by the Banquet Boulder -- most recently in September -- and I wasn't even at the wedding.

I was just thinking of you and Don as I wrote a long piece about Smoke Blanchard. More about the Buttermilk Rock Course than the Palisades, but those times all blend together. It's going into a revival of Ascent -- which is pretty amazing in itself -- in March.

And I was up to the East Face of Whitney (actually the Buttress) again in October, and was recalling guiding a second rope behind you in, I think, 1967. Nearly down, I fell in the talus, laid my shin open, and you took me to the hospital in Lone Pine to get stitched up.

Cheers!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 7, 2011 - 12:53am PT
Rivendell Jensen pack trivia note:

Al Givler was wearing his, very carefully packed I might add, when he fell
from a helo on a downed aircraft rescue in the Cascades. He fell 250' and
landed flat on his back onto a hard crust of about 2-3" overlying a foot or so of
cold and dry. He didn't exactly walk away but he was walking in a couple of days!
He attributed his lack of injuries to his carefully packed Jensen in addition
to the perfect snow conditions.
Swifter

Social climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 9, 2011 - 10:23am PT
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 9, 2011 - 10:37am PT
Thanks, Bob! Glad you found it.

Joan looks quietly radiant. I know you're supposed to say stuff like that about brides, but she really has a serene presence.

Wish we could see more of Don.

I can't believe Lin's shoes! The Banquet Boulder is a mile and a half and a thousand feet above the roadhead. (The old roadhead -- it's a mile further now.) I hope she hiked in tennies and brought those heels in her pack, just like they do in Manhattan.

Sweet little gathering. Somehow, I always imagined more people.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 9, 2011 - 01:16pm PT
Great shots and no place for heels!
johnr9q

Sport climber
Sacramento, Ca
Jan 10, 2011 - 04:53pm PT
I remember about 15 years ago camping on a spit of land between the Palisades and Thunderbolt glaciers and finding a box larger than a foot locker. When I looked inside it I realized it had been there a long time. Cans of food, ropes etc. I figured it had belonged to the school. I wonder if it is still there? John Robinson (Dougs Pa - just kidding)
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2011 - 08:13pm PT
Thanks, Pa!

You stumbled upon Fischer High Camp, founded by John Fischer when he ran PSOM. His ashes were scattered there in September, and it was named in his memory.

The original PSOM High Camp was across the glacier, right at the foot of that NW ridge running off of Gayley. Sometimes called Gayley High Camp. But over the years that camp got more crowded. And funky. The trail leads there, after all.

John Fischer found the site you stumbled upon and inaugurated the camp. Maybe mid- to late-70s? Not sure. But it was a great camp, and at its height there was one of those classic family-camping wall tents up there (with two side-by-side sets of poles duct-taped together to hold it up in alpine winds), and a scattering of smaller tents surrounding it. It was not crowded, and was a lot closer to approach routes on Thunderbolt, even Winchell. Of course it was a bit harder to find...

I remember that box, though I'm a little surprised that it was still up there. Heavy sucker.
dogtown

Trad climber
JackAssVille, Wyoming
Jan 13, 2011 - 10:29pm PT
Bump!!!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 12, 2011 - 01:26pm PT
Greater Sierran Bump!
go-B

climber
Sozo
Mar 12, 2011 - 02:01pm PT
Doug, those are the kind photos of Don and Gaston! I still have my Ultima Thule!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Apr 11, 2011 - 07:37pm PT
What a great thread. Read about Don Jensen in "On the Ridge Between Life and Death." Seems like this guy was one of the few who had real love for the mountains of Sierra.
ColbyOutdoors

Trad climber
Bass Lake
May 19, 2011 - 08:31pm PT
Hi Doug,
This was posted on SYMG's Facebook page today. I thought you'd like to see it:

"Doug Robinson was hiking and my son, Eric met him last summer (out with the ucla OA group). My Mom's cousin Don Jensen has been a hero since the 1960s. I was so pleased to find and read Doug's book "A Night on the Ground,A Day in the Open" and see a pic of Don Jensen in his beloved Palisade's. My gratitude and great appreciation to Doug for this chapter and tribute to Don. Merci!"

Cheers,
Colby
Don Wittenberger

Mountain climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 2, 2011 - 04:46pm PT
Bruce Johnson just sent me a link to this page. The comment about YakPaks is a couple of years old now, but I'll reply anyway. I was the YakPak designer and have my original drawings and specifications from which I could make new patterns. I'll ask Eric if he's interested in making YakPaks on a special-order basis.

While I'm here, let me explain my relationship with Eric. He doesn't own Rivendell Mountain Works; my wife and I do. Eric makes Rivendell packs under a license agreement. This arrangement hasn't been primarily about making money; our goal is making the Rivendell designs available again. Right now Eric is the only licensee, but my business structure has room for other interested persons to participate in Rivendell's revival. The best way to describe what's happening right now is that we're proceeding one baby step at a time.

One thing I can say, though, is this: There's no debt, and won't be. I'll never put Rivendell Mountain Works in a position where hostile creditors can take it over or put it out of business. Under the independent contractor business model I've adopted, Eric owns his own business which effectively provides production and marketing services. I retain ultimate control over design and quality, and overall supervision of what is produced and sold under the Rivendell label. I'm ultimately responsible to the public for how Rivendell products perform in the field, and that's the way I want it. This ensures product design and quality will be based on efficacy principles and not compromised by profit-oriented business decisions.

A word about the Bombshelter tent. The original patterns used in the tent's 1975 - 1981 production run have survived; I have them. A couple of the pattern pieces are damaged and need to be replaced, but that's no big deal. Eric and I have talked about the tent but he has his hands full with Jensen Packs. All I can said is we're thinking and talking about putting the Bombshelter back into production, but it's not there yet. From what I understand of the Bombshelter's history, several people contributed to its design, wit Don Jensen as the primary designer. Since acquiring Rivendell Mountain Works from the Seattle federal bankruptcy court in 1981, I've had 30 years to think about the Bombshelter design, plus I've owned an original Bombshelter for my own use, and I'll say this, it's awfully hard to improve on the 1970s design. I'm not going to change the patterns, which means the tent will stay the same size, but there are opportunities for tweaking, such as upgrading the pole system.

Finally, if anyone out there has a Bombshelter they're willing to sell, I want it. Please contact me at dwitt546@aol.com. I don't care what condition it's in; it doesn't have to be usable. I simply need one for pre-production prototyping. Eric and I both own Bombshelters, but those are our personal tents, and I need one I can modify to test design improvements.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Nov 2, 2011 - 05:33pm PT
Welcome to the campfire!
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Nov 2, 2011 - 07:54pm PT
The Bombshelter. It dosen't flap in the wind...it hums.
oldgear

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Nov 3, 2011 - 03:10pm PT
Don, it is really great to see you posting here. As you know from our recent emails, we've recently unearthed one of the original RMW employees who sewed Bombshelters, and he's eager to help.
And thanks for explaining in such full detail your business model and especially how it is pointed at unswerving quality rather than the model of MONEY, MONEY, AND MORE MONEY.

