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sidepull


Feb 11, 2009, 11:08 AM
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History of clean climbing / alpine style ethics
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I'm looking for books that specifically address the history of clean climbing. In other words, where did the philosophy of an "alpine style" come from.

So the book doesn't have to be about clean climbing per se, it could be a book about Yosemite or British climbers or something else. I'm just really interested in how these ideas have evolved.


k.l.k


Feb 11, 2009, 11:33 AM
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Well, each national tradition had its own debates, and some of the best treatments are in German or French. Frison-Roche and Jouty's A History of Mountain Climbing is probably the best overview of climbing in the Alps in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Jones, Mountaineering in North America is still the best single intro to our continent.

And Isserman and Weaver's Fallen Giants is the new standard account for the Himalayas.


ryanb


Feb 11, 2009, 11:38 AM
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Re: [sidepull] History of clean climbing / alpine style ethics [In reply to]
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Check out Walter Bonatti's "The Mountains of My Life."

Bonatti was one of the earliest proponents of limiting gear and tactics in the big mountains to preserve adventure. Steve House is purported to have had "Bonatti is god" painted on the back of his van for a while.


scotty1974


Feb 11, 2009, 11:47 AM
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Yankee Rock and Ice by Guy Waterman and Climb! by Jeff Achey and also Wizards of Rock by Pat Ament.

Those 3 are the best history books!


olderic


Feb 11, 2009, 11:57 AM
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Why are you equating "clean climbing" with "alpine style"? what do you define each to mean?


sidepull


Feb 11, 2009, 12:07 PM
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old eric - that's a good question. I assumed that there was some overlap - both seem to emphasize doing the most with the least and relying on human skill over sophisticated tools and siege tactics. I realize clean climbing tends to relate better to big wall tactics whereas alpine style is probably more applicable to peak bagging but I think there's some overlap and some philosophical synergy. I could be convinced otherwise. Thoughts?


olderic


Feb 11, 2009, 12:30 PM
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There have been many attempts to categorize or subdivide styles of climbing over the years and they all fall apart at some point. But certain phrases are very context specific (how many different uses does "mixed" climbing have?). But for most us us "clean" climbing equates to a style where the rock is not altered. The concept first becaome popular here in the early 70's and was often implemented by doing "hammerless" ascents.

Alpine climbing style was possibly first mentioned in the atricle "The Games Climbers Play" that was published ~1968. It was mid way in the spectrum (bouldering and expedition being at the extremes). Alpine style pretty much equates to carrying everything you need with you in 1 go - not ferrying loads. But what you carried with you might certainly be items beyond what is typically used in "clean" climbing. Hammers and pins. Even drills. Now the whole "murder of the impossible" tries to eliminate carrying your courage in your rucksack - but that is a sort of subdivision of alpine climbing.

Anyway the point I am trying to make (in a rambling) fashion is that there is no real correlation between clean and alpine although both might be considered a better style then some alternatives.

Any climbing history book - the previously suggested ones are good - would be good for yuo.


sidepull


Feb 11, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Fair enough. Let's focus on clean climbing then. Specifically, I'm trying to fill in the gaps before the publication of the Tim Frost article in Chinoard Equipment's catalog. It seems that the ideas/ideals surrounding clean climbing came from England - yes? Any names? Any British documents (like Frost's) that explain the philosophy of clean climbing?


k.l.k


Feb 11, 2009, 12:53 PM
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You have to go back to the emergence of pitons, because before pins existed, it just wasn't an issue. Pitons started to appear in the South Tirol and Tirol in the late 19th c, but didn't become common until the early 20th c.

The so-called "Munich School" (associated with Hans Duelfer) promoted the use of pitons for expanding difficulty on rock and later, ice. Others, most famously Paul Preuss, denounced the use of "aritificial aids" like pitons, abseil descents, etc. The debate became known as the Mauerhakenstreit.

How's your Deutsch? The best accounts are all in German. Messner's anthology, Paul Preuss, collects some of the original writings and rehearses Preuss's career.

The British rejection (semi-rejection) of pitons, later, is better known here in the states.


olderic


Feb 11, 2009, 1:01 PM
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Tom (not "Tim") Frost - although the article "The Whole Natural Art of Protection" in the 73 catelogue was written by Doug Robinson. Oh and "Chouinard".

Certainly the idea of carrying and placing chalkstones to use as pro is usually credited to have originated with the Brits. I'm not aware of any seminal article over there but there certainly was a long standing tradition of not using pitons when climbing there. it is typically said that climbers like Brown and Williams in the 50's started using hex nuts (found by the tracks on the way to the crag) as a more advanced form for carrying chalks to place - they could even be pre slung.

