Trip Report
Other Voices, Other Canoes

by MH2
Wednesday November 4, 2009 10:16pm
Credit: MH2

Sometimes a canoe is not a canoe. It could be a slab of rock possibly resembling a canoe, and beyond that any object of curiosity; a reason to get off your duff, go do a climb, and have a look.

Other Voices, Other Rooms is a novel by Truman Capote. I have read less than half of it but have found it contains lyrical and vivid descriptions of weather and landscape, sometimes in the same sentence:

Wooden bridges rumble like far-off thunder under a passing wheel.

My Visit to the Canoe has no reference to weather. Maybe California rarely has weather worth mentioning. A lot of TRs on this site are from California. If the weather is unremarkable, there is always the landscape:

At Almscliffe you can't get out of the wind. Being there is like watching an old elephant, dying split-skinned in its own ammoniacal reek, gazing patiently back at you in a zoo.

See? Now you know that British crags are about the size of an elephant and smell like a urinal.

Although really the goal is not to educate. The goal is to penetrate the reader's shell with a bit of noise and then let the reader's own imagination form it into a story.

None of the people you will see below asked about a canoe. They did take precious time out of their climbing to have lives. It is up to the reader to take it from there.

Part 1

The Great Game/ Godforsaken Land

Smashed black blocks of rock balanced on one another like the remains of some civilization whose observances grew so monolithic in the end there was nothing to do but fall back into error, decline, barbarism.

In fact The Squaw is more like a House of Mirrors. Gray ramps run under white reflective corners. Trying to zigzag between the steep and the sloping, a climber loses track of the vertical and runs the risk of suddenly finding an indicator that shows how far the disorientation has mislead him, like a cartoon character walking off into the air at the top of the cliff and then looking down.

"Where do I go above the roof?"

Follow the crack over to Right Wing.

"I thought you said to go right."

Just climb back down and get over here. And don't fall.

Part 2

The Grand Wall

The instant of petrified violence that sometimes foreruns a summer storm saturated the hushed yard, and in the unearthly tinseled light rusty buckets of trailing fern which were strung round the porch like party lanterns appeared illuminated by a faint green inward flame.

Here is a woman belaying at the start of pitch 2 of Cruel Shoes, while the man in the hat is coming down after getting lost on the second pitch of Cruel Shoes. As witnessed from the top of The Flake.

Here is beta to prevent getting lost on p2 of Cruel Shoes.

Now we are back at the top of The Flake, getting the sort of reaction we like to see.

Now we are at the base of The Split Pillar looking down at the 2 guys who got lost on Cruel Shoes. Unfortunately we told them that we "climb like the wind." They are wondering, "What kind of a wind?" Reminding us of the importance of descriptive weather language.

These 2 guys from Sacramento are now downwind. White hat is at the top of the Split Pillar and blue helmet is just above the mantel on The Sword. They asked a question about Canadian healthcare, and got a long answer. The girls on Cruel Shoes have not got lost. They are on the pitch leading to the base of the Pillar. Number 1 is belaying and 2 is leading.

Part 3

Angel's Crest

Also, this is lonesome country; and here in the swamplike hollows where tiger lilies bloom the size of a man's head, there are luminous green logs that shine under the dark marsh water like drowned corpses; often the only movement on the landscape is winter smoke winding out the chimney of some sorry-looking farmhouse, or a wing-stiffened bird, silent and arrow-eyed, circling over the black deserted pinewoods.

We got a late start and met up with a slower party ahead. This is Angel Crack.

He is from Capetown, now living in Korea. She asked questions about the route, and about whether we had seen a bear. In hindsight we should have asked him how well prepared they were to spend the night.

Now we are on top with the sun about to set. We hope that the couple found their way down but realize that that isn't likely and sure enough we see them emerge from the woods below the Acrophobes. We hear a loud outburst we can't understand, probably Korean. We are pretty sure we catch the emotional sense of it.

Part 4


When Bob Almanac told me about the Variety Club children, I felt a sudden unbearable compassion for their adolescence as it passed: the mornings by the pool, the light blonde down on the arms, the eyes narrowing bemusedly in the bright sunlight. I asked him: 'What happens when they grow up?'
'They become people like you and me,' said Bob. 'They reinstate themselves slowly into human affairs.' He winked. 'After a few years no one knows.'

On our way up the backside trail we passed a gentleman answering his cell phone. Because we were headed for Sunblessed my partner worried that we might be in competition with him. The cell phone man was young, fit, and answering the call in a language that sounded Eastern European. He had nothing substantial in the way of gear. I was therefore sure he was not in competition with us and felt there was no reason to hurry.

