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Random Climbing Partner(s) Stories

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PS k-fed the Midgard Serpent is on the West Face not the North Face

 

Now on to random partner stories:

 

I went climbing with this one guy named Don years ago mostly because he had a truck. But his truck was a POS. We drove to Squamish with a couple holes in the muffler. Then we went climbing for the first and last time. We got to the Bluffs and Don decided he would lead "Penny Lane". Don was one of those guys who decides they will save weight by racking three cams on one biner. Well Don was the type of guy who would try and fail to place the two wrong-sized cams before placing the correct one. Then he had to hang. On the next cam placement he repeated the wrong-sized fumbling and on this one when he got the actual cam in, he was so excited that he just climbed on and left this cam in the crack, with the other two cams still clipped to it on the biner, hanging down, and without clipping the rope in. I was kind of in awe of this because I had never seen anyone sketch so badly before, I was still going "Um...Don... ah.. your cam" by the time he made it to the next ledge 30 feet up.

 

So then while he's belaying me up he confesses "Yeah, I didn't take my pills today."

Me: "Oh really, what pills are those Don?" :o

Don: "Oh, the little pills that help me remember things."

 

I was actually glad because by this time I was thinking he was going to say antipsychotics!

 

Then on the way back from Squamish his muffler completely fell off on the Furry Creek hill and got dragged behind the truck. That was pretty loud!

 

 

Oh yeah, :pagetop:

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[you will need a Borat accent for this one]

 

I went climbing with this Slavic dude. He had offered me a beer a few days before in the gym. I refused the beer.

 

"Iss problem?" he said

 

"Dude, it's Canada, in most places, it is not OK to drink beer."

 

I was all psyched. I thought, OK I am with a hardman, fuck yeah, he drinks like a Valley dude, he is gonna haul my noob ass up some harder stuff. So we went to do this slab route on the Apron. He brought this massive pack. He led the first two bolts then came down and sent me up. I was scared shitless by the slab. When I brought him up, I smelled booze.

 

"Een Czech Rrepubleek, we climb one peetch, we drreenk one beerr, allwayss. Iss problem?"

 

Anyway, I quaked and shuddered up the slab route and by the time we got to the top the dude was emitting beer from all pores in a massive vaporous cloud and there was a clinking sound in his pack.

 

"Chrriiss," he said, "iss wery niice cliiimb. Tank you wery muuch. Eef you liike, I sell you Rrussian climbing equeepment. WERY good price." And he hauled some cams out of his pack that looked like they'd been hand shaped out of rusted tin cans.

 

"I'm all good," I told him.

 

"But iss good equeepment. Iss problem?"

 

We went to get coffee. In the coffeeshop, he asked the barista for a beer.

 

"Um we don't like serve beer?" she said

 

"Why not? Iss problem?"

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Keep the stories coming. This is quite entertaining.

 

Memory pills. I could use some pills that help me remember. You know, sometimes, you get out on a really scary lead and you can't remember why the hell you thought it was a good idea to take that pitch. I think perhaps the best climbers are the ones with the worst memories for things like pain and fear.

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Here's another one: I climbed this route at the NRG and my GF didn't follow me up to clean so she asked some random guy if he wanted to climb it. He gladly tied and and began climbing. He's halfway up when a HUGE blacksnake crawls out of the crack I'm anchored in at the top and sticks it's nose right in my face. I freeze and the snake starts waving back and forth in front of me. The guy starts screaming 'TAKE UP SLACK TAKE UP SLACK' but I'm too petrified to move. The snake stares at me for about a minute - mere inches form my face while the guy continues to scream at me. Finally the snake pulls away and starts downclimbing the route. I take up the slack and the guy stops yelling.

 

I let him calm down and then calmly ask him if he's afraid of snakes. "SNAKES? WHY? WHAT KIND OF SNAKE? WHERE??!!!!" I explain that there is a giant black snake downclimbing the crack he is jamming and he starts screaming bloody murder. A few minutes later the snake reaches him and he starts screaming even louder. He manages to jam one fist in below the snake and as the snake is crawling down past him he jams his other fist above the snake and somehow leviates out of the crack so it appears his entire body is floating off the wall. The snake crawled past and he continued to the top visibily shaken. I tried to explain to him why I hadn't taken up slack but he was really pissed. He rapped off, packed up his gear and stomped away.

 

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My first summer out here, I climbed Rainier with Dave "Spike" Mahre (he's related to my wife). While relaxing at Camp Schurman some random climber asked him if he'd climbed the mountain before. Spike calmly stated "oh, a couple hundred times, or so". He spent most of the trip complaining about how he had hauled Camp Schurman up the mountain on his back and the damn government has stolen it from him...

