"All his life, [Charlie Porter had] defied the odds on rock walls and oceans, from Yosemite to Antarctica. It seems improbable to imagine him knocking on the door of a hospital on the grid-square streets of Punta Arenas. Ashes in an urn, energy into dust...."
"If you started climbing in the early 1970s, you couldn't help being aware of the Porter phenomenon, the meteor that flashed so briefly across the climbing firmament only to vanish. I knew about the famous El Cap big-wall climbs with their evocative hippy names, and the legendary Mt. Asgard solo...But I met Charlie much later, completely out of context...."
"[A] frigid flow ran down our sleeves, exiting at elbows or coursing down over bollocks and quads into boots.... In the dim light, I stood in double boots on two sloping footholds, and I hollered down that I needed the bolt kit. 'What?' Charlie [Porter] answered. I'd woken him up. 'No fuckin' bolts! Not now, not ever!'" Russel McLean spends 10 days on the Kichatnas' Middle Triple Peak in Part 4 of the Charlie Porter series.
With a number of hard El Capitan wall climbs under his belt, Charlie Porter drives to the Canadian Rockies in his dilapidated "California van" to climb with Bugs McKeith and the Burgess twins. In this installment of our Charlie Porter series, Alan Burgess tells of their first ascent of the now-classic Polar Circus, Cirrus Mountain, and attempt on Grand Central Couloir, Mt. Kitchener.
Sibylle Hechtel remembers Charlie Porter as the "burly, and utterly huggable" boyfriend of Bev Johnson, with whom Hechtel made the first all-female ascent of El Capitan. Her story continues our series on Porter's life, as told by his friends and climbing partners.
In Part 1 of this series on Charlie Porter, told by some of climbing partners and friends through the decades, Gary Bocarde recalls their days together in Yosemite, where Porter pushed the upper limits of hard aid in the early 1970s and climbed not for ego but for joy.
"...[A]ll was done quietly, unremarked upon, in classic Porter fashion. With his reticence, [Charlie] Porter was "old-school," a classical figure from the pre-social, un-hyperlinked past in which actions carried greater weight than words and images.... Thus it's mainly through hist friends and partners, a few of whom have contributed the essays that follow, that we know anything of Porter's feats."
Fresh off deadline, the author of our latest Mountain Profile—the North Cascades' Picket Range—Forest McBrian sat down to debrief and explain why, among other nuggets of wisdom, "climbing is like mapping is like writing."