Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
G-spotter

Watts Talks

Recommended Posts

A nice read. I liked Alan before he was famous (only knew him as an acquaintance). From the sound of this interview, I'd prob'ly still like him. Although his style wasn't my preferred style, his contribution to U.S. climbing is inarguable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I climbed a bit with Alan in the early eighties. He did things that would have occurred anyways. He was a great guy , and deserves much credit for todays sport scene here. Trad for that matter as well. Good memories and stories there. He was a big influence in my early climbing career.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I climbed a bit with Alan in the early eighties. He did things that would have occurred anyways. He was a great guy , and deserves much credit for todays sport scene here. Trad for that matter as well. Good memories and stories there. He was a big influence in my early climbing career.

 

I'm sure I'd like him too. Seems like a nice guy who means well. And I do give him credit for promoting the "sport scene" in the U.S., which is characterized by an insignificant increase in standards at the cost of a casual attitude to the application of bolts, an enormous decrease in the importance of style and adventure. Climbing used to mean ascending. It no longer does. Climbers used to attempt new ascents with minimal impact. They no longer give a shit. The fact is, nice people occasionally make poor choices with enormous impact. That's how I'd summarize Alan's contribution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not the most modest guy ever.

 

The article focuses primarily on sport climbing but from what I understand Alan was also one of the best crack climbers in the world back in the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I climbed a bit with Alan in the early eighties. He did things that would have occurred anyways. He was a great guy , and deserves much credit for todays sport scene here. Trad for that matter as well. Good memories and stories there. He was a big influence in my early climbing career.

 

I'm sure I'd like him too. Seems like a nice guy who means well. And I do give him credit for promoting the "sport scene" in the U.S., which is characterized by an insignificant increase in standards at the cost of a casual attitude to the application of bolts, an enormous decrease in the importance of style and adventure. Climbing used to mean ascending. It no longer does. Climbers used to attempt new ascents with minimal impact. They no longer give a shit. The fact is, nice people occasionally make poor choices with enormous impact. That's how I'd summarize Alan's contribution.

:lmao: OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVEN'T CLIMBED WITH THE LATEST GENERATION MUCH, DINOSAUR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There sure is a world of difference between a rehearsed free-solo of Brass Balls (that's $5 now bitch!) and a rehearsed redpoint of To Bolt or not To Be. Like about 15 letter grades' difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But they have something in common. YOU can only experience them vicariously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There sure is a world of difference between a rehearsed free-solo of Brass Balls (that's $5 now bitch!) and a rehearsed redpoint of To Bolt or not To Be. Like about 15 letter grades' difference.

 

and if he was a baseball player i bet ud have his rookie card and know all of his stats... right??? right???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken Yeager put Bestor Robinsons typewritten notes from after the higher Cathedral Spire FA over on Supertopo. Seemed like a good time to cross it over here.

 

136903_26424_XL.jpg

 

136904_17523_L.jpg

 

flag.jpg

Bestor Robinson, Richard Leonard and Jules Eichorn on the summit of Higher Cathedral Spire after completing the first ascent in 1934. YCA collection.

 

As bolts are much more environmentally friendly than pitons, substituting those words in Robinsons rant will bring it current.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pete H - right on. Alan was a superb crack climber. I watched him climb 5.12 thin cracks protected by tiny wired stoppers (all there was, in those days, unless you wanted to hammer in pegs) back when the 5.12 standard was still mostly just an idea. He was not one to place a bolt next to a protectable crack. Yes, he hung sometimes. I've never climbed with anyone who doesn't, tho I once shook hands with Henry Barber (the only guy I was ever aware of who made a big deal of retreating rather than hang, and would always retreat after falling, since he regarded getting caught by belay as equal to taking a hang)

 

And I agree, if Alan hadn't begun the bolting revolution in the US, someone else would have. Hell, in Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods, where I cut my rock climbing teeth, had ladders of bolts placed up blank faces by previous generations, that basically went nowhere, and will likely never have a hope of going free. They were placed, as nearly as I could tell, by climbers who just wanted to practice bolting... So much for the ground - up "ethic". Hell, I don't even approve of that use of the word "ethic". "Style" is a more appropriate term. Climbing doesn't really have an "ethical" dimension, except maybe when you're belaying, when there is arguably an "ethical" dimension to yanking your leader off his/her holds, or carelessly failing to catch a partner's fall.

 

True, Alan's style of previewing and pre-bolting routes ran counter to my "ground - up" alpinist type preferences. But it had, and "sport" climbing still has, a great deal in common with what we old farts used to call "practice climbing" back in the '60s. Only differences I can see is the standard is higher now; some climbers are focusing on it exclusively; and the "name" has changed. Same process happened with skiing, when they started building rope tows. Ski lifts and bolted climbs are easy to avoid for those who choose, and they have legitimate purpose for those who use them.

 

Salathe was right: "Vy cant ve chust climb?!?!?"

