The Amazing Bob Murray-Desert Bouldering Icon Climbing 1995

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 1, 2011 - 05:10pm PT
This excellent Wills Young profile of climber extraordinaire, Bob Murray, appeared in the August-September 1995 issue of Climbing.








Few climbers of Bob's extraordinary ability manage to fly under the radar nearly as well as he has. A longtime Arizona and New Mexico resident, Bob has quietly established hundreds of problems in relative isolation. He has been largely unheralded by choice but I count him a friend and would like to hold his brilliant climbing up for all to appreciate.

To watch him float up ultra difficult terrain with style and grace is to witness the essence of climbing unfolding before your eyes. Truly mindblowing contact power!

Welcome Bob, should you choose to pull up a chair. Gill is here already!
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Jan 1, 2011 - 05:20pm PT
Bob is by far one of the most amazing climbers I have ever had the pleasure to climb with. Witty, strong and a wonderful human being.

I was glad that the article used three of my photos of the elusive BM.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 1, 2011 - 05:38pm PT
What Bob D' said. I only met Bob Murray a handful of times, mostly in Northern Az. Especially memorable was a day in Walnut Canyon with him and Dick Cilley. Solos and Tr's, we were all climbing pretty well, but Bob kept going leaving us in the dust largely climbing barefoot! He didn't leave us behind though, friendly supportive and conversant. one of the best.
Good times!
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:07pm PT
This is all quite amazing. Never heard of elusive Bob before.

Maybe coincidence Steve, but you're the Tucson connection: Mike Strassman used to address some of his trademark rants to an unseen "Murray." Could it be?...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 1, 2011 - 08:23pm PT
Bob Murray isn't one of the many Murrys of Strassmanworld...

Phenomenal climber and athlete, Bob would climb a dozen moves into some heinous traversing problem and then stall and flit off without wasting a breath. Those of us that were roped climbing were into staying power but there was no hanging out on a BM problem! He would look on in mild disbelief as we clung and battled away, in vain! LOL
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:30pm PT
You know, this is doubly interestng. Wills Young, a very hot boulderer himself, clearly sought out Bob Murray from hearing the legend. His writing tells Bob's story really well, and does it the way Bob climbs: without calling attention to itself at all.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:44pm PT
Without him, what would the "El Murrays" in Hueco be called?
Rankin

climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:46pm PT
I remember reading this article when it came out, and I really liked it. Great job Wills!
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Jan 1, 2011 - 09:01pm PT
Bob is an American climbing icon...never wanting any attention just pushing harder and bouldering better than almost anyone in the world in his prime.

My wife would leave for PA in June to stay with her mom just after her father died. Bob would show up the day after she left with the kids and basically spend a few months with me in Colorado Springs in the summer. Looking back they were some of the best times I ever had climbing.

Armed with USGS map he would explore areas remotely with the possibility of holding boulders/boulder.

It was depressing at times to climb with such a talent but he really opened my eyes to what was really possible on rock and what I would have to do to make it happen.

I remember him firing the Williams Lunge first tried on Flagstaff Mountain above Boulder and then quietly saying that is it was really hard...he made it look 5.6..I had to do the static way (middle b1) as the lunge was a good five feet and even with my basketball background out of my league.
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Jan 1, 2011 - 09:10pm PT
Funny how a photo can bring you right back to day and time in a heartbeat. The photo of Bob at Nathrop was taken on our way back from the San Luis Valley after climbing and bouldering there. A storm was rolling in and Bob fired several hard problems in the matter of minutes and after our session a beautiful rainbow set over the valley...the sight is still fresh in my mind-eye just like it was yesterday.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 2, 2011 - 12:41am PT
Any photos?
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jan 2, 2011 - 12:34pm PT
never met murray, but climbed with george and john gault during my year in tucson. spent a lot of time on murray problems, listening to the stories.

bob murray and jim holloway were the only boulderers in the seventies and eighties to really bring something new to the table. all the rest of us were just trying to assimilate what gill had done.

murray went much further than anyone had in developing elimination bouldering-- several of his routes in Tucson were well into double digits. But more impressive was the way that he seemed to devise sequences specifically to make the routes harder still.

if you look at that photo of barefoot overhang, up above, he's crossing with his left hand to the worst hold on the route. When I did that thing, I used that hold as a right intermediate and then bumped to the exit bucket. Done that way, the problem is maybe easy 5. The sequence Murray's using in that photo is designed to make the route look cooler and be a lot harder.

wasn't there an older article by frank abell with a pic of Murray on his backyard woody? is george still around and climbing? gault?
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jan 2, 2011 - 12:37pm PT
BUMP!
Thanks for the scan SG!

Legend.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 3, 2011 - 10:07pm PT
Bob would you post that shot of Frank Abell's backyard woodie?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 8, 2011 - 01:25pm PT
Aerial Dynamic Bump!
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
Jan 8, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
awesome thread. Thanks SG.
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jan 8, 2011 - 04:39pm PT
shortly after i started climbing -- maybe three years -- i'd heard of murray. dick cilley told me about him while we were standing at the base of swan slab in '76

although they each had their own personal focus and style, to me they (gill and murray) remain the two preminant icons in american bouldering.

sorry verm, you are absolutely and most definately on the list, in the pantheon, but you're a not-too-distant third. which ain't that bad, now that I think about it..!

edit: oh damn, kerwin just reminded me of holloway. settle for #4, john??
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 8, 2011 - 05:12pm PT
Too bad the Queen Creek haters keep the Verm off this forum...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 15, 2011 - 03:16pm PT
Bump for Bob!
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jan 15, 2011 - 04:18pm PT
What has become of Bob? Anyone know? I had tremendous admiration for both Bob and Jim Holloway. They certainly took bouldering up the next big step.
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