Tis-Sa-Ack

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Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Original Post - May 12, 2009 - 02:08am PT
I've always thought that this was a very fine piece of writing, by Royal Robbins. The first part is about an attempt in autumn 1968, by Robbins, Chuck Pratt, and Dennis Hennek. The second about the first ascent, in autumn 1969, by Robbins and Don Peterson. It seems to have been one of the harder long routes in the Valley at the time, and was perhaps Robbins' second-last major first ascent there.

The account is unusual in that it was entirely written by Robbins, but is presented as though it was jointly written by all those involved. We're given the purported thoughts of Robbins, Pratt, Hennek, and Peterson, as Robbins says what he thinks each of them was thinking, not just what they actually did and said. I've talked with several climbers who've read it, and who found it hard to believe it was all written by just Robbins. It's a technique more commonly found in fiction, in effect trying to imagine what others were thinking, and saying it.

There's a nice quote in the middle, attributed to Hennek, at the scene of their second bivouac, a hanging one, where Robbins says "I got in a good solid bolt and we settled down for the night." 'Hennek' then says "Royal says settled down, but he didn't get settled very fast. He was screwing around and cursing in the blackness, and then I heard this rip. He had put too much weight in one end of his hammock, and he ought to know better having designed the mothers, and then there was this explosion of screeching and shouting and terrible foul language that would have done credit even to Steve Roper. I thought it was funny. It went on and on. Fulminations in the darkness. I was amazed that he so completely lost control because he always seemed like such an iceberg."

It's quite a story, and perhaps there's a back story (or three) too.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
May 12, 2009 - 02:24am PT
Robbins was a master at raising the game to the next level. He did that both on the rock and in his writings. His article Tis-Sa-Ack is an all-time classic.

Bruce

ps - I have Don Peterson's original Patagonia pile jacket.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 12, 2009 - 03:04am PT
Yo Dennis, this is a perfect time to enlighten us about that attempt.

cheers

Guido
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 12, 2009 - 06:51am PT
When I first read the article I thought it was brilliant, and far more interesting to read than the AAJ article about the same route that Robbins also wrote.

I heard second-hand that Don Peterson thought the article was unfair to him, when Royal wrote in Don's voice.

So yeah, if Dennis or anyone else can add backstory now, that's one thing the Taco is great for.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 12, 2009 - 11:57am PT
Where's the goods Anders?!?

You certainly have no plausible deniability in the scanner department. LOL

Ascent 1970 if I recall correctly.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 12, 2009 - 12:19pm PT

Well here is an image of Don taken about five months after Royal and he did their impressive November 1969 FA of Tis-sa-ack. You are free to draw your own conclusions from the image. It is all there.... Over time I realized that Don had not spent much time with people who really would take a very very close look at him.

Don was hanging out in the Valley again that next Spring (1970), trying to make plans, get up some more big walls. His hands and feet had recovered. He and I eventually got organized to do the FA of the Heart Route (or Heart Direct) but fortunately Chuck Kroger and Scott Davis jumped on it rather than having to face a redoubtable Bridwell and Schmitz who were protecting their project of a Dawn Wall start. Jim and Kim had a fixed line established up a pitch. So Don and I never got on “our” route, Jim and Kim never got anywhere with the Dawn Wall line, and Chuck and Scott went down in history as the very cool energized, outsider pair that they were about a week later.

I have read the Tis-sa-ack article perhaps four times over the years and of course I was very very close to RR back then and got fairly close to Don as well. When you think about it I was in a remarkable position.

Royal makes it clear in his unique article that being with him isn’t all that easy and that he was kind of slow. After all, at this point he was just about forty years old, thinking about taking it a little easier after one or two more big achievements. The man had been going non-stop for almost twenty years. And it did not help matters that it was November and damned cold up there. I guess it was one or two years later that RR took one last big stab at his career and attempted to do the FA of Tangerine Trip (solo even). But he found part way up that he was getting bored and uninterested, especially as a solo, and that the risk was getting banal. He was up about a third of the way, beyond the diagonaling pitch. You see it would have been the first time anyone had done a new El Cap route by soloing and his efforts were quite admirable though he did retreat. He was the first to do the famous “nut throw” at the bottom. Jimmy Dunn had not appeared yet to grab that coveted position in history with his Cosmos route in 1972..

But being around Don was not easy either. In fact you hung out with him kind of at your own risk, just as the article depicts and the photo may suggest to you. Anyway, RR’s story is quite a unique piece of writing. He was proud of it too, by the way--- his writing had become incredibly interesting to him, engaging him all night long sometimes. This new article was ever so much more engaging and less turgid than all his prior efforts. And I was glad for him; after all my opinion of his earlier writing was not great. And it encouraged others to let go of the “travel writing” and lame reporting they also had been doing with their own climbing articles and try to actually address the nitty gritty human issues between partners on a horrendous new route----what the story REALLY is and why a particular ascent is different from another.

And finally, both RR and Don appeared to me to have been raised by wolves, actually. Almost feral in their behavior towards others sometimes and both deeply obsessed with whatever climbing had come to mean to each. So the RR article is even more amazing than had it been concerned with more ordinary characters having a humbling experience on endless steep granite for days in cold weather---- the story would have had very little to it.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 12, 2009 - 01:03pm PT
Thanks for sharing your observations and perspective on these guys, Peter!
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 12, 2009 - 01:15pm PT
Some years back I wrote a story about a climb I tried with Don Peterson, on which we both
nearly died. It happened in 1969 -- eight months before Tis-Sa-Ack, and when I was quite
new at the game.

In its own way, that story adds to the Peterson portrait as well.

http://pubpages.unh.edu/~lch/climb_06.htm
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 12, 2009 - 01:23pm PT
Good story, Larry. I can relate to the risk/communication situation. And I've dodged some pretty small ice pieces in the general vicinity.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2009 - 02:13pm PT
Thanks, everyone. Hopefully others will chime in also.

I'm reluctant to post more than excerpts, having regard to copyright and such. In this case, the holder(s) - the writer and possibly the publisher - are identifiable and may care.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 12, 2009 - 02:21pm PT
God what a great parable, Larry/Chiloe. Really---- and you do address it that way too. Excellent. The "dumber by the dozen" moral to the story is truly a life lesson and holds true for motorcycle riding, skiing, you name it....thanks! The perils of groupthink.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 12, 2009 - 11:57pm PT
As I have said before, I am more than happy to pull any post promptly if any of the contributors object. Otherwise, sharing them is the greater good.







Now that the table is set, perhaps our own Bldrjac (Jack Roberts) can chime in on his second ascent with Charlie Porter! They had a camera along, too.
WBraun

climber
May 13, 2009 - 12:06am PT
So me and pollack hiked to the top of Ts-Sa-Ack to meet Porter and Jack.

Jack came up first and made belay, then we ate food while Charlie was still jugging. Then we started to haul their bags.

Big refrigerator flake comes out from under where Jack is eating what's left of Charlies bivy food.

Charlie looks fate in the eye. Which way to dive?

At last moment refrigerator veers left and Charlie does not die.

Charlie arrives finally at the very top and Jack runs to Valley while the rest of us hang out and talk sh'it for a couple of more hours before heading back to?

Yes you guessed it, not hard to guess .....
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
May 13, 2009 - 12:54am PT
I had always heard that Coloradoan Michael Tietzi and partner (Mead Hargis?) made the second ascent. Michael was a friend of Don Peterson who also lived in Boulder. Anybody have some info on this?

Bruce
WBraun

climber
May 13, 2009 - 01:02am PT
Mead never did Tissack as I recall.

Porter and Roberts second ascent.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 13, 2009 - 09:50am PT
1972 if I recall correctly. Werner- do you remember any other attempts prior to Jack and Charlie's repeat?
WBraun

climber
May 13, 2009 - 10:09am PT
No

After Charlie and Jacks second ascent it was Mike Bridenbach (sp?) and Mark Degnan (son of original Yosemite Degnans).

They had a horrible time up there taking huge falls in bad weather and Mike suffering a piton sliver to the eyeball.

Fourth ascent can't remember, Mark Chapman?

