In his 1993 memoir, We Aspired: The Last Innocent Americans, writer Pete Sinclair evocatively chronicled a period of American history that between 1959 and 1969 saw the development of a remarkable archetype. This was a small, interconnected group of men (and a few even more adventurous women) who, turning their gaze from contemporary, societal norms of regimentation and attainment, chose rather to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of something less productive, more ephemeral, yet vastly more spiritually satisfying. Something that couldn’t be found wearing a tie or punching a clock, but only while seeking communion with one of the Earth’s most powerful natural forces through dynamic physical endeavor that effectively earned nothing, yet ultimately gained everything.
Sinclair was writing, of course, about mountaineering, but could just as easily have been writing about surfing during the same epoch, when our nascent surf culture was developing along the very same lines, establishing its counter-culture sensibilities and lifestyle in a remarkably similar manner. In fact, the historical development of climbing and surfing, while set in almost antithetical environments, mirror each other in uncanny fashion, and, in many cases, actually overlap.