50th Anniversary of the Nose and First Ascent Party Reunion

This December (2016), Carolina climbing crosses a major landmark; the 50th Anniversary of the first ascent of Looking Glass Rock’s “The Nose”. In December 1966, Steve Longenecker, Bob Watts, and Robert John Gillespie completed the first full ascent of any route on Looking Glass Rock. It has now become one of the best known multi-pitch moderate rock climbs East of the Mississippi. For more on the route itself, and images of a 1966 ascent, click here.  For a first hand account of the first ascent, click here.

On November 12, 2016, Ground Up Publishing was able to join Bob, Steve, and Robert John as they reunited at the base of The Nose to celebrate their achievement that has inspired generations.

Left to right: Bob Watts, Steve Longenecker, and Robert John Gillespie. The architects of the climb "The Nose", and Western North Carolina's first generation of rock climbing pioneers.

Left to right: Bob Watts, Steve Longenecker, and Robert John Gillespie. The architects of the climb “The Nose”, and Western North Carolina’s first generation of rock climbing pioneers. Seen here at the base of The Nose 50 years later with some of the original gear used on the first ascent.      All photos: Mike Reardon

 

Mike Fischesser, Stuart Cowles, Jess Daddio, several generations of the Watts family, and Joe Lackey with his children Jack (age 11) and Isla (age 13) joined us for the day as well. Jess will be working with Blue Ridge Outdoors to produce a short film (a few minutes in length) about the anniversary, the ascent, and the reunion.

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Some of the original first ascent gear, brought back to the rock after a 50 year separation.

Climber-historian Mike Fischesser tests the grip on Bob Watt's original klettershues, worn 50 years ago during the first ascent. Note his "harness" as well.

Climber-historian Mike Fischesser tests the grip on Bob Watt’s original klettershues, worn 50 years ago during the first ascent. Note his “harness” as well. According to Mike, these shoes made the 5.5 pitch feel like 5.10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To top the day off, the Lackey family completed a full ascent of The Nose with Jack Lackey, age 11, leading every pitch. It is very possible that he is the youngest person to have ever lead the entire climb, and he did so with confidence and skill. He was clearly taught well by his father, Joe, and belayed well by his equally talented sister Isla, age 13.  Jack’s lead reminded us all that what Bob, Steve, and Robert John began 50 years ago now spans generations.

 

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The Lackey family getting ready for the rap after Jack’s full lead (age 11).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On December 10, 2016 at Black Dome Mountain Sports on Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC, there will be a public 50th Anniversary Party. It will also mark the opening of the first ever NC Climbing Museum, located inside Black Dome. If you have anything to contribute to the museum, please contact Black Dome (828) 251-200. The short film to be produced by Blue Ridge Outdoors will be shown as well. We are hoping to make this a fundraiser for the Carolina Climbers Coalition but details still need to be worked out. All are invited to attend!

Ground Up Publishing is working on a comprehensive guidebook to Looking Glass Rock and all of the rock and ice routes in the southern Pisgah region, entitled Southern Pisgah Rock and Ice. It will focus not only as a field guide to the excellent routes within the region, but on the colorful history and characters that give these walls their personality. We expect it to be out in 2017 or so. Here is a sample:

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The Nose. Topo by Ground Up Publishing. To be published in the forthcoming Southern Pisgah Rock and Ice.

 

 

 

 

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