Trip Report
coonyard pinnacle-first ascent sept 1960
Sunday November 2, 2008 2:56pm

During a summer back in the States, I was able to sort and scan a number of boxes of climbing memorabilia that had been sitting idle for many years. What the rats and water leaks left behind, was a vast wealth of letters, clippings, slides and black and white photos that survived the neglect and inattention of many years. One original Ansel Adams 8x10 print was destroyed by a leaky roof. Damn, could have used that to pay for my daughter’s college education!

One of the sad truths of climbing in the early 60s is that very few climbers carried cameras. Some of my prints are from 110 film, others 35 mm and numerous are half-frame 35mm! All the cameras were primitive, hand-me-downs, or, one of my favorites, a Petri half-frame 35mm that Foott and I found in the back country. Simultaneouly we both made a dive for it. So we had to share it. Our deal was you could only use it on one climb and then you had to pass pass it along. From this shaky start Foott went on to become one of the finest wildlife photographers in the country.

The following is a short history of the first ascent of Coonyard Pinnacle. Although I climbed it numerous times over the years, nothing could compare to being on the first ascent with two really classic climbers from that era. Amborn, built more like a fullback in pro football, was a master on small holds and glacial polished slabs. He made a lot of noise, grunts and sighs but was a pleasure to watch. Calderwood, with his first ascent of Arches Terrace in 1957, had established himself early on as an excellent slab climber. I was a young kid along for the ride.


In Sept 1960, Bill Amborn, Rich Calderwood and I Joe McKeown, made the first ascent of Coonyard Pinnacle. Amborn, better known as BBA or “Bitchin Bill Amborn” was 19. Calderwood was 21 and I was a wee lad of 14. Still wet behind the ears they said. I had acquired the name “Little Joe” to differentiate from Joe Fitschen or “Big Joe” in Camp 4.

Amborn was the visionary that first conceived of a route above Monday Morning Slab onto the “blank” upper reaches of the vast Apron. We put up the first pitch one afternoon using aid to place two protection bolts. Returning the next day with Rich Calderwood we were able, except for one pendulum, to push the route free up 500 ft to a small pinnacle we named Coonyard. The only bolts placed were the two on the first pitch for protection. On the first ascent, on pitch #4, I believe, we made a long 80 ft pendulum left across a smooth wall that brought us several pitches below Coonyard. This is the section that Sacherer and Ostin climbed a year later for the FFA.

We named the pinnacle after Yvon whose name was mis-pronounced by some Gunk climber when Chouinard was in New York. Something along the lines of “You must be the Great Coonyard?” said in an irreverent way as only a Vulgarian could. Dave Brower, Sierra Club Bulletin Editor at the time, would not allow names of people to be associated with geographic locations while the person was still alive, so we honored Chouinard with the New York pseudonym.

On the second ascent of Coonyard, our original ascent party along with Mort Hempel and Chouinard managed to climb 400 ft above Coonyard. In October, Amborn returned with a young Jeff Foott, then 16 years old. The two had climbed the Steck-Salathe on Sentinel in September for what I believe was the 9th ascent. In the early 60s, the SS was considered a litmus test for whether or not you had arrived as a climber. They were able to push the route above Coonyard to within one pitch of the Oasis at the top of the Apron. No bolts were placed.

Climbing in T-shirts, unfamiliar with the Glacier Point Terrace descent route and unwilling to bivouac, Amborn and Foott headed back down the route with only one 150 ft Goldline. They had left a rope at the pendulum. Amborn recalls,“It was pitch black when we got to where you traverse back to get above Monday Morning Slab, and that is where Jeff, following and downclimbing, had a spectacular rolling pendulum type freefall. You could see the sparks and smell the ozone from the hardware hitting the rock. It was rather pretty except for Jeff’s grunts and ‘Oh God’ profanities. The most eerie memory is of all the bears at the dumps and us walking through there in the blackness and all these dark, shadowy figures about.” I remember there was a party that night and Foott had happily traded a cold bivouac for a night of classic Camp 4 debauchery.

In September Kor arrived for his first visit to the valley and he and Chouinard in late October teamed up to complete the route to the Oasis. Yvon asked BBA if he would mind if they did the route to the
Oasis. BBA said “sure, for the rock belongs to no one and I don’t want to appear as a ‘siege’ climber.” Yvon and Kor completed the climb to the Oasis but in the process placed a number of bolts. BBA was especially upset about a bolt placed at what we called “the Step”, the first move off the ledge which begins the last part straight up to Coonyard. BBA subsequently chopped that bolt. “Yvon said he did it for safety and considering his size in comparison to Kor, I can understand that if he was the belayer”.

Two years later, Amborn joined the Army, buried all his gear in the talus above Camp 4 and never really climbed again in Yosemite. Years later, following his intricate but complicated treasure map, I was able to locate and retrieve his gear.

In 1962 Bob Kamps and I, after climbing the classic Harding route on the west side of the Apron joined the Oasis with the rim via a route we named The Hinterland. Some of the early dangers involved with the Apron had little to do with the climbing itself. Nothing like a garbage can flung off the railing at Glacier Point to wake you up. Or the approach ritual of dodging the bears at the old dumps below the Apron. There was always a fire smoldering, smoke rising and bears cruising.

Sorry about the poor quality of the photos. After surmounting the learning curve of just posting photos I need a breather before “messing about” with Photoshop and the likes.

Bitchin Bill Amborn following 2nd pitch

Calderwood leading 2nd pitch

Calderwood belaying start of 3rd pitch

Amborn leading the 3rd pitch

Calderwood on the pendulum

Calderwood "messing about" on the pendulum

Calderwood

Coonyard Pinnacle-first ascent Sept 1960  Calderwood and Amborn (BBA)
Coonyard Pinnacle-first ascent Sept 1960 Calderwood and Amborn (BBA)
Credit: Guido
Summit Coonyard Sept 1960, Rich Calderwood and Bill Amborn











  Trip Report Views: 2,183
guido
About the Author
guido is a trad climber from Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
john hansen

climber
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
Great stuff Joe, got any more?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:14pm PT
Man that is some stuff too!!!
Supertopo rides again...
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:14pm PT
Awesome, Joe.

