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Dane

Tool and ethical changes in the past 30 years

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Thought some might like to see a conversation between Gordon Smith and myself from Super Topo. Gordon and Tobin Sorenson did a major new route on the North face of the Grand Jorasse back in the mid 70s that a British party just recently claimed a first free ascent of.

 

edit on 3/9 from Gordon Smith, "Guy Roberston and Pete Benson didn't claim the first free ascent of the route Tobin and I did - they did the Desmaison route. They followed our alternate start (which was recognised as an alternate start to the Desmaison route for 30 years because we had intended to and thought we had climbed the Desmaison. It was also, by the by, recognised as 'the Rolling Stone start'). They didn't follow our line to the top, however. Really this is just a consequence of a mixup (mine) from 30 years ago when Tobin and I thought we were doing the Desmaison but in reality were not. Now, however, it would appear that they (and others before/after them) started up Tobin and my route and finished up the Desmaison ... but what the hell - they did good climbing in good (modern) style! Could you make this clear in the thread!"

 

 

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web07f/newswire-jorasses-scots-desmaison

 

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Gordon and Tobin did it free, almost 35 years ago now, on sight, and a full day faster (2.5) than the more recent Brits (4 days). It is considered one of the ultimate, long, hard, mixed climbs in Chamonix today.

 

FYI Tobin Sorenson and I did the first free ascent back in late October 1977 and we didn't use Desmaison's fixed stuff at all... we found plenty of ice and snow on the lower section, including a beautiful narrow ice gully about 1/4 of the way up reminiscent of Scotland at its best. We took a variation on the right and did not find any of Desmaison's fixed stuff until the top of that beautiful gully - where a rope came in from the left. That was pretty much all we saw. (NOTE: The right hand is definitely the most logical start to the route). We bivied a few pitches above this on a ledge to the right of the route proper just above a large roof which we turned on the right. A lot of mixed climbing up a series of ramps and a notable 'shark's fin' of granite sticking out of very hard blue water ice took us to the headwall. We bivied again on the headwall behind a flake of rock in a horrendous blizzard - Tobin used my padded overpants (courtesy Desmaison found on a broken footed retreat from a previous attempt with Black Nicky Colton) while I was wrapped up in a bivi tent (also courtesy of Mons. D). Tobin joined me in the bivi tent eventually and we sat there until it got sort of light. Then we went out for a wild Scottish day of howling snow and gale and gripping climbing ... Tobin led the crux headwall pitch (thank goodness) with 2 falls and much wailing about the need of a sky hook. He was brilliant! Note: we didn't have a sky hook for him to use ... he didn't even have a terror for 'dry hooking' - only a curved Chouinard axe - we had a pair of terrors for me and a chouinard axe and hammer for him and we both had bendy grivel 12 pointers. In fact all Tobin's gear was borrowed as his only ice climbing experience was the first ascent of the Smith-Sorenson ice groove on the West Face of the Plan a couple of day's earlier. I got rather nervous as our ropes were 2 x 200 foot 8MM laid ropes ... very thin looking!! I knew the descent from the Walker and Croz so we almost beat nightfall to the Italian hut ... There I found I had two frostbitten feet which were hard to hitch home to Blairgowrie with and Tobin went on to do the Eiger Direct with Dirty Alex (GRRRR - and they used those 8MM laid ropes of mine)... It was a great mixed route and very sustained with not a lot of resting spots and quite the feeling of seriousness (especially given the empty rucksack we found behind our bivi flake ...). The Smith-Sorenson ice groove was very nice and would have fitted in well on the Ben - it's just to the right (facing the cliff) of the Gabbarrou Picard-Deyme couloir and quite similar to that climb for difficulty.

 

 

A few years later Gordon had stopped high level alpine climbing and now lives in the Philippines. He is also one of the guys who invented hard mixed climbing...along with Jeff Lowe and a host of others. Although Gordon would certainly call modern mixed cheating.

 

Here is the original thread on ST that has real book potential when you realise all involved. This bit is only a tiny part. Jeff Lowe is Jello, DR is Doug Robinson, Jack Roberts and Todd Eastman and many many others we all would recognise if they posted under their own name. If you like old school alpinism this is an incredible thread.

 

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=382806&tn=0

 

Wee Jock asks: "In a more serious vein I loved the Chacal. Why do silly looking bent handled jobbies make climbing ice any easier? Or is that just the power of suggestion and commercialisation - gotta sell more and more tools to those guys? And knock the price up! I really cannot see why this should be."

 

No doubt they don't cost much to produce past the pick. But with my ancestory I'm a bit tight with a penny myself. Besides being a curmudgeon I am also pretty hard sell having btdt with the old ice tools. Never backed off a climb because my tools weren't up to the task.

 

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Like many of us on the thread I graduated from curved gear and later Terros. This pair of Simonds are mine and were well used from the '80s to mid '90s, having used everything available but not finding anything drastically better. Remember I would never intentionally hook rock until just recently. Anything that resembled ice was fair game however.

 

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Look familiar?

 

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I can relate to your distance from ice climbing having sailed a 54' cutter rigged Columbia back to the US from Am Samoa and Hawaii years ago:) You ever make it back to this side of the world, the scotch and ice are on me..seriously.

 

If you compare the Chacal to Nomic...you get a lot less weight both physically and in swing weight. A pick that will easily sink in any kind of ice, can not be easily broken or bent (i've tried @ 200#) and clean even easier than you can possibly imagine. (honest) The pick is fairly high tech for tooth design and it is forged. There is no longer a need to swing, more like a scratch and hook technique is all that is required now. Any one that ever used a Terro would absolutly love these things no matter how ugly you think they are at first impression. (far as I can tell there are few us around to make the comparison)

 

Biggest thing is they are leashless. Sounds really weird but it takes a LOT less strength to climb leashless. Couple of reasons for that. One you work the hands more like rock climbing, you drop your hands to shake a pump. You can wear lighter gloves and still be warmer because the wrist straps don't cut off the circulation in addition of being able to drop your hands and get the blood back in them easier.

 

You end up using natural features more often because you

can so easily let go of your tools with either a body "holster" or unbilicals. The antler handles and radical clearence bend allow you to move your hands up and down the shaft to take full advantage of every placement. So you make fewer...and I mean a lot fewer... placements than you would with say a Chacel or a Terro. As a "dager" they are amazingly secure on moderate terrain front pointing.

