Reminiscing of Early Cashiers Days
by Bill Mulvey
We met in the scouts, I taught canoeing merit badge at Raven Knob Scout Camp in or around 72-74 I think. Remember you dancing in the OA Wednesday night ceremonies. I climbed alot with Peter Young and we put up 3 or 4 routes on Raven Rock together. We used to have to stop in at a guys house in the subdivision below Raven Rock and sign a waiver saying we would not sue the owners if we injured ourselves. There was an old caretaker for the subdivision who once pulled a pistol on us before we explained ourselves and told him we'd asked permission and signed the waiver. The guy who made us sign the waiver had a large official looking seal on each of the front doors of his dark blue Cadillac that said "Offical US Tax payer." It was always an experience climbing there. They finally stopped letting us drive in to the base and Peter and I cut a trial down from the east side of Whitesides and set up a rap route. We only did that a couple of times as it was a real pain and made for a long day. You had to park at the Whitesides parking lot and walk from there. I started a couple of other routes with Ted Anderson but we never went back to finish them. Peter and I also put up a route on Sagie Rock over near Highlands. I went to WCU and climbed often with Bobby Rotert, Monte Reagan, Keith Robinson, and Ted Anderson. Peter and I were room mates while we went to WCU.
I've climbed Fathom and Groover on Laurel Knob but didn't put anything up as it was a real pain to get in there. At the time we climbed Laurel Knob many of the bolts on Fathom were just studs with wire wrapped around them to clip into like the Bolted Route on Rock Mt. but without heads on the bolts. Kinda spooky. Dick Jennings owned Laurel Knob at the time and had had some issues with a fellow that he allowed to hike on his property near the base of the rock. The guy fell off a log and broke a leg or ankle and sued Dick. Because of this Dick was not into folks climbing and told me when I asked him if we could climb "if you can dodge bullets, you can climb." So we were quite cautious about climbing and making much noise doing so. Walked in from the top an rapped down the far right side as you face the rock and bushwacked along the base to the cliimb. It was Ted Anderson, myself and Doug Dvoracek. Ted was the only one who had done the climb and knew where it started. Doug and I swung leads on the first couple of pitches and Ted was last on the rope. When Ted got to the belay he commented "man this acid is good!" Doug and I were a little taken aback but we continued the climb without issues until the last few pitches where Ted was not sure where the route went. He lead out a full rope length then Doug followed. By this time it was almost dark, they called for me to climb and when we got to the top I found out we had all been climbing at the same time for a couple of pitches. It was dark by then and we had no lights so bushwacking out in the dark was a true several hour-long adventure. We finally got to my truck about 12:30 or 1 am. I climbed Groover with Keith Robinson and at the time we thought it was the 2nd or 3rd ascent but not sure, we'd just heard Jeep had put it up and had a vague idea of where it went. Think we got off route at the top because it was certainly not 5.8 as I think the guidebook states. No protection and very run-out. We were both glad to get off the rock by the time we topped out.
Monte and I did the route in Tuckaseegee Gorge in ‘80 or ‘81. At the time there were no routes that we knew of on the rock. It was done in traditional Cashiers fashion with no bolts and fairly run-out. I now live in Apex near Raleigh and Cary and was at a bouldering area in a Cary City park 15 or so years ago and talking to some 20 something guys bouldering with me. They went to WCU and we started talking about climbing there and what we had done. One guy mentioned putting up some routes on Bonas Defeat and we discussed where. Come to find out they did our route and bolted it up. When he heard we'd done it without bolts years before I think he thought I was going to beat his ass or something from the look on his face. It was pretty funny, just different ideas about how you wanted to climb. It was such a pain in the ass to hand drill bolts that we just ran it out.
Hope that doesn't bore you, just a few stories I remember from climbing in Cashiers. All the guys I mentioned and a few more (Randy Mann, Fritz Orr, I think Diff Richie) were part of the "Cashiers Valley Climbing Club" and we had some tee shirts made with a logo. Nothing really organized more of a fun thing as I remember. Think Bobby may have designed the logo and gotten the shirts made, not really sure at this point. I've still got mine and could take a picture if you'd like it. Kenny and I went to high school together in Winston-Salem so we climbed alot together, me going up to ASU where he went to school and he coming down to WCU to climb with me.
Hope this reminiscing helps, as with all people that climbed during that time there are tons of stories. I'll try to dig up some pictures that aren't butt shots and scan them for you.
Enjoyed thinking about the old days in Cashiers.