Leaning Tower Swill Story


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Karl Baba

Novice climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 21, 2002 - 01:54pm PT
Although I'm on the record as generally being a non-swiller on walls, I wouldn't want my rummy buddies to be denied this ETOH classic. This was posted on the net anonymously about three years ago and is reposted here without permission, so sue me! So, at the risk of glamourizing this kind of thing, and without further ado, I present one of the finest Yosemite swill stories ever told:

From: H. Yohen <yohen@my-deja.com>
Subject: TR - Leaning Tower
Date: 09 Jul 1999 00:00:00 GMT

West Face -- Leaning Tower
8-10 pitches
Grade V, 5.7, A2

This whole year has been a climbing write-off for me. Except for one week-long vacation I haven't climbed sh#t. During the Winter and Spring, my regular partners scattered all across the country so I filled my sparetime watching TV and eating pizza (interspersed with the occasional beer). Wayne, who had also suffered a rash of partner defections, tried to coax me from my sloth with an audacious mid-week excursion to the promised land.

"Hey, let's fly into SF on Monday and drive out to Yos. We climb Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then we fly back late Thursday night and get to work on Friday," Wayne outlined the plan.

"I don't know, man. Why don't we take the whole week?"

"I can't be gone that long ... family obligations, you know?"

"It's kind of expensive for just a few days," I hemmed and hawed.

"I can get us a deal on the tickets. We have to get our fat asses out sometime."

After more salesmanship, I relented and Wayne made the arrangements. Since I had done so little climbing, I insisted on doing aid, reasoning that even if I was out of shape for climbing, I was fully prepared for some suffering. Two weeks later I sat waiting at an arrival gate at SFO waiting for Wayne's flight -- which was advertised as four hours late. When he stepped off the plane, Wayne had the haggard look of a airline victim. With little conversation, we collected his luggage which consisted of a single haul bag and rented a car. We had planned on driving all the way to the Park that night but our late start forced us to find a motel in Manteca at 2:00 am.

Through monumental willpower, I slithered out of bed slightly after 5:00 am and roused Wayne. After showering and checking out, we found a grocery store. On the way, we discussed route options without coming up with any concrete plans. At the store, I got a cart and asked, "What do you want for wall food?"

"I don't know," was his helpful reply.

"We could start by getting victory beer."

"Yeah, okay. It has to be drinkable warm. And come in cans." We stood in the liquor section and debated the merits of various beers. The cases of MGD on sale for $9.99 piqued our interest and prompted Wayne to do some quick math.

"Okay, we're on some wall for two days. That means we can have four beers each the first night, four when we top out the second day, and four more when we get down. Sounds about right to me," he remarked with a grin spreading over his face. "Actually, if we got two cases and we only saved two each for when we got down, we could both have 11 beers a day and not even need to haul water."

"Yeah, and we could get a bunch of pretzels and cocktail weenies for food."

"I wonder," he began, his brow furrowing slightly, "what kind of pretzels would resist crushing the most."

At that moment I realized that in Wayne's mind, the idea had crossed the boundary between stupid joke to realizable option. "Forty-four beers," he continued, "what's that, like four gallons? That's about right for fluid. Those weenie cans are pretty small so we should get like four cans each a day. They're packed in water too ..."

We left the store with two cases of MGD, sixteen cans of Hormel weenies, three giant bags of pretzel sticks, a roll of duct tape, and some cheap Tupperware-like things to store the pretzels to prevent them from being crushed. We also left the store with a plan. We would haul ass to the Park, climb the first few pitches of the West Face of Leaning Tower, and bivy on Ahwahnee Ledge. Wayne would drive and I would pack the pig on the way. After getting a couple of boxes (to line the inside of the haul bag) from the trash behind the store, we were on our way.

By noon we had managed to get our gear to the fourth class ramp and decided we had better celebrate the feat with a beer. After quaffing the brews and crushing and stowing the cans, Wayne lead us across the scary-as-hell ramp while I follow along with the pig. I thought carrying two cases of beer up to the ramp was difficult but the sphincter clenching fear I experienced while teetering along trying to stay in balance with the haul bag pulling me toward the brink was mind bending.

Looking up at the steep line of bolts and overwhelmed by the exposure, we figured that a beer ought to calm our nerves. We plopped down by the bar (as we were now calling the haul bag), popped a couple of brews and pulled out some weenies and pretzels. The Tupperware things were holding up just fine and after our satisfying meal, we were ready to roll.

It appeared that there were two parties already on the route -- one was high up and looked like they would top out that day and the other was a couple of pitches above us. Since I hauled the bag across the ramp, I was entitled to the first pitch. Even though it was all bolts or fixed gear, the steep factor made it strenuous. A ways out, I had Wayne send me up a beer on the tag line and I reveled in the gratification of hanging on an immense piece of granite high off the ground and hearing the heavenly sound of a pop-top being opened. I polished off the brew, crushed the can against the wall, and tucked it into a handy stuff sack.

