Royal Robbins: “This importing business is a real can of ---

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Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 27, 2009 - 07:08pm PT
The quote was in a mid-1970's newsletter for his imported climbing gear company: Mountain Paraphernalia.

Royal Robbins: “This importing business is a real can of annelids.”

Royal Robbins imported climbing gear from Europe starting in 1969. He brought in Galibier boots, Edelrid ropes, Ultimate Helmets, Salewa, Peck nuts and pitons, and a host of lesser known products. He also stocked many British climbing books and was the U.S. distributor for Mountain Magazine.

Unfortunately there isn’t much history available on the internet about the time line of his business or the gear he sold. One problem is that although his business did have catalogs, they were mainly for use by the retail stores Robbins sold to. So instead of many thousands being printed, likely only a few-hundred were each year. I have not been able to find any Mountain Paraphernalia catalogs and hope fellow ST posters will help fill in the history.

“Royal Robbins-Spirit of the Age”, the 1991 bio by Pat Ament does not dwell much on Royal’s business history. He notes that Royal had recommended Chouinard to Galibier boots as a U.S. distributor. Somewhere in the late 60’s, when Royal wanted to start importing Galibier: “It was cause for slight consternation now that they had given the distributorship of their own ’Robbins boot’ to Chouinard. It made sense to get it back. They struck a deal with Chouinard and Frost, an offer that Royal and Liz almost had to refuse---but didn’t.”

In a May 1985 “Backpacker Magazine” article several interesting facts about the business come out. When Royal started importing Galibier, he was asst. manager of a paint store (Liz's family’s store) in Modesto. The original business was in the basement of the paint store in 1969.

With success in selling the RR rock shoe he had designed for Galibier, within a year he was able to add other Galibier boots, climbing helmets, and camping gear.
Royal's original product, which he had designed for Galibier.  The fam...
Royal's original product, which he had designed for Galibier. The famous RR's. Photo and shoes from Gordon Williams
Credit: Gordon Williams

The wholesale branch of business name became “Mountain Paraphernalia.” In 1979 the name changed to “Robbins Mountaingear”, then to “Royal Robbins” in 1982.

In “Spirit of the Age” Pat Ament adds that “kayaks were added to the wares of Mountain Paraphernalia. From other references, it appears that this was in 1973 or 1974. Interestingly the book indicates that selling Kayaks came first, then Royal decided he had better learn the sport.

From “Spirit of the Age:” “In 1979 Liz started to design clothes. The first of these were the ’Billy Goat Shorts’ cut for freedom of movement.-------The business was growing, and it was not long before Royal and Liz would quit the sales of climbing equipment altogether and devote all of their sales to clothing.”

“Royal and Liz had suffered a lawsuit when a climber was injured by the failure of a piece of climbing equipment. They won the suit when they were able to establish that the person had misused the gear, but the incident further convinced them of the wisdom of going to clothes solely.”

Galibier ad in Seattle area climbing magazine: "Off Belay" Oct. 1972
Galibier ad in Seattle area climbing magazine: "Off Belay" Oct. 1972
Credit: Fritz


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 27, 2009 - 07:20pm PT
Interesting thread, Fritz!
Do you recall the piece of gear that failed? Carabiner, I bet.

The blue RR's were my first shoes and I used them until the footbeds just about rotted out. A good friend of mine managed the last resole and handed them back saying with disgusted finality, "this is the LAST time!" LOL

RR also designed a version of the verappe style climbing shoe that a lot of people really liked.
jstan

climber
Nov 27, 2009 - 07:33pm PT
Personal protective equipment is a major hot button. Has been so for some decades now and the continuing emphasis on safety in the society at large has only begun to run its course. The CEO's I have seen don't know anything about their business but they do understand the impact liability can have on the bottom line. In the midst of major problems whole staff meetings are dedicated to "safety."

Heads up kids.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 07:47pm PT
Steve: No idea what the lawsuit was on. Carabiner or rope makes sense to me.
However I did find this notice in the June 1976 issue of Off Belay about a Ultimate Helmet recall.
From Off Belay June, 1976
From Off Belay June, 1976
Credit: Fritz
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 27, 2009 - 09:08pm PT
That would certainly make sense. Helmet performance liability would be a spooky proposition.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 27, 2009 - 09:27pm PT
I never liked RRs and, at least after EBs came out, I don't think Royal did either. I asked him about the design of RRs and he said that "They didn't turn out the way I designed them." I seem to remember something about him wanting something you could use to stand in slings. EBs were hard to get at the time, and I needed a new pair. Royal said he had an extra pair which he offered to me. He told me where they where in his closet. Someone let me in and I picked them up.

Royal was hopping mad at me for taking the wrong pair. The pair he offered me was too small for him (and me) and I had taken the pair that fit him (and me). I offered to give them back, but he muttered that I didn't need to do that. They became more available soon after that.

In those early, uncertain years, I asked Royal how Yvon's business was doing. He said, "The last I saw Yvon, he wasn't complaining how bad business was, so I would guess he is doing very well." Both Yvon and Royal (and Liz) were tenacious in getting their business off the ground.

The whole issue of liability for both climbing gear and guiding were serious issues for someone with a family or lots of time and money tied up in a new business.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 09:29pm PT
Steve: You mentioned "RR also designed a version of the Verappe style climbing shoe that a lot of people really liked."

Here is a Jan 1977 ad from Climbing for a newer Verappe. Is this the one?
Credit: Fritz
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 27, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
Thanks Fritz. All true.

Vandiver and I worked in the basement of Valley Paint off and on for a couple of years (70-73) back in the very early seventies. Although we were both sort of stationed in Berkeley and Alameda, we would drive out to Modesto when Royal called. The Mountain Paraphernalia business was fledgling of course and a big part of what took place back then was peridodically receiving large shipping containers full of climbing gear sent over from Europe. So briefly there would be just one hell of a lot of inventory, a huge part of which had already been earmarked for the many many accumulated backorders from retailers all over the US. The two of us would unload the containers parked temporarily on the street and bring the gobs of items into a vacant building just down the street from Valley Paint and start sending it out frantically. I think it was owned by his father-in-law or an associated, this space. What was left over after all the backorders were filled then went into the basement under the paint store where a makeshift “store” was set up. A large part of the bulk of course was comprised of Galibier boots and shoes. Edelrid ropes and cordage, Peck crackers and Clog nuts were also part of the business. There was not a large number of manufacturers at first; the business was not very complex.

The big issues were handling the importing and also handling suspicious retailers who would at times accuse RR of playing favoritism in selectively filling long-awaited backorders, and too, handling the expected tedium of the earlier years in tiny distributorship in the basement of a Central Valley town. From what we could tell, RR did not play some evil game of favoritism with the limited amount that Richard-Pontvert/Galibier sent us: you see, there never was enough to completely fulfill the backordered demand so no one got all that they had ordered but rather an allotment. Alfter all we were on alotment as well; why I don’t know. But RR had to handle the accusations, sometimes personal ones even.

But the best part of Chris’ and my experience working for Liz and Royal was their hospitality at their home on Durant: Liz’s great cooking, the endless dinner table fun and wine, the many engaging discussions and of course their frequent interesting and usually legendary visitors from all over. Endless tennis was also part of our regimen, even in three-degree Central Valley heat; we would go for hours.

A couple of times, Royal and Liz would take trips and leave the house in my care. There was a trip to Baja California--- I think the Sea of Cortez with Linnea and Joe Fitschen, I am recalling. And I would babysit the house. They did not have kids yet but would soon and were able to really get around a great deal. They were always incredibly good about keeping up their outdoors interests and seemed never to let the business drag them down into a hole. Liz’s mom and dad would frequently visit too during the day.

Yeah, kayaking. He had me come up and stay with him for awhile and he put a couple of us through the rollover training for kayakers in the country club swimming pool prior to actually going on the Upper Stanislaus River the next day. That outing went well with no wipeouts although a group of guides who lived on that stretch of the river in a makeshift kayakers’ camp rushed onto a bridge to watch our group of newbies face our first class-3-4 or something rapid right off the bat.

RR explained how eddies worked and how the river actually often has powerful currents that, counterintuitively, run back up the river, not just always down, and how to use these currents for various purposes. He also demonstrated ferrying across the main current and some other seemingly magical aspects of rivers. And he warned us about some of the hazards. I had a great time and because I had about 6 years of relentless surfing in the chilly 52 degree waters of Santa Cruz by this point, the river seemed actually warm and the sport just really fun. When I was to go again with him some weeks or months later my $50 1952 chevy pickup up blew up on the freeway and had to call in a no-show to him; I fell off his list of Johnny-go-to’s. It never was the same afterwards. Time just ripped right on by.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 09:54pm PT
Peter: Thank you for a great post on this little explored subject. I really was fascinated by your insider history.

What do you know about Royal sponsoring "Climbing slide shows?"

Royal showed up in Moscow Idaho in 1973 for a "slide show" on his British crag climbing. My buddy Bruce Franks loaned him a couch and a sleeping bag. We got to go drink and play Fooz-ball. Of course Royal was a fierce competitor.

Next year John Cleare showed up, stayed longer and even climbed with us.

John was back within a year or two, then Doug Scott (who insisted we buy he and his wife a motel room).

It appeared that Royal sent all these people "out to the sticks" based on the fact that we were a good customer? We did pay moderate "lecture fees" for John Cleare and a larger one for Doug Scott. Can't remember if we paid Royal, but there was probably a little money involved, even though we were buying stuff from him. Seemed like a bargain at the time.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 27, 2009 - 09:58pm PT
Thanks for the stories! It seems that Mountain Paraphernalia had two arms, the wholesale/distribution, and the retail. The latter seems usually to have been advertised as "Robbins Mountain Shop", rather than MP. Or perhaps they were nominally or actually separate businesses, for whatever corporate/financial reasons may have applied?

In his account of the first solo ascent of the Muir Wall (1968), Robbins talks about taking two weeks off from his job selling paint in the central valley in spring time (busy season), and the job being with his father in law. Must have been interesting arranging that.
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Nov 27, 2009 - 10:07pm PT
On the other hand I LOVED my bluesuede shoes. They were also the boots used at Squamish for early heinous slab routes. I know the FA of White Lightening was done in RRs and I believe the FA of the horrendous Grim Reaper was also done in RRs

I bought a pair the summer of '78 and my first adventure with them - doing Outer Space on Snow Creek Wall in Icicle Ck - was a TOTAL epic. I had blisters to choke a horse from 'em. But, after they were broken in , they were gold. I eventually murdered them treeplanting in northern BC in the summer of 1986. By this time they were only fit to be eaten by goats.

It was nice to be able to have procured a pair of RRs in my size ( about mens size 5 ) . Half the length was their width & that fit my paws PERFECTLY.

Royal ? If yer lurkin? THANKYOU !!!

AND what a GREAT THREAD!!!!!