 

 

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PS k-fed the Midgard Serpent is on the West Face not the North Face

 

My bad......midgard serpent is his route on Thor. Hard to keep track. I forgot what he named the route he did not the north face of the nameless.

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I had the following adventure last summer in the Bugs. I wrote this account to share with friends afterwards. I even took notes to make sure I woould be accurate as it was happening as it was all so bizarre.

 

 

Preface:

 

I'm just a normal guy that likes to climb when I get a chance. I have a wife, 2 kids, a house, a dog and a job. I don't get out a hell of a lot, but I'm thankful for the time I get. I usually get a one week trip per Summer along with other shorter outings. I think I get along fairly well with others and I've climbed with quite a few others and rarely if ever had had any "issues" with partners. I'm not any Super Alpinist by any means, but I like to think I move pretty quickly and safely in the mountains and have been fortunate enough to climb all over this continent as well as Europe and South America.

 

My wife has kept me around for 18 years and I have a great time with the people I work with. When I'm out climbing I like to flip crap and expect to get it back. To me that's part of being out with the boys. The reason for this information will come clear when you read my story.

 

Disclaimer:

 

As my 6th grade art teacher would attest to, I have little if any creativity. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried. I like to tell a good story and on occasion have embellished a little, as I think most people do sometimes, but this story has NO exaggerations. I realize that this is just one side of the story. I'm sure my former partner has a different view. I do promise that all of the quotes are entirely accurate as I had time during this adventure to write them in my journal. The names of the key players (my former partner and his new friend) in this true-life story have been changed to protect their identities. Plus I don't want to discourage anyone from the pleasure of climbing with my former partner in the future.

 

The Story

 

I met Jethro about a year ago after looking for a partner on cc.com. We went cragging together a handful of times and we seemed to get along quite well. He climbs at about my level and we do similar work so had stuff to talk about. I mentioned in April that I wanted to get back to the Bugaboos as I hadn't been there in about 4 years. I would be my 5th trip to the Bugs, but I love that place and really wanted to try and climb the Becky/Chouinard route on South Howser. Jethro said he had wanted to get there as well. He had never been. We made tentative plans to go there in August. Jethro was going to Yosemite in June to try the Nose with 3 others.

When he got back, I contacted him and he was still game to go to the Bugs the second week of August. He could only get 6 days off, but I said we could make it work. That would only leave 4 days of climbing when factoring in the 10 hour drive each way. The weather in the Bugaboos is extremely fickle, so I figured we might get 3 good days if we were lucky.

 

Jethro picked me up at 10:30 instead of the agreed time of 9 am the morning of departure. Usually not a huge deal, but I knew that this would make it difficult to do the drive and hike in to the hut that same day. Still, I was just happy to be on the road and didn't even mention it. On the drive, Jethro mentioned that he hadn't been getting much sleep and wouldn't mind getting home a day early so he could rest before going back to work. I said that we would be limited on time as it is and I hoped to do some good climbs so we should play it by ear and see how the weather treats us.

The drive goes good and we arrive at the trailhead at 9:30pm and slept in the car. I thought we could get up early and get to the hut and then climb McTech arête or something else with a short approach. When we get up I lay a tarp out and tell Jethro that he can lay his stuff out to pack as he just had all of his stuff in a HUGE haul bag in the back of the car. I was already packed and ready to go. Jethro said that he didn't feel like putting the effort in to packing so he was just going to take the haul bag up as he can just throw stuff in and go. I said that was a little strange. I've worn those things and they aren't the most comfortable things for packing and he had a regular big pack that he could use. He went on about how it really was a pretty comfortable pack and it wouldn't be a problem. Whatever dude, let's just go. He throws some more clothes in the Pig and we take off. He had asked how far it was to the hut and I said it has always taken me less than 2 hours to get there, but I didn't know how far. We take off on the trail to the strange looks of another 2 guys going up wondering what big walls we were going to be climbing with the Pig.

I go at my usual pace and arrive at the hut in 1 hour 45 min. I wait for Jethro so we can go climbing. I wait. I wait. I worry that he might have fallen off of the trail so I start back down. I meet him a little way down. Jethro arrives at the hut in the record time of 4 hours and 30 min. Climbing for the day is out as it's almost 2pm.

 

 

Jethro starts unpacking his Pig outside the hut. To my surprise he starts pulling out cans of food. I'm laughing as he continues to pull out canned food. He has big cans of tuna, chili, refried beans, and assorted other cans. He must have at least 10-15 big cans of food. Costco size flour tortilla bag and a few candy bars round out the food selection. He then pulls out a gri-gri, some swivels for hauling the pig and assorted other wall gear. It was quickly apparent that he had not unpacked his pig from the Yosemite trip a month earlier. I'm laughing and mention that maybe it took so long to get to the hut because his pack/pig weighed twice as much as it needed to. He really didn't say anything.

