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Messages - Gagner

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The Nose is one of the best routes in the world IMHO - and while I've only done it 3 times I always tell friends that I'd be happy to do it every year as it is that good.  Every pitch is classic and fun - I can't think of any bad pitches other than maybe the pitch below Camp IV.  Really, the worst thing is probably the crowds, and all the CRAP in the CRACK behind Camp VI.  People really need to embrace a "Leave No Trace" "Pack it in Pack it Out" ethic.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Reticent. A Trip Report
« on: August 26, 2014, 12:31:05 pm »
Nice Mark - pretty much how I remembered it.  Love reading your trip reports as I rarely have the time or energy to put in to them.

See ya soon….

Big Wall Forum / Re: Dear Bigwall forum members...
« on: August 03, 2014, 07:43:53 pm »
Been gone awhile and just came across this thread.  I gotta say Mark is right about how beat out and fixed the trade routes have become.  It is amazing what people do to just "get up stuff."  Kinda sad, but I guess expected when you have so many people doing walls.  I climbed El Cap for the first time 35 years ago, and my how the sport has evolved.

Also, I have a hard time with the rating system - I mean A1 is pretty straight forward, and maybe A2 is the same, but beyond that there are several factors that come in to play - your personal experience, the gear you have with you at that moment - is it right, and your mind set.  Frankly, I tend to agree with Bridwell's rating system of NTB, PDH, and DFU.  Pretty much covers it for me.  When EE and I did Reticent last year I thought it was all NTB, though I also thought the "Natural" pitch, the old crux that I led, was DFU for a short section.  However, you would have to try pretty hard to peg the ledge. EE led the pitch off Wino Tower and cleaning I thought it looked NTB, with the exception of one placement behind a loose flake just below the roof - you remember that one Mark?   I told Eric S. I didn't think Reticent was A4+, or frankly even A4, but he wanted to maintain the rating in his book to keep the riff raff off, which is hard to argue with.

In the end I do walls because they are bitchin to be up on, and I enjoy the personal and mental challenge.  But really, living on a wall is sublime and I just really love that environment and the work ethos required to succeed.

I'm with Mark - I've given up rating routes.  Hence why I "rated" all my Fisher Towers routes A1+:)

After all, it's all A1 until…..

Big Wall Forum / Re: Need to get in shape for big wallin.
« on: April 09, 2014, 07:40:56 pm »
I just climb as much and as often as possible .... I'm really not that in to training. 

Big Wall Forum / Re: Humping Loads - on your shoulders
« on: February 26, 2014, 09:07:15 pm »
As someone that formerly worked for a backpack company, the load lifters need to be at 45 degrees, but the real key is having a structured - stiff - waist belt.  What happens with heavy loads is that the waist belt gets pushed down in back, and up in front - so the load drops on to your shoulders.  I have a custom-ish Denali pack from Gregory that has a wicked stiff waist belt.  I use this for humping loads approaching 80-100 pounds and it works better than any other pack I've ever worn.  In fact, even though the pack itself is a bit heavier, I prefer the support for any loads over 30-ish pounds.  Lastly, make sure the torso length and stays on the pack are the right length for you.  This has nothing to do with your height.  My wife is 5' 9" and wears a large frame size, while I'm 6' 1" and wear a medium.  My height is in my long legs, so my torso is shorter.

Oh, and stay hydrated - drink more beer.....

Big Wall Forum / Re: Anybody else forming a plan?
« on: December 16, 2013, 08:57:01 pm »
It's a hoof up there for sure.  Back in the mid-80's Troy Johnson and I climbed the FA of the first 4 pitches of what was to become Shadows.  The third, and especially the 4th pitch had more drilling than we were willing to do seeing how the cracks on the next few pitches seemed similarly closed.  We began calling the route The Big Drill, and bailed.  However, with all my shit already up there I decided to move it down a short distance to the base of the Porcelain Wall.  Bill Crouse and I then did the 2nd ascent of the Luminescent Wall, which incidentally is a pretty cool route with a killer location and rad top-out - you go from overhanging to a "reverse" slab in the opposite direction - kinda pain to haul, but hey....  I'd highly recommend the Porcelain Wall as an off-the-beaten path wall with a real cool aspect to it....

