A Climbing Story

Climbers at the Columns, Eugene, Oregon

Climbers at The Columns, Eugene, Oregon, 1975. Left to right: Pete Pollard, Jude Pollard, Chris Jones, Dale Allyn, Richard Wanderman. Picture taken by Faye Nakamura.

Note: This piece was written in 1999 and originally posted in 2004.

In 1975 I hung out at The Columns, a local climbing place in Eugene, Oregon. The Columns is an old quarry of columnar basalt that’s right in the middle of town and was cleaned up and turned into an outdoor climbing gym. It’s a great place to climb.

One day I was there with a bunch of folks, talking, climbing, resting. It was a busy day as Columns days went; there were people on many of the climbs, some leading, some top-roping.

An old Datsun pickup pulled up and I noticed because it was beat up, rusty, and had the back cut off with a small flatbed on it. A middle-aged guy got out. He was in city clothes and did not look the part of a climber. He reached back in behind the seat and pulled out an ancient looking pair of old, beat-up EBs with duct tape all over them. EBs were early climbing shoes that did not have sticky rubber on them which made climbing with them much harder than current shoes. Even 15 years ago anyone owning, let alone wearing EBs for climbing was from an earlier generation of climbers. I had had a pair of EBs myself as well as the earlier “klettershoes” which were like modern day hiking boots: stiff, non-stick soles not so good for friction although decent for edging and aid. I appreciated what climbing in EBs was like and the situation with this guy and his EBs looked interesting so I continued to watch him. Note that now (1999) shoes are like suction cups compared with EBs.

He sat down on the berm separating the parking area from the climbing area and took off his shoes and put on the EBs. He hardly looked up at the rock or the folks around him.

This was definitely interesting.

There were some very good climbers up on the rock with hardly any room for another rope or for this guy to play around on the bottom of the rock. None of us knew it at the time but some of the climbers up on the rock that day were to go on to become some of the best rock climbers in the world. That day they were agonizing over relatively easy climbing problems.

The guy waited until some folks moved, then quietly, with no eye contact with anyone else, left his shoes on the berm and walked over to one of the harder climbs at The Columns. He stood under it for a second, contemplating or planning or praying. He had no ropes or any equipment except the old shoes on his feet, no gymnastic chalk or harness. Nothing. And, he was in city clothes.

It should be noted that a few of the very best climbers free soloed climbs at The Columns in 1974. This means that they did the climbs without the protection of a rope. At that point no one had ever seen anyone free solo the climb that this guy was under. This added to the intensity of the moment.

This particular climb was a near vertical crack that started out about finger-width and ended up too wide for a fist. Because it was columnar basalt there were no other holds besides the crack. Climbers use a technique on cracks called “jamming” in which they insert fingers or hands and toes or feet (depending on the width of the crack) in the crack and twist the inserted body part so that it will hold body weight until another body part can be jammed in higher. In this way a climber moves up cracks. For the uninitiated it can be an awkward and sometimes painful technique. The closer the crack is to vertical the more weight there is on the inserted body part. The climb this guy was doing was about 40 feet long, very close to dead vertical and it leaned a bit to one side. Even harder.

All of us regulars at The Columns had tried this crack. Few of us had done it at that point although many of us, myself included, would go on to do it eventually. It was what climbers routinely call a “test piece” in that once you did it you were initiated into a more select group of climbers called “hard men” (yes, women were initiated into that group too).

The other significant piece of history about this crack is that many years after this event I tore my left rotator cuff leading it and ended my semi-serious climbing career.

So, the particular crack that this guy decided to have a go at was significant and by now others had noticed the disaster that was about to happen.

Many of us felt responsible for the place and for the safety of the people who climbed at it and I know a few minds, mine included, were trying to figure out how to stop this guy without causing a fight.

Then without warning he was moving up the crack. I’d never seen anyone climb like him before: smooth, effortless, the best jamming technique I’d ever seen. He moved up the crack as easily as walking on level ground. It was almost like levitation.

My jaw had dropped and I noticed quite a few other open mouths as well.

He never stopped moving. When he got to the top he walked off the side of the cliff and back down to where his shoes were sitting, took off the EBs and put on his shoes and was back in his truck and gone. This entire event took all of 10 minutes from the time he drove up until he was gone.

I turned to my friend Chris and asked if he knew who this guy was? Chris said the guy was Wayne Arrington, a climber who had been a pioneer of Oregon rock climbing over 10 years earlier and had dropped out of sight, helicopter logging in Alaska or something like that.

