June 21, 2002 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Old school Squamish rock 

A fraternity of freeclimbers from the 1970s continues to pioneer new routes

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"I suppose it's like anything when you look back on it, you tend to idealize it, but it was an awfully cool atmosphere," Croft says.

Another way that Croft differed from Fraser was in the priorities they set in life as they got older. Fraser eventually cut down on his climbing to start his own business, while Croft pursued climbing basically as a career, or as he likes to say, "I pursued it as the ultimate fun."

"I wish that Hamish was as lazy as I am, or that his work ethic wasn't so stringent," Croft says, "just because he's so much fun to climb with."

Sometimes, however, he feels that Fraser probably pushes himself too far.

"Once a few years ago Hamish and Greg (Foweraker) came to visit and we went climbing up around Mammoth. So late in the day Hamish finds himself out on this really difficult overhang pitch. He yells back to us that he's thinking of packing it in, but Greg and I tell him to go for it. Of course we're just sitting back eating chocolate bars. Anyway, he finished the pitch, but it cost him a separated rib, which was purely from over excertion. He just pushed his body beyond what it could be pushed and that still didn't stop him."

Last summer Croft managed to make one of his increasingly rare trips up North, so that he and Fraser could establish a new route to the top of Sheriff's Badge, a variation on Daily Planet. In turn Fraser went south this past July for Croft’s wedding. Of course they made time to climb the Needles, near Bakersfield, California.

The fraternity of Squamish climbers from the ’70s, pioneers in a now-popular sport, still exists. They're spread across the continent now, a little mellower but still climbing, still pushing.

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