    Bruce
oldgear
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 15, 2013 - 02:14pm PT
Bump for the Dons...and that Swifter wedding photo!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 26, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
Bump for Ze Bomb...
Greg Beardslee

Social climber
Bozeman
Nov 14, 2013 - 11:37pm PT
This has been a wonderful thread to read and enjoy. Takes me back to my years of growing up in Bishop. When we moved there my father was a schoolteacher. Teachers around the east side often have interesting summer jobs and my Pop was no exception. He became for the next few summers the ranger at Big Pine Creek. I would hear tales from him about rattlesnakes in the campgrounds, cleaning outhouses, and stories long forgotten by me now about the Mountaineering Guide Service and Larry Williams. I believe I was twelve when I met Larry, his wife, and their daughters at the base camp near First Falls. Shortly after I was asked to help at camp and fill in as a cook's helper at Sam Mack Meadow. I could barely cook popcorn or heat soup but I said yes and gave it a go. Larry's daughter Gail and I trailed and coaxed a burro they had (Jingles?) up to Sam Mack with a load of supplies. After unloading and packing stuff away in metal cans, I was wiped out. I'd never been at altitude before. Gail took the burro back down below and returned again that same day. She was 12 as well but not tired at all. The next person I remember meeting was Don Jensen. He came up the next day carrying a huge pack loaded with dog food. Within an hour he was headed for the upper camp on the shoulder overlooking Palisade Glacier and I was prodded to go along and help. This didn't work out too well. While I was inspired and overwhelmed by the landscape (feelings that inspire me to this day) I got a real bad case of altitude sickness and had the worst crippling headache of my life. Had to just lay down in the tent at high camp while Don went about his chores. Useless kid I was. Over the rest of the week I watched Don, Frank Sarnquist, Larry, and I think Bob Swift train clients and take them on outings. It was a journey of a lifetime for most everyone. What did I bring back? A lifetime of memories from that week. A small understanding of mountaineering. Memory of a group glissading and yodeling into Sam Mack from above after a day attempting a peak. I developed respect for the guides, especially Don. He did have that fat lip thing going that summer, which I thought was a curious look to have. All the guides sacrificed themselves. Mosquito bites, sunburn, blisters and callouses. Later I learned that Don was designing packs and tents. That seemed fitting. That the company was called Rivendell struck me as being silly and romantic. Even though I had read the Hobbit by then and was caught up in the psychedelic lifestyle I just didn't always share the same romance. I'm glad to have memories of Don Jensen, following his burly legs as they carried him easily to Palisades High camp. I was very sad when I learned that he had died. And while I'm at it, R.I.P. Larry Williams.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 14, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
It's the fellowship of the campfire ring I'm feeling.

Warm and snuggly.

We've all outgrown the peach fuzz.

Nice e-membrance and thanks.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Nov 15, 2013 - 03:31am PT
Thanks Greg.

That is a nice post.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Nov 15, 2013 - 03:52am PT
I had a Jensen pack, and I was born in Walnut Creek, but I don't think I ever met Don, but I do remember his bicycle accident/death in Scotland, reported in either Summit or Mountain magazines, perhaps both. I may have met him though when I was at the Palisades School of Mountaineering, but I do not think so as I was there after he died, I think.

Doug, I met you there but it was Smoke, Chris Fredericks and John Fischer that taught me mountaineering. Chris, John and I did the Swiss Arête on Mt Sill, they even let me lead the easy pitches, I was 14 going on 15.

RIP Don Jensen.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 15, 2013 - 11:34am PT
Nice post Greg!

Thanks for sharing your recollections with us.

Bob Swift chimes in here occasionally.

Any photos from the old days in your family albums?
JerryA

Mountain climber
Sacramento,CA
Nov 15, 2013 - 12:22pm PT
In 1978,John Fischer & I found a first ascent record in a film can on the summit of Bivouac Peak in the Palisades that had been signed by Glen Dawson & Jules Eichorn on July 30,1930 .The only other signatures were two ascents by Don Jensen & clients in the 1960s.It was still there in 1979 .It is the only in-place first ascent record I've seen in 65 years of Sierra climbing .I assume Don put it in the modern film can.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Nov 17, 2013 - 08:16am PT
I wish I still had my Jensen pack, it was great. I still have my North Face Ibex sleeping bag that my mom bought me for my PSOM course. My mom had to sign a waiver for PSOM, as I was a minor, but she was insistent that I received proper training, as my late brother Mac and his friends climbing on Mt Diablo sandstone were not really climbers. But I got the climbing bug there (Diablo). EDIT Actually Mac was a climber but never was serious, only climbing on Diablo and in the Valley.

As far as Don's death, I always thought he was hit by a car/truck, I never heard the flying into a stone wall bit (I've done that on a bicycle, well, shale cliff near Columbia, CA, broken nose, bruises and Tuolumne General).

If and when I get back home to California, I will have to try and do more of Don's routes. More items for my tick list.


I started a thread on the Palisades the other day, but it has not received any traction.

So…

routes I have done in the Palisades

Venusian Blind, Temple Crag
North Palisade via the U-Notch and traverse
Middle Palisade, East Face
Thunderbolt Peak
Norman Clyde Peak via what is now called Firebird Ridge
Starlight Buttress
Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse
Mt Sill, Swiss Arête (second time)
Polemonium Peak (up V-Notch, down U-Notch)

Doug can you or any Taco Stander tell me if any of these are Don's routes, besides Venusian Blind?
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Nov 17, 2013 - 08:50am PT
Great bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 25, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
Merry X-mas folks!
Mark Force

Trad climber
Cave Creek, AZ
Dec 25, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
The Jensen pack is a really cool bit of design. My wife and I recently had ones made for us and we're experimenting with them. They feel like they're part of your body when you pack them right and carry light to medium loads well (up to around 40-50lbs). For scrambling/climbing or skiing with they're amazing. The new technologies in pads, stoves, and such has made the pack a more viable choice for trips. We're looking at doing the John Muir Trail with them.

Ours were made by Eric Hardee who runs Rivendell Mountain Works (http://www.rivendellmountainworks.com). He's great to work with and the packs are very true to the original with some minor additions that make them more trouble-free. They are incredibly well made! They feel like a fine tool similar to having a fine axe or knife in hand.





Eric is also looking into making the Jensen Bombshelter and cagoules. I have a Chouinard cagoule that I got off EBay in perfect shape and in my size! Sent it to Eric to pattern from. His cagoule should be cool.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 4, 2014 - 08:41pm PT
Kids these days, they just don't value a good sac! LOL
26 July

Mountain climber
British Columbia
Jan 5, 2015 - 02:36pm PT
It's snowing and blowing and -9C so I took out the 45 year old down parka Don made me and walked the dog. It is in good shape and still fits. It was too warm for sea level walking.

Anyone out there who wants to talk about times in the Palisades?

Joan
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Jan 5, 2015 - 02:47pm PT
plastic rubber and Doug Robinson in the same post is a little scary.
F10

Trad climber
Bishop
Jan 17, 2015 - 05:08pm PT
What a great thread, glad to see it come up again.
I've been going through old slides and found one of my Jensen Pack.
I couldn't believe how well it carried my gear, just needed to be slightly larger.

Howard C Runyon

Mountain climber
Lake Placid, NY
Jan 17, 2015 - 06:19pm PT
Wonderful stuff here, Mr. Robinson. Excuse the formality; you're my senior both in time and in accomplishment, I've been a fan of your writing for years, and I never expected the chance to address you directly. I was just browsing for stuff on Jensen packs, because I got one only this month from Eric Hardee--a late-life locura prompted by the recent Alpinist that featured your wonderful essay on the Palisades. Years ago I studied the Steck/Tejada-Flores book Wilderness Skiing to suck all the knowledge from it that I could, and their stated admiration for Don Jensen's design stuck with me. I wasn't quick enough to pick up one of the packs back then.

