The First Ascent ot 'Hoodwink'

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Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 10, 2005 - 05:27pm PT
The pictures of ‘Hoodwink’ and Bruce’s comment about Jim bolting the last pitch, then freeing it, got me to considering disclosing the complete account of the first ascent of ‘Hoodwink.’

I guided in Tuolumne in the summer and didn't have a lot of time to work on my own ascents—I was very lazy, and worked hard at honing my lazy skills which always came first. Also, I was not very interested in the bolt lines up blank faces—which is what younger guys like Vern Clevenger enjoyed doing when there were not natural features to climb. I was always looking for features to climb and lines that had a 'line' to them. I decided that crossing the roof--the hood--at that wide point would make a good line if it went free. And as a relatively easy pull-over for the Meadows, the ‘wink’ was thrown in.

I don't remember who I took with me the first time I tried ‘Hoodwink’—embarrassing: maybe someone in ST land knows. Anyway, I climbed up the lower corner, to make as straight a line as possible, instead of climbing the easy ramps to the left. The climbing was okay, and the little traverse at the top of the 2nd pitch--the slab--made it interesting. Under the main roof, I set the belay, and brought the second up. I pounded in a 5/8 angle at the lip, leaving enough room for me to get my fingers into the crack and leaned out, fully extended. I reached up onto the small ledge above the roof and, on the first try, my fingers found the small crack at the back of the ledge. This is going to be too easy, I thought. I cranked over the roof and mantled onto the ledge. Ed’s pictures tell this story perfectly. Looking at those pictures I can pretty much remember the whole sequence.

I slotted a stopper in the crack at the back of the ledge, a #6 with a yellow sling, I think. I tried to get something into the small corner above. There wasn't a crack, but I managed to pound a soft aluminum nut into a groove, like a mashie. The nut was a very old style which had the sling running through a single horizontal hole. I think those nuts were British, maybe Clogs. Anyway it was not a good placement for free climbing. I climbed up about 6-8 feet above the ledge a couple of times, hoping to work out a secure set of moves. Up and down, up and down, but the slab is really long above the roof and offered no protection for the rest of the pitch. Although the angle kicks back, it was uncertain; the slabs below the roof were very certain and started to look like a mortician’s table.

I down climbed to the ledge, grabbed the #6 stopper at the back of the ledge and swung back to the belay, with a plan to return with a bolt kit. Oddly enough, I didn't carry a bolt kit on climbs unless I knew for sure that we would need them.

Sometime later, Bridwell showed up in Tuolumne. He wasn't there much in the summer. I asked him if he wanted to come with me to finish the route. He said yes, but told me that it was a 'recreation' day. He was willing to belay me but was not willing to lead. That was okay with me.

At the top of the second pitch, I watched Jim work his way up the corner towards the belay. The crux of the pitch is a steep slab under a roof--maybe 10-15 feet of traversing--on micro edges. (Maybe today, with modern shoe, it is an easy smear job.)

Jim unclipped from the last protection, clean it, puts his foot out onto the slab for balance, reached for something to hang on to, found nothing and stood up.

He did it again, concentrating on his hands, fiddling with dinky little fingernail underclings and variations in the color of the rock to hang onto. He moved left again.

"What are you standing on, Jim?"

"Uhhh, I don't know, something."

"Are you stoned, man?"

"Uhhh, yeah."

"You are standing on nothing. You are stoned, and you are hanging on to and standing on nothing," I said with a combination of false exasperation and real wonder.

"Uhhh, yeah. There is nothing there to stand on." Jim was always matter-of-fact.

So much for ‘recreation.’

We laughed about it when he got to the belay.

There was always a bit of tension about Jim's face climbing ability. He was sensitive about it. He always climbed better than me in every category, but there were guys from outside the Valley, climbers such as Steve Wunsch, who were much better face climbers. Jim would point to some face moves he had done as evidence of his skill, but we all pretty much accepted that Jim was a master of crack climbs, new routes, big walls, and whole ‘rock star’ thing, and just okay at face.

Under the roof, Jim asked if he could lead. Frankly, he had probably figured out that the route was going to be a good, and he no doubt figured that if I had done the roof, he could do it stoned.

So he pulled over the roof and clipped into the protection I had left. But as big as that ledge is above the roof, it is still a little spooky being above that slab. Jim was sounding a little unsure.

The wind was blowing and it was hard to hear one another, but it did not sound like it was going well. Jim placed a bolt just above the ledge and blew the placement. As he told me at the top, the combination of being stoned and the fear of hitting the slab below the roof scared the sh#t out of him and he sort of panicked. He stood in a sling to place another bolt; there was a third. Anyway, as soon as he had the third bolt in and started to calm down (who doesn’t know the calming effects of a bolt ladder, even with blown placements), he looked around and realized that it would go free.

Once he settled down and reconsidered, he stopped drilling and did the right thing. He backed down and climbed the pitch free.

We both would have rather that we hadn’t done it the way we did. At the time it must not have bothered me too much, because I figured I would go back, chop the bolts, and put them in from stances. (There is a good foot hold to the left, about midway between the second and third bolts, if my memory serves me right.) But I never did.

Tom Higgins busted our chops about this in his several essays on the Tuolumne ethics. Tom probably never knew the circumstances, not that it matters. The first time I read Tom's essay was in the proofs of the Reid & Falkenstein guide. Tom had been making holier-than-thou statements for a while, and it rubbed people the wrong way, even climbers who agreed with him. Tom is a great guy, a very careful climber and very good, but most of us didn't feel like we could just tell everyone else in the world how to climb. And, although he was right in my mind to criticize Jim and me for ‘Hoodwink’, there were other aspects of his general criticisms that were just part of ‘working’ a route, a style that became the norm for hard free ascents. George Meyers, the publisher, had asked me to review the new guide for Summit, and I took Higgins to task for his tone. I also noted that the 'Hoodwink' bolt ladder was 'stupid and regrettable.'

It is some consolation for me that it was a ‘recreation’ day since Jim and I had done climbs in great style before. Maybe that doesn’t matter.

Fortunately, as Bruce points out, most folks don’t know or think about it. I hope no one feels cheated by our actions and just enjoys the climb.

All the best, Roger
WBraun

climber
Aug 10, 2005 - 05:50pm PT
Hey Roger

I’ve done that Hoodwink and thought it was a great route. I could care less how you guys did it or for that matter. I remember you guys going up there.

Great story on the FA and brings back some other memories that can’t be written here. :-)
GAZ

climber
Aug 10, 2005 - 06:01pm PT
Thanks for the story. I had run into Jim (like everyone does eventually) a few years back, and he kindly shared a bottle with me and my partner and told us his version (pretty much as you wrote). I remember however that he said he never felt that any of the bolts were solid (probably the smoke!), so he kept adding them.

It is a great route. Thanks.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2005 - 06:27pm PT
Hey, come Warner, surely you can intertain us with some litte tid-bit.

Roger
Sewellymon

Social climber
.....in a single wide......
Aug 10, 2005 - 06:46pm PT
Higgins was pretty tightly wound? I bet he did not blow spleef, so did not see the humor in the situation.

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
Aug 10, 2005 - 08:34pm PT
A friend, Pimp4crimps, recently did Hoodwink. He must have gone on for an hour about how good it was. With those pics, I'm half tempted to give it a go.

Good psyche.

Cheers,
M
Nate D

Trad climber
San Francisco
Aug 10, 2005 - 09:03pm PT
Thanks for sharing this Roger. I wish guidebooks could have this kind of history and detail for every route - or at least the ones that have interesting stories to tell (which maybe isn't that many). But then again, the guide might weigh ten pounds! And I'm sure some would argue that it limits the adventure for future generations. With Ed's pictures and all, I've now climbed the route vicariously, so no sense doing it for real, knowing all the moves...
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
Aug 10, 2005 - 10:00pm PT
Dude, Nate D, then I've flashed some killer good routes! heheheh

Now doubt, it would be a superb guidebook that provides history, stories and anecdotes about FAs, or the generation that climbed there. In electronic format that would work well, but print, ugh, cost prohibitive in some sense.



yo

climber
NOT Fresno
Aug 11, 2005 - 12:22am PT
Roger, you have an amazing memory. I can't remember the name of the route I did Monday, much less pro.

Hoodwink. Great name for a route.

can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Aug 11, 2005 - 09:08am PT
Roger, thanks for the great story. I remember reading one of Higgin's articles where he used Hoodwink as an example of sketchy ethics, but now that I read your account of the FA I think Higgins was blowing smoke....just not the sort the Bird did before you two got the FA. Good memory dude.

thanks
Sewellymon

Social climber
.....in a single wide......
Aug 11, 2005 - 09:20am PT
It was a little B4 my time, but didn’t Higgins get into fisticuffs with somebody over rap bolts? Maybe Tim Harrison on the climb over on Lembert?
Brick

Social climber
SF, CA
Aug 11, 2005 - 09:31am PT
Higgins has re-hashed this article a few times (was first published in '78- Mountain 60- a classic issue), but here are a couple key paragraphs...

"Needless to say, climbers of the sixties were appalled at the new styles. The new stylists argued that many new routes couldn't be done in any other way, or that the final route was more important than the means.