I was flummoxed on the route in '79 wearing EB's. I cannot imagine FA'ing my way up it wearing essentially hiking boots. You guys were made of stern stuff.

p.s.- would hate to meet Calderwood and Amborn in a dark alley..
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:26pm PT
"Amborn returned with a young Jeff Foott, then 16 years old. The two had climbed the Steck-Salathe on Sentinel in September for what I believe was the 9th ascent."

So, Foott was a bit of a prodigy too?
That had to be something (Steck-Salathe at 16)...
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:26pm PT
A great, and rare, story of the Valley freeclimbing climbing experience in the 60's. I love the bear references, because they were such a big part of the Valley experience, now lost, even as late as the early seventies.

And the bolt chopping incident had to be one of the first in the Valley, maybe even California.

Your story and photos embody the spirit of climbing in a beautifully simple way.

Thanks for sharing them, and I hope you have more classic photos and tales.


Kevin


Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:49pm PT
Thanks, Joe! A nice story and photos.

If nothing else, I'm sure the YCA, Ken and the museum would have a home for such memorabilia, especially if photos were labelled with who/what/where etc.

Funny, I remember all sorts of bears around Camp 4 in the 1970s, entertaining us and wreaking havoc. And a big production in terms of hanging food etc. But I may have been impressionable - Valley regulars may not have thought much of it.
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
  Nov 2, 2008 - 05:35pm PT
Wonderful post.
Great story and the photos are perfect for capturing the feelings of climbing on the Apron in those days.
Thanks Joe.
Carolyn C

Trad climber
the long, long trailer
  Nov 2, 2008 - 05:42pm PT
What a great story and photos! The photos brought back some good memories of days gone by. Thanks for posting this.
ron gomez

Trad climber
fallbrook,ca
  Nov 2, 2008 - 06:21pm PT
GREAT POST!! Thanks a million, brought back some great memories of the route, did it with Dave Wonderly and others in the early 80's. Some really cool photos, post up more stuff like that....we LOVE it!
Peace
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 2, 2008 - 06:33pm PT
Great retro trip report, Joe! Thanks for sharing.
And thanks for explaining where the aid was (pendulum) on the FA.

FA at age 14, that is pretty darn cool.
What kind of shoes did you use? Kronhofers?

Link to my photos of a recent ascent, plus BBA's recollections:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=659883

The climb is really about the same, although we have some belay bolts in place, instead of hammering our own pitons.
I might need to clip that pendulum point next time to protect the crux traverse!


9/1960


8/2008
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
  Nov 2, 2008 - 06:58pm PT
Great story Joe! I love this sort of thing.
Thanks for posting it up.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Nov 2, 2008 - 07:01pm PT
I could read those old trip reports forever!

Great stuff.

JL
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Nov 2, 2008 - 07:22pm PT
Well told Joe!! Thanks and keep the stories coming.

Zander

climber
  Nov 2, 2008 - 07:41pm PT
Great Story Joe,
Thanks for posting. Really looking forward to more.
Zander
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
  Nov 2, 2008 - 07:43pm PT
Thank you Joe. Great Stuff.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Nov 2, 2008 - 09:13pm PT
wow great post. I remember doing coonyard a long time ago. I thought the first pitch off of monday morning was 5.9 in eb's.....did you guys do this in the early sixties without any type of rubber?
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  Nov 2, 2008 - 09:20pm PT
hi Joe,

Nice write up and pictures. I like Yvon's bolt to protect against a Kor fall--great history.

Hope to see you at the Nose50th, if you are in the US.

Best, Roger
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 2, 2008 - 11:00pm PT
Marty,

> did you guys do this in the early sixties without any type of rubber?

They had rubber in the 1960s.
I tried some Kronhoffer boots in the mid-1970s, and they frictioned better than my EBs (not so good for crack climbing, though).
dogtown

Trad climber
Cheyenne, Wyoming and Marshall Islands atoll.
  Nov 2, 2008 - 11:19pm PT
Man, thanks for posting up! I just eat that Historical stuff up.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
  Nov 3, 2008 - 12:20am PT
Wow! Thanks Joe for an incredibly interesting slice of some of the most crucial moments in the history and development of rock climbing in Yosemite. You guys rock!

Bruce

ps - personally, I find this stuff way more interesting than 15-year old Adam Ondra clipping up some difficult sport route.
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Nov 3, 2008 - 02:26am PT
GREAT POST! Having done most of the Coonyard route in the late 60s in slippery RDs, I can relate a bit.

Regarding footwear of the day, yes, some of those guys did those heinous climbs in the crappiest imaginable loose boots. But anyone lucky enough to have Kronhofers at that time knew they were decidedly not hiking boots except in appearance. Properly fitted, they were great climbing shoes; I and some others kept using them at least right up until the first Boreal Fires became popular, doing numerous routes of solid 5.10 or even 10+ at all areas from Tahquitz/Suicide to Cathedral Ledge and the Gunks. I am sure others climbed a good bit harder than that in them.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Nov 3, 2008 - 08:00am PT
Joe
Wonderful post. I'll certainly look forward to more of
your tales. Thanks for putting it up.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Nov 3, 2008 - 10:33am PT
Great post.

We have a new opportunity, via the net, to collect the stories of first ascents and subsequent epics big, small, and inbetween.

I'd encourage the old and mid-timers who have first ascent stories to write em down and include the culture and issues of the times so future generations can make sense of the evolution of our sport.

Peace

Karl
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Nov 3, 2008 - 11:12am PT
Clint, never climbed in them. My first climbing shoes we RD's I think....could have been PA's. When EB's came out I thought I had died and gone to heaven......
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Author's Reply  Nov 3, 2008 - 01:25pm PT
We were wearing Kronhofers at the time. I never liked the Spider of later years. When Robbins came out with his "Galabier Robbins" boots that is what I used. My theory contrasted with the staus quo. I felt with the "Robbins" I could max out the surface area which is critical of pure friction. I also had a chronic sprained rt ankle and enjoyed the comfort and support.

