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THE IRON AGE
YOSEMITE CLIMBING IN THE FIFTIES
THE IRON
AGE
Yosemite Climbing in the Fifties
Iron Age pioneer Allen Steck, ("The Silver Fox"), began his climbing career as many others do: hiking and scrambling up rocky peaks in the High Sierra. Steck served in the United States Navy during World War II. After being discharged in 1946 he studied German at UC Berkeley, was a Yosemite Ranger during Summer 1948, and then cycled through the Alps. Steck climbed everything in sight there, including the sheer, 18-pitch Cima Grande in the Italian Dolomites.









By 1949, he had repeated most of the cutting-edge Yosemite climbs. At 24 years old Steck teamed up with 52 year old John Salathé to climb the North Face of Sentinel; the embers for the following decade were lit. Steck's classic trifecta of first ascents on the soaring Yosemite walls stoked the Iron Age to a full blaze. His impressive list of ascents included:
Steck-Salathé on Sentinel (1950), Yosemite Point Buttress (1952), and the East Buttress of El Capitan (1953).
Iron Age pioneer Allen Steck, ("The Silver Fox"), began his climbing career as many others do: hiking and scrambling up rocky peaks in the High Sierra. Steck served in the United States Navy during World War II. After being discharged in 1946 he studied German at UC Berkeley, was a Yosemite Ranger during Summer 1948, and then cycled through the Alps. Steck climbed everything in sight there, including the sheer, 18-pitch Cima Grande in the Italian Dolomites.

«y 1949, he had repeated most of the cutting-edge Yosemite climbs. At 24 years old Steck teamed up with 52 year old John Salathé to climb the North Face of Sentinel; the embers for the following decade were lit. Steck's classic trifecta of first ascents on the soaring Yosemite walls stoked the Iron Age to a full blaze. His impressive list of ascents included:
Steck-Salathé on Sentinel (1950), Yosemite Point Buttress (1952), and the East Buttress of El Capitan (1953).
El Cap Tree, 1952. Ph: Allen Steck
Bob Swift on the Summit of Yosemite Point Buttress
Allen Steck on the First Ascent of Yosemite Point Buttress, 1952
In 1953, except for the long climbs on the Lost Arrow and Sentinel, the routes at 1000-foot high Tahquitz Rock in Southern California were technically harder than most anything in Yosemite. At least, that's what Tahquitz hotshots Royal Robbins (18), Jerry Gallwas (17), and Don Wilson (22) believed when they ventured to Yosemite to attempt the second ascent of the notorious Steck-Salathé. The three, each wearing tennis shoes, hiked up and climbed the route in only two days.
The Southern Californians had arrived.
In 1953, Warren Harding read a book about a ferocious ascent on the West Face of the Dru in the French Alps. Although being relatively old at 29, he immediately became a climber.

One year later, Harding along with Frank Tarver and Bob Swift would complete the second ascent of the Lost Arrow Chimney.
The Iron Age had become an inferno.
"It was the first thing I was ever really good at, because I can only do what requires brute stupidity."

-WARREN HARDING
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Arrow Head Arete, Photo by Dolt
Arrow Head Arete, Photo by Dolt
Bill Long following on the first ascent of the El Capitan East Buttress
Bill Long following on the first ascent of the El Capitan East Buttress
Allen Steck
Allen Steck
Made on
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