History of Rock Climbing



  • Speaking of history, Continental Divide, A History of American Mountaineering was brought up here last fall. I bought a new copy for under $5.00 through Amazon, even though suggested retail is $28.95. I finally opened it last week & found it easy reading. The history of earliest American mountaineering was mostly stuff I did not know. The chapters on Americans climbing in America & elsewhere from 1900 to 1950 were also interesting, even if I did know some of those stories. Even his history of the 1950's & 60's were (to me) well written.

    After that, he seemed to struggle. The Epilogue chapter, from 1964 to 2015, was just horrible. For true historians, there are 65 pages of footnotes. IMG_2232.JPG



  • @FritzRay I climbed the Kain route a million years ago, and, like Heidi, wondered what the big deal was. The bit that Conrad Kain said was the hardest lead of his life seemed trivial.

    5.6 slab. Big deal. In Squamish, where I learned to climb, 5.6 slabs were thought of as the approach. The part you did in your running shoes.

    But yeah, heavy boots with hobnails are probably the absolute worst footwear you could choose to put on your feet if you were planning to climb granite slabs.

    And Kain didn't have the rope and protection equipment I had. My memory of that pitch is that, having reached the top of the steep-but-easy wall, I plugged in a Friend fairly high and then traversed the slab without much thought.

    But Kain didn't have Friends. Well, not that kind of Friends. And probably didn't have the faith in the rope and belay that let me head out without any worry.

    But that is to cast no shade on his accomplishment. Just as I followed his footsteps with no worry, the kids are now climbing my testpieces as if they were casual beginner routes.

    And so it should be.



  • Just watched Third man On The Mountain. Disney movie from 1959. really well done. Gaston Rebuffat was in charge of the climbing unit.



  • @NickG --thank you nick... wow!! say, i may have seen it when i was younger, but, do not remember at the moment... i am going to see if i can see it again, sometimes... thanks for sharing...

    say-- would be nice to see some mts... i think i will go watch the glenn ford climber movie... "the white tower" πŸ™‚



  • @FritzRay , say! thanks for the share... πŸ™‚



  • @FritzRay -- oh my... what a collection for folks... πŸ™‚



  • @FritzRay said in History of Rock Climbing:

    Speaking of history, Continental Divide, A History of American Mountaineering was brought up here last fall. I bought a new copy for under $5.00 through Amazon, even though suggested retail is $28.95. I finally opened it last week & found it easy reading.

    I downloaded a copy a few days ago, and have been plugging away at it. Like you, I found some of the very early history new to me. But despite the book's scholarly tone, I'm not sure of the accuracy of some of Isserman's claims.

    Not the claims that this or that New Englander hiked up some peak in the White Mountains in whatever year in the eighteenth century, but rather some of his statements about the physical geography of the western mountains.

    Maybe someone here can reassure me that he's right, but here are a couple that I find dubious:

    • Describing the Sierra Nevada he says: β€œSheer granite faces, ranging between 4,000 and 7,000 feet high, dominate the eastern front.”

    • And in reference to Kings Canyon, he says: "Kings River canyon, which is more than 8.000 feet deep...”

    7,000 foot sheer granite faces? Canyons 8,000 feet deep?



  • David! Many western promoters like having the deepest river canyon in their park or state. I'm used to Hell's Canyon of the Snake River, between Idaho & Oregon being touted in Idaho, as deeper than the Grand Canyon.

    So I Googled King's Canyon depth & found this:
    "It reaches a maximum depth of 8200 feet, when measured from Spanish Peak down to the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River." https://www.myyosemitepark.com/things-to-do/kings-canyon

    I know Hell's Canyon of the Snake River's depth is measured from the highest peak in the closely adjacent 7 Devils Mountains to river level. It doesn't quite match up with the King's Canyoun touters. "The canyon has a total length of 125 miles (201 km), along 40 miles (64 km) of which it is more than 1 mile (1.6 km) deep. It reaches a maximum depth of 7,900 feet (2,400 metres), making it the deepest gorge on the North American continent." https://www.britannica.com/place/Hells-Canyon

    I'll grant you, it is impressive to look down at the Snake River from lower peaks in the 7 Devils, but I don't think you can see it from the highest.

    Hells Canyon small.jpg

    I suspect you can also find claims in writing that the Sierra Nevada Range towers 7,000 feet above some spot in the desert east of it. Mt. Whitney to Bishop is a 10,350' elevation loss.



  • @FritzRay Pretty much what I thought.

    That is, you could make the case that he is right, but in the real world he's wrong. Sure, the base-to-summit elevation of Mt. Whitney (and probably some other peaks in the Sierras) is well over 7,000 ft., but it's hardly a sheer granite face. Likewise, the elevation from the surface of the Kings River to the top of a nearby peak might be 8,000 feet, but it's not really what we think of when we hear the word canyon.

    Not to say that those areas are dull and boring, or that the book is crap, just that he's being a bit dishonest with his readers.



  • @David-Harris said in History of Rock Climbing:

    Not to say that those areas are dull and boring, or that the book is crap, just that he's being a bit dishonest with his readers.

    He is not using the same criteria you are. With my river running background, including Hell's Canyon, I never thought it was 7.900 ft. deep, but the facts you disagree with on elevation differences in California, are widely accepted. As a historian, he uses what he finds, hopefully with some fact-checking.



  • Maybe this should be in some other thread. New Routing? Climbing Movies? Something else? Not sure, so feel free to suggest a new location and Toby can move it.

    Wherever it belongs, here is a film for you that will give you some clue about what is behind my babbling about this amazing place I live in. With the caveat that it was told primarily from one person's point of view, and deliberately left out others'. But, even so, it is not a bad intro to my new home.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQdaDbA-wJI&t=1384s

    "Arc'teryx Presents: On The Verge"



  • @David-Harris Have not watched yet but from introductory text:

    Confronted with the decision to fight for these last ancient trees and potentially lose access or look away as the valley is stripped for timber, On The Verge is a snapshot of outdoors culture in British Columbia. The way we reconcile industries that give us access to the wilderness with the destruction they cause. The desire to protect our backyard but keep it for ourselves at the same time. The importance of these places to the people who have shaped them and been shaped by them in return.

    Maybe some discussion for Big Questions?


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