Tahquitz Tales - Got Any?

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Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 27, 2009 - 03:39pm PT
Ah, Tahquitz!

Last Friday while sitting at this computer, my doorbell rang. I think it rang – my hearing ain’t so good anymore - but I answered it anyway. I opened the front door and there stood an old man. It took almost 10 seconds for me to recognize the form as none other than TM Herbert. Just driving through Bishop on his annual bird watching pilgrimage to the depths of Arizona. He insisted that I come outside in the sunshine.

We stood out on my lawn for over an hour while he went through all the details of why he still hadn’t taken delivery of his new car – car not truck. No more trucks for Herbert! As he droned on, his arms flailing, I was taking notice of his new tinted prescription glasses, the two new hearing aids partially hidden behind his ears, and the thinness and whiteness of what hair remained on his balding pate. I worried about what my neighbors were thinking watching these two old men, standing on the lawn – one throwing his arms wildly this way and that – occasionally kneeling to draw finger diagrams on the grass- all the while the other very old man stood intently staring as if in awe of the spectacle.

You may wonder what all this has to do with Tahquitz. Very little actually. It’s just that I associate Tahquitz with all the good times we used to have at Tahquitz and Herbert came to mind. Hennek, Boche, McLean, Herbert – God we spent a lot of time there.

It’s not like it was a short drive from LA. You had to really love Tahquitz to drive out to Idyllwild after work on a Friday evening , hike up to the base of the Green Arch, lay out your sleeping bag, sleep through the night, get up early so that you could climb the Arch, get back in your car and be home in time to watch the UCLA-USC football game.

Or the Sunday morning that McLean and I, having spent the previous sunny day climbing at Tahquitz, with Michael and Valerie Cohen, crawled out of our sleeping bags to Cohen’s berating of the weather gods. It looked like it would snow any minute – no climbing that day for Cohen! Russ and I, however, decided, “a little snow, a little ize, it eez nussing” (a favorite McLean Hermann Buhl imitation).

So up we went to do the Trough in a blizzard. Half way up the route, with Russ belaying me from Pine Tree Ledge where he was anchored to a huge pillar of granite, Russ yelled up, “Are you in a good place?” I wasn’t. In fact, I was trying to figure out how to get across a ten foot section of verglas in my Kronhofers. I answered back that I was not in a good place. The wind was picking up and communication was difficult. Russ yelled back that I had better find a “good place” quickly. The block to which he was anchored was moving. I cautiously backed down to a sheltered gap between the face and a huge boulder. Just as I fell into the gap I heard the horrible sound of an immense rockfall. It took a full 30 seconds for the noise to subside. Then total silence except for the wind.

Russ are you okay? No answer. Again, Russ are you okay? No reply. Finally a weak voice from below in the gloom, I’m okay.
What happened, Russ? I had not felt a thing on my end of the rope.

Can’t explain now. Got to get back on the rock. Can you belay me?

Yeah, come on up. Several minutes later Russ climbed into view. He was a mess. Blood all over his face, his clothes in shreds, his right arm limply dangling at his side. He had been dragged off the ledge by the huge rock pillar and had fallen, accompanied by tons of rock debris, to the end of the rope. He was temporarily unconscious and when he came to he was dangling in space staring at his belay rope. The sheath in front of his face had parted, and exposed in front of him was the rope’s core. Two of the three internal braids were severed and he was suspended by the one remaining braid. When he was able to get his feet back on the rock, he tied off the exposed portion of the rope and climbed to my location.

Russ was on the verge of going into shock. He had lost some teeth, he had a badly cut arm, and a broken nose. I managed to belay him up the remaining pitches and down the icy slabs, around the Rock and back to Lunch Rock. I took him to the fire station in Idyllwild for first aid. I can still hear the crack when they straightened his nose. After the repair, we headed back to UC Riverside where the Cohen’s were living.

Russ could probably tell the story more accurately, but that’s the way I remember it. He survived, but required some expensive dental work. I have photos of Russ after the fall, but I'll have to drag them out - later.

Tahquitz stories – I have lots of them.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 27, 2009 - 03:45pm PT
who can post after that!
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Apr 27, 2009 - 03:53pm PT
Great story ... a while back there was an excellent thread on the wreckless (sic) driving from Tahquitz to Hemmet.
henny

Social climber
The Past
Apr 27, 2009 - 04:03pm PT
Whoa!!! Now that's what I call a story! You might have set the bar a bit high with that one though.

By all means, if you have more Tahquitz tales post 'em up. We're all ears...

scuffy b

climber
Frigate Matilda
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:01pm PT
Well, this is probably third-hand...the background to Fitchen's
Folly (first descent by Joe Fitschen, in a solo, catastrophic,
uncontrolled freefall)...

He had just climbed Traitor Horn, in the days when the number of
pitons you placed was a point of pride (the fewer the better, of
course).

So he's skipping along the top of the rock, shouting, "I just climbed Traitor Horn, and I only used two pitons!! I just climbed Traitor Horn, and I only used WHOOPS...."
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 27, 2009 - 05:22pm PT
A little snow, a little ize, it eez nuszing!


The Trough route approach


No winter gear for this climb. It was sunny the day before.


Russ just coming into view after the fall.


Russ approaching Lunch Rock almost comatose.


Russ before.


Russ after.


The cure-all
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
Good God, not only a great story, but pictures! Thanks.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:41pm PT
holy hell in a handbasket!

wow, what a tale!

tough as nails kind of stuff.





keep this one on top of the threads today. whew!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 27, 2009 - 06:08pm PT
McClinsky, wonderful lad indeed:


One of the side effects of the accident Russ had to deal with was a protruding tongue for years afterwards. Is that sympathy, or a look of disgust on Malinda's face?


But, through drinking copious amounts of salad dressing he was able to control the tongue problem but now had to deal with "stoner eyes".


Finally, after years of therapy and his willing support group of mates, he learn to live comfortably with his new nose, German/Afgan heritage, and lived happily ever after,sort of, I think.

cheers


dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
Apr 27, 2009 - 07:18pm PT
Don, I have plenty of Tahquitz, Suicide stories all of which are no match to that one! Good grief Man.

Bruce
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Apr 27, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
That musta' hurt some, luckily it was cold.
Dr. F.

climber
So Cal
Apr 27, 2009 - 09:45pm PT
Boy, those are not the McClinski or Russ we know

Whole different crowd

Give us a little more
Jingy

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Apr 27, 2009 - 10:13pm PT
WOW!!!!
That is all very impressive!!!!

Love it!!
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2009 - 01:30am PT
A bump for McLean
ron gomez

Trad climber
fallbrook,ca
Apr 28, 2009 - 02:34am PT
Hey Don, great story and photos, remember this?

bachar and another OLD friend Roger Derryberry


good, old, friends
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Apr 28, 2009 - 02:41am PT
Game, set and match to Mr. Lauria. But I hope others offer Tahquitz Tales.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 28, 2009 - 02:47am PT

McClinsky and General Von Hennek at our place in West LA, loading up for a weekend run the the Valley.




One of many moods of the man. Long, long story behind this photo.


McClinsky and Hennek in a far too serious mood.


And, my good buddy Russ, trying to steal my wife.

