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Author Topic: Jimmy Dunn  (Read 1617 times)

SA

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Jimmy Dunn
« on: September 24, 2013, 08:17:03 AM »

I had a long talk with Jimmy Dunn last night. I talk with him several times a year and we always revert back to some of his epic climbs of the past.

Most of the locals know of his N.H. climbs but I'm sure Jimmy is most proud of his amazing climbs in the Black Canyon, the Desert, and the 1st ascent-solo of the Cosmos, on El Cap.

He told me details of the 1st ascent of Stoned Oven, in the Black Canyon, which features 5.11* face and off-width cracks with sh---it pro. He repeated the route years later with Dean Potter, and Dean couldn't believe how hard the off-widths were.
 His 1st ascent of the Diagonal, in the Black with Earl Wiggins was perhaps the most gripping tale I have ever heard!!
(Earl did the 1st ascent of Super Crack), before cams were invented.
I wish that I had a tape recorder, since Jimmy is quite a story teller.

I could go on and on about other epics Jimmy has told me, but few know that before Jimmy soloed the Cosmos, Bridwell had gone up a few pitches on it; as well as Robbins, trying to do a solo ascent. Bridwell had threatened to break Jimmy's arms if he soloed the route, but after Jimmy succeeded, and came down to Camp 4, who does he  spot but Bridwell standing there.

Jimmy told me that Bridwell was the LAST person he wanted to meet, on his return, but to Jimmy's surprise, Bridwell came up to him, shook his hand and said, let me cook you a meal.

Robbins wrote Jimmy a letter soon after stating that Jimmy's solo was the most impressive climb ever done in the U.S., up to that point.

Jimmy was one hell of a climber, and a great story teller!!
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strandman

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 09:49:31 AM »

the most 'under the radar american climber' ?  i'd say so.... just a great climber and person.

The Prow was a hotly contested climb, John Bragg almost got it..almost..same with Possessed and.. and

When  you go to the Black or anywhere in the desert,  the Jimmie stories start before you get there.......the one handed ascents.. the 5.12 wide with  tube chocks  etc

and of course- "there is nothing like a porsche on a mountain pass "

pm'd you SA
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Admin Al

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 10:33:03 AM »

great stories guys. Jimmy Dunn certainly is a legend.
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strandman

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 10:40:34 AM »

A good NH story-

We were wndering around the South Butt, maybe 1980' or so and run into Jimmie,Ed and the female who shall not be named. it was f/a of that 11A by Looselips  and she says "oh, it;s really hard.. i fell off"
Jimmie-  " there's more up there than you can see".. Did it first try..my first 11 and downrated to 10C
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pappy

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 08:58:25 PM »

under the radar? Not for me, but then I'm kind of a climbing geek: I've got all the Climbings from #50 up to a few years ago, a hundred or so Mountains, and pretty much all the R&Is until Jackson pissed me off a few years ago. (I think I astonished George Hurley when I ran into him at the base of Dracula in Feb. and brought up stuff from an article Climbing did on him in the mid-80s). I first ran across Dunn in Randall's Vertigo Games, and then I'd see him referenced all over the desert, Black Canyon, and CO. His NE exploits didn't even register, but it was pretty clear he was the kind of hard core bad ass that I wanted to be, guys who pushed the envelope on adventure and commitment at a high grade, guys like Rotert and Bachar, and Dunn. Those guys generated tales. Somehow, the fact that some skinny punk manages to climb 40' of bolted blankness after weeks of trying just doesn't create the same inspiration.
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darwined

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 09:05:16 PM »

Somehow, the fact that some skinny punk manages to climb 40' of bolted blankness after weeks of trying just doesn't create the same inspiration.

+1
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JBeta

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 08:21:02 AM »

Somehow, the fact that some skinny punk manages to climb 40' of bolted blankness after weeks of trying just doesn't create the same inspiration.

I never understood how certain climbers of the past have gained almost mythical status, creating a cult-like following. These climbers can do no wrong, and it seems everyone has a story of their exploits. Maybe it's a function of the time and the fact that so many more people are climbing, but New England is filled with a lot of strong climbers these days, many of whom will never be spoken of with the same reverence of the Dunns of the past. Many of these climbers don't have the cult-like following enjoyed by Dunn and others, but their accomplishments are just as impressive, if not more so, than those "greats" you admire. And, here's the worst-kept secret among today's best trad climbers: they all honed their skills clipping bolts.


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strandman

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 04:15:27 PM »

I have TONS of respect for the "new " generation,many of whom I have never met.

it's OK to think guys like Jimmie are great..really
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DLottmann

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 04:51:52 PM »

I never understood how certain climbers of the past have gained almost mythical status, creating a cult-like following. These climbers can do no wrong, and it seems everyone has a story of their exploits. Maybe it's a function of the time and the fact that so many more people are climbing, but New England is filled with a lot of strong climbers these days, many of whom will never be spoken of with the same reverence of the Dunns of the past. Many of these climbers don't have the cult-like following enjoyed by Dunn and others, but their accomplishments are just as impressive, if not more so, than those "greats" you admire. And, here's the worst-kept secret among today's best trad climbers: they all honed their skills clipping bolts.

