Royal Robbins (RIP)


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rick sumner

Trad climber
reno, nevada/ wasilla alaska
Mar 14, 2017 - 06:10pm PT
He was without doubt the number one pioneering american climber of the 1960's.

Was lucky enough to work with him on the Tahoe guidebook researched and put together 1974-75 and published in 76. As a climber in his very early twenties, I marveled at what I considered a very old man of 40 years floating Surrealistic Direct in high top Keds tennis shoes. Funny how perspectives change.

Condolences to his family and close freinds.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 14, 2017 - 06:20pm PT
This is very sad news; it feels very personal. My sincerest condolences to Liz, Tamara, and Damon.

I don't get back to California much but when I visited a few years ago, I called Royal on my way back to SF from the Valley (I think it was the Sacherer Memorial weekend). He rearranged his schedule, and we sat at his kitchen table easing back into a time-long-ago. Just the two of us; Liz had an appointment she had to keep. I was surprised when he told me that he had read things I had written on SuperTopo and gratified that he liked my take on the 60s and the 70s. As has happened before when I have had a chance to catch up with Yosemite climbers before my generation, the look back foreshortened the 20 years spanning from the mid-50s to the mid-70s: it all feels so comfortable and fluid, like it occurred at one time in one place with one group of climbers (none of which is accurate). Always warms the place up.

As brief as it was, I am very glad we caught a bit of quiet time together.

Royal did a lot more than climb new, hard routes; we are all part of his legacy.

Social climber
Mar 14, 2017 - 06:28pm PT
Climber, Boater, Writer RIP

Trad climber
Mar 14, 2017 - 06:32pm PT
Not just granite. He did some good alpine limestone climbs too.
How many people in the 60's thought of doing the north face of Edith Cavell solo?

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 14, 2017 - 06:48pm PT

Royal Robbins was my hero when I was 16 and he still is. He was the greatest. Feels like I have a hole in my chest. Condolences to all of his peers and fans worldwide. He was an American treasure.

Ice climber
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:06pm PT
Rip Lord of the Great Stone. Your spirit will for ever be missed. Thanks for setting the example for many great generations of climbers.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:08pm PT
Put this on the other forum as well. Wow what a huge loss. Seemed like that guy never got old. I idolized others more but he seemed to loom large over everything climbing related when I was getting into climbing.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:23pm PT
A life well lived, but I still have tears in my eyes.

Social climber
Wise Acres
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:24pm PT

Sad day R. I. P. Royal!

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:25pm PT
Royal Robbins is woven inextricably into my idea of what rock climbing means.

Trad climber
Clovis, CA
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:47pm PT
Thank you Royal for your inspiration.

Mountain climber
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:55pm PT
In my signed book of legends, he is among the greatest.

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:56pm PT
RIP Royal.

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Mar 14, 2017 - 07:59pm PT

This is one of my favorite images of Royal Robbins. It was taken on the descent from Robbins' ascent of Tis-sa-ack on Half Dome with Don Peterson. The article that Royal wrote about that climb, where he assumed the narrative of all his partners, was groundbreaking and many consider it his finest work.

Mar 14, 2017 - 08:03pm PT
Time to climb a Robbins route or FFA or in good style and celebrate the man. How about a Muir Wall solo?

Much gratitude for being shown a worthy path on the stone. Condolence to all.

right here, right now
Mar 14, 2017 - 08:04pm PT

At the foot of the Planet of the Apes Wall, Malibu Creek runs neat. In the late 1980s, The Gargoyle, E, Mike and Mari, perhaps Mike Ayon, Matt Dancy, a couple others and I were top roping this dirt clod cliff. From the Bubba Deck, Guns and Roses blazed above our pipes and catcalls……


We all turned our necks aside, ears now stolen uphill along the wall by the hollow thud of a trundling kayak. Two steps behind and attending this curious portage was none other than Royal: the man, myth, scholar…no…make that, Professor, of the steep.

The waterman caught us in his eye, smartly gathered his boat in hand, shuttled it down the slope, plainly dropping the plastic porpoise square within our little circle. Shod in primate-toed neoprene boating booties, the man neatly snatched a string of handy solution pockets dotting the base of the wall and performed a dandy left to right climber-style traverse for us: one part dance, two parts monkey bar routine, three parts Royal!

Without any further ado, and with no break in motion he stepped off the rock, grabbed up his boat, plopped it in the stream, wriggled back into the flow and while Mari perched with her camera clicking, Royal, resuming his descent and in regal declarative, hollered out to our motley crew: “Tell all your friends you saw Royal Robbins in a kayak!"

And that we did.
We're still telling 'em, Royal.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Mar 14, 2017 - 08:09pm PT
Heard him give a talk at a Sierra Club banquet a few years back. He didn't talk about climbing too much. He talked about hopping trains when he was a kid.


Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
Mar 14, 2017 - 08:19pm PT
His solo of the Muir Wall BITD always blew me away, among other things. RIP Royal, a life extremely well lived!

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Mar 14, 2017 - 08:19pm PT
Pat Ament said it best when he entitled his book on Royal: The Spirit of the Age. That's how I saw Royal in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Many climbers of that period were reverential of the man and his accomplishments.
RIP Royal.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Mar 14, 2017 - 08:24pm PT
He was completely patient with little girls who were interested in chess :)

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