Several routes focused the debate. On Fairview Dome, aid was used on the Plastic Exploding Inevitable to climb the giant roofs above Crescent Ledge. What a disappointment to the climbers of the sixties who unsuccessfully tried the roof, then turned back with the expectations that some day it too would be free climbed. Death Crack was rehearsed several times with a top rope before it was finally led. Hoodwink involved a short aid ladder to protect immediate free climbing. Wailing Wall was preprotected, as was a short section of Shambles. Handbook was yo-yo'd.

Perhaps the lightning rod for the debate was Willie's Hand Jive. Here, nearly the entire route was created by placing bolts on rappel. In 1974, in a fit of righteousness, I chopped the bolts and lectured one of the first ascent team about traditional styles. Later, the bolts were replaced on rappel, this time more numerous than last. Such was the intensity of conflict between new and traditional styles! "
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 11, 2005 - 11:26am PT
Amazing that recounting the first ascent story of Hoodwink would awaken the ancient arguments of "ethics" and "morality", and Higgins' criticisms of a three bolt ladder.

I liked Roger's story because it is so "interior", it describes the state of the climbers putting up this particular route; a very good route. I wouldn't question Roger's and Jim's climbing ethics, one might question the "morality" (where I have made the distinction in the past between "ethics" which is a system and "morality" which is the adherence to that system)... I would assume that almost every climber from that period knows of the moral lapses which could occur when "recreating" with psycho-active substances... Roger didn't offer any excuses, and Jim sent the pitch free after realizing that things weren't quite what his recreating mind was telling him.

It's a great story which describes putting up a new route on a very nice line with a spectacular crux. Anyone who climbs the pitch next to the bolt ladder will understand why it is there; a new appreciation for the climb is acquired through the account described.

I think that elevating this "incident" as an example of "bad ethics" misses the point that it is really just "immoral" at worst... a funny distinction as I write it. What really happens on first ascents is a far cry from the carefully planned out "battle plan" of a Clausewiczian mentality... even Clausewicz said "the first casuality of battle is the plan", most climbers who FA just don't bother that much with planning... "let's just go up and see...", which you have to do at some point, that is, stop planning and start doing. Ethics be damned.
WBraun

climber
Aug 11, 2005 - 11:36am PT
Well said Ed.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2005 - 12:50pm PT
Ed, those are nice words and sentiments. But I am not sure that I agree with the idea that 'the first thing to go is the plan' when it comes to climbing ethics.

When I think about the ethical lapses I am aware of, they came about not from forethought but the mad mental scramble to avoid some bad consequences or potential failure. If life and limb are at risk, I think that we all accept relaxed standards. But when it is only a matter of bagging the first ascent or bagging the first free ascent, then there are lots of examples of tough climbers sticking to their standards and sucking it up or retreating. I don't believe that it is necessary for everyone to be perfect all of the time--nothing would get done--but I do think that whatever the standard is it needs to be applied at a time when it is most inconvenient. It is the measure of the person--'grace under fire.'

I have two more posts that tease out the Higgins-Breedlove debate, so to speak.

Best, Roger

PS: I think that my memory of Hoodwink is indicative of my intense state while doing a first ascent. I can remember first ascents much more clearly than anything else. Normal, I think.

PSS: Now someone remind me, who is 'Yo?'
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2005 - 12:53pm PT
In defense of Tom, his basic point is that the newer styles--plural--were in part an affront to some 60's climbers. But it wasn’t black and white. The problem that I had with Tom’s diatribes was that he lumped everything new into the same category where others of us saw shades of gray. Tom’s point of view sounded a lot like he was imposing his personal ethics and style on everyone else—the ‘holier than thou’ tone--rather than trying to lay out a way to think about changing ethics.

Here is part of what I wrote in my review of the new Tuolumne guide published in 1983. My review was published in Summit in March-April, 1984. George, the publisher of Chockstone Press, asked me to do it. (BTW, does any one know how to contact Meyers?) I was not climbing then. I wore suits, had two small daughters and lived in Montreal, Quebec.

“…A new and, I think, welcome element to the guide is the inclusion of the styles of the first ascent teams. This information will likely have the effect of a catalyst in creating a style for the area with which most climbers will abide… (Reid and Falkenstein) also include a commentary by Tom Higgins which explicitly raises the issue of the appropriate style for the area. Higgins argues one point of view while the climbing community seems to implicitly argue another: of the 50 or so climbs listed in the first appendix as high quality, about 30% were originally climbed in a compromised style.

“Higgins’s commentary begins with a glowing history of the halcyon days up to about 1970 and then launches into a diatribe on the above-mentioned styles and relegates the climbing since 1973 to ‘a time of controversy.’ What is wrong-headed and annoying about his commentary is not his point, but, rather, his self-serving methodology of reducing stylistic and ethical considerations to a black and white decision process which only he and his mentors may define and to which all others must aspire. There are many ways first ascent teams can mar otherwise fine routes: silly lines defined only by the placement of protection bolts, poorly placed bolts which don’t withstand the elements, excessive runouts on moderate pitches turning naturally moderate routes into horror shows, practicing hard sections with a top rope before attempting the lead (presumably robbing more gifted climbers of their right to the first ascent), putting up bolt ladders when more forethought and patience would have allowed well-protected free climbing, and placing protection while on aid. Some of these elements of style have occurred in fleeting moments of bad judgment, others in calculated forethought: none of them must be defended to reject Higgins’s premise.

“Sorting elements of style between the acceptable and the unacceptable is a choice made by individual climbers. The sum of those individual choices creates a style for an area, with its necessarily gray area of contention.

“For everyone, at some point, the good old days are always better. Higgins wants us to believe that his good old days are better than the “…time of controversy.” He wants us to believe that the ten years of great free climbing (1962-72) under the aegis of Bob Kamps is the inviolable tradition to which all other climbers must aspire. He wants us to believe that he could have done all of those routes if he had relaxed his standards and resorted to the “appalling” styles of the ‘70’s.

“What should we believe? W can believe that the climbers of the ‘70’s had the same set of aspirations, was drawn by the same forces, and fought the same battles as any other climbing generation. We can believe that it is relatively easy to do stupid, regrettable things on first ascents—Hoodwink is a good example of this. And we can believer that one’s cherished notions can be easily trammeled by other climbers, contemporaries or novitiates, as they make, for better of for worse, their personal stylistic choices.

“As the opportunities for new routes continue to diminish, the questions of style will gain in importance to the climbing community. It is possible to accept or modify Higgins’s stylistic standards without buying his view of a world gone awry, or his implicit argument that only his efforts exhibit the qualities of a great climber; his is one of many voices to weigh.”

I went on to praise the guidebook.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2005 - 01:14pm PT
Obviously, I had issues with Tom’s diatribe. He also included me with the great unwashed, which I didn’t like. I had been in the forefront of all free, all clean ascents and didn’t think that I exhibited the traits of controversy. But I did and do think that style mattered.

Here is a summary of my views of style, at that time, with personal examples.

Backing off routes that would not go free was a badge of responsibility to the climbing community for free climbers in the early 70s--I have a few that I backed off of that were climbed later all free. I think lots of free climbers focused on doing first ascents did this. (Also, some of the most controversial ascents come from chipping holds. Sort of the antithesis of backing off.)

I resented the fact that Sorenson and Lewis nailed the two pitches above my ‘chicken shit’ traverse on the 8th pitch of ‘The Central Pillar of Frenzy’. Jim and I had tried that way, couldn’t do it free, and Dale Bard and I free climbed over to the Kor Beck rather than nail straight up. The nailing of the pitches was very disrespectful, in my opinion. What, they figured that Jim and I couldn’t nail? Nobody nailed new routes on Middle in the 1970s. The previous ones were Bircheff and Williams in 1969; before that it was Kamps and Powell in 1962. From 1969 until Sorenson and Lewis nailed the upper pitches of CPoF, two first all free ascents were made and seven all free first ascents were made. (Jim, John and Billy climbed these pitches all free the next year, in 1975.)

Placing bolts on rappel--sport climbing, in today’s terms--was not part of our game. We resented new climbers trampling on our hard fought battles on the use of bolts as part of Yosemite ethics. Tom sort of puts the ascent of 'Hoodwink' into this category--which on the face of it was, regrettably, correct, 'recreation' day effects notwithstanding.

Previewing a route on rappel was, in my opinion, a gray area. Robbins tells a story published this month in the letters section of one of the rags about previewing and Kamps. Royal mentioned to Bob that he was thinking about rappelling down a route to see if there was a stance in the middle of a face so that a bold could be placed. Kamps responded that it would be cheating. Robbins reported that he dropped the idea and felt embarrassed. That exchange--between Royal and Bob--is completely believable. It was the times and the ethics that we all aspired to. Think about it: Royal could have done what ever he wanted and no one would have know. Pure ethical restaint.

But what is the difference between scoping out a route from an adjoining route, maybe with a swing-over on rappel to have a look-see, versus rapping the new line? What if you reach out and touch a hold to see how it might feel? I scoped out the outside face of “Phantom Pinnacle’ in the Valley by swinging around from the rap off the regular route. I didn’t touch anything and could only see the middle of the route. Was that cheating? Tom wasn’t making any useable distinctions.

What about studying a new route from a hundred different angles in different light to see what was where—I bought a really good pair of Zeiss binoculars for exactly that purpose ($350.00 from the old Ansel Adams Studio in the Valley) I know that wasn’t considered cheating, maybe a little chicken sh#t, but not cheating. Coonyard had his tripod mounted scope in the meadows.