Thanks for all the fun reading over the years. I feel a particular debt to you for one little (I think) piece in which you insisted on your right to carry a music box in the backcountry. I used to fall asleep in my tent on Saturday evenings listening to A Prairie Home Companion through earphones plugged into a Walkman radio. Some of my friends were horrified. I was in hog heaven.



mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jan 17, 2015 - 07:46pm PT
Amazing!
Cuz this morning I was fixing oatmeal, thinking about what the ST had on the Jensen Pack, cuz I'd been thinking about Rivendell along the way next to Zap comics and R. Crumb and the guy who was responsible for me being able to have new Robbins boots to climb in...then I had coffee.

And now after posting a buncha Crumby sh#t over on the Flames, I get here to find a picture of the man himself, Larry Horton, the naked-climbing guru of Rivendell.
Hasn't been seen by me nor me by he it's going on 45 years now.

I met him in The Mission District of SF, like 1968.
He and Joyce the Dancing Lady came back to their place and found us all zoned and stoned
in the beater Oldsmopile we'd (Jones & Me) had driven up from Merced.

They had just gotten off the Greyhound and the city bus coming home from a trip to the Tetons,
but the life of the climbers' camp scene was ignored (shitty weather, in tents things happening as a result)
because there wasn't much to tell except it was wet and they may or may not have ascended their goal, whatever it was.

A lot of this eludes me cuz of the stoning we kept on with as a welcome back to California thing,
me eventually falling headlong into Larry's cat's sandbox s we were leaving, I was so ripped.

The one subject of lasting memory besides the weed part is the love for the Jensen-style pack.
The two of them had The North Face Ruthsacs, the ones with the single large suitcase-on-your-back look. He worked for TNF, so it came as no surprise that he had these, which were not divided top to bottom, wasn't a tubular affair;
but you could stuff it all in there howevdr neatly (Horton was a tidy guy, everything compartmentalized in baggies and such, rolled just so, and placed RIGHT THERE) and use the tightening straps but you needed to put those on yourself because TNF didn't until later.

I won't stream your conscious any longer, but that SYNCHRONICITY of the old days is still happening.

Thanks, Mark. Here's hoping that we will run into each other again, maybe Oakdale?

MFM

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 18, 2015 - 11:54am PT
right behind da mouse, wowsa for this thread!!
Mark Force

Trad climber
Cave Creek, AZ
Jan 18, 2015 - 03:41pm PT
See you in Oakdale this Fall, Mouse! Sarting a three year sabbatical this April and looking forward to catching up on a lot of playing!

Love the Jensen Pack. Talked with Eric Hardee from Rivendell Mountain Works about making modifications for using it with a tump line. Once it's worked out the bottom end of the tump line will carry weight beneath the two upright tubes and below the bottom compartment. Will post here once I have a chance to use it enough to comment. Pretty sure it will be sweet.
Urmas

Social climber
Sierra Eastside
Jan 18, 2015 - 05:27pm PT
I carried an Utima Thule, based on the Jensen design, across the Wrangell Range in 1976 - with at least 50 lbs in it. It worked great! Of course back then I probably could have carried an 11 foot cotton sack across the Wrangell Range with 50 lbs in it!! I still have it somewhere.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 24, 2015 - 12:19pm PT
I sold the Jensen Packs well in my Moscow, ID outdoor store from 1973 to around 1975, when Jim Donini convinced me and my climbing employees to switch to using Lowe internal frame packs. Of course our Jensen Pack sales suffered, since we were then extolling Lowe packs.

The Jensen packs carried very well, but demanded carefull packing to make them rigid.

Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 24, 2015 - 03:31pm PT
My 1970's Jensen Pack has held up pretty well. It was borrowed from me by Brad Rassler at Alpinist Magazine for a photo shoot for his article on the history of the Jensen Pack in Alpinist 48.

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP48/26-tool-users-jensen-pack-rassler


There's a lot more to the article than in the teaser the link goes to, and a lot more in that issue of Alpinist, especially Doug Robinson's detailed and wonderful 30 page article on the history of The Palisades, which of course, includes more material on Don Jensen.

And best of all! In the Jensen Pack article, I finally get quoted in a prestige climbing magazine.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jan 24, 2015 - 06:34pm PT
Prepping for open heart surgery on my Jensen pack:

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:03am PT
Supertopo alert! While we were all caught up in discussing Don Jensen's unique designs, the man's wife posted up!
Jan 5, 2015 - 02:36pm PT
It's snowing and blowing and -9C so I took out the 45 year old down parka Don made me and walked the dog. It is in good shape and still fits. It was too warm for sea level walking.

Anyone out there who wants to talk about times in the Palisades?

Joan
From Alpinist #48, "The Nature of Memory", by Joan Jensen
http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web14f/wfeature-palisades-mountain-profile-joan-jensen
In life, as in climbing, I went wherever his joy for the mountains took us. He was the kind of man you could trust with your health and safety, and I did. In the years after his death, I never found anyone else about whom I felt this way, and so I never climbed again.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:06am PT
Welcome to supertopo Joan Jensen !!!
Yes. ... Let's talk about times in the Palisades!

FYI kids: Joan's supertopo handle is "26 July"

Cheers,
Roy
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:17am PT
About Joan Jensen:

From Alpinist #48, "Searching for Jensen", by Brad Rassler
http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web15w/wfeature-searching-for-jensen
Given his climbing vita and knowledge of the place, he was undoubtedly the strongest alpinist working at PSOM, or perhaps in the entire Sierra. He had married Joan Vyverberg in July of 1968. The ceremony was held near Glacier Lodge, and they held a feast for a few friends on the so-called Banquet Boulder, an enormous flat-topped erratic up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek.
Bob Swift had already posted this 1968 wedding picture upthread:
Joan & Don on the left, Lin (wearing hat), Connie (nee Nystrom), Chloe (reclining), Lin's daughter Lisa.


From Alpinist #48, "Searching for Jensen", by Brad Rassler:
Joan became a proficient climber, and they put up a new route on Temple Crag (Surgicle, II, 5.7), early repeats on the Celestial Aretes, and the first traverse of the fifth-class Palisade Crest.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:27am PT
For those late to this party I think I posted earlier how the late Al Givler credits his Jensen
pack with saving his life when he fell out of a helocopter on a SAR mission in the Cascades.
Yes, you read correctly. Did I mention that he fell over 200'? He landed flat on his back and
he believed that his diligently packed Jensen at the least saved him from a broken back.

You don't argue with a guy who has fallen over 200' from a chopper.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:29am PT
Yes Reilly, you posted that way upthread.
I took note again as I was scrolling through: what a great story!

We can imagine the vertical tubes of that pack creating space for the spine and cradling it with impact buffers!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:31am PT
You go Tarbuster! More Jensen please!

I just clicked on the link to the Jensen Pack article in Alpinist

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP48/26-tool-users-jensen-pack-rassler

and it now brings up the whole wonderful article (including my quote).

And of course my now famous Jensen Pack.