Arrington was legendary in Eugene climbing circles as one of the few people who was crazy enough to fly a helicopter upside-down in Vietnam. I have no idea if this was true but the thought of it coupled with some of the climbs he had put up was enough to make him a legend.

All I can tell you is that what I witnessed that day was spectacular. Not just the climbing but the way he drove up, was so calm and unconcerned, did the climb easily, and left without a word.

This was the definition of cool.

I knew I wasn’t a good enough climber, nor secure enough personally to do what he’d done. But, I secretly wished it had been me.

Arrington had done his early climbing in Oregon with a guy named Bob Ashworth who, after pioneering hard rock climbing in Oregon had gone down to Yosemite and stayed. Arrington had done some walls down there, including a very early solo of El Capitan, but had then dropped out of the climbing scene. Ashworth had stayed around and had become a guide and teacher at the Yosemite Mountaineering School. Ashworth had been my first climbing teacher five years before. I knew the names well because I had climbed many of their routes in both the Cascades and in eastern Oregon. To us at The Columns these guys were legendary and larger than life.

Ashworth, my teacher, was also a legend in climbing circles because while he was guiding in Yosemite during the summer he was also running the ski rental place there in the winter. One winter a small plane carrying a very precious (and illegal) cargo went down in a lake in a high canyon east of Yosemite Valley. It is said that Ashworth along with another climber went out and bought a load of equipment (scuba gear, metal cutting chain saws…) and went up to “salvage” the cargo. How much of it he got (if any) or what he did with it none of us knew. We did know that he continued to work in Yosemite and live out of the camper on the back of his pickup truck. Still, the story helped make him a legend.

Arrington had put up a climb I had done recently in the western Cascades called “Barrad Dur.” This climb, which I had done with a much better climber than me (I went along for the ride, so to speak) was so scary and so intense that it really made me appreciate what Arrington had done so many years ago.

So, seeing this guy at The Columns, even as an old, retired climber, was a cherished moment.

And, most importantly, the way he had done this hard crack climb, a climb that he had been the first to climb, helped cement his status.

15 Years later after I’d stopped climbing, had settled down in Connecticut far away from real mountains, and had a family and a new life, I found myself on a family vacation (not climbing) in Yosemite Park. There was my family: my wife and two step-daughters, and lots of friends, including two friends with severe physical disabilities. One of these friends was on crutches and one was in a power wheelchair. In all there were about 15 people in our group and we were definitely not climbers.

I was the tour guide for this group because I’d spent so many summers in Yosemite in my youth climbing and living out of the back of my VW bus.

I thought it would be a good idea to show this group Toulomne Meadows and I thought the place to go would be where I had done one of my first climbing classes with Bob Ashworth many years earlier: a small dome near the highway called Puppy Dome.

To get to Puppy dome is an easy walk for an able-bodied person but our friends with physical disabilities needed a bit of help to get in there. When we all finally got settled on a small river near the dome it was about mid-day. It was a wonderful day and various members of our group scrambled around on the rocks and swam in the river. No one mentioned anything about climbing and I thought it best, for some reason, just to enjoy the day without boring everyone with stories of Bob Ashworth and my first free rappel off Puppy Dome.

Eventually a group of real climbers showed up and started bouldering around on low stuff near the dome. I watched them from a distance, jealous of their youth and the fact that they didn’t have a bunch of “city slickers” with them.

They spent much of the afternoon working on a short boulder problem which looked quite hard. One of them would go up on it, struggle, yell some profanity, then fall off onto the dirt below.

As members of my group dropped off into afternoon naps I wandered over to these climbers and watched the action more closely. They were so graceful and I had little memory that I’d ever been able to move my body that well.

While watching I remembered something very clearly: I had been on that boulder in years past. Not my first time to Puppy dome but on a later trip after I was already a more experienced climber. As I wracked my now forgetful brain for what the solution to this boulder problem was, or, if I’d actually made it to the top, the climbers noticed me (I must have looked like a kid looking into a candy store window). They looked at me the way I must have looked at tourists when I was young, in shape, had all the right climbing clothing and paraphernalia, and was just plain cool.

I got the thought in my head that it would be fun to try this boulder problem and I very politely asked if I might have a go at it. They seemed to not hear my question but I thought I heard one of them snigger and of course, knew they were sniggering at me for being so ignorant to think that I could even get off the ground, let alone do this problem. After all, I was in Bermuda shorts, a polo shirt, socks (not knee socks thank god) and hiking shoes.