Yo-yo'ing a pitch was certainly not as good a style as flashing the route. But it turned out that it was the wave of the future. Vern Clevenger was a walking yo-yo. He was also pushing the standards to very high limits. I certainly had to come to grips with the style since Ray Jardine was practicing it with great success, and I had to decide how to report it to Mountain Magazine in the mid-70’s. I decided that it was a valid, if previously unaccepted, way to climb. Those routes are really hard.

Yo-yo’ing also raised the issue of pre-protection. Even if you pull your ropes—the standard good style thing to do in the 70s—should you down climb and pull your gear? How many times can you try it before it is good style to back off and let someone else make the first ascent? Ray’s answer was ‘as many as it takes.’ I spent lots of time trying ‘Crack-a-go-go’ in that vein, with lots of cleaning and then yo-yo’ing. I even worked on specific skills to be able to do the route free only to have Pete Livesey snatch it away when I was out the Valley guiding. Tom’s rules imply that the route should go to the guy who can flash it. I didn't buy that: I was pissed.

Some of the greatest climbs of all times violate Tom’s proscriptions. Lynn Hill’s ascent of the Nose is the classic example in my opinion. Although none of us saw that particular climb off in the future, lots of us could see that some of these style issues would lead to advances in free climbing.

Tom’s concerns were valid and his point of view was also valid as a personal point of view. But his absolutism and his wrapping an entire generation of climbers around his point of view was too self serving.

Having said that, I also think that Tom's several article on the matter of style, even if you don't agree with them, caused lots of climbers to think it through. Over the last 30 years or so, lots has changed in what is acceptable, but it seems to me that the style and ethical standards in Yosemite--even with the lapses--is very strong.

Now back to the climbing thing. The picturers that Ed took of 'sharpend' pulling over the roof are super. Where were you when you took them?

Best, Roger
Dingus Milktoast

climber
NorCal
Aug 11, 2005 - 01:27pm PT
Roger, I think Higgins article played a huge role in the 'preservation' of the Meadows more stringent style, to this day.

Cheers
DMT
WBraun

climber
Aug 11, 2005 - 01:50pm PT
Don't worry Roger, Tom was stuck in his "own personal world".
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Aug 11, 2005 - 01:58pm PT
Great story ... This is what climbing should be all about.


Given some of the followup comments I think this is appropriate:

"Ethics are a bit like an erection -
no matter how well intended they are prone to sudden deflation."

Dougal Haston


Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2005 - 02:04pm PT
Hey DMT, I can believe that. Part of the reason, I think, is that he laid into everyone who didn't live up to his standards. Even guys like Vern whom he was close to.

I don't have any idea what is considered good style now. Are there any sport routes in the Meadows? Are bolts placed only from natural stances? Does any one use aid? Pins? What about yo-yo'ing leads?

Just curious. Best, Roger

Hey Werner, aren't we all?

BTW, I heard that Tom has been slowly recovering from a terrible back injury. I wish him all the best.
Greg Barnes

climber
Aug 11, 2005 - 02:34pm PT
I was really bored one day a few years ago and typed up the whole Higgins ethics piece from the '83 guide, so here it is (but I wasn't bored enough to type up the whole FA list with all the style comments):

From the 1983 edition of Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows by Don Reid and Chris Falkenstein, published by Chockstone Press.

A Climbing Commentary
by Thomas Higgins

Climbing in Tuolumne is much more than picking your way along the lines and symbols of route descriptions. Climbs here will vibrate within you for awhile. The very blue sky of Tuolumne quiets you, if you gaze into it from up high. The sparkle of crystals and the sheen of polished granite can haunt you, if you turn to find them. The water and meadows you pass fix your climbs in memory, so you may long recall them.

Climbing in Tuolumne will titillate not only your senses, but your mind. With some knowledge about who climbed here before, what they tried to create, and what were the rules of the game, you can speculate about the vision, motives, fears and skills of climbers. You can wonder how or why some routes were done earlier than others, or think about how some routes led, and will lead, to others. You can play detective, historian, anthropologist or judge. And best, you may be inspired or challenged to make your own contribution to the best traditions of Tuolumne climbing.

The Beginnings

At first, Tuolumne served as a pleasant diversion for climbers from Yosemite Valley. Warren Harding and Dick Leonard played some on Lembert Dome in the 1950's. Chuck Pratt and Wally Reed climbed a prominent crack system on the west face of Fairview Dome in 1958. They used lots of aid and didn't proclaim the route a superior one. Now, of course, the Regular Route on Fairview is well known as a wonderful free climb. In 1962, Jeff Foott, Jim Baldwin and Hope Morehouse climbed the Great White Book and told people it was great fun. But the prestigious action, the "serious climbing," was in Yosemite Valley where big walls and hard cracks focused everyone's attention. Driven crack man Frank Sacherer visited Tuolumne in 1963 to do West Crack (on Daff Dome) with Wally Reed. Frank liked the route but climbed few others in Tuolumne. And, his secret log of planned first and free ascents always listed only Valley routes.

Nevertheless, 1962 and 1963 brought stirrings of the great climbs and free climbing tradition to come. In these years, Bob Kamps and Mort Hempel virtually free climbed the Regular Route on Fairview. Mort used one pin for aid, but Bob free climbed past it. Kamps and Reed also free climbed the Inverted Staircase. The crux pitch, a three step arch, was hard 5.10. Suddenly it seemed that the little knobs on Tuolumne domes might provide incredible free climbing possibilities.

No sooner were the possibilities raised than discussion began of ends and means. If the little knobs and flakes could be climbed, how could and should the climbing be protected? Jeff Foott, Eric Beck, Bill Amborne, Bob Kamps and others had some experience with bolt placements on Glacier Point Apron in Yosemite Valley. It was possible to stop in some places and put in a bolt. But many of the domes in Tuolumne were smaller and like playthings compared to the oceans of rock in Yosemite. Would it be okay to come down on rappel here and there, place a bolt and create a fine, safe climb? Or create a short aid ladder to allow for free climbing attempts? Naive neophyte I was then, I put these questions to Frank Sacherer and Bob Kamps in 1963. Sacherer never answered. But by his look I knew that climbers might die doing such things if Frank caught them. Kamps answered. He said, "No."

Tom Gerughty was perhaps the first to climb and protect a large, crackless expanse of Tuolumne rock. He demonstrated that bolts could be placed while free climbing, but not without difficulty. In 1966, Tom began climbing the lovely crystal dikes on the northwest face of Pywiack Dome. But Tom had an aversion to bolts and had little experience placing in them. Once in Yosemite, Tom stepped on a bolt in the presence of Sacherer. Frank yanked the rope so hard Tom nearly fell off the wall. Perhaps Tom learned the lesson too well. He trembled up and up on the dikes of Pywiack, unable or unwilling to stop, the drill dangling uselessly from his side. Dave Meeks and Roger Evja, his partners, waited for the 200 foot, slab splashing fall. Somehow, it never came. Tom captured the aesthetic plum, The Dike Route, on Pywiack, as well as the respect of numerous climbers who imagine leading the last pitch with two less bolts, since added with Tom's permission.

The issues of how climbers could or should protect with bolts lay dormant in the late sixties. By and large, climbers sought out the major crack systems. When they did venture onto blank, open faces, climbers abided by the prevailing ethic - placing bolts from stances on lead, and leaving alone what could not be done this way. Examples of the better face climbs created during this period include Rawl Drive, Nerve Wrack Point and The Vision. The Vision is on a far-away buttress that glows in the afternoon. Look at if from east of the climb. Rawl Drive is just for fun, perhaps after dinner, and by using the original protection and not the bolts on another route to the left, you can feel the old challenge of the route.

Period pieces of the sixties following major cracks include Phobus, Deimos, The Yawn, The Coming, Hobbit Book, Crescent Arch, Cooke Book, Chartres and Lucky Streaks. The Yawn presents the only long chimney and crack climb in Tuolumne. You won't find a more astounding dihedral than at the top of this climb. The Hobbit Book features waves of curling rock. Phobus and Deimos are wonderful, moderate crack climbs. The approach suggests that you might be visiting Japan. Has a crazy Japanese gardener been working on the trees, creating gigantic, twisting shapes? Lucky Streaks is a superb gem, following wispy cracks on a steep, golden wall. Kamps and I turned back once before doing the first ascent. With so little done on Fairview at the time, we refused to believe free climbing would be possible on such a steep wall. What a joy when the route proved feasible, well within the standards of the day!

After fifty routes were done between 1965 and 1971, and four climbers figured figured in over half of them. Tom Gerughty, Bob Kamps, TM Herbert and I climbed in this period. A couple of reports in Ascent and the American Alpine Journal told a little about the routes, but no guide book ever evolved and few other climbers visited Tuolumne. Rumors developed suggesting that certain climbs were horrifying. Consequently, many routes were not repeated for several years. Lucky Streaks and Chartres are examples. TM Herbert did much to scare climbers away with his rubber-faced, wide-eyed tales of first ascents he had witnessed. "God, you should have seen them," he would say, referring to a first ascent team, "...their butts quivering, no place to stop, no protection except for some dinky bolt..." Of course, the routes were not horrifying, however intimidating in appearance.

