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Cool 1950s Photos from the Tetons

Posted on: September 10th, 2009 by admin

Climbing ranger Jim Langford rappelling from Symmetry Spire in the Tetons.

Climbing ranger Jim Langford rappelling from Symmetry Spire in the Tetons.

Photographer and AAC member Jody Langford has created a wonderful online gallery of historical Teton photos of and by his father, Jim Langford, a climbing ranger in Grand Teton National Park during the 1950s.

John Gill, the famed boulderer who frequently climbed in the Tetons at the time, wrote of Langford: “I became acquainted with several of the climbing rangers…[and] the one who impressed me the most, both in terms of climbing acumen and responsible and virtuous behavior, was Jim…. With a quiet demeanor and powerful gymnastic build, Jim inspired confidence in his climbing partners—and when the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, a time of increased indulgence in alcohol and drugs, Jim stood as a friendly paragon of virtue and integrity, never criticizing, but demonstrating that climbing needn’t be a step toward perdition.”

Jim Langford later worked at other climbing-centric national parks and monuments, including Joshua Tree; he eventually became chief ranger at Pinnacles National Monument, where he led a rescue that won him the Department of Interior’s medal of valor.

Jody Langford’s photo collection features many superb images of climbing and rescue action in the Tetons five decades ago, the days of goldline ropes and dulfersitz rappels, when the range still was near the forefront of American alpinism. The photos also show many well-known climbers, from Willi Unsoeld to Yvon Chouinard.

Langford also has posted a great collection of his father’s climbing photos from Pinnacles in the 1960s and ’70s. Click here to see it.