Friday, September 14, 2007

Early rock climbing in Cheyenne Canyon

I just got a great bit of history from local Don Ellis. These fliers are from the mountaineering school Fort Carson used to hold in Cheyenne Canon in the 1940s and 1950s. (click images for a larger version) They were using early alpine techniques with pitons and hemp ropes.
It would be interesting to trace the influence of this early government program on the nascent sport of Rock Climbing. Certainly Colorado Springs was one of the first regular technical rock climbing spots in the country, thanks to Robert Ormes. Boulder was another early hotspot.
The question is, how did the young G.I.s who learned ropework in Cheyenne Canon go on to influence the sport as they spread out over the country in civilian life? No idea. Anyone?


PikeTalk said...

I don't know about GI's but to speak on this topic of climbing here in the Colorado front range and NOT credit, or at least mention one of the founding fathers and local greats, Harvey Carter is incredible.

Don Ellis said...

Just a comment about ropes:

The 10th. Mountain Division used Manila ropes in the early 1940's and soon converted to nylon, being pioneers in the use of nylon climbing rope. The Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command climbers in N. Cheyenne Canyon came later and all used nylon ropes, as did almost everyone else by that time. Both Manila climbing ropes and nylon ropes before the late 1960's were laid (twisted) ather than having the kernmantle construction which is now used. Incidentally, belay devices weren't used before the introduction of kernmantle ropes because laid ropes weren't engineered to properly absorb the energy of a fall. So, the belayer needed to absorb the energy with a dynamic belay.