SmithRock.com LogoSmithRock.com Logo SmithRock.com Alan Watts Interview
SmithRock.com Wartley's Revenge
Climber on Wartley's
Revenge (Trad - 5.11b)
in 1977.

This is the fourth installment of our
interview with the Alan Watts, the
Smith Rock climber who shepherded
in the American sport climbing age.
Watts continues to talk of rebel
climbers and the changing ethics of
the 80's and early 90's that led to the skyrocketing popularity of Smith Rock
and sport climbing in general.

If this is your first visit, and you'd
like to start reading at the beginning,
click here.

SmithRock.com: What was happening
from the early to middle 80's at Smith
Rock, as far as new routes and new
techniques?

Alan: In the early 80's I was the only
person putting up new routes. After that,
there were a few people putting up some
new routes at Smith, but nobody was
putting up routes that were anywhere
close to the hardest climbs at Smith
Rock at the time.

Other people like Jim Anglin, Mike
Hartley and Kent Benesch were doing
some routes then, but Jim and Mike's
were all traditional.

Up through about '85 I figured that, of
the 60 most difficult pitches at Smith
Rock, 59 were ones that I had done
the first ascent of -- and Alan Lester
had done one. So, there was a time
when I felt dominant.

And, it just occurred to me, that
some of the routes actually were
cleaned on rappel, but climbed more traditionally. Like Heinous Cling,
for instance, I started with some
RP's and Skyhooks; that was actually
drilled on lead. I knew what was there
though [in rappelling the route]. I
knew where I was going to be putting
my hooks, but real soon I realized
how stupid that was....

SmithRock.com: As far as you know,
nobody else was doing routes on
rappel?

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