As they were packing up to leave I decided that I might as well give it a try, I had nothing to lose and I might enjoy myself although I too thought I had little chance of even getting off the ground on this very hard problem. I was also worried that I’d hurt my out of shape body by putting too much effort into doing this thing to look good in front of these climbers.

I walked over in my hiking shoes which they noticed right away, rolling their eyes and now sniggering more. I looked at the problem for about 30 seconds, and then, somehow, levitated up the rock like I had every move memorized. To this day I have no idea how I did this and I doubt I could ever do anything like it again.

When I got to the top I just kept on going off the back side toward my napping family.

As I looked back I saw that their jaws were dropped, just as mine had been when a similarly middle-aged Wayne Arrington showed up at The Columns and free soloed one of the hardest climbs there in his old EBs.

Ain’t life wonderful.

43 comments

  1. I gotta tell ya, I get a laugh every time I read this… sorry I never got back to you with those pictures of helicopter logging. I have my own company now and I’m up to my armpits in the blagoo….one day….probably not too soon….

    Wayne

    1. Wow, I got a comment from Wayne Arrington. I can die and go to heaven now.

      Wayne, you send me pictures, I’ll post them. Send prints and I’ll scan them and return them or digital and I’ll happily post them. Do send captions so we know what we’re looking at.

      Wow, climber makes good with own helecopter logging company. Glad to hear it, congratulations.

      Glad this old piece makes you laugh. In my now, clouding over mind, those days seem like a long, long time ago… and they were!

  2. Hi Richard:

    I was just reminicing on some quarter century old correspondence from Wayne and getting a little nostalgic for the old times when I decided on a whim to do a google search. Guess what i came up with? Great story! Well told. Typical Wayne. I heard a similar story from both Wayne and Stu Rich. The characters and incident were different, but basically it was Limp Dick and the Columns. Just so you know, Wayne did all of his earliest climbing with me, not Ashworth. I don’t remember him doing much climbing, if any, with Ashworth. If he did, they kept it a secret. Wayne and I did the 3rd ascents of such climbs as Monument and SW Face of M. Face, and the second ascent of Barrad Dur. Wayne sand-bagged me into free leading a bombay corner on that one. Very entertaining. We also did an early speed climb of Monkey Face in 1972 – 3 routes (East Face, NW Corner, and West Face variation) in 12 hours. We were standing on Bohn street when we realized that we had 20 minutes left to get to the top in 12 hours. I led the bolt ladder in 8 minutes and he might have done the first free ascent of the next pitch. Not bad for trad climbing in the old days. As time went on, Wayne became the incredible climber of legend, all of it well deserved. People don’t know half the stuff he did, and solo. Anyway, I’d appreciate it if you could send him my email and see whether he’d mind sending me his. I want to respect his modesty and privacy, but it would be fun to reconenct about old times. By the way, I wrote the first climbing guide to the Columns and was part of the previous generation at the Columns to the one that you talk about in your article. When I arrived at Eugene in 1967, i met the previous generation to mine, which included Gary Kirk, Ed Lovegren, and Stu Rich. Probably the Baumans and Ashworth too. regards, tom.

    1. Tom, wow, great to hear from you, yet another legend checking in. Man, if I’d known my little article would be an old home week I might have put in even more juicy tid bits.

      Great to hear all that old stuff talked about again. This story and an old gear collection and some quickly fading slides are about all I have left of those days.

      I don’t even know if Stu Rich is still around. He was pretty old when I climbed with him.

      Email me at rwanderman@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to give you the two email addresses I have on Wayne. Not sure either works any more but you can certainly give them a try.

      Thanks for checking in.

  3. I enjoyed reading your recollections, Richard. Since finding your blog, I’ve had conversations with some of the old Eugene-based pioneers, such as Tom Rogers, Jack Barrar, and Wayne Arrington. I was fortunate to spend a few hours recently hiking around the Gorge at Smith with Wayne, himself. It was great hearing stories of the old days. The historical information in my revision to the Smith Rock guide will be better because of the connections I made thanks to your website. Thanks!

    1. Alan: this is great news that this comment thread brought some folks together, thanks for letting me know.

      Did you and Wayne climb at Smith? Is he climbing anymore?

      Got a picture of you, him, or any of the old timers you can send my way? I’d love it.