 

Not having a spike or hammer would seem to be a major disadvantage but actually way less that you would think at first glance. Stick the head in the snow and they make a decent walking stick on steep ground. Teeth on the back top of the pick hook well in that fashion. ( I stupidly ground my off on a couple of sets of picks before finding the technique) The rear end of the pick sticks out just enough to remove many pins if you are careful just not easily place them. Although a hammer is easily enough to add on the Nomic. (working on a terro type axe for mine) But there are similar tools that eliminate all those issues with little loss of the advantages of the more extreme Nomic. I've used both the newest BD carbon Cobra and the Petzel Quark.

 

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I remember thinking Twight was being a little "out there" with his tool choice on the Slovak route, a bent shafted Cobra axe and a Carbon fiber BP hammer that he later gave me as a gift. Obviously he wasn't just ahead of the curve. With the tools Mark told me, "open your mind." Took me another 5 years to just begin that journey!

 

When I started climbing again a few years ago two pictures shook me up.

 

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"Chris Brazeau soloing Mt. Alberta's signature feature--the 500-meter, fifty-five-degree ice face, shaped like an inverted triangle, that lies below the north-face headwall."

 

Having been there twice, including just days after Tobin's accident, I was spellbound with the thought process behind the tool. The modern tool being used here was way outside my realm of imagination for that route. Even after making the 2nd solo ascent of Edith Cavell after Robbins and the 2nd on Slipstream along with a number of the older "hard" routes in the area.

 

Then these really blew me away.

 

1777433-Andromeda--Shooting-Gallery-1.jpg

 

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Jon Walsh's photos of Caroline George.

 

Shooting Gallery on Andromedia. A moderate alpine climb with a Nomic...WTF?

 

Then Ueli Steck.

 

DPP07D90103143242small.jpg

 

I had spent a season with a set or Quarks. Soloed Shooting Gallery in winter with them along with Polar Circus. Nice tool and much more useable than expected. Then I saw a photo some where of Steck on the Difficult Crack. A place I have been that impressed me. Lots of dry tool marks that weren't there in '78. Steck of course had Nomics in hand in that picture.

 

At that point I went looking for a pair on the cheap but still not convinced. Haven't climbed with anything since no matter the terrain. They are so much of an advantage for an old fat guy like me on modern technical terrain that I can easily over look the minor disadvantages. Add to that ice screws, that go in like Friends do in a clean crack, while holding more. Ice climbing is a whole different sport.

 

These from last week.

 

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All this is one of the reasons I think it was McInnes and the Terro that has made the biggest influence on ice climbing.

 

I'd really like to hear any other comments on the comparisons of the old tools to the newest out there.

 

Wee Jock aka Gordon Smith:

Dane, thanks for your analysis - very interesting, but those tools still look really weird (but didn't the terrors when they first came out??). Curious why you call them 'terro' and not 'terror'?? I think the word 'terror' very fitting, don't you!!

 

I can think of one critical problem with the new 'leashless' tools on alpine routes - dropping a tool. Could leave you in much trouble!

 

What do you do with one of the new tools when you go over the top of a bulge of hard (or crappy) ice into deep powder snow? That was one of the main reasons I loved my terror axe and would have considered climbing with 2 axes and a peg hammer, except that the axe was too light for hard, brittle ice. I never had a 'Barracuda' to go with my Chacal...I gave up alpinism before it came out (even before the Chacal was available commercially). What was the adze on that like? Judging by your photo I think I would have really liked to climb with a chacal and a barracuda.

 

I refer you to the article on the Croz posted above ... Kingy (and I) considered 'hooking' and 'torquing' etc as pure cheating (near the end of the article). Clearly ethics change!

 

Umbilicals, lad :)

 

 

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Nothing new to me 'cuz I used them soloing all kinds of stuff after seeing the Burgess twins and Bugs all hooked up for aid in the '70s. Took a bunch of sh#t for it while guiding as the token American with the local Candian hard men but didn't really give a sh#t as I was more concerned with living. Plopped off onto them more than once which obviously saved my life. Falling off first always kept me from looking for "aid" on ice! Remember how we'd run stuff out? I recently sold my old ice rack to a (can you believe it) collector. 8 chouinard tubes, 4 snarks and a wart hog. That is all I ever owned or used...on anything,, and never once placed them all on a lead!

 

Now guys place 15 or 20 screws on one pitch with less effort than we did just making anchors. Foook me running things are DIFFERENT!

 

I used a Zero and a Chacal a lot. Then two Chacals and finally the Barracuda matched to a Chacal. Been told lots of guys went to two Barracuda and a alpine hammer. The adze on a Terro and the Barracuda got me up more than one sun rotten pillar of Canadian ice that wouldn't tale a screw or a pick

 

Back to unbilicals. I learned two seasons ago...if you are going more than a rope length off the deck, both me and my partner will have umbilicals. I had expensive trips wrecked years ago from dropped tools when we used leashes. Leashless is a recipe for disaster without umbilicals. Screw the 'ethical" concerns on that one. I don't want to waste my time and energy messing around trading tools back and forth or the second climbing the rope.

 

BD and Grivel now offer commercial versions that are really slick. They girth hitch on to the harness (yes everyone wears an almost comfortable harness these days) with a swivel and full weight tiny biners to clip on and off the tool.

 

"What do you do with one of the new tools when you go over the top of a bulge of hard (or crappy) ice into deep powder snow"

 

I punt :) The longer pics help but the combo of bigger clearence (radically bent handles) and longer picks usually make it a non issue now. I know hard to believe...

 

"Kingy (and I) considered 'hooking' and 'torquing' etc as pure cheating (near the end of the article). Clearly ethics change!"

 

Jello and others will no doubt role their eyes at this one and chuckle but I agree, it is cheating....really fun but still it is cheating....and for this old man, it feels realllyyyy gooooooood :) The ethics didn't change, for better or worse, climbing did.

 

Terro or Terror? Gordon, I'd like to have an answer for you but fact is I am just not that good at typing :) Strange looking......yes but hasn't form always eventually followed function in climbing?

 

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Funny thinking about this converstaion over the last couple of days. Leashless and the new screws have been as big or bigger revolution in gear and techniques as we had back in the early '70s.

 

Hard water ice was just then beginning to get climbed. Aid was an early option and not everyone even used leashes yet on their tools. Freeing long pillars of vertical ice came soon after. Alpine water fall ice and then thin ice, then thin alpine water ice came next with thin alpine ice following. Ice pro was pretty much non exsistant and run outs were the norm. Leaders just did not fall.

 

What is easily accessable now to beginning climbers few of us envisioned as old hands then.

 

30 year from now we'll all be looking back at our time now as "another revolution" into the new world of modern mixed. Jump started by top ropes, bolts and sport climbing, hard rock, with modern antler tools and mono points.