Kauk and me did the 5th with Yabo and Dale below us on the 6th ascent.
climber bob

Social climber
maine
May 13, 2009 - 10:47am PT
has anyone try'd freeing the zebra?
JakeW

Big Wall climber
CA
May 13, 2009 - 11:37am PT
I heard Herson may have freed the Zebra, and Leary did for sure. My buddy Sean Krilitich and I did this thing in a push around 2000. We'd never nailed much and were really intimidated. We wore tennies only and hauled a big sack but no bivi gear. Cobra cans and soiled undies sailed past us. Sean took a big whip off some expando thing and was caught by a tin foil hanger. We passed Jeff the Midge and crew, all boozed up, and had to wait for hours before we could jug there line and get past them. The Midge cut their bags loose with a knife on a very traversy section. Dust filled whirlwinds swirled around us below the visor and we topped out in about 30ish hours, and proceeded to hallucinate for quite a while...is basket dome a petrified whale? Sean kept getting off trail in the bushes and when I'd ask him what he was doing he said he was following me...which was funny since I was following him.

We went back the next year and did it in 14 hours with free climbing shoes, no packs, and the three pitons we'd placed the first time. Unfortunately the pitch we hadn't done was the crux and Sean spent several hours "sport aiding" without the right pins. He whipped past me a few times while I lounged on a ledge, but finally made it through with a lot of hooking and hammering on camhooks.

Tissack is a route that makes climbing big walls seem very stupid. The first time up an expando flake crushed down on my red camalot and I couldn't get it out even by jumping up and down on another cam next to it. The next time it fell out and I put it back on the rack. Bobby J later dropped the same cam 600 feet off Bulging Puke. It landed by our packs and once again, back on the rack...I think it might be fixed above the glowering spot on the Nose now...but maybe that's my other red, I'll have to check.
Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
May 13, 2009 - 12:18pm PT
"is Basketdome a petrified whale?"

Or maybe Half Dome is Moby Dick? Trying to sort out the identies of Ahab, Ishmael, and Queequib here...
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
May 13, 2009 - 12:18pm PT
My partner (Steve Kessman) and I (Ryan Mattock) climbed Tis-sa-sack in october 01'.
perfect wall route for me and him. we figured we were probably the 18th ascent. we finished the route after seven hanging bivy's. i would post pix's but feel that it's better to meet in person. (i'm not an exhibitionist).
the "Sack" rack was impressive. The Pseudo tower made me feel scared. The rivet ladders are super mank. (i've seen better at Stoney Point).
now that I've finished the "Sack" I want to get on the J. stream.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 13, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
When Lisa and I were first married, we rented from Don Peterson and lived just above him for a year or so. I know him fairly well (still loves to work out & climb): at one point 'was pretty close to helping him scan & post his slides to share with you all, maybe some ways down the line...

Michael Tietzi: I bought a used car from the man and somewhat habitually share Thanksgiving dinner with him and friends. At some point I am sure I could get some stories.

Walt Shipley and I were about halfway through The Zebra prior to being stormed off: I always thought that would be tremendous free climbing so it's cool to hear some reports.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - May 13, 2009 - 04:22pm PT
Volume 56 of the Canadian Alpine Journal (1973) contains an account of the third ascent of Tis-Sa-Ack, by Billy Davidson from Calgary. He did it in autumn 1972. Davidson at first thought he was trying the second ascent, solo, but after fixing a few pitches, went back to the Valley, and discovered the route had had a second ascent a few weeks before. He went back, had adventures with loose flakes in the Zebra, and retreated. He then recruited Mike Breidenbach, and the two climbed the rest of the route in five or six days. More adventures with loose flakes, and some that had disappeared.

Davidson doesn't say who did the second ascent, just that it had been done. I believe he may have given up climbing after Tis-Sa-Ack. Perhaps I'll scan and post his article.

Robbins seems to have been using the literary device he adopted to say things about himself, and how he was perceived, that he mightn't otherwise have discussed.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 13, 2009 - 07:50pm PT
Roy- This is Don's biggest route or at least a contender I would guess so this would be the time to hook him up to the ST. Just figure out the threads that he might like and bump 'em up to give him a taste of the good stuff. Then set the hook! His slides probably need scanning like everybody elses.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 13, 2009 - 09:22pm PT
Don Peterson has left Boulder for an ashram in Montana.

It may be difficult to reach him.
WBraun

climber
May 13, 2009 - 09:38pm PT
He became a monk?

Two thing one can do in life.

Become warrior, or monk.

Next is lots of materialism and entanglements for the soul .....
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 13, 2009 - 09:55pm PT
We don't need no stinking badges....
He'll be back: ain't gonnah talk about the Sa-Ack anyhow.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 13, 2009 - 10:20pm PT
Don's a good guy with many demons.............At least he wasn't chasing any particular woman (I don't think). Ya never know............he may yet return.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
May 14, 2009 - 12:26am PT
I had several great winters training with Don for XC ski racing in the late 1990s in Winter Park. We skied many kilometers trying to figure out the best techniques for skating in the cold soft high altitude snow peculiar to that part of Colorado. I hope he is doing well in Montana.
WBraun

climber
May 14, 2009 - 12:42am PT
Back before cams when all you had was pitons Tissack was actually a feared route because all those expanding pitches.

Caming devices really changed all that.

There's a expanding pitch up there where every piece fell out below you until a long ways out.

Now it's most likely totally bomber, A1, piss easy with cams.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
May 14, 2009 - 01:07am PT
I talked to Michael Tietzi this evening. He did the route in the early 70's with a guy named John Blackwell who was from Seattle. He didn't remember the exact date, but is working to pin it down.

Bruce
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 14, 2009 - 01:13am PT
Jack- Do you recall any attempts before you and Charlie got the notion to get up there? How did you guys team up?
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 14, 2009 - 09:45am PT
Steve,

I am absolutely sure that Charlie and I did the second ascent.
Charlie and I knew that Billy Daivdson had gone up there to solo the thing and backed off from the fifth pitch. There were some old slings left behand that he most likely rapped off of. There may also have been one more attempt by someone but that didn't go anywhere. I'll try and remember his name. Charlie and I had been teaming together for awhile doing climbs. On the Captain reestablishing the bolt ladder and reconnecting the Right Side of Dawn Wall to Wall of Early Morning Light. The Gobi Wall and others. We wanted to tick Tis-Sa-Ack before someone else beat us to it because we knew that there were people out there who were able to do so. BTW, Charlie and I were met by Werner and three other climbers including Jim Pettigrew. We all hung out and then walked down the trail together. Somewhere I've got pictures..............Never meant so much to be met on top of a wall as it was when I saw those guys. Charlie and I had a bunch of stuff including one bag full of different sized Bongs, because as Werner correctly states we did't have cams and that climb ate up Bongs for breakfast AND dinner.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 14, 2009 - 10:02am PT
Jack and Stevie, I began to solo the Sack August of 1971. At that time it would have been the second ascent. I got up to the Zebra and realized I forgot my second hammer and it was only 4 weeks after the Salathe solo--- I was still kind of drained and did not have the drive to spend that kind of time again solo. After dropping a hammer off the Salathe I have always had the fear of being hammerless by accident too. Plus it hot as hell up there, like above 100 degrees. I rapped off leaving rap anchors of course.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 14, 2009 - 10:42am PT
Peter,

You know I seem to recall hearing about your attempt. Your attempt was probably one of the reasons Charlie was so ampted to get on the thing...........What was with so many people wanting to solo the route back then? I do remember that the rep this route had back then was almost legendary. Its reputation probably had more to do with the story that Robbins wrote about it than anything else. With quotes like, "the hardest free climbing I had ever done on a big wall," "Robbins was rather proud of his bolt ladder and bragged about it," or mentioning that there was all this weird, contrived nailing with big bongs and nuts. Charlie was trained as a Volkswagon mechanic and I think that all the engineering with big pins that took place on the first ascent really appealed to this part of him. That and the fact that he thought the route was probably not as desperate as Robbins piece made it sound.

I think TIS_SA_ACK is probaly Royal's best piece of writing.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 14, 2009 - 11:20am PT
Jack,

The route hadn't a second ascent and had been sitting there for more than two years begging for climbers! It DID have all the mumbo-jumbo many of RR's routes seemed to have when they first were put up and so it would have been a coup to have bagged the second on it, especially solo. And as Werner says, the line was done long before cams.....Everybody finds the Zebra an interesting formation too. Cool that it is free now. And I think too, that RR's 2nd ascent of the Muir by solo was inspiring for us younger climbers looking to make our mark.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
May 14, 2009 - 11:25am PT
this is bitch'n finaly some history about the "Sack".

