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First recorded ascent of Sea of Holes, other solos

From a telephone interview with Mike Head conducted by Steve Crye on 3.22.08

Mike never down-soloed, or up-soloed, the entire Sea of Holes. Mike has no idea where the myth came from. In the early days before he met Dave Head, Mike and John McCall would do what they called " El Cap" days at Hueco - they would solo ~ 3000' of rock in a day. Their circuit would consist of classics such as Tree Crack, CakeWalk, Uriah's Heep and the first pitch of Sea of Holes. For the 1st pitch of Sea of Holes, they would solo up to a point roughly level with the top of the stack of the 1st pitch of Uriah's, then traverse up and left to get to the curved crack about 2/3 of the way up Uriah's, and then finish the route.

Mike, John and another local named Keith Gainer did the Sea to Uriah solo variation many, many times before Mike led the entire Sea Of Holes, with Dave Head, sometime in 1978. Dave Head recalls that it was a rainy, summer afternoon.

Mike does remember down-soloing Tree Crack at least once.

I witnessed John McCall solo Indecent Exposure, around 1981. I was very nervous watching him move through the stemming moves on the second pitch, but he was smooth and confident - not in a hurry, but never hesitating.

I am only aware of one documented account of a solo of Sea of Holes. The 100% reliable source is my close friend Don Morril. He recounts the time in 1989 that Tom Cosgriff, who had a penchant for consuming cheap Schaeffer beer and then embarking on crazy soloing binges, soloed up both pitches of Sea of Holes and then down Uriah's Heap.


Hey steve, good to hear from you!

Thanks for telling me that my <letter> got printed in climbing rag. <Note: April 2006 Climbing> 

I just remembered a funny story about Tom Cosgriff you might want to add to the time-line.

The <spring> the park was closed for a couple of weeks <January 1989>, Crump had permission to roap <sic> climb there because he had a contract to teach some Special Forces (or were they Army Rangers) how to climb. They spent most of the morning on west mountain and we, (Don Morril and Tom Cosgriff) were allowed in the park but under no circumstances could we roap climb, so we bouldered on the front side.

After an hour or so we got bored not being able to roap climb, so I soloed up Uriah's Heap and Tom soloed up Sea of Holes. We were sitting in the shade at the top of Uriah's Heap drinking a warm day-pack of aged Shaffer<sic> beer when Crump tops out from his lead up Uriah's Heap. Soon after, a stream of S.F. or Rangers start crowding the ledge feeling all manly. One of them noticed Tom's pink and black-lace chalk bag and made a comment to Tom about his fag-bag and it's implications to Tom's sexual orientation, so Tom just walked past the dude and down-climbed Uriah's. Anyway, I thought it was funny, it sure shut the Ranger up.

Don Morril