A Time of Controversy

As the seventies arrived, the era of boundless opportunities drew to a close and a controversy began over climbing styles. Climbers began attacking more fearsome faces and cracks. New climbers on the scene spent long periods in The Meadows, sometimes returning several times to try the same route. Climbers hung ropes for weeks at a time to reserve a prospective route and allow repeated access to high points. A few aid climbs appeared, unheard of since 1958. Also, climbers resorted to preprotection (placing protection on rappel or on aid, then free climbing); previewing (viewing and/or rehearsing moves on rappel or by top rope); and resting on protection or yo-yoing (repeated tries at moves, lowering, and possibly hand-walking the rope to try again). Needless to say, climbers of the sixties were appalled at the new styles. The new stylists argued that many new routes couldn't be done in any other way, or that the final route was more important than the means.

Several routes focused the debate. On Fairview Dome, aid was used on the Plastic Exploding Inevitable to climb the giant roofs above Crescent Ledge. What a disappointment to the climbers of the sixties who unsuccessfully tried the roof, then turned back with the expectations that some day it too would be free climbed. Death Crack was rehearsed several times with a top rope before it was finally led. Hoodwink involved a short aid ladder to protect immediate free climbing. Wailing Wall was preprotected, as was a short section of Shambles. Handbook was yo-yo'd.

Perhaps the lightning rod for the debate was Willie's Hand Jive. Here, nearly the entire route was created by placing bolts on rappel. In 1974, in a fit of righteousness, I chopped the bolts and lectured one of the first ascent team about traditional styles. Later, the bolts were replaced on rappel, this time more numerous than last. Such was the intensity of conflict between new and traditional styles!

Hand Jive taught me more than had my old, strict mentors about adhering to traditional climbing styles. The route broke no frontier of difficulty, while robbing others of the opportunity to try the first ascent in traditional climbing style.

You may want to do the route and judge whether or not it could have been protected in the same way most face climbs of the sixties were done. Ponder the same question on Hoodwink, just above the roof on the last pitch. Finally, the super crack climbers of today may want to try Handbook, Death Crack, Wailing Wall and Blues Riff without rehearsing, preprotecting or yo-yoing. My hunch is that some of today's climbers will find these climbs possible in the traditional style. If so, how will they feel about losing the chance at a first ascent in traditional style?

Go Climb!

Maybe the campfire is the best place for debates on style, history and ethics. When the sun comes up, you are lusting for the raw experience of climbing, for testing your limits and nerve. For climbers craving the jitters of tiny edges and knobs, Polly Dome and vicinity is a must. Try Get Slick, Piece of Grass, Sweet Nothings and Golden Bars. Or, wander a little way to Ursula, wonderfully wicked and hidden in the woods. In the roof category, Thy Will Be Done might warm you up. Then try Wailing Wall. Can you do it in good style, your first try? What about doing Boa? No matter what you answer, you'll want comic relief. So, do Un-Huh on Fairview - its twenty-five foot ceiling is only 5.3! Getting to the roof is more of a problem. Be warned, TM Herbert nearly lost his life (again) on the third ascent, trying to find the way on the second (or third?) pitch.

In the category of long climbs, Pièce de Réstistance on Fairview Dome may be the best. Several climbers figured in the ascent. Bob Kamps and I had tried the route a couple of times in the late sixties. We stopped at a headwall which appeared to need a couple of bolts of aid. Vern Clevenger and Bob Harrington climbed the headwall after placing some bolts from difficult stances and other bolts with aid. Then, in 1974, I returned with Clevenger to free climb the pitch and complete the climb. The headwall involves ceaseless 5.10 and 5.11 climbing. Most climbers now call it 5.12, saying that little flakes keep falling off to make it harder. Whatever the case, the line is a most dramatic and direct one. An enormous arch marks the route, powerfully drawing you along.

Of course the wonder of climbing is not in mulling over the past but creating the future. Think and question yourself as you climb in Tuolumne Meadows. Try to assess which routes and ethical traditions seem best. There are magnificent routes done by compromising the traditional style, the most recent example being the Bachar-Yerian on Medlicott. Always the compromise seems justifiable at first, then doubts arise. Maybe the climb could have been done another way? Or, maybe the wall should have been left alone?

Probably, you will be torn between climbing in the traditional style and relaxing your standards to do the hardest routes. If so, consider that most mortal climbers have only ten or fifteen seasons with sufficient energy, time and ability to do their best climbing. Then, a time comes when climbing memories far outnumber climbing prospects. A guide book may mention your name, and so might a few old friends. But the end result will be your own memory and evaluation of climbs you have done. Will you prefer to remember having done the most severe routes in whatever way was necessary, or having done a few of the hardest in the best style, while perhaps failing miserably on some others and avoiding altogether some others? It is a question the tumultuous climbing traditions of Tuolumne forces upon you. Think before you answer it, for your best climbing days too soon rush by.
Tradboy

Social climber
Valley
Aug 11, 2005 - 02:51pm PT
Bottom line:

GROUND UP, BYATCH.
WBraun

climber
Aug 11, 2005 - 02:51pm PT
Roger

Your question about us being stuck in our own personal view, “aren’t we all”, can hold true to some degree. But, this is one of the main reasons I read these threads.

I don’t want to remain left behind in the flow of knowledge as it turns for better or worse.

I understand all these ethics very clearly, but I don’t like being stuck somewhere and not being able to move past the crux or being able to down climb around it, either, (referring to ethics).
pud

climber
Sportbikeville
Aug 11, 2005 - 03:15pm PT
"I had run into Jim (like everyone does eventually)"

i went to a slideshow Bridwell was doing a few years back at nomad venture's in Joshua Tree.
after a very great show he was fielding a few question when a kid that looked about 12 years old asked him. what's the harriest thing you ever did on the walls beside those big falls?
Jim's reply went something like this:
"i once had to rap down a f*#king 8mm fixed cord that looked like it had been there for f*#king ever. the sheath had some nasty sh#t on it and the f*#king cords were showing in half the goddamn thing. scared the sh#t out of me, i thought i was gonna f*#king die!"

the kid was in awe.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2005 - 03:25pm PT

Werner, I think I know what you mean. My own goal is to not have a personal view that keeps me from being able to see the world around me, while still being able to think and act decisively.

My experience with reporting on Ray Jardine's climbing style still reminds me, 30 odd years later, that sometimes the future shows up in disguise--someone breaking all of my cherished rules. I am constantly reminded of how easy it is to get stuck in one's own personal view.

When I look back on the way we used to climb and compare it with the way people feel about it now, I don't feel like our way is more absolutely right than any other way. But as Dingus points out, Tom's absolutist standards, laid out in the idyllic of the 60's climbing world, probably did more to maintain 'good' standards than more balanced views like the ones I held.

Roger
Dingus Milktoast

climber
NorCal
Aug 11, 2005 - 04:05pm PT
"Hey DMT, I can believe that. Part of the reason, I think, is that he laid into everyone who didn't live up to his standards. "

I mean the article itself and its printing in the guidebook. Me? Never met Higgins, never climbed in the Meadows back in the Day, never established or even tried to establish any FA's there.

But Higgins staking out of the ethical turf of the Meadows certainly colored my opinion of the place. I would not want to see that tradition of boldness over run with sport climbing and a more gym-like atmosphere.

Nor would I want to see Tuolumne Meadows styles exported wholesale to other venues either.

If there is room for the Meadows so too there must be room for Jailhouse.

I wouldn't cotton to Higgins or a modern counterpart lighting into me either though. It would almost certainly produce counter-results!

Thanks for posting up this thread dude, I've done your Hoodwink and found it a grand adventure. So what's it feel like to have an FA of yours as the guidebook cover photo?

DMT
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 11, 2005 - 04:20pm PT
what an amazing thread!

My point was perhaps not well stated, planning is important and proper preparation (steeping yourself in ethics?) may also be part of that... but once you get on a climb it is a different world. You can look and scope and study photos, and all that, but at some point you go up and climb it. At that point reality intervenes.

The response to the reality is what it is all about, at least for me. It's not like I went up on Hoodwink unaware of all that has been written... but being on the climb is a whole lot different than speculating about it... in fact, everytime I go up on any climb it is different then any other time I've done it. The experience is in the moment.

On first ascents there is the uncertainty about what you will find, and it is exciting and hugely rewarding to pick your way through the puzzle. Read the account of the Angel Glacier route up Mt. Edith Cavell and then go sit on the east buttress of that mountain and watch the sh#t fall down that face... the written account pales in the vision of that reality.

Funny thing, we all say at the end of these discussions: go climb! it is what it's all about.

And the Meadows is a special place because the community that developed it had very high standards at a time when commitment was an important character of climbing. I wouldn't want it anyother way, it should be preserved, I am happy it has been. Who would want to miss it?!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Aug 11, 2005 - 04:50pm PT
Roger, thanks for the interesting and stimulating posts. There is a natural tendency to ascribe the purest of motives and "ethics" to our own actions of self restaint and critique those who do not seem bound by these self imposed "rules."

But often, we confuse "style" and "ethics." I like to think of Style as a matter personal to the climber and which does not affect subsequent parties of climbers. Ethics concerns matters that are less ephemeral and have a lasting impact and thus the power to affect future generations of climbers and/or the rock itself.

By this criteria, pre-inspection, hang dogging or pulling past a hard move is a mere stylistic matter. By the same reasoning, how a bolt got placed (rap, lead) is not particularly relevant. However, the actual physical presence of a bolt or alteration of the rock is an ethical concern.

