Trip ReportFairview Dome-Regular Route 2nd Ascent 1962 Foott and Guido
FAIRVIEW DOME-REGULAR ROUTE 2ND ASCENT 1962
Sitting here on my sailboat in a beautiful anchorage on the NE coast of the North Island of New Zealand, I find myself reflecting on our first arrival here back in 1984. We are sitting out a rare spell of bad weather, in this most fabulous of summers. Back then there were very few sailboats and it was rare to share an anchorage with anyone else. Today, in the peak of summer, until the kids go back to school next week it would be rare to find an isolated spot to seclude yourself.
In a place like this, it is easy to let the mind wander where it will and today I am reminiscent of Tuolumne Meadows in the late 50s and 60s. From a climbing standpoint we virtually had it to ourselves. Not only were there few climbs but fewer climbers. We had our own campsite, the old Sierra Club Campground at Soda Springs. No limit, no hassles and almost free. You might mess up your car a bit circumventing the ruts and rocks but it was a great place to set up camp. Normally the caretaker who lived in the McCauley cabin was a climber, an added benefit to all. The era of that infamous and cantankerous caretaker, “Chuckles” as named by Beck, was years away and we were free to roam at will.
The summer of 1960 probably saw the first legitimate migration of Valley climbers to the Meadows for the summer to escape the heat and the crowds. Regulars in the Class of 60 were Denny, Sacherer, Kamps, Reed, Beck, Foott , Pratt and many others. Some commuted back and forth from jobs in the Valley but some were full time. Kamps would always disappear for his annual pilgrimage to the Needles but would be back in late summer.
Wally Reed was always ahead of the class and began pioneering routes in the Meadows early on.
As exemplified by his many first ascents in the Valley, Reed always had a predilection for classic routes on great walls. In 1958, he enticed the young Pratt to join him on an attempt of the beautiful North Face of Fairview Dome. An early attempt in June took them to a high point about 400 ft above the perpetual snow bank. Returning in Aug they completed the route after a bivouac on Crescent Ledge and thus established one of the Classic routes of the era.
If I were to choose my favorite dome, Fairview would be at the top of the list. Spectacular, close to the road, easy descent and with its endless cracks (an anomaly for the Meadows), golden nobs and smooth friction, a virtual playground of superb climbing.
By the standards of today, it is amazing that nearly five years elapsed before anyone again ventured onto the North face of Fairview to attempt a 2nd ascent. What is more amazing is that on that day in July of 1962 not only would the Reg route be repeated again by Jeff Foott and myself, but Reed, along with Glen Denny would make the first ascent of The Inverted Staircase. Amazing! the first climbers on the North Face in over five years and there are two teams!
Foott and I had grown up together in the Bay Area and started climbing in the late 50s when we were introduced to it at a Boy Scout fall workcamp. A lad from Wyoming taught us how to rappel on an old hemp rope with galvanized shackles in place of carabiners. Outfitted with this state-of-the-art gear we ventured out to Indian Rock, and only a chance encounter with Roper and Al Macdonald saved us from serious beginners’ trauma.
Some proper instruction, the correct gear and some experience with the old Rock Climbing Section of the Sierra Club and we were ready for some serious adventure.
We would sneak climbing gear into our packs on Scout trips to the Pinnacles and clandestinely bag as many peaks as possible. While the other lads were playing football and baseball in the campground we were off negotiating stellar classics like the Monolith, Hand and Long’s Folly. Our fearless Scout leaders could never comprehend this and we were routinely scolded for being bad boys.
Actually we could be really bad boys at times. If were weren’t off climbing we could probably be found hanging out on the mud flats of the bay. Our weapon of choice was the Whamo slingshot and we became quite proficient hunters over the years. For ammo we dug out .38 caliber lead slugs from the police firing range and they were lethal. Although, as Jeff used to say, “the only time I ever killed a bird was when I was so close the sling-pad hit the bird.”
In our quest to become taxidermists, one day we brought home a giant bay rat, almost dead but not quite. Finally, putting it out of its misery with a deadly combination of pesticides from his dad’s garden shed and food from the kitchen we were able to send it off to happy rat nirvana. Our subsequent dissection and stuffing left a lot to be desired and the final product looked more like a genetic combination of an Armadillo and a Warthog that someone had inflated with a tire pump. It probably was not such a brilliant idea to place it in the desk of a girl I never really cared for in high school. I think climbing was a lot safer so that is where we instinctvely put most of our energy in those early years.