We used to do a bit of night time "buildering" on the UC Berkeley campus back them. Especially after a Sun evening dinner of the Sierra Rock Climbing session. Amply lubricated with cheap red wine we would venture out and climb. I remember one embarrassing encounter when we were "busted" by the UC police as we were making the leap from the roof of a ticket booth to a wall. They found our gallon stash of wine under Roper"s car, poured it out in front of us and commented, "you guys really drink this sh#t! "They called my mom and I got in some serious trouble at home. My parents took away my climbing shoes and I was not allowed to associate with the likes of Roper for some time. Since I was working part time at the Ski Hut, I just bought another pair and rendezvoused with Roper several blocks from my home whenever he could "borrow" his moms car. All seems quite funny and innocent by today's standard.
Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
  Nov 3, 2008 - 01:59pm PT
Your Mom took your climbing shoes!!!!!!

Now that really pisses me off!
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Nov 3, 2008 - 02:06pm PT
My parents forbade me from climbing. Started when I was 15 so I just hid the climbing shoes and went "backpacking" every weekend in the valley.......They didn't catch on until I was 18 or so.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Author's Reply  Nov 3, 2008 - 02:07pm PT
Ah, but you never want to mess with a wee Welsh lady when she is fighting mad. Let it settle for a spell. She had a heart of gold and was quick to forgive. Took a bit longer to forget.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 3, 2008 - 02:17pm PT
Supertopo is on a roll! These historical threads are the best.
BBA

climber
OF
  Nov 3, 2008 - 07:26pm PT
If you read Clint's forum you'll see discrepancies between what Joe says and what I (BBA) said. OK, for the record Joe is always right. The problem with history is it isn't like science where you can replicate the experiment to find out if something is true. Once it's done that's it, but with history then you have all these people telling stories. Since we elect s---heads for president, it's obvious that majority rule means nothing as far as truth is concerned.

Related to the climb, the reason for the "pendulums" was one of my probably unsuccessful attempts to make fun of climbs that used them, especially the way some people wrote them up. They were not pendulums, more like tension traverses as one can see by how seriously Calderwood took it in Joe's photos. We had great fun on a nice, warm day in the Valley. Those were the days.

For shoes I had Klettershuh, a brand of German climbing shoe with suede top and a Vibram like bottom. They were not so hot for friction but not bad for edging. I was lucky in that my feet were very wide and this gave more square inches of friction surface available. On the Apron one flopped the foot on any spot that looked promising and went for it.

When I cruise the Supertopo I see a lot of cool stuff. Someone should make a book of it. They should include photos of me.

BBA
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Nov 3, 2008 - 07:38pm PT
I"m just so freakin' happy to read these ( unedited ! ) living history threads.
It's the details that matter - what shoes were worn & why. How you managed to keep your climbing secret from parental units.
The sixpack. And so on.

More stories, please !!!
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Nov 3, 2008 - 07:40pm PT
Bitchin'
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Author's Reply  Nov 3, 2008 - 08:29pm PT
You have just been exposed to classic BBA
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Nov 3, 2008 - 10:43pm PT
And how Guido!
Now Bill Amborn is posting up!?!!
(I see he's made three other forays into the super topo jungle so far...)

This is getting richer by the moment.
You guys have to know, we all live for this stuff here on this forum.

From time to time we sink into the doldrums.
Then, as providence might have it, guys such as yourselves show up.

I assure you... we are not worthy.
But we are all ears.

Roll it out boys!!!!!
OUTSTANDING.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Nov 3, 2008 - 11:36pm PT
Joe and BBA, Great thread and a wonderful story.
We love it and yearn for more!
Thanks again,
Bruce B.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Nov 4, 2008 - 12:05am PT
Read it all. It's really ALL been said on this Thread.

Enjoyed every moment. Thank you and god speed. Lynnie

Pretty Darn !!!!Incredible. Peace and Joy, Always.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Nov 4, 2008 - 10:41am PT
Bump for Joe.
The Schmutzvink

climber
The WAY past
  Nov 5, 2008 - 01:11am PT
Climbing thread bump. F*ck all those political threads. Yea yea yea it's time for change. Change back to being a Yosemite Rockclimber’s forum.
crankenstein

Trad climber
Louisville, CO
  Nov 5, 2008 - 01:30am PT
Most excellent history! Much appreciated from the far reaches of lurkerdom.
More please!
Double D

climber
  Nov 5, 2008 - 10:19am PT
Great post Joe and thanks for the lens into the era.

Kletter shoes on the apron?... Ho man that's way hard core!
John Morton

climber
  Nov 15, 2008 - 12:30am PT
Not to pick nits, but ... Klettershuhe (German for "climbing shoes") were all those gray suede things with lug soles. There were several brands, but what Bill had were probably Zillertals. Your choice at the Ski Hut was those or Spiders. Spiders were stiff and had Vibrams, but Zillertals had Marwa soles with slanty lugs, softer for a better smear. Kronhoffers had slanty lugs too, a different brand. I think you had to send to Gerry or Holubar in Colo. for Kronhoffers.

John

Just remembered I have nearly mint K's in the basement. They still look elegant to me, with those one-piece uppers.


BBA

climber
OF
  Nov 15, 2008 - 01:18am PT
The klettershuh I had were first bought in 1958 in LA and did not have heels. They also had rather coarse suede tops, not as elegant as those in the picture above. I must have got some more when in Berkeley but don't remember if I mailed off for them or what. I never changed to another style.

murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Nov 15, 2008 - 01:39am PT
guido and bba, THANKS and please, more, more, more!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 15, 2008 - 02:46am PT
Thanks for posting this up, Little Joe. Absolutely classic. I first did this one way back in the day, by the book. Green book that is......

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Nov 15, 2008 - 08:31pm PT
Joe,
Great report, photos, info. I love the history, can't
get enough of the old times, whereas modern climbing
mostly bores me to tears.

