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Unread 04-16-2006, 11:21 PM
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rockboy rockboy is offline
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Location: Seoul, Sodaemun-Gu
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Climbing History - add to this please!

The Origin Of The Abseil.

The origin of the abseil is attributed[1], to Jean Estéril Charlet, a Chamonix guide that lived from 1840-1925. Charlet originally devised the technique of the abseil (or rappel) method of roping down during a failed solo attempt of Petit Dru in 1876. This was the first known use of a rope to abseil. After many attempts, some of them solo, he managed to conquer the Petit Dru in 1879 in the company of two other Chamonix guides, Prosper Payot and Frédéric Folliguet, whom he hired (a rather paradoxical move for a guide). During that ascent, Charlet perfected the abseil.
Jean Charlet is known for the first winter ascent of Mont Blanc in 1872 with Isabella Straton. In 1871, Miss Isabella Straton was Charlet’s client during the first ascent of the Aiguille du Moine, and a year after Charlet’s and Straton’s winter accent of Mont Blanc, the two were married. The story goes that it was at the top of Mont Blanc, in trying to warm his client, that the future conqueror of the Petit Dru also warmed her heart.
Craig McVie
Seoul, Sodaemun-gu
South Korea

Last edited by rockboy : 04-21-2006 at 10:20 PM.
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Unread 04-21-2006, 10:16 PM
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rockboy rockboy is offline
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Location: Seoul, Sodaemun-Gu
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Origin of the Camming Device

The History Of The Climbing cam.

Vitaly Abalakov's invention of the Abalakov Cam was the first application to climbing of the principle of a constant-angle curved surface, with a cam shape based on the mathematical logarithmic spiral. Designed so that a load produces a rotational force, the logarithmic cam shape allowed for a single device to fit in a range of crack sizes without a change in the loading pattern, making it predictable and stable.
In 1973 Greg Lowe filed for a patent for a spring loaded version of the Abalakov Cam.

Vitaly Mikhaylovich Abalakov (January 13, 1906 1992) was a Russian mountaineer and inventor.
He is credited with such inventions as camming devices in the 1930s, Abalakov thread (or V-thread) gearless ice climbing anchor, and many other climbing equipment innovations.

Modern SLCDs were invented by Ray Jardine in 1978 (US patent 4,184,657) and sold under the brand name of "Friends". Ray designed a spring loaded opposing multiple cam unit with a more stable 13.75 degree camming angle and an innovative triggering mechanism. ("Friend" is now widely used by climbers to refer to SLCDs in general, but properly speaking it refers to the brand now manufactured by Wild Country.) Other popular brands include Camalots, and Aliens.

Modern Use

SLCDs are sold in various sizes to fit a diverse range of cracks from about 1 cm to 15 cm wide.
The invention of SLCDs revolutionised rock climbing because it meant that climbs with parallel cracks could be protected. Furthermore, unlike pitons, SLCDs can be removed easily without causing damage to the rock, and made clean climbing (climbing without damaging the rock) practical on almost all climbs.
Craig McVie
Seoul, Sodaemun-gu
South Korea
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Unread 04-21-2006, 10:19 PM
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rockboy rockboy is offline
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First Ascents