Big Wall Forum / Re: Fighting the Paine.... Old, yet what went down
« on: December 07, 2013, 04:02:25 pm »


Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Pictures from Tribal Rite
« on: September 25, 2013, 09:53:16 pm »
Yup - pretty straight forward, and the best top-out on the big stone!!



Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Pictures from Tribal Rite
« on: September 25, 2013, 09:02:21 pm »
Nice - love the peregrine shots.  I thought Tribal was a fun route, and sitting out a short storm like that all cozy in the ledge is a great way to get a forced rest day. 

Be up there in 2-weeks - PUMPED!!

Nice job and great effort!!!


Big Wall Forum / Re: ND to TR
« on: September 16, 2013, 08:12:38 pm »
Fun - be up there soon - can't wait!!


Big Wall Forum / Re: Aid Climbers add no value to free climbing
« on: September 16, 2013, 08:11:47 pm »
Munge - Maybe, or maybe the other way around.  Here's an interview Spaz and I did:




Big Wall Forum / Re: Stoves and the importance of warm food?
« on: September 15, 2013, 05:17:00 pm »
I always try to go light, though equally as important compact.  Unless I'm on an expedition, I rarely, if ever take a stove.  My mantra is everything I carry up has to be carried down - and space, as well as weight is always at a premium.  In 35+ walls in the valley I've taken one once.  If you plan to be up during a stormy spell that's a different story all together.

Now I know plenty of people that do take stoves, but I figure I can live without one for the 5-6 days that I'm going to be on a wall.  Take chocolate covered espresso beans for the morning - almost as good as coffee, unless it's hot and they melt.....


Big Wall Trip Reports / Re: Kneel before Zod
« on: June 14, 2013, 08:50:18 pm »
WOOT --- Do, don't try!!

Big Wall Forum / Re: Topo's and FA Characters
« on: June 01, 2013, 11:28:11 am »
I like to think that it's all 5.9+ A1+ , though lately I've decided to take a different tact and rate new routes 5.9- A1-.  And yea, no one wants to have their routes down rated, I just find it a challenge rating new routes where taking out the "unknown" factor found on the FA, for the SA and beyond, definitely comes in to play.  in other words, the unknown factor when establishing a new route usually makes a pitch "seem" harder.  As far as the rack goes - that should be pretty straight forward and I am usually generous in regards to what to take since not having something could lead someone to drill.


Big Wall Forum / Re: Spring Wall Plans?
« on: May 13, 2013, 08:59:10 pm »
Enjoy Sunkist Lambone.  Great route, even with all the traversing!!



Big Wall Forum / Re: Solar Chargers for the wall..
« on: May 01, 2013, 08:37:42 pm »
I have been using recently the brand new OtterBox Ion.  Doubles the battery life for an iPhone 4/4S, and provides good protection too.....

Elephants Perch is a spot I haven't climbed, and one that is toward the top of my "to-do" list.  George Lowe and I were going to go up last year, but the timing didn't work for me .... dang --- to many things, and too little time....


Well, addiction for sure.  But I have to say that I love the freedom of being up on a wall and the focus on just living and dealing.  This is especially true on expeditions where you are focused on your "work" day after day.  Climbing, staying warm, staying alive, and making upwards progress. 

The commitment required to see a project through is also very satisfying to me personally.  There are many times when going up is way easier than going down, so you are committed to figuring it out and making upwards progress.  Part of this is also about being a craftsman, and figuring out how to make the next placement with the gear you have.

I've also always said that big walls are like real estate - it is all about location, location, location.  There are few places as min blowing as being 2,000 feet, 3,000 feet or 4,000 feet up on a vertical to overhanging wall.

Lastly, I guess I'm partly a masochist - I don't mind being in the cold, howling wind, misery situations - like my friend Craig Leubben used to say, it's what makes memories!!  Remember, everyone dies, not everyone lives!!!

Like Mark, at 52, well almost 53, I'm as motivated as ever, even after over 50 walls around the world!!


Big Wall Forum / Re: Nose or Zod?
« on: February 04, 2013, 08:21:02 pm »
When I was much younger - we did Mescalito - Prow - PO back to back on a 3-week trip.  Man, my hands were sore after that.....