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 10:10pm PT
Another Mountain Paraphernalia ad or two for the timeline.
Wonder lights.  Other than Galibier, the oldest Robbins Ad I could fin...
Wonder lights. Other than Galibier, the oldest Robbins Ad I could find in Mountain Magazine Nov. 1972
Credit: Fritz

And an article from Off Belay Oct 1972, on Peck Pitons: which Robbins was importing. (Who owns a Peck Piton or remembers anything about them?)
Credit: Fritz

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 27, 2009 - 10:22pm PT
I never thought to take a photo of the Robbins Mountain Shop in Modesto because it seemed the picture of permanence. I recall mustering up my courage and sticking my head into the back office to ask Royal if any bashies were needed on the NA Wall. He gave me a slightly irritated look before politely declining to answer by saying that it had been quite a while since he had been up there. Funny to see the situation more clearly after so any decades.

Lance- Do you remember the Batso slideshow that included some Porcelain Wall slides that he gave in Tucson?
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Nov 27, 2009 - 10:33pm PT
Beautiful thread Fritz.
Great stories and pics.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 27, 2009 - 10:45pm PT
Fritz, RR was very careful with his slide collection. They were stored in one of the spare bedrooms on Durant, along with the climbing gear, just up the hall from the dining room. Where the pullup bar was installed in the doorway. It was well organized and pretty damned impressive. I think it is clear that one of RR’s greatest strengths was his ability to prepare and organize and to mobilize the men and materials necessary. And when he would encounter personal inadequacy he would set out to bring that area up to par as well. Just a really hardworking coping person and motivated. When he would “relax” it was by “checking out”, sort of, and going on autopilot for brief minutes or by even more play but in a different endeavor, like tennis and travel. His writing was also a complementary process. If he was in the heat of a writing spell he would stay up all night picking words and trying sentences, all very slowly and with long moments of thought. Writing was hard for him. I would wake up the next morning on the beanbag in the living room and find that he had not left the dining table the whole night. He was sitting there papers at hand, ready for another day of it, coffee at hand.

Yeah I do remember Peck pitons. I think I have some still! They had their uses but weren’t quite as tough and all pitons were rapidly going out of use anyway.

I think I went through only two pair of RR’s although back in the early seventies RR’s were not bad at all for offwidth and wall climbing. And when they were not totally worn out they could edge like crazy especially if you came out of the sixties and were used to most all climbing shoes being board-lasted, stiff, and with major heel counters and actual tread. I think the rubber was slightly stickier than PA’s, my chosen freeclimbing shoe. The huge-ass toe-box on RR boots was unbelievably inapropriate for the thin crack climbing that was coming up however. And it is true that the results from Galibier were not totally what RR had hoped for. Even back then RR and eventually many of us had feet that were just getting really blown out by climbing with increasingly worse results so some comfort was becoming attractive and most climbing also involved lots of approach/retreat work where super-tight climbing slippers and shoes were almost unthinkable to wear. Carrying a second pair of shoes was not something we saw until the mid-seventies.

Yeah, Anders. The initial thrust of RR’s and Liz’s business was modestly-scaled wholesale distribution but climbers actually could stop by Valley Paint and get a fit or pick stuff up, too. It was a friendly, transitional situation. It did not happen a great deal in comparison to the wholesale receive-and-send-it-out business that was the real activity. RR’s relationship with his parents-in-law was a great one. Mr Burkner was a gas and pretty impressive too. Strong person.

They did not want to be too fastened down in the earlier years but pretty quickly they took the fantastic old water department building (where Damon’s cafe is now on 10th st) and began an actual retail venue. Then there was a store in Fresno they opened. Russ McLean worked there for a while even. Meanwhile Rockcraft was going on and the many trips and the slide shows. A lot.

The “rag business” was really attractive to them and they were watching how well Doug Tompkins and Susie Tompkins had done with Esprit de Corps and the North Face. Plus Dougie was constantly on both of them and Chouinard to do clothing--- the margins were fantastic and you could have stuff made abroad, depending. And it was a lot of fun, especially for Liz. They got into design and manufacture. Royal was in to it too, of course.
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 27, 2009 - 11:19pm PT
Keep going Peter, don't stop.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 27, 2009 - 11:49pm PT
Peter: I really believe we are working on a chapter in the history of climbing. Thank you so much for your posts.

Some more Robbins ads from the early 1970's.

Galibier/Robbins Ad from Off Belay, Feb 1973
Galibier/Robbins Ad from Off Belay, Feb 1973
Credit: Fritz

From Mountain, March 1974
From Mountain, March 1974
Credit: Fritz

Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 27, 2009 - 11:51pm PT
That goes for you too Fritz- I could read this stuff forever.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 27, 2009 - 11:55pm PT
Was "Mountain Letters" the publishing arm of Mountain Paraphernalia? It published the first (1976) Meyers guide to the valley.

What about La Siesta Press, which published Basic Rockcraft and Advanced Rockcraft?
Dick Erb

climber
June Lake, CA
Nov 28, 2009 - 12:14pm PT
One time at the beginning of a week long Rockcraft session, one of the students in his bright blue new Robbins boots asked Royal what he thought when he saw all those people wearing his boots. Royal replied that he thought that they could probably find better shoes. He had by then enthusiastically switched to EBs, although he wore his tennis shoes whenever he could while guiding like the rest of us.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 28, 2009 - 12:24pm PT
Some more Mountain Paraphernalia ads.
From Mountain Magazine March 1975
From Mountain Magazine March 1975
Credit: Fritz

Karrimor has an ad in almost every issue of British Climbing magazine "Mountain" during the 1970's. However Mountain Paraphernalia doesn't show up as U.S. distributor in those ads. Below is the only one I found in Off Belay.

I can't recall what Robbins did import from Karrimor. Peter, any memory of what? Canvas rucksacks seem unlikely?

From Off Belay Dec. 1974
From Off Belay Dec. 1974
Credit: Fritz
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 28, 2009 - 12:54pm PT
Hey Dick, did Royal's shoes get thicker and stiffer from the first introduciton to later ones? I have a recollection of this but I cannot put anything specific to it.

Nice recollections, Peter. My first sustained contact with Royal and Liz wasn't until a bit later, probably 1973.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 28, 2009 - 01:19pm PT
If you were into back-country rock-climbing, Robbins shoes were great. We used to smear 'em with Sno-seal, cover 'em with a pair of gaiters, and use them in the Bugaboos for rock climbs with glacier approaches. Here's a shot of the North Face of Bugaboo Spire, Matt Hale and I out in front, Pete Ramins leading in his blue RR shoes, (we were all wearing them) photo by Joe Kelsey:



Here's a Robbins boot belaying at the top of the Black Face on the Lower Exum Ridge



Here's Barbara Thatcher in hers on a variation of the East Ridge of Wolf's Head in the Wind Rivers:



I also recall a marathon ascent of the South Buttress of Moran in Robbins shoes from the parking lot to the summit, (and none of that sissy canoing across Leigh Lake either).

We used them on the crags too. Here they are in action soloing High Exposure in the days before chalk bags



here's our beloved Kevin Bein making an early ascent of Matinee in them



here they are climbing in Tuolumne (Hobbit Book?)



and finally here's Matt Hale in is Robbins shoes at the top of the Arrowhead Arete.



Modern climbing shoes climb better, of course, but you can't walk a hundred yards in them and even if you could, they're a disaster on loose dirt, scree, and snow. I haven't worn every brand of approach shoe, but my sense is that RR's climbed better, in spite of the fact that their rubber was probably half as sticky.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 28, 2009 - 04:53pm PT
Rgold: Thank you for all the great shots of RR's in use on great routes. I started in outdoor retail in Moscow, Idaho in 1973 and never sold RR's very well. By 1974 EB's were what everyone wanted.

But if you loved your RR's you kept using them. I remember climbing some with Mike Yokel in the late 70's. He had moved from Colorado to teach at WSU and still climbed in his beloved RR's.

What I find interesting is: that Robbins was still advertising RR's in mid-1975. Two issues of Off Belay, June & Aug. have full page ads for RR's.
Credit: Fritz

Galibier Ad in "Mountain", May 1972,
Galibier Ad in "Mountain", May 1972,
Credit: Fritz


My outdoor shop sold a lot of hiking boots to students at U of I and WSU and darn few mountaineering boots.

From Galibier we mostly sold the Vercors, although we stocked the Super Guide (or Peuterey when we couldn't get Super-Guides). Other brands we stocked were Lowa, Vasque, Pivetta, Fabiano, and later on Asolo. We all thought Galibier was the best quality boot, but they didn't fit everyone. Worse yet: they didn't look like a "hiking boot" to the average student. The Vasque Hiker was the best selling style to those that wanted the look, and at the time: the worst in fit and quality.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 28, 2009 - 06:48pm PT
Nice shots, Rich! The RR Yosemites were definitely the most versatile single boot for alpine rock and aid climbing.

I owned a pair of full steel shank Saussois that I bought from Marty Woerner (Sadhana)and they were the cadillac of pure aid boots but horrid for free climbing! I destroyed mine t-stacking while soloing the Turning Point and foolishly gave up on restructuring them.

What ever became of Galibier?
T2

climber
Cardiff by the sea
Nov 28, 2009 - 07:04pm PT
I appologize for the thread drift, but with the mention of Turning point Steve, any idea how many times that route has been done? Has there been a 2nd (Gerbeding perhaps?) Is there a topo out there?

On Topic this is a cool thread. The first pair of shoes I bought were RR's but they were a free climbing shoe. they had a orange canvas upper with a round leather patch over the ankle. Wish I still had them. I do have an old pair of Vasque free climbing boots though.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 28, 2009 - 07:30pm PT
Unrepeated...
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 28, 2009 - 09:43pm PT
Steve: What ever became of Galibier? I am having to invent an answer from my own memories----but I think the answer has four parts.

1. Robbins went entirely to clothing in the early 1980's and dropped distributor status for Galibier.
2. Campus fashion was changing and hiking boot sales tanked. My (by then) two stores had sold a bunch of Galibier Vercors, as I suspect many of Royal's other dealers did. Those sales slowed way down with the different campus footwear fashions in the 1980's.
3. The early 1980's recession hurt outdoor retailers, just like everyone else.
4. Italian boot brand Asolo had a high-quality product, an aggressive U.S. sales force, (that was often Chouinard-Patagonia reps)and was grabbing market share.

I don't remember another company picking up the Galibier distributorship.

Anders: Your La Siesta Press/Robbins connection question. I really don't know, but I did find out that La Siesta was a one-boss proprietorship in the Mountain Paraphernalia Era. They specialized in hiking guidebooks. I'm sure they enjoyed their relationship with Royal: printing up all those copies of Basic & Advanced Rockcraft.

However, I could not find any info on Mountain Letters. The name stirs some of my remaining "high altitude destroyed memories"-----but nothing surfaces. I think------maybe-----possibly----Royal may have had a different name for his book distribution business-----and that may be it???

Some more old ads!