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Great Post Dane! I really like the part about leashless tools. YOur hands DO stay warmer and you can shake out so easily. If you can hang onto bad holds on rock than hanging onto these handles is super easy. I can do a 4 minute hang on my hang board no problem, I have never climbed a pure ice climb that required hanging 100% on my arms for that time. Leashless = easier. As for these easy to place screws, I don't see many people placing 15 screws per pitch. I run it out sometimes because placing screws takes a lot of timeand Im too ADHD for that stuff. I do appreciate being able to twist in a screw in 30 seconds on the steep stuff.

The first time I tried headless, leashless Z-handle tools I was skeptical but I climbed pure ice just as well/better that with leashed tools with adzes and hammers. Not having an adze isn't much of a disadvantage as you can do the same stuff just as well with a pick.

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that ST thread is my idea of heaven. Dane, you just made my week!

 

 

btw- I still don't understand your infatuation with Walsh's photos of the Shooting Gallery. I know I am way new school compared to you, but it seems like a perfect route for them. No pin placements, low angle ice in the upper couloir, and a short crux. Care to explain why it is a seminal moment for you, in terms of how it changed your perceptions about modern tools and their applicability in the alpine?

 

 

edit- I still have a use for leashes. I have and use Nomics regularly, but my Cobras (retro fitted with a pommel) and Androids still make up my alpine rig. In fact, I recently did my hardest pure ice lead to date wearing leashes; after building strength climbing predominantly leashless I find that leashed climbing at my limit (in terms of steepness and length of pitch) is safer and more in control. YMMV.

Edited by trainwreck

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I find it pretty funny when people say its easier to hang onto tools without a leash...I can let go of my tool and still hang on..

 

anyways this has been argued over and over so its doubtful we will agree..but from a physics stand point I could dangle from my leashes all day long..

 

good post

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You guys are funny, funny in a good way.

 

It is more like a couple of F16 top gun pilots talking to one of the wright Bro.s who can now just barely fly an F16 safely.

 

Marc, when you finally get chance to do something like the upper pillar on Weeping wall, Nemisis or some other long section of near vertical ice you'll find that placing the newest gen of screws is easy and for most a more sane way to climb. Only place I have seen a guy place that many screws and still climb fast was on the center line of Weepeing wall going out through the roof last winter. Looked like he was rock climbing. And it was impressive.

 

Grant? Moderate (or hard) alpine isn't generally the place to climb without an adze, hammer or a spike on your tool for plunging. Yes, people do it now but it is always a compromise. You know that better than most here with the playground you are in. It is obvious the costs if things go badly and you actually need any of the three. No pin placements on Shooting Gallery today? But most everyone will clip the fixed pro won't they? At one time Shooting Gallery, Astroid Alley, A-Strain, Slipstream all had quite a reputation.

 

They are/were mtn routes instead of the crag climbs that they are treated as today. The fixed pro on those routes an M climbing that make hammerless ascents possible wasn't available even just a few years ago.

 

All of those climbs have a totally different reputation today and for good reason.

 

The Nomic, Quark or Fusion for that matter were never originally intended to be alpine tools. They were meant to be ice cragging tools.

 

First time I heard of anyone taking a curved tool (old Cobra) into the Mtns and actually climbing anything was House, Twight and Backes. I am sure others did as well. But the Slovak route (S face of Denali) was something I knew a little about and was still surprised that was a tool they choose. Obviously a good choice now. In the '90s it was a selection that was still pretty out there.

 

Mug, Paul, Brad and I all climbed over the 'shrund on Hunter together '81. We attempted (2nd time) and then backed off the crux of what later became Twight/Backes line "Deprivation". Mugs and Paul went on to complete the "Mooon Flower". But we had similar gear. A Curver axe and a terro hammer fro at least two of us. (Mugs had a Roosterhead which was an American copy of the Terro and he had used the same stuff on Moose's Tooth earlier in the season) My point is, short worked fine in those days.... the tools are about 40/45c, but a hammer and a adze was generally thought required on hard mtn routes.

 

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Some of this is my generation (Gordon and me) looking at a jet saying it will never fly without propellers. And you (Jeff Lowe or Jack Roberts among others who kept hard at it) saying, "Hell what is the big deal we been doing this for years."

 

But I have yet roped up with a climber this season for some alpine mixed that hasn't said..."what no pins" in reference to me taking only a set of Nomics for tools. None of these guys are dumbies, all are climbing much harder than I. So while things are changing, let's not try to fool anyone that leashless, hammerless, adzeless and spikeless is the norm anywhere but road side cragging or soloing.

 

Oh and if you are still using leashes....you are obviously no F16 pilot :) As Mark told me ten years ago...."open your mind".

 

There was originally some arguement about how it would be harder and less safe to use nuts instead of pins and a hammer. And then a generation later how cams couldn't replace a solid nut. And we all know how that turned out.

 

Things are changing!

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I liked what you said about never backing off because your tools were not up to the job. I basically never have much money so Im currently climbing on POS lucky 007 tools. I have climbed on much better curved, leashless tools but like you said Ive never not been able to climb something because my tools suck, only because i suck ;)

 

But I am pretty darn excited to get rid of them and pick up some Cobras or something...

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Between the Chacal and my current Nomics there are at least seven generation of tools I can easily count and probably a few I can't.

 

A few years ago (more like 10) a buddy of mine was trying to discuss his newest tool purchase with me. My comment was, "a good climber can get up most anything with a decent club and a nail sticking through it."

 

These tools (older yet than the Chacal) were good enough to lead every ice pitch on the 2nd ascent of Slipstream, in 8hrs and 45 min from base of the glacier where we roped up to crawling off the east face on to flat ground, Jan. 18, 1981.

 

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Clog Vultures.

 

Makes that comment even more relavant today. My partner, Gary Silver, was climbing with a 55cm Bamboo piolet and a terro hammer. Admittedly only grade 4 ice on Slipstream but I suspect you get the idea.

 

What to hear about some real ice climbing? Take a look here:

 

 

 

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I'd break into your house and steal all of it Dane if it werent for the fact that I am fully aware of how you "pay the bills" :laf: :laf: :laf:;)

 

Soooooooooooooooooooooo jealous! Any way I could buy my way into your will?

 

Oh yeah: Mark says hi! :)

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I love a good climbing discussion. Too bad we didn't have more time to chat when you were in my area Dane. Very enlightening stuff.