Big Wall Forum / Re: Nose or Zod?
« on: January 28, 2013, 09:13:50 pm »
Munge -

The Nose is one of the greatest rock climbs in the world.  Do it!!  Try to when it's not crawling with climbers.  Zodiac is also a great climb, but different as everyone knows.  If I was going to only do one El Cap route I'd do the Nose hands down.  If I was going to do two, Zodiac would probably be number 2.  It gets complicated after that:)


Big Wall Forum / Re: Aspiring Wall Climber on a Yosemite Holiday
« on: January 28, 2013, 09:07:31 pm »
You don't really need to find an "aid" route to practice on.  Aid climbing is all about systems, and efficiency.  Find routes no one is on or looking to get on, aid or free, and aid them.  Get comfortable moving from free to aid and back.  Lots of people fumble with placing gear, and this sometimes takes forever - just getting one piece in - so the more gear you can place, so you have an eye for what works best, will also speed you up and increase your efficiency.  And as you know, practice setting up wall belays, which are more complex than free climbing belays with hauling, jugging etc .... but also practice getting in and out of them efficiently.

Have fun....


Big Wall Forum / Re: North America Wall...
« on: November 30, 2012, 09:02:34 pm »
Renny Jackson and I did the NA around '85 or '86 I think.  Great route, as much for the historical perspective as for the climbing - coming out from the Black Cave is one of the most exposed roofs on El Cap.  I always describe the NA as a worker route due to all the haul bag moving around one needs to do - Calaveras, Big Sur, Cyclops Eye, Igloo -- we had a fun time on the Igloo with some vegetables.........:)


Big Wall Forum / Re: Sleeping systems?
« on: November 14, 2012, 11:41:01 am »
Sometimes I leave my harness on and other times I use a 2" swami like Mark.  My wife tells me I can sleep anywhere and through anything (not a bad trait for in the mountains I suppose), so sleeping with a harness on isn't usually an issue.

Big Wall Forum / Re: LIA pics are really good!
« on: November 12, 2012, 08:37:02 pm »
Sweeeet pics Mark!


Big Wall Forum / Re: what is the hardest part of A4?
« on: November 07, 2012, 09:29:48 pm »
Enjoy the discussion - I'm off to the Fishers in the morning to climb some "A1+" ;)  After a sporty free pitch that is.....


Big Wall Forum / Re: what is the hardest part of A4?
« on: November 07, 2012, 02:59:12 pm »
What Mark said - depends on the placements and the pieces.  I think that is part of the experience quotient - knowing when to bounce the sh$t out of it, and when to just "ease on to it".  Efficient and safe aid climbing is, I guess like all climbing, based on experience.  Including what gear will work best for a particular placement.

Yea, Mark is right about the old racks BITD.  Lots of iron, and lousy racking slings.  And for some reason - and maybe this is just faded memory - but I seem to be more willing these days to go light and tag gear up, vs in the old days I feel like I carried a lot more and tagged less .....

Big Wall Forum / Re: what is the hardest part of A4?
« on: November 07, 2012, 01:22:33 pm »
A4 is a state of mind - actually it's all A1 until you fall .... and rip.....:)  Hey, you asked.......

I think the hardest part of hard aid climbing is staying focused and in the moment -- and usually that is a lot of moments.  Being calm and not freaking, properly testing your pieces (some pieces you want to bounce the sh$t out of and others not so much so), and not rushing.  Having good judgement and experience in regards to using the right tools.  Frankly, things may not be that bad, but get harder when you don't have the right gear.  However, I rarely back clean unless we are talking about pitches that require lots of wide gear, and those of course are not A4.


Big Wall Forum / Re: What stopped you?
« on: October 31, 2012, 09:51:18 pm »
I'm sure he had all of the above, and then some ..... wink, wink!!

Big Wall Forum / Re: What stopped you?
« on: October 31, 2012, 03:14:14 pm »
Bill Crouse and I were doing the 2nd ascent of Roulette.  He was leading the Battle of the Bulge pitch, which is steep.  Bill was in the business, pulled a head, and then a bunch more, and flew about 35 feet to where he was just above me hanging in space - we had some of the original A5 beaks from Deuce (I think this was around '86 or '87), and that is what caught him.  I of course told him to get back up and finish the lead.  He went back up, and was just above were he fell the previous time when the swedge pulled out on one of the homemade #0 heads I had made - whoops, sorry about that dude, guess I gotta set those better in the future.  Anyway, we were amazed as the same beak held a second time.  That was about a 40 footer, and he was now level with the belay, and really not wanting to go back up again.  I of course told him it would be proud for him to finish it - and he did - ha, ha!!

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