By the summer of 1960 we had already climbed a number of routes in the Valley. I always figured that since Jeff was two years older than me he must be wiser and the go-to guy if we got in a jam. Always worked! The following year we climbed the East Buttress of El Cap together, and felt an attempt of Fairview was in order. I remember the night before we climbed the East Buttress. Kamps came over and gave us a small pep talk. I think he was trying to assure us that we would have no problems but to be careful with a big C. Uncle Bob keeping watch over the newbies. Much appreciated to this day.
After some stellar years climbing in the Valley, Foott went off to Jackson Hole, first as a ski patrolman and later to guide for Exum for many years. Some noted climbs in the Valley were the Steck-Salathe in 1960 at a tender age of 16 with BBA, who was the “old man” at 19, for the 9th ascent. First ascent of The Great White Book with Jim Baldwin and Hope Meek. A solo of the first ascent of Patio Pinnacle in 63 and the first one day ascent of the NW face of Half Dome with Roper in 66.
Jeff along with John Evans, both of whom had been working in Antarctica for NSF, bagged the first ascent of the 5,500ft face of Mitre Peak that rises out of the waters of fiordland on the South Island of New Zealand, much to the chagrin of the Kiwis. It was reminiscent of the dreaded Californians: Kamps and Rearick bagging the Diamond on Long’s Peak. No parades for Foott and Evans.
The Yosemite Climbing School was an original Foott idea. Swedlund “borrowed” the concept from Jeff and the Curry Company, seeing “dollars in them thar hills”, usurped both of them and brought in Wayne Merry to set it up and be the first director. I in turn, sold out and guided for Wayne the first summer it opened in the Meadows. Jeff was probably better off as he went on to a distinguished career in wildlife photography .
Getting back to Fairview!
As usual I don’t remember much about the climb. I do remember chatting with Wally and Glen as we climbed alongside and at times we were above them so could “scout” parts of their route. Later in the summer Kamps and Hempel almost made the FFA. Apparently Mort stepped on a pin at one stage and Roper and Powell are credited with the FFA. In 1983, Kamps and Reed made the FFA of the Inverted Staircase.
I would return and climb the reg route many times over the years. Often when the road first opened in the spring we would make that our first climb of the season. Start late in the afternoon , bivouac on Crescent Ledge and finish off in the morning.
Well, all these years I have been telling myself we made the 2nd ascent. But recently Denny told me he had bagged it with Don Telshaw not too many weeks before Jeff and I. Well, they are both nice guys and all but damn it.
Fame and fortune have once again have slipped through the un-chalked hands of history!
As Roper would say
Bagged this years ago when the NPS was tossing the old classic signs!
Sierra Club Bulletin 1959
Foott leading 1st pitch
Joe on 2nd pitch
Joe on 3rd or 4th pitch
Thirsty Foott-Crescent Ledge
Jeff leading off Crescent?
Sorting on Crescent-state of the art gear!
Guido on Crescent Ledge
Inverted Staircase- 1st ascent-Wally Reed and Glen Denny next to us on the Reg route
Denny on Inverted Staircase
Denny and the Inverted Staircase 1st ascent
Guido on top
A special thanks again, to Peter Haan, for making these half frame, 35mm, almost 50 year old, funky slides viewable!
Feb 19, 2010 - 06:53pm PT
Thank you so very much. Way cool stuff.
Feb 19, 2010 - 06:56pm PT
Thanks for getting it out there. You can get some sense of the solitude, the spaciousness, from the photos.
I think I still have a pair of those ragg knicker socks.
Feb 19, 2010 - 06:59pm PT
Much appreciated, Guido. Classic! I envy your current living situation too! All the best on the water.
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:00pm PT
What it would have been like having Tuolumne all to just a handfull of climbers... WOW!
Still havn't climbed the reg route. I should probably do that some day.
Last clip of Lichen Lunch
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:03pm PT
Kick Azz, man. That's the STUFF.
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:18pm PT
Wow.... the best TR ever posted....
"Uncle Bob keeping watch over the newbies. Much appreciated to this day.
He was so influential to so many of us. RIP Bob.
Thanks so much for writing this one.
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:28pm PT
Awesome. RR Fairview might be my favorite climb. Long, mellow, and in a great setting.
Chad, I'm amazed you haven't done it yet. It'd be a walk in the park for you. With a decent rack I bet we could simul-climb the whole thing.
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:32pm PT
Thanks for another wonderful bit of nostalgia. I spent every weekend hiking around Tuolumne with Frank during the summer of 1965. If we had anticipated how crowded the park and the climbs would become, we would have enjoyed it even more. No wonder people look back and call it the Golden Age.
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:33pm PT
Very cool, thank you for sharing
Why'djya leave the ketchup on the table?
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
Feb 19, 2010 - 07:41pm PT
Wonderful piece of writing.