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:41am PT
All love for the Taco stand!!
you men and women can not possibly understand the warmth
The strength of resolve that the hand sown gear, inspiration of design
And over built burrlyness of your stuff helped to focus climbers every where thank you from far away now and then,

Does any one have a picture of the Owl that a gunks Man Jim Munson carried around in a Jensen,Pack like that?

RRoss, rgld?,fatradad2?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 01:59pm PT
Joan Jensen a.k.a. 26 July said:
Anyone out there who wants to talk about times in the Palisades?

Joan
Okay Joan Jensen: you're on for some conversation about times in the Palisades!

I'll start ...
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 01:59pm PT
Coming-Of-Age in the Palisades

Doug Munoz and I were childhood pals. Crib mates really, almost like blood brothers. What with ready access to Pop Warner football and Little League baseball … Isn't it only natural we became climbing partners? It helped that we grew up in Sierra Madre, just blocks from Southern California’s rugged San Gabriel Mountains.

Our first trip to the Palisades was in summer of ‘77. Doug and I were both 16 years old. Hoisting beefy frame packs jammed with two week’s food, rope and rack, we slowly wobbled forth into a backpacking and mountaineering quest. We contracted altitude sickness after crossing Lamarck Col. Too sick, too green really, for an attack of Mendel Couloir, we moved lower. While Doug recuperated, I celebrated my 17th birthday exploring the fairy lands of Darwin Bench.

The Evolution region was everything we hadn't read about in J.R.R. Tolkien's books. That's right, who needed fiction when the guidebooks to Taquitz Rock, Joshua Tree National Monument, and the Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra pointed the way? With that first look at Mount Huxley we knew this was the real Middle Earth.

Up and over Bishop pass. Doug pitched his A-frame mountain tent below the boulder encrusted eyelids of the Black Giant. We demurred while my Primus stove fluttered and hummed. The freeze-dried beef stroganoff dinners were getting blander and our bodies were becoming burnt and sinewy. Black Giant glowered over all. We stretched out on the chartreuse verge of a small tarn, sipped tea and smoked marijuana.

Agassi Col was a staircase of tumbled dice. 50-60 pound external frame packs were cumbersome when scrambling. A NOLS Crew attacked our flank. With their burly quadriceps muscles pumping up and down, they went thumping around us and into the rising gully. Their boxy green soft packs swayed side to side and up and out of sight, disappearing through a keyhole of cobalt sky.

Struggling down off of Agassi Col, I took in my first view of the alpine spectacle of the Palisades. We had entered a serrated amphitheater of chocolate colored walls, savagely torn with cracks and gullies. Rubble was everywhere. We stepped onto a pocket glacier. The wool knickers we wore made us itchy and hot. Stones hurtled down Clyde Couloir on an as-needed basis. In comparison to the west side of the Sierra, it felt like the North Cascades. There beneath the mighty ice encrusted Palisades, the beautiful NOLS leader sat on a boulder and slowly lowered her shades to take stock of us. She was fetching, but I felt she could have snapped us apart for kindling!

Where did we camp? Is there a place called glacier camp above Sam Mack Meadow? In the afternoon, twin boxcars rolled down the U-Notch and the entire glacier shook when they grounded. We packed our rucksacks with food, water, clothing and climbing gear. Our young bodies were repairing and gathering energy, so we had no trouble sleeping.

We got the predawn start. We'd learned about these things in books and through Mount Adams Wilderness Institute in the Pacific Northwest. Our headlamps lit the way over icy boulders into the glacial moraine. Doug scrambled ahead, hoisting himself up onto the glacier proper. The soles of my stiff leather Galibier boots felt slick as I followed. Palisade Glacier was splattered fuchsia with morning alpenglow.

The U-Notch Couloir was straightforward. We each carried a second tool. Summer of 1977 was in a drought cycle, so already in late August things were getting plenty icy. We strapped on our points, pulled our axes from our rucksacks and tied in. Leading and following, we clipped the rope to the mountain. Ice screws and runners and chocks and hip belays: oh yeah! The broad ice channel softened in the middle section and the anchors came out too easily.

Somehow it was nearly midday when we stowed our ice tools beneath the fourth class rock which hung above the U-Notch. A couple of guys doing a Palisade traverse appeared from the east. Moving quickly, they snaked toward us through the shattered granite. They played through. Real men. Light racks, small packs. Up, over and gone. Alone again, using belays and anchors, one by one Doug and I carefully chose our hand and footholds in the steep depression of the shady wall. Feeling the altitude, we un-roped and threaded the ridge leading to the top of North Pal.

Our first summit experience in the Palisades was overwhelmed with jagged features. Everywhere was rock and ice and sky. It must've been one or two o'clock in the afternoon when we topped out. Schooled by the big rock fall the previous day, we dared not re-enter the U-Notch gulley so late. We rappelled in to the notch and deliberated. Then we scrambled down the other side into Dusy Basin for an unplanned bivouac!

I had a down parka with box construction baffles. A Snow Lion Behring: very warm. Doug's sewn through down jacket required supplementation. He wrapped the rope around himself like a mummy and cursed me for sleeping soundly throughout the night. I awoke face down in a dry meadow. Rusty little rocks scratched at my hips and elbows and tiny multicolored succulents struggled through the hard ground. The sun was bright and everything was quiet.

Our return to camp required an end run around the backside of Mount Sill and over Glacier Notch. It was an arduous trudge over desolate fields of talus. I think we overshot our goal somewhere. The plan was to snake through the crest and find a scrambling descent back onto the Palisade Glacier. We wound up making a couple of rappels off of slung horns, also leaving behind some perlon strung hexes.

Without fail, the walkouts from these adventures always came with the bonus of lighter backpacks, for all the food had been eaten away from the load. Still, that feeling of dusty fatigue, straining limbs, and onerous packs completely drowned us. From the trailhead we hitchhiked into town. From there we rode the bus back to LA via Highway 395. The bus was packed: not a seat to be found. It was hot. We stood out the ride all the way south to Mojave. By the time we settled into seats of our own, we'd never felt so tired, so good, or so real.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 02:04pm PT
Also from the Alpinist #48 article, Searching for Jensen, by Brad Rassler:
http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web15w/wfeature-searching-for-jensen
I opened a third box to find a papier mache model of the Ruth Gorge and the Mooses Tooth constructed on panel of cardboard cut from a wine box. On the bottom [Don] Jensen had written, "Done to keep sane while studying for PhD exam."
Doug Robinson mentioned upthread that Jensen had made 3-D models of mountain ranges.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 17, 2015 - 02:17pm PT
Joan,
I'd love to hear more about Don Jensen's 3-D models of mountain ranges ... and all things Palisades.
Cheers,
Roy
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 17, 2015 - 06:57pm PT
Herb and Jan Conn supposedly did one for the Needles of South Dakota too but I didn't get a chance to see it when I visited her for an interview last year.

I will certainly be back and hopefully get a good look at the contents of the Conn Cave if she will let me.

Welcome Joan!

A little tidbit from the May 1966 issue of Summit magazine to nudge the conversation.

Studly

Trad climber
WA
Feb 17, 2015 - 08:16pm PT
The Ultima Thule used to be THE PACK! Rad history lesson, thank you.
crøtch

climber
Feb 18, 2015 - 10:57am PT
This is a great thread. Thanks to Doug and all others who contributed. Threads like these should be archived for historical content on a non-supertopo server with the permission of the authors.

Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 18, 2015 - 11:09am PT
Warms my heart right up full to see this new surge of interest, opinion and flat out love for the Palisades and its -- can't stay away! -- habitues.

Especially great that Joan has joined the conversation. I fondly remember you at Third Lake, Joan, wearing that handmade down jacket. Thank you again, Brad Rassler, for not giving up on finding her last summer!

A few years ago I was invited to a UCLA Outdoor Leader's get-together at Trilogy Rock in the Needles. I was yarning away, teling a Don Jensen story, when one of the young climbers got this wide-eyed look and floored us by announcing that he was a relative of Jensen's, and had been searching for more info on the ghostly mentor who had become a family legend. I won't out him here just at the moment, except to say that he is now applying for a "Live Your Dream" grant from the AAC, and with benefit of that or not, we are going to meet up in the Palisades this summer and share reclimbing some Don Jensen classics.

Gotta run to the coast to visit my kids, but...staying tuned here. And thanks to all.
larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Feb 18, 2015 - 06:40pm PT
The last time I visited this lovely thread, the last post was dated 4 January 2014. Seeing the topic come up again in today's ST newsletter, I realized the thread must have gotten more activity since Alpinist's recent coverage of the same topics. I was floored to see Joan's understated introduction on 5 January 2015.

It's snowing and blowing and -9C so I took out the 45 year old down parka Don made me and walked the dog. It is in good shape and still fits. It was too warm for sea level walking.

Anyone out there who wants to talk about times in the Palisades?

Joan

But not as amazed as I was to see that it took over a month before anyone noticed Joan had joined the conversation! Nice to see you here, Joan. I hope you're inspired to share a little more about your experience of those times. I'm sure readers would appreciate seeing a photo of that parka—I, at least, would love to see it.


On my way through the new entries, I had to laugh at this post by Mouse.

I get here to find a picture of the man himself, Larry Horton, the naked-climbing guru of Rivendell.


Hasn't been seen by me nor me by he it's going on 45 years now.

I met him in The Mission District of SF, like 1968.
He and Joyce the Dancing Lady came back to their place and found us all zoned and stoned
in the beater Oldsmopile we'd (Jones & Me) had driven up from Merced.

Hate to burst your storyline, Mouse, but I'm pretty certain this picture is of Eric Hardee wearing a Jensen Pack of his own manufacture. But I think I understand. It's good to hear your voice again, nonetheless.

When you met us in the Mission district, Mouse, Doug had yet to approach me with an offer to use Jensen's design. I was still working at North Face, and I'm impressed with the pieces of the story you did remember. Just to keep my record clean, however, that was Joyce's cat.

And that naked guy you mentioned? He looked something like this when I saw him in the Cirque of the Towers, shortly after you met him.


But then, maybe there is a resemblence.

26 July

Mountain climber
British Columbia
Feb 23, 2015 - 03:37pm PT
Well, THAT'S a difficult act to follow but here goes!

First, thanks Tarbuster , for posting the welcome and alert. A month had gone by since my original posting and there hadn't been any responses, so I thought there was no interest. My opinion has now changed! BTW, Lin's daughter's name is Lisa.

I want to respond to so many of the posts that I think it will take me several sessions. This is a start:
F10 and Fritz - It warms my heart to see the photos of the Jensen pack being used. Other than mine and Don's, I haven't seen one in use before.
Mark Force - I'm sure Don would have loved to see new developments using his earlier design. Will wait impatiently to see what you think of them. Also a photo?
Reilly - thanks for posting again the story of the life-saving pack! Who would have thought of this potential new use. Think of the advertising possibilities!

More later

Joan
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 24, 2015 - 09:22am PT
Hi Joan,
We're glad you made it back to the party!

Some more Palisades stuff from the forum:
http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Palisades-Cruising-in-1982/t11866n.html
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 25, 2015 - 06:04pm PT
not my image: needs photo credit!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 25, 2015 - 07:06pm PT
North Palisades from Mt. Gayley:

photo Piero Scaruffi
http://www.scaruffi.com/monument/hikes12/best12.html
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 25, 2015 - 08:16pm PT
Tarbuster! Great & Granitic photos!

Joan: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories on this thread. Hopefully, we are writting climbing history.

I did really love my Jensen pack 1973 to 1975. It fit like a very-slight hump on my back while leading.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 09:39am PT
Palisades from Mount Agassiz:

photo Lars Jensen
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jensenl/visuals/album/2006/agassiz/
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Feb 26, 2015 - 10:14am PT
Going back a week to Larry Horton's post, I was semi-floored to see photo
credit to Dan Ake. I haven't seen Dan since maybe 1974. Anybody able to
give an update on him?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 10:21am PT
North Palisades and Isosceles Pk. from Dusy Basin:

Photo Leor Pantilat
http://www.pantilat.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/2011-adventure-run-ideas-sierra/
http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/977862/TR_Mount_Agassiz_Columbine_Pea#Post977862
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 10:41am PT
North Palisades from Dusy Basin:

photo Misha Logvinov
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/106083497
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 11:22am PT
Mt. Gayley & Mt. Sill from between Thunderbolt & Starlight:

photo Andy @ Pebble Crawler blog
http://www.pebblecrawler.com/2011/07/trip-report-thunderbolt-starlight-peak.html


photo Andy @ Pebble Crawler blog
http://www.pebblecrawler.com/2011/09/trip-report-mt-sill-north-palisade.html
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 11:33am PT
Palisades ice!

Photo Sierra Mountain Guides
http://www.sierramtnguides.com/program/custom-alpine/
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 11:43am PT
Temple Crag:

photo Z&B Johnson
http://www.sites.google.com/site/zbjohnsonadventures/hikes/california-nevada/big-pine-lakes/photos
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Feb 26, 2015 - 12:08pm PT
Awesome post Doug!

Obviously a heartfelt gesture, and well worth revisiting!


BTW, great additions Tarbuster!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 26, 2015 - 12:21pm PT
Central & Southern Palisades from Temple Crag:
From left to right on the skyline you have The Thumb, Ed Lane Pk, Split Mtn, Middle Palisade, Norman Clyde Pk, & Mt Williams.

(Norman Clyde Peak's Firebird Ridge getting good light!)
Photo Mark Thomas
http://www.markpthomas.com/mountaineering/trip-reports/california/venusian-blind


Central Palisades, South Fork of Big Pine:

Photo Pellucid Wombat
http://www.summitpost.org/palisades-s-fork-of-big-pine/633100


Norman Clyde Peak:

Photo Pellucid Wombat
http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Norman-Clyde-Peak-Firebird-Ridge/t12348n.html
26 July

Mountain climber
British Columbia
Mar 1, 2015 - 02:31pm PT
Rainy Sunday so good time to catch up with posts.