 

The plan I made for climbing(Jethro didn't have any input, believe me I asked) was to go climb the west ridge of Pigeon Spire to acclimatize and then bivy at the base of the Becky/Chouinard route on Howser tower. The next day we would climb the Becky/Chouinard up and over. Jethro wondered about the water situation. I said we would not have water available until we dropped in for our bivy that night. He asked a couple of more times about the water and I again explained the situation, although I'm not sure he was getting it.

We take off late for Pigeon as there was no reason to get going early as Pigeon is easy 5.4 and we would just get to the bivy spot early and begin getting cold. We were going light as we had to carry our gear up and over a 11,000ft mountain. I had a light 2 man bivy sack and some warm clothes and lots of Gu and a sandwich for dinner.

 

We climbed up the Snowpatch/Bugaboo col and take a break at the top, which is about halfway to Pigeon spire. Jethro takes the moment to ask, "so is there water on the route?" I ask, "you didn't bring water?!" He says he brought a little but was just wondering if there was any on the route. I start laughing. Jethro then yells, "OK, that's 2 strikes. One more and I'm walking back down!" Huh?? He goes on to say that I flipped him shit about his food selection and now I was laughing at him about him not getting the water situation. I said that to me, flipping your partner shit and laughing about it was part of being in the mountains. He said he didn't play that game and wouldn't put up with it. OK Jethro. I apologized, explained the water situation again and we left the col for Pigeon. We climbed Pigeon. I led most of the way as Jethro was lagging on the rope. He was also very disorganized with the rack and his gear. As I'm climbing I'm thinking I'm not sure I want to be on a route as big as the Howser tower with his guy. What if I get the 3rd strike!?!? We can't back off of that route. Plus the weather looks a little iffy, but is forcast to get better the next day. We get to the summit of Pigeon and I ask Jethro what he thinks of Howser tomorrow. He says he's not sure he wants to do it. No problem. How about we go back to the hut and climb the Northeast ridge of Bugaboo tomorrow. It's a classic and I know the way since I've done it before. Sounds good. We get back to the hut by 7pm, eat and go to bed at 9 for a 4am wakeup and start up to Bugaboo Spire.

 

 

The alarm goes off at 4am. I look out the window and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect weather! Jethro whispers, "hey Chris, I didn't get any sleep last night. I can't do any climbing today." It's Alpine climbing. Who sleeps!?!?!?!? I roll over and go back to sleep disgusted. I wake up at 7 and we are the only people in the hut, THE only. Everyone is out climbing or hiking. I'm not happy. Jethro gets up at 9am. I can't stand to look at him and go for a hike and scramble up Eastpost spire. I'm back by noon. He sits by me as I'm reading a magazine and wants to know what the plan is.

 

I tell him I'm really disappointed with the trip as I get one climbing vacation in the summer and this is turning into a bust. I got the feeling that he had put nothing into the trip as I made all of the arrangements and did all of the planning. I didn't mind arranging, but it seemed as if he hadn't looked into the area at all and wanted me to plan everything as far as climbing and then bitch about the plan. Plus, the weather is perfect for climbing and these days are golden in the Bugaboos. He says between his work and girlfriend he hasn't been sleeping well and just wants to get home and get rest. He thinks he's having a hard time acclimatizing and tells me you must have acclimatized quicker because you were dragging me up Pigeon." I ask if he wants to climb tomorrow. He's not sure. I've had enough with this guy and tell him we should go tomorrow if he doesn't want to climb. He says he wants to leave and get home. Fine, we leave tomorrow morning. Maybe I can get home and salvage some climbing vacation somewhere else.

 

About 7pm that night, Jethro comes up to me and says he is going down to the car to sleep as he can't sleep in the hut. See you in the morning when you come down. OK. He loads up the Pig and hikes down the trail. I get up in the morning and am out of the hut at 8am. Another perfect weather day wasted! The whole way down I'm thinking about who I can contact to go climbing with on short notice when I get home.

 

I'm down the trail in an hour and wander into the parking lot. No Jethro or his car. Nowhere. I wander around the parking lot like a lost puppy with a huge pack, no Jethro. Two guys loading their packs getting ready to go up are looking at me and whispering to each other. I wonder if Jethro just drove down the road a bit to camp, so I walk about 1/2 mile down the ro... no Jethro. I come back to the parking lot and sit on my pack. What now? I sit there for about 20 minutes and all of a sudden Jethro drives in to the l...whew! He hops out of the car in a good mood and says, "this is fun, I want to stay another night." I just smile and start throwing all of my stuff in his car. I'm thinking the drive home will be hard. I'm changing my clothes by the car and Jethro say's "really, I want to stay another night. You can go back up to the hut and stay another night. It's not that far."(forgetting that it took him 4 1/2 hours to get there)

I look at him and ask him if he is serious. Yep, he's serious.

