Vintage Climbing Gear Stories

  • @The-Gnome said in Vintage Gear:

    @johntp - said - "No Pins" in Vintage Gear:

    Wait Wait, there is a stout rack of aluminum & iron; 5 angles & 1 bong - at the corner of the red haul bag, just below the climbing shoes, (Vasque 'Shonards' "Skywalk II" IINM?)

    Ah! I see. I thought the bong was an axe shaft, but looking closer I see the holes.

  • @Scole said in Vintage Gear:

    I remember doing the Bard-Harrington in Lee Vining Canyon with Roy McClenahan years ago. He placed one snarg so deep I could barely see the biner sticking out of the ice. It took me ten minutes to chop it out: That sucker was going nowhere.

    I forwarded the link to this thread to Roy. He enjoyed seeing this post.

  • me climbing in VT. Pat littlejohn harness and EB's


  • My partner cleaned this fixed bugaboo from a climb we did recently, thinking it was mine.. it ended up on my rack when we got back. Any idea of what vintage?


  • @J-Fengel said in Vintage Gear:

    Any idea of what vintage?

    Jurassic? Pre-Cambrian?

  • @David-Harris - haha.. judging by the rust, it's not more than a few thousand years old. Still bomber!

  • It doesn't look very old. The ring eye looks pretty fresh.

  • Chouinard added a second hole to his Bugaboos & Knifeblades in 1972, per this page from his classic 1972 -74 catalog. He started putting USA on his pitons around 1966, so that's it's date range.

    Chouinard 1972-74 catalog cover.jpg

    1972 knifeblades & bugaboos.JPG

    Here's a 1966 -1972 Bugaboo at left & a pre-1966 one with no <C> USA at right.


  • @FritzRay said in Vintage Gear:

    Chouinard added a second hole to his Bugaboos & Knifeblades in 1972, per this page from his classic 1972 -74 catalog. He started putting USA on his pitons around 1966, so that's it's date range.

    Good eye Fritz. J-Fengel's pin looks remarkably good for being 50 years old. Wonder when it was placed. J-Fengel, care to say what route it was found on?

  • It was found in Yosemite, on P4 of Laughing at the Void, which was established by the Andersons in 2000. Maybe placed by Jerry Anderson? It has a streak of gold paint near the eye.

  • I re-dsicovered my late 1970's "Bolt Kit" yesterday & thought I should share some photos & the story of how it & the deluxe leather holster for the holder & 1/4" drills, came to happen.



    Before 1977, I had placed exactly one bolt on a climbing route & like many at that time, I was somewhat opposed to bolts, I would carry the gear on longer new routes, just in case. In August 1977 3 of us started up what we knew to be a new route on Elephant's Perch in Idaho's Sawtooth Mtns.

    Here "The Perch" & the approximate line we took.

    55ep north.jpg

    Up about 5 leads, I aided up a knifeblade crack for a full-lead & got in a decent hanging belay when the crack finally widened. Mike Paine jumared up the rope to me, shared some water that I was very grateful for, and attacked the next lead. Above my belay: the crack was wider and in a much larger right-facing corner. Mike was forced to aid climb up the crack, and suffered considerably. There were two problems. First, although Mike was a great free climber, he had done very little direct aid climbing. Second, the suddenly wide crack demanded large nuts, which we did not have a copious supply of.

    I had convinced myself the worst was over after my lead: but Mike’s thrashing and muttering above me indicated otherwise. However, I knew that even if Mike ran out of nuts for the crack, we had brought along “the bolt kit.” This consisted of a ¼ inch drill in a steel holder and a small supply of bolts & hangers. When a climber could not find anywhere to place a nut or piton: he could always spend twenty laborious minutes hand drilling a 1½ inch deep hole, by hammering on the drill, then pound a special “Rawl” drive-in bolt into place. Although this was accepted technology for rock climbing: it was considered to be “bad form”. In theory and practice, climbers could climb almost anything by “bolting their way up.”

    A possible slide into the low morals of using bolts for upward progress was taken out of our hands. During Mike’s struggles, the drill and holder: which had been in his pant’s pocket, worked loose. I heard a melodic ding, ding, ding, a muttered “oh shit,” and the bolt kit came flashing by me. We were now limited to cracks for placing our protection.