The only thing I could add would be the actual story
of the Coonyard name. That actually took place in
Boulder, at Castle Rock. Dave Rearick and Chouinard
were climbing. Chouinard was still shaky from his bad, long
fall in the Tetons and immediately backed off the climb
he was going to try. He told Dave, "I just can't do it. My
head is in a bad place." Right about this time, a fellow (I
know his name, but for the moment I'll not give it, maybe later, after I think about it...) happened by and asked if they knew of or had heard of the climber Coonyard... who was
supposed to be in the area. Even Yvon didn't at first know who the fellow was referring to. Then it dawned on Dave and
Yvon who the guy was talking about. They told the story a few times, and it got around and to Yosemite... If you doubt this account, you can contact Rearick in Boulder. He has an impeccable memory for these things.

All the best,

Pat Ament
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
  Nov 15, 2008 - 09:01pm PT
Seeing the old pair of Kronhoffers (sp?) brings back crazy memories of the late sixties early seventies. Because the toe leather was so thin, we used to coat the toe with fiberglass resin. The resin would fill up the area around the edge of the sole and made for incredible edging on the right rock. Those shoes were worthless on the apron, however, you might as well have a pair of rollerskates on. I'll never forget the first time I borrowed a pair of EBs there, it was like somebody turned the gravity off.
BBA

climber
OF
  Nov 15, 2008 - 09:41pm PT
With due respect to Pat Ament, I was the one who named the "great" pinnacle and it was as a result of Chouinard telling the stories of his trip back to the Gunks in 1960. The original spelling was Cooñard, but that got lost by the wayside. I was well acquainted with Yvon from frequenting Stony Point and Tahquitz 1958-1960 where I often ran across him and bought hardware from him. If you can find him, ask. Guido knows, too.


Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Nov 16, 2008 - 12:21am PT
So Joe, Super great to meet you and "Liz" at the Nose Reunion...hehehe. I just re read this post and appreciate it more than the first time now that I've met ya.

Peace, Lynne
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Nov 16, 2008 - 12:29am PT
Well I wouldn't argue with you, about who named what. I didn't say you didn't name it. I was only citing where Rearick said the "Coonyard" or however it is spelled name came into being. He was there when it happened, and he and Chouinard laughed about it. I do know Dave Rearick well, and I know what he told me, and never in my life has he ever exaggerated or ever been the slightest bit wrong when telling any kind of story of the old days of climbing. Chouinard went to the Gunks and to the Tetons and to Colorado during that time, and it could be possible Yvon made a simple mistake and forgot exactly which of the places that person coined his name in such a way. I mean, we're all human, and maybe... he remembered it as happening in the Gunks. But Rearick says it happened that day at Castle Rock, because he was there and saw and heard it, and it was new to Chouinard then, and I believe Rearick. I don't doubt that you later named the pinnacle. Nor would I doubt Yvon might have told you that happened in the Gunks. Perfectly believable. I would have no reason to question any of that...

Pat
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Nov 16, 2008 - 12:43am PT
Coonyard Pinnacle. Slightly left and 400 feet above the top of Monday Morning Slab on Glacier Point Apron rises a 40-foot slab, Coonyard Pinnacle. On September 7, Joe McKeown, Rich Calderwood and I ascended this pinnacle from the top of Monday Morning Slab. The first pitch leads to a bush some 50 feet up on difficult friction. It is protected by bolts 15 and 40 feet up. The route continues up and right to a large ledge system, which is followed left until it gives out. A bolt is used for an 80-foot pendulum traverse which ends on a ledge directly below the pinnacle. A difficult friction pitch and then a flake system lead to the top of the pinnacle.
WILLIAM G. AMBORN. Sierra Club

Glacier Point Apron, Coonyard Pinnacle Route. From the top of Monday Morning Slab, the Glacier Point Apron rises up at only a 65º angle, but it is very smooth and crackless. After several attempts Layton Kor, Richard Calderwood, Bill Amborn, Jeff Foote and I managed to push the route to the “oasis,” a spring of good water coming out of the cliff at the top of the apron. The climbing is essentially free except for a huge pendulum. This climb rates with the hardest free climbs in the country in length, extreme difficulty and lack of protection.
YVON CHOUINARD, Yosemite Climbing Club

[url="http://www.americanalpineclub.org/AAJO/pdfs/1961/351_usa_aaj1961.pdf#search=%22Yosemite%22"]AAJ 1961 p370[/url]
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
  Nov 16, 2008 - 09:56pm PT
That is amazing, look forward to more captures, such as this!!!!!!!!

Thor
Redwood

Gym climber
West Sacramento CA
  Nov 17, 2008 - 12:36am PT
Coonyard Pinnacle

Here's a subject I can converse about. Thank you, guido, for creating the thread, and providing all the information, or juicy details, as it sometime seems. That must have been a mighty adventurous undertaking.

I made several attempts on this route over a span of more than 20 years. The first of these (if anybody really cares) was in September, 1969. The route was a kind of big deal back then -- at least as far as the guidebook descriptions were concerned (all this talk of the going to the Oasis and then the Hinterland being "the most sustained fifth class climb in the country," and so on). Immediately previously I had obtained a pair of Kronhofers; I remember them well. They were great, especially in comparison to the kletterschuhe I had been climbing in up till then (nice pair, John Morton. I got rid of mine, sadly, a long time ago). My climbing partner and I went up the Harry Daley route late one day, and then, at the top of the slab, pondering what to do next, we hit on the outrageous idea of trying the first pitch of Coonyard Pinnacle. My partner gave it a go, and didn't like it. And then I went. And I climbed the pitch. It was amazing. It also turned out to be probably the best thing I did in climbing, I'm sorry to say.

Back then I had the idea of being really serious about the sport, hoping to work up to Half Dome, and who knows what else. But it didn't happen. I went to college instead and got involved with other things. Probably the main truth of the matter is that climbing was just too difficult.

[url=[/url" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2261900400053544625TuZOaL][/url]

Jim Hoagland leading a variation of the Harry Daley route, below Coonyard Pinnacle, Sept. 1969.

[url=[/url" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2724065590053544625pxrFBA][/url]

Me grinning at top of first pitch, luxuriating in my Kronhofers.