Super Guide ad in Off Belay, April 1975
Super Guide ad in Off Belay, April 1975
Credit: Fritz

Edelrid Rope ad in Off Belay, Oct 1976
Edelrid Rope ad in Off Belay, Oct 1976
Credit: Fritz

aguacaliente

climber
Nov 28, 2009 - 10:01pm PT
La Siesta Press also published a book called "Ropes, Knots and Slings for Climbers" by Walt Wheelock, who appears to have been the proprietor according to http://mulibraries.missouri.edu/specialcollections/privatepresss.htm
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 28, 2009 - 10:15pm PT
I have a copy of that book, my uncle gave it to me when I first started climbing, he bought it out of a box of books in a used bookstore in Berkeley. First time I've ever heard it mentioned!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 28, 2009 - 10:18pm PT
I have a copy, too - my father gave it to me. He probably bought it in the early 1960s. Plus a copy of "Belaying the Leader", another great classic - published by the Sierra Club.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 28, 2009 - 11:50pm PT
Early in my climbing career---with no local mentors: my friends and I would try to memorize knots from---Ropes, Knots and Slings for Climbers.

It worked best on a cold winter day (inside a cozy log cabin in the mountains). We would smoke some weed to simulate "high altitude & full conditions" and would practice knots.

Worked like a charm. No doubt still the way to memorize one of the most popular knots: "The sheep crawls over the log, then darts under the log, then returns to the fold"------bingo! When we forgot the harness on climbs: we could still tie into the rope!

Levity aside---some more Robbins ads.

Biwell for our boots. Off Belay Feb. 1978
Biwell for our boots. Off Belay Feb. 1978
Credit: Fritz

Ad from Mountain Magazine Jan 1979 for "Games Climbers Play."  Only ad...
Ad from Mountain Magazine Jan 1979 for "Games Climbers Play." Only ad I found for a book in Mountain that showed Mountain Paraphernalia as the U.S. distributor.
Credit: Fritz

Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 28, 2009 - 11:53pm PT
That's a very psychedelic Sheridan drawing.
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 28, 2009 - 11:56pm PT
8 hours left on a pair of RR's on ebay!

http://cgi.ebay.com/OLD-GALIBIER-Royal-Robbins-ROCK-CLIMBING-boots-shoes_W0QQitemZ320452214711QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Men_s_Athletic_Footwear?hash=item4a9c70bfb7#ht_876wt_1167

ONLY 8 DOLLARS!
duncan

climber
London, UK
Nov 29, 2009 - 04:13am PT
Great thread. The idea of importing Peck pitons to the USA ... just wrong! Even we Brits. knew they were rubbish.

Steve asked "What ever became of Galibier". In Europe, the market for their main product, Superguides, almost disappeared overnight with the appearance of the white Koflach plastic boots. Leather hiking boots continued to be popular but I’m guessing this was a small part of their sales (certainly was in the UK) and a far more competitive field.

The Richard Pontvert company continues. The French versions of Supertopo-ists can still buy Galibier leather boots, looking much like they did in ’77, but now they mostly make shoes under the Paraboot brand. Quite favoured by French preppies.



Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 29, 2009 - 11:15am PT
Duncan: Thank you for your post. I had not thought of the "sea change" of plastic boots hitting the mountaineering market. Another sales avenue for Galibier had been Telemark boots. They had two models which sold well in the Rockies in the mid-70's. Asolo took most of that market in short order, with boots that fit better and skied better.

Re. Pate's note about the E-Bay auction for a pair of RR's. They sold for $8.00. I guess those that plan on selling their old climbing shoes to finance retirement ----may have to work longer-----a lot longer.

Royal brought in a lot of climbing gear, but to my knowledge: the only gear with his name on it was Galibier rock shoes, and Salewa Carabiners.

The Robbins Ultralight Carabiner was introduced with a Jan 1978 Ad in Mountain.

Robbins Carabiner Ad, Mountain, Jan 1978.
Robbins Carabiner Ad, Mountain, Jan 1978.
Credit: Fritz
Modesto Mutant

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Nov 29, 2009 - 01:51pm PT
I worked at Mountain Paraphernalia from around 1976-1978 as a grunt and had the time of my life. I don't remember taking home very much from my paychecks as I would tradeout for gear most of the times. Mountain Paraphernalia was in the back of Robbins Mountain Shop which was an oasis for those of us stuck in Modesto. The staff was a wonderful mix of fun loving people. Chuck Shultz, Charlie Nemec, Don Near, Ida, Keith Roush just to name a few. A highlight of any given month would be when Royal would host a slide show. John Cleare, Galen Rowell, Doug Scott and many others would come in and show their slides to an enthusiastic crowd. After the shows we would go across the street to the Stein Club for cheap beer and shuffleboard. The gear was freely flowing by then. Salewa 'biners and ice axes, Edelrid ropes, Galibier boots, the orange RR shoes, Karrimats. I would lose myself in the book room reading Terray, Rebuffet and the old classics as well as guide books from the Sierra Press. Of course Royal and Liz would host us for a big holiday dinner each year and during the summer we would all go river rafting and kayaking. It was such a wonderful time.

Kevin Givens
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 29, 2009 - 03:24pm PT
Kevin: Thank you for the "insider information." I forgot that Keith Roush came out of Mountain Paraphernalia. He worked as an outdoor rep in the Rockies for many years and also owns Pine Needle Mountaineering in Durango.

One unanswered question from this link is: did Royal have a separate name for the wholesale book division? Anders brings up the name "Mountain Letters" ----- which rings, jogs, but does not awake my memory.

Please post up any other trivia you have. All your stuff on Robbins and Mountain Paraphernalia is of interest.

More old Mountain Paraphernalia Ads. They were running multiple ads in every issue of Off Belay in 1978. Usually a large Edelrid and a large Galbier Ad, then small ones for other items. Previously it was at most one ad per issue.
Another question---what prompted the ad blitz?

Bankl Ad from Off Belay August 1978.  This item was made by Edelrid.
Bankl Ad from Off Belay August 1978. This item was made by Edelrid.
Credit: Fritz

Hope Cookware, Off Belay August 1978
Hope Cookware, Off Belay August 1978
Credit: Fritz

Edelrid full page ad, Off Belay Feb 1978
Edelrid full page ad, Off Belay Feb 1978
Credit: Fritz

Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Nov 29, 2009 - 04:58pm PT
Chiming in again with RR love :-) I wish I still had those boots. They were SOOOO comfortable. And I know I wore'em in the Bug's for routes.......but I don't really remember well.

My little paws were too wide to fit SuperGuides so my boyfriend bought me a pair of Super Sherpa boots. I think they were size 4 1/2 mens. They fit fabulously tho' I did blow them off within five years when I scored a pair of the white Koflachs. As mentioned upthread, the old big leathers vanished when those superlight and non-foot-munching plastics came in.

I was an idiot with my first pair of plastics and did a summer tree plant in them. Got TRENCHFOOT. It was HORRIBLE.
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Nov 29, 2009 - 05:21pm PT
^^^
I'll chime in on that chime in...

First pair of climbing shoes?
Blue suede RR Yosemites.
Sure wish I still had 'em...

Went through two pairs of Galibier
Superguides - as I recall, the first (or
intermediate) challenge to the Galibier
was the wood shanked Habeler Superlight,
just before plastic boots took over.

For me, as a teen age dishwasher in Grant
Grove (Sequoia) Robbins shop in Fresno was
the best, great staff, it was a dream just going
in there.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 29, 2009 - 07:53pm PT
Thanks all for posting.

June 1979----the name change to Robbins Mountaingear: shows up in an ad in Off Belay.

Robbins Mountaingear Off Belay June, 1979
Robbins Mountaingear Off Belay June, 1979
Credit: Fritz
Modesto Mutant

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Nov 29, 2009 - 08:06pm PT
I don't recall if Royal had a name for the book distribution. But there was a ton of books, all of them for general retail distribution. I would be surprised if any other wholesaler had as many. Freedom of the Hills, classic Himalayan expeditions, Joe Brown, Bonnington, Rowell, Scott, Messner. It was also the main distribution of Mountain Magazines.

I see Royal posting on here now and then, we could just ask him, or Peter Haan would likely know.

The other great part of working at MP was shipping the goods to virtually every mountain shop in the country. There were these metal plates with the store names and addresses. Neptune, Elephant's Perch, REI Seattle, EMS, and obscure stores in places you would never expect like Normal, Illinois. On hot friday afternoon days when we were grinding away we would talk Royal into buying us beer just to keep us going. All great fun.
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 29, 2009 - 09:20pm PT
Fritz, do you have any idea where that picture is from on the name change ad?
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 29, 2009 - 09:42pm PT
Pate: Easy answer that covers a lot of turf. The Edelrid ad photo is of Mt. Blanc.

Note below full-page ad from Off Belay with Edelrid poster Offer.
From Off Belay, August 1980
From Off Belay, August 1980
Credit: Fritz
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2009 - 12:15pm PT
Robbins kept up a "torrid pace" of ads in Off Belay in 1979, but there were not many in 1980. This may be because Off Belay was nearing its end. Last issue for the magazine was Feb. 1981.

However, I didn't find any Robbins ads in Mountain after Jan. 1979. The brands he imported are still advertising there, but Robbins is not mentioned as U.S. importer. That however, was typical of ads in Mountain by: Edelrid, Salewa, and some other Euro companies.

I do not have many old issues of "Climbing" so I don't know if the amount of Robbins ads in that magazine kept pace with those in Off Belay.


Ultimate Helmets, Off Belay, August 1980
Ultimate Helmets, Off Belay, August 1980
Credit: Fritz
4damages

climber
Nov 30, 2009 - 12:25pm PT
Some great history.

I thought RR was a incorporated business as of 2008? I have not
checked lately.

Are there still records of the court case? If so are they available
with the causes of action or actions?
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Nov 30, 2009 - 01:06pm PT
I loved my RR's, you could edge on nothing and a toe-in jam crack, like Georges Tree at the Book on Lumpy, could be done easily while all of your EB brothers were crying in pain.....smearing....not so good.

Bouldering Taylor Canyon Gunnison
Bouldering Taylor Canyon Gunnison
Credit: ydpl8s
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2009 - 01:53pm PT
4damages: I did not mean to leave the impression that Royal Robbins went out of business in 1982. They stopped importing climbing gear and concentrated on their own clothing line thereafter. Royal & Liz have not been owners since (I think) 2003.

If you would be so kind as to reseach and post info on the lawsuit Pat Ament brings up---that would be great!

Ydpl8s: Glad you loved your RR's. Since you bring up the pain of EB's---here's a classic Neeley cartoon from Off Belay.

From Dec. 1980 Off Belay----the next to last issue.
From Dec. 1980 Off Belay----the next to last issue.
Credit: Fritz

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Nov 30, 2009 - 02:10pm PT
great stuff, hopefully Royal's book will speak to the climbing gear business that thrives today and currently keeps us in gear and stiches.

rick

Social climber
california
Nov 30, 2009 - 02:15pm PT
Cool thread. And a reminder to Sacramento area folks, Royal Robbins is scheduled to be giving a talk December 1st at ARC Raef Hall 160 12:15-1:15pm.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Nov 30, 2009 - 02:28pm PT
i bought a pair of galbier superguide RD with some relic strap on crampons for 50 bucks years ago. i found them on the "used gear" board at REI.

i still wear them when i don't feel like limping around in my plastics.

i recognize them in a picture up thread.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Nov 30, 2009 - 03:02pm PT
No wonder they named it Mount Blank. It's so smooth.

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2009 - 09:12pm PT
Speaking of Posters-----my memory is trying to convince me there was a "Mountain Paraphernalia" poster. It was an cartoon style illustration, not a photo?