 

Now you know that I am as new school as they come, I started climbing 4 seasons ago, at the height of the bolt protected, M-climbing, leashless revolution - pre-Nomic, post-Quark ergo. I know that this informs my opinions, but I have also had the great pleasure to learn from one of Canada's finest pure ice and alpine climbers. He is my mentor and one of my best friends, I take his opinions on the state of alpine climbing in the Rockies seriously.

 

I agree that the biggest difference today is actually with the screw technology. Getting screws in isn't that much effort and knowing that they'll hold changes how we climb above them. Having fallen on two in my short career (one was a 20 footer, fully ripped a Screamer; the other was a 15 footer, no Screamer, still held) gives me the confidence to climb above them. I still believe that falling on ice is a big no-no; but I would say it's more akin to falling on trad gear in limestone. By that I mean, the gear will in all likelihood hold, but it isn't something that you really want to test out. I think the major difference is in the attitude that people have towards potential falls now. In the past, you had to worry about the placement as well as the fall, now you just have to worry about the consequences (broken ankles, etc) of a fall. Screamers have helped immensely in that regard too.

 

Marc- if you've never placed 15 screws in a pitch it means you've never lead anything in the WI5 and above range or climbed on suspect ice. Sometimes equalizing two or three screws to protect a set of moves is prudent. A 60m pitch of steep to vertical ice will eat screws in a hurry. A screw every 4m is pretty well sewn up, but the ease that they can be placed with now makes it a reality. Even 10 screws on a 60m pitch means large run outs between pieces and huge fall potential (12m plus rope stretch is giant IMO).

 

As far as tools go; once the light and fast ethic was firmly entrenched (thanks in large part to Mugs, MFT, Steve House et al.) the need for certain tools shifted. For example, one no longer needs a straight tool with an adze if they aren't planning on chopping a platform for a tent. Your ice tool will work well enough to chop the occasional stance. As far as hammers go, no self respecting alpinist in the Canadian Rockies would leave home without it. Routes like the Shooting Gallery, due to rising standards, have become standard fare for the novice alpinist. There is a plethora of information about the route out there (as well as fixed gear) and we are now able to pare down the kit further. What I find interesting about Walsh's picture is that it is the second who is climbing with Nomics, JR was most likely using Quarks. Most parties either simul the upper couloir or solo it, no real need for an adze there. The Shooting Gallery is also a walk-off down an easy snow slope (not that I need to tell you), nothing that would necessitate a spike. Also, you know as well as anyone that plunging in Rockies snow doesn't require a spike, there is little to no security in it anyway, slightly better balance perhaps, but plunging the shaft of your tools in our crappy snowpack certainly isn't going to prevent a fall. I've never been to Alaska or the PNW so I can't much about their value in other regions.

 

Routes like A-Strain and Asteroid Alley still require a hammer, if not a separate pin hammer. Dana rarely climbs without a dedicated pin hammer and he uses the new Vipers. He finds that the effort required to hammer with new radically curved tools costs more than the weight of bringing a pin hammer. When he, Eammon, and Jay Mills were on the Wild Thing last spring he had his hammer with him. I've considered doing Asteroid Alley with my Nomics and a hammer; but A-Strain or the GCC would need "proper alpine" tools. I guess that's where we start to differ. Cobras, Quarks, Vipers and the like are, in my mind, alpine tools. Their development and genesis may have come from waterfall ice climbing, but their applicability to V, 5.9, A2 routes is obvious.

 

As far as pure WI lines go, like Slipstream, Nomics would work as well or better than any other tools. One thing to remind ourselves of is that when you and the other old schoolers were doing routes like that, v-threads were non-existent. Today there is no need to chop bollards (scary!), place conduit (which I've never properly understood) or hammer pins on pure ice lines. Polarity (read: Ice Porn) was rapped entirely off v-threads, something that was unthinkable back in the day.

 

Dana has one of John Laughlin's ice tools from the FA of Slipstream. He used [img:center]http://www.coolclimbing.com/images/ice/equipment/mollnirhammers01.jpg[/img]

these. We marvel at how he was able to climb the final WI6 pillar with them, because I would be SCARED. Short and no spike, not particularly good for plunging; seems a lot like the Nomic to me. Different tools for different applications I suppose.

 

Now...onto leashless climbing...

 

I have to respectfully disagree with you on this Dane. Two of Canada's top F16 pilots (Dana and Eammon) still use leashes almost all the time, only Raphael has moved away from them entirely. I don't think anyone can say that they aren't setting (or at least maintaining) the standards up here today and worldwide. You're right leashless, hammerless, adzeless ascents are still limited to roadside routes, but what constitutes a 'roadside' route has changed (see Ueli Steck on Colton/MacIntyre). For 'serious alpine routes' or long pure ice routes the vast majority of climbers are still leashed. Will Gadd says as much in his book and I don't think things have changed since it was written.

 

 

The difference I see is in the regular punters like myself who climb predominantly leashless but still move back and forth between the two. Most people start out learning to climb without them and refine their technique accordingly. I don't see using leashes as a step backward, I see it as part of the evolution, the more comfortable you get and the more efficient your technique becomes, the less you need them.

 

In my experience, leashes make it easier to sew pitches up because they make placing screws easier. Once you're in the habit of dropping your hands to shake out, you can do it just as easily with leashes as without. The major benefit to leashless climbing is the 'out of the box' thinking that it teaches people. It is easy enough to unclip from an android and match your hands on a traverse, or simply not use them until you start to feel your forearms/hands pumping out. I did it not too long ago on Polar Circus and it worked splendidly. I understand that many people can climb WI6 or 6+ leashless and that is their perogative, in my experience it is easier to do so with leashes, utilizing a combination of leashed and leashless techniques. Perhaps when I further refine my steep ice technique I'll make the switch fully to leashless, until then WI4 and under is done leashless, anything above (on lead) is done leashed. TRing and seconding is always done leashless so that I can move my hands around the rope.

 

Drytooling (alpine or bolted M-climbing) is a different story altogether. I climb almost exclusively leashless except for a Grivel double spring leash. I find that it requires more versatility in technique than pure ice climbing and for that I need to be able to match, switch hands, and place gear with either hand; you have to work with what the route gives you rather than applying technique to the route (like in pure ice climbing).

 

 

:)

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It still amazes me how the previous generation's hardmen climbed difficult routes with tools like that. I have trouble enough climbing ice with the newer generation of technical tools. It leaves me in awe of these badasses. I imagine the use of highly technical modern gear would have allowed these climbers to climb even more difficult routes. I would also imagine there are "top climbers" today that may not have competed with some of the old-school hardmen if they were limited to old technology.