 

Me: "There's no freaking way I'm hiking back up to that hut. What's your deal?"

 

Jethro: "When I came down last night I decided to go for a drive. I came across this trappers cabin with a campfire out front and I stopped and there was this gal there by herself and we hit it off and I spent the night and I want to stay there again tonight."

 

Me: "are you serious?!"

 

Jethro: "yep".

 

Me : "I'm not hiking back up to that hut".

 

Jethro: "I'm not driving home today".

 

Jethro: (my favorite quote of the whole trip) "C'mon Chris, it doesn't always have to be about what you want to do".

 

Me: (laughing my ass off) "are you serious?"

 

I sit on my pack. It's 10am, nobody is coming out because the weather is perfect so I have no chance for a ride. All I could think to do was get my stuff out of this lunatic's car. I empty all of my stuff out. He jumps in the car and says he'll be back by 9 or 10 tomorrow morning. Away he goes. My brain is having a hard time keeping up with events as they are happening. What the hell am I going to do if he doesn't show up? We are 25 mile from pavement, and another 90 to anything more than a 2 horse town. I'm sitting in the parking lot with all of my stuff. The whole time the 2 dudes from California in the parking lot are watching this drama. I go over to them and explain my situation. They laugh. One of them is Bill Papas that owns a Crossfit franchise. I do Crossfit so I recognized his name.

 

I fall in to the roll of official Bugaboo Parking Lot Greeter. People arrive in the lot and look at me and my stuff out of the corner of their eye. They ask what the deal is and I give the short version of my story. I talk to Bill and his partner Bill for quite a while. I talk to Rueben and Joe who arrive from Portland, who take pity on me and give me a beer and some fresh veggies from the garden. I talk to the guide Yorn from Canmore and his guest Richard from Pittsburgh. They gave me a huge bag of fresh cherries, which were very good. Scott Lee from North Conway, New Hampshire hiked down because of injury. He was going to the closest town for a few days while his partner climbed for a few more days with another guy up at the campground. We talked about world issues for over an hour. 4 kids from Golden, BC that came up for a hike. An older couple from Invermere up for a hike. All were great folks and I actually came to enjoy talking to all of the different people from all over the continent.

 

I set up the tent in the parking lot at about 5 that evening as the bugs were starting to come out and I wanted someplace to escape.

 

At about 7pm another car arrives in the parking lot. It's a new SUV and there's a gal in it by herself. Kinda strange, but I had seen stranger in the last few days. She pulls up and asks what I'm doing with a tent in the middle of the parking lot. I give her the short version of my story and she starts laughing. All of a sudden, Jethro jumps up from behind the back seat laughing. Again, my brain is shorting out and I call him a few choice words. They get out and Pocahontas opens the back of her SUV and starts putting my stuff in the back of her car. I ask her what the hell she is doing. She says she just learned from Jethro that I was in the parking lot and I should come back to her cabin and spend the night there instead of in the parking lot. All I could think of was that I needed to get close to Jethro's car, as that was my way out of here. Pocahontas loads all of my stuff, I take down the tent and throw it in and get in without saying a word.

 

It quickly becomes apparent that these two are on a 2 day bender. They are both hammered and are swilling beer fast. She's cussing like a sailor and throwing her beer cans out the window as we are going 50+ miles per hour down a very rutted dirt road. She's what we would say in the south was rode hard and put away wet. Luckily, the ride is short as the cabin is only a few miles away from the trailhead. It's a very old 1 room trappers cabin on the river. There are hundreds of beer cans in the front yard along with lots of bottles of whiskey in the cabin. Pocahontas hands me a beer and tells me to relax and I can set up my tent in the yard. Jethro keeps his distance from me and continually wanders out for walks down the road.

 

Pocahontas proceeds to tell me her life story on how she has "full status", which means she is registered as 1st nations so she and her family can trap all of the critters she wants. Pocahontas is as white as my Irish ass, but she says her grandfather was full blooded, so she gets "full status". She has a husband and 2 kids in Kolowna, has some problems but at least she's not as bad as her sister who's a hooker in Calgary hooked on opium (I thought opium went out of fashion in the 20's). I'm impressed with Jethro's selection of a girl as this one is definitely a keeper!

 

As it starts to get dark, Jethro goes for one of his extended walks down the road. After 20 or 30 minutes, Pocahontas says she is going to look for Jethro. She jumps in her car and takes off down the road. I look at Jethro's car and think that it is now mine if I can find the keys. I run into the cabin and start going through all of his clothes looking for the keys to his car. No keys. I ransack the cabin looking. I look all through the car. No keys. My plan was to get the keys, get up in the middle of the night, throw my stuff in, flatten one of Pocahontas' tires and drive to Abbotsford and have my wife pick me up there. I would call Jethro's home and leave a message as to where his car was. I then get the idea to hotwire the car. I'm under the dash by headlamp after drinking 3 or 4 beers and think that this might not be a good idea. If I screw up the wiring job, then my way out is really in doubt. I give up and sit by the fire wondering what tomorrow will bring. Jethro and Pocahontas get back after being gone for over an hour in the woods. I sleep in the tent in the front yard.

