The day I could have killed Royal Robbins


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Dec 8, 2009 - 12:01am PT
I wonder what estimates people may have made of your own life expectancy, Mr. Erb.

Great story.

Dick Erb

June Lake, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2009 - 12:02am PT
Sierra Club trips at Tahquitz Rock, near Idylwild California, would generally meet up in the morning at Lunch Rock a much smaller crag near the base, not far from a Route called the Switchbacks. It is a short easy scramble from the uphill side, but as I recall from the top you can look out over the treetops on the downhill side.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:06am PT
Just a note. RR was using a Sticht belay plate before anyone else. I am talking the 1970/71 winter. I hated it of course because he was kind of funky using it for my leads; Shortroping of course. He was so pre-occupied then, tortured almost. But all said and done, he was ushering a lot of the stuff we take as basic today. My perception then was that he was old but awfully cool. You see, he was forty or so, back then. Ancient. Today, I am 61 and RR must be about 80.

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:09am PT
Now THAT is what ST is for. Great story, hilarious finish. And it's about Royal.

Who I hope reads it, laffs his ass off & posts that you were SUCH A LUCKY SCHMUNTZVIK and , now, lookitchya both..........forty years later & still here.

Yey !!!!

Signed Tami - didn't start climbin' till 1977 :-D

Trad climber
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:17am PT
Dang that story sounds familiar, but I don't remember it being RR!

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:18am PT
Best thing about reading your story is that it brings back the flavor of those years. Here's to the view from Lunch Rock!
Thanks for your post.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:45am PT
ah, the good old days!

gotta get back to Tahquitz after many years away (probably something like 40?!) my first lead was there with the Riverside chapter RCS... pitons, goldline, RRs... and hip belays...

basically climbing can't be all that unsafe, most of us seemed to survive it

Dec 8, 2009 - 01:09am PT
Most of us survived? Any exceptions care to post up?

Dec 8, 2009 - 01:59am PT
The title "The day I could have killed Royal Robbins" sounds like something out of a spy novel.

And the secret agent let him escape ........
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Dec 8, 2009 - 02:13am PT
there was controversy about the stich-plate
not providing a "dymanic enough" belay for
a while too, but it mainly ended pretty quick,
tho Ed Leeper maintained his "campaign"
for some time :-)

PH, your comments shed valuable light on RR
as a real human being, one of rock climbings
most treasured heros.

My respect for him only grows.

many thanks
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Dec 8, 2009 - 09:03am PT
The best part of your story Dick is that you didn't tell anyone so you could still attract climbing partners. Royal was about 22 when he climbed Half Dome in 1957 (born in 1935). Pretty amazing stuff.

By the way, your thread title should read, "The day Royal Robbins almost killed me."


Trad climber
Dec 8, 2009 - 09:21am PT
"Most of us survived? Any exceptions care to post up?"

That's funny!

Trad climber
Dec 8, 2009 - 02:17pm PT
ha. I took the thread title to mean "The day (I was so angry) I could have killed RR". then I read the piece and my first thought was "why are you so angry, was that RR's fault?" A second reading got it straight, but it sounds like you were the one closer to getting killed. Next time try the standing shoulder belay. It worked for years I hear.
Nate D

San Francisco
Dec 8, 2009 - 02:34pm PT
Thanks for sharing the tale, Dick!

Social climber
Dec 8, 2009 - 02:36pm PT
do that in this day and age and they put you away.
scuffy b

Whuttiz that Monstrosicos Inferno?
Dec 8, 2009 - 02:46pm PT
It's more than ten days now since I last used a hip belay without being
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 2, 2010 - 11:03am PT
Mortality Bump!

Trad climber
June Lake, CA
Jul 2, 2010 - 10:16pm PT

what ever happen to "the leader must not fall", the cread of the day I believe ?

State of Mine
Jul 2, 2010 - 11:18pm PT
Too Funny

Makes me think of "Advanced Rockcraft" where Royal disses the use of belay devices as extraneous gear! If only he knew?



i would argue that being anchored is the point, not what belay device.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Mar 31, 2011 - 07:20pm PT
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