Any help out there?

Re: Robbins/Salewa carabiners: another question from me?

The only ad I found: was for the hollow tubing carabiner, which is stamped R. Robbins 3100 lbs and weighs 44 grams(the ad says 42 grams--must have picked up some extra oxygen weight over the years).

Those I sold in my store and mostly own: are a solid carabiner, that is heavier at 53 grams and is stamped R. Robbins 3000 lbs.

On both, the other side is stamped "Salewa W. Germany."

Which came first? I suspect the hollow one? Was there a problem with it?

hollow Robbins/Salewa carabiner on bottom, solid one on top
hollow Robbins/Salewa carabiner on bottom, solid one on top
Credit: Fritz

Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Nov 30, 2009 - 10:29pm PT
Some remote part of my brain recalls the hollow ones being Death Biners. Was this 'cos they became weak if used in 'biner breaks? If I recall correctly it was this - when a biner is used in a break and the rope is gritty, the biner gets worn..........and this wear with those hollow 'biners made them subject to catastrophic failure.

Or should I sit in the car ?
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 30, 2009 - 10:34pm PT
Just a note to you all. Tamara Robbins, RR and Liz's first child now in her thirties, has been doing the RR archives for some time, so a bunch of this is actually being preserved. It is a disappointment of course that she does not chime in here. Perhaps she will. It is great stuff.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
Thanks Peter: I should probably do "the disclaimer." The only reason I did all the research was genuine curiosity, along with a sense that "Mountain Paraphernalia" deserved a place in climbing history.

I think that more information on "Mountain Paraphernalia" (other than that presented in "Spirit of the Age") needs to be preserved. I have not read the first of Royal's autobiography series. From the summary I looked at: it was all climbing.

Best wishes to Royal and Liz!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 1, 2009 - 01:06pm PT
The only Laprade ad I found. I can't find any information about this manufacturer. There apparently are a few of their ice axes out there, but I don't think the company is still around?

LaPrade ad from Off Belay June 1980
LaPrade ad from Off Belay June 1980
Credit: Fritz
4damages

climber
Dec 1, 2009 - 07:57pm PT
Thank you Fritz,
I have court deadlines this week for 12-8-09 for 1-25-10.

Depending it could be 1-2 hrs. and I have to travel to the resources.
I do have a rate based upon CA. Labor Code 515.5. I should only
need the case name if the case was published. Let me know if the
rate is excepted and not to exceed 2hrs.

I should only need the case name if the case was published. If not
published research would then probably exceed 2hrs.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 1, 2009 - 08:08pm PT
4 Damages: Please cease your research on this proposed project.

Are you sending me a bill for the time it took you to skim through the thread, or just for the time it took you to compose two emails?
4damages

climber
Dec 1, 2009 - 09:27pm PT
A hand written retainer would be required prior to research if I don't know
you personally. If your a corporation I may not be able to research as it
could cause a cease and decease order in this state. Of course no billing at
this time.
Tamara Robbins

climber
not a climber, just related...
Dec 2, 2009 - 03:59pm PT
Hi all... haven't checked in here in awhile. And only caught the last bit of this thread, though will diligently read it all this eve. Yes, I have access to TONS of historical material - part of which is old ad slicks of Galibier, etc. Fun stuff. Perhaps send me a personal message with any requests? Meantime, I'll look through what I have in Moab (most is in Modesto) and see what I can come up with.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2009 - 09:51pm PT
Tamara: Thanks for joining in. I have emailed you.

I appreciate you have much material to work with.

The easy questions (for you) from this thread are:

1. Was there a separate entity at Mountain Parphernalia for the book distribution business? Anders has suggested “Mountain Letters” and my memories agree there was a separate name for books.

2. Was there a "Mountain Paraphernalia" poster. I remember a cartoon style illustration, not a photo?

Thank you for joining in to save this history. Fritz
4damages

climber
Dec 2, 2009 - 10:13pm PT
Fritz,
I to would like to see the history and business keep going. Appears
RR is still listed as incorporated, though I have not checked the SoS
status here. http://www.royalrobbins.com/

A LLC entity I believe can also succeed in this state without a cease and
decease order, though I believe they had a monthly rate to keep the entity status.

Do you remember a carbiner failure due to vibration occurring from air voyager
stitches down to the last one? However I still do trust some metallurgy and
rope fiber physics from Europe more so than I do from here and Mexico.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2009 - 10:28pm PT
4damages: Let us cease your attempted extraction of legal & litigation information on this thread: much like Sheridan Anderson would have us cease the extraction of other, but similar, icky substances.

OK?
Credit: Fritz
4damages

climber
Dec 2, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
That's not what I am doing. The failure mentioned was made public years
ago, also I realize that non administrative math may not fit into this
states preclusion for administrative technology being defined as a
privileged exemption and trade secret.

I was just curious if this failure was part of her history books/ mags
etc. as I wanted to read the story again.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2009 - 11:40pm PT
Moving on from the “extraction of mucous”


As I mentioned: I have very few old issues of Climbing from the early 1980’s, having cast my climbing magazine dice with Mountain and Off Belay----and of course my yearly fix of “Ascent-The Sierra Club Journal of Mountaineering.”

The newest (least old?) ad I have found for climbing gear from Robbins: is from “Climbing” in September 1981.

Anyone have an old Clan Robertson harness?

Credit: Fritz

Modesto Mutant

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Dec 3, 2009 - 12:08pm PT
For what it's worth my Modesto buddies told me Royal sold the brand name (Royal Robbins) to another Motown guy who owns a chain of restaurants called "Mallards". I don't know if it's true or not.
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Dec 7, 2009 - 05:11pm PT
Hi, everyone. Tamara alerted me that something was afoot on SuperTopo. I think a history of the business is wonderful. I love seeing those old ads. I don't remember that we were ever sued for an equipment failure. That happened (I believe) to Yvon Chouinard and he (I understand) started Patagonia as a result. As far as I can remember, we started the clothing business because we were piggy-backing on the great success of Esprit and Doug and Susie Tompkins, who helped us get started. "Mountain Letters" was what we called our publishing and distributing business. I think we expected checks to be made out to "Mountain Paraphernalia", or, later, to just "Robbins". We changed the name to "Robbins Mountain Paraphernalia" and later to "Robbins Mountain Gear" to make it easier for our customers to make payments to "Robbins". Also, there was the name recognition factor. We thought "Robbins" carried more cache (sp?)than "Mountain Paraphernalia".
Thanks to all of you for making the past come alive. I am not going to mention specific names for fear of leaving someone out, but you guys and gals are in my heart, so thanks again.
I will contribute more as I see the need to respond (that is, I will go through the thread again and comment when I think I have something useful to say.

Best,
Royal Robbins

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2009 - 08:09pm PT
Royal: Thank you so much for joining in. One missing item in this thread is a Mountain Paraphernalia catalog. I brought that request up to SuperTopo readers early on in the thread and nothing surfaced.

If you have any in your archives, we would all love to see a page by page scan.

Also, I have persistant memories of a Mountain Paraphernalia poster that was an illustration, rather than a photo. Am I imagining that one existed?

Best wishes! Fritz (ex-proprietor Northwestern Mountain Sports-Moscow, Idaho)
rollingstone

Trad climber
Seattle
Dec 7, 2009 - 09:10pm PT
Fritz, I can't believe you do not have all of your old issues of Off Belay!!! I thought those were priceless, ha, ha. I still have all of mine, from #1 through the last issue, somewhere in the basement. I have not had the heart yet to divest myself of all the magazines, etc. I bought from you in the 70s. I probably still have the blue RRs I bought from Kimes there too.

I remember calling Royal at the store in Modesto one afternoon from Pullman, inquiring how much he would charge to come to Pullman to give a slide show. It must have been just before you or Bruce brought him to Moscow, maybe it was spring '72 or that fall. I knew enough to know that Royal was big-time! I was really intimated that he actually answered the phone himself, and managed to mumble some question about how much it would cost us to show slides to the Alpine Club @ WSU. I think he said it was $200.00 plus his expenses. Of course, I had none of this worked out in advance, and $200.00 in the early 70's was almost one semester's tuition, or 6 and a half months rent in the place I was living in (it actually was a trailer, down by the river...). Anyway, I mumbled some lame thanks, and said I would be in touch, but of course never called back because I could not see how we could ever afford to bring RR to town...Oh, the foolishness of youth!

Mick
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2009 - 10:18pm PT
Mick: Regarding having Royal Robbins "go to the sticks" to do a slide show in Pullman, WA.------you were truly "ahead of the curve."

I think Royal did the Moscow slide show fall 73 or maybe that winter, since Bruce Franks departed spring 74 to be the first ever Camp 7 representative.

I don't think we ever charged for one of those slide shows---it just didn't seem right.

Re: who is the "completest" Off Belay collector----I rose to the challenge and put my magazines back in chronological order. I have the first issue, but not the last--- and I am missing 3 between 1972 and 1981.

You win!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2009 - 08:18pm PT
I find that Royal Robbins was listed as the U.S. distributor for the 1983 anthology of climbing stories: "Mirrors in The Cliffs."

This book was published, just when Royal and Liz were going entirely to selling clothing.

Maybe Royal agreed to distribute it: since he also wrote the Foreword. and has two stories in the book.

The Royal stories are: An Excursion in Scotland & Jack of Diamonds.

Yes! The book is a great read, and the many Sheridan Anderson cartoons are icing on the confectionaries.
Credit: Fritz

Credit: Fritz
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Dec 8, 2009 - 09:29pm PT
Fun thread Fritz!

Ditto on Peter's comment on the wonderful and lively hospitality of Royal and Liz at their Modesto Home. In the fall of 71 I lived with them on Durant st and help set up the first Mountain Paraphernalia store. Along with Jack Miller they had been tearing down old barns in the Sierra foothills and salvaging the wood to "decorate"their new store.

My carpentry skills back then were on a par with my kayaking proficiency, ie. zilch. I remember making three attempts to repair a large window pane in an old corroded steel casement.The glass was not as forgiving as Royal. I had better luck with the old barnwood and we had a great time putting the place together.

Meanwhile Liz was able to maintain an active role in the project even near the end of her pregnancy. Royal was off on a buying trip in Europe while Tamara was born and I was the defacto male of the house. I remember one funny phone conversation that Liz had with Royal. Apparently he had fallen asleep on the train and way overshot his destination in Germany.

Royal had this theory that a wastebasket would hold way more paper if it was not crumpled so that was the rule of the day. Oh, but it is so much more fun to crumple and toss. Try breaking that habit.

They had a kitten named Beau Jangles and we had great fun sliding Beau across the kitchen floor at rapidly increasing speeds. Royal's discovery not mine! Have you ever peeled a banana and laid the skin across the back of a cat. They try to slink away by sliding out from underneath. Try it.

You know how you often relate a song to a time or a place. "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart for some reason always reminds me of the fall of 71 living in Modesto.

It was a fun era. I had just finished grad school and did not want a regular job so it all worked out for the short duration. After Modesto I headed back to Santa Cruz and ended up settling in for a long spell.




Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2009 - 11:18pm PT
Guido: Thank you for posting up on this thread. Any other memories will be appreciated.