Wayne combined the next two pitches and cruised. Before I knew it, I was on Guano, getting ready to haul. The two guys ahead of us were working on pitch five, obviously intent on fixing the next two to make the next day shorter. When Wayne joined me, we pulled out a couple of beers and watched the second struggle to clean the traverse. He must have heard our pop-tops since he looked back over toward us and we raised our beers toward him in a toast.

It was getting late and those guys wouldn't get done with pitch six until after dark. Content to settle into the Ahwahnee bivy, we ate the balance of our daily weenie ration and had a beer. We spent the rest of the evening watching the other guys working on pitch six and enjoying the sun set -- while having a couple of beers and munching on pretzels. When the other guys rapped back to Ahwahnee, we were already tucked in and practically asleep.

The next morning came way too early. I awoke to a need to relieve the massive pressure in my bladder. My head was pounding and I had an absolutely revolting taste in my mouth. I was appalled to realize that the only thing we had to drink was beer. Somehow the practical matter of having to start drinking beer first thing in the morning had never occurred to either of us. I rummaged for Advil in the bar and popped a beer to wash them down. My stirring had roused one of the other guys and he looked at me in horror.

Wayne's bladder forced him to get out of his bivy bag and we decided that we should get going since it was going to be a long day. We ate some weenies and pretzels and we did rock-paper-scissors for the fifth pitch. Wayne won. We hardly talked as we prepared and I believe we scared the other two guys since they didn't even say a word to us -- even avoiding all eye contact. Wayne headed out on lead and the other two guys hurriedly jugged their line.
After Wayne fixed the line, I couldn't resist the call of nature any more. I clipped our Colman screwtop water jug (masquerading as a sh#t bucket) and let loose into the comfortably wide orifice. Ah yes, good consistency, if a bit aromatic -- the beer hadn't gotten to my gut just yet. I spent the next hour in purgatory. Cleaning the traversing pitch while carpenters hammered in my head thinking of nothing but a cool glass of water drove me to the edge of madness. Upon reaching the belay, I was just about through. "Wayne, this is just f*#king dumb."

He looked at me then looked down, "Bailing off this f*#ker would be lunacy. It's too steep. No where to go but up." He surveyed my ashen complexion and suggested, "Have another beer."

I looked at the face to start the next pitch, fumbled with some hooks, then said "F*#k it," and lurched ahead in my boots. Lots of fixed stuff had me cruising to the next belay and Wayne followed up in a jif. Wayne eyed the sh#t bucket but decided he could hold out for a better stance. At the next belay he couldn't wait any longer. As I approached on jugs, I could see him hopping from foot to foot with a strained expression. I kind of hung off to the side to give Wayne as much of the small ledge as possible to do his thing. Even though I averted my eyes, I was forced to endure the horrid sound of his ass exploding. Then the stench wafted over, hanging in the air like a thick acrid fog. "Holy sh#t, did something crawl up your a*# and die?"

"And your sh#t doesn't smell?" he retorted.

"Not like that."

We were both parched and we took a moment to pop a couple of beers. While I was rummaging in the bag, I discovered that one of the big Tupperware things holding the pretzels had come open. Subsequently, the freed pretzels had been ground into a wide assortment of chunks and dust. We ate some weenies (especially enjoying the salty, fat laced water they were packed in) and some of the uncrushed pretzels and tried to get back some of our psych.

I began the eighth pitch and that is when things came unglued. I was having difficulty operating at any kind of level because I was trashed and the heat was rising fast. Our tempers flared and we shouted obscenities at each other. I had to piss mid-pitch and Wayne accused me of trying to hit him with it. The Evil Tree sank daggers into my back as I passed. In a fog I made it to the top of pitch nine, completely soaked in sweat and barely able to pull the rope through the drag. During our ordeal, the two guys ahead of us kept looking down -- I think grateful we would not catch up to them.
After cursing each other up and down between chugs of beer, Wayne lead the last real pitch of the climb. As I followed, I helped along the pig when I could but that didn't prevent Wayne from screaming at me and me hollering back. Before we headed up the last fourth class section, we sat drinking beer, calm for the first time all afternoon. I got the honor of muscling the haul bag up the final bit and I was glad the beer was almost gone.

Arriving on the summit, I found that the guys in front of us must have taken pity on us since they left a full two liter bottle of water. At least it was full before Wayne drank most of it while waiting for me and the pig. More profanity was exchanged at an extremely high volume. Still, those few sips of tepid, stale water were the best I could remember.

