The day I could have killed Royal Robbins


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Mountain climber
Ventana Wilderness
Mar 31, 2011 - 07:35pm PT
Anyone remember that cartoon in an old Summit magazine (maybe an Ascent?), circa 1970/71 that depicted RR as a super-hero replete with cape and his initials "RR" in the center of the costume's chest area? The cartoon shows RR hanging onto a blank, featureless over-hanging face with one hand while with the other hand he's reaching behind his back and into what should be his chalk bag. The caption of the cartoon said "My god, he's reaching for the grease!"

That was the aura that surrounded RR in those days. There was the sense that if RR couldn't climb it nobody could. But then came the Bachars and Osmans and Crofts and Herseys and Yabos and Gullichs et al, and suddenly they were reaching for the grease, if you get the metaphor. Ropes became passe' for that very rare breed of men, but it was RR who pioneered the belief that the impossible was possible if the mind had the power.

Now there's Honnold who free-solo'd RR's great route up Half Dome. I must wonder, who will attempt to free-solo the Nose? It's do-able, but who will chance it? Odds of a screamer are huge.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Mar 31, 2011 - 08:16pm PT
Great stuff! But WHY didn't you at least give it a try??

Mountain climber
Ventana Wilderness
Mar 31, 2011 - 08:42pm PT
Tahquitz, Feb. 9th, 1971. The day of the FUCKING San Fernando earthquake, and I fell attempting a route the name which now eludes my leatherizing brain, and ripped a gash in my ASS and had to have stitches. Were you there that day, too?

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Mar 31, 2011 - 11:09pm PT
Gnomicmaster: Here's that Sheridan Anderson RR cartoon.

RR in action
RR in action
Credit: Fritz

and the more human side of Royal "winding-down" from another new route with Liz:

Credit: Sheridan Anderson

RR kicked my ass at "drunk-foozball in Moscow Idaho in 1974. (sorry no photos)


Mountain climber
Ventana Wilderness
Apr 1, 2011 - 12:16pm PT
Actually that is not the cartoon to which I alluded. That cartoon you show with RR wearing a cape and leaping from rock to rock is a totally different cartoon, and that is the one that RR told me he does not like, and for good reason. No, the cartoon to which I alluded showed RR "CLIMBING", not leaping, with a super-hero costume, and he was reaching behind himself, thrusting his hand into what would seem to be his chalk bag, and the caption said "My god, he's reaching for the grease!"

Totally different cartoon, and perhaps totally different cartoonist. It appeared in either a Summit magazine or Ascent magazine, circa early-1970s. I had all the Summits and Ascents from the late-1960s until the late-1970s, boxed up for years, but I finally tossed them all 5 years ago, so unfortunately I can't now go back to find that cartoon.

I even had all the Mountain and Climbing magazine issues from those years. Mountain was a Brit publication, and all its stories and photos were of European and Himalayan climbs. Very internationally informative on the topic of global mountaineering.

Trad climber
Apr 1, 2011 - 01:02pm PT
Hell, screw Royal, it sounds like you would have bit the dust too if your feet hadn't caught those knobs.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Dec 5, 2014 - 06:29pm PT
Bump for Erb and Royal........
this just in

north fork
Dec 5, 2014 - 06:35pm PT
Yeah cool story Dick Erb. Climbing in Southern Yosemite, your name is right up there with Royal. Thanks for all you've done here.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 23, 2017 - 09:48am PT
Royal bumpage...
Tamara Robbins

not a climber, just related...
Aug 3, 2017 - 01:12pm PT
Just came across a couple farcical (!) cartoons of Dad in the original "Descent".... which I hadn't really looked at before but it's well worth it! Classic stuff. Anyhow, haven't seen the one mentioned above but I will keep my eyes open for it, and post if found!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 3, 2017 - 04:21pm PT
Climbed the Hermaphrodite Flake lately??? Royal meets Elaine if I recall correctly. LOL
Brian More

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Aug 3, 2017 - 07:49pm PT
Hi Tamara,

We spoke a while back regarding a memorial for Royal. Any updates? Please let me know when you have a second.


Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 4, 2017 - 12:59am PT

Here is another by Sheridan Anderson with RR in superman garb, but not what you described.
Credit: Fritz
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Aug 4, 2017 - 06:54am PT
As a younger climber I just loved Sheridan Anderson's stuff as he just nailed the climbing culture of the day. Years later Tami took up the cudgels of Anderson's work with equal effectiveness. As a subset of society we climbers have been well served by the cartoonists who so righteously lampooned our silliness, and we are all richer for it.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Aug 4, 2017 - 07:45am PT
Jim Herrington: one of many in a series of Royal as a living breathing...
Jim Herrington: one of many in a series of Royal as a living breathing Sheridan character
Credit: Peter Haan

He has many really much more powerful images of RR; here the two men were having a lot of fun. The cape for exampe was a trash bag.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Aug 4, 2017 - 08:26am PT
Ahhh, long lost art of the hip belay. It works just fine. Hardly anyone ever dies.
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