PS: I'll email you George's telephone #.
Degaine

climber
Aug 11, 2005 - 07:19pm PT
Great posts, Roger, and great route. I have climbed Hoodwink twice and thoroughly enjoyed both outings.

Perhaps a little off topic, but do you (or does anyone) know the history of "Table of Contents" on Stately Pleasure Dome? I think it is a Clevenger route, but not sure. I have climbed, excuse me, flailed on it twice. Am I correct in assuming the bolts were put up on lead? From stances?

Thanks.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 28, 2007 - 04:38pm PT
a favorite
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:26am PT
bump
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:52am PT
very nice. just added a link to this story on the Route Page for Hoodwink

http://www.supertopo.com/rockclimbing/route.html?r=tuhahood
HighDesertDJ

Trad climber
Arid-zona
Nov 12, 2008 - 02:24am PT
Derek Larson and I replaced the bolts on that last pitch in the summer of 98 or 99. We had a lot of fun though one of the bolts broke off completely and we had to drill a new one. I'm glad to now know they history because it always terrified me to think of someone actually placing those bolts on lead. It makes much more sense now.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 12, 2008 - 08:34pm PT
Hi Ed,
The picture you posted that spawned this thread is now gone. Can you post it here? It would be cool.
Zander
jbar

Mountain climber
Inside my head
Nov 13, 2008 - 02:46am PT
I'd like to see the pic too.

Thank you Rodger for posting up the story. Maybe it's just me but I tend to put myself in the place of climbers in stories like yours. I can imagine standing on the ledge with the wind, looking back at the drop to the slab and fighting that feeling that you just shouldn't be there and dreading getting stuck or climbng back down. Your account puts the climb in a very real light. One that many people can relate to.
Lapse in ethics? Nah. I think a lapse in ethics is when you're doing something you know you shouldn't to push a route. Something on half dome comes to mind. Call it a mistake if you will but I don't think those two climbers were considering ethics when the bolt was drilled.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 13, 2008 - 04:01am PT
look here:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=88165
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 13, 2008 - 10:47am PT
It was a pleasure to meet you at last, Roger! You are certainly no trickster in my book although the sentence passed down by the hanging judge on the Buzzwell default drill mode still makes me laugh upon rereading your fine tale. Thanks again for posting it! Hoodwink is at the top of my TM list even after all these years and I think most parties have an adventure onsighting it ---- sentence commuted!
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2008 - 11:05am PT
Thanks Steve. I enjoyed meeting you and Mimi. It would be great to spend more time getting to know one another.

Hanging out in the Valley for a few days got my juices going again, at least for free climbing. (Looking up at El Cap for the first time in 22 years, all I could think is that there is no way I ever climbed that. Werner told me that the longer you stare at it the smaller it becomes, but if you leave and then return it gets bigger. Seems apt.)

But looking at the Cookie and Middle made me want to climb, to feel the moves, to recapture that pleasure jolt of jamming and counter pressure. I am sure I would want to re-climb Hoodwink if I ever get back to Tuolumne. (I would probably also want to pull the bolts and replace them on lead--atonement.)

All the best, Roger
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 13, 2008 - 11:30am PT
I have been dreaming on the lower half of Mother Earth myself and some other unfinished business on Middle Rock. Funny how the feeling lingers even if the contact power is fleeting.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Nov 13, 2008 - 12:09pm PT
I only discovered this thread once it was revived a few days ago, I guess 3 years late is better than never!!! Anyway I thought I'd add a little footnote to the Hoodwink story.

A July evening, 1972. Most of the climbers foolish enough to still be in the Valley in July are hanging out in the Lodge dining area. A group of mostly east-coast based climbers are lingering at one table, while Bridwell is holding forth to a rapt audience at a nearby table. The easterners notice that Bridwell, instead of the normal Valley pantomime of jamming sequences, appears to be leaning back and reaching over an overhang searching for and finding a hold over the lip. One of us yells across, something to the effect of "Hey, Bridwell, you're in the wrong climbing area for that move, this isn't the Gunks". In response Bridwell starts raving about this new route he'd just done in the Meadows, telling us that we "had" to go right up and do it,just the climb for Gunkies, we'd love it, etc, etc. Well a day or 2 later a group of us took the bait, and armed with a rough sketch headed up to the Meadows--I remember Jim Donini, John Dill, myself, I think Peter Barton was along, maybe someone else. I remember a fair amount of east coast chauvinism en route---"Californian's don't know how to climb overhangs, it'll be easy....". Well, they did know how amd it wasn"t!!!!!, but after a bit more of a fight than we'd expected we succeeded and east coast honor was saved----though it was Donini who eventually led us up the route, and he'd spent the previous 2 years climbing out west. We knew nothing of the "ethical taints" that Roger describes, we were just stoked to have climbed such an excellent route, back when 5.10 really meant something---at least to us. Maybe the second ascent.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2008 - 12:51pm PT
Hi Alan,

Great story. I can imagine Jim leaning back in his chair, arms outstretched, pantomiming the pull over. For sure we didn't have many roofs to climb in the 1972.

How are you doing? I missed seeing that you have posted before. You still climbing limestone and clipping bolts?

All the best, Roger
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Nov 13, 2008 - 01:08pm PT
Hi Roger, I'm mostly climbing close to home, but get a road---or really, a "fly"--trip or 2 a year to clip bolts on sunny limestone--just was in Turkey last month--but stopped for a taste of the grit en route. Hope you are staying well. Alan
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 13, 2008 - 10:19pm PT
And pulling off 5.10+ in the Gunks I might add....
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 14, 2008 - 10:09am PT
And I would add that many here have in fact never met Higgins. But I am sure had they, they would have really liked him tremendously. Despite his stiff opposition to some of the new game rules, this man is most likely the funniest biped to have ever set kletterschuhe to rock. I mean it. An incredible delight to climb with. A true barrel of laughs. And phenomenal individualist.

Perhaps one of the most courageous leaders ever---and well-known for it too---he also was under-rated.

Who in their right mind could have made themselves solo the Owl roof first ascent with jumars (more or less) when the chockstone was there and even take a fall? I mean really. And he was not a crack climber by reputation. And long before that ascent he and I tried the silly thing (Owl) and he even was taking falls upside down on his back onto the slab, losing his glasses that time as well. As far as I was concerned the 50 degree slab right under the roof turned the whole climb into a hideous and semi-crazy deathtrap. This was back in the piton era too.

This is a totally unique and incredibly fierce climber and being. In fact a paragon and even though many of us want to bushwhack around his gigantic disapproval of taking first ascent tactics to a cheesy new level in comparison to historically accepted straightforward ground-up climbing, he does at least contribute his “call of the wild” for us and does constitute part of the group dynamic that, yeah, really helped keep the Meadows pretty much clean and real and in general promotes climbing as adventure.

But I have to add that he was quite vociferous and unfortunately became viewed as an annoying and crazed housekeeper by many who usually didn’t know him. His views even marginalized him somewhat. In recent years he has been trying to mitigate his beliefs (I think his wife bought him a chew toy) and I think he has also realized that western civilization did not end after all when previewing, pre-protecting etc etc started being part of the new super-hard ascents.

Really we are all on the same side of the meta-issues and the details that seemed so damned important three decades ago don’t appear so crucial today. And we are all being rewarded by the incredible accomplishments of our modern vanguard. I mean, 14 El Cap routes are now free, we have some guys climbing at 5.15b, women are climbing the Nose free and so forth. Werner was right 3 years ago on this thread, essentially saying what RR used to say, “it is insane to expect things to stay the same”. (just loved his dicta).
Impaler

Trad climber
Munich
Nov 14, 2008 - 10:47am PT
I thought that Hoodwink is amazing. The crux move felt a bit harder than 10a, but SO FUN!





Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 14, 2008 - 10:55am PT
No lack of appreciation or respect for maestro Higgins from where I am sitting! Very few climbers are as publicly articulate in principle as he. I look forward to meeting him in the near future.
I find more humor in the controversy that always seemed to follow Jim around like Pigpen's dustcloud. LOL

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 15, 2008 - 02:30am PT
Nice shots Impaler! Not a bump in sight.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Nov 15, 2008 - 02:41am PT
Enjoyed this Thread alot, like many of the BITD stories and Posts. Mas fun to read, think about and process. Thanks for those of you that take the time (and it does take precious time)to write the memoir's ...Peace and Joy, Lynne
Jim Pettigrew

Social climber
Crowley Lake, CA
Nov 15, 2008 - 11:07am PT
Wow loosen up a little, Try "Quiet Deperation", 5.9, left of hood wink on the eastern side of poly dome. I couldn't make up mind my whether I wanted the route to be fun or a scary runout, replacing the bolts several times!

Bolting was a necessity to allow for the safer aspects of climbing that most could'nt devote full time to!

As I barely recall it became fairly popular as an undercling to face moves that one could experiment without major penalties!

All in the interest of fun as it were!

JP
seamus mcshane

climber
Nov 15, 2008 - 02:31pm PT
No matter the controversy surrounding this route, I have climbed it 3 times and still love it. Cool route, and I've never seen it crowded like Stately Pleasure.

Thanks Roger, I think this was put up July 1969, the year and month of my birth. I was born sandwiched between the moon landing, and Woodstock/Manson murders, what a time to be alive...
CF

climber
Nov 15, 2008 - 02:33pm PT
Austin Archer totally gripped.

