Retro climbing

Once upon a time, things were being done a bit differently. Instead of Gore-Tex we had Utason, instead of La Sportiva there was Podtatran, instead of Icebreaker just a flannel shirt. And a first-rate backpack VHV, mining helmet or a really cool Cassida. There was only one Friend to have, the one on the other end of rope. Hard-to-get rope from Bolatice was so hard after a long winter day that you could erect it straight up up to 3 meters until it started to fold. It was impossible to pack into backpack and was carried back home pretty much as a big heap tied to backpack. Backpack for a single day was as heavy as would be today for a complete tour over the main ridge of High Tatras. It was full of pitons, home-made from various iron profiles. They were not bad. Maybe they would even last a fall. Most of the time it was impossible to get them out of cracks because they were too soft and bent easily. But that was no problem, iron profiles were abundant. For late descends we had home-made ,,Faux Petzl" head lamps - made from a soap box and an old flashlight. But only in case the contacts there didn't fail (which happened almost always). Crampons made from unknown material were "designed" to look like unobtainable Stubai but the forward-slanting points folded up just after six meters of ascend in Vaverkac which caused that we missed on the great opportunity to properly utilize our brand new ice axe of ,,Made-by-me" brand, with fantastic rectangular shape of handle made from popular hockey stick Forward. Climbing shoes were the same famous footballer Panenka was wearing (just that ours had the studs cut off) and held surprisingly well on rock. Especially when we had the soles fitted with mechovka (people at Boreal would be stunned that it is even possible to climb with something like that) by a cobbler (for those of younger age - a craftsman who fixes shoes, crazy thing, right?). Car makers had probably no idea that the thing saving lives of car passengers - safety belts - was saving lives of climbers as well. We had them sewn into harnesses by a bagmaker (another craftsman like cobbler, just a different craft). Obviously, they all successfully passed safety tests - a few strong pulls and tears. Real aficionados used rope and avalanche string (distant ancestor of avalanche beacon- battery-less model) to ,,knit" some sort of chestharness (very popular with the female part of climbing community). Their knitting craftsmanship would make even their grandmothers proud. Going beyond grade VI (once thought to be the absolute human limit) was domain of only few of the best and anyone who accomplished a ,,six" in Tatras was cheered in pub as if Messner himself just returned from alpine style solo ascend of Everest. But limited gear and number of high grades in climbing notebook was more than well compensated by joy and friendship in the mountains and huts during ascends and after them too. The 80s are long gone, times have changed. The era was somehow simple and clean. I'm not saying better. I'm just glad it happened!  

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