Climbing, 1964 – Utah, Yosemite, Tetons and Wind Rivers


While teaching skiing in Aspen, I had met a local climber, Harvey Carter, who was on the Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol. His patrol nickname was “Mr. Balls”. Towards the end of the winter he invited me to accompany him to Utah, to do some climbing. We first headed to Arches National Park, and did the first free ascent of Skyline Arch.

Harvey T Carter, in Arches National Park, April 13, 1964

Harvey T. Carter, in Arches National Park, April 13, 1964

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch. Harvey Carter leads first free ascent, April, 13, 1964

Skyline Arch. Harvey Carter leads first free ascent, April, 13, 1964

Skyline Arch. Me, rappelling, April 13, 1964

Skyline Arch. Me, rappelling, April 13, 1964

The next day we drove to the area of Double Arch, where there was a route Harvey wanted to complete. He had named this particular spire “Bureaucracy Tower”, because the rangers had pulled him off it, for placing bolts on his first attempt. It was later renamed Buccaneer Rock. We completed the climb, which he called the Bureaucracy route.

Buccaneer Rock, Arches NP, April 1964

Buccaneer Rock, Arches NP, April 14, 1964. Harvey is pointing to the bolts (you can see them, right?) that got him pulled off the climb the first time around.

ArchesBuccaneerRockSteveM.#4'64TDeN

Me, on the summit of Buccaneer Rock, April 14, 1964

We next headed back up the river road, to Castle Valley. The river road was, at this time, unpaved and treacherous. You could easily get stuck when crossing gullies, and you had to have chains and a shovel with you, just in case. But, compared to the paved roads, it was still a time-saver for the trip from Aspen to Moab. We drove up Onion Creek to just below a spire Harvey called the Hindu and camped in the bed of the wash. We did the first ascent the next day.

Hindu#34'84TDeNSim.15

The Hindu is seen in the lower center of the photo

HinduHarvey#3'64DeN

Harvey Carter leads on the first ascent of the Hindu, by the Maverick route, April 16, 1964

HinduView#2'64TFDeN

The Hindu

Then I headed to “the Valley” – Yosemite Valley. I installed myself at Camp 4, the climbers’ camp. In these early days of climbing in Yosemite Valley, life in Camp 4 was free and easy – the Valley was uncrowded, there was no limit to the time one stayed, no formal campsites, and the Camp 4 boulders to work out on. Sometimes there were even girls. One could steal showers at the Lodge, and try to beat the bus boys to meals left unfinished in the cafeteria. There were always plenty of partly-eaten “Green Plate Specials” left sitting on tables to tempt us. There were also “bones”. These were the bones from prime ribs, that we could buy for a buck each from the kitchen. They would still have big gobs of meat attached. And one could shop lift – at least until caught. Non-climbing occupants of Camp 4 – tourists with pets – would throw out food, which we would retrieve.

Yosemite Valley, with, from left to right: The Royal Arches, Washington Column and Half Dome. This photo was taken in 1965, with a 4X5 view camera. I was a student at UC-Berkeley at the time

Yosemite Valley, with, from left to right: The Royal Arches, Washington Column and Half Dome. This photo was taken in 1966, with a 4X5 view camera.

We were bums, doing whatever it took to be able to stay in the Valley and climb, similar in many respects to ski bums. One’s daily existence in Camp 4 was as laid back as one could imagine. Sitting at the camp table, lingering over a morning beverage, reading fiction and poetry, photographing the abundant beauty that surrounded us on all sides, writing in one’s journal, talking about what to climb next. Wood smoke, blooming azaleas and dogwood in the Spring, the smell of the ponderosa pines and pine needles, gallons of Red Mountain wine, outrageous waterfalls, the bears, the magnificent forests (there are no trees like those that grow in the Sierras), the meadows, the Merced River, the granite … what a place to be able to just hang out! And, there were one’s fellow climbers, as interesting a collection of people as you could hope to find. A recently published book of memoirs, by Glen Denny, is must-reading for those interested in life in the Valley in the early days. It’s titled: “Valley Walls”, and published by Yosemite Conservancy.