Back in thse parts - John Stannard in the Gunks in the early/mid 70's deserves a lot of credit for popularizing the whole clean climbing craze.


billl7


Feb 11, 2009, 1:08 PM
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sidepull wrote:
I'm looking for books that specifically address the history of clean climbing. In other words, where did the philosophy of an "alpine style" come from.

I think these are fitting ...

1) Camp Four by Steve Roper

2) Downward Bound by Warren Harding

Suggest reading them in that order.

Bill L


sidepull


Feb 11, 2009, 1:56 PM
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Okay, so given the critique by olderic, where does the notion of "alpinist ethics" come from?


billl7


Feb 11, 2009, 2:15 PM
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Based on olderic's comments about the definitions of both, I'd say the two references above are even more worthwhile reading.

I don't mean to imply that both of these terms were first birthed in Yosemite. Indeed, there is mention of clean-climbing influences from europe.

Both books speak of non-siege-style first-ascents of big wall routes in Yosemite. I wouldn't call them alpine-light ascents, though. But being high on a wall without a string of ropes linking you to the ground on an FA (!) is a commitment I will likely never experience.

Bill L


limeydave


Feb 13, 2009, 8:51 AM
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billl7 wrote:
Based on olderic's comments about the definitions of both, I'd say the two references above are even more worthwhile reading.

I don't mean to imply that both of these terms were first birthed in Yosemite. Indeed, there is mention of clean-climbing influences from europe.

Both books speak of non-siege-style first-ascents of big wall routes in Yosemite. I wouldn't call them alpine-light ascents, though. But being high on a wall without a string of ropes linking you to the ground on an FA (!) is a commitment I will likely never experience.

Bill L

Yes, Camp 4 talks about this quite a bit, and even though it's Yosemitecentric (of course) he does talk a good bit about the influence of other countries (like the Brits) and their ethics.

After all, clean climbing vs siege and the gray areas in between are really just common sense vs practicality at the time - and these are universal.


dingus


Feb 13, 2009, 9:03 AM
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sidepull wrote:
I'm looking for books that specifically address the history of clean climbing. In other words, where did the philosophy of an "alpine style" come from.

Alpine style and clean climbing are two different things entirely. Both are climbing though!!!1111

The philosophy of alpine style comes from the Alps. The Brits, French, Itailians, Germans, and plenty of others (but really, the 1st 4 groups developed it).

Modern slpine style comes in reaction to expedition siege style climbing. Alpinists like Bonatti (Italian) and Terray (French) were so put off by expedition climbing they turned to solo and 'small team pushes'.

DMT

DMT


billl7


Feb 13, 2009, 9:06 AM
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limeydave wrote:
After all, clean climbing vs siege and the gray areas in between are really just common sense vs practicality at the time - and these are universal.
Yes, ... and add the fuzzy area of climbing ethics. Warren Harding's book oft times presents a sarcastic view of clean climbing. Perhaps directly related, Roper's Camp Four mentions the "Valley Christians" of which Royal Robbins was apparently a key member.

Bill L

Edit: I'll add that dingus and others here have a much better handle on world climbing history than I.


(This post was edited by billl7 on Feb 13, 2009, 9:07 AM)


dingus


Feb 13, 2009, 9:08 AM
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sidepull wrote:
Fair enough. Let's focus on clean climbing then. Specifically, I'm trying to fill in the gaps before the publication of the Tim Frost article in Chinoard Equipment's catalog. It seems that the ideas/ideals surrounding clean climbing came from England - yes? Any names? Any British documents (like Frost's) that explain the philosophy of clean climbing?

Go to supertopo and look up a user called DR.

His name is Doug Robinson. He penned a boog portion of Chouinard's landmark clean climbing article.

Robinson, along with Galen Rowell and Dennis Hennick then went on to do the NW Face of Half Dome clean.

Those two events seem to have started a movement. But the Lowe clan was ahead of them all frankly; quietly establishing THE CLEAN STANDARD for a couple of decades to come, then imaging and creating the tools (adjustable, spring loaded camming devices were invented by the Lowes, NOT Jardine).

This all came about in the mid-60s right along withe revolt of Bonatti, Terray and others, from expedition climbing.

Now witness the Seven Summit Cattle Calls.

DMT


dingus


Feb 13, 2009, 9:10 AM
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olderic wrote:
Tom (not "Tim") Frost - although the article "The Whole Natural Art of Protection" in the 73 catelogue was written by Doug Robinson. Oh and "Chouinard".

Certainly the idea of carrying and placing chalkstones to use as pro is usually credited to have originated with the Brits. I'm not aware of any seminal article over there but there certainly was a long standing tradition of not using pitons when climbing there. it is typically said that climbers like Brown and Williams in the 50's started using hex nuts (found by the tracks on the way to the crag) as a more advanced form for carrying chalks to place - they could even be pre slung.