Thanks so much for the share! And thanks too for those great images.
Must be pretty special to think back over the years to those good times from such lovely surroundings.
City of Orange, CA.
Feb 19, 2010 - 08:03pm PT
I'm trying to remember a 80's listed 5.8 grassy crack off a large ledge? I
thought it was higher than crescent? I was told by a guide who we passed
on the route due to his client that the pitch turned out to be quality. I think
he won a coin toss?
Feb 19, 2010 - 08:11pm PT
wonderful Guido, thanks for the share...
Feb 19, 2010 - 08:42pm PT
Fantastic! Thank you.
Feb 19, 2010 - 08:53pm PT
Great write-up and photos. Thanks for sharing them with us. I especially like the early beginnings part...
Old Pueblo, AZ
Feb 19, 2010 - 09:12pm PT
Well, that sure was fun!
Thanks Guido reallly.
right here, right now
Feb 19, 2010 - 09:32pm PT
Another super salvo from the boat, plucked fresh from the Way back machine.
Feb 19, 2010 - 09:58pm PT
There's something special happening on the taco lately with you old masters telling such marvelous stories. And pictures too! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this magic tale!
June Lake, CA
Feb 19, 2010 - 10:11pm PT
What a delight to read your post Joe. It really was special how uncrowded the meadows were back then. The summer after you and Jeff did Fairview Sacherer and I did it, but by that time the pace was already picking up and the route was done perhaps a half dozen times. There was a cairn on the summit with a register in it listing each ascent, the number of pitons used and the time taken. All of the names in it were familiar. I'd like to see of photo of that register on Supertopo.
Feb 20, 2010 - 06:12am PT
What's the story with "Chuckles"?
Feb 20, 2010 - 06:28am PT
Great story Guido! Just back from Patagonia where I ran into Jeff Foott who was there on a photo assignment.
Feb 20, 2010 - 07:28am PT
DUDE! Another great story, and again thanks to Peter for saving the photos.
Love the gear photo. Do you remember how long the goldline was?
Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 20, 2010 - 07:48am PT
Another Guido killfest!!
I predict this one will have legs too Guido!
San Leandro, Ca
Feb 20, 2010 - 08:08am PT
Awesome photos! Like the glacier goggles. You guys were young, bold and free.
Feb 20, 2010 - 08:21am PT
So cool. Thank you for sharing.
Top of the Mountain Mun
Feb 20, 2010 - 08:25am PT
What a fine way to begin a Saturday. That TR Guido, is amazing inspiration. Thank you. Now I have to find a rat to taxidermy.
SuperTopo staff member
Feb 20, 2010 - 10:24am PT
awesome trip report! The rack photo is my favorite. Love it.
Feb 20, 2010 - 11:37am PT
Thanks, Guido, for that account of a magical time and place.
Feb 20, 2010 - 11:37am PT
Threads don't get any better than this!
Feb 20, 2010 - 12:09pm PT
Wonderful TR, as always, Guido, of a great climb.
I particularly enjoyed your reference to "Uncle Bob." I'd been climbing for about seven years when I moved to the LA area. When I first met Bob, I was doing a route at Stoney Point that had the potential to kill your right knee if you came off. Bob, instinctively, pointed that out to me in avuncular concern, telling me, as you say, to be careful with a capital "C." He was a wonderful man.
Thanks for the TR and memories.
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Feb 20, 2010 - 12:14pm PT
Radness springs from the Cruz! It belongs up there with Mastadon´s waterskiing adventure.
Feb 20, 2010 - 12:52pm PT
Great trip report,
June Lake, California
Feb 20, 2010 - 01:40pm PT
Thanks a million Guido! I've done countless ascents of the RR, but the next one, and the one after that, etc, will now have much more meaning.
I love that rack photo too!
Another classic thread for the Stand!!!
Feb 20, 2010 - 02:13pm PT
All written while strolling through memories on a sailboat off New Zealand? Thanks for the trip.
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2010 - 02:38pm PT
We will have to get Beck to chime in on the name, "Chuckles", as he was the one who tagged it. I will at least add he was a cantankerous old fart.
Yep, ropes were the standard of the day-120 ft. Back then I worked part time at The Ski Hut in Berkeley and one of my more difficult jobs was to spool off the sections from the standard 600 ft spool and make them into 120 ft coils. We were using both Goldline and the white Columbia. So you can see it wasn't too difficult to later visualize we could make #4 coils of 150 ft from the 600 ft spool. But that was a "leap" and didn't happen overnight. So for years, we kept looking for a belay ledge every 120 ft!
