/ NEW ARTICLE: The North Face Races - by Gordon Smith
"My original plan had been to take a look at the wall in the afternoon sun, and then sleep on top of a plastic bag that I had with me, and return down to Argentiere the next morning. But like all well made plans, the plan went awry..."
Read More: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=990
That is an excellent article, than you very much.
(& Jack for posting it)
Good article Gordon. It looks like 3 hours or less was the going rate for routes on the Courtes North Face way back then :o)
Ha! Thanks. I dare say we weren't the only ones though.
Excellent, brought back a lot of memories that. Understated as well, just what a newcomer wants to sandbag them.
I am glad I had more sense than Clough, he decided that the N face of the Droites would be suitable as my first route in the alps, till I showed him my crampons with no front points on and mentioned that I could fall off an ice covered pavement.
Respect to the old foggies ;-)
> I am glad I had more sense than Clough, he decided that the N face of the Droites would be suitable as my first route in the alps, till I showed him my crampons with no front points on and mentioned that I could fall off an ice covered pavement.
I thought that you chaps howked steps in your day ... what do you need front points for if you have a ladder of steps to walk up? Couldn't you have got Cloughy to chop your ladder of steps for you??? No excuse for wimping out!
Really enjoyed reading this article can we have more like this please!!!
No, I am in awe of what a lot of people are doing now, and doing when I was climbing, and of things that people like Buhl, Rebuffat, Cassin etc did before.
There have always been real hard men pushing the boundaries with poor equipment while we we pissing about on second grade of difficulty routes.
Modern gear may get you up some stuff too dangerous to do in the past but the grade just keeps going up. Look at the stuff Andy Kirkpatrick and John Arran and others are doing, you have to have that bit more get up and go to do that sort of thing, Like Gordon and Alec and Nick and Tasker had all those years ago.
> Really enjoyed reading this article can we have more like this please!!!
Your wish is my command!
There were, and are a load of staggeringly good climbers who rarely get mentions. You would know several in your area of climbing that others never heard of. Think of people who you associated with who did some really hard routes yet never get mentioned. For example, some of the Black and Tan lads are virtually unknown outside a small group of local climbers but did hardish routes in the alps.
You need to read old journals from all over the place to find out about some outstanding achievements.
I think digging back into the AC journals and Mountain would bring some to mind.
Very good story - any chance we will get more of this? It would be great to read some Brit exploit on the Italian side instead of all those anthills above Chamonix ;)
Very good story Gordon, but there's one bit of your article that's puzzling me:
>"Wot's that then? Wot's that face over there? Can't we climb that one?", says I champing at the bit because our idleness had robbed me of some climbing.
>"Oh no. That's the North Face of the Courtes. You have to be an expert with years and years of experience to climb that one. It's very hard."
Waitwaitwait - someone first tried to lure you on the NF of Triolet, and then, when seeing the NF of the Courtes, he was all "no, you can't climb THAT one, because of it's too hard and scary" Where did that guy got the topo of the area? From a Monty Python sketch? You were lucky not to climb with him anymore (if you did)! ;=)
You've got me well and truly phyched for my summer Alpine Debauchary. I'll let you know my time on the Swiss Route.
I always enjoy the "last of the grand old masters" telling it like it was! Really, it is inspiring and motivates me to ask myself questions I might not otherwise and reminds me that we do have it easier now.
What I wanted to ask was this: you say you don't climb so much now? If you look around at other alpinists (of the last few generations) often it seems that some of those at the top of their game, "gave it up" quite early in life? It is deliberately trying to elicit a reaction (i dont want to seem confrontational nor provocative, only interested) BUT why?
When you look back at your contemporaries and your heroes was it ego that made you climb hard and when that was satisfied the urge faded? Did the philosophising about risk become more psychologically attritional as you got a wee bit older? Had you just done all the routes you wanted to do?!
I helped a non-climbing friend write an article for Rock & Ice last year about Tom Patey (he was fascinated by him). We interviewed various of his climbing partners. The guy who left me with a lump in my throat was Bill Brooker. An invidious comparison I know but if you compared his ostensible reasons for climbing with someone like Marc Twight (who I think is great) Brooker seemed so much more at peace with himself and I wondered if that meant he enjoyed climbing more?
Bit heavy for a Sunday but would love to hear any thoughts you had?
I reckon that you should start a thread to discuss the issues you raise ... it would be easier for me to discuss together with other people's input, rather than just give you an answer ... I've tried and scrubbed it out again and again!! The short answer as to why I quit (in 1979) at age 23 is that I met a girl and got serious (and got married). I discovered life outside climbing!
> Brilliant Gordon!
> You've got me well and truly phyched for my summer Alpine Debauchary. I'll let you know my time on the Swiss Route.
Remember, young Tom, that it's better to be a long lived climber who has fun climbing for many, many years than a short term, dead hero!!
'Courage is naught without prudence'
'Look well to each step'
'From the beginning, think what might be the end'
'The happiness of a lifetime can be destroyed by the folly of a moment'
You're a young stud, but do be careful!
Quality. What a good post!
Good on you both :-)
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