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#66644 - 09/28/12 02:35 AM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: Rockanice]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 456
Thanks everyone! RichP & TradJunkie hooked me up!

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#66648 - 09/28/12 01:44 PM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: cfrac]
rg@ofmc Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2454
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
I think Phlan is confusing Westward Ha! (1962), which is a McCarthy route (with Hans Kraus and Yosemite climber Harry Daley), with the Old Route (1935), which is Fritz Wiessner's opening Shawangunk salvo.

Although arguably not a classic, the Old Route deserves an ascent by anyone who thinks of themselves as a gunks climber. It is where it all began, and the route is a testimony to Wiessner's prowess and spirit of adventure. Although Millbrook is only remote today in comparison to the accessibility of the Trapps, back in 1935 there was surely no way a party in trouble could have gotten any help at all. And Fritz's gear made the first pitch a near solo, since (at least as I remember it), much of the pro on the first pitch consists of cams in larger sizes than any pitons Fritz would have had.

I think many people will find the Old Route undergraded at the 5.5 it is given in Purple Dick. There is perhaps a 5.5 way to do it, but it is also (ahem) easy to end up making 5.7ish moves at the top of the first pitch. And although it is no longer approached from below, the traverse of the Death Ledge from the Westward Ha! rappel has its own adventurous moments.

One of the interesting things I hope Chris learns from the Appalachia article is how Fritz got back down from the top of Old Route. The round-trip must have been an interesting undertaking.

When I first started climbing in the Gunks, we were still approaching Millbrook from the bottom, thanks to the kindness of a landowner. (How times have changed!) Although the descriptions of that approach are now taking on mythic proportions far beyond the reality of the hike, it was something you really didn't want to do in wet conditions because of slippery boulders with real space between them to fall into. As for the lower cliff band, we soloed it, picking a line of least resistance rather than something directly below the route we were aiming for.

I'd also like to make an urgent plea here for consideration for the people living underneath the crag. Millbrook is a natural sound amplifier, transmitting climber's calls to the patios and pools of the people living below, people who own a significant, if at this point unclearly delineated, portion of the cliff. In consideration for these people, Millbrook climbers should make all possible efforts to avoid any shouting, and should absolutely refrain from any outbursts that would be offensive to people trying to enjoy the day below. Shorter pitches, hand and rope signals, and even (I can't believe I'm saying this) two-way radios are all highly appropriate and desirable approaches to making climbers' presence on the cliff as unobtrusive as humanly possible.

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#66649 - 09/28/12 02:25 PM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: rg@ofmc]
tradjunkie Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 359
RG, check your PMs.

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#66650 - 09/28/12 03:22 PM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: tradjunkie]
phlan Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/00
Posts: 2776
Loc: Gardiner, NY
highly interesting post RG... and yes I meant to say Old Route! still hoping to do it someday without getting lost... cfrac, I can't wait for your book.
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#66657 - 09/29/12 11:15 PM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: rg@ofmc]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 456
Originally Posted By: rg@ofmc

One of the interesting things I hope Chris learns from the Appalachia article is how Fritz got back down from the top of Old Route. The round-trip must have been an interesting undertaking.


So the first traverse of Death Ledge pre-dates Millbrooks FA!

Originally Posted By: phlan
highly interesting post RG... and yes I meant to say Old Route! still hoping to do it someday without getting lost... cfrac, I can't wait for your book.


Can't promise a book, for now the history will be recorded on thewhitecliff.com, perhaps an article or guidebook will result from this work, but in the meantime everything will be provided free on the site.


A question: Fritz mentions the Old Route as "...190 vertical feet of enjoyable, interesting climbing, grade 4 to 5." Was he using the YDS and referring to 5.4 and 5.5 or was he using the UIAA IV/V, or something else? I'm guessing it was the latter since the use of YDS despite being developed in the 1930's probably hadn't taken hold yet in the East. So, does anyone know?

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#66658 - 09/29/12 11:48 PM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: cfrac]
Rickster Offline
old hand

Registered: 10/16/07
Posts: 815
Loc: Orange Cty, NY
When was the article or interview written? YDS was in wide use at that time?

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#66659 - 09/29/12 11:49 PM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: cfrac]
Rickster Offline
old hand

Registered: 10/16/07
Posts: 815
Loc: Orange Cty, NY
When was the article or interview written? YDS was in wide use at that time?

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#66660 - 09/30/12 12:08 AM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: cfrac]
rg@ofmc Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2454
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
I the article was written in 1960. Art Gran's Gunks guide used the YDS in 1964. The YDS was around at the time of the article, but it is reasonable to assume it wasn't something Fritz would use. The Appies had their own system (see chart below), there was an alphabetic grade system in use by IOCA, and the Vulgarians were using the YDS, because they were the only group in contact with the California climbers.

So definitely not the YDS system, but rather a version of the European alpine grades, I think not all that different from the current UIAA grades, expressed in roman numerals in the left-hand chart below.

The right-hand chart, which is kinda fuzzy, has a comparison of "AMC grades" in the Gunks to YDS grades at Tahquitz, including example climbs that are supposed to be comparable (but are not; many of the gunks climbs are notably harder then their purported Tahquitz equivalents). Those AMC grades are derived from the European grading used by Hans and Fritz and are a little softer, in YDS terms, than the UIAA versions. The chart comes from an article in Summit magazine promoting the National Climbing Classification System, a good idea that was ahead of its time and never caught on. See http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/...ger-Summit-1963



I suspect Fritz's grading was closer to the current UIAA scale. That being the case, the "grade 4's" Fritz referred to would be 5.4-5.5 and the "grade 5's" would be 5.7, with 5.8 for the "upper 5's" he mentions. I think this fits pretty well with our modern grading of the climbs he mentions, with the exception of the Old Route, whose modern grading of 5.5 would be (IV-IV+), which does not agree with Fritz's grade 5, especially since Fritz apparently stood on a piton somewhere. This does lend credence to my observation in an earlier post about the possible undergrading of the Old Route.

The AMC chart does suggest how Old Route got to be 5.5, because in that chart AMC 5 corresponds to 5.5-5.6.

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#66661 - 09/30/12 01:42 AM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: rg@ofmc]
Julie Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 2082
Loc: SoCal
That's a great relic, Rich. Especially as I've climbed most of the routes on both sides!

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#66662 - 09/30/12 03:58 AM Re: Appalachia Archives JUne 1960 [Re: rg@ofmc]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 456
Originally Posted By: rg@ofmc
This does lend credence to my observation in an earlier post about the possible undergrading of the Old Route.

The AMC chart does suggest how Old Route got to be 5.5, because in that chart AMC 5 corresponds to 5.5-5.6.


Yes! That explains why I couldn't make it 5.5 without going around the obvious crack, and it fits your assumption that Fritz would have preferred that line. I couldn't reconcile the difficulty of the moves with the printed grade despite the route description.

Absolutely fun digging through this historical mystery!

I've been blown away by learning that in the early sixties congress had proposed a study to investigate putting in a scenic highway along the crest of the ridge. It was averted by a letter writing campaign by climbers and hotel guests. Then in the 70's a jetport was proposed near the base of the cliffs. I am guessing this is what became SWF in Newburgh. Add to this the Save The Ridge campaign and you see that the battle to protect this area was on unsure footing more than once!

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