OK, so back to 1993 and TM Herbert.....
We met Tom and Sondra Herbert at Malham in early 1993. They stayed with us a while in sunny St Helens. Tom told us lots of tales about his legendary father and the climbing at Cave Rock and Yosemite. He said we'd have to go stay with his dad. So, that's exactly what we did after leaving SLC.
TM was one of the early pioneers of big wall climbing in Yosemite and made the first ascent of Muir Wall with Yvon Chouinard in 1965. It was the first time a new route on El Cap was climbed by a team of two in a single push, i.e. without using siege techniques, fixing ropes and descending to the Valley for a rest. Needless to say, we were in awe of meeting such a legend.
|TM Herbert during the 1st ascent of Salathe Wall on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, 1962 (photo from Galen Rowell's "Vertical World of Yosemite")|
TM proved to be an amazingly funny and entertaining host, completely obsessed with The Beatles, partial to a beer (he'd announce the time as "beer thirty" which was fine by me) and still mad keen on climbing. When we woke up on the first day, he announced that we were going to go to the pie shop. We naturally assumed he was talking about going to eat some pies. So, patiently (because we were keen to get out climbing) we went along with his idea. Imagine our surprise, to find the The Pie Shop was actually a cliff and we didn't have to eat any pies after all! TM took us up Crepe's Corner (a 5.7) and then True Grip (a tricky 5.10b). It was fantastic to see how well he climbed and to listen to his constant banter at the same time. Later on he suspected we were up for harder stuff and took us to Cave Rock.
|Elaine and TM at "The Pie Shop"!|
|TM leading True Grip|
Anybody who has watched "Masters of Stone" will have seen Dan Osman on and off "Slayer" (8b+). He takes some amazing whippers for the camera. To be honest, we were a bit disappointed how small the crag really was. It is high enough but not very wide, so there aren't loads of routes there. Plus, it's right above the road and the road goes through a massive tunnel in the cliff. Still, there was enough to keep us occupied for a couple of weeks. I even bought my first pair of knee pads (as recommended by Tom for the essential knee bars). We ticked some ace routes: Asylum (7a+), Port of Entry (7a+), Fire in the Hole/Caveman (7b), Bat out of Hell (7b+), Concave (7c), Pumping Andesite (7c+), Shut up and Climb, Geek (7c+), Caveman Direct (7c+), Psycho Monkey (8a), Psycho Lord (8a) and Phantom Lord (8a+).
|Dan Osman on Slayer on the cover of Masters of Stone|
During our time there, we had the cliff completely to ourselves. We soon found out why. Apparently, Cave Rock is sacred to the local indigenous Indians. They were in the process of getting climbing officially banned. We were photographed and interviewed by a reporter from the Tahoe Daily Tribune and made it onto the front and back pages! Bizarrely the Washoe Tribe didn't seem to have a problem with the road and tunnel going through their monument! Just goes to show that blaming climbers is always the easy option. Sadly, you can't go climbing there anymore.
|Climbers getting a bad press in the Tahoe Daily Tribune|
Before we left, TM took us for our first trip to Yosemite. He led us up the classics Moby Dick (5.9) and Sacherer Cracker (5.10a) at the base of El Cap. We were gob-smacked! TM was awesome when it came to thrutching up off-widths, whereas we got hideously pumped! Still, it is important to work on your weak points! Elaine published an excellent profile of TM in High (No. 151 in June 1995).
|TM leading Moby Dick|
|TM leading Sacherer Cracker|
During a rest day skiing at nearby "Heavenly", we were intercepted by a piste patroller who told us to slow down as we were going to fast! He threatened to take our passes if he stopped us again. What a farce, we were just cruising at a leisurely normal speed by Euro standards. We also got a day in at Big Chief to do the 13a featured in Masters of Stone called All Guns Blazing. Then we headed to Donner Summit to do another 13a featured in the video called Warp Factor. We were headed for Sonora, to stay with Tom and Sondra and sample the mega steep Jailhouse Rock and just maybe, just maybe, do a big wall at Yosemite.........