Trolling for McClinsky to someday get on ST. We were all part of the Pentex Spotmatic era, and there is a vast wealth of photos if we can ever get Russ, Hennek, Boche and other impious characters to jump on ST. Otherwise it will all be lost in the shoeboxes of history.

cheers
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2009 - 03:02am PT
Just so you all know who's complaining about Russell's philandering

Here's Guido!
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2009 - 03:26am PT
Hey, Guido. I just scanned about 35 photos shot with my Leica IIIG or my Olympus OM-1. Should I post them here or start a new thread entitled "Old Climbers & Other Old People"?
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 28, 2009 - 03:39am PT
OOPs

Other Old People

Sitting here on the boat for the past half an hour, listening to an ongoing Mayday just up the coast near a nasty reef. Boat has sunk, two "OLD" people in the water, dark and they can't find them. They can see the mast sticking out of the water with the masthead light. Just! brought out the Heli from Whangarai with the big lights. Pretty scary if they can't pull off a rescue so close to home. We have had really nasty weather for the past week, 35-45 kts, big seas and it has just today began to settle down. Sh#t happens fast.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2009 - 03:47am PT
Be safe, mate. We have rivers to do.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2009 - 03:13pm PT
Bump for Joyce
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 28, 2009 - 03:19pm PT
Don--Amazing. . .more please!!!!!
Anxious Melancholy

Mountain climber
Back of beyond
Apr 28, 2009 - 03:48pm PT
went up to the n face in winter once as a kid. we wanted to experience the real deal and took our forrest single point hammocks. buddy had a home made fly, but i wasn't as fortunate. got about half way up before we settled in for the night in some alcove to the right of the Lark routes. buddy, let me tell you, it was cold that night. a few snow flurries didn't help, and as we were squashed against the side of the rock, i got colder and colder. ended up doing repeated sit-ups to try and stay warm. next morning i kinda freaked out ( reason for that's a whole 'nother story!) so we traversed over to the uneventful buttress and made use of the trees to make several raps back down. it was warming up and the biner brakes worked really well, wriging the water out of the ropes and on onto my crotch and down my legs and into my boots.

i'd do it again in a heart beat!

(btw, you can just barely see ice on the rock next to my head)

Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Apr 28, 2009 - 04:31pm PT
The late, great Tobin Sorensen on Paisano Overhang, 1973.

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Apr 28, 2009 - 05:00pm PT
this isn't so much of a tale as it is a crazy idea, that hanging in hammocks in winter beats out any day. :)

My buddy Matt who I worked with at REI in So Cal at the time got the notion that we should practice our hauling while we did a route. So the numbnuts that we were we got an army duffel hiked up there loaded with water and gear and start hauling it up Sahara or Whodunit, can't remember which at this point. But I do remember feeling really dumb after we get it to the belay and it has this massive rip in it forcing us to lower the bag and unclip it and start over. We topped out, but sheesh what a cluster.

Later, higher on the route, I bumblied with a dropped CMI figure eight onto some folks at the base (i yelled rock fwiw).

The nice thing was someone found the 8 device and left it on top of my pack at the base. Personally, I would have put it somewhere else if I was getting stuff dropped on me.



paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Apr 28, 2009 - 05:45pm PT
My first trip to Tahquitz was on February 9th 1971. We were supposed to leave my parents house at 6:00 am and as my friend pulled up in the driveway we had just finished experiencing the worst earthquake I'd ever felt. He didn't feel a thing driving in the car. Something as minor as an earthquake couldn't stop us, and we were on the road a few minutes later. Spent most of the day slogging around in the snow breaking a trail in tennis shoes up to the base. Never felt a single aftershock. No radio in the car so we had no idea how bad the devastation was back in LA, especially out in the valley. When we got back discovered the house next door to my friend's had been completely destroyed. Remarkably weird day.
Russ S.

climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 28, 2009 - 05:46pm PT
In the spirit of the many faceless climbers, who come and go, have their own adventures, but are never known to anyone outside their group...

I moved to San Diego in '77 and fell in with a small group that wanted to get into climbing. I had done some alpine routes (i.e. Exum route on Grand Teton), so was welcomed as an "experiened" climber. Between us we put together a rack of wedges and hex nuts, and started doing easy routes at Mission Gorge. The group already had a ski trip planned for the Tahoe area, so when they left I had the rack, but no one to climb with. Somehow I got this idea to rope soloing a route at Tahquitz. I had never been there, but had just bought the Wilts ('74) guide and had a copy of Robbins "Advanced Rockcraft". Robbin's described how to rig a waist & chest harness with a prussik loop as a self belay.

I stopped by the Sports Chalet in S.D. and outlined my plan to one of the staff and asked for a route suggestion. Immediately he said "Fool's Rush". Ignoring the obvious implications of the suggested route name, after reading the route description I agreed that would be perfect- 5.6, within my comfort zone.

Seeing Tahquitz for the first time was amazing, I was so focused on my goal that I didn't let the magnitude of the rock overwhelm me. But not being bright enough to figure out that since people had been climbing here for years there would be an established trail, I went up the scree field right out of the parking lot. After wasting far more energy than was needed I finally located the climb and rigged up my untested (by me) system. I anchored the rope and started climbing what turned out to be an easy, pleasant pitch. I don't remember if I knew enough to backup my system with a tie off, but if Robbin's didn't state it in his book, I probably wouldn't have known enough to take the precaution...

I quickly dispatched the first pitch, rigged a rappel anchor and went down. Now I had to break down the anchor and reclimb the pitch using the self-belay again. At the top I took off my day pack and set it on the ledge, but didn't think to clip it in. As I was setting up for the next pitch I bump the pack and it went sailing. So I rapped and climbed the pitch for a third time - but I learned to clip in the pack!

The climbing continued to be easy, and somewhere in the next pitch or two the obvious route trended right of the NW buttress. Above me was a short slab with a nice crack and horizonal lip that looked really cool. I knew this was off route, but it looked enticing so I went up anyway. I grabbed the lip with my pro down at feet level, or slightly below, and pulled up. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything to hold onto to pull over, so I was stuck. I remember thinking that I had to make a quick decision so I didn't pump out, so with unfounded faith in my belay system I just let go! I dropped down the slab and was gently caught by the prussik - hey it works! Bouyed by this confidence I tried the lip again, on the left side where I thought I saw some holds. When I regained the lip, I threw my right foot up for a heel hook (didn't know about heel hooks, but it seemed natural). But as I started to put over something blew and I went flying. This time the landing wasn't so gentle since I was laid out sideways, but I wasn't injured. However this shook me up enough that I went back to the real route and stayed on it the rest of the way.

I remember how fun and adventurous it felt, and I loved figuring it out on my own,completing the route and down climb safely. And lo an behold there was this great trail going back down - who would have thunk.

It was great for my blossoming climbing ego when my buddies got back and were gushing about their ski trip. Finally one of them asked what I had done - "oh, I climbed a route on Tahquitz" - silence. "But who with...."
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2009 - 10:36pm PT
Bump for Kim
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Apr 28, 2009 - 10:46pm PT
There's one over here

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=474787&msg=797026#msg797026
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
Apr 28, 2009 - 11:20pm PT


