Losing Tobin, Thirty Four Years Ago


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Social climber
Elk Grove, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 5, 2014 - 05:47am PT
Was reminiscing with my younger brother, Tom, about our big bro yesterday. It's been thirty four years since losing Tobin October 5th, 1980. We talked a little about how things might have turned out differently if he was alive today. It's was his life we still celebrate, but all miss him just the same. I took some time to myself and wrote these lines.

'Old Tobin'

Back in the day,
When the anchors were thin,
There was hardly a lad,
Who could even begin,
To keep up with a boy,
Who thought failure a sin,

And challenge he would,
In his company dear,
To lay down their all,
Let their conscience be clear,

With his cadre of friends,
So boldly they'd tread,
For some dared not to follow,
As often was said,

There was Largo and Bachar,
Gramicci and Rick,
And one hundred stonemasters,
Now you take your pick,

But Tobin stood out,
And he would embark,
On the cold alpine alpine routes,
Where he made is mark,

On the Eiger and the Dru,
And Matterhorn north face,
Not the least which he'd do,
Without head heart and grace,

And was humble enough,
To lend you his ear,
For god knows he borrowed,
More than his gear,

And to step up the pace,
As those driven will do,
Was a crazy endeavor,
This might have been true,

But to him there was more,
Than a passion to sate,
For to climb was a gift,
And to him was innate,
To be closer to god,
Was his fuel and his fate,

Living life on the edge,
And tried as he might,
To keep demons at bay,
All through the night,

And try as he did,
To appease mom and pop,
Who had probably hoped,
He'd be fireman or cop,
But climber he was,
And climber he'd be,
For no prouder were they,
As he reached for the top,

And reaching he would,
For all he was worth,
From his earliest days,
'Til his last days on earth,

And it's many years past,
Since that bitter wind blew,
How things might have gone,
Did we not say adieu?

We can't turn back the past,
But miss him we do,
And imagine him old,
With grand kids in tow,
What would he do,
And where would he go?
Would he be bald on top,
Or a beard would he grow?

Would he frown or he smile?
Would he walk with a hunch,
Or still boulder with style,
Eating ice cream for lunch?

But theres one thing for certain,
And I'd bet you a fin,
That if Tobin were still here,
He'd be wearing a grin.

-Tim Sorenson


Social climber
So Cal
Oct 5, 2014 - 05:57am PT
Still miss that grin.

Always thought I'd see it again

Till that day on that hill

with your mom's face full of tears.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
Oct 5, 2014 - 06:13am PT
:;:;:;10/5/2014!!! The years of my maturity 34 and more to go
Tobin was not the 1st but the first my age to go and he knew his way
That is what, still to this day makes me crane my neck to see
The clergyman when he bends his head to say peace be with you
Feeling the healing
It is the only way
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 5, 2014 - 07:41am PT
That's a real nice picture, a real nice poem, and a real nice guy.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Oct 5, 2014 - 07:52am PT

This is why Supertopo still rules the roost.

Thank you very much Tim, for making us all think.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Oct 5, 2014 - 08:34am PT

thank you so much for the poem.

I think often of your brother, sometimes when I go climbing I see his face with the goofy smile. and hear his voice going "come on - do it"....

Do think his hair might have fallen out?

Do you think he would have grown a ice-cream gut??

To me Tobin was and is one of the greatest climbers ever.

He had the right stuff.

Handjam Belay

Gym climber
expat from the truth
Oct 5, 2014 - 08:48am PT
Being at least a generation younger I never met Tobin.
Hearing of his exploits and style I always admired his spirit.

My secret internet name is Tobin Jourdan

1/2 Tobin Sorenson
1/2 Frank Jourdan

From a generation downstream...a tip of the cap good sirs.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 5, 2014 - 09:17am PT
Thanks Tim. Very clever writing too!

I remember you and Tobin. We all spent some time in the lounge just after you and Tobin did the first free ascent of The Cobra on the Arches. I don't think I ever saw him again, though years went by before he left us.

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Oct 5, 2014 - 09:38am PT
I read of Tobin's passing at the Lembert Dome picnic area in a climbing mag...I was shocked having attended a slide show presesntation by Tobin the year before...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 5, 2014 - 09:49am PT
Tim- Thanks for sharing your wonderful poem and thoughts about the amazing Tobin. He remains an indelible Stonemaster and we appreciate your stoking his memory for us again.

Any stories about him from the family perspective would be welcome. How did you lads get introduced to climbing?

A Cobra story would be fabulous should you have written anything about that Big Adventure.


Social climber
joshua tree
Oct 5, 2014 - 10:12am PT
Wow,, i Love surprises and ur full of'em!

i can only hope my life someday be deserving of a poem..
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Oct 5, 2014 - 10:40am PT
Deepest respects to Mr. Sorenson's memory. Always a good thing to see a family still cherish the memory of their loved one in a way that is profound and still endures.

Does anyone know what part of Covina Tobin lived in, the street ,and the period he lived there?
steve shea

Oct 5, 2014 - 11:25am PT
Bushman I found some photos of Tobin from the summer of '77. After Rick left Chamonix, Tobin camped with us. We left to try the Eiger later on. These photos are from that trip. The slides have not seen the light of day in 30yrs. I'll try to post them up for you. They are very soulful shots of the young man as he started his alpine tour de force in '77.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 5, 2014 - 11:38am PT
Steve, very much looking forward to seeing your photos!

Bruce, at the very least, Tobin was not used to encountering failure very often. I think to many of us back then however, failure was a sin on some level or another. It had to be that our climbing was kind of a life's report card, or thereabouts.

Trad climber
Oct 5, 2014 - 11:49am PT
That's a beautiful piece of writing, Tim. Having only spent some time with him once, he left a powerful impression on me. Thank you for this.

Trad climber
Chatsworth, California
Oct 5, 2014 - 12:02pm PT
Nice tribute.

Social climber
State of decay
Oct 5, 2014 - 12:45pm PT

Very nice Dibbs. When stars shine so brightly and then go out, they leave an equally dark space in the sky. And so it is with Tobin.....

Boulder climber
Oct 5, 2014 - 01:06pm PT
I think to many of us back then however, failure was a sin on some level or another. It had to be that our climbing was kind of a life's report card, or thereabouts

Very good point, Peter. And one that is rarely made these days in reflection of those times.

Tim, I wasn't aware of the family connection. A terrible loss.

Social climber
Elk Grove, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 5, 2014 - 01:18pm PT
Will get back with a few answers later today.

Bruce Kay, regarding your question; is it true in any sense that he considered failure a sin?
That was purely poetic license on my part, nevertheless, it was Tobin's nature to be relentless in the face of failure, at times to the edge of disaster. I do remember that as Tobin got further along in his achievements his humility only grew. I don't remember any stern or judgmental words from him beyond my first climbing debacle on Tahquitz when I first started climbing, even considering how many times I surely deserved them.

Steve Shea,
My family along with many others would be grateful beyond words to see more photos of Tobin.

Trad climber
Oct 5, 2014 - 01:55pm PT
Hard to believe so much time has gone by.
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