 

The next morning I wake to the sound of Jethro crushing beer cans. He fills up 2 trash bags full of cans and bottles and throws them in the back of the car. We both get in and drive 10 hours back Washington. Jethro drops me off at my house. I tell him it was an adventure and to get the hell off of my property. He seems ok with that and drives off.

 

THE END

 

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OK, that deserves to be in the best-of-cc.com, right up there with the collected works of Uncle Tricky, Saturday @ Muir, and Found: Neutrino on Girth Pillar. Hilarious.

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Wow, that's not funny :tdown:

Nonsense; if he hadn't gone with 'Jethro' then it would have just been another Bugs TR. This story, however, is classic!!!

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Nice cfire, best thing I've read since Uncle Tricky! Reminds me of a story of my own....

 

It was a abnormally cold October, and when Halloween dawned clear and cool I decided to look for some early season ice around Snoqualmie Pass. I met up with my new partner off 405 at 2:30am :noway:, and was immediately impressed by his visage. He had a steely gaze, and looked to be hewn from a large oak tree.

We made quick time on the icy trail, while Chris regaled me with tales of harrowing adventures in the Canadian Rockies, from Polar Circus to the East Face of Mt. Babel. Our destination was the classic north face of Chair Peak, and as we soloed up the thin ice below the NE Buttress I was both confident and optimistic. However, our first view of the route coincided with a sense of dread and a pressing desire for the fat ice I had previously experienced on this route. Chris was unfazed, however, and as he racked up he spun a yarn which was both hilarious and sad. His tale was of a adventure in the Bugs, complete with bluebird days, haulbags, mysterious cabins, and sadly not a whole lot of climbing.

 

Stress and adrenaline combined to create a potent cocktail of delirium, and after our climb together I couldn’t remember the details of Chris's story.

 

Thanks Chris, for writing down your tale!

 

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not sure i want that kind of passivity in a partner - dude! - sounds like you shoulda beaten holy hell out of him on a couple of occasions! if only i could be so calm...

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Did I mention that he drove and that was my way home? Believe me, the thought did cross my mind on more than a couple of occasions. You can call it passivity, but I'd like to think I was trying to keep my wits in a stressful situation.

 

But also in a wierd way it got to the point a being a little bit of a adreneline rush wondering what was going to happen next. :)

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Here's the Rainier story from Bronco, complete with follow-up.

 

Bronco's Story:

 

"The single push of Saturday was interesting in more ways than I expected.

 

My 2 partners and me left my house around 8:00 pm Friday night left the Paradise Parking lot at 11:00 pm sharp. The night was perfect conditions for hiking in poly pro and a firm crust had formed by that time. The moon was bright enough for us to hike most of the time without headlamps. It was so bright; you could see Mt. Adams, St. Helens and the Tatoosh range peeking up through the cloud deck.

Made good time to Muir (3.5 hours), spent an hour eating, hydrating with recovery drink and a little coffee, stashing hiking poles and putting on every stitch of clothing except for shell pants, it was freakin' cold! Crampon and rope up rolled out of Muir at 3:30 am. Surprisingly, everybody left Muir before we arrived at 2:30. Conditions were still perfect, cold and clear by the time we reached the top of the Disappointment Cleaver at 6:00am. We were still moving quickly, and had caught up to an RMI group who suddenly turned around. We had passed 3 parties descending because of High wind, which we didn't notice because of fatigue or maybe the maelstrom we encountered 3 weeks ago toughened us up! Everything was going according to plan; we even were back on schedule to summit at 8:00 am. 2 hours and 2000 feet to go.

 

Then about 500' above the DC, I encountered Judd. Judd appeared to be about 55 or 60 years old. He was sitting by himself, just off the track all bundled up. I greeted him and then the wheels come off.

 

Judd: "my rope team decided to descend but, I want to summit and so I let them go down with out me. Would you mind if I join your rope team? The last time I climbed Rainer, I went up this route and I am a very strong climber." I think of all of the nice guys who have taken me climbing despite having doubts and decide it is my turn to spread some good karma.

 

Me: (taking notice of his well worn equipment and extremely laid back attitude)

"Only if you will lead up this last 2000’,” I tell him we have been climbing since 11:00 the night before and maintaining a steady pace was critical.