Base of the south face 77.
yo

climber
I drink your milkshake!
Apr 28, 2009 - 11:46pm PT
Wow!
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 29, 2009 - 03:10am PT
Come on, we need more Tahquitz Tales!
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
Apr 29, 2009 - 07:07am PT
Ok Don;
A short tale, I think it was the summer of 83 or 84 my roommate at the time Denny Lake and I had been climbing at Suicide most of the summer and had led some fairly hard stuff Valhalla, New Generation, Iron Cross, Voo Doo Child… I had just led Rebolting Development and we were on are way back down to the base of the rock and Denny said; Hey man we have time for one more short route then we have to spilt early today because I promised my girlfriend I would take her to the lake swimming. Ok, man it's cool what do you want to do? I asked. He goes what about this thing here and points to the rock the route is called ( our's 5.10b ) I said cool. (Two pitches both short first 10b and the second 5.7 but a bit run out.) So we rope up and flipped for the lead. Denny won and started off and couple of minutes later he was at the belay and then I was on and came up. Cool give me the rack and I’ll take off. No way Man I what-a lead both pitches. OK. So we changed over. Look Man it goes up passed these two bolts and a bit right to the corner and the belay, cool and he started off, clips the first bolt and then a few moves later the second, about this time at the base of the rock there is a big commotion and I turned my head to see what was going on. When I looked back a second later Denny is run out about twenty feet and off route to the left! Hey man WTF are you doing way the f*#k over there in no mans land! ( NEVER TAKE YOUR EYES OFF YOUR LEADER)if it is possible to see him NO matter how easy the climbing.The route I said goes a bit right to the corner! Oh sh#t man oh shit! Now Take it easy man just traverse back right and there’s a good hold! So he start to traverse back right. A few moves and the next thing I hear OH SH#T DUDE I’M COMING OFF!!!! Next thing I see is Denny burning down the stone and everything is in slow motion. Think fast I start reeling in rope! I lock it off and he goes flying by me! He stops with head at about my feet. Holy Sh#t dude are you all right? No! Damn man you fell further than anyone I ever seen! I know, he said lower me down. I did, then I raped off. When I got to the ground I saw his hands they looked like ground round hamburger and I threw up! I took off my shirt and wrapped his hands in it and down the trail we went. When we got to the creek and Denny put his hands in the water, the water ran red for what seem to be for ever. Wrapped him back up and it was off to the firehouse and then to the hospital in Hemet. Not a good ending to what was a bitchen day. His season end was that day and a valuable lesson was learned. Ya know he still laughs at me for throwing up!

Bruce

PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
May 6, 2009 - 12:27am PT
Okay, Don. I’ll offer a tale. This isn’t as “death defying” as your story. But then, as I think you’ll agree, back in those days we all had times when because of the hubris of youth or due to the lack of experience we were close to dying and didn’t even know it. You know, times when the belayer was only able to put in poor anchors. The leader only able to find poor pro, forced to make run out moves. Fortunately the strength of youth kept the leader from falling and testing the “safety” system.

Well this adventure started innocently enough. It was early spring or late fall. I don’t remember exactly when, but one of those months when that beautiful and noble rock could turn from a fun-in-the-sun playground into a gripping alpine arena. My brother Paul, best friend Keith and I were freshly honed from recent forays at (the almost always warm) Big Rock and ready for a longer, multi-pitch climb. True to being Southern California rock specialist we were dressed in cotton pants and light shirts. For a route we had chosen one of the longer routes on the North East face. Which route I not completely sure, and I’m not completely sure we stayed on the route we had chosen. We started under blue skies and eagerly climbed up warm rock with the enthusiasm of youthful, pent up energy on the loose in the wilds. Sure we had gotten a late start, having driven up from the LA area that morning. But that didn’t matter. We were rock climbing. That’s all we wanted to do in those days.

Moving well for a party of three beginners, we were several pitches off the ground when literally out of no where clouds had covered our blue skies. More worrisome a fog/mist was streaming, racing, flying up the face of the wall. We would learn to pay better attention to the weather factor of climbing! Too soon our teeth were chattering as we became colder and colder. I don’t remember discussing retreating. Perhaps due to our lack of experience or fear of rappelling off possibly poor anchors, we continued to climb for the top. As the wind increased and the rock got colder and then wet and slippery, we each in turn took the hardware loop, put it over our shoulder in acceptance of the role and responsibility of being comrades united in a shared struggle. After leading a pitch our hands would turn to blocks of wood, our feet too numb to feel, and our stomachs were sick with the secretions of continuous fear.

We were not that far from the summit when darkness started to creep across the gray rock adding a dismal ambiance to our desperate situation. We only had at most another pitch and a half to go, but none of us wanting to lead that last “hard” pitch. Because of the cold I didn’t think I physically could lead it. Keith shivered almost uncontrollably. We stood there on that ledge looking at one another. Finally Paul picked up the hardware loop and climbed up into the gathering darkness. Unable to get in any pro (our piton selection was limited in those early days) he continued to climb until he was invisible in the darkness. Keith and I heard him struggle with a piton, his numb fingers failing to hold it, the piton clanging down the rock into the black void below. Somehow Paul was able to muster the strength, the courage, the spirit to continue. After what seemed like a long time we finally heard the joyous call “Off Belay.” The rope pulled tight, Keith and I in turn were belayed up that slippery pitch. One more easy short pitch and we were on top.

I don’t know if the storm just as suddenly stopped, or we were on the lee side of the rock, but the wind had ceased and a nearly full moon played peek-a-boo behind puffy clouds. We were safe. It seemed warm. We laughed in anticipation of the food we would soon be eating in Idyllwild. The world was a beautiful place. The moonlight danced across quartz crystals as we scrambled down the slabs. After all these years I can still clearly picture the awesome beauty of Tahquitz that night.
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Vulva, Wyoming
May 6, 2009 - 02:27am PT
Don, you are a tough act to follow.... My memory of 30 years has my story play out like this:

I never really liked the Tahquitz gig, but since there was "real" rock to be climbed in Yosemite and beyond, I figured I must go there. If it was good enough for Royal, it must be at least passable for me and The Manx. We also decided that a nice cold day would only make us stronger, and Lord knows we could use some extra strength in 1979 or so. Out comes the little blue guide book..... it is decided that we will do The Sham. The Sham is a some sort of 5.10 A2 thingy and sounds just like the stuff we will be floating up when we get to Yosemite. We blasted off on a Friday night and arrived late, just like the other LA folks do.

A fairly grievous bivy in Humber Park underneath the Manx Mobile, a Chevy something or other, confirmed the upcoming chill of the day. The hike took about twice what it would take someone who was remotely interested in hiking, and ended a hateful and sweaty hour or more later. A look at the book made it seem like we were at the base of the route. We dropped our giant packs and rummaged through the total BS we brought, welcoming the delay of sifting through the gear. In said packs we had everything depicted in not only Basic RockCraft, but the Advanced RockCraft too. This was Yosemite training, and we'd heard them Yosemite big wall climbers had so much shiit, they needed to haul it! Since we didn't really know how to haul, some of it would have to stay on the ground. I left something like a SpaceBlanket and a can of sardines. Not sure what the Manx excluded from his load, but it was probably something like a 6" bong and an extra pair of glacier glasses.

Finally, we get frozen EB rubber to stone..... the climbing part as I recall was wandering and cold. Very cold. To this day I am not sure if we were even on the route most of the time. After miles of wandering and many rope tricks not described in either of the RockCraft books I was finally at what was supposed to be the crux aid pitch. A check of the guide book confirmed at least this pitch was in fact "on route" and was waiting to be tamed.

I remember heading up the crack and thinking, "this ain't too bad.... El Cap better watch its asss...". At some point there is an oldish looking bolt and the crack thins to a whisker. I clipped the bolt and stood high in my hand tied aiders. After some fiddling around I manage to get in a #1 Chouinard Stopper.... the stopper that looks like pinky nail from the skinniest kid in the NeoNatal unit. I stand up on the stopper and as I strain for the next placement, I feel, then see, the stopper shift in the placement. Holy shiit!!! I quickly start to move downwards in my aider steps... the stopper body is now fully exposed and only some odd camming force not usually found on earth is keeping it in place. I still have a set of aiders clipped into the bolt and my next move is to try and get back into this secure set. I'm frantically wiggling my foot trying to get a step open when it happens.... POP! The stopper cuts loose just as my foot gets back into the top step of the aiders clipped into the bolt. I think, "how bad can it be?" I'm about 11.4 inches above a bolt. Surely this fall will be a non-event for a budding hardman such as myself. Then things start to speed up in that slowed down kind of way. The sky rotates past me and time slows down. I put a hand over my head to hold on my balaclava, knowing that even during a fall, a nice balaclava is something worth saving. I then start to wonder just why am I going so far? How odd. I hit what I think was the belay stance or ledge with my back, but quickly glanced off and continued my tumble. Even in slow world time this fall is taking way too long. I eventually rocket through a bonsai pine that was happily living on the lip of a small roof and then feel the rope start to catch. Hanging there under the roof I look up toward the belay that is now a fair ways above me. I call up to the Manx, and gurgle something about "man, what a ripper" and let him know I'm uninjured as far as I can tell.