      Be well and let us know when the new guide comes out. Might have to pick up a copy to see what’s happened there since I played around on Monkey Face.

  4. Richard,

    Thanks for posting this. It sounds like an accurate description of an occasional Arrington appearance at the columns back in the 70’s. Limp Dick was very difficult; a sustained off size finger crack that leaned at an awkward angle and one of the hardest routes at the columns (5.10+) at the time. I never saw Wayne 3rd class that particular one, but he did others and I have no doubt he probably did Limp Dick as well. While people occasionally soloed routes they had wired after months of practice, Wayne would simply show up a couple of times a year and just quietly do one without a warm up. He once told me he if he could climb a route, he what he could lead he could almost 3rd class. A severe philosophy for the time, but his little known early routes in the Gorge at Smith Rock provided testimony to its actualization. I think back on 65 vertical feet of mostly unprotected 5.9 off width that probably saw no more than 2 repeats for years after he essentially hauled a rope up it in the early 70’s.

    Wayne,

    Good to know you are around. I also recall stemming up a loose over hanging corner on Brad Dur so many pitches off the ground. It provided a quiet sense of humility which likely kept me alive later.

    1. Paul, wow, amazing, a roster of legends… This is fun to watch you all check in here. I think I’d better get to scanning my slides of the columns and smith and Yosemite before they all fade away; each one has a story for sure.

      I did Barad Dur with John Rich, Stu’s son, who was an excellent climber and who I felt quite safe with. I think he led the entire thing, every pitch but if I led any of it it was in the first half. I remember sitting with John at a semi-hanging belay just before an overhang near the top and wondering how the heck Arrington and others had visualized this route and all of the other classics they pioneered back then.

      Thanks for checking in and sharing Paul and I look forward to more stories from other folks who were around before, during, and after the time described in the story.

  5. Richard, I enjoyed your article. I also like your picture. I’m seeking climbing pictures of the old days for the Willamette guide. Any leads?
    greg

    1. Greg, thanks. I have a ton of slides of Oregon climbing. They’re not scanned and some are undoubtedly fading. However, maybe I’ll scan some if you want to use them. The Menagerie, the Columns, Smith in the very early days and other obscure places in the Willamette valley. Let me know and I’ll see about it.

  6. Hey Paul Landrum! I have often wondered what became of you: career, family, adventures? I remember well the lovely day we climbed Barad-Dur with Jeff Elphinston. I think I jugged the whole thing taking pictures. Last climb I did with Jeff. Get my contact information from Richard. It would be great to hear from you.

    Wayne

  7. Was reading the new Willamette guidebook, made me think back to the early 70’s, when I worked briefly with Wayne Arrington, planting trees and setting choker with Giustina Bros. No idea at that time of any legendary status. I guess I found that out when I read Nick Dodge’s book. Wayne never boasted about anything in my hearing. Anyway, after reading a few routes, for some reason I Googled Wayne and found this thread.

    Later, still early mid 70’s after a rock class or two, I remember being up at the columns with my secondhand goldline, probably working way too hard to get up the chimney. Here comes Wayne, walking up, probably in hiking boots, solos a crack to the right and disappears over the top. Just out for a stroll.

    Contrast to Stu Rich – a very helpful and friendly guy – seemed to know everything about climbing all across the USA, always geared up and always protecting his cranium.

    Got to take one exception though – was Wayne middle aged in the 70’s? Maybe middle earthed. Richard, you might have had pretty young eyes back then.

    1. John: Agreed, Wayne only looked “middle aged” to me in that he was not trying to look like a climber, at that point looked more like a “regular guy.”

      Stu Rich… right, taught me how to aid climb in the rain up in the Coburg Hills and then later, we did quite a bit of aid climbing up in the Menagerie. There was something very “British” about him in my now clouded memory. I think he treated climbs like military operations, which was good for a novice like me in that it exposed me to planning, but maybe a bit too organized for the improvisational aspect of climbing. Don’t get me wrong, Stu was and still may be a great climber, just a bit different from many of my other climbing partners from the day.

      I too started with goldline (not secondhand) which was great rope in that just coiling it built great arm muscles!

      Thanks for checking in and sharing the memories John.