Camp 4, Fred Beckey and Layton Kor

Camp 4

Mauya, with dogwoods

Maya, with dogwoods

YosemiteValleyFog#2

Fog scene

Fog scene

Fog scene

Dead tree in fog

Dead tree, with spray from Yosemite Falls behind

ElCapE.Buttress

El Capitan, East Buttress. A classic route David Hiser and I had the pleasure of doing.

ElCap

The Nose of El Cap divides sun from shade, with El Cap Meadow and the Merced River in the foreground

Cath.Rocks

Middle and Lower Cathedral Rocks. I later did the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock with Joe Faint.

Me, on Columbia Rock

Me, on Columbia Rock

Gary Colliver (left) and Jeff Foote (right)

Gary Colliver (left) and Jeff Foott (right)

JeffFColumbia

Jeff Foott, on Columbia Rock

Camp table

A typical camp table

Gary Collivert (left) and Fred Beckey (right)

Gary Colliver (left) and Fred Beckey (right)

Eric "Wolf" Borghoff

Eric “Wolf” Borghoff

The Borghoffs

The Borghoffs – Eric, Dottie and Mike

Me, fishing in Little Yosemite

Me, fishing in Little Yosemite

In May, David Hiser joined me in the Valley. We started with a climb of Selaginella Slab, named by Gary Colliver (a botanist) for a moss-like plant found on the route. David and I were not high-caliber climbers, looking to do first ascents and multi-day routes. Rather, it was our plan to tackle the classic one-day routes. Here’s the list of our climbs, courtesy of David Hiser’s journal (edited):

“We started 5/8/64 climbing Selaginella Slab (5.7)  and doing numerous climbs until 6/12 when we did El Cap East Buttress in 8.5 hours. Eric Beck was our mentor, suggesting routes and drawing topos. I have it that we climbed Lower Cathedral Spire (5.6) on 5/9/64. Royal Arches 5/11/64. Washington Column Direct 5/14/64. Yosemite Point Buttress ( w/Lito and McCracken) on 5/25/64. Arches Terrace (5/28/64)and Half Dome SW Face on 5/30/64. On 6/4/64 we did Patio Pinnacle with Ed Leeper and Higher Cathredal Spire, Steck-Salathe Route on 6/5/64. El Capitan, E. Buttress on 6/12.64 was our last climb and I went back to the NW.”

HigherCathedralSpire

Higher Cathedral Spire

HigherCathedralSpire60s#2

Higher Cathedral Spire. Me, leading one of the exposed pitches (Hiser photo).

HigherCathedralSpire60s#3 copy

Higher Cathedral Spire, me (Hiser photo)

RoyalArchesPeteLev

Royal Arches, Pete Lev

SW Face of Half Dome, 1964

SW Face of Half Dome, showing route (postcard)

Yosemite Point Buttress. David and I did this classic route in June, 1964

Yosemite Point Buttress. David and I did this classic route on 5/25/64 (postcard).

I met up again with David in August, in the Tetons. Again, it was our plan to climb the classic routes. The North Face of the Grand Teton is the Teton classic.

On the Teton Glacier, at the foot of the North Face of the Grand Teton

After a bivouac on the moraine, me, on the Teton Glacier, which lies at the foot of the North Face. The shadows of the Tetons are cast across the level plain below, Aug. 10 and 11, 1964 (Hiser photo)

A snowfield on the North face route, 1964

Me, on one of the two snowfields on the North Face route. The Teton Glacier and moraine are seen below, 1964 (Hiser photo)

David leads on the North Face route, 1964

David leads on the North Face route, 1964

North Face of the Grand Teton. Here, I'm following the famous Pendulum Pitch, 1964

North Face of the Grand Teton. Here, I’m following the famous Pendulum Pitch, 1964 (Hiser photo). I’m wearing a wool hat I brought back from Israel.