I eventually climbed back up to the belay stance and then got the story and visuals from the Manx. Seems the rope had jumped his back during the fall, a byproduct of shoddy hip belay technique. While I was tumbling down the face, the Manx was holding the rope in front of him with both hands and watching the smoke waft from his palms. Eventually he was able to apply enough coagulant and force to the free running rope to arrest my fall. Needless to say, he was done for the day. I think we lost half of our rack on the multi rap retreat back to our packs. Down the trail we went, made it to the car, and then got the hell out of there. El Cap, and Tahquitz for that matter, were safe for now.
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
May 6, 2009 - 09:53am PT
"...the stopper that looks like pinky nail from the skinniest kid in the NeoNatal unit."

HA!! That's vivid!
scotte

Trad climber
nathrop, colorado
May 6, 2009 - 08:44pm PT
BITD. Gilge,Sam and I were just kids, hiker/backpakers. Then I found a hemp rope stashed in a dead ceder tree,was'nt worth smoking, so we tied in to our leather belts with granny knots and headed up the big stone, no gear, no fear. Half way up the stone we saw other people?and they asked us what route we were on, we looked at each other? and yelled back whats a route? we did make it to the top. We were about 13-15 YRS. old, Thats when we realized that other people cimbed rocks.

Just a funny story:
scotte

Trad climber
nathrop, colorado
May 6, 2009 - 08:44pm PT
BITD. Gilge,Sam and I were just kids, hiker/backpakers. Then I found a hemp rope stashed in a dead ceder tree,was'nt worth smoking, so we tied in to our leather belts with granny knots and headed up the big stone, no gear, no fear. Half way up the stone we saw other people?and they asked us what route we were on, we looked at each other? and yelled back whats a route? we did make it to the top. We were about 13-15 YRS. old, Thats when we realized that other people cimbed rocks.

Just a funny story:
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
May 6, 2009 - 09:33pm PT
I was a junior in high school in the spring of '75, and had just entered the world of rock climbing. My brother John and I had been teaching ourselves how to climb (with the help of the two Robbins books) at Woodson and Mission Gorge, but had not yet been on anything multi-pitch.

Somehow, we got hooked up with a guy named Al Hopp - a local tennis pro in San Diego, who'd done a fair amount of climbing (he had knickers, some pitons, kernmantle rope, and kletterschuhs) - who became our mentor. The three of us, and a friend of Al's named Bill, went up to Tahquitz that spring to do an easy multi-pitch route as a party of four. Al had this cool bright orange Dodge van with a mural of the Valley painted on both sides (missing Half Dome, to his chagrin). It also had (cool at the time) an 8-track player. As we drove up to Idyllwild, he'd cued up Beethoven's 5th so that as we rounded a particular corner it'd do the famous, "Da-da-da-dummmmm!" I've since believed life should have a sound track. It worked, and we were appropriately ominous-ified.

Since it was too late to get on a route that day, we parked across the valley somewhere where we had a clear view of the rock. That night it snowed like nobody's business, and we thought (and I prayed) that our hopes for an ascent were dashed. But dang it if the weather didn't turn perfect, the southeast face burn off whatever snow accumulated, and the way wasn't clear for us to go on up.

Up the Devil's Slide we went until we got to the base of the Left Ski Track (5.4? 5.5?). There are a couple of tiers you have to go up to get to the base of the climb itself, so up we went. Off in the distance we saw more clouds moving in, and wondered if we were in for another storm. Since none of us were meteorologists, we disregarded the threat. Al led off, and set up the belay at the end of the first pitch. Up John, Bill and I went behind him, until we all shared the belay stance together. By the time the four of us were huddled together up there, the storm cut loose on us. Big snow, almost zero visibility, wind, cold, and four numbskulls huddled together on a ledge. We made the calculated decision (as if there were anything to calculate) to rap off.

I'm a little fuzzy on this, but my recollection is that we rapped off with only one rope, leaving 30 feet of downclimbing, or so. Why? Who knows? We were numbskulls (see reference above). Al, John and I successfully downclimbed to the upper tier, leaving Bill to do the same. We were all holding our breath, as Bill was the oldest of the group, and we figured the most likely to break something if he wasn't careful. He came off the end of the rope, gingerly started downclimbing a very slippery, snowy and icy tier, and then lost his footing.

It was amazing how quickly he flew. Everything happened so fast. We watched helplessly as he cartwheeled through the air right past us, hitting rock on his way down. We didn't know when or where he'd stop, until he did--right before plunging off another (roughly) 40 foot drop. We scrambled down to him as quickly as possible, and were pretty aghast to see the sole of his foot literally pointing sideways. His ankle had completely snapped, leaving the foot perpendicular to his leg. He was hurting, big time, and we didn't have a clue as to what to do next.

While Al and John tried to tend to his shock (and the deepening cold), Al told me to go recover the rope from the rappel. I had to climb back up the downclimbed area (where Bill had just done his rapid descent), and try to pull the rope down. Since visibility was so bad, I couldn't see whether or not it was twisted, and if so, how. It was twisted (and I had no idea how). When I told Al that it wouldn't budge, he told me to throw the jumars on it and go up and untwist it. That felt like really bad advice at the time, but he did have knickers, pitons, kletterschuhs, and a kernmantle rope. Who was I to question this approach? I said, as I attached the jugs to the rope, "Couldn't we all kind of yard on it together and see if we can yank it loose?" They consented, and we gave it a go. After a lot of tries, it finally jarred loose, and I was able to retrieve and coil the rope. Phew! My life could flash before my eyes another day--not this one.

Meanwhile, we had to figure out how to get Bill off the ledge, down the Devil's Slide, and to a hospital. The storm wasn't letting up, and the best climber in our group had just suggested that I jug up a single, unanchored line in a snowstorm. What to do...what to do...

As it happens, Mike Graham and Rick Accomazzo (and Richard Harrison?) had been working on doing the FFA of the Green Arch, not far from where we were. They either heard our pathetic calls for help (which I'd really prefer to think we didn't bellow), or their spidey sense told them something was amiss. In either case, they showed up and saved the day. They knew exactly what to do, and before we could say "Stonemasters," they were lowering Bill down to the trail in a litter (one that had been lashed to a nearby tree for such a time as this).

John did a controlled stumble down the Devil's Slide as fast as he could move to alert the rangers that we had a medical situation coming down soon, and Al, Rick, Mike, Richard (?), and I carried Bill down the Devil's Slide, postholing through deep snow all the way.

At the bottom, once we'd gotten everything ready to transport Bill, we asked for the guys' addresses. Their collective address was simply, "General Delivery, Yosemite." "Da-da-da-duuummmmm." We thought that was about as cool as it got.

I only saw Bill one other time after that - at Dean Caldwell's WotEML slide show. He had a cane, and had a terrible limp. His ankle obviously hadn't recovered well from the accident, and I can't imagine that he ever climbed again. My brother John died three years ago following a lung transplant. Al is probably somewhere teaching tennis. And I just got to see Mike and Rick to thank them in person two weeks ago.
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
May 6, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
If YOU get off route at Suicide you pay. Back then!
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
May 6, 2009 - 10:02pm PT
Sheesh. I've only read the first and last post and perused some of the pictures and I'm thinking this is already a top 10 of all time thread. Looking forward to reading it all the way through. Fantastic old pictures. Thanks, Don (I'm not worthy). As a Tahquitz climber of the early '70s. Lauria, Kamps, Powell...these guys were my (pre-Stone Masters) heroes.

