Glen Denny’s Yosemite in the 1960’s

Although quite rare for Llanberis to attract such a legend, and only having a smallish number of local climbers. Probably the fact that many of us ‘locals’ have travelled to Yosemite and been inspired by the iconic pictures of pioneers of Yosemite Big Walling, meant that there was a great turn out for a dark, wet and stormy Monday night.

Glen Denny was amongst those early pioneers and using black and white photography captured many ascents of the now classic routes. One thing I noted was he mentioned just in passing that he made the third ascent of the nose. It took Harding and co 45 days of climbing over 180 days, then Royal Robbins and Tom Frost (plus another I can’t rememeber) repeated the route in 7 days in an alpine style. Glen Denny and his team then made what is probably one of the first standard ascents, as he climbed the route in 3 days. A challenge that many climbers still fail to match, although it is a pretty standard time for this route today.

More than that though we attempt these big walls with a whole manner of specialist equipment from cams to RP, jumars to wall haulers. They had little more than half a tonne of pegs, hawser laid nylon rope and some prussics. To haul their two 50 pound bags the two seconds had to prussic up the rope with two prussics whilst dragging the bag.

That sense of just how out there the pioneers of Yosemite Big Wall Climbing, was quietly paid out by Glens Slides and stories of the first ascent of that classic or a first repeat of another classic. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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