The History Of First Ascents.
  • The first recorded mountain ascent in the Common Era is Roman Emperor Hadrian's ascent of Etna (3,350 m) to see the sun rise in 121.
  • Peter III of Aragon climbed Canigou in the Pyrenees in the last quarter of the 13th century.
  • On April 26, 1336 the Italian poet Petrarch together with his brother and two other companions climbed to the top of Mont Ventoux (1,909 m). He wrote an account of the trip, composed considerably later as a letter to his friend Francesco Dionigi . Therefore, April 26, 1336 is regarded as the "birthday of alpinism", and Petrarch (Petrarca alpinista) as the "father of alpinism".
  • The Rochemelon (3,538 m) in the Italian Alps was climbed in 1358.
  • In 1492 the ascent of Mont Aiguille was made by order of Charles VIII of France. The Humanists of the 16th century adopted a new attitude towards mountains, but the disturbed state of Europe nipped in the bud the nascent mountaineering of the Zurich school.
  • Leonardo da Vinci climbed to a snow-field in the neighborhood of the Val Sesia and made scientific observations.
  • Konrad Gesner and Josias Simler of Zurich visited and described mountains, and made regular ascents. The use of ice axe and rope were locally invented at this time. No mountain expeditions of note are recorded in the 17th century.
  • Pococke and Windhams historic visit to Chamonix was made in 1741, and set the trend of visiting glaciers.
  • In 1744 the Titus was climbed, the first true ascent of a snow-mountain.
  • The first attempt to ascend Mont Blanc was made in 1775 by a party of natives. In 1786 Dr Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat gained the summit for the first time. De Saussure followed next year.
  • The Jungfrau was climbed in 1811, the Finsteraarhorn in 1812, and the Breithorn in 1813. Thereafter, tourists showed a tendency to climb, and the body of Alpine guides began to come into existence as a consequence.
  • Systematic mountaineering, as a sport, is usually dated from Sir Alfred Willss ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854. The first ascent of Monte Rosa was made in 1855.
  • The Alpine Club was founded in London in 1857, and was soon imitated in most European countries. Edward Whymper's ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 marks the close of the main period of Alpine conquest, during which the craft of climbing was invented and perfected, the body of professional guides formed and their traditions fixed.
  • Passing to other ranges, the exploration of the Pyrenees was concurrent with that of the Alps. The Caucasus followed, mainly owing to the initiative of D. W. Freshfield ; it was first visited by exploring climbers in 1868, and most of its great peaks were climbed by 1888.
  • Trained climbers turned their attention to the mountains of North America in 1888, when the Rev. W. S. Green made an expedition to the Selkirk Mountains. From that time exploration has gone on apace, and many English and American climbing parties have surveyed most of the highest groups of snow-peaks; Pikes Peak (14,147 ft.) having been climbed by Mr. E. James and party in 1820, and Mt. Saint Elias (18,024 ft.) by the Duke of the Abruzzi and party in 1897. The exploration of the highest Andes was begun in 1879-1880, when Whymper climbed Mount Chimborazo and explored the mountains of Ecuador. The Cordillera between Chile and Argentina was attacked by Dr. Gussfeldt in 1883, who ascended Maipo (17,752 ft.) and attempted Aconcagua (23,393 ft.). That peak was first climbed by the Fitzgerald expedition in 1897.
  • The Andes of Bolivia were first explored by Sir William Martin Conway in 1898. Chilean and Argentine expeditions revealed the structure of the southern Cordillera in the years 1885-1898. Conway visited the mountains of Tierra del Fuego.
  • The Alps of New Zealand were first attacked in 1882 by the Rev. W. S. Green, and shortly afterwards a New Zealand Alpine Club was founded, and by their activities the exploration of the range was pushed forward. In 1895 Mr. E. A. Fitzgerald made an important journey in this range.
  • Of the high African peaks, Kilimanjaro was climbed in 1889 by Dr. Hans Meyer , Mt. Kenya in 1889 by Halford John Mackinder, and a peak of Ruwenzori by H. J. Moore in 1900.
  • The Asiatic mountains were initially surveyed on orders of the British Empire. In 1892 Sir William Martin Conway explored the Karakoram Himalayas, and climbed a peak of 23,000 ft. In 1895 Albert F. Mummery made a fatal attempt to ascend Nanga Parbat, while in 1899 D. W. Freshfield took an expedition to the snowy regions of Sikkim. In 1899, 1903, 1906 and 1908 Mrs Fannie Bullock Workman made ascents in the Himalayas, including one of the Nun Kun peaks (23,300 ft.). A number of Gurkha sepoys were trained as expert mountaineers by Major the Hon. C. G. Bruce, and a good deal of exploration was accomplished by them.
  • The first mountains of the arctic region explored were those of Spitzbergen by Sir W. M. Conway's expeditions in 1896 and 1897.
  • The 1950s saw the first ascents of all the eight-thousanders but two, starting with Annapurna in 1950 by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. The world's highest mountain (above mean sea level), Mount Everest (8,850m) was first climbed on May 29 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay from the south side in Nepal. Just a few months later, Hermann Buhl made the first ascent of Nanga Parbat (8,125m), which was even more remarkable considering he accomplished it solo, which ended up being the only eight-thousander to be solo'd on the first ascent. K2 (8,611m), the second highest peak in the world was first scaled in 1954. In 1964, the final eight-thousander to be climbed was Shishapangma (8,013m), the lowest of all the 8,000 metre peaks.
Craig McVie
Seoul, Sodaemun-gu
South Korea
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Unread 04-24-2006, 10:45 PM
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shanja shanja is offline
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History of the Crampon!