So on the wings of that success we came back the next day with the intention of climbing the whole route. I found then, and still feel, the route to be very mentally wearing. The routefinding is not at all straightforward (especially then, when all we had to go on was the Red guide). We couldn't find the proper crack on the second pitch, and then wandered way right and up, eventually getting back on track by traversing way left, and establishing a tenuous (dangerous) belay below the next 5.9 section. I climbed that, too, somehow, and then downclimbed to the ledge. We could not, however, climb the next pitch (either the fourth or the fifth pitch, depending on how you do it; at any rate the second to the last pitch). There was a party ahead of us, and we watched more or less helplessly some British climber lead it pretty easily, as it seemed, in Robbins boots (big blue things with a felted upper that looked like they might be more at home in the Alps).

At some point between 1970 and 1990 a bolt was added to this pitch, about 25 feet up. A very properly placed bolt, in my opinion. There is also, if you are sharp-eyed, a hole that used to have a bolt in it about 10 feet up, in which a baby angle can be placed and tied-off (don't tell anybody). At any rate, not feeling adventurous and courageous enough, we went down. Too bad. I found out much later that it "eases off" as they say about 20 feet up (even though it doesn't look like it).

Feeling somewhat fagged and fashed about the whole business, the route stewed in my mind for another year, and as it happened I hit on the idea of getting what I thought might be better shoes to give me an advantage. So I did. I bought a pair of very cool looking PAs at the Tuolumne Meadows store, late in the summer of 1970. At the same time I got a kind of oral history of the route -- years before its time -- from the shoe salesman they had there; no helpful ideas on making it easier or safer, though. Who was that informative shoe salesman? I thought you'd never ask. It was someone by the name of Joe McKeown.

So Jim and I went up there again, with approximately the same result. And there it stood. Ten, twenty years went by, and I just couldn't stomach the idea of dying without giving it another shot - especially since Jim had climbed it with Jeff Johnson a year or two later. And so after all those ages and ages I somehow managed to find a partner to try it, somebody whom I knew had climbed 5.11. I figured I was set. I have pictures of this attempt, here: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/563235491jkJvMy

It really happened. But it was too bad again, since we couldn't climb it, despite the appearance of the renegade bolt on the second to last pitch. Maybe that made up for the disappearance of the first bolt on the first pitch. There had been a pretty big rockfall not long before, and it clobbered that bolt. I had to make do with threading a wired nut over the stub. It worked out Ok; it held a fall, too (don't tell anybody). But it did add an unanticipated particle of anxiety, and they add up. Although not every section on this route is "very difficult," it seems as though every time you turn around you're looking at another 5.9 pitch, and if the first pitch has tolerable protection, the others don't. For instance the traverse to the belay ledge at the top of the second pitch; maybe it's only 5.8, but it's run out and you get to clip-in to a rusted looks like a Lost Arrow driven up into a crack in a roof. That's way down there.

By 1990 I had a wide range of footgear selection not previously available. But I thought it wasn't quite fair to go up there in my EBs with sticky rubber, so I hauled out my old PAs from 1970 (even if they had sticky rubber, too -- don't tell anybody). I even got to put a lot of fancy gadgets on my gear sling (Friends, nuts, you name it (the attempt in 1969 involved only pitons: we actually placed one or two)). You don't actually use many of these things, but they're nice to have for show and the overall psychology of the experience.

[url=[/url" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2663086290053544625TiIBpx][/url]

My PAs. I'm not getting rid of these. I want to be buried with them, actually. I can't seem to get a direct link to work, so these thumbnails will have to do.

It turned out I went up a few days later, in 1990, with someone else (someone whom I had seen climb 5.12) and finally climbed the route. I felt like Katsushiro in The Seven Samurai ("Today you're a full-fledged man.") I felt so manic that I wrote out a 30 or 40 page chronicle of my misadventures on the route, which shows me how much of an idiot I was even as late as 1990 (I'm much wiser and more mature now).

Thanks again, Joe, and thank you all for your patience.
WBraun

climber
  Nov 17, 2008 - 12:55am PT
It's a mind blower that you guys could climb those slippery slabs in those Frankenstein boots.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Nov 17, 2008 - 04:15am PT
Not to rain on anyone's parade, but those Kronhoeffer's in the picture look like one of the mysterious clones that surfaced for a short time. I remember the original Kronhoeffer's, and of course used them for years, and they had a certain perfect cut to the rubber tread on the bottom. Then came along a version from who knows where, with the little lightning-shaped variation of that rubber tread, and the rubber was different, and they weren't as good. When I saw the photo above, I noticed that right away... The tops were also a slight bit higher than the original kind...
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Nov 17, 2008 - 04:19am PT
Also, the original Kronhoeffers didn't have a heel, if I recall. Higgins you remember this, right...?
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  Nov 17, 2008 - 11:09am PT
Super recollections of sliding around on the Apron.

Hey Redwood, did you mean to say "and I just couldn't stomach the idea of giving it another shot without dying" or did I read it wrong?

The whole issue of shoes on the Apron is a thread in itself. I tired to climb on the Apron in Spyders (that didn't work so well) and tried it again as a guide in EBs and it worked just fine.

Best to everyone, Roger
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 17, 2008 - 12:51pm PT
I think I had a pair of Kronhoffers without a heel. Wish i still had them. Never let feel "practical" with your stuff in the vicinity of a thrift store...
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
  Nov 17, 2008 - 01:10pm PT
I don’t remember the heel on Kronhofers, but I do remember the change in rubber. I remember it as being pretty sticky and then less so. I think the same thing happened to those blue suede Robbins boots. The earlier version had a pretty sticky formulation and the soles actually broke off in very tiny chunks. Later the soles seemed like regular Vibram hiking soles. The good rubber had a very intense smell to it as well. I remember walking around in my mother’s kitchen after getting a new pair of Kronhofers and leaving black marks all over the place because the rubber was so soft and came off so easily. As well, we used to buy them several sizes too small and the upper leather would sort of form to your foot so you could really feel the rock. They hurt like hell.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Nov 17, 2008 - 02:04pm PT
Some Kronhofer memories.

