Namesake

Posted on: March 1, 2008


cs concerto When Royal and Liz Robbins did the first ascent of Nutcracker on Yosemite's Manure Pile Buttress in 1967, it was a milestone in American climbing: the first route put up using only nuts for protection. Robbins at the time had something of a reputation as a punster. (A route he and I did on Half Dome in 1970 had aesthetic challenges; halfway up, I asked him what we would name it. "The Dog," he replied, but when he wrote up the climb in Summit, he called it Arcturus—the Dog Star.) He was the undisputed king (or, perhaps, CEO) of Yosemite climbing and, as such, an irresistible target for the barbed, earthy witticisms of the dirtbag denizens of Camp 4.

Chuck Pratt was a king of a different sort. A natural intellectual with the soul of a poet, Pratt was as different from Robbins as, say, Edward Abbey was from Tom Wolfe. One day, when Pratt and Robbins went to do a climb, Robbins, who wanted to introduce clean climbing to the piton-hard traditions of Yosemite, included some of the nontraditional "nuts" on his rack. Upon seeing them, Pratt, a traditionalist at heart, said, "Nuts to you." Within the month Robbins and two British climbers put up a 1,000-foot route near Sentinel Rock using only nuts. Robbins called it Nuts to You, making his point with Pratt.

In response, Pratt opened a lovely three-pitch route on Manure Pile Buttress, a variation of After Six to the left of Nutcracker. In the guidebooks it is listed as CS Concerto. Pratt's name for it is perhaps more memorable. With his Cocksucker's Concerto, he had undoubtedly made his point as well.

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