Tarbuster
Thanks for posting all those photos. I felt like I was in the Palisades again, on a climb or enjoying the view from a summit or overnight camp. I live in a mountainous area, but my view nowadays is from sea level looking up, not out and across the snowfields. Although, on nice days when flying (at around 19,000 feet) home from the Big Smoke to the south, we get fantastic views of the snow fields and peaks.
Reminds me, Doug, of when you and Don and I chartered a plane and flew from northern Vancouver Island to the peaks and ice fields, scouting out climbing possibilities. Your girlfriend at the time had to stay behind because there were only three passenger seats and she wasn't a climber. She was pissed off! Never would have guessed then that I would be living amongst them 45 years later!
I don't remember Don working on any 3-D models when we were living together in LA. Any project of that scope would have taken a big chunk of space out of our small apartment. So I am thinking that he must have done that project the first year he was at USC and I was still in Fresno. But we did have a large montage in our dark hallway of the Sierra pieced together from USGS topo maps. Helped divert our attention from the semi-squalor in the area around us and get us primed for the next foray to the mountains.

Doug
I'd love to hear more about Don's relative and what he said about Don being a family legend. Maybe I could fill him in with some stories of my own.

Larry
I'll try to get someone to take a photo of me in the parka but that may be a while. Then I will have to try to figure how to post it here, or rather, get someone to show me how.

larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Mar 1, 2015 - 05:58pm PT
Thanks, Joan. I look forward to seeing that jacket photo—and you.

In response to your enjoyment of seeing Jensen Packs in use, this has always been one of my favorites because it so brings back the spirit of those days in the early 70s when I was so thoroughly infatuated with the Cirque of the Towers. These are among the first ten packs made by Rivendell. The one I'm wearing was probably the first I made. We're headed over Jackass Pass to drop into the Cirque. I was doing most everything barefoot in those days.


I'd be hard pressed to accurately give this photo a date, but I'm guessing about 1973.

I understand your confusion, Joan, about getting replies to your post. Other forums typically provide email notifications to an author when a reply is posted. Doesn't seem to be the case here, but it would probably make for more coherent and lively conversations—although they get pretty lively here...

larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Mar 1, 2015 - 06:25pm PT
Tarbuster, this collection of images of the Palisades is a knockout. The first one is exquisite, and it alone is enough to serve as a wakeup call to this rube that I've missed out on a major chunk of the Sierra.

Thanks so much for collecting and posting these! Maybe I have some unfinished business...
larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Mar 1, 2015 - 07:04pm PT
scuffy b, you've seen Dan Ake since I have.

Dan worked at the North Face when I was there, and he took this photo at Lonesome Lake when George Sykes was filming a lovely little climbing film. Joe Smoot and I climbed while George filmed with his beloved Beaulieu. Dan was part of the entourage. We spent a couple of months in the Cirque that summer, and I haven't seen Dan since.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 2, 2015 - 09:17am PT
Joan,

In your Alpinist piece, The Nature of Memory, you mention living in LA (near USC?) while Don was working on his PhD. (I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley during the 60s and 70s, not far from Caltech). Did you ever do any climbing at any of the local Southern California areas like Joshua Tree or Taquitz Rock? Or were you working hard and saving up your free time exclusively for the Palisades?

A Don Jensen passage from your Alpinist article:

"Due to the big work push this fall [on Don's PhD], we have not been able to escape the traffictional field of LA prior to this, and we needed desperately what we got—to see plumes of snow blow off Temple Crag ..."

 "traffictional field of LA" (!) haha. ... and escaping to the Eastern Sierra ... I'm familiar.

Yes we would love to see your pictures Joan! ANY pictures of you and Don in the wild would be great. The shot of the two of you from your alpinist article is outstanding.
Do you by any chance have any of the original packs which Don made for the two of you? Or any old pictures of them in use?

FYI/Pictures: I use http://photobucket.com/ (free), upload photos from my computer directly to that site and paste the "IMG" link from photobucket directly into my posts here on the forum. It's good to resize pictures so they are not wider than 800 to 900 pixels. Photo bucket has a resizing feature. The caveat with photo bucket is you must never rename your folders (once they are created) and never move pictures from one folder to another.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 2, 2015 - 09:31am PT
Larry Horton,

 (Barefoot backpacking!!!) Fun stuff.

It looks to me like there are three basic iterations of the Jensen pack.

First version, closely following Don Jensen's original I presume, is shown in your picture just above: the red packs. They look very similar to Fritz's green pack. These have the short half-moon shaped zipper right at the top of the pack. (Visible to someone hiking behind a person wearing the Jensen pack). Maybe in Fritz's version, that's an additional zipper to the one I describe in the second version below, so perhaps his has both?

Second (and current version?) is the version where the main opening is right at the seam where the back panel/shoulder straps panel joins the main body. This is a very long half-moon shaped zipper, (fairly well concealed), going all the way from the top of the pack down to the sleeping bag compartment. To me this is the cleanest design of the three. It also had simpler (proprietary) lash points. Laying the pack down flat on the ground and loading it through that large zipper seems the best access for effective packing. What are your thoughts on the way this one loads with respect to the other versions?

Also a Giant Jensen option to the second version?

Third version is the Robinson/Chouinard Ultima Thule, with a more conventional drawstring and lid closure at the top of the pack. This version incorporated integral side pockets. (I've seen this with either single or double lid strapping).


 'Would love to hear some feedback on the development of these various iterations Larry!




V1 Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen pack:
(short half-moon shaped zipper visible at the top of the pack & generic leather lash points)


V2 Rivendell Mountain Works Jensen pack:
(very long half-moon shaped zipper facing the wearer's back & sleek proprietary lash points)



V3 Chouinard Ultima Thule:
(top loading configuration with two lid straps & fixed side pockets)

larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Mar 3, 2015 - 09:59am PT
Life has my undivided attention at the moment, Tarbuster. I'll get back to you with some answers in a couple of days.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Mar 3, 2015 - 11:00am PT
I was looking through some old photos of my 1976 Mt. Deborah trip and found this one that shows the East (Jensen) Ridge of Deborah that Don Jensen & David Roberts spent a lot of time & suffering on, without summiting it. Their experiences are detailed in Robert's Book, "Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative."

They had an absolutely awesome adventure, including walking in & out of Deborah from the south.

Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 3, 2015 - 11:37am PT
Not to be a nit-picker, Fritz, but how could the E and N ridges be directly opposite each other?

signed,
Yer Friendly Local Geographer
BLR

Trad climber
Lower Eastside
Mar 4, 2015 - 07:56pm PT
I rarely post here, much preferring to drop in and quietly drop out (I believe I’m not alone in that practice). I felt compelled, however, to share several links that those posting on this thread might find interesting. Both are about Don Jensen of course, but perhaps they’re just as much about my new friends, Larry Horton and Joan Jensen.

The first link takes you to a piece that appeared on Alpinist's website a few weeks ago, but the article – a reverie, really - was incomplete; first, it lacked a crucial pictorial element and second, it was bereft of Don Jensen’s writing. I amended both in the revised article.

Quickly, a backstory: David Roberts' Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative is deservedly a gemstone in the mountaineering literary canon -- certainly for its spare beauty, but also for its gauzy psychological intrigue as Roberts essentially bares his inner dialogue and demons to his readers. It was a courageous and brilliant piece of writing, especially considering that Roberts was only 23 when he composed it; he does yeoman’s work in sketching his climbing partner, Don Jensen, and yet Don doesn’t get to speak for himself; it wasn’t Don’s book to write, after all. Perhaps Don would have gotten around to writing his memoirs in later years, but as we know, he died at 30. When I read Deborah, I was keen to hear Don’s take on the narrative, and was sad that I never would.

But then a funny thing happened this summer. I had a good reason to look for him, as I explain in the piece. I found Larry, and with Larry's help, I found Joan, and with Joan's help, I found Don.