Well we all think of the crampon as a relatively new gadget that appeared in the Alps of France/ Switzerland around the turn of the century (that's 1900 not 2000). It was at first frowned upon very very sternly indeed amongst those gentlemen (and women) climbers of Europe as an unsporting and unethical mechanical aid that threatened to degrade the true essence of climbing. Mr Heinrich Harrer nearly undid his Austro-German teams historical first winter ascent of the Eiger Norwand but refusing to use these as late as the early 1930's. Step cutting with an axe was all he thought fair (until after the climb it should be noted!!) So you can see this sort of debate (oxygen, bolts, chalk etc etc) is hardly new to climbing. Different stories exist as to who manufactured the first commercial type crampons, and whether things like hob-nails, kletterschues and so on count in the history of crampons proper. Certainly Mr Chouinard made great contributions to the development, as did a number of smaller smithies operating in the alpine villages at the time. But where it may have begun was in fact might just be the fourth-fifth century CHINA!! Strange but true.
There lived a "Duke" and famous poet, by the name of "Hsieh Ling-yun" or "Xie Ling-yun" depending on your transliteration preferences. And, I quote: "He was a keen mountaineer and invented a detachable and reversible soul with studs or cleats to put on his boots; the short studs in front and the long ones behind for going uphill, the other way round for coming down." [Penguin Classics LiPo and TuFu- Edited and translated by Arthur Cooper]
Now this is what I call crampons!
Front points however had to wait until much later, the 1950's in fact! And those ice climbing vertical front-points were first seen with disbellief and derision in the early 1970's or thereabouts (better check). Mono-points appeared only in the 1990's! Anatomical shapes also appeared about 1995, but haven't really taken off majorly. The newest comp crampons are a built-in non-detachable component of ice-boots, similar in concept to footy boot studs but way longer and sharper (I hope!).
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Unread 04-30-2006, 11:44 PM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
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Jake, Thanks again for sharing your insight and information.

I think many inventions born from necessity and basic items probably occured in crude forms (with continued improvements) near-simoultaneously in many cultures. I love that you quote a poet, but of course, historically many scholars and scribes were poets. Unfortunately, I think all too often the (usually) Westerner who refines, promotes, names-it-after-him/herself, patents it, etc, gets the credit for many inventions.

I would bet the rappel, if we define it as descending a fixed line, originated much earlier than "recorded", as there have probably been numerrous instances of people needing to descend fast who had an abundance of twine, vines, etc. Hard to imagine, likewise, that any knots remained "uninvented" until after the printing press!

Many cultures had little interaction with the outside world, and if they did it was through trade and politics and war rather than cultural exchanges and mountaineering inventions. Kudos to Arthur Cooper and Penguin (although really to Jake for showing us why sometimes an Ozzie with a passion for China and Mountaineering is better than Google for finding information! And just for noticing and remembering this!) for translating and publishing, however clearly this predates the printing press and Grivel!