  8. I like some of the others Googled a old friends name and found this thread – Some of them I have climbed with in the past – Ed Lovegren, Bob Ashworth (he is getting married), Stu Rich, My only claim to fame is I taught Bob & Tom Bauman how to climb – They learned all I knew in about 30 minutes – Nick Dodge I helped with the Umpqua Rocks section of his guide and we also did a lot of climbs – I never climbed with Wayne Arrington as I was into running then, and he was too damn good anyway – When I started in 1957 you would get excited if you saw a vibram sole print in the trail – There must be a real climber around and you would try to find them – Sure different now days – While I still hike a lot, my last real climbing was a couple years ago with the East Butt and S.E.Spur on Washington – Tom Bauman pulled and Dennis Root pushed – Thanks for the memories…

    1. Gary: Wow, fantastic. I don’t know much about this historic stuff but I do remember your name. With all of you historic figures filling in the pieces we could write a history of Oregon climbing before there was Oregon climbing. Sort of how the climbing scene bootstrapped into a scene. People tend to use climbing achievements as place-markers in climbing histories but I much prefer the social connections like you’ve described. Love the idea: tracking climbers by their footprints.

      Wherever Bob Ashworth is, I wish him and his new bride my best.

      Thanks for your memories Gary and hopefully others will come by and fill in more blanks.

  9. Richard,
    Sorry, I missed your post.
    Yes I would still be interested if you have some photos that I can use to help capture the history of climbing in Western Oregon.
    If so please send me an email and we will chat.
    greg

  10. I just received a sad note from my old climbing buddy Pete Pollard (in photo above).

    Hi Richard

    It’s just unfortunate that my first note to you in years is about the death of Jim Anglin. He was descending a climbers trail into the Gorge at Smith Rock when he slipped and fell about a hundred feet to his death. John Rich and another climber were a few yards ahead of him when it happened.

    I’ve always admired Jim’s climbing ability and it’s so ironic that a slip like that cost him his life. He’s been retired from work for a number of years, living in White Salmon and windsurfing, skiing and climbing. I hadn’t seen him in ages but we kept in touch indirectly with our common friends.

    I have lots of great memories of climbing with Jim. Even a cold overnight bivvy on the descent of the Steck-Salathe’ was enjoyable with Jim’s company.

    Pete Pollard

  11. I got another note from Pete Pollard on Jim Anglin’s memorial service:

    I went to Jim’s memorial yesterday in Lebanon. There were probably several hundred people there and it was a full fire department event. So there were a lot of climber types and about a third of the people were firemen in uniform. Very good event. It was nice to hear about parts of Jim’s life I wasn’t familiar with. He was a fire captain and worked there 28 years. His kids and grandkids were there too.

    I saw a lot of guys I hadn’t seen in decades, some I recognized and others I had to ask their names ‘cause they looked familiar. Good to see so many people from back in the day, just too bad it takes a death to make it happen.

    Mike Hartley made it in and there were plenty of people from Bend. Even Freddy made it in from Florence. The Fralick brothers are unchanged but everyone’s a little older and grayer.

    Jim had a well lived life.

  12. Hey Richard !
    I just discovered your website today through Gary kirk ! I was very close to Jim anglin we climbed , hiked , traveled ,climbed hung together ,and climbed some more for the last 25yrs.In oregon
    alot at the ‘menagerie’,Wolf Rock,flagstone,the east caves in the coburg hills , etc. . Also in numerous adventure areas in many other states . I will say 2 things; 1;some of the best days of my life , on or off rock,were spent in the company of this friend and 2 ; on my 50th birthday ( his 50th yr also )he red pointed his new route’ Big Bad Wolf ‘5.11c then we set a new speed record on ‘Barad-Dur ‘ climbing it all free to the summit in 3hrs. 6mns. We topped out at 1:30 pm. (He returned 1 month later with Kent Bennesh and did it again but in 2hrs. 28mns.!!) We sat on the summit eating oranges and laughing that we were the oldest to climb it , the 1st Grand Parents to climb it and the fastest . Whata day ! He is and will be missed greatly by all who’s lives he touched.

    PS for you richard ,I had my 30th ascent of Barad-dur this August.

    It would be great to here from you . ciao Chris Fralick

    1. Amazing Chris, and I’m sorry it took the death of a friend to make the re-connection.

      It’s wonderful to hear that many of that group that I was part of at The Columns has continued to climb and has done it together. There is nothing like the camaraderie of old friends.

      Free Barad-dur? I can hardly imagine climbing it period, which I did following John Rich before I left Oregon in the early ’80s. Gad, you must still be lean and strong.