    Of course, at the end of Mike's lead, which finished with a pendulum & some thin slab climbing, the belay was marginal & after some shouting back & forth, he finally screamed: "Christ Brooks! When is a belay ever really good!"

    He ended up rappeling back to me & we retreated to our bivy gear at the start of my previous lead. Happily, the next morning we were able to complete the climb without the bolt kit.

    When I got home I bought a new holder & drill & paid a local leather-worker to make me that holster.

  • @FritzRay

    Whoa! 1/4-inch Rawl buttonheads. They should induce nightmares, but in fact bring back many happy memories. My first climbing was on the apron of the Chief in Squamish, and those slabs, with their... uh... significant runouts were mostly protected with those little guys.

    But we didn't know any better, so we didn't worry.

  • @FritzRay

    Sweet story. Had a similar rig less the holster. Ahh, 1-1/2" x 1/4" button heads. We trusted them. Remember when we would use a stopper cables looped on the spinners?

  • David: I think around 1979, occasional Washington State U. student, & experienced Yosemite climber, Avery Tichner, started helping us with achieving obscure new routes on the South Fork Clearwater & Salmon River in Idaho. Avery insisted that belays now needed to have two, yes two! 1/4" bolts, since there had been disasterous failures of single 1/4" bolts in Yosemite & Stone Mt. Georgia.

    But! Avery led all the run-out stuff & put those bolts in quickly!

    Avery free-climbing an ugly off-width 5.10d on a new route we named "Dream of White Sheep."


    The whole of White Sheep Buttress. The area on the Salmon River, above Riggens, has now fallen into obscurity. I don't know why? The remote location, difficult road, rattlesnakes, loose blocks, Poison Ivy, aggressive rednecks, & summer heat, always seemed romantic to us.

    Dream of White Sheep full route..jpg

  • I noticed drilling with a Rawl #14 bits, I really had to hammer to send the bolts home.. a 'bit' worrisome, with a split-shaft button-head. Some spaling, too, which ends up in the bottom of the hole, if not substantially over-drilled. Using a 17/64" bit and rapid, light tapping, I got no spaling and seemed to be much less stress in setting

  • @FritzRay said in Vintage Gear:

    But! Avery led all the run-out stuff & put those bolts in quickly!

    Maybe this belongs in the history thread, but your posting of the photo of your old bolts and bolt kit reminded me of a long-running argument I had with my late friend Ken Wilson.

    Ken was the long-time editor of the English climbing magazine "Mountain" and a staunch anti-bolt campaigner. His argument, usually given at ever-increasing volume, was: "Climbing is about bloody adventure. Bloody bolts destroy the bloody adventure and have no bloody place in climbing."

    Now, Ken was an English climber to the core, but he was no stranger to the rest of the world. He'd climbed the Nose in Yosemite back in the day when that actually meant something. Which left me baffled about the anti-bolt thing. Oh, sure, I fully agreed with him about adventure being central to the climbing experience, and about there being no place for anything that eliminated the adventure. But when I raised the question about how climbing a crack with overhead protection available whenever you felt like plugging in a nut was somehow more adventurous than climbing bolt-protected slabs with huge runouts and potential death falls, he...

    ...well he generally went back into full rant mode and repeated his arguments above.

    An amazing guy, who cared about climbing with every cell in his body, but with that one odd blind spot.

  • David! How can I possibly argue. We had bigger & better adventures without bolts, especially when Mike lost the holder & drill on Elephant's Perch.


    And here we are with topos, easy access to route beta, GPS, internet access, rescue beacons, cell phones, & folks waiting to rescue errant climbers.

    Where did the adventure go?

    Mt. Deborah Alaska, without any of the above, 1976.

    Deborah Cleare small.jpg

    1 Deborah from the North.  Sally out of photo to the left. httpgripped.comwp-contentuploads201504bb31.jpg.jpg

  • And yes, the last few posts should be moved to climbing history. Such is thread drift.

    Fritz, that last pic of Mt. Deborah is just spell binding.

  • @johntp Ah Yes! Here's a classic placement on the flawless summit block of Big Baron Spire. A stopper cable around a stuck in rock in 1949, Fred Beckey, 1/4" drill bit.

    drill big baron.jpg

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