 

Judd: "great, lets go" (I hand him the extra coil I have been carrying, he ties in and off we go). "Oh, by the way, my style is slow and steady" he says. I am thinking great, that's our style too. I am planning our next break in an hour at 13,500 when Judd stops. We have only gone about 20 feet up the switchback so -

 

Me: "hey, what's up?"

Judd: "what?"

Me: "what's wrong? Why are you stopping?"

Judd: "this is how I climb, I told you slow and steady. Your partners look like they could use the break anyway" (I look back to two very angry, anxious climbers)

Me: "lets go! Get a move on Judd!"

Judd: "OK" he turns and climbs another 30' or 40'and stops. He says "Sorry, I just sat too long back there and need to take a quick break” I look back to see partner #1 throw himself down in the middle of the path and go to sleep. This only took him about 2 seconds to achieve REM (deep sleep). Me and partner #2 exchange a concerned look.

 

Me: "hey, what the hell are you doing?"

Partner #1: "if Judd is stopping I will take a nap"

Me: "NO NO NO you can't stop and take a nap get your ass up we are going! JUDD get going!" Judd turns and we repeat the process 5 or 6 times. We have lost an hour and only made about 200'-300' gain. I am thinking, "maybe we could leave Judd here, he won't mind it is so obvious he is killing us and as long as we are moving, partner #1 seems fine. I can’t leave Judd here. It is too damn dangerous. I know, I will lead and we will stop no more until we summit.

 

Me: "JUDD STOP, we are trading places." I am starting to notice things like his old fashioned tweed gators, 10pt crampons with no front points and leather straps, very old looking leather boots etc.

 

Judd: "sorry if I am too slow, this is how I climb and you always have to climb as fast as the slowest climber on your team” He hands me his water bottle "I can't seem to get this open - can you try" i easily open it. I am thinking - how did this dude plan to get down the DC by himself? He has no rope; his harness consists of a rubber belt and a carabineer over his heavy coat. He can't even open his own water bottle, partner #1 is sleeping again and I am starting to have serious doubts about continuing. Partner # 3 (who is climbing very well) votes to go down because of partner #3 sleeping and possibly deciding not to get up.

 

Me: "I am taking the lead from Judd and we will keep moving now. If we keep moving, he won’t have a chance to lay down” I tie into the front and notice the temp is still well below freezing with moderate gusts blowing spindrift around under clear skies. Conditions were perfect, no crevasse to navigate around, everybody else had either ascended out of site or turned around. "CLIMBING!" we get another 30' and I feel a tug on the line.

 

Judd: "break time, just a quickie” I keep walking, forcing Judd to keep moving for another 20' until he remembers to use his ice axe to stop. "Ooh, I gotta take a beautiful picture" classic Judd. I am getting pissed now. Somehow, we repeat this process until about 10:15 am when we top out. Partner #2 flops down for a nap.

 

Judd: "yah, we are awesome" he is greeted with empty stares. He says " hey, we will just sit here an hour or so and let my tummy relax, it feels icky, could you open my water bottle?" I want to open a jar of whoop ass at this point. It only took us about 4 hours to climb the last 2000' and I am getting worried about descending before the freezing level rises.

 

Partner #1: sitting up all of a sudden and looking around "what? Where is my wife?"

 

Me: "eh, do you know what day of the week it is?"

 

Partner #1: "I was just talking to her, where did she go?" I realize the sleep deprivation must be really taking a toll on him.

 

Me: "WE GO DOWN, NOW!"

 

Judd: "well just give me a few more minutes to enjoy the view...” I am staring at him wondering if he realizes the danger he is in. It is not the same danger my partners and me are in, as he is very close to being tossed into the abyss.

 

Me: "rope up Judd, or you can wait for the next party” We all look around at the abandoned summit crater.

 

Judd: "ok" I am worried now about getting down fast for the delusional partner and because it has been warming up and with the fresh dump of snow last week there is some new slabs I have noticed.

 

Me: "No breaks until we hit the top of the cleaver"

 

Everybody: "OK" we go 100' and Judd stops. I realize if I continue to pull him, he will face plant and start sliding down the hill, I don't think he can arrest a fall if he cant open a water bottle and I don’t want to risk my partner’s lives. With all the stopping it takes us 1.5 hours to get down 2000' or so to the top of the cleaver. Both partners are descending well, no more naps. I think ok, now we just need to move down the cleaver, no problem. I am praying now because the snow is balling up and instead of whacking his crampons, Judd is using the pick of his Ice axe to scrape the snow out when he stops. I show him how well it works to just hit them with the ice axe but he ignores me. There is only about 3" of snow; just enough to slide out of control but not deep enough to arrest a fall. We take 2 painful hours to move down to the base of the cleaver. Judd is able to descend about 10' before resting. He doesn’t seem to care. I am watching the climbers at Ingraham Flats watch us. I wonder if they will get concerned enough to send a Climbing ranger up as we are moving soooo slow. In the middle of the traverse across the base of the cleaver, Judd stops.