Also working at the Hut were Roper, Pratt, Bob Swanson and George Marks, and the Boss Man, Steck. Swanson and Marks split off to start Sierra Designs and later Walrus, and Steck eventually left to start Mountain Travel.
Often, I would get in trouble with Steck for lack of attendance and he would penalize me with "sh#t jobs. Once he wrote a note to Swanson who was running the Mail Order department to "read me the riot act" that I couldn't just take off and go climbing whenever I wanted. My punishment, delegated by Steck, was to spend two weeks stringing the mesh-backing onto the Trailwise Pack Frames. A very tedious task analogous to stringing a tennis racket, without the benefit of a tensioning device. I was in 7th heaven-I was getting paid to build up the strength in my fingers.
Feb 20, 2010 - 02:52pm PT
Guido, I need to add my thanks to the chorus. These stories are priceless.
Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 20, 2010 - 04:21pm PT
Don't listen to Guido.
He's just an old goat!
June Lake, California
Feb 20, 2010 - 04:32pm PT
These stories of days gone by, by the likes of Guido and his contemporaries, are true jewels of knowledge as well as timeless tales of daring-do that inspired many of us to lace 'em up and tie on in BITD.
And it is these same tales that inspire me to instill in my own kids a sense of respect for what vision it took to scale these routes we know now as trade lines done by so many thousands; many of whom climb those lines without nary a tidbit of knowledge of the inspired hands that first graced that very stone.
Enjoy that floating life Guido, but please know that there are many of us waiting by the campfire for another story of the grand days gone by.
Feb 20, 2010 - 05:24pm PT
Really fantastic, Guido. Thanks so much for that post!
On my third time up the Regular Route, I was leading all the pitches for my brother who'd not been on it before. He kept pooping out, and we finally had to bail, as he just didn't have it in him. Turns out his leukemia had kicked back in, and that was the first really clear indication.
Although I lost my brother, I have very dear memories of the climb, and the two of us on it. Thanks again for the post.
Where only the cracks are dry
Feb 22, 2010 - 03:42pm PT
I spent a fair bit of time stringing those mesh panels onto Trailwise
frames, too, Guido. Later, though, in the '70s. It got the thumbs really
strong. Another pumping task was installing the Riv-nuts into the frames.
I'm thinking back to Roper's Ascent article about the Tuolumne domes.
Seems to me there about four routes on Fairview at that time: Always
Arches, Inverted Staircase, the Powell Route, and the Regular Route.
I used to be interested in the Powell Route, but never got around to it.
It seemed to go from "one of the standards" to "wtf" in just a few years.
Does anybody ever do it? Does anybody even remember where it is/was?
(Answer: a couple hundred feet left of the Regular)
Thanks for the great reverie.
Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 22, 2010 - 05:58pm PT
Whassa matta Joe?
Didn't you like the portrait I posted of you?
You old GOAT!
I love this story. A bazillion of us have done Fairview, but only here at the Taco stand do we get to hear from Guido.
Geez dude, you were everywhere back in the day!
Originally California now Ireland
Feb 22, 2010 - 11:06pm PT
Joe, great TR and a great climb. It too is one of my favorite, I first did it with Jim Keating back in 1975, but by then it had been climbed countless times by others.
Happy sailing, I've been racing on Sundays in the Spring Chicken series (which is the 'off season' series this time of year) on a Beneteau Océanis 43. Someday I may even get my own boat... if I win the lottery. But I wouldn't race it, as I am only crewing on boats to learn more and gain experience. Racing really doesn't turn me on, but it is good experience, especially the few times I get to helm the boat. If I ever do get a boat (I will), perhaps our ships will cross in the night in the future.
I've picked up scuba as well and working on my Open Water cert. But climbing is still my first love.
Keep up the TRs. This is what makes the Taco Stand great.
Smith River CA
Feb 23, 2010 - 12:41pm PT
Great photos and TR, I miss climbing with that kind of state of the art gear.
Feb 23, 2010 - 11:25pm PT
Wicked TR... thank you...
Oakland: what's not to love?
Feb 24, 2010 - 04:44pm PT
Solid, solid golden post.
Feb 25, 2010 - 02:22am PT
Great story - always wondered about history of the route. Fantastic to see grass growing on Crescent Ledge!
Things you don't want to hear from partner when climbing:
I've done RR four or five times - usually squeezed onto business trips from home in the UK. I was always super slow to adjust to the altitude and one time we got off the plane, chased up there, bivied and jumped on in the morning. The second (real) pitch was streaming and I was puffed by the top. I knew I was blacking out, managed to clip the belay, and shout down at my partner "I'm just gonna pass out, but I'll be alrigh..."
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