Doug Robinson, Santa Cruz, California
Reduce, yes.The ultimate in reducing wear is take it off. We’re lounging seven pitches up the Northwest Face of Half Dome on the first clean ascent in 1973, when Galen Rowell suddenly decides we need a hammock photo. He pulls it out of the haul bag and jumps in, grinning like he means it, and I snap the photo. It lets me brag that I’m a National Geographic photographer. I didn’t know until way later that Dennis Hennek, behind me, took this shot.
My Stand Up Shorts from that climb crisscrossed the west a few more years, from the Palisades to the Wind Rivers to the City of Rocks, then handed down to my little brother. They don’t fit him anymore either, so I guess we should send ‘em back for recycling, but he’s kind of attached to having them kicking around.
I re-used my rope from that climb for towing busted VWs, and some of our hardware got re-purposed as history by the Yosemite Climbing Association’s museum.
But I wanted to talk about Guide Pants. Mine wore like iron, uncanny for such a supple fabric, until I can’t even remember how old they are. Five, maybe seven, years. The fabric won’t wear out. It just won’t, even though I climb in them all summer and do backcountry ski trips of up to a month wearing them the whole time. But finally the stitching began to give out in a couple of strategic locations in the crotch and the butt. So I bought a new pair, but oddly enough that prompted me dig out needle and thread and fix the old ones. Just the seam; they didn’t even take a patch. At this point it looks like no amount of offwidth is going to shred them and they may just outlast me.