Got to show levy my sack rack pic's and he told me that his wall partner (E.E) was up on that thing while the recent rock fall happened. EXPANDOME!





pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
May 14, 2009 - 11:33am PT
also, when did the Robbins chimney fall off that route?
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 14, 2009 - 01:26pm PT
When Charlie and I did the second he led the "Hardest freeclimbing on any big wall" pitch that Robbins mentioned in his article. Charlie didn't seem to think it was that bad... The next lead was mine. It was supposed to be 100 feet of crack/chimney climbing to a hanging stance at the top. All we saw was wayyyyyyy up high a set of anchors but no flake. I nailed right along some pretty loose cracks and then arched back up and left, ending at the belay anchors. I think this might be the pitch you are asking about? Anyway, it turned out to be a hard pitch and surprised the heck out of us that the flake was missing.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 14, 2009 - 02:32pm PT
Rick Linsky and I climbed Tis-sa-ack in early July 1988. It took us 5 days after fixing to "The Dormitory." We had a great time but did think it was a bit scary. I didn't want the OW pitches and got both. He didn't want the pitch that had the ratty shoe lace tied to a broken copperhead but got it. It held him and he was a big guy. His wife Diane was pregnant and made him promise to wear a helmet! Our only fall came on the (Meyer's book) 17th pitch where I ripped out on an expanding section and took a 20 or 30 footer.


It didn't seem like it had been climbed very many times at that time.
enjoimx

Big Wall climber
SLO Cal
May 14, 2009 - 03:46pm PT
AWESOME pictures!

Thanks
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
May 14, 2009 - 06:28pm PT
What I wanna know is how do you pronounce it.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - May 14, 2009 - 10:38pm PT
Here is Billy Davidson's account of the third ascent, and his attempts leading up to it, in autumn 1972. It sounds like it was a month or so after Charlie Porter and Jack Robert's second ascent, and that they had the same problem with a big missing flake. Canadian Alpine Journal, 1973. (Sorry, type size a bit small - I'm still trying to figure out my scanner.)
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 15, 2009 - 12:32am PT
I can't find the "money" shot (although I have a framed print in the den), looking up at the Zebra, almost the same as the Robbins article. Here are a couple more anyway.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 15, 2009 - 12:35am PT
Man, that whole right side of Half Dome looks loose and scary. Sounds like the original Tis-Sa-Ack isn't even there. How much of it has actually fallen off, anyhow?

My hat's off to anyone who climbs that beast.

JL
Double D

climber
May 15, 2009 - 12:42am PT
Just getting the big racks up there is a feat. Augie Klein and Mike White did an ascent in the late 70's and Mike was able to get some help from YP&CC...er that is they "borrowed" a few horses and staff to get their gear to the notch. They had everything just shy of pink champaign on ice from what I remember.

Scary looking route to nail, that's for sure. With friends prolly not so bad.

dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 15, 2009 - 12:50am PT
Didn't the whole lower half fall off below E and party just a few years ago?
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 15, 2009 - 09:34am PT
Charlie and I had an entire US Postal mailbag filled with Bongs of all sizes. One of us would be leading and the other would send up whatever size we needed. We also had a couple sets of Peck's Crackers for nuts since Robbins had told me that this was the style nut that worked best up there. He didn't mislead us. Funny that my memory of the climb ws that it didn't seem all tht loose. It would be very cool to free climb the Zebra though.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 15, 2009 - 10:48am PT
Sounds like you guys rustled up every bong in the valley that wasn't made of plastic! LOL

The pin list for that one was always a real bruiser!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 15, 2009 - 11:32am PT
Here Dee, your 4 photos brought up a bit:






dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 15, 2009 - 12:31pm PT
Thanks Peter, yes it's nice and shady up there most of the day.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 15, 2009 - 12:32pm PT
I really oughta digitize my old slides..........some day.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 15, 2009 - 12:45pm PT
Here are a couple more that I had scanned.
Rick starting the headwall bolt ladder.


Rick on the summit overhangs.


Looking down the first pitch of the Zebra.


I remember that the bolts were very well spaced out. I am 6'2" (same as Royal) and I thought they would be VERY hard to place on that steepness. He did brag about that some in the story.
martygarrison

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
May 15, 2009 - 02:48pm PT
After I did the NA with Bill Denze he went up on Tis-s-ack with some guy from Virginia. He pulled some big flake off and it sliced his leg bad. I think he was rescued if I remember correctly...Werner?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 15, 2009 - 03:23pm PT
Shipley in the Zebra, 1983:

chappy

Social climber
ventura
May 15, 2009 - 03:27pm PT
Hello everyone!
I read Robbin's article when I was about fifteen and had just started climbing. His writing and the great photos (Glen Denny?)really captured my imagination. I thought I would never be able to climb anything like that. I was at Mirror lake with the Pollock brothers (Matt and Bruce)watching Charlie and Jack top out on their ascent. I had also talked to Fig and heard his horror stories. A few years later in the fall of 1974 I figured the time was right. My partner was Jim Orey. For you that don't know him or haven't heard of him he was a regular climbing partner of mine in the eary/mid seventies. I first met him in the gray bands on El Cap when he and Jack were doing an early ascent of the Muir wall and I was doing the Nose with Rik Rieder. He was a great guy and a real solid climber. Jack can attest to this. We had a couple of friends help us carry gear and water up prior to our climb. We returned a day or two later with a little more gear and climbed to the Dormitory our first day leaving a pitch fixed from there up into the Zebra. Our second day we reached Sunset Ledge. Our third bivy was in hammocks somewhere around the missing chimney--possibly in the bolt ladder there. I got to lead the loose expanding pitch Royal described as a horizontal flake where four of his seven pins fell out before he finished. Our next bivy was on the ledge at the base of the ramp that lead to the head wall. I lead and fixed that pitch. In the morning I jugged up there and said f*#k it and replaced several of my belay pins with a belay bolt. I got the last lead the next day onto the summit just as it was getting dark. I could find no anchors where I had topped out so I placed two belay bolts. As Jim was cleaning the last pitch I tied into the haul line and soloed up the slabs in the dark. It would have been a long tumble over the lip had I fallen. I managed to beat some pins in a crack in the dark to fix the line for Jim. As he was fumbling around down there I hurd a clunk and a sliding sound and then silence. It was our last water bottle heading into space. Jim had stopped for a drink prior to coming up the last line and he hadn't secured the bottle very well in his pack. Damn! One last thirsty bivy on the summit. The next morning a couple of guys topped out on Snake Dike and shared a little water with us. We bolted for the Valley leaving our gear which we came back for a few days later. It was a great climb and adventure for the two of us. No falls, three added bolts (all at belays). Jim did the whole route just on a swami belt--no leg loops. I was 19 at the time. I believe--as Werner noted-- it was the fourth ascent. Two years later we would do the first ascent of the Eagle's Way together.
Chappy
Chappy
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 15, 2009 - 03:58pm PT
Mark, Thanks for bringing up Jim Orey. One the nicest fun guys ever in the Valley scene for sure. Here is a nice photo I took of him when we were trying to do the FA of the Lightning Bolt crack on Broderick around 1972.




and here are more of Dee's images tweaked up.



chappy

Social climber
ventura
May 15, 2009 - 06:10pm PT
Peter,
That's a great shot of Jim. Just how I remember him from back then. I have some shots of him on the FA ascent of Eagle's Way
that I should scan...
Chappy
shwilly

Trad climber
vegas
May 15, 2009 - 06:24pm PT
I met jim Orey at the base of mescalito last summer ,chillin with his family. super class act.
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 15, 2009 - 07:09pm PT
I really want to do this route. Gotta bunch of new bolts and a Hurricane waiting.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
May 15, 2009 - 09:47pm PT
Chappy,
Thanks for the report.
hope to meet you at the Ape's wall again as I did some ten years ago!

two people that live in Ventura whom have sacked the "Sack"!
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 16, 2009 - 12:24am PT
Mark,

I forgot that you and Jimbo did Tis-sa-ack together. I always just associate you two with Eagle's Way, a proud ascent. Yeah. Jim Orey was my first really solid partner and he and I did a number of walls and trips together before we grew apart. He was always so solid technically and emotionally on hard crack climbs, which was and still is my Achilles heel. Nothing ever seemed to scare him or bother him too much. On the Muir it may have been the 4th ascent), he seemed unfazed by hard 5-10 cracks while I hated to step out of my aiders and onto hard free.