Up until now, few if any of Don's thoughts about the 1964 Deborah expedition have been published. It turns out that Don’s thoughts, feelings, and insights about that trip and others have been available to the public for nearly 40 years, patiently waiting in a Laramie cold storage for someone to crack open the four boxes containing them. Maybe others found the papers before I did, but I had a reason to share my findings. Now I'm sharing more. Nothing earth shattering… simply a few words to supplement a story arc that some consider the defining narrative of modern mountaineering literature.

At the end of the piece, you will find a link. The link leads to scanned images from the Jensen Collection at the University of Wyoming. On two of those pages you will find two maps. The keen-eyed reader will recognize the locations of several of Don Jensen’s yet-to-be-found caches. As far as anyone knows, they too are still there, waiting to be rediscovered.

http://sustainableplay.com/searching-for-jensen/
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Mar 4, 2015 - 09:21pm PT
Reilly. I didn't name those ridge on Deborah, I just report them as named. It appears Deborah had a prior to my arrival: East Ridge, North Ridge, & a South Ridge. I believe I also identified a Northwest Ridge that merges into the North Ridge a little before the summit.

See my post on the subject on Donini's
Images from Unique Perspectives thread
for more details. http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2588663&tn=0

BLR: I followed your link, which brought me to the very nice slide show, but not much new on Deborah, other than a Don Jensen sketch of the East (Jensen) Ridge. Is something not loading on the site? http://sustainableplay.com/searching-for-jensen/

BLR! The site is very slow to load on my Verizon 4g connection. Today I found Don Jensen's journal entry about a crevasse fall. Gripping!
larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Mar 9, 2015 - 06:23pm PT
Hey, Brad! I, too, am having difficulty accessing the links you referenced.

Went to http://sustainableplay.com/searching-for-jensen/. The article loads and appears for about a second on my browser before completely disappearing. I first visited via the link in the above post, but also tried accessing the article from within Sustainable Play with the same results. I'm on a Mac with current operating system and current version of Safari, but tried Firefox just in case. No change. Something is amiss on your site, I believe.

You mentioned 'several' links. Are some omitted, or are they in the Sustainable Play article?

Thanks for posting this. I look forward to reading it.

UPDATE:
Brad urged me to try Chrome for his link, and indeed it works, although a little shakily. At least I could read the article on the Chrome browser. Thanks, Brad!
larryhorton

Trad climber
NM
Mar 9, 2015 - 07:39pm PT
From Tarbuster, 2 March 2015:
It looks to me like there are three basic iterations of the Jensen pack.

First version, closely following Don Jensen's original I presume, is shown in your picture just above: the red packs. They look very similar to Fritz's green pack. These have the short half-moon shaped zipper right at the top of the pack. (Visible to someone hiking behind a person wearing the Jensen pack). Maybe in Fritz's version, that's an additional zipper to the one I describe in the second version below, so perhaps his has both?

Second (and current version?) is the version where the main opening is right at the seam where the back panel/shoulder straps panel joins the main body. This is a very long half-moon shaped zipper, (fairly well concealed), going all the way from the top of the pack down to the sleeping bag compartment. To me this is the cleanest design of the three. It also had simpler (proprietary) lash points. Laying the pack down flat on the ground and loading it through that large zipper seems the best access for effective packing. What are your thoughts on the way this one loads with respect to the other versions?

Also a Giant Jensen option to the second version?

Third version is the Robinson/Chouinard Ultima Thule, with a more conventional drawstring and lid closure at the top of the pack. This version incorporated integral side pockets. (I've seen this with either single or double lid strapping).

'Would love to hear some feedback on the development of these various iterations Larry!

Your observations are better than my memory, Tarbuster.

Indeed, it appears that early Rivendell Jensen Packs had the upper zipper across the top end of the 'dorsal' side, so to speak. I don't remember why, but all I can do is accept responsibility for a poor choice. I don't recall when I switched to incorporating the zipper where I believe it belongs—in the seam between the dorsal and ventral pieces of the pack. Clearly, as you can see from the image below, Jensen intended that from the beginning. Or at least his oldest drawing suggests that.


On the other hand, as I was mentioning to Joan some time ago, I recall having a pack that was surely made by Don. I have no idea what became of it, but it was made of materials that reflect what was available in the mid-1960s: very light fabric, maybe ripstop, taupe color; white plastic tooth zippers, I believe. And I recall the placement of the upper zipper as striking me as odd, but I don't remember what that placement was.

Joan, if you stumble across this, maybe you can help us out.

In the end, Tarbuster, I believe a zipper closure is most faithful to the spirit of Jensen's objectives, and that it belongs, cleanly, and functionally in that seam—unlike the first versions I made. Later versions incorporated that concept and advertised its advantages in an early Rivendell catalog.


This version predates the proprietary 'barbell' strap attachments I believe you mentioned.





As if all this has a great deal of meaning...
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 11, 2015 - 10:25am PT
If it's of interest Larry ... then it has meaning!

Thanks much for the input. The Jensen pack is a beautiful example of functional design and nearly an objet d'art.

None of the other manufacturer's renditions were executed so cleanly and aesthetically as the sleekest Rivendell Jensens.

An example of the smoothest Jensen could/should be on display in the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooper%E2%80%93Hewitt,_Smithsonian_Design_Museum
The Cooper-Hewitt collections consist of decorative and design objects. The museum's original collection focused on architecture, sculpture, painted architecture, decorative arts, woodwork, metalwork, pottery, costume, musical instruments and furniture. ... The museum has a wide variety of objects in its collection, ranging from matchbooks, to shopping bags, porcelain from the Soviet Union, and the papers of graphic designer Tibor Kalman


Cheers
Roy
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 11, 2015 - 11:00am PT
http://www.rivendellmountainworks.com/

http://www.carryology.com/bags/eric-hardee-interview-rebirth-jensen/
Howard C Runyon

Mountain climber
Lake Placid, NY
Mar 11, 2015 - 07:33pm PT
That's a great idea. The pack (some example) should be in design museums. But if it happens at a place as visible as the Cooper-Hewitt, Eric Hardee prolly will start getting more orders than he wants, and then someone with an MBA will make a plan to set up production in a factory overseas.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 11, 2015 - 10:08pm PT
Not to be a nit-picker, Fritz, but how could the E and N ridges be directly opposite each other?
I was thinking the same thing, especially since the face on Fritz's photo in between these 2 ridges is called the North Face.
Looking on google maps
http://www.google.com/maps/place/Mt+Deborah,+Alaska/@63.6355217,-147.2403979,4268m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x56ccaab443e60fcd:0x9ae2b7ec3913c5b1?hl=en
You can see:
 the ridge on the left side of Fritz's photo ("East Ridge") should really be called SE Ridge. It starts as ESE and the main (difficult) part is SE. Attempted by Don Jensen and David Roberts, it was eventually climbed by Dave Cheesmond, Carl Tobin, Roger Mear, John Barry and Rob Collister in 1983.
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12198407500/
 the skyline ridge on the right side ("North Ridge") should really be called the NW Ridge. It can be reached from a true lower North Ridge (which connects from the subpeak on the right of Fritz's photo), or from the West Ridge.
 the buttress in the middle (shade/sun line) is a NE Buttress
 the face between the 2 ridges and right of the NE Buttress ("North Face") should be called the NE Face. This face was climbed in 1977 by Dakers Gowans and Charles Macquarrie, after attempts by many parties.
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12197833700/
http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_1978_files/AJ%201978%2050-54%20Macquarie%20Deborah.pdf
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Apr 10, 2015 - 11:22am PT
Don Jensen Palisades First Ascents Timeline
(from The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra, Steve Roper)