Anastasia

climber
Not here
Nov 15, 2008 - 02:39pm PT
Roger,
I am setting up an alter here to worship your greatness, you have such stories to share! :) Thanks and please keep sharing!
I love them!
AF
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 29, 2009 - 10:21pm PT
Bump for a great story!
the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Oct 30, 2009 - 02:49pm PT
Roger,
Great story and a super great route!
ks
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Oct 30, 2009 - 03:54pm PT
Awesome thread. Roger, thanks for sharing. IMHO this is what the Taco Stand is all about. BTW, I always thought Bridwell placed that pin.

Scanned slide taken in the late 1980s of Eric Collins turning the Hoodwink roof. I wonder how many leader falls that pin has held over the years?
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 31, 2009 - 09:32am PT
Thanks for the bump, Steve. This thread was originally started in 2005 when there were fewer than 100K posts in ST land. It was one of the first threads that I ever started.

Cool pictures of folks pulling the roof.

When Greg Barnes told me in May of 2003, soon after I started hanging out on ST,
that the baby angle at the roof appears to be the same one I placed on the first ascent, I was surprised. It has been a long time. I think it was 1973 and, by that time, I fixed any pins that I used on climbs. I had a whole bunch of them because I had planned on being a big wall, aid climber. Then I caught the free climbing and 'clean' ascent bug and only climbed a few big walls.

In answer to the question about who placed the pin, Jim only came on the second try to do the route and I had already been over the roof. I don't think I would have committed to manteling over it if I had not placed that pin. I did not want to fall onto that slab below the roof. It was bomber.

When I saw Jim, in about 2003, after many years, we were drinking wine and finishing each other's sentences. I asked him if he remembered the scene and our conversation on traverse on the lower pitch. He grinned and said, in the same tone he had used 30 years before, "But there is nothing to stand on!"


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 31, 2009 - 06:40pm PT
Bumping classic threads is such fun that I can't help myself! Tales like this one are the gift that keeps on giving and make me smile every time that Hoodwink comes to mind. Thanks again for the memories! Never a trickster in my book!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C. Small wall climber.
Oct 31, 2009 - 07:39pm PT
Roger has a good point - it's likely that any fixed pin placed on a free climb in Canada or the US up to the mid-1970s has never been replaced. That was a time when free climbers had mostly gone over to nuts, but still carried some pins and a hammer, and occasionally placed one. Anything they placed and left may never since have been tested or replaced, except by chance or falls. People stopped carrying hammers. Which means that most of those pins are getting fairly rusty - those that aren't frost-wedged, that is.

There used to be a fixed stubby (5/8") angle on a climb on the Apron at Squamish called Banana Peel. It was certainly there in 1973 when I first did the route, and AFAIK never checked or replaced. It was at a bit of a crux of the 5.8 route, but wasn't hard to back up with a nut. Anyway, I popped it out in 2000, with little effort. About 30% was corroded away.

The guidebooks warn us to take a hammer to check fixed pins, but just like their warnings to climbers not to lower directly through fixed rings, I wonder how many are paying attention?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 2, 2009 - 06:54pm PT
You're bringing back memories Alan, and, trust me, I need someone to bring them back.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 21, 2012 - 12:40pm PT
Right back at ya Jim...
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jan 21, 2012 - 12:56pm PT
Love the Wink...

photo not found
Missing photo ID#234405
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 21, 2012 - 01:57pm PT
That last photo, and one somewhere before imply that the belay is just below and to the right of the roof. Is that so? Here's a shot from '78 or '79 of Hoodwink. Have I scanned it the wrong way round, or did people used to belay to the left as we did (or appear to have done)?

Hoodwink in 1978 or 79.
Hoodwink in 1978 or 79.
Credit: jaaan
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jan 21, 2012 - 01:58pm PT
jaaan, I like belaying below and to the right, as it provides a dramatic backdrop for the photos.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 21, 2012 - 03:40pm PT
Thanks Cragman, I was just concerned that I'd scanned the slide backwards as I have done on a few occasions.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 18, 2012 - 12:17pm PT
TM Bump...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 5, 2013 - 09:18pm PT
Hoodwinks for all in 2013! The Year of the Great Hoodwink!
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jan 6, 2013 - 01:25am PT
The climber in the pic is linked two pitches together. The belay down and right does provide a striking view of the roof.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 7, 2013 - 11:31am PT
BBST
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 24, 2014 - 04:30pm PT
Bump for a Classic Meadows Tale...
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
May 25, 2014 - 12:52pm PT
Hoodwink
Hoodwink
Credit: Flip Flop

Great route.Great story.
Chris Wegener

Trad climber
Los Angeles
May 25, 2014 - 04:19pm PT
Great story Roger, though I am late to the party.

I seem to recall you saying that when you and Jim did the route he mentioned that the future of climbing was going to be in climbing overhangs. Did that happen on Hoodwink?

You also said "excessive runouts on moderate pitches turning naturally moderate routes into horror shows," in your article and I think that this is prescient.

As Joe Hedge says many climbs in Tuolumne are museum climbs, because that are casual for good leaders who don't bother to do them but far to run out for leaders only comfortable at the moderate grade.

Further some of the things that Tom Higgins was concerned about have come to pass. There are routes going in that are, for lack of a better description, over protected. There is no doubt that some of the charm of climbing in Tuolumne is the "sporty" nature of the climbing. The requirement that the leader needs to be confident and in control to allow success. It is not often the physical challenge that needs to be overcome in climbing in the meadows but the psychological challenge.

There is a fine line between sufficient protection and too much. Body length or less spacing between bolts on moderate routes seems like overkill. On the other hand twenty to thirty feet between bolts is insufficient.

I don't think that Tuolumne should be like Dresden where there is a minimum distance between bolts (five meters!) but it shouldn't be a climbing gym either.
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
May 26, 2014 - 11:01am PT
Chris,
OT and IMHO, many Euro's developed smart bolted long routes while CA climbers were sketching up horror fests. The main difference is that they place bolts before cruxes and adjust the runouts based on difficulty. For example, a 5.11a route would have bolts within 6' of 11a cruxes, within 10' of 5.10 moves and have runouts at 5.9 and below. The bolts protect the route but they can be plenty sporty. There is also a practice of giving a second 'French-free' number. So a 5.11a free climb might be rated 5.10c mandatory between bolts (5.11a or 5.10c A0).
The routes are often developed by professional mountain guides who want to repeat the climbs with a reasonable amount of risk and first ascentionists who want to proudly recommend their own routes.


Chris Wegener

Trad climber
Los Angeles
May 26, 2014 - 11:48am PT
That is in general a good idea. Having even long 5.9 runouts on a 5.11 route is mostly reasonable but that is not what I am concerned about.

In Tuolumne there are many classic 5.8 and 5.9 lines that are too sparsely bolted for those who only lead at that grade and are rarely done by better climbers leaving the climbs in limbo. Considering there are many climbs in the range we need to understand the dynamic that will retain their essential nature while still allowing beginning climbers to discover the magic that is Tuolumne
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 26, 2014 - 01:14pm PT
The accident history of Tuolumne Meadows, dating back to 1988 as reported in Accidents in North American Mountaineering (ANAM) do not seem to bare out the contention that the bolt spacing is "dangerous."

There in 1 out of 28 accidents reported there in that time span (26 years) that can be attributed to a leader fall in runout ground above a bolt. That was a 2001 accident on Needle Spoon 5.10a, ironically this climb is renowned for its, comparatively, close bolt spacing.

I would have expected many more accidents if bolt spacing were actually a problem.

1988 Great White Book - caught in rain storm
1992 Lembert Dome, East Wall - stuck on climb
1995 Regular Route Fairview Dome - benighted
1997 West Country - piece pulled when weighted on lowering
1997 Needle Spoon - rappelling accident retreating from storm
1998 Northwest Books 5.9 var. - leader fell on runout far from last gear
1999 Guppy Dome - dropped while lowering
2001 Cathedral Peak - lightning
2001 Needle Spoon (p1) - leader fell on runout
2002 Western Front - leader fell traversing out of climb (5.7 ? no such climb, climbs in area all 5.10)
2004 Eichorn Pinnacle - rappel anchor failed
2004 Regular Route Fairview Dome - benighted
2004 DAFF dome - fall while descending in rainstorm
2005 Northwest Books 5.9 var. - leader fell runout on natural gear
2005 Matthes Crest - second broke leg jumping
2005 Lembert Dome - benighted descending
2005 Regular Route Fairview Dome - benighted
2005 Tenya Peak - stranded, lacked experience
2006 Northwest Books 5.9 var. - leader fell runout above natural gear
2007 Regular Route Fairview Dome - benighted
2007 Northwest Books - fall descending
2007 Sh#t Hooks - second fell hitting ground
2007 Cathedral Peak - leader fell pulled protection
2008 Cathedral Peak - benighted
2010 Cathedral Peak - leader fall
2010 Third Pillar of Dana Lenticular Limbo - leader fall off route
2011 Cathedral Peak - fall on descent
2012 Family Affair - dropped lowering

I totally agree that TM routes can be intimidating due to the protection. Having climbed there every year since 1996 I seem to have gained some confidence on the runout, at least through the 5.10 grades.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
May 26, 2014 - 01:32pm PT
Ed
thanks for the data.
Most of the long runouts on 5.8/5.9 are on slabs where a long slide is the likely result of a fall. I took The Big One near the top of Pywiack Dike Route, sliding at least 60 feet counting rope stretch. Had a few scrapes and my nerves were shattered for the day. Went back the next year and led it fine.
I think the Meadows has great 5.7 - 5.9 climbs specifically for learning how to deal with runout.
One of the most difficult aspects of long run outs on slab is route finding. Hence learning how to down climb. I fell on the Dike Route because I didn't down climb when I realized I was off route.
No, you really don't want to fall out of the Great White Book. So you learn how to be careful and in control.
Where I've had difficulty in Tuolumne has been on harder, well protected climbs.
Long falls are not the major hazard in Tuolumne as shown by Ed's data.
Mostly it's situational awareness: benighted, storms, off route, descending. Much like Glacier Point Apron. Much like most climbing areas.

