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Volume 2
December
45-Pep Band

September
44-Popeye Spinach
43-Comptometer

August
42-Lower Lock
41-Cardinal Richelieu
40-Sidewalk Intersections
39-Evelyn Spangler
38-Spizerinctum

July
37-Two Poems
36-Cynophere
35-Ironclads
34-Independence
33-Games with Dots

June
32-Camera Lucida
31-Glands
30-The Takase River
29-Golden Retrievers
28-Manassass

May
27-Carte de Visite
26-Photo Featurette I
25-MN Farm-Labor
24-Communication

April
23-Tennessee Valley Authority
22-San Antonio
21-Huck Duster
20-A. Gallatin
19-Rope Climb
18-Flamingos

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Jan-Mar 2002

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Mike Dust' Fascinatum

Vol. 2 - April - No. 19
Superstar Rope Climber
Smith's technique is shown in this multiple exposure.  He begins climb sitting down, then lifts himself upward hand over hand.  Use of the feet is illegal.  At top of 25-foot rope, Smith slaps a circular metal disk, which contains a lampblack; he must show lampblack on his fingers when he comes down. To the question, "How fast can a man climb a 25-foot rope?" most people probably would reply "Who cares?" This feeling of disinterest was not shared by 22-year-old Garvin Smith of Los Angeles City College, who could climb a rope faster than anybody else in the U.S. for much of the 20th century and who was always happy to exhibit his prowess. Gymnast Smith held the unofficial U.S. record of 4.2 seconds for the 25-foot climb and was clocked under 5 seconds in more than 17 consecutive gymnastic meets.

Less skillful climbers go up in a series of lurches with their feet waving wildly; Smith climbed effortlessly, and it was hard to realize he was traveling approximately 4 mph. Competing in a limited field, Smith was so good that he had almost no rivals, either in speed or grace. But he lost the chance to win an Olympic championship more than fifty years ago, when officials decided to discontinue rope climbing as part of the Olympic Gymnastic program. Other countries had too few climbers to make the event worthwhile.

Starting climb, Smith's muscles bulge to hoist him off the floor.In a race, Smith (left) gets off faster than Elmer Huckins of Los Angeles.  Sitting start puts great strain on arms and shoulders in first few feet of climb.

(above, left) Starting climb, Smith's muscles bulge to hoist him off the floor.

(above, right) In a race, Smith (left) gets off faster than Elmer Huckins of Los Angeles. Sitting start puts great strain on arms and shoulders in first few feet of climb.

(right) Smith's technique is shown in this multiple exposure. He begins climb sitting down, then lifts himself upward hand over hand. Use of the feet is illegal. At top of 25-foot rope, Smith slaps a circular metal disk, which contains a lampblack; he must show lampblack on his fingers when he comes down.

learn more about this fascinating subject:

The Sport of Gymnastics: Artistic History
Sports History: Gymnastics: Rope Climb
Imaginary Rope Climb
Robot Rope Climbing


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