      Maybe some of you who still live in the area should organize a big get together where those of us who met at the Columns might get together, like a high school reunion. If I had enough lead time I’d come to something like that and my guess is others would too. We could all bring short slide shows and show them like a Pecha Kucha session (20 slides, 20 seconds each).

      Great to hear from you Chris, please say hi to anyone I might know from the old days.

  13. I stumbled on this blog, and just wanted to comment regarding Jim Anglin. Jim has done a tremendous amount of new route developement in the last few years in secrect at some great crags near Mt Hood. I have had the privledge to do many of them, and some really stellar routes. Jim was a class act, and just as I started to get to know him, he is gone. Sad times but his routes live on and in time will get recognition.
    Also, I would live to do Barad-dur, where would I get the beta for it now?

  14. I really enjoyed reading this story. The picture of the climbers in 1975 brought back memories. That very same year I began to climb at age 17. A Physical Education instructor at South Eugene high school was a climber and offered a rock climbing class for PE credit. It was a blast, and definitely my favorite PE course. Many of the names in your account are familiar to me and some of them are acquaintences. I have a high regard for the early climbers who pioneerd many of legendary climbs of Oregon using non sticky climbing shoes, passive pro and a lot of grit and courage.
    Thanks

    1. David: Great that you found this story and thread. Every time someone comments here it brings back fond memories for me too, it was a very special time with some great climbers and great characters and I’m glad I got to experience a bit of it. Yes, the pioneers did amazing things with Goldline rope, hand-placed pitons and “klettershoes.”

  15. Hi Richard,
    My name is Nicole Clowry, I am the niece of Jeff Ephinston who I noticed you commented on a few years back.
    I was not born when Jeff passed away but have grown up knowing about him through my father Bob, Jeff’s older brother by about two years.
    I would love to hear about what contact you had with Jeff all of those years ago. It was very exciting to see his name mentioned online.
    It was a pleasure to read your post. I look forward to hearing back from you.
    Best Wishes Nicole.

    1. Nicole: I don’t think I knew Jeff personally, only by reputation. That might not be correct but it’s what I remember. He might have been hanging out at the columns when I was there (mid ’70s to mid ’80s) but I’m not sure.

      Maybe we ought to make a cast or characters in this thread, a who’s who in Oregon and Columns climbing over the years. Even though this is my blog, I was never really anybody of consequence in the climbing scene. I did lots of the infamous climbs but so did many people in my time.

      I do remember it as a special time to be into climbing though and the camaraderie was wonderful. I’ll never forget that.

    2. Nicole, I happened to be thinking of Jeff yesterday and found this site. We attempted Mt Steele in the Canadian Yukon in the summer of 1973. If you get this and would like more information or photos, let me know. AAJ, Volume 19, Issue 1, 1974, p 156.

      1. Nathan, I just tried to contact Nicole. Not sure if the posted email address she used here still works, we’ll see… I gave her your email address, hope that was okay.

  16. Richard,

    I’m not sure how I stumbled across this, but I did. Thanks for hosting the conversation. I love the picture at the top!

    1. Mike: Great to hear from you. Yeah, that’s an amazing old picture Faye took of us. I should rescan it before the original black and white print fades. I have it here and scanned this version a long time ago.

  17. Hey Wayne!

    How you doing Brother?!! Wow…seems you are known in the climbing world. Good talking to you the other day, I think we are both doing better than the last time we talked. I love you Bro.

    Mike

  18. Wow, a great story and great thread following. Wayne but up some incredible routes… I have been on many and blown away every time.

    Chris Jones … what ever happened to him?

    1. Scott: Agreed, Wayne really had and continues to have a great eye for beautiful routes.

      Chris Jones lives in central Oregon with his wife Ruth. We exchange holiday cards every year and have since I left Oregon in 1986.

  19. Thank you Richard for what is one of the most interesting web sights i’ve seen. I was looking for good still photography albums, of all sorts, including climbing and BASE.

    What a wonderful treat bumping into your well organized list of categories. Adventure, BASE jumping, Climbing, Art and Design, Animals, Birds and Beer, Oh my!

    The Art Of Broken Pieces. Well I can certainly relate to that as I’ve been broken and put back together a few times. ” Kintsugi” Real lacquer, hon urushi dusted with gold powder, kinpun of the best quality used not only to piece together the expensive imported but sadly broken Sung dynasty tea bowls, but to honor even the most humble vessel. This concept is called “Reigi” Respect. All Japanese tea related arts begin and end with reigi. This is life long meditation is called Michi or Do, “The Way”.