I do need to tell you: the nurses at "the old climbers home" are following this thread closely and look forward to meeting all those who "post up" memories of Royal Robbins.

Credit: Fritz
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Dec 9, 2009 - 12:03am PT
"Oh Dr, please help me I'm a hurtin......................"
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2009 - 06:11pm PT
Received my E-Bay special $8.00 RR's today and of course had to test them------at the current 12 degrees F.

These shoes are stiff. No flex in the sole, and just a little bit of rocker to help you walk. The toes are narrow, so my duck feet felt a little compressed up front. I think I could walk a fair ways in them though.

Credit: Fritz

Credit: Fritz
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 9, 2009 - 06:14pm PT
Tarbuster may envy you both your footwear and your headwear!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2009 - 10:18pm PT
Great Photo from "ROYAL ROBBINS, SPIRIT OF THE AGE." by Pat Ament
Credit: Fritz
Warren Harding & Royal Robbins at a late 1980's or early 1990's Outdoor Retailer Show in Reno.

ROYAL ROBBINS exhibited at all the twice yearly Outdoor Retailer shows---now in Salt Lake City. Royal still shows up at most of the shows and enjoys seeing old friends.

It is a "small world" in the outdoor business.
Pate

Trad climber
Dec 10, 2009 - 04:35pm PT
Bat Shirt sighting bump.



On The Bat.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Jan 26, 2010 - 03:08pm PT
Hey Fritz
good to see you again last week and thanks for starting this thread. I'll contribute what I can remember from the 70's and 80's with Royal and Liz. I don't have them digitized yet, but I have all of the catalogs from 75-84 I think. I laid out most of those and participated in the writing and photography along with Lito and Royal.
We had lots of fun in those days with the climbing schools in California and Telluride, developing the Tele boots with Galibier and adding the apparel products to our importing of Galibier, Edelrid, Salewa, Ultimate, LaPrade, Lakeland Knitwear, Clarkes' Craghoppers, Hope Cookware, Evernew, Clog, etc.
There was a little climbing in Red Rocks, a lot in Colorado and some in Yosemite in those days. Chris Vandiver, John Long and Lynn Hill were part of our climbing school crew and we developed our business with reps around the country and distributors in Canada and Japan.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2010 - 03:42pm PT
Keeter: Welcome! I am so glad we bumped into each other at the Outdoor Retailer Show.

Since I last posted on this thread: I have read the first installment in Royal's autobiography: "To Be Brave".

The book reads well, and I liked it a lot. In Royal's introduction, he mentions he plans on 7 books in the series titled "My Life." The last will deal with his years in business.

So-----post up Pilgrims! It appears we will be waiting at least 6 more years for Royal's own tales of the history of "Mountain Paraphernalia & Robbins Mountaingear."

Royal & Liz??? by Sheridan Anderson
Royal & Liz??? by Sheridan Anderson
Credit: Sheridan Anderson

klk

Trad climber
cali
Jan 26, 2010 - 03:45pm PT
This is a great thread.

The history of the outdoor industry is really under-studied. With the exception of Harvey Manning's house history of REI, we don't have good work on any of the important moments for North America-- although we do now have memoirs from some of the folks involved.

Business history tends to be really difficult, since businesses that go away don't pass on their archives, and businesses that do, frequently won't allow outside researchers in. One of my students did a dissertation on the rise of the sportswear industry in California, but it isn't out yet, and what we think of as "outdoor industry" wasn't really a part of it.

Great to hear that their is a Robbins archive still functional in the family. In a perfect world, it'd be amazing to have archives from all the big players collected in a single, well-run public archive.

jogill

climber
Colorado
Jan 26, 2010 - 04:03pm PT

I think I went through only two pair of RR’s although back in the early seventies RR’s were not bad at all for offwidth and wall climbing. And when they were not totally worn out they could edge like crazy especially if you came out of the sixties and were used to most all climbing shoes being board-lasted, stiff, and with major heel counters and actual tread. I think the rubber was slightly stickier than PA’s, my chosen freeclimbing shoe. The huge-ass toe-box on RR boots was unbelievably inapropriate for the thin crack climbing that was coming up however



Just a minor comment: The version of the blue and white PA I bought in about 1959 was, I think, superior to the version appearing on the market in the 1970s. It was lighter, had a thinner flat sole, and a better profile, and did not have the boxy toe alluded to here. It was really an excellent shoe and would have rivaled modern footwear had sticky rubber been available then.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Jan 26, 2010 - 04:50pm PT
There were continuing changes in the PA throughout its production. Early to mid-70's models were black with red leather trim. Mid to late 70's changed rubber compounds and were green with pale grey leather. This was during the time that the RR Varappe was introduced with different midsole and lasting from the PA. I still have a pair of "Super" RR Varappes in all leather construction.

One of the design points often overlooked in retrospect is that we felt climbers would still be standing in etriers in these shoes, so the midsoles still were hollowed out for small shanks to this end. As aid climbing separated further from free climbing, this was less necessary and later shoes such as EB and Boreal acheived a more sensitive feel by eliminating this shank feature.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jan 26, 2010 - 07:27pm PT
The RR Verappe was my favorite shoe prior to the appearance of Mariachers. Even tho' they didn't have "sticky rubber" they were great friction shoes on the Apron. Have great memories of Grack Marginal, Point Beyond, and many other now-classic routes in them.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2010 - 11:04pm PT
Thank you for "posting up" your thoughts, or memories!

Another Sheridan Anderson cartoon dedicated to Royal.
Another Sheridan Anderson cartoon dedicated to Royal.
Credit: Fritz
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Jan 27, 2010 - 11:44pm PT
In addition to illustrations for the climbing mags and his "Curtis Creek Manifesto", Sheridan Anderson painted custom billboards in Vegas. I remember having dinner with Royal, Sheridan and Sheridan's mother in Vegas. Royal asked why she liked it there, and she replied that nothing closed in Vegas. If she wanted to go to the grocery store at 3 am, they were all open. The world has changed.
Sheridan made one-off billboards around the convention center and the airport for trade shows. Since these would be up for one week and only one location, it wasn't worth printing them at the time. Companies would give him a sketch and a couple of days and he'd create it as he painted.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2010 - 12:11am PT
Stein Sitzmark at Kane Lake in Idaho's Pioneer Range with his RR's in 1980.

12 mile round trip. He danced in them back in the early 70's!

The "hippie chicks" fell for dudes in "Blue Suede Shoes."
Credit: Gordon Williams
Pate

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 11:25am PT
bump
Pate

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 11:23pm PT
commercialism bump
sowr

Trad climber
CA
May 22, 2010 - 05:16pm PT
What's with the brochure shots? Don't you guys own a pair of Super Guides?
Galibier Super Guides
Galibier Super Guides
Credit: sowr
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
SoCal
May 23, 2010 - 09:14pm PT
Chris - I'll see your Galibier boots and raise you some nuts I bought from Fritz in 1973. ;-)
Late 1970's Galibier Boots, Early 1970's gear purchased from Fritz.
Late 1970's Galibier Boots, Early 1970's gear purchased from Fritz.
Credit: Spider Savage
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 23, 2010 - 09:38pm PT
Great thread.

I blows my mind how many climbers have created successful clothing businesses.

This macho-sport and a bunch of guys who got really into sewing.

peace

karl
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
May 23, 2010 - 09:44pm PT
Looks like a "macho" clothing line to me.

http://www.511tactical.com/Shop
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - May 23, 2010 - 10:48pm PT
Spider: You've got "old nuts."

I suspect those boots are Galibier Vercors: which were the far more comfortable, hiking version of the Super Guides.

I am impressed that you have hung onto those boots all these years. Do they still fit, or have you "grown out" of them?

From 1980 to now: my feet have "grown" from U.S. size 8 1/2 to 9 1/2. This is apparently common with aging.
RDB

Social climber
way out there
May 24, 2010 - 12:00am PT
Credit: RDB
Credit: RDB
Credit: RDB
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
SoCal
May 24, 2010 - 01:35am PT
Fritz - I got those boots in '77. I never noticed until I shot them for this thread...they are in perfect condition. I could wear them hiking tomorrow. Very well made leather. Yes I still have about 10 nuts and a few biners from NW Mtn Sports, the early days.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 10:31am PT
Dane: Thanks for the Galibier (I think) double-boot photos.

I think?? the black ones are the Hivernale. The pair I bought in 1971 were lower and a little softer at the tops, than the slightly later Makalu, which came in brown.

From May 1972 Mountain Magazine ad.
From May 1972 Mountain Magazine ad.
Credit: Fritz




The Makalu photo ad shows two inner boots, but by 1974 they only came with one inner boot.
From Off Belay ad Feb. 1973
From Off Belay ad Feb. 1973
Credit: Fritz

Is the axe a variant of the LaParade,imported by Robbins?? I can't make out the brand.

And of course another imported by Robbins item: Salewa crampons.
Thanks Dane!
RDB

Social climber
way out there
May 24, 2010 - 07:39pm PT
You are welcome Fritz!
Yes the black ones are the old Hivernals just like the ones you are wearing in your picture on Cascade. Royal soloed Cavell in the Hivernal. The brown ones, which you sold me in '77, were the later Makalu.

I have a nice pair of Superguides as well. So sad I sold Fish my Haderers and Trappeurs for his rental fleet in the mid '80s.

When I was laid up in bed a couple of winters ago I spent too much time on ebay and replaced a lot of older stuff that I had used and then sold just for something to do. And it was fun.

The axe is one of Hammish McInnes first designs imported into the US by a S. Cal fellow who met McInnes on Rakaposhi. (post here on ST about the axe and Dick Irvin and pictures in the Chouinard thread of the axe and DR) Same axe/hammer that Don Jenson and our own Doug Robinson were so proud of bitd.

Royal Robbins was gracious enough to answer some questions for me last year about his 1st solo of Edith Cavell and mentioned the Salewas and Hivernals. He had said he used a LaParade but couldn't remember, the axe was metal though. Bit early for the LaParade by my calculations and it wouldn't be a far off guess that it might well have been an early McInnes like this one as it was the first metal axe and the time frames/availability are right.

Part of my gear wall..

Credit: RDB

Credit: RDB

From this thread...amazing just how small our community use to be.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=836643&msg=837109#msg837109

Thanks for the link and personal comments. Some good stuff there. We all could do worse with how we will be remembered.

"Pull out a map of the world and randomly stick a pin in a mountain range. Dick had probably climbed there. He was the mountaineering equivalent of Kilroy. No matter where you went, he had been there first."

"Although he was a member of the successful Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) expedition in 1958, he did not get the opportunity to climb high on the mountain because of the early success of the party. But Dick’s most remarkable expedition was the four-man attempt on Rakaposhi, 25,550 feet, in 1956. Dick, Bob Swift, Mike Banks, and Hamish McInnes tackled that giant with a budget of $5,000. It was an epic. Among other things, everyone fell more than 100 feet at one time or another. Somehow they reached 23,500 feet, a new high point, before having to turn back. Later, when Dick was asked how close they had come to the summit, he immediately replied, We were $5,000 short.”




RDB

Social climber
way out there
May 26, 2010 - 10:25pm PT
Saw this and figured it was a classic..