Both of us were spent, our shirts and pants were a lattice work of salt rings, and the back of my t-shirt had red dots on it where I was stuck by the punji sticks. We could do no more than lay immobile while the sun went down. Sometime after dark when we started getting really cold, we pulled out the bivy gear and bedded down for the night. Even though our bivy sacks and sleeping bags had been stuffed, somehow the pretzel detritus had found its way inside.

The following morning, I awoke to a powerful urge to defecate but was frightened to open the sh#t bucket after Wayne's contribution the previous day. I steeled myself and held it at arms length as I twisted off the top. It was horrid and I could hardly bring myself to use it. I filled it nearly to the top and hurriedly screwed on the cap. Wayne stirred and finally crawled out of his bag. The cumulative effect of the climb had taken such a toll on us that the pounding in our heads no longer was the worst of our pain. Thus it became almost inconsequential.

Lethargically, we pack up our stuff and prepared for the descent. After I closed up the pig, Wayne began squirming around and eyed the sh#t bucket. "No more room in there," I warned. He dug into the bag and pulled out one of the Tupperware things and went off a ways, returning with a repulsive package. He used liberal amounts of duct tape to seal up his waste.

We popped two of our few remaining beers, quaffed them, and began the treacherous descent. Managing not to kill ourselves, we staggered out to the car. "F*#k, we haven't got anything to drink but beer," I observed upon opening the car.

Wayne dropped his pack and leaned stiffly against the car. Bending over and placing his forehead on the roof, his whole body shook and he sent a jet of vomit across the car roof. Wiping puke from his mouth he turned to me and said "I just didn't have the energy to do it anywhere else."


Novice climber
Oct 21, 2002 - 07:38pm PT
...and they drank another beer.

For REAL???

Nice story. Thatís WAY proud. An all swill ascent.

I heard a story about a climber who had a bit too much to drink on Ahwahnee Ledge one night. He took a step in the wrong direction and disappeared. His partner looked over the edge and watched in horror as a headlamp went to the deck. !!!@#$%^&^%$#@!!!!!
Luckily the swilly climber was tied in (though it was a long leash). To the relief of his partner, he bat-manned back up the rope to safety. Time for another beer.

Or,... how about the crazy drunk on Dinner Ledge? There was some sort of party and apparently, many climbers attended. Late in the night, one of them stumbled and fell headfirst and backwards toward the edge. Another rummy climber grabbed the dudeís ankle as he slid, stopping him with only a few feet to spare.

Time for another beer?

Novice climber
Oct 21, 2002 - 08:10pm PT
that gives a whole new meaning to "anything goes" ethics

Novice climber
Oct 21, 2002 - 08:23pm PT
copperhead failed to mention: there was a team at the base that told the rangers i threw a flaming object (my headlamp) off ahwahnee ledge. they also complained to the filth that the base was a field of golden cans.

Novice climber
Oct 23, 2002 - 09:26pm PT
Karl- Kudos for unearthing that gem.

I cannot come close to competing with that story, but I was stupid enough to run out of water on LT. Recall middle of the night on the summit trying to slake my thirst with my contact lens solution. Er, salt water? Duh. No relief there...
Karl Baba

Novice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 24, 2002 - 11:14am PT
There is some doubt about this story. When it was posted, the evil tree was long gone. Some folks say it's just fiction, while other's give em credit and say it's retro.

Novice climber
the perfect storm
Oct 24, 2002 - 12:10pm PT
One of the best stories I have read in a while. Thanks for keeping it interesting guys.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 21, 2007 - 01:38am PT
who bumped this classic story! ROTFLMFAO

Santa Monica, CA
Feb 21, 2007 - 02:58am PT
True or not that's f*cking hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Feb 21, 2007 - 03:12am PT
mega classic!

Feb 21, 2007 - 03:15am PT
whats up with the black & blue names?

I want my tag black.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Feb 21, 2007 - 03:26am PT
black was before the names linked to a profile...way back in the day. 2001-2003

East of Seattle
Feb 21, 2007 - 03:03pm PT
Great! Funny how there's "climbing" then there's "aid" ;)

Cardiff by the sea
Feb 21, 2007 - 11:35pm PT
That is a clasic story. I laughed all the way through. Fun stuff

Big Wall climber
The bubble that is Irvine, CA
Mar 14, 2007 - 01:58pm PT
I did an all rum bail off the tower a few years ago... we had water but were so pissed that we were being "forced" to bail that all we could drink was the Captain Mo

Mar 14, 2007 - 06:15pm PT
Although we had water, our beer supply was wonderful.
E.L. "One"

Big Wall climber
Lancaster, California
Mar 14, 2007 - 10:58pm PT

Thanks for the laugh man!! And......keep contributing !

pimp daddy wayne

Trad climber
Mar 15, 2007 - 06:40pm PT


Mar 16, 2007 - 02:22am PT
rad rig pimpdad, I like your style

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Oct 7, 2014 - 05:17pm PT
Only Tucker could do this without adverse effects.
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