Hoodwink looks awesome but a bit over my pay grade.
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
May 26, 2014 - 02:04pm PT
I agree with everything said. IMHO (again) I think that Chris' term 'museum-piece' is appropriate. At T-meadows,I think that 90% of climbing is done on the cracks or the occasional high-risk adventure.

I think that many first ascentionists were placing bolts after cruxes when they could no longer downclimb safely. Their mentality was only to survive. Many of us clipped those feeble bolts decades after their usable life.

Regarding Ed Hartouni's statistics; You could also say that Pinto Wagons haven't had many explosions in the last 30 years. It doesn't mean that they are reasonably safe or good cars. How many first ascentionists would feel comfortable doing repeats of their runouts 10 or 20 years later? Would they recommend the routes to their children? Just because some freewheeling brazen youth in the 70's slapped random 1 inch bolts in pristine faces doesn't mean much compared to the deaths and serious injuries in a silly pastime like climbing. No one makes you bring a rope or bolt kit. If the FA was free to protect himself and if we don't want every party to be free to bolt at will then the reasonable compromise is for a consensus formula for bolting at the grade of climb.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 26, 2014 - 02:19pm PT
If we throw out the accounting of what actually happens in TM regarding accidents then it is possible to construct a narrative that supports anything, really.

However, you can't argue the "safety issue" without some indication that there is actually an issue.

Obviously, ambitious people lacking experience run into problems on TM climbs. These problems do not seem to be falling on far spaced ancient bolts. The majority of them are on routes that are unbolted (Reg. Route on Fairview, Cathedral Peak and Northwest Books) so one cannot even argue that the slow pace of climbing with runout bolts contributes.

I'm saying that you should find some other justification for advocating re-engineering routes, safety is not an issue as demonstrated by the rather low likelihood of such accidents. Being "scared" is not the something as being in a hazardous situation (that works both ways, of course).

Apparently people can climb these routes as competently as the FA team, even where the FA team may be reluctant many years later, see, e.g. Super Chicken on Medlicott : add bolts to third pitch? for a discussion.
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
May 26, 2014 - 03:38pm PT
Ed, you can't compare the volume of climbers on those three routes to the vast majority of rarely climbed T-meadows runouts.
Re-engineered is your term. I'll say that climbers from that era left pins, tat anchors, shitty bolts and more than a few shitty routes and monopolized moderate climbs without having the guidance of more experienced climbers. It seems typically American to insist that one person's ignorant opinion is as valid as a wise consensus by experts. You could argue that irresponsible bolting is the equivalent of poor construction or unsafe bridges or rope swings. There is a real liability. If the FA party feels no social responsibility then why are we following irresponsible leaders? Have they earned that respect? You might as well argue that we can't replace bolts, upgrade anchors or remove loose rocks.
The standard for bolting routes has improved both the quality of gear and the quality of routes. Would you suggest that we return to star drives and pitons?
I was on TSAR in '96 and it became clear to everyone that someone had to take responsibility for the misleading (get it?) guidebooks and dangerous routes. Responsible climbers began adding substantial anchors for safety and rescue and better bolts for humanity. I have a star drive that pulled out during a fall on Conness. A better bolt prevents danger to climbers and rescuers. I think that I'm on the right side of history and that the bolt-wars was an ignorant period in American climbing history.
You are ignoring the injuries due to runouts ( 3 on NW books). Many think that NW books needs a smarter finish and I know that there have been injuries on Cryin' Time Again because the direct finish is just stupid. The pulled anchor is also a vote for re-engineering, as EH puts it. There would be less crowds on the popular routes if there were more smartly-bolted faces.
( my memory is off re NW books finish, as I recall it's fine. I was thinking about CTA).
If the real argument is to 'preserve risky adventure' then nothing stops a climber from skipping all but the original bolts, soloing or acknowledging the badassedness of the FA party. I just don't think that soloing a line means that you own the rock forever. Ed's link shows that the FA guys might do it differently today because wisdom.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
May 26, 2014 - 04:04pm PT
Northwest Books is interesting. I've climbed it a few times, including not long ago. The only place I felt it was sketchy was the moves from the starting ledge to the first bolt. From then on a competent climber should be pretty safe. I don't remember feeling runout at any point after the first bolt.
As for Crying Time Again, yes that straight up finish is dangerous. I didn't do it and don't plan to. However that should be obvious to a competent climber and you can exit safely right on the ledges.
Sometimes your brain has to get ahead of ego.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 26, 2014 - 04:46pm PT
Just for the record, I'm all for replacing old bolts with the best technology available. This will have to happen into the future as the old equipment does become damaged or aged.

And it is true that routes exist that are put up by wide variety of climbers with a spectrum of skills for putting up routes. And occasionally those FA teams re-equip the routes, adding bolts and anchors, etc. And there is an evolution of route protection as the FA teams age.

But those routes got climbed, and continue to get climbed, with few of the potential consequences actualized.

It is simply not true that other routes in TM are not climbed. Many are... for one example, South Crack is climbed nearly continuously from the opening to closing days. No reported accidents. The third pitch and above are runout, and perhaps this keeps climbers off the route. But there are many that climb it.

The west face of Fairview has many climbs that see many ascents every season. West Crack is another route that nearly always has a long line on it, so popular that I don't go up there anymore, but it has a character of a TM climb, not many accidents.

Cryin' Time Again is an interesting route, I've done it at least twice that I can recall, and always walked off to the right. Maybe someday I'll do one of the other finishing pitch variations, but maybe not. Seems like a lot of choice on how to finish that climb. And it seems to be finished without a reputation of being a "death route."



Is there an ISO* standard for putting up a route? Maybe ISO 26000:2010? but then we'd have to come to terms with determining what the best practices are that lead to a socially responsible route. Of course that begs the question of how to make rock climbing "safe," of deciding what degree of risk is allowable, and of determining who can put up routes, where they could be put up, and how they are to be put up, undoubtedly with extensive input from stakeholders and the various regulatory agencies, national and international.

And all this would not prevent the majority of the accidents listed above, I suspect that would be closer to none of the accidents listed.



* ISO = International Organization for Standards
http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
May 26, 2014 - 05:47pm PT
The climbing community has always opined about style. It's just that the community here was operating in a vacuum and most opinions from BITD are now seen as relics. A climb is what you do. A route is what you leave for posterity. Again, solo or skip bolts, but there isn't much firm ethical foundation that will support cavalier risk as the highest responsibility for the future of climbing.
We don't insist that climbers repeat the original style. We don't insist that climbers climb at the highest current style. Neither is possible. We can agree that placing a bolt that makes a short fall dangerous is wrong. Sport bolts are frequently relocated to improve the route. There are enough interested experts to influence the future of our routes without taking away anyone's opportunity to risk everything. You can't lock the world into a moment in time.
The walls are no longer wilderness. They are filled with public routes for public recreation that are published in guides. There are organized rescue groups and a whole economy around promoting climbing as a reasonable recreation. Putting an X in the guidebook is a socially responsible move but we can do a lot better. Is an X route really a route or just a climb done by a crazy few. Nothing prevents the crazy few from soloing but is it right to let the crazy few own the future and own the rocks? Just because JB free soloed a 5.9 does that mean that no other climbing style is possible on that piece of rock? Not in my opinion. And I don't think that is an insult to the FA. If anything, developing a route would let future climbers experience a sense of what JB accomplished. Or should El Cap be closed to free-climbing because the FA was Aid. Should the Regular NW Face be free solo only, free only, aid only? If Norman Clyde free soloed a peak then should all future ascents be without rope? What about the fat anchor bolts. I did RNW Face without fixed anchors. Does that mean anything? Not to me.
My original comment was that there exists a recognized standard for bolted alpine routes. Beefy Anchors. Strong Bolts. Protect the cruxes. Place the bolts 10-15 feet apart at the grades just below the crux grade. Keep the runouts reasonably safe at easier grades.
If we can easily identify a poorly bolted route then what's wrong with identifying what makes a smartly bolted route?


Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 26, 2014 - 06:26pm PT
If we can easily identify a poorly bolted route then what's wrong with identifying what makes a smartly bolted route?

If.

Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
May 26, 2014 - 07:26pm PT
Agreed. And I'm happy to lose this debate. I hope they all stand as testaments to history and preserve the legacy and the adventure. Thanks for walking me through it.

Back on topic;

Hoodwink is a beautiful climb and a perfect Tuolumne Meadows route. Roger Breedlove and Jim Bridwell have nabbed a sweet piece of history and I owe them a huge thanks. The story here is sweet icing.