Great story Mooser. Sorry for your loss.
F10

Trad climber
e350
May 6, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
Story to follow,


mooser

Trad climber
seattle
May 7, 2009 - 12:49am PT
Thanks, eeyonkee. I remember being up on some route back in the 70s, and you and Dave Rightmer crossed paths with us. You were finishing your pitch in your socks (for real...I don't know if you remember that, or not). I thought, "Man, that Cameron can climb! A .10-something, in his socks!" I doubt you'd one the crux in them, but still...
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
May 7, 2009 - 01:22am PT
F10, post up. A schlitz! hahaha

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
May 7, 2009 - 02:59am PT


Here's a few;

NE Farce;...climbed in the fog;....only could see maybe 40'....got to the summit, and was above the cloud in the sunlight;....quite beautiful.

Y Crack.....Almost dropped Pat Brennan when he fell while I was giving him a hip belay;....I flipped around backwards, shreaded my hand on the rocks, but somehow held on.....

NE Face East;....First climb on Tahquitz, with Tim Heatherington in June of 1976

East Lark ....Simul-climbed this whole climb with Rich Sims in about 45 min. in June of 1981.

West Lark ....Did this climb with my boss from work;...it was his first climb;....he was scared shitless.....

Edgehogs.....Did FA of pitches 3 and 4 with Bob Gaines and Bob Austin.

Larks Climbed 8 pitches of ice one winter up the Larks;.....the whole N. Face was covered in about 3 to 5 feet of hard snow or waterice over rock.......best conditions I've ever seen up there.....late 70's or early 80's....

Hog Var. to Whodunit FA with Gaines in July, 97

White Maidens....got off route on this climb with a girl I knew from college...it was her first climb, and I got on some very run out 5.8.......I was whining, and she was saying;...."If it's too difficult for you, I'll never make it up......to which I replied.....Watch my ass carefully...."....

The 5.7 Arete.....FA with Evans, Cole and Floyd, 1986

Vampire......One of my top 10 favorite climbs on earth.

Chin Strap Crack.....climbed this with the late Psycho Kenny and The Troll in July of 83.

The Rack Climbed this with John Long in 1981;...it was a climb both of us had not done, so we roped up for the tick...

Angel's Fright. Climbed this with a Swiss climber who spoke no english. Climbed it another time with the lovely teen girl who worked at the bakery in Idyllwild;...her first climb.

Human Fright....found an ancient wooden piton on this climb;...donated to the museum in Yosemite.

Bedrock FA with Gaines, and Charlie Peterson in Aug. of 1997

Traitor Horn .... climbed with my baby brother when he was 16 years old.

The Edge ... Climbed with face master Hensel and Evan/Floyd, July 1985.

Zig Zag.....found a 1 1/2 friend on this climb ....it was Kevin Powell's...I returned it to him....

Flying Circus....did controversial 2nd ascent of this with Hensel, Evans, Floyd and Fry.....

I love Tahquitz;.....I have been quite frightened a number of times on climbs here....but kept coming back for more...I sort of grew up climbing in Idyllwild and sleeping in my car in Humber Park...It was my home away from home......It's one of the best crags on the planet. I still try to go there each year for a climb or so.....still new stuff going down on N. Face areas..Have yet to take a leader fall on Tahquitz...(knock on wood....now Suicide; different story....)........Tahquitz RULES!
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
May 7, 2009 - 04:37pm PT
Bumpage...
F10

Trad climber
e350
May 7, 2009 - 08:35pm PT
One of many "Tahquitz Tales"

Three of us head up for the day from San Diego when about 45 minutes out we do the equipment check list. No rope. Turn around grab a rope and the VW bug is headed north again.

We pull in to Humber Park around 11:30, we decide to have some lunch before heading up to the rock. After all it is June and the days long with plenty daylight. Lunch consists of some hops and herb, with a short nap. Paul is ready to go and so am I, however the third person won't wake up, toast for the day!

Paul and I decide to let him continue his nap in the parking area after all it is a nice summer day. So it's off to the rock for a great afternoon of climbing.

We head up the climbers trail, but the only thing we have are the EB's on our feet. That's right after going back and getting the rope we forgot, we decide to go sans rope, gear, approach shoes and our minds.

We had a blast cruising up the White Maiden and soaking up some socal sun and rock. The trail up and down didn't even seem that bad in the EB's.

Back at the car our friend was up and wondering the F#*k happened and why we "ditched" him? Just another one of those wonderful days spent getting seasoned at Tahquitz and Suicide
WBraun

climber
May 7, 2009 - 09:12pm PT
Hey Don and Guido and the rest of you.

Let's all go back to the 60's.

Fuk all this modern bullsh'it .......
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
May 7, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
And 70's
curt wohlgemuth

Social climber
Bay Area, California
May 7, 2009 - 10:26pm PT
It was summer of 1980; I'd been climbing with a "mentor" for 9 months, and this was the first time I was going with somebody new (to me). A girl. A really cute girl from work. What to do?

The Long Climb, naturally. Carrying the pack, so we don't need to go back to the base of the climb afterwards. I'm gonna lead everything, and I'm psyched -- having learned to lead a month or two before.

Naturally, she gets stuck in the first chimney pitch for a bit, with the pack, but she's game and a good climber to boot. But on the second pitch, the Mummy Crack... I'm shouting from above, she's screaming from below. How can it take anybody THAT LONG to climb a single stupid pitch like this ?!? What was I thinking taking this girl out?!?

Of course, I had no idea how hard it would have been with a pack; I just had a small rack of stoppers and hexes, right? And she more than redeemed herself on the Weeping Wall across the valley on Sunday.

I guess she forgave me. We've been married for 26 years now.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 27, 2009 - 12:32am PT
One February day back in 1955, Mark Powell, Don Wilson and Frank Hoover were poking around Suicide Rock looking for something to do. Wandering up the southeast face to what is now called Paisano Ledge, the trio spotted a clean, steep hand and fist crack leading up sixty feet to a virgin summit. They had no pitons anywhere near wide enough to provide protection but there was a small patch of snow at the base and they had a secret weapon, a gallon jug of Paisano wine!
The team began to boulder out the bottom of the crack, reasoning that the snow would cushion their landing, jumping off from progressively farther up the crack. The reward for the leap of faith was a sip from the jug!
To quote Mark,"the more Paisano I drank, the higher I got" until the difficulties eased off and the summit was theirs. Up came his companions and they finished off the gallon leaving the empty jug on the summit.

The Wilts guide had this description of what was aptly named Paisano Pinnacle.

Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 27, 2009 - 01:19am PT
So I'm up at Tahquitz with Hooman Aprin, an Iranian climber who would later manage West Ridge in West LA. But back then, at Tahquitz we didn't know what the f*#k we were doing - I think I was a junior in high school. I somehow managed to lead the Piton Pooper (bulging 5.7, several pitches up the wall) with several hangs and it scared the crap out Hooman and me.

On our way down we saw some guy way up on Open Book, which hardly anyone climbed in those days. The guy was jamming out under the roof on pitch 3 and he yelled down to his partner, "No worries. It's only about 5.7 here."

I'd just frigged my way up a 5.7 and it felt like death and this guy was making it look like cheese cake. I almost wept on Hooman's shoulder.

Couple years later, Tobin, Rick and I all free soloed the Open Book, one on top of the other. In '91, Hooman, my partner on Piton Pooper, summited Mount Everest. That's no sh#t.

JL
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
Jun 27, 2009 - 06:12am PT
You dudes RULE and alway's have!