As I recall, Mark, you were much the same.......the understated yet very naturally talented free climber and just all around nice guy.......It was great hanging out with you in C4.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 16, 2009 - 03:59am PT
Marty

Bill Dentz was injured on the original NW face route I believe climbing with one of his mates from NZ.

He showed up at my house in Santa Cruz for a place to recuperate, set up his tent on one of the numerous terraces and stayed there for well over a year.

He later climbed Tis-Sa-Ack with McLean, I would venture to say ,somewhere between 1977-79?

Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 16, 2009 - 07:35am PT
With all this excellent, detailed history getting reconstructed here, I wondered -- does anyone
have information about the early history of the Direct Northwest Face? It's no Tis-sa-ack, but
still a big route for its time, originally graded A5.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 16, 2009 - 11:28am PT
Wow. Jim Orey stories.

We did one of our first long climbs together - Steck/Salathea, I think when we were still in high school. Orey was solid. I later climbed some routes on Middle with him as well, Central Pillar and so forth.

Always wondered what happened to Jim. Had a great head for the long stuff. Also had some fantastic tales from just living. Barely remember he and Chappy doing Tis-Sa-Ack.

Look how much modern gear has changed the complexion of these routes.

I'd also be interested in knowing about the early history of the Direct Route on Half Dome. First of my generation/group to do it (that I know of) was Richard Harrison and Kevin Worrall circa 72/73.

All those routes looks steep and intimidating from the base, when you walk down from the shoulder and stare up for the first time at that dark, shadow-streaked wall, shooting straight up out of the ground like crazy. All the talking tends to die off at that point . . . ever notice that?

JL
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 16, 2009 - 12:12pm PT
I'd also be interested in knowing about the early history of the Direct Route on Half Dome. First of my generation/group to do it (that I know of) was Richard Harrison and Kevin Worrall circa 72/73.

When Roger Briggs and I climbed the Direct in May '72, we believed it was the 5th ascent. I can't recall
who came earlier, though, and I never knew the story behind that A5 rating.
Double D

climber
May 16, 2009 - 01:36pm PT
Nice story Mark. I’ve got to share a humorous Jim Orey story, although honestly I didn’t really know him personally. Back in ’76 or 77, Max Jones, Augie Klein and I decided we wanted to do Tangerine Trip. For those of you who didn’t climb in that era, the Trip had a reputation of being a bad-adzed route that there was no possible way to retreat from… it was thought to be too overhanging. If I remember right we figured that our’s was the 7th or 8th ascent. The only first hand beta we had was from Bachar, Kauk and Bard who both scarred the crap out of us sent us reeling with their comical tales of hanging bivi’s gone awry.

So we show up at the base to fix the 1st 4 pitches and there’s a frigg’n party ahead of us. It’s Jim Orey and Jack Roberts. He assures us that they’re just doing the first 5 or 6 pitches and then venturing out to a new route (that somewhat became Aurora). Cool, we’re back on track.

So he’s on the 4th pitch, which at the time was supposedly the crux and we’d just fixed the first two. Not wanting to crowd the belay we hang for a bit…and then a bit more…and then a bit more and finally after a good four hours we’re able to proceed. I knew that Jim had done a bunch of “hardman” stuff and at this point I was somewhat concerned about leading the 4th before darkness set in as we only had about three hours left. It ended up being fine, only took and hour to lead and I’m thinking to myself what could have taken him so long? Just about that time I notice that there was a fairly steady stream of empty beer cans floating downward that I most likely didn’t notice earlier in the day so I assume that they must have been a little hammered.

The next day we launched with a couple of pitches between us. There’s a non-stop flow of empty beer cans coming off rivaling horsetail falls. Jim hollered down that he had not done much climbing in a few years and made certain that they didn’t “suffer” too much in regards to their ample supplies. They must have gone through a case that day…it was way too funny!

That night we had an amazing lightning storm. We watched a wall of water ungulate to and fro but rarely hitting us due to the severity of the overhanging wall. The next morning it became obvious that the storm was going to last several days. Being on an overhanging wall and staying dry we figured that it was no worries though. So Jim and Jack are two pitches above us and he yells down that they are going to bail because they’ve run “drastically” short on beer. He asks if they could tie their two ropes with our three and shoot for the ground. We were at the top of the 6th or 7th pitch and because of all the meandering of the route we reckoned that the ropes would make the ground. So they proceeded to rap out into space from the anchors never coming close to the wall. In fact where the rope hit the talus was a good 200’ out from the base. Pretty wild rap, that’s for sure!

So Augie, Max and I were getting ready to pull up the ropes and lead when it struck Augie and I that we could rap down to the creature comforts of the Mt. Room Bar that evening and come back after the storm. Although the bar didn’t have any appeal to Max, Augie and I became master-salesmen and in just moments we too followed suit rapping down into a seemingly endless void of air. As I descended the wall just got further and further away. The undulating wall of rain was still way out beyond our reach but the dense clouds surrounding me were like being in a white room with no corners. All I could think of was how much fun this was going to be to jug back up.

Now the morning comes for us to blast off again after waiting out the storm in the luxurious comforts of camp 4. We opt for an alpine start and arrive at the base just after first light only to find Mr. Bachar with this sh1t-eat’n grin on his face. He immediately explains that he thought it might make for some good pictures and he knew we were blasting off…”so here I am” he says.

Strange, I thought, why didn’t he just come with us? Nothing else was said and soon we were underway jugging the endless jug way out in space. I was so busy taking pictures that I didn’t really think about it anymore. The picture I took that ended up in Yosemite Climber of Augie jugging came from that morning.

We eventually finished the climb with mostly crappy weather and topped out in a horrendous snowstorm on May 1st, dug a hole around the base of a tree to bivi in and decided to slog down the Falls trail rather than getting diced out on the East ledges.

So about a month after this, John comes up to me and fesses up: he’d clipped into our line, scrambled up the 3rd class ledges on the 1st pitch and proceeded to go for the largest rope swing possibly in Yosemite’s history. He wanted to do it on the sly because he feared that I’d be really pissed off about it. He’d just finished taking off his swami minutes before we arrived and was so pumped with adrenaline that he couldn’t think of any better excuse for me than the picture scheme. Of course I busted up and wished that I’d thought of doing the same with such a rare opportunity!

So indirectly, Mr. Orey and Mr. Robert's brush with a no-beer drought set the stage for a historical, albeit little-known, feat in Yosemite. Thanks Jim…and John how was that king-swing anyway?

(-;

Ihateplastic

Trad climber
Lake Oswego, Oregon
May 16, 2009 - 05:22pm PT
Here's a couple of shots from the same article published in Mountain 18.

"Peterson following the deceptive 5" crack."

"Peterson bolting the final headwall."

bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
May 16, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
Dave(Double D),

what a great story! Yet another Super Topo moment. This forum is the bomb.

Bruce
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - May 16, 2009 - 10:17pm PT
Daryl Hatten and Scott F. tried Tangerine Trip in autumn 1976. They got memorably wasted a few days beforehand, and then set about packing and fixing and hauling. They got five or six pitches up, and retreated - much as Robbins had when trying the first ascent. They tied four ropes together, and got down.

The problem then was retrieving the ropes, as it's a 200 m freehanging rappel. They set off to the rescue cache, where they were able to persuade John Dill to lend them a 600' rope, which was on a big spool. The idea being that someone (Scott) would jumar up the fixed ropes, with the long one in tow, then set it up so that he could rappel, then they could pull the ropes. They had to promise not to actually rappel or jumar on the YOSAR long rope, presumably so as to avoid wear or damage. "Oh no, Mr. Dill. We promise. We won't rappel on your rope. Cross our hearts and hope to die."

Well, when you get up there, it's an awful long and scary jumar and rappel, and worse because you have to changeover three times on the way. So it may be just possible that YOSAR's rope was used in irregular ways.

I wonder how many other people retreated from much the same point, and also had to borrow the YOSAR rope?

OK, back to Tis-Sa-Ack, though these stories are all great.
Double D

climber
May 17, 2009 - 12:03am PT
Sorry for the slight thread drift. Jim's name just jogged my rather foggy memory. I am hoping to hear and see more about the 'sac.