Thank you all Misters Breedlove, Bridwell and Hartouni.
okie

Trad climber
May 28, 2014 - 07:39pm PT
Speaking of bolted TM routes...What's up with Needle Spoon?
The first pitch seems to have been bolted on rappel, unless hooks were used...not many stances, in fact very sustained without rests for most of it. The second pitch seems to have been done by stance.
What I find questionable is the location of the second bolt. You climb up 20 feet to a bolt, then climb another 20 feet to a very nice stance sans bolt. The second bolt is a few friction moves higher. So you climb higher to reach it. If you blow it here you're going 40 feet to a ledge impact. The third bolt is scarcely more than a body length above the second. Clearly, the second bolt should be relocated a bit lower to the natural stance to make this a safe route.
Just to make things even more puzzling, there are rusty 1/4 inchers to the left and right of here which seem to lead nowhere to any other bolts, phantom ghost bolts from a different time.
The law of the FA and fixed protection is a complicated deal. The example of the FA soloist is sort of the extreme example. In Oklahoma Duane Raleigh could solo anything up to 5.9, sometimes in his Nikes, and often did. One very popular 10a FA solo was retrobolted with his permission. Do we really have to defer to the soloist, especially when they name their solos and put them in the guidebook, until they die? Do their property rights get passed on to their next of kin?
Edit: if Needle Spoon was totally ground up... much respect.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Topic Author's Reply - May 28, 2014 - 10:31pm PT
okie: 2000+ posts on the Law of the First Ascent

Chris, there are many corners that form roofs that are climbed by traversing--Left Side of the Hourglass is a good example or Peter, Peter--but straight-over roofs are rare in Yosemite. I can't see how one could make much of a future with so few opportunities. The Owl roof is a straight-in crack, but in 1972, none of us could get up it. Kauk was the first one to climb Separate Reality, but that was in 1977.

However, Hoodwink is sort of an oddity for Yosemite, there is no crack but there are just the right number of very positive holds in just the right places to make it fairly easy to get over the roof. For Yosemite regulars it had an unfamiliar but very satisfying sense of accomplishment, something to put a smile on your face, so we all probably started paying more attention. The Boa roof, across the road from Hoodwink on Pywiack enticed everyone, but Robbins aided over it. I am guessing someone has done it free.

Up-thread, Alan Rubin tells a story from 1972 about Bridwell holding forth to a rapt audience at a nearby table in the Lodge restaurant. The easterners notice that Bridwell, instead of the normal Valley pantomime of jamming sequences, appeared to be leaning back and reaching over an overhang searching for and finding a hold over the lip. One of Alan's group yells across, "Hey, Bridwell, you're in the wrong climbing area for that move, this isn't the Gunks".

Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
May 29, 2014 - 01:06am PT
Needle & Spoon was totally ground up. No hooks. No bolts placed on rap. However, the first bolt on the first pitch was placed by an earlier party (Kevin Leary and Vern Clevenger?) and was just sitting there for a couple of years before Dennis Oakshotte hand drilled the first pitch ground up. That's why it's necessary to runner the first bolt to avoid rope drag.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 29, 2014 - 01:55am PT
p1 of Needle Spoon


Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 29, 2014 - 01:58am PT
sharpend pulling the roof
tom Carter

Social climber
May 29, 2014 - 11:10am PT
Dennis Oakeshott was a remarkable climber. Very solid. I remember asking him about the crux on Shineshine in the early 80's - he showed me the perfect training knobs on Kitty Dome!

Those Indian Rock boys knew their stuff!

Tc
okie

Trad climber
May 29, 2014 - 12:37pm PT
Yeah, the Hoodwink roof is cool. Improbable that a route would go free over that. Only done it once. I remember the friction above gave value as well.

Ed's photo of Needle Spoon appears foreshortened. The bolts are further apart than they appear. What a beautiful route, with that golden polish. I think the first time I did it we did clip that bolt way over to the right. At that time it wasn't all that old of a bolt and the rest of the route was prolly quarter inchers as well (can't remember) which begs the question was it retrobolted and if so why not place a bolt in a more logical spot? And if that old bolt is really considered part of the route why wasn't it replaced too? This last time I did it I didn't clip that bolt out to the right because it is now a relic and really in a strange spot over there.

Anyway, respect to Dennis for establishing a classic the hard way.

It's interesting to hear the Tom Higgins ethics essay discussed. I remember as a young climber reading that and on account of the tone of it taking it as some sort of gospel.
wstmrnclmr

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
May 29, 2014 - 04:33pm PT
Changing the nature of climbs is the point. Do the FAer's own the rock? No. Do they own the idea is the question. I support anyone's right to put up a route in any way they want and then defend it. Sport, rap, trad, aid, chinese, french.......Climbs are an expression of the self,times, community,etc., like many other forms of expression. The reason to keep routes intact are to keep the uniqueness of person, time and place. To change them is to lose them. There are many new climbs reflecting what you are suggesting Flip Flop. They are safe by today's "standard" and reflect the FA's intent. There are climbs that are being retro'd in TM with FA consent for safety.
I don't think safety is the issue (one can choose to do a death route or not). It's a question of changing one's art, statement, vision. Of a community ethic of time and place in history. And maintaining that so we can see and relive all those different visions. Maintaining a variety if you will much like impressionist paintings vs. modernist etc.
Anyone is free to go out and make there own statement. Plenty of slab left in TM. IF it's grid bolted or run-out doesn't matter to me. Simply respecting and defending the FA's vision is.

Hoodwink is well regarded and popular as an example of it's time and place. As such, it has defenders of it's faith. But does that mean the other less known climbs should be altered? Climbing has many games and they should all be respected, otherwise we end up with the color brown.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
May 29, 2014 - 07:03pm PT
Excellent Post^^^
okie

Trad climber
May 29, 2014 - 08:10pm PT
Yeah, just asking a question about Needle Spoon. My default setting is to respect the FA. Proper ethics require permission to alter a route.
Chris Wegener

Trad climber
Los Angeles
Jun 8, 2014 - 12:12pm PT
Thanks for the update on Needle Spoon. Impressive lead done ground up.

One point I wish to make refers to the comments of the conga lines on climbs like West Crack or South Crack. There are many more climbs, that with possibly one or two more bolts, would become classics as well.

That would spread climbers out and allow them explore and appreciate more of Tuloumne Meadows.

It is the spiciness of TM climbing that keeps me coming back and I fully want to maintain that atmosphere on routes. That is why I think several of the newer routes have strayed from the correct mix of protection and nervousness.

Another point that needs to me mentioned is that some of the finest routes were put up in a time of scarcity. The climbers that put them up did not have the money to buy more than a few bolts and they stretched out the climbs to be able to afford the bolts they did use. Some protection consisted of fixed pins that have since fallen out or slings that are now so worn they can't hold anything.

We need to recognize that future climbers are going to retro bolt Tuolumne and it would seem to behoove us to appreciate that a little intervention now will prevent wholesale renovation later.

Just sayin'.

Regards,

Chris
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jun 8, 2014 - 01:49pm PT
Seems to me that a traditional ground-up X route should stay a traditional ground-up X route. No need to re-write history to popularize such routes for the masses. A climb is like an original musical score recorded on vinyl. That's it. It was done that way. Why alter it when there are so many other "safe" routes with plenty of bolts and even natural pro? No one is sticking a gun to the back of your head and making you go out and lead an X-route. It's totally your choice. Of course, I can see retro-bolting old trad routes so that the new bolts are modern, safe and in some cases more in the right location. A route as historically significant as "Body and Soul" ought to be preserved in the same configuration as it was put up on FA. This does go along with the concept of Tuolumne as a "climbing museum" I fear, but that's more in line with the way it is today. It isn't like there are 50 new routes per month going up all summer that way it was in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Nowadays, the place has gotten positively "Byzantine" and "scholarly".
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jun 17, 2014 - 04:03pm PT
Oh, the very words, Bruce! Thx.

I found these pics of Mr. Roger Breedlove of Cleveland, OH, while I was looking for some shoes today.

October 2013, Oakdale Climbers Festival.  Roger Breedlove talks turkey...
October 2013, Oakdale Climbers Festival. Roger Breedlove talks turkey.
Credit: mouse from merced
Roger Breedlove winks.
Roger Breedlove winks.
Credit: mouse from merced
The scene seen on the screen.  Roger Breedlove's lecture.
The scene seen on the screen. Roger Breedlove's lecture.
Credit: mouse from merced

These were on sale, so I took 'em.

You look good, Mr. Breedlove!

These were in the "last chance" box by the door, so I grabbed them, too.

A keen analalytic mind at work.
A keen analalytic mind at work.
Credit: mouse from merced
A man given to few words LOL (in his youth, maybe!), Roger let...
A man given to few words LOL (in his youth, maybe!), Roger lets pictures do the dirty work.
Credit: mouse from merced
Riveting?  No, we're talking free climbs, you dolt!
Riveting? No, we're talking free climbs, you dolt!
Credit: mouse from merced
Who was snoring?  I wasn't.  It was McCarthy, I think.
Who was snoring? I wasn't. It was McCarthy, I think.
Credit: mouse from merced
Forty winks for two old thieves?

Thanks, Mr. Breedlove. You rock in Cleveland, HO!
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