 Clyde Peak, Twilight Pillar, III, 5.8, Don Jensen, Frank Sarnquist, July 1966
 Palisade Crest, Central pinnacles, Stu Dole, Don Jensen, 1967
 Temple Crag, Moon Goddess Arête, III, 5.6, lower part, Don Jensen, J Connors, July 1969
 Temple Crag, Sun Ribbon Arête, IV 5.8, lower part, Don Jensen, W Miller, R Schwartz, July 1969
 Mount Robinson, The Lichen Arête, II, 5.7, Don Jensen, D Kennedy, R Davis August 1969
 Temple Crag, Venusian Blind Arête, III, 5.6, Don Jensen, S Petroff, A Walker, August 1969
 Temple Crag, Sun Ribbon Arête, IV 5.8, upper part, Don Jensen, John Fisher, September 1969
 Temple-Gayley Traverse, class 4-5, Don Jensen & friend, 1969
 Temple Crag, The Surgical, 5.7, Don Jensen, Joan Jensen, 1969
 Palisade Crest, Northwestern pinnacles, Don Jensen, Rex Post, Joan Jensen, 1969
 Temple Crag, 26th Of July Arête, III, 5.8, Don Jensen, Chuck Kroger, July 1970
 Temple Crag, Pillar of the Redeye, III, 5.9, Don Jensen, Chuck Kroger, August 1970
 Mount Jepson, Grade III, 5.8, Doug Robinson, Don Jensen, August 1970
 Temple Crag, Dark Star, V, 5.7, A3, lower part, Don Jensen, John Fisher, September 1970
 Temple Crag, Dark Star, V, 5.7, A3, upper part, Don Jensen, Keith Brueckner, July 1971
 Two Eagle Peak, Grade II 5.6, Don Jensen, Grant Hoag, July 1972
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 11, 2015 - 10:37am PT
Don was a Templar Exemplar- Nine routes on one formation! Lots of time on the job to spend looking, I guess.

I wonder if he kept a journal so that some details of these climbs can still be found.
26 July

Mountain climber
British Columbia
May 5, 2015 - 02:14pm PT
Just looked through some old papers of Don's. There two sets of notes on routes: one devoted to Temple Crag and the other covering the rest of the Palisades. Any suggestions as to what I should do with them?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 5, 2015 - 02:39pm PT
Joan- Do you have access to a scanner or a friend with one?

I would be happy to scan and post your material but I am always hesitant to put historic material in the mail lest it get lost.

Check your email as I just sent you one.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Reply - May 9, 2015 - 11:37am PT

Here's the photo of the down jacket Don made for Joan (with her in it!)

Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 9, 2015 - 05:51pm PT
Looks like a prototype of a fairly modern technical down jacket . . . checkout the trim torso and ample length arms; even the hood/collar looks good.

Don Jensen is obviously one of those rare, advanced, extremely talented and motivated individuals evolving the art of climbing and living . . . not unlike Royal Robbins and Jim Bridwell. Praises to Don.

Thanks Doug R. for one of the finest ST has to offer.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
May 9, 2015 - 05:55pm PT
Quote HereThis has been a wonderful thread to read and enjoy. Takes me back to my years of growing up in Bishop. When we moved there my father was a schoolteacher. Teachers around the east side often have interesting summer jobs and my Pop was no exception. He became for the next few summers the ranger at Big Pine Creek. I would hear tales from him about rattlesnakes in the campgrounds, cleaning outhouses, and stories long forgotten by me now about the Mountaineering Guide Service and Larry Williams. I believe I was twelve when I met Larry, his wife, and their daughters at the base camp near First Falls. Shortly after I was asked to help at camp and fill in as a cook's helper at Sam Mack Meadow. I could barely cook popcorn or heat soup but I said yes and gave it a go. Larry's daughter Gail and I trailed and coaxed a burro they had (Jingles?) up to Sam Mack with a load of supplies. After unloading and packing stuff away in metal cans, I was wiped out. I'd never been at altitude before. Gail took the burro back down below and returned again that same day. She was 12 as well but not tired at all. The next person I remember meeting was Don Jensen. He came up the next day carrying a huge pack loaded with dog food. Within an hour he was headed for the upper camp on the shoulder overlooking Palisade Glacier and I was prodded to go along and help. This didn't work out too well. While I was inspired and overwhelmed by the landscape (feelings that inspire me to this day) I got a real bad case of altitude sickness and had the worst crippling headache of my life. Had to just lay down in the tent at high camp while Don went about his chores. Useless kid I was. Over the rest of the week I watched Don, Frank Sarnquist, Larry, and I think Bob Swift train clients and take them on outings. It was a journey of a lifetime for most everyone. What did I bring back? A lifetime of memories from that week. A small understanding of mountaineering. Memory of a group glissading and yodeling into Sam Mack from above after a day attempting a peak. I developed respect for the guides, especially Don. He did have that fat lip thing going that summer, which I thought was a curious look to have. All the guides sacrificed themselves. Mosquito bites, sunburn, blisters and callouses. Later I learned that Don was designing packs and tents. That seemed fitting. That the company was called Rivendell struck me as being silly and romantic. Even though I had read the Hobbit by then and was caught up in the psychedelic lifestyle I just didn't always share the same romance. I'm glad to have memories of Don Jensen, following his burly legs as they carried him easily to Palisades High camp. I was very sad when I learned that he had died. And while I'm at it, R.I.P. Larry Williams.

Greg Beardslee

What an awesome story of another time's forgotten space. Thanks for the special memoir Greg.
solarbobky

climber
Sep 9, 2017 - 05:25am PT
I still have my Yak Pak. Haven't used it in decades. It was especially great for cross country skiing. There is one currently on ebay. Apparently there have been some on Etsy.
I also have a Yak Works sleeping bag with contoured thermarest and zipoff top. I only have the light top.
Vlad Pricker

Mountain climber
The cliffs of insanity, inconceivable
Sep 10, 2017 - 05:40am PT
Not a post about Don Jensen but Doug and Steve posted up above about the Dead. Saw them play in the early days (it must be have been around 1967 or so) at the (then) Holy Ghost Hall on Boulevard Way in Saranap (Walnut Creek), when they used to travel in that huge van they had.

As for Mr Jensen, I am not sure if I ever met him at PSOM when I went there in 1971, met Doug and climbed with John Fischer and Chris Fredricks, Swiss Arête, Mt Sill.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 6, 2018 - 11:54am PT
"larryhorton sent me."

good to know yer still dickin' around with the climbin' scene, Rivendell boy.

come visit on The Flames in Middle Earth.

Mouse

PS--larryhorton gave me my first rock climbing boots, a pair of RRs with a delaminated rand on one toe and also squired myself and the Reverend Mathis up HCS, my first 5.8 lead in 1970. (mentioned this earlier here)
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 6, 2018 - 12:47pm PT
http://sustainableplay.com/the-jensen-archive/
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