Bruce.
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Jun 27, 2009 - 09:05am PT
It was around 1971, and I had just done the Nose with George Myers. He suggested we drive down to Tahquitz. For some strange reason, we decided to smoke a bunch of pot before roping up to climb the Open Book which I guess was a local classic. I remember getting alot of strange looks from the locals, as we started up. I had never climbed stoned before, ( or since). I do remember having a blast on it!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 27, 2009 - 12:30pm PT
Largo- Did your signature Hooo Man start with him?!?
Fletcher

Trad climber
the end of the world as we know it, & I feel fine.
Jun 27, 2009 - 01:40pm PT
Wow, this has made for a pleasant Saturday morning of reading... definitely a top ten thread. Thanks for all the great stories.

Eric
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 27, 2009 - 02:32pm PT
Johnny,

The question is whether it is really a solo ascent if you do it as a group of three! I had purposefully put off doing this ultra-classic because I wanted to wait until I was good enough for the onsight solo. When I suggested it one day at the base of the South Face, Tobin and John were all over it. So we had a mass, solo ascent. I think it was psychologically much easier to be up there accompanied by friends. Paraphrasing Winnie the Pooh, soloing is much friendlier with two, (or three).

John was in the front and I remember that each of us engaged in some whistling past the graveyard, encouraging each other about how solid it seemed. At one point, I asked John,

“How’s it going up there?”

John shot back,

“Hoh, man, completely casual!”

Tobin and I were still buzzing after that, so we went right back up to solo, also on-sight, the Mechanics Route. Even though it’s rated at an easier grade, it turned out to be the more exciting of the two because it is a face climb rather than a crack climb. I remember looking down at Tobin from above the crux and he hesitated a long time before committing to the move. This was very rare for Tobin.



Rick
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jun 27, 2009 - 02:40pm PT
Another Open Book story.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=282636&msg=282687#msg282687
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 27, 2009 - 04:20pm PT
Definitely counts as a solo, Ricky! With additional subjective hazards to boot. LOL

I gang soloed the very slippery Water Cracks in the meadows and was more than distracted by my companions above and below. The normal quiet zen soloing mindset just wasn't possible in a crew.
Once we got down from that little jaunt, I was still a bit hungry for adventure and started up Crescent Arch on sight!

I have a funky left shoulder thanks to a knob drop on the South face of Rixon's and too many inlocates on the rings and wasn't very happy pulling through the roofs to get into the corner itself. It was well into the season and the entire corner was greasy, insecure and far from the solitary fun that I was hoping for. Once I stepped out onto the friction exit the fun came back but it was the last big solo for me mostly because I hadn't really prepared myself for it. Whimsical ain't the way when climbing solo sometimes. LOL
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 27, 2009 - 06:25pm PT
Ah Tahquitz! In 1969 Ross Johnson (army buddy) and Sandy (first wife) and I drove from Minnesota to Colorado to see if we wanted to get serious about skiing or climbing- we had done a little bit of both activities in the Tetons. We first went to Aspen to investigate the job/housing situation with the thought of becoming ski bums. A short lived experiment- reasonable housing and jobs seemed scarce and an early season snow storm forced an open bivvy under the car after a night of bar hopping. The next morning, while nursing hangovers in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs, we pondered our future. The dye was cast, we would continue on to sunny California and become fair weather rock climbers.
We had read an article by Yvon Chouinard about climbing in Yosemite. YC was from SC and he stated in his article that an apprenticeship at Tahquitz Rock was a good, damn near obligatory, idea for someone considering climbing in the Valley. A quick look at the map showed us that the closest place to Tahquitz large enough for a good job market was Riverside. Two days later we had a cheap apartment in neighboring Rubidoux, and a day later jobs. We had answered an ad looking for people not afraid of heights to put up Xmass lights in local Malls. We weren't sure of the height thing but reasoned that, if were to become rock climbers, scrambling around high above the ground shouldn't be a problem.
Four, sixty hour work weeks later we had enough money saved to get serious about this rock climbing thing. Ross was tempted home by seductive letters from an old girlfriend, so Sandy and I found a sweet little cabin in Idylwild and moved in for the winter.
A few days later there was a knock on our door from local hardman Ivan(Bud) Couch who had heard that a climber had moved to town. Bud took me under his wing and in the ensuing weeks I did my first 5.9 (the Open Book) and my first 5.10 (Diddily) leads. More importantly, I met Phil and Paul Gleason. We climbed together their and in the Granite Mountains near Amboy and that Spring, Phil introduced me to Yosemite. Phil, if you read this, I owe you bigtime, and say hello to Paul.
rincon

Trad climber
SoCal
Feb 17, 2011 - 09:57am PT
Not sure if this has been posted before
Paisano Overhang vid:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu7gp-aKsbo&feature=player_embedded
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Feb 17, 2011 - 10:22am PT
tahquitz can deliver some unpleasant surprises, although it had been climbed for quite awhile before the first fatality. russ's mishap reminds me of the one on sahara terror in the early 80s, a supposedly reliable block similarly coming off, shearing the girlfriend/belayer's arm off and she bled to death on the spot. i had climbed that route with my girlfriend just a couple weeks before.

generally, the demon tahquitz seems to have a benificent disposition, however. i'm the only old RCSer i know of posting on here, but the story about dick derusha was well known. topping out on left ski track, i suppose in glee similar to the two-piton fellow, he soon bottomed out. the snow bank was quite deep.

otherwise my best epic, i'm sure repeated many times on tahquitz, was when the thunderstorm came long when we were four pitches up. roger miller:

"thunder rolling, lightning flashing,
"right through the middle of it
"i go dashing ..."

we rapped with the couple next to us--two ropes that way, theoretically faster. a real exercise in patience. a fellow was killed by lake hemet from a lightning strike from the same storm.

derusha had a cabin in idyllwild and came to our group site once and said that if everyone would chip in about 5 bucks he could rent a hot-tub-on-a-truck. never saw a campsite clear out so fast. great party, five boys for every girl.
cupton

climber
Where the past and future meet
Feb 17, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
I was going up to solo the Trough and had just arrived at the base when two guys fell. They were off route and wanted to be on Angels Fright but started above the tree with the chockstone on the ledge leading out to the Trough. The leader fell and ripped the one nut he had placed. His belayer kept him locked off and they both tumbled about 50ft down some fourth class with ten feet of rope between them. The belayer was in bad shape having taken a shot to the forehead just under his helmet which was bleeding very badly. The leader had a “classic pneumothorax” according to the medic when he got on scene but we didn't know that at the time. I just yelled at him to sit down and shut up so I could try and help his buddy with the head trauma.

Two other climbers rapped down to help. One was and EMT (with gloves!) and the other called 911 and started down to guide the fire guys in. We got the litter from lunch rock, did our patient assessment and packaged the belayer up as best we could with what we had.
Credit: cupton

It wasn't long before the captain from Idyllwild fire comes blasting up the talus, commanding respect with his short shorts and huge boots. Without even looking at the patients, Captain Idyllwild has two Riverside SO rescue birds en route. Sweet.

The helicopters arrived close to the same time the rest of Captain Idyllwild's crew. They arrived staggering, sweating and cursing at the base of the talus. They were not nearly as stoked on hiking as their fearless leader. One chopper dropped a medic while the second circled San Jacinto like a hungry vulture.
Credit: cupton

The medic clipped the litter in with a steel bridle and glanced at our improvised cut up climbing rope patient tie in moments before the litter swung upwards into the sky. My heart was in my mouth, nervous with the trust placed in my knot tying ability by total strangers until the litter was pulled safely inside the chopper. The second helicopter swooped in, dropped a screamer suit and took the leader away in a matter of minutes.
Credit: cupton

Suddenly there was quiet. The fire crew headed down the hill while I hung around for a few minutes chatting with Captain Idyllwild. One of the helicopters comes back, drops a skid next to Lunch Rock for a properly awesome exit for Captain Idyllwild. And then I was alone. Nothing else to do so I went back up, collected my balls and soloed the Trough for one of the headiest climbs of my life.
locker

Social climber
Feb 17, 2011 - 02:33pm PT

Not much of a "Tahquitz Tale" but for me a FUNNY one...