 

I hope the recent party feels like "tools" (pun intended) for claiming the FFA of something freed 35 years earlier with far less in the way of tools and technology, and doing it slower. :laf:

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Great thread! I tend to agree with most of what's been said. Can't say I really understand the new-age mixed game. I still can't quite wrap my mind around why a move is classified "aid" if the climber uses a bat-hook, but the same move is classified "mixed" if the same climber uses the pick of a modern ice tool... makes my brain hurt to try to figure it out.

 

But as to standards & technique & tools: I remember listening to Don Peterson (you know, Tis-a-ack?) back in '78 pontificating about how "it's not possible to climb vertical ice with a 70cm ice axe". I had to respectfully disagree with him, having previously climbed overhanging serac faces using a 70cm interalp cerro torre (similar geometry to the Chouinard piolet) and a first-generation Chouinard alpine hammer.

 

Around that same year, I remember Jeff Thomas and Ed Newville made the first ascent of Multnomah Falls during what the locals called a "silver thaw", and Newville raving about the Forrest Mjollnir hammer with the Skye pick.

 

By '89, I had made the switch to "hooked" tools, and continued to use a pair of Cassin Antares until just a couple of years ago, when I traded them to John Tarver for some help building my shop. I had used them on Louise Falls just a couple of winters ago while letting my 12-year old son use the new Aztars, which were much lighter and better fitted for his (at that time) smaller hands. Got to put up with a lotta folks oohing and aahing "I can't believe you're climbing this with straight shafts!?" Guess that's just part of being on a popular classic on a busy day... I gotta say, that experimenting on climbs with the old Antares in one hand, and a Quark in the other, I could hardly tell the difference... (so I never bought Quarks...)

 

For me, personally, I find an index-finger support greatly improves the effectiveness of my swing. Feels like power steering for the pick. For this reason, my current rig is a pair of DMM rebels - the adjustable grip presents supports for the pinky, the index finger, and for matching, has a spike for plunging, and is narrow enough that my hands so far have remained attached past the point where I feel too pumped to hang on. (On climbs where I expect to have to use pitons, I still carry the venerable old Chouinard alpine hammer -- much easier than trying to drive pins with the curved shaft) The result is, in my mid-fifties, I'm cruising stuff that I would not have attempted twenty-five years ago. I prefer to climb leashless, but having dropped a tool a couple of times (on the lead both times, but neither time in a terribly serious situation - transitioning from steep to low angle) I am resigned to getting accustomed to an umbilical rig.

 

Modern screws are a god-send. What a treat to be able to place a screw on vertical ice, and not have to clip to a tool or hang from a leash, or chop a starter-hole to do it. I have to agree that the ability to meaningfully protect difficult ice has been a huge factor in expanding my "box".

 

In the final analysis, for me, the improvements seem to boil down to what's efficient. Hooking seems to be more efficient than swinging tools, clearance shafts allow more efficient use of featured ice than straight shafts, leashless means one less bit of cluster to deal with, screws place more quickly without tools or starter-holes and hold greater loads, and dry-tooling is more efficient than bat-hooks and stirrups. Besides expanding everyone's concept of "possible", this bundle of efficiencies makes ice and mixed climbing way more fun and way less terrifying than it used to be, and I like that. Almost makes me want to live long enough to see another "revolution"...

 

Edited by montypiton

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Now you know that I am as new school as they come, I started climbing 4 seasons ago, at the height of the bolt protected, M-climbing, leashless revolution - pre-Nomic, post-Quark ergo. I know that this informs my opinions.

 

Some interesting comments and comparisons Grant. Couple of thoughts, and no disrespect intended, anyone would be hard pressed to make realistic comparisons of 40 years in ice climbing techniques and tools by starting 4 or 5 years ago.

 

I worked with John Lauchlan, teaching and guiding the winter and spring after he and Jim did Slipstream. That would have been winter of 80/'81. Congdon and Blench were there as well. Cronn and Buhler were consistant partners that winter and spring. All better climbers than I was. John and Dwayne Congdon had attended the RIA meet in Chamonix in the summer of 1980. They did a number of very good routes there including the 3rd ascent of the McIntyre/Colton in very fast time, the Jackson/Shea on the Droites and a hand full of solos by John including the Super Coulior on the Tacul. John and Dwayne were given along with all the attending alpinist a set of Simond tools, a axe and a Chacal. Elzinga is still around you should ask him what they actually did use on Slipstream. But I bet it was Forrest Serac Sabers (over grown Terros with hammer/adze/and a spike on a straight shaft for plunging up the endless snow of Slipstream in the middle of winter) he used to free Nemisis in March of '80. In fact I'd put money on it. Slipstream was done in Dec of '79.

 

The Forrest hammer you show? Maybe, as a third tool if they took it at all. Hard to believe as I never saw John carry a third tool the next winter using the Chacal and Simond axe almost exclusively or on rare occasion the school's Stubia Rupals.

 

Also the WI6 finish on Slipstream that is often stated as "never repeated" might not have been WI6 after all and certainly wasn't for us. Gary and I did some vertical ice at the end of Slipstream but nothing remotely WI6. If John said it was WI6 I have no doubt it was. Just wasn't there the next winter and looking back I never heard John tell any one it was WI6. Nor is that finish listed in Albi's guide. Believe me Slipstream was the topic of conversation more than once, with me pushing for a grade 7 for duration and seriousness and John (as well as James who was climbing as hard as anyone) calling bs. The description I always heard was more like "the summit serac, proved to be quite straight forward" from Chic Scott's, "Pushing the Limits". Just one of the reasons I didn't totally agree with your speculation that the seracs have greatly receeded on Snowdome (or in the area in general) in the past 30 years.

 

We were just happy to get up the thing in a day instead of the 2.5 that the first ascent took. The third ascent, a week after ours by Carlos Buhler and Dick Renshaw had a big flake (we saw it) of the serac come off on one of the upper water fall pitches. Carlos' description of Dick on lead, screaming as the serac came down the gully, shattered and bounced over them is still bone chilling to me. Over coffee afterwards Carlos described to John and I the same finish as we had all done before them.

 

That winter/spring definatly saw the first one day ascents of the uppper pillar on Weeping wall, Polar Circus and obviously Slipstream. By late spring things had changed and there was a new way to look at what we were climbing. John, James, Dwayne and Dave McNab had done Gangapurna while I and others stayed and worked for them at Yam. They came home looking for bigger objectives.

 

By summer I had made the 2nd solo of Edith Cavell behind Robbins (with others following quickly behind me) and John was thinking of soloing Polar Circus. Less than a dozen of us I suspect had done Slipstream, Polar Circus, Nemisis, Bourgeau Left, Upper Pillar on Weeping Wall, Pilsner and Takakkaw. Blanchard and Kevin Doyle were a part of that select group.

