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The Founding Brothers
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By ryan albery
From Cruisertonfieldville
Jan 9, 2013

Just read Aeryn's post regarding Doug Robinson's treatise on climbing from the '72 Chouinard catalog, and it reminded me of an incredible book I recently read called the Founding Brothers. The book itself (Pulitzer Prize winning and brilliantly written) is about the framing of the United States Constitution: pertinent outlines and time frames, insights into the personalities of those who collaborated to create our Union, the incredible passion and effort that was involved, and the general thoughts and implications of why they did the things they did.

My question here would be: who do you think the founding brothers/sisters are for our sport of climbing? Not purely for what they climbed, but more for their styles, contributions, and insights that that have struck harmonious chords. For me, Robbins and Robinson of course, Chouinard, Becky, Kamps, Hill, Long, Hersey, somewhat Gill, certainly Croft, Harding I think, and Steve Roper for the many words of his I've read and have made me both laugh, and cringe... and want to go climbing! It's not my personal style, but Sharma has definitely influenced the sport as well.

Not wanting to be overly old-school cause I still use an 8 for going both up and down, but great Huxley quote, 'That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach' has me wondering what my fellow climbers might have to add in such regards.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Jan 9, 2013
Bocan

That's a nice list, but they are more contributors than founders. European climbers aside (except for Fritz Wiessner), which is very hard to do since it was brought to us by them; look back to the 1920-30's when men like Robert Underhill were pioneering routes, and then traveling out to California to teach the west coast rope basics. Those pre-war climbers were putting up hard and committing rock and ice climbs that led up to the revivals in the 60's and 70's. This list could go on and would include many members of the Harvard and Yale mountaineering clubs.

Then of course the similar groups developing in CA prior to the formation of the 10th mountain division where their skills were really honed.

Although all those guys listed are extremely important to the sport it's like saying the 1985 Chicago bears were the founding brothers of the NFL. They helped make it the sport that it is today, but the game was being played at a high level way before them.

It's really too encompassing of a question, but a fun one regardless. haha guess that's why there's so many books on the amazing history of the sport.

And from that era, I'd probably wouldn't be able to decide from all those names who brought the most to the sport. They were all amazing climbers!

Fun topic nonetheless!!!


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By TWK
Jan 9, 2013

All of the above, certainly Fritz Weissner and Raffi Bedayn.


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By ryan albery
From Cruisertonfieldville
Jan 9, 2013

Scott,

I get you for sure with the '85 bears and what they did for the sport, Ditka and Payton especially. And McMahon like Florine I suppose, the thrashing they put on the Pats; the Fridge...

But more for the stories towards climbing in the here and now, their influences and why, who are the cats that have been especially influential in your climbing 'career'... I guess that's what I'm asking here.

Truly inspirational influences?


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By frankstoneline
Jan 9, 2013

A lot of folks basically brought euro style rock climbing to america/nudged it a bit further in one direction or another, however the founding brothers of america forged something completely new, politically. Thus it seems the people who actually did something radically new, rather than just contributed/pushed is somewhat limited.
I'd definitely say Gill had serious influence, also Watts and Skinner probably, for driving sport climbing as a style (not necessarily just bolting, but really changing the face of the american climbing scene) and probably the early big wall pioneers, robbins and that crew. I'd also have to put chouinard in the list for his contributions to how we approached and protected rock climbs.


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By ryan albery
From Cruisertonfieldville
Jan 9, 2013

^^^+1


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By TWK
Jan 9, 2013

At the risk of sounding like a groupie, for sure "the Stone Masters" are in this group of founders.

Without even knowing it, when I was learning to climb we emulated their clothing, vocabulary, training regimens, disdain for authority, you name it. We mirrored everything except their prowess.


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By Doug Lintz
From Kearney, NE
Jan 9, 2013
Destroyer of popcorn

Ryan,
I think you missed Scott's point. He's saying that sure, the 85 Bears were great and all, but the NFL started long before that. Your list has many notable climbers who have accomplished amazing things, however perhaps the true founders of rock climbing came many years prior to those people's achievements.


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By ryan albery
From Cruisertonfieldville
Jan 10, 2013

I'm 38 years old, and honestly the 85 bears are something of a memory. I suppose I'm just plain wanting to hear from the climbers of today, through the generalities of this website- who are the characters and climbers who have influenced how you/they live. Thoughts, inspirations, and towards the gist of my question... what are your morals when it come to climbing? With a homage towards the sport... and apologies if I've instigated it, been drinking beers, but I'd love to hear some stories about your heroes of climbing... whatever that means to you.


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By frankstoneline
Jan 10, 2013

ryan albery wrote:
I'm 38 years old, and honestly the 85 bears are something of a memory. I suppose I'm just plain wanting to hear from the climbers of today, through the generalities of this website- who are the characters and climbers who have influenced how you/they live. Thoughts, inspirations, and towards the gist of my question... what are your morals when it come to climbing? With a homage towards the sport... and apologies if I've instigated it, been drinking beers, but I'd love to hear some stories about your heroes of climbing... whatever that means to you.


I mentioned above, but in my eyes it's Todd Skinner. I would argue that our sport was set back years, if not tens of years by his untimely death. The guy had some next level stuff up his sleeve, or under his tanktop strap.


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By Aeryn
Jan 10, 2013
Me

I'll throw in Voytek Kurtyka. Here's a couple of his ideas:

“If there is such a thing as spiritual materialism, it is displayed in the urge to possess the mountains rather than to unravel and accept their mysteries,”

and

“The world is suspended on a monstrous structure of wild competition and consequently of award and distinction … where award and distinction rule the true art ends. This is a devilish offer … I always run to the mountains with great expectation that I can elevate myself above my human weakness and you try to put on me the most dangerous one … the illusion that I am a person of distinction … all my life is a sort of struggle with that illusion … the greatest trap of our ego and a proof of vanity.”

Can the true art of climbing survive where award and distinction, ego and vanity - whether personal or public - rule? Not sure, but I'm reminded of Joseph Ellis' (author of the Founding Brothers) quote, "The American Constitution is a document designed by geniuses to be eventually interpreted by idiots."


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By matt davies
Jan 10, 2013

Aeryn wrote:
I'll throw in Voytek Kurtyka. Here's a couple of his ideas: “If there is such a thing as spiritual materialism, it is displayed in the urge to possess the mountains rather than to unravel and accept their mysteries,” and “The world is suspended on a monstrous structure of wild competition and consequently of award and distinction … where award and distinction rule the true art ends. This is a devilish offer … I always run to the mountains with great expectation that I can elevate myself above my human weakness and you try to put on me the most dangerous one … the illusion that I am a person of distinction … all my life is a sort of struggle with that illusion … the greatest trap of our ego and a proof of vanity.” Can the true art of climbing survive where award and distinction, ego and vanity - whether personal or public - rule? Not sure, but I'm reminded of Joseph Ellis' (author of the Founding Brothers) quote, "The American Constitution is a document designed by geniuses to be eventually interpreted by idiots."

Bam! Best post on MP of all tyme


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