Letter To Summit

Article Index

Next. Roger contends the introduction suggests I "could have done all those new and hard routes if (I) had relaxed (my) standards and resorted to the 'appalling' style of the 70's." Nowhere does the introduction say any such thing. I do contend preprotection, previewing, yo-yoing and similar tricks have the effect of "robbing others of the opportunity to try the first ascent in traditional style." In the latest issue of Ascent I have argued the same point. "Tricksters" do remove opportunities for others to try certain routes in traditional style. But the introduction never states I or other traditionalists could have done "all those new hard routes" in traditional style. In fact, the introduction says just the opposite. I mention two cases where Bob Kamps and I turned back on Fairview Dome because we could not proceed without some form of aid (roofs above Crescent Ledge and the headwall on Piece de Resistance). Indeed, I am perfectly willing to say I could not have done first ascents of certain Tuolomne routes in traditional style. What I and other traditionalists wanted was the opportunity to try, and the pleasure of wondering who might succeed some day, or if anyone would ever succeed, in the traditional style.

Finally, I must take issue with Roger's attempt to dismiss the importance of climbing styles. Roger contends. "We can believe it is relatively easy to do stupid regrettable things on first ascents—Hoodwink is a good example of this." And, "We can believe one's cherished notions can be easily trammeled by other climbers. . . as they make, for better or for worse, their personal stylistic choices." I'm sorry Roger believes it easy to do regrettable things on first ascents, as he did on Hoodwink, one of his own first ascents in Tuolumne. I wonder if it is this very cavalier attitude about what can happen on first ascents which led Roger and his companions to place a string of aid bolts to protect free climbing on the last pitch of Hoodwink. Did he give any thought to whether traditionalists might want to try the route without resorting to aid? Or did he simply "trammel" on the "cherished notions" of other climbers of the time, and make his "personal stylistic choice" for "better or worse"?