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - May 26, 2010 - 10:44pm PT
Dane: Is that the Fred Becky "active gear wall??"

I was in a great climbing-shop today. Elephant's Perch in Ketchum has added a little "climbing museum" behind the front counter with photos and old gear. Dick Dorworth gave them some old army pitons from the 1950's, which immediately caught my eye.

Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me. The army pins looked like "an evolutionary step" from the Euro pins to Salathe/Dolt/Chouinard pins.

Worse yet! Above the pins in the museum: were old "rigid-shaft" Friends. I still have some on my rack!

Old!-----I feel Old!
RDB

Social climber
way out there
May 27, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
No clue on what he uses these days Fritz. But can tell from the picture the Terro adze hasn't seen much use as the original tape and rubber grip is still intact. The Grivel pick behind maybe some more. I did see him a few months back with a gaggle of young women around him at a small presentation Colin did. Just hope I look that good at 87!

Picture was used in the NY Times article.
more here:
http://www.rodmarphoto.com/category/portraits/

Dude is still getting after it. "Old" is only our preception, right?



I dropped a box in the mail for you yesterday.
Look for another as the originals in hand are better than pictures:)


oldguy

climber
Bronx, NY
Jun 5, 2010 - 03:46pm PT
In 1969, Royal, Charlie Raymond, and I were on our way to Alaska in Royal's old VW bus, and we had to stop at every climbing store on the West Coast (there weren't very many) so Royal could pedal his wares. Later, I thought the RR's were great because I had a real problem with ingrown toenails, and EB's and the like were impossible. In the eighties, however, I hadn't been climbing much but spent a summer in Laramie, and conned Paul Pianna into taking me on some climbs at Veedavoo. The only shoes I had were my old RR's that I thought would be fine at my level of conditioning. As I was following Paul up a slab, however, the sole of one shoe peeled back to the heel. I finished the pitch but was somewhat embarrassed.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 5, 2010 - 07:03pm PT
Old Guy: I just re-read Royal's AAJ article about that 1969 trip to the Kichatna's. Quite the trip description: in the typical brief AAJ report style.

You dudes did some amazing climbing in the Kitchatnas. Three first ascents, where the previous two expeditions had managed to do only one first ascent between them.

Question for you? I have a memory of one of you sneaking a quote about the weather on the trip through the censor at a climbing publication.

The quote, as I remember it, was: "The clouds rolled in like smegma."

Does that bring out more memories?

Thanks for posting up the RR retail and shoe memories!

Ray Brooks
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 7, 2010 - 10:47pm PT
Bump for Worms...
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 7, 2010 - 11:45pm PT
Steve!!

Woohoo!

First thread of mine: that has ever been bumped from "ST oblivion”-------- by you!

I was just at Outdoor Retailer show, and apparently Royal did not attend the show for "Royal Robbins."

I am still begging for someone to scan and post any Mountain Paraphernalia catalogs?

If you have one and don’t have a scanner------I will be glad to scan and return.

Let me know!
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Aug 25, 2010 - 06:26pm PT
Ray, I have most of the early catalogs as I worked on their production from 76-83. I'll try to get around to scanning some images for you this Fall when things slow down. I think I still have some of my original photos for the ads as well, but those might be a little trickier to find. Boxes of photos that aren't digitized, awaiting some downtime which is always used up with useless climbing and skiing.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Oct 10, 2010 - 07:56pm PT
Fritz suggested I put these images up here as well as that carabiner thread on Bedayans. These are Peck pitons. Royal was importing Peck hardware back around 1970 and later I suppose. I worked for him off and on then and bought a bunch of hardware over time from him. These are Peck pitons, pretty rare I think. I have a few more. They weren't that great in Yosemite granite but I imagine for Isles cragging they might have been incredible.




Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 11, 2010 - 12:09pm PT
Peter: Thank you for posting those Peck Piton photos. I just looked at the 1972 OFF BELAY article I posted on the first page of this thread.

The Peck pitons were stainless steel. Yours seem to have weathered the years in pretty good shape.

Here's a enlargement of the old photo in the article, showing the six sizes Royal imported.

From Off Belay magazine Oct 1972.  The six sizes of Peck Piton importe...
From Off Belay magazine Oct 1972. The six sizes of Peck Piton imported by Mountain Paraphernalia.
Credit: Fritz
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 11, 2010 - 12:17pm PT
Nice Peck ad! I have a couple of the shorties somewhere...
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 16, 2010 - 09:49pm PT
Fritz, here's the first installment from my collection of MP and Robbins catalogs. This entry is all taken from the 1978 wholesale catalog. More later.
Opening boot section page from 1978 Robbins catalog
Opening boot section page from 1978 Robbins catalog
Credit: Keeter
Super Guide, Super Pro, Cervin page
Super Guide, Super Pro, Cervin page
Credit: Keeter
Vercors-Peuterey page
Vercors-Peuterey page
Credit: Keeter
Galibier ski boots
Galibier ski boots
Credit: Keeter
PA and RR Varappes from Galibier
PA and RR Varappes from Galibier
Credit: Keeter
Galibier boot misc.
Galibier boot misc.
Credit: Keeter
Makalu
Makalu
Credit: Keeter

Although the ski spoiler is shown on the Ski Montagne boot, it was no longer being imported by this date. You'll also note the absence of the RR Yosemite. It was discontinued a year or so previous. I'll try to find some of the original info on that one, it has a surprising story. Next up will be LaPrade and Alpelit axes and crampons.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 17, 2010 - 05:34pm PT
Great thread!

Robbins boots
Robbins boots
Credit: Brian in SLC
gf

climber
Oct 17, 2010 - 05:46pm PT
brian
classic shot of the rr varappe -those were coveted. Hey anyone got a bit more info on the contact -it was a semi-sticky transition shoe between eb's (those crap rounded toe versions that showed up around 81) and fires' -cool shot of the ankle height compact in catalogue above -likely the first commercial limestone style shoe to be offered in n america? I think at that stage the only folks really doing this were e europeans with the "galoskis". Sure wish JB was still around to comment on this.
gf
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 17, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
Keeter!

DUDE!!

Finally a Mountain Paraphernalia catalog!

I really appreciate you doing the "pain in the butt" scans and posting.



Thanks you, and thanks to everyone that posts up info!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 17, 2010 - 06:09pm PT
I was surprised to see Keeter's catalog with the Galibier "Spoilers".
I always knew them as "Rigid Rands".

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 17, 2010 - 08:52pm PT
Reilly: Cool spoilers! I had forgotten that Galibier made "factory spoilers" for their tele-boots.

As I mentioned up-thread: by the late 1970's, Asolo's newer leather tele-boots were taking market share from Galibier.

I'm guessing the Galibier factory-spoilers were an attempt to take some market back.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 17, 2010 - 11:16pm PT
The Contact shoes were our last attempt at a modern shoe from the makers of Galibier. They utilized a softer sole than the PA, RD or RR. It had a small heel (I can't remember why, unfortunately) and a grid pattern under the instep, just in front of the heel. This grid pattern was used on the Super Guides and Makalu of that season as well, replacing the well-known Jannu sole. The leather uppers of the Contacts were unlined. The toe shape was less than ideal for me, so I continued to use the RR Varappe for a couple of more seasons.

Regarding the Galibier ski boot spoiler, it was molded and buckles provided by Le Trappeur, oddly an early competitor to Galibier SG and Peuterey with their "Pro" boot. The Spoiler actually came out way before Asolo was making tele boots. I had the spoilers in Alaska on St. Elias in 1975 along with Ski Montagnes, Rossi Haute Routes and Marker FD-TRs.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 17, 2010 - 11:31pm PT
I got my 'Rigid Rands' in probably '74 or '75. I wore them over my
Peutereys and did a bunch of often solo descents in the Cascades on my
K2 Holidays with Silvrettas. Having skiied on Marker turntables with
72" longthongs the Silvrettas didn't seem that unsafe. It didn't matter
on some of that stuff anyway as a fall of any sort woulda been real bad.

I was a little late to the telemark party - hard to teach an old dog.
The Rigid Rands worked great on those Asolos.

The olde dawg. In fact, a bona fide UW Husky Dawg letterman!
The Rigid Rands are in the pack. Trust me, I needed 'em on this one.
The Rigid Rands are in the pack. Trust me, I needed 'em on this one.
Credit: Reilly
gf

climber
Oct 17, 2010 - 11:59pm PT
Keeter,
Thanks for posting up re the contacts-i assume they never caught on once boreal hit the shores? I recall the toe being a bit like a mega -it worked best if your knuckles were curved over inside the shoe. Were you guys the first to do that nice rand work? You can sure see where the "idea" for future randing work came from when you look at it.
Hey when you went to st elias in 75 was that on the ocean or the seward glacier side? I remember getting in a fun run on a trib glacier to the seward coming down from the toe of augusta after climbing a killer 5000' snow and ice rib, and thinking hmm-we could just ditch all this climbing crud and go skiing -but were were on a steely eyed mission for more alpine climbing (hubris of youth) so it was on to the next project...
gf
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Oct 18, 2010 - 12:04am PT
I recall the RR Varappe as being the best fitting shoe that I've ever owned. They would have been truly great if they had a "stickier rubber." It wasn't until the La Sportiva "Mariacher's" came out that I again had a shoe that fit my narrow feet and to profile.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 18, 2010 - 12:23am PT
Narrow French last...
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 18, 2010 - 12:20pm PT
Yeah, we were on the West Face of ST Elias initially, kept getting stormed off. Multiple days in a snow cave up high while being raked by slides. Abandoned the West side and traversed around opposite, facing Logan where the rest of our party was able to join us. Long story.

Yes, as far as I can recall, the Contact series were the first to use a shaped rand (not just a parallel strip). If we could have convinced the French to use the stickier Spanish rubber being developed (not an easy task) it might have amounted to something.

I am unable to upload photos to this site from here, I'll post more later
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 18, 2010 - 10:06pm PT
Here's a couple more catalog page shots. Reilly, I think I recognize the pack in your "Ski Spoiler" pic, it's a JanSport Greatsack from about 1975. I have a green one in my office.
Robbins catalog bootfitting page
Robbins catalog bootfitting page
Credit: Keeter
Robbins briefly imported lighter boots from Ireland to compete with th...
Robbins briefly imported lighter boots from Ireland to compete with the Italian Pivetta boots. We discussed making hiking boots on a short shanked version of the RR Yosemite, but Richard-Ponvert (makers of Galibier and Paraboot) were not interested in ad
Credit: Keeter
Alpelit ice axe, one of the first successful, lightweight aluminum sha...
Alpelit ice axe, one of the first successful, lightweight aluminum shafted axes and the first to meet the newly instituted UIAA standards of the time.
Credit: Keeter

I'll upload the info on the LaPrade and Salewa gear later.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 18, 2010 - 10:09pm PT
Good eye, Keeter! That was a prototype I was testing while I still worked
for REI - HaHaHa! Actually, REI hadn't started making their own yet so I
guess it wasn't a conflict of interests; damn!
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 19, 2010 - 12:28pm PT
Yeah, I actually sewed some of those protos. Took 9 production ones to SE Alaska in 75. I worked with JS before I moved to Cal and then again in the 80's and 90's
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 19, 2010 - 12:43pm PT
Keeter, small world, eh? I shoulda gone to work for Jan and Murray - they
were cool. I'll bet they're nicely retired now, LOL. I wonder if you sewed
the dome tent proto Dusan and I took up Rainier in January of '76? We got
in a good blow. The weather station at Crystal Mt recorded 105 mph and we
were 4000' higher than them! That tent took a beating but stayed together-
two of the three poles broke but didn't shred the sleeves.
If you did sew it, Thanks!