The Owen rappel, on the descent

David, on the Owen rappel, on the descent from the North Face, 1964

Not long ago, the NPS released photocopies of the summit registers of the Teton peaks.

The entry of our North Face climb in the Grand Teton summit register

The entry of our North Face climb in the Grand Teton summit register.

David and I climbed the N.E. snowfields route on Mt. Owen, another classic, prior to climbing the North Face of the Grand Teton.

Entry of Mt. Owen Snowfields route in summit register

Entry of climb of Mt. Owen N.E.snowfields route in summit register, July 24, 1964. Other entries include, at the very top, a group of “Vulgarians” from NYC, and Pete Lev and Jeff Foott, who appear in photos above.

David and I finished our summer of climbing with a trip to the Cirque of the Towers, in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. We walked over Jackass Pass to Lonesome Lake, where I caught lots of trout for us to eat. We even found a cache of corn meal and lard to aid in the frying of the fish.

Lonesome Lake was loaded with trout

Lonesome Lake was loaded with trout. We ate all that we caught.

We climbed nice routes on Mt. Mitchell and Pingora, hiked down valley aways and then hiked north to Hailey Pass, and east to Grave Lake. We also visited Baptiste Lake, at the foot of Mt. Hooker. It was now late August, and we hiked in fresh snow back to Big Sandy, along the east side of the Cirque.  The “Winds” were everything that they were cracked up to be – spectacular mountains with fabulous rock, howling wilderness and plenty of trout.

In these crude photos, you can see the artistic photographer in me trying to come out. But first, I needed a better camera. The following photos were taken with a 16 mm Minox sub-minature camera.

At Big Sandy Opening

I’m loaded up, at Big Sandy Opening (Hiser photo)

Sara Jean's car

Sara Jean’s car, at Big Sandy Opening

Haystack Peak

From Jackass Pass, Haystack (left) and East Temple Peak (right).  Big Sandy Lake is seen near the bottom of the photo.

Lake and boulders

Arrowhead Lake (?) and boulders

Fly rod and reel

Fly rod and reel, Arrowhead Lake (?)

Warbonnet Peak

Warbonnet Peak

Granite wall

Granite wall

Warbonnet&WarriorDeN.50

Warbonnet and Warrior Pks., from Pingora Spire, view to the south

Mt. Mitchell

Mt. Mitchell, in the Cirque of the Towers. We did a nice route up the face.

Pingora, from Lonesome Lake

Pingora, from Lonesome Lake

Haystack and Warbonnet, from the South Buttress of Pingora

Haystack and Warbonnet, from the South Buttress of Pingora. With David Hiser.

Pingora, South Buttress (Hiser photo)

Pingora, South Buttress (Hiser photo)

Pingora, South Buttress (Hiser photo)

Pingora, South Buttress (Hiser photo)

pingora6non_standard_film_010-edit

Nearing the summit of Pingora

Mt. Mitchell, from Pingora

Mt. Mitchell, from Pingora

cirque#2DeN.50

The Cirque of the Towers

CirqueDeN.50

The Cirque of the Towers, from down valley

Lizard Head peak

Lizard Head peak

PopoAgieRiver

Popo Agie River, from down valley

Mts. Hooker, Bonneville and Lander

Left to right: Mts. Hooker, Bonneville and Lander, view to the north

Mt.Hooker

Mt. Hooker

Mt.Hooker#2DeN.50

Mt. Hooker

SharksNose

Sharks Nose, from the east side of the Cirque, on the return

I returned to Yosemite Valley for the fall months, and then to Aspen for the winter. That, my 5th ski bum winter, will be seen in the following chapter.

https://believesteve.org/2015/08/28/aspen-winter-1964-5/

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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