 

John died early that winter. Two more buddies, including Gary, were to die climbing or skiing shortly after John. I dropped out of serious alpine climbing soon after and was happy to just climb rock.

 

The mantel soon fell on Blanchard and Dolye and their like in Twight and Randy Radcliff to carry on.

 

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Great thread-

 

Couple of thoughts-

 

I don't think its easier to hang with out leashes its just easier to get less pumped and easier to keep your hands warm and faster to place gear.

 

who ever posted that if you have never placed 15 screws in a pitch means you have never done WI 5 or climbed strange ice is way off- Yes its ultimately safer to place more gear but I have not even carried 15 screws in more than 10 years and have done hundreds of WI 5 and WI 6 pitches. I actually place more screws on WI 3 and 4 pitches. My standard rack for screws is 10-12. 4 for belays and 6-8 for the lead.

 

Also leashes are a " to each his own" topic- I have not used a leash in over 7 years including big mountain routes in Alaska, Canada etc etc....

 

Anyway- The conditions in Canmore are fantastic although the new snow will make things tricky for a bit- Last week was amazing with killer stability.

 

Happy swinging-

 

DR

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I would have to agree. If you are placing 15 screws -even equalized on a pitch, you have no business being on the pitch.

My mentor who was a top ice climber of the early 80's said that the same would apply for having to place more than 8 screws on a pitch. Granted the screws go in much easier now.

 

Good to hear from you Dale.

We've got a few newer mixed alpine routes that you might like back here in the Cascades.

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The Forrest hammer you show? Maybe, as a third tool if they took it at all. Hard to believe as I never saw John carry a third tool the next winter using the Chacal and Simond axe almost exclusively or on rare occasion the school's Stubia Rupals.

 

Also the WI6 finish on Slipstream that is often stated as "never repeated" might not have been WI6 after all and certainly wasn't for us. Gary and I did some vertical ice at the end of Slipstream but nothing remotely WI6. If John said it was WI6 I have no doubt it was. Just wasn't there the next winter and looking back I never heard John tell any one it was WI6. Nor is that finish listed in Albi's guide. Believe me Slipstream was the topic of conversation more than once, with me pushing for a WI6 grade for duration and seriousness and John (as well as James who was climbing as hard as anyone) calling bs. The description I always heard was more like "the summit serac, proved to be quite straight forward" from Chic Scott's, "Pushing the Limits". Just one of the reasons I didn't totally agree with your speculation that the seracs have greatly receeded on Snowdome (or in the area in general) in the past 30 years.

 

Dane, never once did I say that I had a handle on 40 years of ice climbing evolution, only my take on it as someone keenly interested in Rockies climbing history. My impressions are obviously subject to the fact that I've not been in the game for very long.

 

That said, I am not going to argue with someone who climbed with JL pre- and post-Slipstream about conditions on the route, nor am I going to sit here and tell you that I know that the Forrest Molljnars were the tools he used. JL gave the tool to Wendy Wacko during the filming of 'Challenge the Rockies' when he worked on it as a rigger, she then gave it to Dana saying that it was JL's tool on the FA of Slipstream. On second look, they may be the Serac Sabres if thisis the tool you're talking about. I will get a picture to confirm.

 

About the WI6 finish, it is possible that something of nature formed once and once only, Ice Porn is a great example of that. The summer of its FA it was a huge waterfall, which in turn became a WI5 pillar which dessicated over the winter and now is nothing more than a scary looking white streak on the NF. In the 2nd Ed. of Waterfall Ice, Albi Sole makes no mention of a direct finish and says to escape via seracs on the right, I am assuming that he got that beta from you.

 

As far as my theory that the seracs have retreated, we'll have to agree to disagree. Granted, I only have pictures and descriptions to work with, but I've seen little to no serac debris at the base of Slipstream in the years I've been working out there. I've also seen little to no serac fall during that time. I have seen cornices break and massive avalanches come off, but they're a different sort of hazard than we're talking about. Even the ice of the serac is off white/grey in colour rather than the blue we'd normally see if the serac were super active, this leads me to believe that it is 'relatively' stable. If you take a look at For Father (Marra/Schnugg) further along the NF of Snowdome it looks like a very active serac band (bright blue), same if you look down the EF towards Borderline; the seracs above Slipstream and Aggressive Treatment seem to have "mellowed" (I use the term loosely) from how they're described in the early 80's. Further to that, routes like Ambivalence Falls in the Diadem Creek drainage were said to have scarily overhanging seracs on the FA, they simply aren't there anymore. Slipstream is on my radar and was in fine shape two weeks ago, perhaps I'll have some pics to show you in the future so that we can discuss the matter further.

 

 

 

To make an addendum to my post about WI5/6 climbing and the number of screws; I simply meant that climbing a full 60m pitch of WI5/6 with less than 10 screws is not something that I would be comfortable doing. Normally, I climb with 14-16 screws on pure ice, that leaves me 12 for a 60m pitch. One screw every 5m isn't overly sewn up. While I recognize the time on a pitch can dictate the safety margin (too many screws = more time to get pumped out) I don't feel as though topping out a long lead with pumpy hands/forearms above long runouts is in good style or all that safe. Also, if the posters would note my other caveat "perhaps when I further refine my steep ice technique;" which, in essence, is meant to say that I, by no means, am an expert WI6 leader.

 

Anyways, love this thread.

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Grant, as I said earlier, no disrespect intended. I really mean that. I think you made some good observations some I agreed with and some I didn't. Not like either of us has to be right or wrong!

 

JL's tools? Could well have been a hammer John took on Slipstream, only Elzinga knows today. If JL told Windy that, then you could make book on it. Did he actually climb with them, I doubt it. One you have pictured is set up as a rock hammer. The Serac Sabers are clearly visable in Albis first book, on Nemisis, the CAJ I think and in the "CLIMBING" mag issue that they (John, James and Albi?) wrote up the harder climbs in.(Slipstream, Nemisis, Central Pillar) The 1st free ascent of Nemisis is the picture I have handy. Pretty close to the Slipstream ascent date wise which is why I think he was using them. But things changed really fast in those days. JL also climbed Polar Circus with Jotterand with a set of Terros before that. I'll look around in the morning and see what else I can dig up for pictures or article JL wrote.