West Ridge Mountaineering in West Los Angeles was the sole distributor for Kronhofer klettershoes from about 1970 until old man Kronhofer announced he was quitting. The earlier models did not have the heeled sole. I can't remember when the heel with the new sole pattern became standard, but since that's the only climbing shoe I ever wore until EBs & PAs came into vogue, I can vouch for the fact that the composition of the sole was never altered.
Those of us that considered ourselves expert on the subject, preferred the "new" heeled sole for its pattern because the lugs were more closely spaced than the original heel-less sole. Also the heel stayed in etrier loops more securely.

Any difference in "stickiness" was never noticed by anyone I ever sold a pair to(actual stickiness was never a characteristic of the Kronhofer sole).

Also, we always bought them at least a couple sizes smaller than our normal shoe size and when brand new we would put them on and dip our feet, shoe and all, into a bucket of water to soak them. Then we wore them around all day until they dried out - perfectly formed to our feet. Next, we would remove the brass staples in the toe of the sole (they were a problem when the sole wore down and the metal made contact with the rock. We also used to epoxy the toe and outer side around the small toe area to prevent premature wear and eventual holes appearing in the leather.

Great shoes (until Fires came along). Only bad feature was the absorbency of the suede leather. On the 8th ascent of the Nose, Boche and I climbed for 7 days in the rain. The water pouring down the face would run down our outstretched arms, through our clothes, and into our shoes, but when we stepped up in our etriers, the water would be squeezed out, if only partially and temporarily.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
  Nov 17, 2008 - 02:57pm PT
You may well be right with regard to the “stickyness” of the soles; perhaps I’ve confused them with the Robbins soles. At any rate, I bought every pair I ever owned from Westridge. Loved that store. They were really remarkable shoes on any rock that had a bit of grit like Stonypoint or out at Joshua Tree. Even after EBs came out, I still used my old Kronhofers out at Stonypoint.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Nov 17, 2008 - 09:28pm PT
I've seen Kronhoffers with two soles. Most had the Kletter Super
as seen on John Morton's. Some had the Marwa Klettersohle,
which had fewer, broader lugs and came flat. On Kronies and on
the Voyager Directissima (the closest knockoff ever) there was
a wedge of black foam rubber to build up the heel area
slightly.
The pair of Kronhoffers I bought from Higgins had the Marwa.
Morton's are the real deal, I'm sure.
I dissected a good number of Kronies and Directissimas both.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 17, 2008 - 09:30pm PT
So you ever crusie Ebay for Kronnies, in our size, Scuff?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 17, 2008 - 10:06pm PT
You would have more luck cruisin' for Cronys on the ST! Never even seen 'hofers on Ebay myself.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Nov 17, 2008 - 10:21pm PT
What Steve said, Jaybro.
I did, though, see a pair that I had resoled with Shoenard
sole in 1974, for sale in a consignment shop in the late 90s.
Redwood

Gym climber
West Sacramento CA
  Nov 18, 2008 - 12:44am PT
Roger Breedlove wrote:

"Hey Redwood, did you mean to say "...and I just couldn't stomach the idea of giving it another shot without dying" or did I read it wrong?"

No. I meant what I wrote. I was trying to get the idea across that I wouldn't have felt good about dying without having climbed the route, or at least giving it one more serious attempt. Maybe it didn't come out right. Mold induced dementia (or EMF induced dementia, too); or maybe both of them together, as well.

I had a very high degree of liking for my Kronhoffers, which I got at West Ridge. They were a real rock shoe, as opposed to the kletterschuhe I had previously. And they felt good. I thought I could climb "anything" in them (anything=5.9). The PAs were more versatile, but I didn't think they edged as well, and they hurt after a while. Somewhere or other I ran across an article written by Chouinard where he claimed he could put some surgical rubber on a shoe and walk up the Apron. Not that I believed him, but I wondered about this surgical rubber from time to time during the 20 years between attempts.


Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Nov 18, 2008 - 12:52am PT
When I started in the early 1790s or 1970s or whatever, I had a pair of shoes from REI. They were a little darker grey than the shoes pictured up-thread, quite stiff, and if I remember rightly had a shallow Vibram sole, and rubber toe and heel caps. I can't remember the brand, but they were European, sort of an imitation of the RRs.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Nov 18, 2008 - 02:29pm PT
Scuffy b is 100% on about the two different soles on genuine Kronhofers and he's right about the picture being a genuine pair, also.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Nov 18, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
What a fantastic story.

The pictures are great, no need for any touch up, you really get the feel of the climb.

We're so lucky that these photos and stories from almost 50 years ago can now be shared across the world for free.

The shared booty camera is absolutely classic.
BBA

climber
OF
  Nov 18, 2008 - 03:36pm PT
Here's a shoe related item. Joe sent me the letters I wrote to him and some CDs, but he also accidentally included letters from other people. Some are quite amusing. One of Joe's friends who worked at the Curry Company sent Joe a letter asking him to get a pair of size 42 Klettershuh as "Kay threw away one of mine". That girl was on her way to being the mom of some poor boy who wanted to climb. Then Karl went on to say, I only have $8 so I'll pay you later.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Nov 18, 2008 - 03:57pm PT
Voyager Directissima (the Kronie knockoff) with Marwa "Innsbrucker" Klettersohle.
Purchased virtually brand new a couple of years ago on eBay.
(having started out in red PA’s, I never did anything really serious in this type of shoe)




scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Nov 18, 2008 - 07:10pm PT
Also note that Tarbuster's shoes are the 2nd version of the
Directissima, with the extra layer of leather on the toe.
The Directissima was cut more narrow in the arch, which I liked,
but I think Kronhoffers had better leather in the midsole.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
  Nov 18, 2008 - 07:18pm PT
Yeah, if I had those shoes and my old leather bottom red rucksack, I'd feel like I was 20 again. Seeing these images is like listening to old favorite songs or looking at my old high school year book. Pathetically nostalgic but great fun.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
  Nov 22, 2008 - 09:29pm PT
Many years ago (70s) on the way up Coonyard (yet again) we were at the top of MM slab. I had just finished belaying my partner up the HD crack and was still tied into a small Manzanita or Pine that grew at its end. I was pulling the rope up on the ledge when I heard, half-consciously, a strangely disturbing crack in the distance. At the same moment I heard my partner mumble something like "Oh sheet." When I turned to see what had happened all I saw was his body flattened like a pancake up against the wall hands over head in an otherwise fetal position. I looked straight up and saw a block of granite, which at the time appeared to be the size of a freight train, sucking air and coming straight at us. I can still see it separated from the low angle of the wall and turning slightly as it made its way in a kind of bizarre slow motion toward us. Panicked, I jumped up to move in close to the wall and was pulled rudely back to the bush I was tied into. I still remember a moment of perfect clarity as small rocks began hitting the ground around us and, over a period that seemed like minutes, I unclipped the belay and was finally able to move. Fearing the worst, I jumped, leapt, flew over the west side of the slab where I knew the climbing was very easy and where I could squeeze into the open book for protection. Problem was it was pretty steep and I picked up speed pretty fast. At exactly the moment when it was becoming an uncontrollable fall, I reached out, grabbed an inch wide ledge and caught myself. Felt like Batman but I broke a finger. I stuck my head in the crack and waited for the world to go dark. I honestly thought the debris would bury me. Of course it didn't and in a few moments I called up to my friend. No answer. I scrambled back up to the top of the slab. He was fine and checking the rope. But the bush I had been tied into was gone. My pack, also clipped into the bush, was gone as well. If I'd stayed tied into that bush, I'm sure I'd be gone too. We didn't even bother to rap off just scrambled down the west side and got the hell out of there. I loved climbing on the apron, but there was always occasional rock fall.
Redwood

Gym climber
West Sacramento CA
  Nov 25, 2008 - 11:31pm PT
Paul,
Interesting story. Glad you survived. What a predicament.

When I attempted the route in 1990, I couldn't help noticing how the whole Monday Morning Slab area had been clobbered by a rockfall (or perhaps more than one): much fresh-looking debris all over the place, and most of the bushes and trees that used to grow out of cracks here and there had been swept away, or severely reduced in verdure (pics linked to show this pretty well), plus there was a lot of sandy residue on the ledges -- in addition to the first bolt having been stripped off. About 2004 I inquired at the Guide service if they guided anything on the Apron and they just kind of looked at me askance and mumbled and hemmed and hawed (I'm a scuzzy looking character, after all).

I miss it, though. Might not ever see it again.

[url=[/url" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2581255000053544625XfzgSs][/url]

Apron: Feb. 1975.

mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 1, 2011 - 02:19pm PT
Classic
michaelj

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Jan 19, 2012 - 04:02pm PT
Interesting that Yvon placed a bolt that got chopped. Around this time he published his "Bolts and Ethics" piece in Summit (1961), decrying the overuse of bolts by less than expert climbers. Viz: ". . . he should simply descend rather than desecrate the rock with bolts, or risk a fall without them."

Summit revisited the issue in 1964 when Roper wrote a piece called “Overuse of Bolts,” talking about how he and Pratt had removed 36 bolts from Shiprock. “Prospective Shiprock climbers, prepare yourselves: you must now be equal to the first ascent party,” he wrote. “The climb is still safe—but now it is also exhilarating.”

Ed Leeper fired back in a letter to the magazine. He wrote about attempting the Coonyard Pinnacle. He and his partner Paul Kunasz found that a bolted protecting a difficult forty foot lead had been chopped. Kunsasz fell, hit a ledge and shattered his ankle. Leeper replaced the bolt, which was again quickly chopped. “I have not asked Paul, but I am certain that he prefers his eight weeks in a cast to the ignominy of using an unnecessary bolt for protection,” Leeper wrote. Roper’s article, he added, made him ashamed of having replaced a bolt. “By way of expiation, I have just spent the weekend chopping off handholds and footholds on the Lunch Ledge and Royal Arches routes in Yosemite Valley. Prospective climbers on these routes should be warned that they are still safe—but now they are also exhilarating.”
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jan 19, 2012 - 05:02pm PT
Right about this time, a fellow...happened by and asked if they knew of or had heard of the climber Coonyard...who was supposed to be in the area.

Note that this only shows that the name "Coonyard" had been bestowed sometime before the incident Rearick described, which means that there might be no inconsistency in Rearick's and Guido's accounts, other than the question of when exactly the name really originated.

I always thought "Igor Coonyard" was coined by the Vulgarian master punner Claude (or "Clawed" as he sometimes signs himself) Suhl.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 28, 2012 - 11:18am PT
THAT would be a very interesting detail to nail down!
KabalaArch

Trad climber
Starlite, California
  Mar 29, 2012 - 01:45am PT
I remember one embarrassing encounter when we were "busted" by the UC police as we were making the leap from the roof of a ticket booth to a wall

Yah, I had a perfect foot/back dihedral I'd do out back of our apt on Telegraph and Ashby. Problem was, it was a bank, and some called in the heat.

So...it goes right after the 1st pitch after all! Couldn't see it, because we were climbing directly into the sun.

But, one time I actually went up to the summit of Point Beyond (so named, I assumed, because the route actually ends a pitch below its summit - there are no anchors atop the flake).

I couldn't help but notice, on what is actually a loose, 3rd Class route to the climber's L from the traditional "top" of the PB route, that there extended a 3rd Class ledge, which seemed to traverse L towards CY. Roper's Green Book mentions a CY - PB traverse...I've since wondered it this 3rd ledge goes both ways; is it a part of the CY traverse?

One of the innaresting features of GPA...you could be 50' to one side or another of another route, and never know it. Like setting out to the wide sea, in a (sticky) rubber dingy. Bail bolts add to the confusion, and I've tried to keep track of them in my guidebook.

I remember a couple of guys at Indian Rock in Kronhoffers. Resoled with "Cat's Paws?" They were climbing at a 5.11 standard, in 1972.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Mar 29, 2012 - 05:30am PT
Roper's Green Book mentions a CY - PB traverse...

