Tobin Sorenson / David Goeddel - Astroman. May 1978


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El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jun 19, 2012 - 12:28am PT
Good stuff!
Thanks for posting!

Jim Henson's Basement
Jun 19, 2012 - 09:17am PT
Good stuff bump!

Mountain climber
San Diego
Jun 19, 2012 - 10:00am PT
Pretty cool history. Thank you.

There must be other TS stories that we don't have a clue about. Way ahead of his time.

The boy. The climber. The Man. The Christian. He is pretty inspirational.
David Wilson

Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2012 - 10:43am PT
eeyonkee - who/what were the Poway Mountaineers?

Roy - out right of that pitch above the slot is a 10c groove. I became intimately familiar with that groove as I fell ( the one fall I had ) from a few feet above Tobin's position is in that photo. It was in the hot sun and I slowly barn doored out of the layback and ended upside down below the little roof. I spinelessly bailed to the groove version after that.


right here, right now
Jun 19, 2012 - 11:01am PT
Yes, first time up my only fall also in the same spot on lead (barn door lay back above the slot). There is a good left hand hold that is easy to miss and it's a crucial stabilizer.

I think that variation on the right of the left-leaning barn door lay back above the slot wasn't cleaned up until later (post 1980).

Also, I'm betting Tobin did the direct thin crack at the changing corners pitch. Many of us stepped left onto those nice face holds (which you cannot see if you are plugged into the crack just above the mantel) ... holds just left of the changing corners arete which you can putter up, finally reaching right into finger locks just at or above the apex of the changing corners. (I don't know when that was found, but by 1980 it was a standard option).

Good stuff there splitter!
So Tobin did some of his best stuff off the couch. Sounds like standard Sorensen lore. Probably no news to those close to him at the time.

*I know we've had that article where Tobin describes these ascents and his state of mind posted up here before. It would be fun to get it up on this thread.

Trad climber
Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Jun 19, 2012 - 12:42pm PT

I do recall him talking about the "hollow" feeling you mentioned it gave him afterwards. He also deplored being lifted up and put on a pedestal(as he described it). It is not something a Christian seeks(or should seek). Tobin certainly didn't. And it has destroyed many people, including Christians. Tobin was very aware of this. He desired the focus to be on JC and what He was doing through him. Whom he believed was who had enabled him and gave him the gifts and skills to achieve what he had and would achieve. That is what it was all about for Tobin. He wanted all the glory going to God/Christ.

He certainly wasn't comfortable with, nor desired, becoming an idol or being idolized. I think these were some of the issues he was dealing with and that you referred to. And the actual climbing achievements left him with a hollow, empty feeling. It was a temporary feeling of success, at best. He probably felt as though it was pretty worthless other then boosting ones ego or having bragging rights or lifting him up in others eyes/minds. Something pretty worthless in the grand scheme of things(or how Tobin viewed our reason for being here on earth). It left him desiring something more fulfilling and long lasting. It may have had value here on earth. But Tobin was focused on things that had eternal value, like peoples souls.

Perhaps Christ was working in Tobin at that time also(i am sure He was). For He certainly wanted Tobin to give Him all of his heart(have nothing getting between Him and Tobin). Many things could do that. But it obviously would have been climbing in Tobin's situation.

Like you have already said, Tobin was ready to and perhaps actually did give up climbing for a while and focused on serving Christ full time in some way such as smuggling Bibles into Bulgaria or Romania or wherever they were not allowed at that time. It was the willingness, the desire to do so that JC was looking for. Tobin did have it and gave everything else up. I believe that Christ then gave Tobin the desire of his own, Tobins, heart...reaching climbers with the Gospel message.

It(love for the lost and love for everyone)flowed from his very being, his eyes, his smile and particularly his heart. I believe he prayed for climbers everyday, throughout the day. He had high hopes for everyone he came into contact with and everyone he new.

