Notes from the top

Gripped - - REVIEWS - Con­tin­ued from p.80 Chris Van Leu­ven is a climber and writer based in Boul­der.

route at the ti me i n El­do­rado Canyon, Colo. “I was very scared for both of us,” re­calls In­galls. “When it was over and we were walk­ing down the trail, Kor turned around and said let’s call it Psy­cho af­ter the movie that just came out.”

The route has un­pro­tected free climb­ing with runouts of 10 me­tres, a bru­tally hard three­me­tre roof, and a hard slab climb with one pro­tec­tion bolt i n 20 me­tres. It also has down-slop­ing, smooth hand­holds. Erick­son was one of the first peo­ple to look at its free climb­ing po­ten­tial.

In 1967, Erick­son climbed the route, rated A4, for its third or fourth as­cent. Then, in 1974, he came back with Art Hig­bee and freed the pitch be­low the roof. Steve Wun­sch freed the roof in 1975, af­ter 30 of 40 at­tempts over a two-year pe­riod.

“Like Pearl Har­bor, it was so trau­matic it feels like yes­ter­day,” says In­galls of his ex­pe­ri­ence on Psy­cho. “It was out­stand­ing for its diff iculty and scari­ness but was not as a great climb like Castle­ton or the Ti­tan. But it was tech­ni­cal.”

Kor and In­galls pro­tected the route with frag­ile soft-iron pitons.

Erick­son re­calls, “It had a hor­ren­dous rep­u­ta­tion. But we had bet­ter gear, i nclud­ing f lat­soled climbed shoes and the best Chouinard chro­moly pitons of the day.”

“It’s mem­o­rable to me for two rea­sons. It was a break­through climb be­cause it de­manded a team that was good in all the dis­ci­plines. I re­peated it in the same style as you and Kor, with a mix of free and aid, and of course, ground up. Be­cause we were just lit­tle twerps from Wis­con­sin, I felt, for the f irst time, I was al­most as good as the gen­er­a­tion be­fore us.”

Then he looks at In­galls and says, “You guys were fa­mous.”

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