 

The tools you show on the link, I now own, and were a newer version called LifeTime tools, by Forrect. First replaceable pick tools I used. I borrowed Gregg Cronn's ( a pair of 50s) for most of the '81 season while he was in school and climbed a lot with them. Picks we used were a reverse curve, most like a Chacal but a bit shorter. They worked well. The Forrest Serac's had fixed picks at the same angle as a tero and came in either hammer or adze. Typical 40 to 55 sizes.

 

In the 2nd Ed. of Waterfall Ice, Albi Sole makes no mention of a direct finish and says to escape via seracs on the right, I am assuming that he got that beta from you.

 

While I knew Albi we never got a chance to climb together. My 1st addition is from '80 that I bought in Feb of '81. Haven't seen the guide yet befor we did Slipstream and had no clue how to get off which turned into a minor epic wondering around the top of Snowdome in the fog as it got dark. Some big freaking holes up there! Albi's last pitch desription in the 1st ed. reads "a final pitch of 75-85 degree ice leads onto easy snow slopes. Exit climb via right edge of the Seracs." That had to come from John or Jim....not me. I didn't even know those thosE guys until after Gregg and I first did Polar Circus in early Jan '81. My journal entry written a couple days after Slipstream says, "two hard pitches #1 & #3 with 2 or 3 more, ice leads to more steep snow slogging {dangerious stuff with no pro}. Final 20M section of vert ice and snow to summit."

 

I would take from that we simu'ed all but the 5 or 6 pitches in the water fall sections with little or no pro. Then finally got in a ice screw again and belayed the last 60 or so feet. I do remember climbing up the right edge of the exposed rock high on the left side of the upper bowl and being extremely dissappointed I couldn't get a pin in. Scared me bad, so that much I remember. I do remember distinctly being more worried about taking the big ride off the climb in the spindrift build up from the upper bowl (which blasted us all day and seriously scared me a couple of times on lead) blowing in from the summit ice fields than I was about the difficulty of the climbing. We had just done Polar Circus the weekend before and nothing even remotely like that on Slipstream. I do however remember looking over the N face at some point short of the flat summit snow field, stopping and taking in the view. Some impressive exposure.

 

Seracs? You live there I don't now. I trust your observations of what is there today. My observations come from comparing pictures I took when we did the N face of Temple directly up the seracs in '76 and Snowdome in '81 and ones I took last winter in '08. Remember we were the first generation to intentionally climb under big seracs. Some more than others with Twight and Radcliff bringing it to the illogical conclusion. Temple obviously pops once in awhile, Notably a huge one that got filmed shortly after our climb which is more logical imo than Lowe's. The flake off the Serac on Slipstream that released on Carlos and Renshaw was imo an aboration and obviously a danger we could easily see from the road. (another of those "how bad can it be it just got done condition reports") The serac cliff looked pretty solid and "safe" to me having been under more than few notable Candadian seracs in those years. The tragic accidents that I have followed since our ascent looked to me more like loose snow avis from the obvious loading off the summit slopes. That is going to happen anytime there is wind across the icefields...which is what, 365/24/7 up there?

 

Descriptions and accepted risks change with the new generation's experience base and mentality as well.

 

Screws? Everyone climbs in there own style. I was really shocked to realise just how few screws I use to climb with. All the current screws are easier to place these days. I don't see a reason to run anything out even if the tools are easier to place and remove. Newest tools do make soloing a lot easier and safer though. I don't feel over armed with 15 or 16 screws on a hard pitch and can likely place them all on a 60m pitch if required. That only leaves 12 screws for leading or one every 5m if you have good ice and never dbl up. Beats 4 or 5 on a 50m lead BITD.

 

Fun conversation! It is raining and snowing here too scary to climb. You are making me work looking this stuff up....don't stop now :)

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I'd break into your house and steal all of it...

Soooooooooooooooooooooo jealous! Any way I could buy my way into your will?

 

Hey John, tell Pukie's best friend to return my call or email! I still have a piece of his clothes if need be. He'll know what I mean. Sounds like a fun trip!

 

It was you that turned me on the our history. Besides the tools off the Solvak I have accumulated all the tools I used on routes important to me (less one freaking set) and a few extras. Looking at something like 30 plus and the 'pons to go with them. Been fun!

 

Just missing a pair of Dachsteins and a Chouinard rachett I some how just gave away :)

 

No one else wants this stuff, I'll put you on the list.

 

 

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After seeing how busy he is these days Id say dont take it personally... dude works some long days + all the time in the saddle he spends. Ill see if I can track him down this week.

 

I for sure will pay for anything I can get! Let me know! :)

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For those interested I took the time to research Slipstream a bit more this morning. I had choked on the "direct finish-never repeated" comments I had seen some time back and thought bull shit. Just never interested enough to go look it up till today. Albis' 1st and 2nd addition never mention a direct finish, and Albi worked/climbed with lived around JL long before his death.

 

First place I saw it was in Joe Josephson's 1st additon (3rd edition of the guide) after Albi's first two. I now believe Joe's discription of the direct finish to be in error. From Joe's description, "on the first ascent of Slipstream JE and JL climbed directly over the serac barrier via a long, ferious pillar of water ice (WI6) that only occasionally forms. It is likely no one has repeated the original finish as everyone heads right up the snow ramp"

 

In personal conversations with JL the next winter/spring ('81) of working together that "ferious pillar" never once entered our conversations of Slipstream. And we had many, mostly discussing the then new WI and the older Scottish grades and how they were applied. Anyone know how to get in touch with Jim Elzinga? I've left a message for Joe to see his what/who he used as a source for the guide.

 

From JL's first hand account in CLIMBING #63 Nov/Dec '80.

This is the only info I had on the route when we did the 2nd. Gary hadn't even seen the article.

 

JL's only mention of the Serac. And no WI6 which would have easily been the hardest lead on the entire climb.

 

"Breakfast went amazingly quickly...before long we breezed the Serac, ran across the top and rapped down the cirque"

 

Pictures of JL btw in the article at the base of the climb and moving together in the lower gully clearly (to me anyway) tied into a set of Serac Sabers with umbilicals. Although I was wrong on a detail I mentioned earlier up thread, JL is pictured in the CLIMBING article using the green Stubia Rupals (hammer and adze) on Nemisis just previous.

 

From another JL first hand account: Vol 63 CAJ 1980.

Slipstream, 2500ft. Scottish Grade 6 Dec, 27/29 1979

(no WI grade given since it wasn't yet in common useage)

 

Again John's only mention of the upper serac.

 

"We managed to stamp out another tent platform at the top of the main pillar and on the third day moved together up the easy snow slopes and surprizingly straightforward serac. We stood on top at noon." Again no mention of a WI6 finish in JL's personal account.