 

Judd: "sorry just a quickie"

Me: "hey look were our other 2 climbers are" - they are directly under the slope that let loose and killed a guy about 2 years ago. "Keep moving we need to get them out of there before we stop” He sits down.

 

Judd: "my crampon is loose."

Me: "AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

I notice another team coming down the cleaver above us and somebody in their team says to us: "Hey nice place to take a break! You should keep moving" Uh-huh.

 

We finally get going and for some reason as we get closer to Ingraham flats, Judd doesn’t need to break. I am wondering what the difference is, terrain the same, snow the same, temps are actually cooler as clouds have moved in. Then I notice 2 guys approaching us from Ingraham Flats.

 

Guys: "hi, are you ok?" (to me).

 

Me: "Yes, just being careful"

 

Guys: "You took a long time to come down"

 

Judd: "Ya we've been climbing since last night, my partners are bushed!" Big smile and burst of energy.

 

We keep going and get around the corner to Cathedral gap.

 

Judd: "Just a quickie, could I get a hand with this water bottle?"

 

Fast forward to Camp Muir 3:00 pm Judd is inviting us to go to Portland with him to play pool as we are furiously stuffing gear into our packs. He also asks us to look for his ORIGINAL partners who left Paradise with him and never showed up to Camp Muir. Apparently he successfully hitched a ride up to the top of the Cleaver with some other lucky group who dumped him there. That is cold, but I could see why they did it.

 

I was impressed with Judd's consistent cheerfulness despite being cussed out by my partners several times. In hindsight, I should have offered to either take him down (and bag the climb) right away or not taken him up as his presence corrupted my original team and speed is safety especially in a long single push climb. We made it back to Paradise by 4:00 pm so - 17 hours round trip (BTW good glissading on the Muir snow field). This is 5 hours longer than we planned for and had run out of water. We figured Judd took about 100 breaks we wouldn’t have taken and that easily accounts for the 5 extra hours.

 

I now understand why some guys insist on climbing something easy and not committing prior to taking a partner on a harder climb. I think it is a good policy.

 

What do you guys think I could have done about Judd who apparently feels no guilt about burdening someone with his shortcomings and bad decisions? He didn't want to be rescued, just baby sat or guided.

 

He did say, "thanks for letting me climb with you" but acted oblivious to the hardship he created on us.

 

Anybody have as similar experience? How do you deal with the offender?"

 

Follow up.

 

"Bronco,

 

I guess I owe you an apology and a thank you. My partner and I climbed with Judd from Muir to the top of D.C. I realize that by admitting this I'm probably gonna get flamed. But I believe that I can shed some light on the early portion of Judd's story. So here goes.

 

My Partner and I left Seattle on Friday Morning at 6:00 am. We arrived at MRNP at 9:00 a.m. and somehow manage to get the last permit for Muir (somebody cancelled just as we walked in). We plugged away and got to Muir at about 2:30 p.m. and we snuggly tucked away in our bags by 6:00 p.m.

 

At about 8:00 p.m. where somebody talking to our neighbors about his partners who never made it up to Muir. He explained that his buddies had the tent a rope. My partner and I decided we could use a strong third. So we stuck our heads out the door and introduced ourselves to Judd.

 

Judd promptly told us his story and asked if he could rope up with us. He seemed fairly knoweldgable and experience so we agreed to rope up.

 

We had planned to roll out of Muir at 12:30. My partner and I were up and ready by 11:45. At about 12:00 a.m. we'd not seen nor heard from Judd so we ventured over to the bunkhouse where he was just getting up. He apologized for waking up late and said that he'd be ready in a few. We went back to our tent to get a few more minutes of rest and warm up. About 12:45 we still hadn't seen Judd. So we went back to the bunkhouse and he was finally putting on his shell and crampons (which as Bronco mentioned were old school 10 pointers).

 

Finally at 1:30 a.m. we set out across the Cowlitz glacier and through Cathedral gap. We hit Ingraham Flats at about 3:00 a.m. and were about 20 minutes behind the RMI groups that left just before us. It was during this "Water" break that I noticed Judd tanking a Dewster from a can. While I'd never heard of this before, I did not question his methodology.

 

Leaving the Flats my partner took the lead as we began to climb up and traverse over the Ingraham glacier to D.C. It was at this point that Judd really started to lag behind. About every 20 steps he would yell, "Pause"... or "Hold-up".

 

At first this was a rather minor annoyance but over time my partner and I began to question our pace. We fell further and further behind the groups that Left Muir when we did. As we reached the fixed ropes on D.C. I was struck in the hand by rock fall. At this point I was the middle man in a rope of three. My partner was clear of the rock fall, I was in the middle and Judd behind me. The rope was taut in both directions and I was unable to move.