Studly

Trad climber
WA
May 17, 2009 - 12:36am PT
Bump for the story of Bachar's 600 foot king swing from the base of the Trip........what a rush that must have been!
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 17, 2009 - 12:18pm PT
Dave,

Too funny. I remember that. Jim and I were trying to get psyched to do a new route and we were doing inventory on our gear to see if we had enough to do something new. As we continued to go through our bags we drank more and more beer and eventually we decided we did not have either enough gear (beer) or psych and decided to rap. That rap down to the ground was HUGE!!! Your eyes were pretty BIG!............ Jim hadn't climbed in a bit and wasn't keen on going up......Again, I need to scan my pictures 'cause I've got a classic shot of a forlorn Jim, dejected and stoned in a Robbins hammock.

Jim and I did the 7th ascent of the NW face Direct. I think Jim still flys small, commercial aircraft.

Jack
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
May 17, 2009 - 12:23pm PT
Back to Tis-Sa-Ack stories. I remember when Charlie and I set up camp before we went up, we slept out a little from the foot of the face because we wanted to scope out the wall and all. Problem was in the middle of the night we heard rock noises and quite close there was a tremendous "THUD! CRASH!", which freaked us out enough we got out of our bags and ran towards the base. In the morning we saw that some really big flakes had come off the wall and landed some 50 yards away from us. That's a loose wall.
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 17, 2009 - 02:36pm PT
Has the big rock scar up and right of the Zebra effected the start of Tis-Sa-Ack? You know the new scar that first looked like a sea creature, then morphed into an Angel...
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
above the play park
May 17, 2009 - 02:37pm PT
Tis-sa-ack was my first multipitch solo, in the fall of 2005. It wasn't nearly as horrifying as all the old tales of pre-cam ascents make it out to be...although it also sounds like a lot of the really nightmarish stuff has fallen off! Any horror I experienced was self-induced:


I rather enjoyed the historic feel of all the old hardware. Fortunately it would tale a really long time to replace all those bolts...it would be a shame to lose that sense of those who came before.



Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 17, 2009 - 02:42pm PT
wow, proud man!

Would you suggest leaving the timepiece bolts?

What about adding more bomber protection bolts in places and fixing bad anchor bolts? Could allways leave the old bolts and put a new one in parallel to them as needed and time/energy allows. I think I'd prefer that way, because then you still get to oogle over that aincient crap and pay respect to all the poor fools who hung their asses off of the jank dowels since they were put in.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
above the play park
May 17, 2009 - 02:59pm PT
Replacing one old-but-not-original anchor bolt at each belay that required it would do it for the anchors. Obviously they're adequate as they stand now-the thing is climbed every year- but having a high new one for the hauling would ease the mind a bit.

Pro bolts...there was one on the 3rd pitch before a 5.9 move that was freaky. Nothing else comes to mind, really. Royal's famous ladder of pride atop the Zebra is still in good shape, especially for body-weight-only travel. The upper ladder has had a few old ones backed up or replaced. It's worth considering that any cam you stick in that route is probably better than the shitty pins they had BITD, so how good do you really need that bolt in the middle of the pitch to be?
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 17, 2009 - 03:34pm PT
fair' nuf

I think the excitement driven by climbing up on old rotten mank chunks of metal hastely smashed into the stone to be a bit contrived and overrated. The better the bolts, the quicker I'm off them and to the features I came to climb.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 18, 2009 - 12:33pm PT
Back in 1980, I was 16 on my first trip to the Valley and climbed the NW Face over a couple of days. What makes that relevant to this thread is that there was a party on Tis-Sa-Ack at the time. Several times a day we heard rockfall and instinctively hunkered down only to realize that it was those poor bastards on Tis-Sa-Ack. They even cut a rope and had to come down to get a replacement.

At that time, while I knew it was a feared route, I had assumed it had way more ascents than it did. From this post, that sounds like it have only been the fifth or sixth ascent (if they topped out). Anyone know who that may have been?

Oddly enough, after that, you'd think the logical part of your brain would tell you to stay away but ever since, even now 30 yrs. later, I've always wanted to go back and climb it.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
above the play park
May 18, 2009 - 01:40pm PT
My logic kinda works the other way...after all, those blocks will never, ever fall off that route again.

I did get a bit of a minor shelling underneath somebody else when they cut their bag loose...and there was that XL Samsonite-sized thing that crunched out when I put a cam behind it in the dark...OK, it's a deathtrap, people, stay the fuk away!
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
May 18, 2009 - 02:49pm PT
Is Don Peterson really wearing a Boy Scout uniform?

What kind of merit badge does Tis-Sa-Ack earn you?
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 18, 2009 - 11:12pm PT
Rhodo,

An excellent point. Maybe it is time to revisit that issue.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 20, 2009 - 10:57am PT
The classic Roper route description.



HEAVY on the big angles!!! And only one 4" bong?
WBraun

climber
May 20, 2009 - 11:02am PT
4" bong end wise = 6"

I remember stacking a 4" bong with another size at the very end of the Zebra exiting.

It was cool stacking pins and bongs. That was my favorite thing with aid, stacking pins or with anything else that would do the trick.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
above the play park
May 20, 2009 - 12:54pm PT
Werner, I heard you guys were so honed back then that the maiden started crying again and the black streaks came alive...any truth to this?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2009 - 01:06pm PT
BITD, some of these would have helped:
Longware bongs, up to 6". The largest ever made, but only in the early to mid 1960s.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 20, 2009 - 01:14pm PT
When Rick and I were sitting at the base with our backs to the wall after fixing we had a scare. It was right at sunset. We heard the horrendous sound of the air being ripped apart, the sound of rockfall. Looking up we realized it wasn't rockfall but two base jumpers launching from the top. As we watched them one of the chutes opened pretty quickly but the other one didn't, it was tangled up. It seemed like forever and we thought he was dead for sure. Finally as the jumper went past us the chute opened after he was below us! We both heaved huge sighs of relief! They called to each other and it turned out the one in peril was a woman. They landed safely out near Mirror "Lake."
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 20, 2009 - 02:12pm PT
Hey, Dee De,

Isn't it amazing how LOUD those base jumpers are as they rip through the air at terminal velocity.

I remember vividly, mid-70s, Mike Lechlinski and I are bivouaced on the Shield, below the Groove, and just past dawn we hear that horrific ripping sound and I'm sure it's rock fall and I'm equally sure we're just about to die. Suddenly two BASE jumpers go tearing past and Mike and I snap up in our hammocks and say, "Did you see that!?"

The view of BASE jumpers off the Dome must be one of the best. Jumping off the Visor above Tis-Sa-Ack looks safer than jumping off El Cap to my uneducatd eyes.

JL
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 20, 2009 - 03:09pm PT
Yes LOUD! Scared the crap out of us, I had to self medicate immediately after.
prunes

climber
May 20, 2009 - 04:24pm PT
2 of my buddies where doing there first wall, which was the reg route on the nw face.And 2 guys jumped(I think they where from Japan).Well the jumpers screwed up big time so they watched the 2 base jumpers bounce down the wall to there certain demise.They where very shook up after watching it. They did stick with it and finish the route.This was in the early 80's.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 20, 2009 - 04:35pm PT
DE's story sounds similar to the one where "Dead Steve" Morrell got his nickname.

from:
http://web.archive.org/web/20060604195141/home.triad.rr.com/bmorrell/steve/stevestories.html
http://web.archive.org/web/20060517215553/http://home.triad.rr.com/bmorrell/steve/index.html
-----