One thing I love about Korea is how living in a foreign country (travelling long-term too) throws so many of my assumptions (even those I swore were hard and fast facts, or those I had so internalized I didn't realize they were assumptions) out.

You realize that people everywhere need the same things, and share the same passions. . . and also that other people had other histories and accomplished some pretty impressive things (many many, like crampons!! before the US even existed!). You realize people have lived for generations on passes higher than all of Switzerland and that they've survived and endured, through creativity, determination and community. . . there is probably more I (we) have and can learn (from them)!
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
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Unread 05-22-2006, 01:10 PM
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rockboy rockboy is offline
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Lightbulb The History Of Nylon.

The History Of Nylon. (ie your ropes etc.)
Invented by; Wallace Carothers.

Before the invention of nylon was announced by DuPont, consumers had unknowingly gotten a taste of the new material, literally. When preparing to produce nylon commercially, DuPont tested prototype machinery in two trial facilities, the semi-works (1936) and the pilot plant (1938), before full-scale commercial production began in 1939. The nylon polymer produced at the semi-works during equipment testing was not suitable for making yarn for hosiery. Nonetheless DuPont found a use for the nylon polymer made at the semi-works. In 1937, before the invention of nylon would be announced, the amazing new Dr. West's Miracle-Tuft toothbrushes hit the market. Unbeknownst to consumers, it's bristles were made from nylon polymer produced at the semi-works. DuPont didn't reveal the chemical nature of the new bristles. It simply refered to the material by the name "Exton". The new toothbrush actually dried out in the time between uses, unlike the old boar's hair bristle brushes. It was the public's first experience with a polymer that would soon change their lives.

The Big Announcement

In 1938 Charles M.A. Stine made DuPont's first announcement of "a new word and a new product nylon". Two years later, the first nylon stockings were on the market. During this time demand was so high that the new stockings were perpetually sold out. Nylon stockings held up better than silk stockings. Also, nylon fibers could be made much thinner than silk fibers, so it wasn't long before sheer nylon stockings, simply called "nylons", became the norm. Here nylon made a big impact on American culture, because it was with the advent of sheer nylon hosiery that most American women began to shave their legs.


If nylon stockings were hard to get in 1940, they were even harder to get by 1942. In 1941 the United States was drawn into World War II, which had gripped much of the rest of the world, by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Now all the nylon DuPont could produce was requisitioned by the government and used for making parachutes, ropes, cords for reinforcing aircraft tires, even shoelaces for army boots. In fact the fear that war would be coming had a lot to do with the speed at which nylon was pushed into production after its invention in 1935. Since most of the world's silk was produced in Japan, a synthetic substitute was needed. Because of its potential as a vital war material, DuPont management had been urged by the United States government to make nylon a reality as quickly as possible.

Nylon Comes Home to Stay

When the war ended in 1945 nylon products were once again available to consumers in the United States. Nylon stockings were joined by nylon windbreakers, nylon lingerie, nylon carpet, and nylon fishing line. Nylon garments were the first "wash and wear" clothing. Before nylon, just about everything people wore had to be ironed, which meant a lot of hard work for a lot of women. Nylon made no-iron clothing possible for the first time. Because nylon could keep a shape, it made pleated skirts possible. And because nylon was moisture-resistant and could be woven more tightly than cotton, it could be used to make the first windbreakers. According to legend, musicians began buying nylon fishing line because it worked better for stringing musical instruments than gut strings. Soon nylon guitar strings were being produced commercially. Nylon became the standard material for backpacks, tents and other outdoor gear. DuPont's Zytel¨ nylon resin composites have found their way into automobile parts and other high performance applications. There wasn't an aspect of everyday life that hasn't been pervaded by the wonderful polymer invented by Wallace Carothers.
Craig McVie
Seoul, Sodaemun-gu
South Korea
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