Surfer hair, bandanas and six-packs... Back in the early 70s, the Stonemasters were pioneers of freeclimbing in Yosemite Valley, California. Let’s take a peek at some of the images from the definitive book on these renegades of rock climbing...
The pure thrills provided by Mother Nature was what connected the free spirits of the “Stonemasters”, a group of climbers comprised of the legendary likes of Mike Graham, Robs Muir, Gib Lewis, Bill Antel, Jim Hoagland, Tobin Sorenson, John Bachar John Long, Rick Accomazzo, John Yablonski and Richard Harrison. It was this bunch of young Southern Californians with long, sun-bleached hair who, in the early 1970s, pioneered what we know today as rock climbing.
Equipped with partly self-smithed gear, steeled bodies and serene minds, the Stonemasters chose Yosemite walls and routes like El Capitan, the Column, Half Dim and Middle Cathedral as their playground. Following their own ethics of hardcore sportsmanship and cameraderie, these guys were to climbing what the Z-Boys were to skating.
Shifting the last frontier from the Western horizon to the vertical, the Stonemasters embodied nonconformity and a young and free lifestyle. They were loud and proud, smoked dope, chalked their lightning-flash insignia across rockfaces, took the light stuff seriously and the serious stuff lightly.
Taking the “Do it yourself and do it your own way” – approach of rock-climbing father figures such as Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) a couple of steps higher, the Stonemasters introduced a new playfulness to mushrooming young rock climbing communities worldwide.
If you're interested in the adventures of these climbing pioneers and would like to take the trip back into time, check out the photo book “The Stonemasters: California Rock Climbers in the Seventies” (T. Adler Books/Stonemaster Press).
Dean Fidelman's archival photos reveal, for the first time, an era defined by danger, fun, friendship and style. The book also contains tales from original Stonemaster John Long, contributions from Jeff Jackson, while others recall the highs and lows of a magical time in the annals of adventure sports.
“Individually, I marvel at every climber (in this book)," says writer Courtney Eldridge. "Each so alive, so present, so connected, and so ballsy, damn you all. But when viewed as a whole, the Stonemasters' greatest contribution to sport becomes most evident: unity and selflessness. Theirs is the legacy of a time and place as eternal as it was ephemeral, offering us one shining instance in which the young were wasted, but youth was not wasted on the young.”
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