I was struggling on the second pitch of some 5.10 something or other with Woody at my back edging me on so he could avoid that pitch...

As I am getting frustrated at the crux move...

Flying by me on the route to my right was Michale Reardon SOLOING...

He stops climbing and say's...

"how you doing locker???"...

Then proceeded to cruise on by...

Cracked me up so much I fuking almost spit off right then and there!!!...

LOL!!!...
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Feb 17, 2011 - 03:57pm PT
Lots of tales over the years.

Safety in Numbers

During the late 70s, mass assaults on various routes became in vogue. 4,5 or 6 (sometimes more) climbers would tie in at intervals into a single rope. The leader would head up with the standard (meaning minimal) rack of hexes and stoppers. The followers would begin climbing when the rope ran out of slack. The last person cleaned.

The leader either made it to the top in one "pitch" or when down to the last nut or two stopped and belayed. If more than one pitch were involved, the last person just kept going with the gear collected on the way and the conga line ran in reverse.

About the same time at Josh we named a route on The Blob after this phenomenon. After a couple bolts were placed, it too was climbed in a similar style by the gathered crew.

matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Feb 17, 2011 - 04:39pm PT
Last time I went out there was in the fall. I had a partner lined up but he couldn't make it last min so I decided to go solo. Now, I'd only been to tahquitz twice before, and had only done a few routes (lark, sahara terror, ski track, open book, fingergrip).

I roll up to find the lot full of cars, but all for a trail work crew. Walk up to the base and get set to solo something easy. Having only done fingergrip in this area I took my guide with me to onsight fingertip and to find the top of the trough so I could downclimb that.

It was a great day, the temp was perfect for shorts and long sleeves and the was a layer of clouds below. I owned the place. It was just me, the rock, the sky and my thoughts. I started out easy because I was onsighting. up fingertip, down trough. I was feeling a little more comfortable now so I left the guide at the base and just figured I could downclimb if things got too tough, and I would just go exploring a bit. If it looked easy I'd give it a shot. So I continued soloing up fingertrip, down trough, up angles fright, down fingertip, up jensens, down trough.

Then I went up coffin nail. Being steeper and more committing that the others, I was forced to really focus on the moves and not let my doubts creep in. Coffin nail was fun and secure 5.8 so I figured I'll finish on traitor horn. The wind picked up and the clouds rose higher consuming the base of the cliff. I started the traverse across traitor horn. Looking down for my footholds was a bit dizzying. The clouds were moving steadily between my feet with an occasional hole opening to show the ground. It was a surreal position. I felt so alone and totally out there. The insecure traverse and racing clouds below me didn't inspire confidence. I pictured myself slipping off that traverse, bouncing off the edge and landing crumpled at the base without anyone around. I knew the route was only 5.8, but never having done it before I was having my doubts. I must have started that traverse four or five times, but never felt good letting my left hand leave the traitor horn, so I finally just finished up the easy way on jensens.

After that I was a little scared and kept to easy routes the rest of the day. I think I went down the trough, up angles fright, down fingertip, up fingergrip, down the trough up angles again and finally down fingertip one last time.

It was a magical day that will stay with me forever. I think I went bottom to top seven times, down climbing each time. That works out to a huge amount of easy climbing. I left at 2 that afternoon recognizing that I was getting tired and should stop before I made a mistake. Cheers to Tahqutz!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 2, 2013 - 08:04pm PT
Bumping a great thread!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 2, 2013 - 09:26pm PT
For the life of me I can't quite remeber the other 3 climbers I was with, but I'm pretty sure at least one of them was over 16 years old. It was the late 60s and we were climbing one of those North Face routes that had long lie-backs. We were all at a good size belay ledge belaying the leader of the pitch above, a long lie-back. He was cruising right along. I can't remember if I was the actual belayer or what, but I remember great surprise when I saw the end of the leader's goldline rope going up the rock! It seems like we had to yell up and tell whoever it was to downclimb a little or at least to STOP for a second - that we had a problem. The ropes had been in a giant cluster F+++ but we got things straightened out and somebody tied into that rope!

A similar thing happened the first time I climbed at Tahquitz. I was with 2 others on the Fingertip Traverse, and the leader had just gone across the arch of the Fingertip traverse and was at the ledge on the other side. For some reason he ending up untied from the rope and needed rescuing! I think that was when I first met Larry Reynolds. He and his partner found us there not knowing which way was up. He went on up with his partner and hooked our friend up. I don't think I got to do the climb that Day.
Sam R

climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Feb 2, 2013 - 11:00pm PT
The first time I climbed there was with John Mendenhall on the Maiden. Dave Field and Gail Wilts (Chuck's daughter) were climbing above us, and another party was on another route using pitons. John said to "remember the sound of the pitons being driven in because you won't hear that out here anymore". When we got to the top Dave was telling the guy he really should be using stoppers and hexes. The age of the Whole Natural Art of Protection had arrived!
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 2, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
The mention of “mass assaults” zapped one of my abused brain cells and I remembered what, back in the old days (circa 1974), we called a mass assault. Another Tahquitz tale.

The Switchbacks is a 5.8 climb at Tahquitz that I had done at least seven times before Mark Powell suggested that I do the 5.7 variation of the first pitch. The pitch goes straight up to the belay ledge at the end of the first pitch of the regular route. The variation was(is?) protected by a ¼” Rawl bolt – about half way up the pitch.


I got so used to doing the variation that I often soloed it – trailing a rope so that I could rappel back down. The belay ledge at the end of the pitch used to have a small tree growing up from a crack at the back of the ledge. It was my rappel anchor. The tree had long since died, but I was able to jam it into the crack so that it remained a trustworthy anchor.

One wonderful warm summer evening after a warm wonderful day of climbing, a bunch of us gathered at Lunch Rock. Someone exposed two 4 liter bottles of wine and suggested that we might join him in a sip of wine. For what reason I’m not sure, I suggested that we imbibe on the Switchbacks belay ledge. Great idea! There were five of us. As I recall we were: Me, Dave Huntsman, Hooman Aprin, Conrad Willett, and Tom Limp.

Well, I led the pitch and began belaying the rest of the group. Did I mention that this ledge was small – so small that it could barely contain a group of five – something that never crossed our minds as began to occupy the ledge. The first person up brought the wine. While belaying the next two ascendants, the ledge occupiers, including the belayer, began imbibing. By the time the last ascendant, Dave Huntsman, began his ascent, we on the ledge were feeling the effects of wine on a warm summer evening after a warm summer day’s worth of climbing. Tom Limp decided that Huntsman was climbing way too fast and with not enough respect for the difficulty of the pitch. So he poured a cupful of wine down the upper portion of the pitch. This slowed Huntsman for but a brief moment – just long enough to allow him to release a paragraph of obscenities. With all five on the ledge, two had to stand for lack of room. This had little or no effect on our ability to pass the bottles.

By the time we finished the wine it was very late and very dark. Time to think about rappelling and getting back to Idyllwild. Tom limp went first. Hooman was next, but one problem. Our dear friend, Hooman Aprin, was so inebriated that we did not dare allow him to rappel unbelayed. It was an unforgettable sight – Hooman being belayed as he wobbled down the near vertical pitch into the arms of Tom. That was the easy part.

With everyone down, now we had to get Hooman down the trail. With me on one arm and Huntsman on the other, we escorted Hooman down. No easy task as Hooman was unable to stand without support. Conrad and Limp would take over when Huntsman and I would tire. Thus our relay team was able to get Aprin back to our car.