No, it doesn't.

Perhaps you were remembering the Patio-Coonyard Traverse or the Goodrich-Coonyard Traverse.

The ledge at the base of the last bit of Point Beyond (and also at the start of Angel's Approach) does extend over left (3rd class, not loose). It is shown as "3rd" in the topo on p.236 of the 1994 Reid guide. And p.292 of the 1987 Meyers-Reid, and p.163 of the 1982 Meyers. It is not shown on the topo (due to a page break), but this ledge extends over left to within 10' of the 2nd belay on Coonyard. Higher it becomes a small corner which was the original aid line of Coonyard, with its big pendulum.
On the p.235 topo, there is a variation shown which takes the 2nd pitch of Coonyard over right and says "-> Point Beyond". This might also be what you were recalling.


The p2 belay on Coonyard is the point where the red line goes out to the right and stops. The ledge starts 10' above this and goes straight right, reaching the Point Beyond flake. Angel's Approach climbs the slab just right of the black streaks which come down from the overhang and end at this ledge.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Mar 29, 2012 - 10:47am PT
Nothing quite like a bit of classic history early in the morning, just to "start the day off right!" Great tale, Guido!

Cheers,

Rodger
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Mar 29, 2012 - 06:51pm PT
Excellent stuff here.

Cross-linking to more stories, comments, and pictures of this glorious route:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/988294/TR-2009-10-18-Coonyard-Pinnacle-Frquent-Flier-Miles

Pendulum point in view in upper left of this photo:
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
  Mar 29, 2012 - 08:49pm PT
Remember doing a traverse from the top of the first pitch of CY to top of PB... very easy, though harder than 3rd class.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Mar 30, 2012 - 01:18am PT
> a traverse from the top of the first pitch of CY to top of PB... very easy, though harder than 3rd class.

Yes, this is what is shown on the topo, with one bolt, no rating and no separate name.
KabalaArch

Trad climber
Starlite, California
  Mar 30, 2012 - 02:21am PT
Angel's Approach climbs the slab just right of the black streaks which come down from the overhang and end at this ledge.

Thank you for the excellent photo -your light's just right, and pulls the interconnecting ledge between PB and CY into good relief.

I didn't have time to check out the traverse that trip - I was with something of a novice, and that's not the context for a venture into the unknown.

The reason I'd gone up to PB proper (the summit of which is L of the tree) is because I was attempting Angel's Approach (Higgens). There was a 1/4" spinning Leeper at the ledge 30 feet directly above "PB." The next was about 60 feet up the black streak, just below the rooflet where a traverse R begins.

Backing off, I silently fumed about "how long does someone get to 'own' a route?" Later, checking the guidebook, I saw that there used to be several bolts along the streak - all, evidently, removed by the 1st MM 'lanch which stripped off all of the nearby trees.

I think at PB/CY traverse across this major ledge would be worth checking out. The short section I did up to this ledge was definatly 3rd, composed of barely there blocks worthless for pro anyways. The ledge itself was a sidewalk as far as my rope would allow me to proceed, but I couldn't see around the corner, to what I guess would be the 2nd CY belay.

I used to fantasize about hiring a helicopter, and doing a photo survey map of the Apron. Due to its low angle, so many ledges and features cannot be seen from the ground, or while en route, for that matter. What about a Sailing Shoes extension to the Oasis?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Mar 30, 2012 - 02:29am PT
> Backing off, I silently fumed about "how long does someone get to 'own' a route?" Later, checking the guidebook, I saw that there used to be several bolts along the streak - all, evidently, removed by the 1st MM 'lanch which stripped off all of the nearby trees.

No, actually the Angel's Approach bolts were unaffected by rockfalls.
The originals were all in place until 2007, when Roger replaced them.


http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=441303

There is already a route from Lucifer's to the Oasis, but I don't know about connecting Sailing Shoes to Point Beyond. There is a missing bolt on p3 or so of Sailing Shoes that needs to be fixed - if I get to that, maybe I'll see what it looks like above....
KabalaArch

Trad climber
Starlite, California
  Mar 30, 2012 - 04:56pm PT
There is already a route from Lucifer's to the Oasis, but I don't know about connecting Sailing Shoes to Point Beyond. There is a missing bolt on p3 or so of Sailing Shoes that needs to be fixed - if I get to that, maybe I'll see what it looks like above....

Yes, L-Oasis, FA Russ McClean, et al. Long time ago I purchased a milk crate of pitons for $20 at his yard sale...most of his thin had already been sold, but I picked up a few. The rest is intended for "leavers" at rappel bails. Plus, a little bit of history's sake. "I just wanted them to go to someone who knew what they were."

Actually, for a Sailing Shoes advancement, I'd noticed a 100 foot wide crystal band, which ascends from near the top of The Letdown left. Very featured stone surface, about midway up a directissima.

Of course, reaching it from the top of SS is another matter, probably 5.11 if it even goes (or it would have been done already).
Once in the crystal band, either we'd get lucky, and find some friendly flake systems...or traverse L on the band, and intercept LL to Oasis. But I'll never know, which is the reason I've disclosed this potential problem, the widest unclimbed reach of Apron I'm aware of.

Thanks again for the xclnt photo of CY-PB ledges. Every time I've been to the offical "top" of the PB route, I'd look at the 30 feet or so of easy 5.10 slab to reach to ledge at the start of AA. Then one day, I wandered L past the uppermost anchors, and found the 3rd Class detached blocks which lead to the ledge. Wet and grassy, but easy. It's neat to know someone's walked the Plank from PB to the top of CY 2nd pitch, which is indeed what I recall. Seems pointless to go L to R, given the cruxy, runnout nature of the 1st 2 CY pitches, while PB's voie normal is so easy. Traversing the ledge towards CY, on the other hand, would seem to offer a mellow alternative to CY Regular.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Mar 30, 2012 - 06:31pm PT
Awesome story from the golden age. And fun thread growth from all kinds of characters. Thanks so much for sharing. Please keep em coming.
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