Edited by montypiton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very entertaining posts. I stumbled across this site tonight, and I registered just to get a chance to respond.

 

I did nothing to diminish traditional climbing. I was fortunate to grow up in an area that was isolated so I could be creative with my approach to climbing. I never intended to start any sort of movement - I just saw these routes at Smith Rock that simply had to be done, and I climbed them in a style that made the most sense to me. I never expected anyone to follow my style. I never expected anyone to even notice what I was doing. Nothing surprised me more than when all of a sudden the world came to Smith Rock.

 

The fact that I inspired any change in the sport was an unintended consequence of following my passion. It wasn't a case of "a nice guy making a bad choice." I just never felt compelled to follow the herd. But it bothers me when I read a post by someone like Pope, whom I've ever met, sitting behind the comfort of his keyboard, preaching about how much I messed up the sport. If anything, I helped broaden rock climbing. I don't see how I took a single thing away from it. Traditional climbing still exists (in fact, it's as big today as it ever was). Now there's just another discipline called sport climbing.

 

I'm really not that full of myself, Pete. When I say in my interview that I had a strong impact on Smith Rock climbing, or that I did some hard routes, I'm just stating the truth. But I recognize that in a broader sense, I made only a minor contribution (whether positive or negative) to a small niche of our sport a long, long time ago. That's all I did. There were always more talented climbers. But I worked very hard, and I consider myself lucky that my passion for climbing merged with opportunity, at just the right place, at just the right time. When my years as a leading climber came to an end I quietly left the sport behind to raise my family. The fact that anyone in climbing still remembers my name continues to surprise me.

 

I'm a few months away from 50 years old, and today I get gripped when I'm leading 5.8. I started as a novice, got good for a few years, and now I've come full circle. I feel like a novice once again when I go out to Smith, nervously clipping bolts on Five Gallon Buckets (wishing there were more). That's fine with me. I had my time on the rock, and I'm thankful for all the experiences I had - even if I did unintentionally ruffle some feathers along the way.

 

Alan Watts

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to Cascade climbers Alan. As far as bolts goes, don't waste your breath as you won't change Pope or Raindawgs opinion. Read this if you don't believe me.

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/897978/1

 

At the end of the day and 25 pages of hot air and spew, no one changed their minds. It is what it is. This was not the first go round on this identical subject. If you note: the "spray" forum is where adults can act like angry children, and the rest of the site is for actual adult conversation and information exchange.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if this turns into another bolting debate i propose that all participants simulataneously play russian roulette at home - you get 1 round for 6 chambers, and therefore a 6 post maximum - pope goes first! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome and greetings to Alan! Alan you made Smith I have to say and you rocked the climbing world for the better. No matter what someone does, they will always have detractors. You put up some of the most classic climbs in the Northwest, and obviously some of the top sport climbs in the world based on the Euro's that still come to sample Smith's delights. This is coming from a long time trad climber who used to climb there back in the day before sport climbing. The place was scary as shit. Sure there are some great crack climbs there that go on trad gear, but the amount of traffic that the sport routes brought there have cleaned them up. Before, back in the 1970's, we had to run it out on pebblesand crap that would pop off when you looked at them. Smith used to scare the crap out of me trad climbing, and I was used to mountaineering in the choss! Alan, I love going to Smith now, and also taking the family there for a day of climbing. Many of your routes I will never do, but I can appreciate what went into them and what it took. I look forward to your new book, totally stoked is more like it. I turn 51 this year, and still climbing hard, and watching Mark Hudon climb and train has inspired me to ramp it up. Here's to the new guidebook and more climbing, Cheers bro, you da man!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cynnicism aside, I for one am happy to see someone like Alan come forward and say "hey: this is me you're talking about." I know it is against cc.com tradition but Alan here seems to suggest there could be some value in attempting an actual discussion and I for one think that it would help these discussions if more of the participants were to post under their real name and be prepared to give and take. I'm not trying to stir the pot with Pope or anybody else around here and, no, I'm not suggesting that anybody police this or any other particular discussion. However, it'd be refreshing if we saw some folks attempt thoughtful discussion more often.

 

Thanks, Alan, for taking the time to post. You make a good point that there is nothing inherent in sport climbing that attacks or degrades trad. Clearly, there can be conflict and it gets highlighted where trad climbers take a jihad approach toward bolt wars or sport climbers set about retrobolting classic crack climbs but all the different approaches toward climbing are mostly complimentary and offer greater deapth to the sport, not less, in my view.

 

That was the conclusion I reached in an article I wrote on this topic a few years back:

 

Rock climbing ethics: an historical perspective

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In future times, when the "sport climbing" era will be seen as a devolution in style and environmental ethics, the clean-up/restoration should begin at Smith Rocks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
that will never happen...

yeah, i don't think cockroaches and mayan gods will much feel like prying all them shiny bolts out :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×