EDIT:
Fritz, I can't believe I forgot Skip - senility is so embarrassing.
He was the prototype guy who I dealt with.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 19, 2010 - 02:21pm PT
Small world time indeed with Jansport. I have known the other Jansport founder Skip Yowell, since he traveled the Northwest selling Jansport packs, in the early 1970's.

I haven't seen him for years, but ran into him at the SLC Outdoor Retailer show last January and got to BS for a while. I emailed him links to some of my ST yarns and he sent me his fun book.

The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains: How JanSport Makes It Happen

Skip? You out there lurking? Maybe you fellows can do a Jansport history thread on ST.
gf

climber
Oct 19, 2010 - 05:07pm PT
bump for a jansport history-appreciation thread!
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 19, 2010 - 11:44pm PT
Yeah, I had a hand in the proto domes. Murray had the idea, Jan made the patterns and did most of the sewing and I came up with the flexible pole systems. If you read Skips book you'll see that about half the pics are mine. I did a couple of climbs on Rainier with Dusan, including the Nisqually Direct in the early 70's. Still have a poster in my shop with Dusan in it. Murray became a surveyor in North Central Wash and Jan is selling real estate. Neither came out that well financially with JS as most of the original money was borrowed.

I still have one of the originals in a special Eddie Bauer stuffsack of all things.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 20, 2010 - 12:22am PT
Wow, I'm dissillusioned JS didn't pay off for them. I remember my first
visit to their offices - they were soo impressive! Bigger than Big Jim's!

Wish I hadn't sold that proto when I was dirtbagging it in Europe.

Only the good die young...Dusan Jagerski
Only the good die young...Dusan Jagerski
Credit: Reilly

RDB

Social climber
way out there
Oct 21, 2010 - 02:51pm PT
Great picture.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 22, 2010 - 05:34pm PT
Biwell boot treatment-----be gone.

I found an old box and tube of Biwell boot treatment today, that I must have taken with me from my retail store back in the mid-80's. As I mentioned upthread: Robbins imported it, starting in the mid-70's.

I wondered if anyone had taken over importing it. Appears it was available in stores until 2007. No dealers that I can find, carry it anymore.

It's OK. I've beeen using NIKWAX for years.

Biwell package and tube.  Boot treatment from Austria, vintage 1983.
Biwell package and tube. Boot treatment from Austria, vintage 1983.
Credit: Fritz
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 22, 2010 - 05:36pm PT
Sometimes known as "Bewet" boot treatment.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 22, 2010 - 06:52pm PT
Mighty Hiker: RE.
Sometimes known as "Bewet" boot treatment.

Does anything keep leather footwear dry in the BC drizzles?

Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Oct 23, 2010 - 09:48pm PT
more Mountain Paraphernalia
Mountain Accessories
Mountain Accessories
Credit: Keeter
Galibier Lunettes. Hugely popular at the time.
Galibier Lunettes. Hugely popular at the time.
Credit: Keeter
Salewa from the mid-70's
Salewa from the mid-70's
Credit: Keeter
Laprade tools.  Expert metallurgists (car and bike parts) from...
Laprade tools. Expert metallurgists (car and bike parts) from the Pyrenees crafted designs from Alpine guides. First flexible crampons with forward facing second points for steep ice.
Credit: Keeter
Credit: Keeter
Robbins wholesale and retail crew, 1979.  Catalog back cover.
Robbins wholesale and retail crew, 1979. Catalog back cover.
Credit: Keeter
Inside back catalog page.  The boys.
Inside back catalog page. The boys.
Credit: Keeter













Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 24, 2010 - 12:51pm PT
Keeter: Thanks for posting more catalog pages. That is a great photo of you and RR!

As I was looking through the items, I suddenly had my memory flash! Edelrid Avalanche cord!! I have an Edelrid Avalanche cord!

Found it in just a few minutes of looking, in the very bottom of my duffle of tele-gear. Easily the oldest item in there!

Edelrid Avalanche cord.  Metal tags show the distance to the buried vi...
Edelrid Avalanche cord. Metal tags show the distance to the buried victim.
Credit: Fritz

Tami

Social climber
Canada
Oct 24, 2010 - 01:07pm PT
Just a note from the cartoonist here but "avalanche cord" was the inspiration for "Roger's Useless Avalanche Safety Devices" ( in my 2nd book )

.....which included the "avalanche helmut" ( dayglo pink or lemon yellow flags attached to a helmet announcing "victim" - and an accompanying arrow - and "dig here". )

Also included the disposable avalanche poodle.

Long live hilarious safety devices!!!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 24, 2010 - 01:33pm PT
Tami:
We used to joke that the correct procedure with the Avalanche Cords: was to keep them in a bundle and shake them at approaching avalanches.

My pal Stein was the weakest skier in a group skiing off a steep ridge, below a peak, in the Sawtooths back in the early 70’s. Of course they all had 60 lb packs too.

Stein fell, and was trying to reattach a ski: when a sizeable slough of snow came down at him.

All he could do was shake his ski at it.

Worked like a charm.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 24, 2010 - 01:51pm PT
I particularly liked the high-tech avalanche cords. The ones with a metal swage every 5 metres or so, with a little arrow pointing toward the person to which it was tied. Assuming you tied on the right end, that is.

Was anyone ever successfully found and rescued through use of an avalanche cord?
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2010 - 05:32pm PT
Keeter: I clicked with your photo of the Alpelit Ice axe! Acquired this one recently. I had previously only vaguely connected Alpelit with Mountain Paraphernalia.

Was the photo you show: also from the 1978 Mountain Paraphernalia catalog?

The other question on Alpelit is from noting that the pick is stamped: R Desmasion. I have read that there was a Desmasion model of Laparade axe. Was the Alpelit axe also made by Laprade?

Here's photos of my nearly-unused Alpelit.
Alpelit axe from 1978???
Alpelit axe from 1978???
Credit: Fritz
Shaft of Alpelit axe.  Nice pad over the aluminum.
Shaft of Alpelit axe. Nice pad over the aluminum.
Credit: Fritz
Pick on Alpelit axe.  Stamped R Desmasion
Pick on Alpelit axe. Stamped R Desmasion
Credit: Fritz

Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 13, 2010 - 08:12pm PT
Pretty sure I still have my Edelrid avvy cord. Used it on occassion although
on none of the three occassions I should have used it. Wait, make that
two as the third occassion I guess I would have had to find myself by myself -
I guess that was why I didn't use it that time.
Never did find that one ski pole - a small price to pay I suppose.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Nov 13, 2010 - 11:26pm PT
Here's a weird tangent- My mom and aunt worked for Tompkins and Esprit way back when.

It seems all these sewing companies were related back in the 70's in the Bay Area.

When I was a kid, I used to back pack with a prototype internal frame pack. There were to tube shaped pouches against the body that you were supposed to stuff with your sleeping bag to get the stiffness into the pack. It didn't work very well, but I can see the idea.

Anyway, my mom and my aunt started making teddy bears, another sewn item, back in the seventies. That company became Basic Brown Bears, well loved by many school children in the Bay Area until the late 90's when the entire company was ripped off by Build A Bear.

The build a bear folks came in and offered to buy the company, they learned how it all worked, signed non disclosure agreements, then stole everything. They even told their investors that they were the president of our company.

It was my first experience with corporate America. They are all thieves, and they have enough money to make their crimes legal. We sued, settled when legal fees added up to high, and later went out of business competing with a company that was essentially our own.

BTW- I loved the RR auto biography. I can't wait for the next part.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Nov 14, 2010 - 04:14pm PT
Fritz
The Alpelit ax was not from LaPrade. The Desmaison imprint was wide spread at the time. Rene was one of the most well-known guides of the era (like Rebuffat before him) and his name was also on the Galibier Super Guide. Hence, he was sometimes called the Super Guide, although I think it was not something he enjoyed.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Nov 14, 2010 - 04:19pm PT
Tom, the pack you're referring to was eventually named the Ultima Thule and was produced by Rivendell in an old church in Driggs, Idaho. The body was three tubes with the center one being triangular in section. The bottom of the pack was a horizontal pocket as is still common. If stuffed properly and firmly, the load produced the stiffness. Most models which followed used parallel aluminum stays or crossed stays, not that much different from today. The connection through Esprit and the Thompkins' was for factory and fabric sourcing. Both Chouinard and Robbins worked closely with Esprit's manufacturing agents to produce their canvas shirts, pants and shorts. I attended several Esprit sales meetings to learn more about the apparel business at the time.
hooblie

climber
from where the anecdotes roam
Nov 14, 2010 - 07:05pm PT
i always thought an avalanche cord might have some merit if it was deployed
as a tether for a helium balloon. wind and trees might be a problem
during the ascent, but on a calm day it would surely offset
the weight of the lawn chair
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Nov 14, 2010 - 08:29pm PT
Laprade carabiners made a short guest appearance at MEC in the early 80's. Incredibly affordable and cool looking, they suffered from flexing under body weight enough that the gate would be caught shut. Cheap aid climbers had to look elsewhere for snaplinks.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Nov 14, 2010 - 08:58pm PT
Thanks Keeter. Small world, eh? I didn't know how my parents got the pack, only that it was a prototype. You even had to stuff the waist strap.

Now that I think about it, I may have seen a Rivendell pack, probably here on supertopo.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2010 - 10:45pm PT
Keeter & all: Thanks for posting up! All input is good on this great historical thread (except lawyers & bickering).

My latest history project is trying to give dates for carabiner production from Chouinard & Robbins.

Clint C. has been a great help on this for Chouinard biners, but I am not able to do much to show production dates for the two models of Robbins/Salewa carabiners.

I think they were both introduced in 1978, based on the Salewa ad I showed earlier in this thread.

Salewa ad from Mountain Magazine: Jan 1978.
Salewa ad from Mountain Magazine: Jan 1978.
Credit: Fritz

Any more ads or info to share???

Robbins sold the hollow Salewa biner shown in the above ad and a solid biner, that was (I think) a little more popular.

R. Robbins side of both Robbins/Salewa carabiners.
R. Robbins side of both Robbins/Salewa carabiners.
Credit: Fritz
Salewa side of Robbins carabiners.
Salewa side of Robbins carabiners.
Credit: Fritz

Any heros with ads or stories on either carabiner out there???

No problem---any other Robbins/Mountain Paraphernalia stories or photos are welcome!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 14, 2010 - 11:21pm PT
I remember buying the Robbins carabiners in 1976, and still have a few of them.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2010 - 11:26pm PT
Mighty Hiker! Cool!! Please dig those Robbins binners out and share which model you have. I suspect the solid one came first!