Half Dome
Steve went to jump the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, which required a lot of coordination, not just because of the danger, but because the jump is illegal. Steve had to hike to the jump spot, no small problem in itself. There was an issue with his assistant who did his job with dispatch, yet found that he had not brought enough water. Of course Steve didn't care, because he was not hiking back down... More important than the jump hike, there was the coordination of the landing site, a field some distance from the base. As in Steve' s days of urban building jumping, a good getaway van and nerves-of-steel driver were essential. You had to have a reliable person at the site to spirit you away before the authorities arrived. Unlike the building jumps, there was a much longer time between the time Steve and his team split up and time when they had to be back together to make their escape. In this case, Steve relied on an unidentified female who, to her credit, was in the right spot, ready to pick him up. The nerves-of-steel part is in question.
The jump at the Half Dome is one of the most spectacular BASE jumps there is (probably explaining why Steve had to do it), allowing one of the maximum free fall times of any cliff in the world. Steve used most of it. When he dumped his pilot chute, he had a spinning malfunction. The dome is so high that it is one of the few BASE jumps where it makes sense to carry a reserve chute. Steve saw the rock pile coming up quickly cut his main and dumped his reserve.
Steve did not have time to prepare for a landing among a pile of boulders, and cracked some ribs and twisted an ankle pretty badly. Some rock climbers helped carry him down. Unfortunately, the getaway driver was so far away, she could not see Steve once he fell among the rocks and she flipped out. This was in the Days of Yore, before cell phones, so she had no way to communicate with Steve or the hike team. She went to a pay phone and called the park rangers to tell them that a Captain Steve Morrell had been killed on the Half Dome. She even gave them Steve's home phone number, though exactly why they would require the phone number of a "dead" man is unclear. No nerves-of-steel, perhaps, but no fool either, she apparently fled.
In what was to foreshadow the infamous hike out of the desert in Saudi Arabia (more on that later), it took six hours for Steve to reach the pick up site, where he found no ride home. How exactly he got home is one of the many Mysteries of Steve, but when he arrived, there was a message on his answering machine (the Days of Yore did include answering machines) from the park service, which was quite eager to talk to an actual dead man, having tramped all over the rock pile looking for his body. Finally the rock climbers informed them that he was, in fact, alive. They proceeded to charge him, with "Unauthorized aerial delivery of a person without a permit" . A felony would have gotten Steve dismissed from the Air Force. As Steve, the eternal optimist, said later, "If you throw enough money at something, it will go away," and the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. Time has obscured exactly how this was done. The lawyer cost many thousands of dollars, but "throwing money" at the problem meant that Steve could stay in the Air Force. One version has the charges being reduced to not with jumping off the cliff, but to "disturbing Kestrel nests". Event though Kestrels routinely dive past their nests at over 150 mph, the Federal government believes that baby Kestrels would be disturbed by seeing a human go by at a paltry 120 mph. Another version of the story says this was what the original charge was, there being no real law against jumping off cliffs. As for the Park Service, Steve joked, "We'll have no gravity in this park, young man!" However the Air Force knew about the entire affair because the Park Service had contacted them from the start, and the AF decided Steve needed his "wings clipped,' so to speak.
-------------
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 20, 2009 - 04:39pm PT
My first El Cap route, Zodiac, in '83, same kind of thing. It's dusk and a really loud noise, way louder than you'd think, and we kind of duck and look around at the same time. We see this guy open a black canopy that gets tangled up and he spirals into the talus near the base of Mescalito and doesn't move. There were some other climbers on nearby routes and starts screaming for help. My partner's brother, who's watching in the Meadow, was one of the first two to arrive and he and the other guy stash his chute and gear before the rangers arrive. The guy was pretty messed up but ended up being OK after some R & R.
Ian Parsons

climber
Sep 2, 2009 - 03:32pm PT
Guido

Unless he had more than one attempt at it, Denz must have climbed Tis-sa-ack before our ascent (Roger Mear, Robin Pearce and me) in October 1978. I remember leading out of the top of The Zebra with some trepidation, expecting to encounter an A5 expando flake (old-wave grade!), and being somewhat relieved to find that it had disappeared and been replaced with a couple of rivets. We subsequently learned - Bill was around at the time - that he and it had simultaneously parted company with the rest of Half Dome. My understanding at the time was that he had placed the rivets and continued, though I suppose it's possible that he retired injured and returned to the route at a later date, and that the rivets were either placed by him, or in the meantime by somebody else.

For the record, three other Brits - John Fleming, Dennis Carr and Richard Hazko (John and Dennis were the first Brits to do The Shield and The Trip, respectively) - got to about half-height a month or so before our ascent. I also recall Roger mentioning at a later date that he had by chance encountered a French climber who had done the route sometime before we did, though I can't shed any more light on this.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 2, 2009 - 10:07pm PT
Sack Bump!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 3, 2009 - 12:01am PT
Dave,

That comment about Max not being interested in the bar made me laugh! That fits him perfectly!
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Mar 21, 2010 - 08:31pm PT
Tis-sa-sack! 09/ 01'
Eddie Aloe, Steve Kessemen, and Pete Zabroc celebrating!
Sack rack!
4days of hauling via slabs and fixing to pitch#4 we drink and smoke!
The stoke got us through too (for me i didn't want to go to college because half dome was way better!) pitch#7.
Steve "O" leading out on pitch #9 he linked to "Sunset". hey!..... "Pete the width of the crack is large Black D green cam size".
after 7 days of vertical wall climbing Steve and I summit!
we did'nt bring a bolt kit however we did have a 4"bud and a bottle of vodka.
Tis-sa sack is as good as i feel!
good times!
R.M.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Jul 16, 2011 - 01:26am PT
love this pic from the book "the vertical world of yosemite".

frog-e

Trad climber
Imperial Beach California
Jul 16, 2011 - 01:32am PT
haha! freaking bad ass...so cool!
Captain...or Skully

climber
or some such
Jul 16, 2011 - 01:50am PT
It's Tis Sa Ack. Right up the Middle of The Stone.
I can dig it. And I do.
Owlman

Social climber
Bozeman
Jul 16, 2011 - 01:15pm PT
JakeW's tale is pretty funny.

I was with Bam Bam and Jeff the Midge ahead of them on their push up Tis-sa-ack. If you knew The Midge (RIP bro,we miss you!),then you certainly have a vision of how his daily circadian cycle rolled. Thus some Cobras were sailing, and yes, I think a certain pitch low down, involving some awesome free climbing by the Midge, resulted in some panty soiling (sorry bout that Jake, but if you started a push behind the Midge, you got what you deserved).

Jake, your memory seems a little bent.
You didn't wait for hours behind us.
And we were not boozed up, uh, yet.
You waited an hour while Bam Bam led that awesome pitch that overhangs a bunch and leads to the bolt ladders. Then we kindly let you jug our line, so you didn't lead what may have been the best pitch on the route.
You never know who's lurking here on the Taco, eh compadre?

Some guys were nearby us on Zenith.
About day 3, with us above the Zebra and the Zenith crew a little higher, we had a big thunderstorm (no big deal for our section of the wall since it's so steep). That night, as we settled in to our bivi, we heard screaming from the NW face, about at our level or a bit higher, and it kind of freaked us out. It kept going on, for several hours, and finally we could tell it was some kind of distress call in a western pacific island language. A ranger showed up near mirror lake with the blow horn and proceeded to ask us all to turn our lights out and then turn them on if we needed a rescue. We complied, but of course the Koreans (we found out later their identity) couldn't understand a thing being said by the ranger, so they just yelled and howled out for help! It was very surreal. Suddenly it stopped. We were helpless to give them aid, and frustrated the ranger couldn't figure out the language issue. Then the Midge, in his typical dark humour, yelled: "Ahhhhh Phucky phucky!" The Zenith crew exploded in laughter, and Bam Bam and I tried hard not to laugh, you know, it's kind of bad Karma, it could be us yelling for help some day. The ranger became very upset and actually yelled into the blowhorn, "fine, I'm leaving!".

The wall got very quiet.
Then laughter again exploded from the Zenith crew and we all burst out.
No more sounds came from the NW face. The next day, about noon, in rolls the chopper, and two guys were plucked fron the top of the Chimney pitch on NW face. Apparently the storm created a huge flash flood in the chimneys, ripping them up pretty bad, including broken bones. I felt ashamed of the dark humour, and thought someday that sort of thing might catch up with us.

I've posted before about my struggles to get thru the visor toward the end of our trip. I think the thread was called: "ever throw a big wall hissy fit"! All in all, in retrospect, it was an amazing voyage, and the Midge was an awesome wall partner. He never stopped making us laugh with his antics.

Abrazos, amigo.


Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 16, 2011 - 01:33pm PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/333668/Ever-thrown-a-Bigwall-hissy-fit

Maybe I can post to my own thread, although I've never climbed the NWFHD, let alone base jumped.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 16, 2011 - 06:01pm PT
I think that Charlie Porter soloed the second ascent.

(Edit: Sorry about the omission Jack, you mentioned that detail upthread!)

Werner should be able to confirm that detail.
WBraun

climber
Jul 16, 2011 - 06:22pm PT
He did the second ascent with Jack Roberts.

He almost died at the top.

Me and Bruce Pollack were hauling his bags up the summit slab when a huge slab cut loose from somewhere under where Jack was sitting eating.