 

Although he does mention the difficulties on the lower pillars. Again JL from the 1980 CAJ.

 

"The second day we crossed to the main ice pillar, doing six pitches, five of them being very high quality waterfall leads. We hauled the first (the steepest) but because it took so much time avoided it higher up. We both discovered that leading with an overnight bag on your back more than a little exhausting."

 

I leave it up to the reader to decide if there actually was a "long, ferious pillar of water ice (WI6)" on the 1st ascent.

 

When you think about Serac danger, remember that John and Jim spent three days on this route....and they were very, very familiar with the Serac dangers in their home turf. Perhaps that helps to bring the current observations into prespective.

 

You also need to remember that Scottich grade 6 had little to do with the technical difficulties back then.

 

The 6s in 1980 were, Polar Circus, Slipstream and Upper Weeping Wall. That was it! Even Nemisis freed was rated a 5 and clearly the hardest ice climbed to that date (1980) by Albi's writings. (and by unwritten acknowledgement John's and Jame's opiniions as well) It was a very short list for a 6. And that was about to change.

 

I was the only one pushing a Scottish 7 grade for Slipstream because it was so much more than Polar Circus. Not harder by any means just "more" in an alpine environment. But that idea was shouted down several times over beers by my Canadian "employers" with Carlo non plussed. From my journal again.. I wrote, "Scottish 6+ pushing 7, WI 5+". (compared to Polar Circus a week before)

 

Slipstream was one of the first climbs to blend a truely alpine environment with a lot of waterfall ice. In "ICE WORLD" Jeff Lowe called Slipstream, "at the time was probabaly the hardest high mountain waterfall climb in the world". What was missed then in all the talk of Slipstream was a 2nd climb and similar climb done by Lauchlan, James Blench and Dwayne Congdon in the winter of early winter '80. Aggressive Treatment, VI 5.8 WI4. (CAJ '82) From personal comments to me that winter all involved thought AT much harder and a lot more serious than Slipstream. A.T. was a true winter alpine route with some waterfall climbing. No wonder their grades were skewed! :)

 

I believe now that Aggresive Treatment was the first of many modern, hard, mixed, winter Alpine routes to come, like M16, Wild Thing and House of Cards.

 

Latter that same season, Polar Circus was first done in a easy day by Carlos and I. I think both of us having climbed it before. I had anyway. Although Ed Hart and Matt and Jamie Christian may have beat us to it by a week or so with my encouragement and beta. My home town, Spokane buddies, John Roskelly and Kim Momb followed us the next day.

 

Just a season before JR had wanted to take haul bags on the climb. That winter I had soloed up to the first pillar in an hr. or so which kinda nixed the idea of haul bags :) Which would be so obvious 30 years later.

 

Upper tier of WW was done in a day as well but I have forgotten by whom, Albi and James I think. John Tarver soloed PC shortly after JL's accident. And the race was on.

 

edit:

Sadly, I just realised that three of the guys I have been writing about are now dead. Sad, I wish they were all still here to enjoy telling their own part of the story.

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This may be of no concern to anybody or everybody has already seen this, but all this reading about slipstream made me think of this old vhs video I used to have and probably havent watched in a decade . So I went searching in my closet an low and behold found it and worked great.A video production of the first accent of slipstream. Just as awsome and inspiring today as ever. Some of the clips are funny, to watch John L. hacksaw the tip of his icetool then start filing on it preparing for the accent. Probably most of the climbing shots are not real and are staged but some of the clips are definitely real.You do get to see closeup shots of the old tools in action!

I would be happy to share this vid with anyone who may have interest.If you know how to make a copy and treat my copy like gold then no problem.

happy climbing

 

 

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Might be nice to post that video somewhere publicly accessible, assuming it does not violate the copyrights of any still existing holders. I'd certainly love to see it.

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Mf sapped a few old brain cells back to life of JL cutting down the Serac Saber picks and recutting the teeth by hand. I think I actually saw that old films back in the day with John narrating it for all of us sitting around in the lodge...with much of it filmed at Weeping wall. We are getting together in the morning for a viewing and then I'll make some copies. Gotta say I am pretty excited to see it again.

 

In the mean time check some of these out. They are really good!

 

...some pretty good ice climbing with modern tools.

 

http://www.tvmountain.com/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=117&video_id=1079

 

this one exceptional for our conversation

 

http://www.tvmountain.com/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=117&video_id=272

 

 

and

 

 

 

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Dave brought the Slipstream film over this morning. Interesting to hear Dave's comments as well having done all three routes on Trophy wall among other hard ice routes.

 

Short review of the the film for accuracy? Sorry it isn't. Suppose to be the first ascent of Slipstream. But this one was filmed the fall after the first ascent and just a month or so before our 2nd.

 

John Lachlan and Jim Elzinga did the 1st ascent over 3 days. This one has Dave McNab (an very good Canadian climber) and John Lauclan on the 1st ascent done over 2 days and through a storm. Sorry didn't happen. John is also using a Simond Chacal and a Forrest Serac Saber. A Stubia Rupal tool is shown as well. JL didn't get his Chacal till after the summer meet in Chamonix, the next summer after Slipstream.

 

Also very clear they rapped down from the summit of Snow Dome when using the helicopter (obvious trails in the snow) and then did the last pitch of climbing on Slipstream for the camera. Looks like at least two versions of the finish pitch filmed and maybe three but obviously none of them WI6. Although there is a ramp, not what I'd call a pillar, of water ice that they are climbing on just a bit left of where you'd normally finish. By the look of it they climbed a bit of the water ice ramp which we (1st 3 ascents) all did to get off but moved right a tiny bit later and higher up for the film. Either way I don't believe a actual ascent of Slipstream was made for the film.

 

This film certainly might well be the beginning/basis of a lot of folk lore though. It does show McNab with a Forrest alpine hammer as a third tool. Certainly implies a "pillar" done at the end of the climb. Which looked like WI 4 at best to Dave and I. But certainly nothing harder than you would find lower on the climb. And the film would have you think it took two days to do the 1st ascent of Slipstream when in fact it was 3 full days.

 

Decent TV, but really, really bad history.

 

There are some decent shots from the helicopter of the upper portion of Slipstream though and a look down the N face if you are quick. Fun to see the old gear again as well. Galibier helmet and a Ultimate, Lowe expedition pack, Jansport dome sans fly, leather boots, Supergaitors, Whillians harness, old Chouinard screws, SMC rigids and straight shafted tools, all period correct for 1981 :)

 

I'm making copies and will try to get it up on Youtube shortly.

 

Thanks Dave!

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