Sunblessed is a great route with bold face-climbing up a steep dyke, a long beautiful hand crack, and a choice of 3 pitches to finish. It gets sun almost all day, dries quickly, and always looks spectacular, but the strong contrast of sun and shadow has always thwarted my photography.

An early defeat showing the start of the long crack on pitch 2.

Eastern European guy breezed past us, no worries, mate, smiles all around. Three minutes later, though, we came across a young woman carrying a large pack. And a few minutes after that I realized we were in competition for Sunblessed.

We won, thanks to knowing the way and the large-pack-on-a-small-woman handicapping.

This set us up in good position for taking pictures. The high contrast lighting and too much distance interfered but didn't stop me from trying.

Afterwards I took a climbing trip and when I returned there was a message on the phone from Katarina, asking if I would send the pictures of her and Petr on Sunblessed. I was surprised they could track me down. I wonder how they described me to whoever gave them my number.

And now dusk was coming on. A sea of deepening green spread the sky like some queer wine, and across this vast green, shadowed clouds were pushed sluggishly by a mild breeze.

  Trip Report Views: 1,820
About the Author
MH2 is a climber from .

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Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Nov 4, 2009 - 04:20pm PT
Yobi-wan has taught you well.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Nov 4, 2009 - 05:31pm PT
Muy bueno!!!!

  Nov 4, 2009 - 08:22pm PT
Very nice form to this TR. Oh yeah!

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Author's Reply  Nov 4, 2009 - 10:34pm PT
There are a lot of great trip reports here and I appreciate the responses.

  Nov 7, 2009 - 09:28pm PT
Beautiful rock, and really liked the juxtaposition with the book passages. Apparently I should read Truman Capote.


Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Aug 28, 2013 - 04:19am PT
Another day at the office eh Andy. An enjoyable read to be sure.

Does Cruel shoes still have the original bolts or have they been replaced, love that route.

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Aug 28, 2013 - 08:49am PT
"We climb like the wind"

That is a classic line. Russ, jot it down in the classic line library.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Aug 28, 2013 - 09:00am PT
Excellent bump had not seen it.

this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
  Aug 28, 2013 - 10:28am PT
Yeah, great bump, even better TR. I always enjoy your pics MH2, thanks.

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Author's Reply  Aug 28, 2013 - 10:38am PT
Yo is the writer we are looking for.

The absence of weather in My Visit to the Canoe has a taken a new cast for me. I heard Elmore Leonard being interviewed on CBC Radio and thought he gave one of his 10 rules for writing as: never mention the weather. Seeing this TR come up made me take a look. Turns out the truth isn't that severe, but if getting your climbing shoes a size smaller than your street shoes is good, maybe 2 sizes smaller is better.

Harry, I think there are still a few old bolts on Cruel Shoes. Probably not dating back to the '70s but perhaps to Perry and Scott in '81. I was up there in about '84 with Steve Risse but can only remember stopping at the step from ledge to friction on the 5.9 pitch until it mercifully started to rain.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Aug 28, 2013 - 11:12am PT
My partners always tried to climb upwind butt it didn't often serve them.
Those gentle uplifting zephyrs of a still morn have often elicited
unseemly moans from my leader.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Aug 28, 2013 - 11:33am PT
Sweet Tr Andy!! Hadn't seen this before. Thanks!

A long way from where I started
  Aug 28, 2013 - 11:42am PT
How did I miss this?

Thanks to Harry for bringing it back. Long may it stay on the front page.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 28, 2013 - 01:08pm PT
Awesome writing and flow!!!!

  Aug 28, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
Awesome, good bumpage Harry.

Andy, around here it's always worth mentioning the weather :-)

I think all of the bolts & anchors on cruels shoes have been replaced in the past year or so.

A really great TR.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 28, 2013 - 02:30pm PT
The Heart is deceitful, who can know it?  The Canoe is bold, but takes...
The Heart is deceitful, who can know it? The Canoe is bold, but takes two to row (or paddle) it.
Credit: mouse from merced

Truman Capote began writing the manuscript for Other Voices, Other Rooms after being inspired by a walk in the woods while he was living in Monroeville, Alabama. He immediately cast aside his rough manuscript for Summer Crossing and took up writing Other Voices, Other Rooms. After leaving Alabama, he continued to work on the manuscript in New Orleans, Louisiana. His budding literary fame put him in touch with fellow southerner and writer Carson McCullers. Capote joined McCullers at the artists' community, Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York to continue working on his novel. As friends, Carson helped Truman locate an agent and a publisher (Marion Ives and Random House) for Other Voices, Other Rooms. Capote continued to work on the novel in North Carolina and eventually completed it in a rented cottage in Nantucket, Massachusetts.--YK Pedia

A+ on the Book Report and the Trip Report. Now I have to read this.

It's a "mus read."
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