The slab ran under the ropes and at the last second veered left an missed Charlie.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Jul 16, 2011 - 07:57pm PT
Werner's recall is excellent! It was a great climb with Charlie and it was wonderful to be met on top.
m_jones

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
Jul 17, 2011 - 01:40am PT
Did Tis sa ack in Sept 77. Barely 20 years old and was the oldest on our team. Amazing to look at this thread and now realize that was just 8 years after the FA and way way to long ago. Pretty sure Bill Price talked me into it and a young kid Randy Leavit came along. I think it was Randy's first big wall and Bill was an off width master. Hexes were the bomb and I was glad not to have to nail too much of the sketchy expanding stuff. Even the hexes expanded some of that stuff. I remember reading the account of the FA thinking what a cool part of Half Dome just to be. I hoped though to have a bit more fun.

On the first zig zag, Randy was to jug the free line and help haul while I cleaned . I conveniently left him hanging on one piece and started cleaning away (he was tied in to the free line). When he asked how to get the last piece out, I just told him to fist jam, take the piece out and he would just swing out a little. Kind of under estimated how much the zig zags lean. He went for quite a ride. Maybe 70 - 100 feet or so. Did not scream like a little girl though. I guess a hint of things to come. Higher up we figured out how not to take the big swings but Randy kept taking them when it was his turn to jug. We had a blast.

Now that I think about it, that route kind of defined why I climbed so much. Just wanted to be good enough to walk up to any cliff, anywhere, see a cool looking line and be able to do it just to see what it felt like to be up there.

And that Jim Oury guy!. I remember him driving his vw bus minus a front window with his bomber hat and goggles. Classic. Great guy!
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Jul 17, 2011 - 02:25pm PT
I found my classic Zebra shot. Rick Lynsky on the sharp end.



I was glad to get by that big loose white flake on the next pitch.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Jul 18, 2011 - 02:07am PT
Greeting's from a belay station high on Half dome's sack route.
RM
bergbryce

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Jul 18, 2011 - 05:37pm PT
This thread rocks.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 19, 2011 - 03:06am PT
Geez, Ryan - I missed this one first time round. Great photos, and glad to have been of assistance back in the days of "Camp 5" in the middle of the apple orchard parking lot.

You know what happened to Eddie and Steve? I don't think I was aware at the time you guys sent Tis-Sa-Ack. Nice!
JakeW

Big Wall climber
CA
Jul 19, 2011 - 11:55am PT
Nice Owlman!

It was great to meet you guys up there, I'm sad The Midge is gone...though I hope he still lives on in the bottom of certain beer glasses in Arizona(isn't that the story?)

I thought I made it quite clear that my perspective, and therefore memory, was indeed completely bent...that's what happens when I get to far out of my comfort zone. I'm glad you had the stopwatch running on our hang time to keep me honest. Time may have slowed for me while The Midge waved his knife around....

That was one of the greatest adventures of my life, and your crew was an essential comedic element. Plus you did kindly get us through that pitch(which left a little adventure for us the next time)!
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Jul 20, 2011 - 02:15am PT

pete congrats your A.O. wall send!

Steve Kessmann is a newlywed in Tahoe.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Jul 20, 2011 - 02:28am PT
when i got home i told my grandpa about climbing half dome!
Gandpa Tad is proud!
Owlman

Social climber
Bozeman
Jul 20, 2011 - 09:28pm PT
Right on, Jake.

I think I was a bit defensive.
You guys cranked, and it was awesome to watch you catch up to us.
Then pass. Then dissappear up thru the Visor.
Will never forget that day!
And thanks for hauling our rope up that first bolt ladder...one of those was plenty to chew on!

The Midge indeed lives on...little stickers, and posters, like:
"The Midge Has a Posse" seem to make their way all over the planet.

Great to hear from you, bro!

-Willey
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 19, 2012 - 12:20pm PT
Jack Roberts Bump...
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 19, 2012 - 01:37pm PT
Awesome thread.
It's funny how life/time/space flows.

From Chiloe's post.
When Roger Briggs and I climbed the Direct in May '72, we believed it was the 5th ascent. I can't recall
who came earlier, though, and I never knew the story behind that A5 rating.


When Keith Royster and I did the Direct in 78, I was 17 yrs old. It didn't seem like an early ascent, and that's not what we were after. As a climber, to see a line like that, going up a face like that, THAT'S what I was after.

I had no idea how close to the "front of the line" I could be compared to looking back on it now.
Dr Lefttoe

Social climber
Zamora, CA
Jan 19, 2012 - 04:02pm PT
HA HA I climbed Tissack in October '79 with Jeff Smith. We were 19 and the autumn was overcast and mild and NOBODY was around because a storm had cleaned out the climbers from the Teneya Cyn area the week before. The whole time there was a wall, more like a curtain, of striped bees hovering out about 5 meters from the wall, buzzing, humming quietly. It was magic and wild. When we got to the bolt ladder, each bolt had a set of 4 tie-offs, the outermost ones white and sunbaked and brittle, the innermost ones were dry and creaking, but they all held. A friend would run out to Mirror Lake every morning and yell up to us. It was so tranquil back there that it was easy to yell back and forth. I built a monument to rope drag on the last pitch and when we got over there, we found the cables down for the season. I'll never forget it!
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 19, 2012 - 04:15pm PT
Dr Lefttoe, that's a bitchin' story. By the way, I know who you are you slippery bastard!

I remember the maidens lining up to wash you guys jockstraps afterward, but you wouldn't take them off because you might lose the essence.

Damn, you guys reeked.....
life is a bivouac

Trad climber
Jan 19, 2012 - 04:43pm PT
Hey you guys, yes this post is making my ganglia twitch... So, to help out, Jim Bridwell and I did the second ascent of the Direct in Sept. of 1969. Same time that Lauria and Hennek were doing the second on the North America Wall...

About "Tis-Sa-Ack", Bill Denz and I did the 7th ascent, after his amazing recovery, in late Sept. of '78... It was so cold we frozzze our butts; it snowed in the high country and the last pitch was covered over with layers of verglas... most pitches still come clearly to mind.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 19, 2012 - 04:46pm PT
Nice post! Ok, who is Life Is A Bivouac?

Dang I loves me some supertopo mystery!
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Jan 19, 2012 - 04:57pm PT
Farmer Bruce, see here:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1383032&tn=80
"Russ, a little the worse for wear."
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Laramie
Jan 19, 2012 - 05:30pm PT
These Ti-Sa-Ack descriptions of Don Peterson are not how I would characterize my several week-long encounters with him. I first climbed with him in the Black Hills Needles in 1975, next at the Devils Tower and latter several times in Yosemite valley. We did free climbs all day long.

We got along great, and he was brilliant in many discussions on all kinds of topics. When ask of the notorious Tis-Sa-Ack story by Robbins which I had not yet read he said,"Yeah, that's Robbins account." Since I didn't even know the Robbin's account I had no more to ask about the veracity of the description of him.

Later I read the Robbins story and wondered,"Was this guy Robbins so driven impetuously by his past success that he could not let a mere youth (at the time) experience discovery on his own terms.

Well, if you are going to criticize this man Don Peterson, beware he was peerless in giving a quick witted, defeat to you announcing reply. An older status achieved and cherishing man may have not been able to deal with such a boundary aware person and thought of this behavior as "uppity".

Don is not a Wolf but maybe just wolf-like with those outstanding verbal skills?



survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 19, 2012 - 10:38pm PT
Nice post McGee!
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Jan 20, 2012 - 11:49am PT
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Oct 27, 2013 - 02:36pm PT
Who soloed it first?

I know the back story behind that BASE jumper in '83. I'm pretty sure that it was Wil Oxx, who was a climber first and jumper second. He had just done a route and jumped using a Firefly main, I believe, which was on the small side.

So he wouldn't get busted the second he landed in the meadow, he went up to that area around the base of the N.A. Wall and moved as many of the big rocks out of the way as possible. He broke his leg on landing anyway. Back then the skydiving canopies landed very hard compared to modern gear.

Duane Raleigh and Tom Cosgriff were on-sighting the Salathe Wall in a day, and could see the lights of the rescue.

Anyway, Oxx was a super good climber, and when he got out of the Air Force (pilot), he got into BASE with a vengeance, opening up a ton of new sites including the Titan and Castleton, as well as Mt. Thor in Baffin and lord knows what else.

So I'm sure that the entire rescue party knew him. He later did a couple of new routes on El Cap. Basically a pretty bad ass guy, one of the original climbers to get into BASE.