Tobin was the real deal as far as Christians are concerned. Love emanated from the dude! If anyone was ever "filled with the Holy Spirit" and filled with love for the lost and everyone, it was Tobin Sorenson. Peace, another attribute, also surrounded him. I haven't and don't believe i ever will find or know anyone on this earth that comes close to Tobin in these respect.

edit: yes it would be great to see that article, get the story from the horses mouth. Perhaps he did get totally honed while attending school full time, somewhere locally. Could happen, particularly with someone like Tobin. And perhaps we, I, were just assuming since he hadn't been climbing full time in the Valley or some other climbing area and sitting in class 8hrs a day that he wasn't/couldn't be in top shape. It has been way to long to recall how/why i have that(off the couch)buried deep into my memory/mind!

right here, right now
Jun 19, 2012 - 07:14pm PT
I just scoured the site looking for the article in question and could not find it. I'm now vaguely remembering it as an interview if that helps.

Regardless of the off the couch bit (I'd go with you and DD and Goeddel first on that, not my recollection of something I've read), the published piece would just be terrific provenance to go with David Goeddel's wonderful story and photos. I've e-mailed Grossman about it: he may have it in hand.

Oh, and the borrowed EB's, three sizes too big! Just makes it even more Tobin.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jun 19, 2012 - 07:49pm PT
The Poway Mountaineers were just a group of climbers from Poway, climbing together in the early 1970s. If you asked one of 'em, where is Goeddel's Move? and he couldn't answer, he's either demented or lying about being a Poway Mountaineer.

Trad climber
Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Jun 19, 2012 - 08:38pm PT
I grew up in San Diego(more or less). I started climbing in the early Spring of 1971. I initially started climbing with the local chapter of the RCS and went climbing with and learned all the basic skills, and then some, with some of the local greats who were still active with that club, such men as Jerry Galwas.

We climbed and made trips to the Sierra, Idylwild, JT, Canyon de Tajo(sp) and all over SD County, etc.!

I am not sure where the name of The Poway Mountaineers(they were also referred to as The Poway Mt. Boys by some peeps)first was brought to my attention that Spring, cuz we were going someplace different every weekend. But by the time I made my first trip to Mt. Woodson, they, or at least their name and the respect that this group of seasoned men(RCS)had for them as a rising group of young climbers from Poway Calif. had already been firmly cemented into my mind.

I first ran into Rick Piggott out at Woodson while I was bouldering there by myself that same year '71. I new who he was before we even got close enough to introduce ourselves. And had heard stories about many, perhaps all of them, by then. Guys like Rick, Dave Goeddel, Greg Cameron, etc, were spread far and wide already, because once i had cut my climbing teeth with the RCS, I found new, perhaps a bit younger friends who were seriously committed to climbing. They had all heard about the Poway Mountaineers.

One of those stories(don't know if it is true)was swirling around my head the first time I soloed Robbins Crack in '71 or '72. It was about what had happened to one of the PM's younger brothers after he had soloed it one day and evidently fell, at the crux(high up)as he was downclimbing it. They said he either sprained or broke his leg(don't recall).

My heart was pounding away as I began that first downclimb of Robbins at Woodson(only way down). And that story was at the front of my mind, and had certainly caused me to pause and reflect on it before I sunk the first handjam that day. Matter of fact, I thought about it every time I climbed and particularly every time I downclimbed Robbins.

So, when I referred to them as "legendary" in one of my earlier posts above, I seriously meant it. I was 21 when I started climbing and first heard about the PM, and I am pretty sure all of them were younger than I. And they were already "legendary", and that was a status that had been applied to them by at least one of the Legends of yesteryear. Just Sayin...

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jun 19, 2012 - 09:03pm PT
Normally, I would recommend everybody to disregard anything PhantomX writes on Supertopo, but that shirt really does need some explaining. I mean, I've only seen John Belushi in that shirt. How did Dave get it?

right here, right now
Jun 19, 2012 - 09:24pm PT
Poway Mountaineers, hmmm.
So who is this Greg Cameron guy anyway?
And isn't "Goeddel's Move" something that occurs just before you hear the word checkmate?
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 19, 2012 - 09:30pm PT
splitter may not have seen this before:
David Wilson

Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2012 - 09:32pm PT
Roy, funny that you fell at the exact same spot on Astroman. Nobody ever talks about that spot being hard.

I think Greg Cameron is the gentleman that soloed the LA chimney - pretty badass

I don't know - "Goeddel's move" may require bothering Dave with even more questions if nobody comes forth to explain. That bee shirt also - serious swag

First free in 1976 - could this have been in the first 10 free ascents?

right here, right now
Jun 19, 2012 - 10:34pm PT
Greg's also got a hell of a chest wig!
Just ask or yell "EE YON KEE" and all things Cameron shall come forth.