Much Thanks! Fritz
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Nov 15, 2010 - 04:13am PT
Fritz,

I still have my PA's from way back! They were way better than Chucky Taylor high tops! LOL


Thor
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Nov 15, 2010 - 12:21pm PT
I still have a near rack full of the hollow (tubular) RR biner by Salewa. At the time, Salewa was imported by both MP and Chouinard. The RR version was a straight oval (carabiner rappels were still the norm) and the C version was the now classic Chouinard D shape.

LaPrade carabiners came in a few models with variations on the D shape and different strengths. The lightest and cheapest was flexy under body weight as pointed out above, but the burly ones where the strongest of their time. They were more money however. Imported goods at the time were rocketing up in price due to the rampant inflation of the Carter years. We were borrowing money at 18% !!!! Mountaineering boots went from $75 to $190 during that period.
sowr

Trad climber
CA
Apr 11, 2011 - 10:12pm PT
Chris don't you still use that gear though?
Benjamin

Boulder climber
Denver, CO
Nov 9, 2011 - 02:18am PT
I am interested in purchasing back issues of Off Belay Magazine, and seeing as how in this thread many people mention their collections I was wondering if anyone was willing to sell.

My dad started subscribing to Off Belay after the first year it was out and always mentions how he wishes he had that first year's worth of issues. I thought it would make a wonderful Christmas present for this year.

Please let me know:

benjamin@benjaminthomas.org
crunch

Social climber
CO
Nov 9, 2011 - 12:02pm PT

The Wonder headlamp: "I WONDER why it's not working today?"
The Wonder headlamp: "I WONDER why it's not working today?"
Credit: crunch

What a great thread.

Love this pic of the old Achille Wonder headlamp. Owned several, back in the late 70s.

We used to joke, "The Wonder headlamp: I WONDER why it's not working this time?" as they were so unreliable. Something would always be loose, detached, shorted out. Or the clunky switch turned on by accident and the battery dead. Maddening!

A 100% reliable source of light, after sundown, is taken for granted now, yet, really, it's a modern luxury. And a really big deal, in midwinter, far from the trailhead. A huge thanks to Petzl for driving modern development!



rollingstone

Trad climber
Seattle
Nov 10, 2011 - 08:53pm PT
Great memories, Fritz. I remember buying my first pair of Galibier Makalu boots from Bruce Franks, probably my sophomore year at WSU...fall of 1972 or so. I don't think you had purchased NWMSports yet. It was also around that time that some of us got the idea to have RR come to Pullman to give a slide show. I remember nervously dialing his number in Modesto, and being almost unable to speak when RR answered the phone. I was so young and naive back then, but I sure did not think of Royal as any ordinary human. Man, this was RR I was speaking with!! I stammered something about him doing a slide show in Pullman, and he graciously replied that he would certainly come to WSU to give slide show about various Yosemite/Alps first ascents. When I asked how much he charged, I was shocked to hear that his normal fee was $200.00, plus expenses, if memory serves me right. Younger readers should know this was 2/3 the amount of a semester's tuition; I just could not see where we would ever get that much money, so I mumbled something about having our club vote on it, and politely hung up. I never had the nerve to call back. I can laugh about it now. I do remember the great slide show that John Cleare gave, and the fine photo he took of Mike Nelson bouldering at Granite Point that graced the cover of our club climbing magazine. I still have those issues buried somewhere in the basement. Thanks for the great memories.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 10, 2011 - 09:16pm PT
Crunch,
HaHaHa! Man, those things were nigh unto worthless! I only threw my last
one away a few years ago. I was thinking some museum of bad design might
want one. They did look really good in the display case though.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Nov 10, 2011 - 11:47pm PT
RollingStone, I was at that RR slide show in Moscow, along with my brother & a friend. I was 14 and just getting into the sport. Fritz had just started NWMS. It was still on N. Main St. behind the A&W drive-in.

Thanks for making that call.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
More worms for 2012...
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Dec 21, 2012 - 10:37am PT
Historic gear bump for Fritz and the rest of us geezers.
Wish I would have kept my Robbins boots and shoes.

Still have my early 70's Salewa crampons, Chouinard piolet and alpine hammer, 1st generation Hexes and Stoppers.
Tad
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Credit: T Hocking
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Credit: T Hocking
1st generation Chouinard Hexes 71
1st generation Chouinard Hexes 71
Credit: T Hocking
1st generation Chouinard stoppers 72
1st generation Chouinard stoppers 72
Credit: T Hocking
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Dec 21, 2012 - 07:49pm PT
Peck Plastic Nuts/chocks - anyone have any or seen them? When I worked at Mountain Life in Los Gatos about 1971 we recieved a shipment of black plastic chocks from Robbins. I immediately blasted and shattered them all with a hammer and sent them back, to Royal's consternation. Then one day in Yosemite at the base of El Cap at the base of the Salathe there was Royal wanting to borrow some jumars. I don't think he actually knew who I was, since we'd never met face to face, but I told him he could borrow my jumars if he took those black plastic chocks off the market! I really had it in for those things and never even used them. It just seemed obvious they were way too brittle the way people pounded on stuff. They were not soft like the blue Forrest chock.

Anyway, I was a bit brash the way I approached the whole thing considering how much I admired Royal's writing and climbing, but I was a young punk - what can I say!

By the way, I was a Blue Boot lover too. They were so awesome after all the other boots we used back then - it took me a while to move on. My latest blue shoes are Evolvs!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 21, 2012 - 11:33pm PT
T Hocking & McHales Navy! Thanks for posting.

I don’t have memories of the Robbins black-plastic Peck Nuts.

I do have a grudge about the blue-plastic Forest Nuts, from a 1973 fall on a new route on the South-side of Harrison Peak in Idaho's Selkirk Range.

Just off a ledge, I didn't feel comfortable with trying a harder move free, so I slotted a big blue-plastic Forest stopper in the hand-crack, clipped in a sling, stepped-up, and started fishing for a good jam above it.

Suddenly! The Forest nut popped, and I flew down and out for a 10’-15' fall into space. The elastic rope bounced me back onto the ledge I had barely missed landing on “back-first”, with no damage to me.
I remember exclaiming: “ WOW! Glad I missed hitting this ledge.” (We are so clueless in our 20’s.)

Of course I led the crack again, then freed it on a later trip. Never wrote the route up, due to Idaho ethics.

A 1972 photo of a couple of the Forest Blue plastic nuts, & some other...
A 1972 photo of a couple of the Forest Blue plastic nuts, & some other early nuts on a combined rack, including at far left, what turns out to be an early and rare drilled SMC Hex.
Credit: Fritz

The plastic chock had a "gouge-mark" from top to bottom, where my body weight had ripped a big feldspar crystal through it.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Dec 21, 2012 - 11:44pm PT
Never had any plastic nuts, sounds too sketchy to me.
Bet they didn't last long on the market, what were they thinking?
Did they ever do tests on them?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 21, 2012 - 11:46pm PT
Damn....i wish i still had my Micky Mantle rookie card.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Dec 22, 2012 - 12:01am PT
Remember when a hammer always made a nut placement a little better?
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Dec 22, 2012 - 12:11am PT
Of course I led the crack again, then freed it on a later trip. Never wrote the route up, due to Idaho ethics.


Fritz, tell us about the no reporting thing? That must have come from what Robinson started that I have asked about in other threads. I lived in Boise at that time and don't recall anyone saying anything like that. They did not want Californians Californicating Idaho though. Idahoans did not want anyone messing with their 3rd world status. There was some kind of no chaulk ethic getting started at the local quarry - I straightened them out pretty fast - Californian that I was!

Did they ever do tests on them?

I seriously doubt it. I'll bet me taking a hammer to those stupid things was the first and last test.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 22, 2012 - 12:18am PT
McHales: Re your question about 70's Idaho climbing ethics.

Here's a link to a thread where the subject is discussed.

Trip to the Sawtooths (Idaho), suggestions?
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1591843&msg=2007278#msg2007278



McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Dec 22, 2012 - 12:32am PT
Fritz, you don't have memories of Peck plastic chocks cause I single handedly stopped them in their tracks before I moved to Idaho.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 22, 2012 - 12:39am PT
McHale: Happy Solstice!
Credit: Fritz
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Dec 22, 2012 - 12:41am PT
Same to you! I like that big fire!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 22, 2012 - 02:29am PT
I bet my old bamboo Coonyard piolet is still seeing good usage by some appreciative Rooskie.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Dec 22, 2012 - 03:21pm PT
A Galibier bump from the 1976 Ski Hut catalog.

Credit: TMJesse
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 22, 2012 - 04:54pm PT
Brings back 70's alpine climbing memories seeing a Wonder light ad. The wonder always was "I wonder if it has turned on inside my pack again and drained the batteries?"
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Apr 5, 2014 - 05:58am PT
Bump, similar to my recent thread.

My RRs lasted me a while, until the RDs/PAs and then EBs came along, but those Super Guides, a good all around mountaineering boot.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Apr 5, 2014 - 06:50am PT
Did someone say historic gear?
My old alpine & ice climbing tools
My old alpine & ice climbing tools
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
Dachstein mittens, Salewa ice screws, wart hogs, 1st generation Chouin...
Dachstein mittens, Salewa ice screws, wart hogs, 1st generation Chouinard ice screws. Can you believe that we used to actually lead with this sh#t?
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
My ol' Galibier Makalu double boots made two trips to Denali
My ol' Galibier Makalu double boots made two trips to Denali
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
Copyright 2012 Harry Marinakis
Copyright 2012 Harry Marinakis
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 5, 2014 - 02:04pm PT
Sierra Ledge rat! The center ice axe in your post is a well-used Alpelit, likely imported by Robbins.

It appears there were at least two models of Alpelit axes brought in by Robbins.

One is like yours, and one is stamped Robbins on the pick. It also has teeth near the shaft for thin waterfall ice, and the one in the photo is shorter at 55 Cm.

Two models of Alpelit axes.
Two models of Alpelit axes.
Credit: Fritz

Robbins model of Alpelit on left.
Robbins model of Alpelit on left.
Credit: Fritz

Credit: Fritz

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Apr 6, 2014 - 10:54am PT
Hey Fritz

I loved the Alpelit, it was my favorite axe. If you remember at the time, the MSR thunderbird ice axe was also quite popular at the time.

My brother bought a bamboo Chouinard axe, which I thought was crazy given the choice of wood vs. metal. But now he has a nice classic ice axe hanging on his wall, and all I have is a beat-up rusting hunk of metal

I am not sure which version I had. I used to do a lot of modifying of my axes, and I think I filed some teeth into the proximal part of the pick for a better grip which ice climbing. I also changed the angle of the point of the pick.

Can you believe BITD we used to do climb waterfall ice with a full-size ice axe???

Lee Vining, 1970s
Lee Vining, 1970s
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 6, 2014 - 01:28pm PT
"What a great thread, Fritz!"

"That's an avalanche cord, Tad."
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2014 - 01:43pm PT
Yeah well, we were pretty much indestructible in our 20's and I did some fairly dangerous things with my 60Cm. Chouinard axe.

Fritz placing an ice-screw while his trusty axe kind-of, sort-of ancho...
Fritz placing an ice-screw while his trusty axe kind-of, sort-of anchors him.
Credit: Fritz
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