Seneca Rocks History - A New Year's Resolution

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R. Neil Arsenault

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Jan 6, 2022, 1:47:59 PMJan 6
to PATCMS
 
About a month ago there were several posts about Alan Talbert, a long time member of the Mountaineering Section.
Along about this time of year I usually remember Alan.
 
Here's a little bit of Seneca history I'm sure absolutely nobody still around knows about.
 
Alan was a good friend, even though we never climbed anything together.
Alan was about 20 years older than me, part of the John Christian, Arnold Wexler generation of climbers  First ascent of Green Wall with John Christian.
While Alan and I never climbed together, we did a fair amount of whitewater kayaking.  At least untill I quit the Kamikaze Kayak Klub after I ripped my left arm 4" out of it socket in a big hydrolic.
 
First time I met Alan a group of us were starting down the North Fork into Hopeville Canyon.  Hopeville is one of the more serious "classic" whitewater runs around Seneca.
Not too many people even know its there because the North Fork swings away from the highway for a few miles as it starts its drop into the cliff lined canyon.
So out on the river, getting ready to run the "harder than most / more isolated than most" Hopeville Canyon solo, was this "old guy".  Since I was in my late 20' s that "old guy" was not quite 50.   Alan Talbert.
 
When we introduced ourselves and invited him to join our group. I did an "Alan Talbert ?  THE Alan Talbert ?  Green Wall Alan Talbert ?"
The guys in the other kayaks had no idea what we were talking about. "I think they must both be some of those crazy rock climbers."
 
So one winter, with a bunch of us crowded into a van, driving the shuttle back to the put-in with the van's heater on max, after a couple of hours on the river, Alan shared his annual New Year's Resolution.
 
For those of you who may not be familiar with the questionable "joys" of West Virginia whitewater, most of the whitewater streams are runable from late February through early April.
That means cold. 
I have an old picture taken at the Seneca Rocks whitewater race where I have a line of short icicles hanging from the front rim of my helmet.  As well as from my mustache.
Cold weather and most especially cold water.  Your dead in 10 minutes or maybe sooner cold water. That means full wet suits..
 
If your out on the river and nature calls, that means that first you find a place where you can pull over and get out of your boat.
While everyone else on the trip waits for you, you pop your spray skirt, climb up the river bank, go a respectful distance into the woods,
manage to get out of your life jacket and wet suit (and getting into or out of a wetsuit can take a bit of effort) take care of things, maybe in the wind and the snow,
get back into your now frigid wetsuit, and now thoroughly chilled, head back to your boat, only to be greeted by all those folks on the river who have been waiting for you all this time in their boats.
 
This is in general not a pleasant activity and does not make you friends.
 
So the alternative..... Alan Talbert's New Year's Resolution that he shared with everyone in that van was "not to go to the bathroom in his wetsuit."
And that he made the same resolution every New Year's because he never kept his resolution.
That confession got a bit of attention right at that moment.  And everybody moved away from Alan toward the other side of the van.
 
Sometime later I shared this story with a few of my climbing buddies.
 
And so one day after putting up a new route on the East side of the South Peak, I was told that they had named it Talbert Pickelfish.
In honor of Alan Talbert and his annually reoccurring New Years Resolution.
 
The names of many climbs at Seneca have a story behind them. Many of those stores are now forgotten or almost forgotten.
Maybe this one will get remembered.
 

Caroline Mosher

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Jan 6, 2022, 1:55:37 PMJan 6
to R. Neil Arsenault, PATCMS
Great story. But where's the icicle helmet photo??

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Robert Graver

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Jan 6, 2022, 3:58:01 PMJan 6
to Caroline Mosher, PATCMS, R. Neil Arsenault
Nice!
Thanks Neil. 

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Jan 6, 2022, 9:38:43 PMJan 6
to Robert Graver, Caroline Mosher, PATCMS, R. Neil Arsenault

Love this!  I didn’t know people got out of their wetsuit to pee… :)

Elliott Becker

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Jan 6, 2022, 10:47:25 PMJan 6
to Brian Florence, John Pruett, Robert Graver, Caroline Mosher, PATCMS, R. Neil Arsenault
Once I tried to climb Conn's East to Soler to skip the runout start of Soler. Well, screwed up the route-finding pretty badly and did the run-out first pitch of Soler (I went from being I was scared I was going to fall out to scared I was stuck in the OW), into Talber Picklefish. Well, Picklefish doesn't get a lot of traffic, and it's pretty dirty, and I was throwing a lot of gear in and I looked up and saw there was still a ways to go, so I escaped left along a ledge to the anchors for Hidden Assets and came down that way. John Pruett had to climb up after me to clean up after all this. As Neil knows, the FA of Picklefish was my good friend's uncle, Dennis (at least according to the latest guide).

John Pruett

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Jan 7, 2022, 1:47:20 AMJan 7
to Elliott Becker, Brian Florence, Robert Graver, Caroline Mosher, PATCMS, R. Neil Arsenault
Elliott, I would add that you did quite a fine job on the climb given the circumstances. It was dirty for sure. And I was relatively new to trad so nearly peed my wetsuit on that one. 
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