    I came into climbing from Kendo, “the way of the sword”, back in the early sixties. I loved the picture you posted of what I used to call the Eugene crowd. As I looked at the picture I started to smell deep fried mushrooms, french fries and beer.

    The Red Barn was filled with climbers from outdoor programs, with young and old climbers shouting their stories above the overly loud juke box.” I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name”,spliced together with, ” off width”, “EB” PA, bad pro, ” and did you hear?”he bought it in Yosemite”. Half heard, half drunk stories to be patched together in the future by some that were there and many that were not, including guide book writers and pundits.

    For years I’ve read these horror stories of bad bolts, retro bolting, hangdog routes, etc. The advancement in Equipment is wonderful. Better shoes, better clothing, better hardware, cams , bolts and hangers, and biners that are so much lighter and climbing gyms that have improved technique greatly are all good but please remember.

    Smith Rocks is not a gym and even if we have a long history with the place, we are not entitled to screw it up for the sake of our egos. At one time some people stamped their initials onto hangers just to claim some dubious first ascent kudos for the guide book.

    I loved the skinner butte story. many of us have almost the same story. maybe not the modified flat bed truck, but the quick trip to Eugene, the food co op, skinner butte, putting on the torn up patched, worn out E.B.s and third classing hard routes and leaving before the locals got preachy, hostile and territorial, much like surf beach gangs.

    Richard, the great Daimyo Furuta Oribe lived in the late 16th century and early17th c. he did break some things to make whole with kinsugi. Living in a humble house, even a hovel, patched with mud and leaving fallen leaves scattered carefully across the stone path is what is called ” wabi Zumai.” This house is simply a temporary dwelling. This is the way of the samurai and the way of tea. The fukusa, a rag used to wipe the tea utensils and bowl is often made of a patch work of brocade much like like the Buddhist monks robe. The master teacher instructs the student in the oral tradition,” We have no enemies except self. Defeat self, hit clearly! The four diseases are fear, doubt, apprehension and confusion. In traditional kendo, a live sword match is called shinken shobu, it is absolute commitment, life or death, Trad climbing, BASE jumping, Big wave surfing etc. are beyond sport.

    If you’ve got, as it seems,an interest in BASE, check out the film, Sunshine Superman, coming out in the fall of 2014. This is the first feature film covering Trad BASE jumping history, from round chutes to wing suits.
    Richard, again, thank you for your eclectic taste and obvious artistry.

    respectfully, Stephen S. with regards to one of my favorite intellects and climbers, Paul Landrum

    1. Love your comment Steve. Thanks for taking the time to post it here. And, for those reading who don’t realize that there’s more to this site than “A Climbing Story” please click the header and poke around (broken piece, etc.).

  20. I seem to remember that is where you took me to do my first free repel too. Thank you I still remember that trip and climbing with you quite well. You were a great teacher my friend.

    1. Did we climb in Eugene together Lana Blue? I thought only in Connecticut. Either way, I’m not sure there’s enough overhang at the columns for a free rappel but who knows… my memory is pretty cloudy. Either way, you still remain one of the finest students I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching in any domain.

  21. I came on this post while surfing the net and reminiscing early adventures in climbing. My father, Clay Cox and I started climbing in the late 60’s and had many an adventure with the folks mentioned in the posts (Stu Rich, Wayne Arrington, Tom Rogers, Gary Kirk) and many others not mentioned (Mike Seeley, Todd Rentchler, Ken Currens, to name a few). I really enjoyed “A Climbing Story” which strikes me as a spot on description of Wayne Arrington’s persona, mystique and “coolness”. I have a lasting memory of Wayne during a trip to Yosemite when he gave me some pointers while noodling around on Swan Slab. Thanks for the memories!

    1. Randy: All the names you mention I either knew or knew of. The guy who started me off in climbing (in Yosemite), Bob Ashworth was Wayne’s climbing partner on many of the things he did in Oregon and no doubt in Yosemite as well. Chris Jones and I have over many years talked about attempting to organize a reunion of some of the folks mentioned here. I haven’t even been back to Eugene for many years, no doubt the Columns is very different now and full of amazing climbers. But, those old days… lots of fun.

      I have about 100 scans of slides of the scene there in the 1970’s and at some point I’ll get them posted along with some more stories. Great memories for me too. Thanks for checking in.

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