Last time I saw Hooman was in the Tetons in 1995 where he was guiding for Exum. I hadn’t seen him for over 20 years. He had lost most of his hair, but not his memories of a warm summer evening after a warm summer day of climbing at Tahquitz.

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Feb 3, 2013 - 12:10am PT
hey there say, don, and all...

oh i loveeeeee these history, and or, stories of back-in-the-day...
well--i love the new stories, as well...

these are precious, however, as they are part of what
'made you who you are' as folks 'learn and grow'...

thanks don, and all that chip in here...
this is what makes supertopo precious and
what drew me here, as well as seeing chappy's name...

campfire stuff is good, too, to get to know folks,
but this the solid foundation of the real comaradarie...

working together,and learning, growing, and helping when a
buddy is down...

:)


and, at times, being by his/her side, as they recover...
Tony Puppo

climber
Bishop
Feb 3, 2013 - 12:52am PT
Sure miss my good friend Dave Field.
Yafer

Trad climber
Chatsworth, California
Feb 3, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTiSW9ET39k&list=PL72My4lNdjXNdoORCF9HNXbm3myEuMRG9&index=3]


Here is a funny Video...maybe not a story....but a good one with Guy ,Jan and Larry at Tahquitz.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 3, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
to post a video from YouTube... e.g.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTiSW9ET39k&list=PL72My4lNdjXNdoORCF9HNXbm3myEuMRG9&index=3

you need only enter the bits between the "watch?=" and the next ampersand "&", e.g. from the above: tTiSW9ET39k

the video's ID


not all of the URL...

Yafer

Trad climber
Chatsworth, California
Feb 3, 2013 - 01:53pm PT
Thanks Ed.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 3, 2013 - 01:59pm PT
Fond memories.....no tales worth repeating. The Open Book was my first 5.9 lead and Diddly my first 5.10. I think that an obscure crack (Jammit) that i did with Bud Couch was my first FA.
Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Feb 3, 2013 - 03:18pm PT
I've had a lot of memorable days at Tahquitz: learned multi-pitch, first solo, many amazing days with friends, but one definitely stands out. The late Ben Horne and I punched out 61 pitches in under 17 hours last year, and it was fantastic!

Trip report for 61 pitches in a day at pullharder.org

Josh
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Feb 3, 2013 - 04:48pm PT
I fell asleep in the wee hours this morning trying to keep my eyes open because I wanted to keep reading...such great stories...I hope y'all will keep contributing because not only are the stories great, but they also impart some excellent knowledge through experience.

I haven't been around long enough to know whether this has been posted previously, but wanted to share. Mike and Natalie Sherrick sent this to me earlier today and it made me smile.

Lunch rock @ the base of Tahquitz Rock from the Chuck & Ellen Wilts co...
Lunch rock @ the base of Tahquitz Rock from the Chuck & Ellen Wilts collection. L to R: Harry Daley, Mike Sherrick, Yvon Chouinard, Arkel Erb, Bill "Dolt" Feuerer, Tom Frost
Credit: Chuck & Ellen Wilts collection
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Feb 3, 2013 - 07:59pm PT
Wow, Josh. That trip report is impressive and quite poignant in light of your friend's death.

Life is short. It is a gift just to still be around reminiscing about good times on the rock.

And Audrey, you must plan a trip to climb to Tahquitz, your father's home crag.

Truthdweller

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Feb 3, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
In the late 90's I reunited with my good friend Eric, who, having been off the rock for a while, agreed to let me guide him up Whodunit, 5.9, on the north face. I, having done the route a few times, was up for the challenge of leading all pitches if need be. The offer of letting Eric lead on some of the easier pitches was discussed over the phone a few days prior, and it was agreed that he would take the sharp end if he felt up to it.

We met realatively late at the McDonalds in Rancho Penasquitos and, as the ritual dictated, had breakfast prior to the two hour drive which began by heading north on I-15. Turning northeast on CA-79 into Winchester, one gets his first glimpse of the incredible monolith of Tahquitz Rock in the distance! Continuing east into Hemet then up the scenic grade of CA-243, we passed by the Mountain Center junction which, for me, always brings butterflies to my stomach, knowing that another incredible alpine day awaits!

The crux is experienced on the first pitch of Whodunit by stepping left through a sequence of face moves to the first belay station (a controversial headwall, mid-route, is now listed as 5.10). From here, the right facing book system is followed for nearly seven pitches to the top of the route with every pitch at 5.8 and below. Eric is following, albeit slow, without event up to the awkward slot on the fifth pitch. As he reaches my belay I sense by his body language that something is wrong. With his head hanging low, he reluctantly raises it up, and I realize that he's in tears and explains to me, "Dude, I'm really having problems at home right now with my wife, and it's just been hard!" Granted that squeeze slot below was less than enjoyable but to say I was taken by surprise by his confession would be an understatement at five hundred feet off the ground! I can't say that I had been put in this position before while climbing, or since for that matter, lol!

It was already about 153O and knowing that we should have topped out by then, time was of the essence. I had to pick up the pace, finish the last two pitches, and get off the mountain, distraught partner or not. Still using a 150' rope, I came up short once over the last small roof near the summit, and had to set up belay in the crack system above. Even though awkward, a photo opportunity presented itself and I had to squeeze in one more of Eric, even though he wasn't too receptive about the idea when I told him to smile as his head popped over the roof! We finished up the summit slabs, and after a summit photo, I was glad it was over.

Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Feb 4, 2013 - 12:18am PT
Rick,

You're absolutely right that our time here is special. That day with Ben was one of my best days on the rock in over 10 years of much climbing, he said the same as well. I feel privileged to have shared such an amazing day with such a unique individual. His positivity knew no bounds. He is missed, but his friends still celebrate his life regularly.

Josh
tooth

Trad climber
B.C.
Feb 4, 2013 - 01:09am PT
I used to go up there every Friday afternoon with a buddy from San Bernardino. We would run up in our flip-flops, run laps up routes until it got dark, then run back to the car. I remember hitting lunch rock in 15min and almost losing my lunch!

Never got tired of climbing there. Remember a girl partnered with my buddy who was cleaning a pitch beside my wife and I and couldn't get a piece out. She kept asking how to make it move, we were yelling suggestions for nuts or cams. Finally my wife asked her what color it was. She said, metal, and rusty! We laughed and told her to leave the pin!


Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:02am PT
Burchey,

There's not a single route at Tahquitz that I'd solo in 10 minutes. I solo in control, and methodically. I started out doing those same routes in a full-day, not a half-day, so you're doing great!

Josh
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Feb 4, 2013 - 08:10am PT
It was 1971, and I had never been to Tahquitz.

After doing the Nose with George Myers, he suggested that we go down to Tahquitz, with a friend of his. I had no idea where it was, and just came along for the ride.

George's friend had all this pot, and I just remember a fast ride on the freeway, in a light weight jeep.

We arrive, and George suggest we climb the Open Book, which I guess was considered hard. The only thing I remember is all of us smoking a joint at the base, while the locals looked on, wondering who the hell are these bozos.

I seem to remember having a good time on it with no problems, as we were all in pretty good shape.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 4, 2013 - 09:02pm PT
Audrey,

What a great group shot!

Perfect for the Tahquitz chapter in the Frost Book. I will contact Janet Wilts about using it.

Thanks!
LongAgo

Trad climber
Feb 5, 2013 - 12:18am PT
Thanks to all. Memories of Tahquitz and beyond live on and fulfill us after these many years.

Who can pretend to understand what it means or how quickly it slipped by? But clearly we all know how it feels from here - wonderful. Wonderful.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Jun 6, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
BBST
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Jun 6, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
Wow, what a line up:
Credit: Charlie D.
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