Nobody admits to falling off there Dave, or very few of us, because the hold is literally "in your face", actually being scrubbed by one's left cheek as the barn door maneuver unfolds.

First 10?
Good guess I suppose; do you sometimes wonder how even tightknit communities track such things? At the risk of being xenophobic, I mean.
That would be a fun list to look at any rate!

Clevenger told me he did it, I believe with Jardine, and they had the sneaky little cams hidden under their shirts (conforming to other stories of said clandestine deployment).
Theirs was probably an early/first 10 ascent.

Maybe HUD could avail us of an approximate list.

During the high season of 1980, it seems it was getting done once a week.
Kim Carrigan was hiking over there with his binoculars to watch parties work their way up the route. He gave us beta.

Again: BIG thanks to you and to Goeddel for getting this going.
David Wilson

Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2012 - 10:55pm PT
Well, we could get the story out of Vern with a little digging.

I think the first ten is pretty significant as the insecurities weigh on the early ascents. My friend Mike Graber said he and Rick Wheeler were " first ten " on the shield and it was then it struck me that was a big deal. Steck, Roper and Long were third on the Salathe with no bolt kit on board - yikes ! Tobin had something going and that was pretty amazing. I stood under the big north face of Alberta and shivered knowing he'd died there - a big cold, dark, and somber face. Very sad.

right here, right now
Jun 19, 2012 - 11:02pm PT
Yeah, I've seen a picture of Wheeler on that ascent of The Shield. (Is that in Vertical World?). If not, it was a private collection.

Agreed on earlier ascents of anything notable. Always a feather in one's cap.
I'm serious about Hudon though. We likely just need to ask him.

(edit): by risk of xenophobia, I meant that you don't always know about the odd ball/clandestine out-of-towners doing things without a mention and that can affect the count.
(Though unlikely on something like an El Cap route with such great visual access. Ditto East Face of the Column between the FFA and 1978, but maybe less so)

Trad climber
Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Jun 19, 2012 - 11:23pm PT
MH- "...may not have seen this before."

No, I haven't! Looking forward to reading it. Thanks!!
Phantom X

Trad climber
Honeycomb Hideout
Jun 20, 2012 - 12:36am PT
Keep talkin' Grug.
Phantom X

Trad climber
Honeycomb Hideout
Jun 20, 2012 - 12:37am PT
C'mon hit me again.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 20, 2012 - 12:42am PT
> First free in 1976 - could this have been in the first 10 free ascents?

I have it at around the 7th? ascent on my list, but I wasn't around, so this is just a few that I have heard of after the fact.
Best to check with Werner!
[Edit:] Werner (and Long and Bachar) already shared several stories in the thread that Roy linked in his post below.

Astroman - 5.11c *** (11p: 4-6 5.11)

FFA - John Long, Ron Kauk, John Bachar, 5/75
not a continouous free ascent, but all pitches were freed individually during 2 separate days
one day: Kauk had spied the enduro corner, and went over with Bachar to try it. Bachar led the boulder problem (p3), and then Kauk led the enduro corner (p4) with no falls. This was the first time these pitches had been freed.
another day: Kauk and Bachar returned with Long. They jumared a fixed rope to the top of pitch 4, to get out in front of some parties which were aiding the route. They freed from pitch 5 to the top, with many of these pitches being freed for the first time. Pitch 5 (5.10) had previously been freed by Mead Hargis. John Long had also previously freed pitch 5 and a 5.10d pitch above Changing Corners during a mostly aid ascent.
2nd? FA - Ray Jardine, Vern Clevenger, Spring 1975
1 bivouac
3rd? FA - Ron Kauk, 6/1977
led all pitches; Werner Braun jumared
up to the last pitch by 11am
4th? FA - John Bachar, 6/1977
led all pitches; Rick Piggot jumared
5th? FA - Dale Bard
led all pitches; partner jumared
6th? FA - Max Jones, Mark Hudon, Fall 1977
7th? FA - Tobin Sorenson, 5/1978
led all pitches; David Goeddel jumared, wet conditions
photo trip report
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