Back in thse parts - John Stannard in the Gunks in the early/mid 70's deserves a lot of credit for popularizing the whole clean climbing craze.

check out this link - twas guys like Mummery and Pruess that put us on the path, yo?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/...climb/sec1_pg2.shtml

DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Feb 13, 2009, 9:13 AM)


dingus


Feb 13, 2009, 9:11 AM
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sidepull wrote:
Okay, so given the critique by olderic, where does the notion of "alpinist ethics" come from?

The School of Necessity.

DMT


limeydave


Feb 13, 2009, 9:45 AM
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dingus wrote:
sidepull wrote:
Okay, so given the critique by olderic, where does the notion of "alpinist ethics" come from?

The School of Necessity.

DMT

and Self-Preservation


curt


Feb 13, 2009, 1:30 PM
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k.l.k wrote:
You have to go back to the emergence of pitons, because before pins existed, it just wasn't an issue. Pitons started to appear in the South Tirol and Tirol in the late 19th c, but didn't become common until the early 20th c.

The so-called "Munich School" (associated with Hans Duelfer) promoted the use of pitons for expanding difficulty on rock and later, ice. Others, most famously Paul Preuss, denounced the use of "aritificial aids" like pitons, abseil descents, etc. The debate became known as the Mauerhakenstreit.

How's your Deutsch? The best accounts are all in German. Messner's anthology, Paul Preuss, collects some of the original writings and rehearses Preuss's career.

The British rejection (semi-rejection) of pitons, later, is better known here in the states.

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." - W.S. Churchill

Curt


Partner rgold


Feb 14, 2009, 9:48 AM
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For a comprehensive illustrated history of the evolution of nuts, see

http://www.needlesports.com/...museum/nutsstory.htm

A few highlights from this account:

1926: British climbers use pebbles carried up from the ground to create "artificial chockstones." Slings have to be threaded around these.

1950's: British climbers begin using machine nuts with slings already installed.

1960's: First nut machined for climbing introduced in Britain in '61. Wired nuts and hexes follow soon after, a number of British manufacturers make increasing variety of shapes and sizes.

1967: Royal Robbins comes back from climbing in Britain and promotes the use of nuts in the U.S. with an article in Summit, "Nuts to You."

1970's In early seventies, Chouinard-Frost start making nuts, soon "bet the bank" by promoting nut use over their flourishing piton business. Frost writes an article in 1972 in the AAJ on protecting cracks and Doug Robinson writes his famous "Whole Art of Natural Protection" in the Chouinard catalog. About ten years of super clean climbing ensue, ending with the introduction of Friends in the late seventies.

In the US, the most under-appreciated figure is John Stannard, who, in my opinion, had as much, if not more, to do with the full-on conversion to clean climbing than anyone else.

Stannard was one of the first to understand and master the use of small wired nuts for protection at a time when most climbers still considered them to be aid pieces only. At considerable personal expense and effort, Stannard published and distributed for free The Eastern Trade, which became a vehicle for communicating about the possibilities of clean climbing.

While most of the country's climbers were celebrating all-nut repeats of 5.9 and 5.10 classics but were mostly still climbing with mixed racks of nuts and pitons, Stannard was climbing new 5.11 - 5.12 routes ground up with nuts only, on terrain requiring subtle and precise placements that could not be seen from the base of the pitch and had to be discovered and utilized as one climbed. Stannard almost single-handedly converted the East to nut protection, and profoundly influenced Steve Wunsch, John Bragg, and Henry Barber, who then carried the ability and discipline to dispense with the piton rack, even on the hardest routes of the day, back out West.


(This post was edited by rgold on Feb 14, 2009, 9:51 AM)


curt


Feb 14, 2009, 4:59 PM
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rgold wrote:
In the US, the most under-appreciated figure is John Stannard, who, in my opinion, had as much, if not more, to do with the full-on conversion to clean climbing than anyone else.

Stannard was one of the first to understand and master the use of small wired nuts for protection at a time when most climbers still considered them to be aid pieces only. At considerable personal expense and effort, Stannard published and distributed for free The Eastern Trade, which became a vehicle for communicating about the possibilities of clean climbing.

While most of the country's climbers were celebrating all-nut repeats of 5.9 and 5.10 classics but were mostly still climbing with mixed racks of nuts and pitons, Stannard was climbing new 5.11 - 5.12 routes ground up with nuts only, on terrain requiring subtle and precise placements that could not be seen from the base of the pitch and had to be discovered and utilized as one climbed. Stannard almost single-handedly converted the East to nut protection, and profoundly influenced Steve Wunsch, John Bragg, and Henry Barber, who then carried the ability and discipline to dispense with the piton rack, even on the hardest routes of the day, back out West.

As an interesting aside, the ethics associated with preserving the rock was only half the story. I keenly recall Stannard telling me that he quickly adopted nuts because using them was so much easier than placing pitons.

Curt


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