Deucey knows him well. I only hung out with him for a short time one summer long, long ago. Very inspiring guy.

There hasn't been a double fatality or double accident off of Half Dome, I believe. People have some faulty recollections about dying BASE jumpers a lot around here.

There are plenty of good landing spots from Half Dome. You can fly up valley, totally away from the roads, or just land at Mirror Lake on a sandbar that is like a runway. It was my favorite. I only did it once with a buddy, and he got gear fear on the summit. Both of us were packed for skydives and pulled out and re-packed in the moonlight on the summit. He got the gear fear and hiked back down. Much easier to get away with than El Cap.

I'm curious if climbers call the rangers these days regarding jumpers off of El Cap. This was no problem before cell phones, and the community was so small that all of the jumpers and most of the SAR site actually knew each other fairly well.

The good old days...but we didn't have wingsuits! We missed out!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Oct 28, 2013 - 12:29am PT
Bump for taco gold!!
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Oct 28, 2013 - 09:18am PT
I was VERY impressed with Robbins' piece, "Tis-Sa-Ack".

At the time, it broke the typical mold of climbing tales, and as I remember it, kind of controversial. It made quite an impression on me, as a young climber.

I did the Direct Route with John Bouchard, over July 4th week-end in 1972,
and remember looking over to that route, thinking how crazy it looked.
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Nov 12, 2013 - 11:53am PT
Bump for climbing content......

Steve
Tarheel

Trad climber
San Rafael, CA
Aug 25, 2014 - 10:58am PT
Is it true that right now someone is power drilling and adding bolts to this route? Please do not replace rivets with hangered bolts.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 25, 2014 - 11:15am PT
Please do not replace rivets with hangered bolts.

really?

making it more solid!
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Aug 25, 2014 - 12:39pm PT
Tarheel-

Where did you hear this?

Seems to be a issue as of late.
Tarheel

Trad climber
San Rafael, CA
Aug 25, 2014 - 01:51pm PT
I got second-hand information, so I am reluctant to say who told me. However this person evidently talked first-hand to some climbers who were just at the base intending to do the route and replace the bolts in a strictly ethical manner. Those two climbers supposedly saw a party already underway who were replacing bolts and therefore decided to postpone their own effort. I met one of them at the lodge cafeteria on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I have gotten the impression that the re-bolting effort is already underway, so my post is more or less a plea that if there is anyone up there who can figure a way stop them--if they are actually adding bolts or radically changing the character of the route, as has been done too often in the past. As an example of this, on NW Face of Higher Spire a number of bolts were placed to support a failed free climbing effort when there were excellent possibilities to use fixed pitons instead. Ropes were left fixed for years and trash was left at the base.
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
Aug 25, 2014 - 06:51pm PT
Heard today(also second hand) that they decided against it.
I supplied bolts/hangers to the team who will do it old school. Hand drilled on lead. They will provide before and after photos of their work and keep a log book. Gear anchors will remain as gear anchors and rivits/dowels will be replaced with 1/4" buttonheads.(ASCA supplied) All bolted anchors will get at least 1 ASCA 3/8" bolt/hanger. If they reach a anchor that will not accept gear they said they will climb till they can place a gear anchor or bail. No more info from me, they can tell their story when they want to.
God speed my young friends,
Roger Brown
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:06pm PT
Nice report Roger.
What a Proud route to Contribute replacement.
Can't wait to see those pictures of the rivets..
j-tree

Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:09pm PT
Seems to be an issue as of late.

It would seem so.

Heard today(also second hand) that they decided against it.

When you say "they", do you mean that the team that's already on the route according to Tarheel's source or that the team at the base that came back down and talked to Tarheel's source?
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 25, 2014 - 07:17pm PT
I wish I had a photo of that old rivet ladder!
Just cuzz it reminded me of something u'd see at Stoney Point.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Aug 25, 2014 - 08:38pm PT
That bolt ladder down low getting out of the Zebra-the one RR was really proud of- is still in fine shape. The upper headwall is a bit more of a mess.

Brand-new stainless has a way of making routes feel somewhat generic…I hope they exercise some restraint.
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
Aug 26, 2014 - 08:02am PT
I was told that the power driller decided not to climb the route. The other team (Tarheel's source)are said to be climbing now.
j-tree

Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
Aug 26, 2014 - 09:59am PT
Thank you Roger
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 27, 2014 - 08:44am PT
Why don't the Rangers do a Chongo on him? Or don't they care since it is way up on Half Dome?
JakeW

Big Wall climber
CA
Aug 27, 2014 - 10:13am PT
It's been a while since I climbed this route but I did do it twice. I don't remember there being any rivets, so that should be a non-issue. I just remember a bunch of really poorly placed quarter inch bolts on the last ladder...but the scariest thing was an ancient piece of webbing on a rurp. It made a tearing noise with every movement. Yes, I was too lazy to cut the webbing and re-thread. There were also empty holes I bathooked. I think the story I read in some book is that they ran out of bolts so they pulled and re-used a few. So RR had a bad bolt but the rest of us just get an empty hole. After the rest of the route I don't remember it really being a big deal...just a quick yarding up to the top. Will be nice to have some modern belay bolts here and there but I recall a lot of the anchors being gear, or one bolt and gear, or bolts in a thin piece of onion skin and gear. We brought a lot of cordelettes and long runners to equalize anchors and short-fix onward.
bob

climber
Aug 27, 2014 - 11:00am PT
Sorry Jake, I must do this. "quick yarding up" as in a 14 hr ascent if I'm correct. Also, I might add that you forgot the pins and only had cam hooks on that, or the first time you climbed it which was in what, some excruciatingly long 33 hrs?

You make it sound easy.

I want more written stories Jake, because I can't remember it correctly. ;)
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 27, 2014 - 11:30am PT
good job eric sloan for repairing the junked up route Tis-sa-sack!
JakeW

Big Wall climber
CA
Aug 27, 2014 - 12:15pm PT
Ah, the challenge of purposefully poorly placed pieces of metal...

Bob, I did write the story of our ascents in this very thread once, but I think it's MIA...not sure what happened. I just meant that the bolt ladder was a quick and easy affair in comparison to the miles of expandoneering before it. The whole route went way quicker with free climbing shoes and no haul bag, that's for sure. But we still finished with the standard realization that bouldering is far more fun.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 27, 2014 - 02:24pm PT
It removes any remnant of challenge.
I'm glad I did the thing when it was a challenge...!

Klaus ur the rock hound of Yosemite!
if some repair is to be done then it should be identical to what was..
I'm not here to bash some rock climber who is willing to step up to the plate.
in Klaus world all routes would be left with 40yr old bolts...scary!

sometimes ego gets in the way!
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Aug 27, 2014 - 02:29pm PT

I believe sloan replace this route also?
heard it's A1 or a fun!
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Sep 10, 2014 - 11:17am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/beta/Yosemite-Valley-Half-Dome-Tis-sa-ack

job well done!
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
Sep 10, 2014 - 12:03pm PT
Fantastic work fellas! That route really needed a little love. It sounds like you had fun getting it done as well.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Sep 10, 2014 - 12:53pm PT
"All gear/piton anchors are still gear/piton anchors, as shown on the topo. Most of the bolt ladders have at least one or two solid bolts (with the exception of the ladder on P8).
Thanks to Roger and ASCA for providing hardware and advice! We placed 13 anchor bolts, 5 lead bolts, and one rivet. All lead bolts were 1-for-1 replacements of existing [sketchy] lead bolts. Anchors were cleaned up and are generally one bomber ASCA, plus one or two more moderate to good bolts"

Sounds legit. nice work fellers.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Sep 10, 2014 - 01:13pm PT
would love to see pictures!
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
Sep 10, 2014 - 01:15pm PT
Not only did the guys do exactly like we talked about, they gave me all the replaced bolts/hangers (except a few for themselves).
Wow! A nice bag of Peterson/Robbins first ascent treasures for my collection. No personel gain bullshit with these guys.
I feel like a proud father.
Roger Brown
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Mar 15, 2017 - 09:56pm PT
Bump for Royal!
Sonic

Trad climber
Golden, Co
Jul 5, 2018 - 12:13pm PT
Bump for great thread.

Anybody remember from Stanley what the Zebra portion went free at?
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Sep 4, 2018 - 08:27pm PT
Hey Sonic,
I was your Secret Santa last year.
Did you get my gift?
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