Every single modern hardman (or women) stands on the shoulders of those who broke barriers when climbing was not as prolific as it is now. Those “modern senders" would simply not exist today if someone “back then” did not do something that no one else believed possible.

Bolts did not make them the best trad climbers... progression of the sport of climbing did.

And the reason we don’t revere the multitude of “hard” climbers like these “Dunns” is simple. Dilution. As you said, "New England is filled with a lot of strong climbers these days.” Back when Dunn was doing his thing... it wasn’t.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 04:54:36 PM by DMan »
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eyebolter

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2013, 05:36:50 PM »

Somehow, the fact that some skinny punk manages to climb 40' of bolted blankness after weeks of trying just doesn't create the same inspiration.

I never understood how certain climbers of the past have gained almost mythical status, creating a cult-like following. These climbers can do no wrong, and it seems everyone has a story of their exploits. Maybe it's a function of the time and the fact that so many more people are climbing, but New England is filled with a lot of strong climbers these days, many of whom will never be spoken of with the same reverence of the Dunns of the past. Many of these climbers don't have the cult-like following enjoyed by Dunn and others, but their accomplishments are just as impressive, if not more so, than those "greats" you admire. And, here's the worst-kept secret among today's best trad climbers: they all honed their skills clipping bolts.

My two zinc pennies...

I have met "legendary" New England climbers who, frankly, are assholes.

Jimmy Dunn is not one of them.

I first met him in the late 70's, when we sieged the first pitch of the Prow (9) and actually managed to free climb it.  He was everything a hero should be, humble, encouraging, and happy for our success.

I next met him in the late 80's at Hueco Tanks.  We were interested in doing Optical Promise, a three pitch 11c with an intimidating, overhanging crux last pitch.  He was very encouraging again, telling us "your eyes will be THIS big when you see it" and recommended that we bring a "three and a half inch piece."   His beta was spot on, and we did the route with BIG eyes as he said.  This was before the internet for you youngins', so I frankly would have probably backed off had he not told me to bring that friend (why would you bring a 3.5 friend on an overhanging face climb?).

I'm pretty sure that many of his offwidths out west have never been repeated in the original style (onsight, no cams).

Jimmy Dunn was the real deal.

And I really like to clip (eye) bolts.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 05:39:40 PM by eyebolter »
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SA

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2013, 06:05:21 PM »

Eyebolter,

Part of the reason I started this thread is many of the younger generation know little of Jimmy Dunn's exploits, outside of N.H.

Most likely the majority of climbers could care less; but what is unique about  Jimmy, is the FACT that he never wrote an article for any magazine until a few years ago, when after being asked many times by certain editors, he finally agreed to write an article about the 1st ascent of the Diagonal-in the Black.

He probably did the least "spraying" of any climber from his generation, given the impressive list of his accomplishments on rock. Just my opinion, and yes, he is a humble, friendly guy.
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strandman

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2013, 06:13:34 PM »

he sprayed once in the valley.. but that's another story    :-X
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slink

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 08:52:56 PM »

  SA how did you talk with him,I thought he was consumed by black flies years ago ;D
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kenreville

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 09:44:24 PM »

I'm happy to say that years ago I got to climb with Jimmy.

A very cool, unassuming guy. Jeezum, could he hang in the gnarliest cracks for a long, long time.....

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JBeta

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Re: Jimmy Dunn
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2013, 07:55:38 AM »

Every single modern hardman (or women) stands on the shoulders of those who broke barriers when climbing was not as prolific as it is now. Those “modern senders" would simply not exist today if someone “back then” did not do something that no one else believed possible.

Bolts did not make them the best trad climbers... progression of the sport of climbing did.

I'm not taking anything away from Dunn. I'm sure he was/is a really great guy who was a fantastic climber. I'm taking issue with the attitude that his (or anyone else's, for that matter) accomplishments were somehow more important than today's accomplishments. Sure, today's climbers stand on the shoulders of those in Dunn's generation, but Dunn's generation stood on the shoulders of Weissner, etc. That doesn't take anything away from Dunn, now, does it? Why should it take anything away from younger climbers?

As an admittedly aging "modern sender" and also a previously mentioned "skinny punk", I simply feel the need to stand up against the prevailing attitude that the past heroes have something that today's climbers lack. Though this attitude is really nothing new. I'd bet many of you can recall the stodgy and conservative Appies. Their condescending attitude and artificial constraints eventually bred the Vulgarians and led to advancement in the sport. You think that was an isolated incident? Nope, the cycle repeats itself. 
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