Am really not qualified to add to this sad thread, but his book was integral to a solo trip I took to Orzaba.
Am not that much of an adventurer, so for me, the trip was a real high point, in more ways than one. Got sold for life on neck gaiters, based on a comment in the book.
[Nearly set the hut on fire with my gasoline stove. Yes there were LOTS of rats there, and the usual "Adventure Guides, Inc." type-groups from USA. On the whole, I'd recommend camping a few hundred feet higher....]
I first met RJ at an outdoor retail trade show in the late 80's... this quiet guys sort of shuffles up to me with a white collar shirt and pocket protector and says, "I hear you've been doing some climbs in the Sierra? can you look at this map and confirm the location of a few peaks?" That started many years of friendship and swapping info. I would receive a letter with a section of a topographic map, a few notes and a series of questions about routes.
One of the more amusing elements of our friendship over the years was how he would take the topos I'd send to him of routes and "translate" it into a narrative description...often summing up several pitches (or a whole route!) into a short sentence...and do it well He was always very clear about not wanting to add drawings into his book, but to keep it in the traditional format he enjoyed.
One summer in the mid 90's I was hiking out from Little Slide Canyon and came across RJ a bit off route mucking around in the underbrush... he was hiking up to see what all the fuss was about the Incredible Hulk and admitted to being "lost"...after a good laugh together and setting him on the right path (there was no trail back then) he pointed out the irony of a guidebook author having trouble locating a peak by using his own book!
In the early 80’s, I was at Plaza de Mulas Camp, one of the busiest base camps on Aconcagua; lots of people and activity about. It was excessively windy and cold and damn near impossible to recognize anyone there all bundled up. This guy walks-up outta the blue and introduces himself to me. His sharp eyes saw my initials that I had sharpied onto a cuff of my jkt. A meeting of probably the only two guys there that went by 2 initials, “Hey, EC Joe, I’m RJ Secor.” Sporadically throughout the years following, we exchanged info about the Sierra. Sorry to have you leave us...
A familiar presence weekday afternoons on the Mt Wilson Toll Road during the 80's and 90's. Don't know how I ever made the connection that he was RJ, but after years of nodding as I ran or biked past- we became acquaintances.
What a legacy he leaves with his High Sierra guidebook.
So long buddy. You were one of a kind.
One night after an SCMA meeting a bunch of us, including RJ, retired to the Tam for drinks as was per usual. Being that RJ had always been a bit of an enigma to me, I decided after lubricating my tongue with a few Black and Tans, that I should engage him in conversation, hoping to divine a fuller understanding of the man. RJ was a mountaineer, guide book author, occasional climbing partner and respected fellow member of the AAC, but RJ the man remained much a blank area on the map for me.
After an hour of talking climbing, writing, and the hardships of collecting accurate information on climbing routes and first ascents, I felt I was no where closer to a deeper understanding of R J. Finally, in a bit of frustration, I asked RJ what he really did for a living. I mean, like, what did he really do beside write guide books? RJ took a long, even draw from his Black and Tan and matter of factually said, “ I'm an international playboy.” I smiled and said, “Right RJ, what do you really do?” He looked me straight in the eye and said rather smugly,” I am an international playboy.” Then the conversation returned to my climb of Aconcagua without skipping a beat. What a character! If you knew RJ, you knew that being an international playboy was about 180 degrees out from who he really was. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants but I think RJ was serious!
Apparently he had business cards with that printed on them that he sometimes gave out.
I never met R.J. But a friend told me about a peak climbing trip where there was a disagreement about the route. Partway up the mountain R.J. insisted that they go a particular way, holding up as evidence an envelope filled with pages of notes from his book. The party split... and R.J. eventually turned around and joined the others when he discovered his way didn't go.
“One of my goals in life is to go around the world three times and visit every mountain range twice. But whenever I have wandered other mountains, I have been homesick for the High Sierra. I am a hopeless romantic, and therefore my opinions cannot be regarded as objective. But how can I be objective while discussing the mountains I love?”
With RJ, it was all about mountains. He was on north side of Everest in 1986, one of the first trips there after China opened Tibet to climbing. He was on Cho Oyu a few years later. I remember trips to Alaska, several to South America (one of them with me) and the one we almost did to Ruwenzori Mountains in Congo. He loved the mountains more than anything. As someone said long time ago, he usually was "the sharpest person in the room" as well. The quote you mention describes the man perfectly.