 

I yelled to Judd that we needed to go. He said that he was putting on his helmet. After getting hit a 2nd (and almost a 3rd) time I yelled again that we needed to move. Judd still messing with his gear finally started to move when an approaching RMI guide yelled at him. The guide said that this was (as I already knew) not a good place to stop. He then yelled at Judd for clipping into the "hand line".

 

It took us another 1:45 minutes to get to the midpoint of D.C. At this point I suggested that we go down due to the slow pace that we were keeping. My partner and I agreed but Judd did not. He kept telling us that we're strong and that we'd get there, "Slow and Steady." We tried to explain that slow and steady was gonna put us in serious danger on the way down. But Judd wouldn't have it.

 

We finally agred on a 7:00 a.m. Turnaround time. I told Judd, "We go till 7 and then we go home!" As we topped the Cleaver we ran smack dab into the wind. with spin drift lashing us in the face we slowed to a crawl. As was the status quo, Judd continued his 20 steps then rest ritual. Looking up ahead we saw a huge back up of climbers (probably 25-30) all moving at a snails pace.

 

We again told Judd that we should go down. That even if we top out, we weren't sure that we'd have enough gas in the tank to get down. Judd insisted that we were gonna make it. He kept making, "Deals". Saying, "If we get to that ridge, you're gonna change your mind..." This went on until about 6:45 a.m. At about 13K (give or take) my partner and I stopped Judd and said, "We're going down PERIOD! " Judd finally conceeded and said that he would keep going solo. We tried to reason with him and get him to descend with us. But he wanted the top just too bad.

 

I realize that we should not have left him alone. But as the day progressed we realized that he was so Hell-bent on topping out that he was not concerned about his rope-mates (us). As we moved higher on the Mtn we moved slower. Each time that we tried to turn the ship around he resisted.

 

Criticize us if you will, because I believe that we deserve it. I've always believed that you never leave someone behind. But when weighing danger to myself against another person (who isn't entirely rational) I chose myself and my partner. I'm just glad that Judd made it down and that I don't have to second guess myself for the rest of my life. For that Bronco, I thank you. You definitely have the patience that I lack."

 

 

Edited by JayB

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Ooops - I thought that I was using the "reply" button, but it must have been the "edit" button. Argh.

 

Unfortunately, it looks as though there's just no way for me to recover the original post. I am very sorry for inadvertently deleting your post Faust, that was definitely not what I was intending to do!

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I remember that story by Bronco quite well, but why did faust repost it, rather than just including a link to the original?

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Boy, some of these stories sure make it hard to feel sorry for yourself!

 

A few years ago, I was invited along on a climb by a friend of the guy who introduced me to climbing. My friend couldn't go, but gave me this guy's phone #, etc. Jim, I think his name was.

So I drove up there early one Saturday morning, up to Burlington. Half an hour later, his buddy Dave shows up, and another half an hour after that, we head out in Jim's family minivan, to climb... Church Mountain.

I'd never been up there, so I didn't know much about it (technically, it's on a par with Mt. Si without the haystack, but much prettier.) Fabulous views, but I forgot my camera in my car.

About the time we get to the trailhead around noon, Dave mentions that he has to be back in Seattle for a business dinner at 6:00 PM.

We hiked up the hour or so through the trees, and half an hour in the open field, which is snowfilled because it's mid-March.

 

I try to push for a steep snow climb up to what looks like the summit, to at least get a little drama out of the day, but they aren't having any of that, and before long, we have to turn around to get Dave home in time to get cleaned up for his law firm dinner.

Well over six hours in the car, round trip, three hours hiking in the snow...

As they say, live and learn.

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wfinley,

I just came across this thread today. I feel honored still to have climbed with you all those years ago, and I remember those trips into the Eklutna canyon with you during my short stay in Anchortown and the night of Comet Hale-Bopp fondly.

 

And I feel especially lucky that I have landed on the "positive" side of your thread, unlike so many of the other stories I just finished reading. :laf:

 

One thing keeps coming back to me haunt me though... I should've soloed Ripple on that last trip. :grin:

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Tom, I think just about everybody has experienced the partner who wants to make a bee line home after the climb. All you want is to sit down to a nice dinner and have a couple beers to celebrate a fine day out in the mountains, tell a few stories, and savor the moment. But no, we have to rush home. For me it ruins the whole trip.

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Honestly I'm amazed at the trust a lot of you seem to show towards partners you've never met before. It's true that the generally climbers are some of the most honest and good people I've ever met, but I still want a shakedown cruise before I head off on something committing with someone. Maybe this is just my own personality.

 

Why are some of you willing to do this? Do you come to regret it at times? Do you keep doing it? Are you happy with the results?

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