Tom Higgins

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Tamara Robbins

climber
not a climber, just related...
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 21, 2018 - 02:23pm PT
I’ve been asked to share very sad news about Higgins. He died this morning, and his wife Nancy could use all the support we can give her. Those who were close to them, please reach out if you can. You may email me for contact information at tamara@postpro.net, those with my phone feel free to call.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:26pm PT
Awful news, Tamara. My condolences to you and to Nancy and all of Tom's friends and climbing partners.
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:39pm PT
I can't believe what I just read.

One of the greats. Rest in Peace, Tom.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:39pm PT
So sorry to hear this.
Just a few months ago, he shared some stories and photos from doing the first ascent of Shake and Bake at the Pinnacles.
http://www.pinnacles.org/news/show-news.php?news_id=261
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/3034220/Tom-Higgins-Shake-and-Bake-FA-Narrative
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:50pm PT
What a great photo, Clint. Thanks for posting it over here.
hellroaring

Trad climber
San Francisco
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:51pm PT
So sorry to hear this horrible news. Was in Pinnacles on Monday and was thinking about some of the routes he put up there. RIP Tom...
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:55pm PT
One of the greats, RIP

Love this story he wrote and had on his website as a memorial to Bev Johnson

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php/tributes/70-tribute-to-bev-johnson-climbing-astroman-together

I knew Bev from climbing with her some in the 70’s. We did a number of short crack climbs in Yosemite. She had an infectious energy, raw power and determination on the rock which I much admired. I also loved how she handled being a woman climber when there were few and when lots of men were threatened by the thought of a woman entering their prized mostly male sanctuary. She entered the holy place without knocking and blasted around with such confidence and verve it made all the chauvinism look utterly silly.

I have not told the following tale anywhere because it is hardly my proudest moment or hers (I can’t find any writing of hers on the climb either), but Beverley and I did Astroman in the early 80s, nearly coming undone in the process. I was determined to get it free within my old traditional standards of few falls, no hangs and starting over after falls from free stances or pitch starts. I was still in rebellion against style transitions of the day and prone to occasional mad proselytizing on the subject. Beverley respected my desire and knew about my stylistic warring but mostly just wanted to do the climb however we did it. Off we went.

All went well until the Enduro Corner. Beverley tried to lead it but half way up got tired and started hanging for rests. She was angry at herself the more she rested. I was quiet at first, and then in a rising pissy mood protested, “NO AID.” She told me to f*#k off. I said we should rap off if we couldn’t do it in good style. She challenged me right back saying something like, “Let’s see you do it right.” Now I was wildly fired up to give it a go, just the mood I needed looking back on it. Down she came and up I went. She was grim faced but I ignored her. We should have talked it out but didn’t. When I was about a third of the way up the corner, she told me she wouldn’t hold me if I fell and I’d just have to start over. “Fine” I yelled back. The camaraderie we had established over several climbs together was falling apart. I found there were a few edges on the right wall allowing rests here and there and managed to get near the end of the corner without a fall before the crack opens up. Suddenly a batch of swallows burst out of the crack into my face and off I went, screaming. Before I could say anything, Beverly, true to her promise and the very rules I touted for the climb, lowered me away to start again.

At the belay ledge I looked at her and said, sheepishly, “It wasn’t my fault!” She looked at me with her soft but penetrating eyes and slowly started to smile, then laugh. Our temper tantrum melted away thanks to her good heart. She, unlike me, was looking beyond the climbing to its meaning for two people who loved the walls. We sat and laughed for several moments. Then, looking over to Half Dome starting to turn golden she slapped my leg and said, “You’re a f*#ker!” I said back, “I know.” I remember that interchange like it happened yesterday. I guess it was what I needed, because I got the corner next try and Beverly followed it with only one fall and rest, and was fine with it.
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Mar 21, 2018 - 02:59pm PT
Tom was one of the "regulars" at Stoney Point on weekends during the 1962-1972, more or less, era. I am SO SADDENED by this news and will need some time to take it in. I last saw Higgins at Tom Gerughty's Memorial where he gave a beautiful slide show of Gerughty's climbs. I'll probably post more later...

Condolences to Nancy, his wife, and their daughter, Bonnie Kamps who, with Bob Kamps, was SO IMPORTANT in his life, and all others who knew him.

Edit:

When Russ phoned with the sad news, we both cried and spoke softly, remembering our early climbing origins at Stoney Point where we transformed ourselves and each other from boys to men, growing outward, if not upward, toward tiny holds and mountain summits, both within and beyond our grasp.

A short while ago, I spoke with Nancy, Tom's wife, and she was very present and clear as she spoke about the challenges Tom faced in his recent days and weeks. Considering the circumstances, seems to be doing quite well while waiting for their daughter to arrive from out of town.

A couple of photos of Tom as most of us knew him best, handsome and smiling while enjoying his connection to the rock and himself.



Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:02pm PT
If people only knew how hard those routes Tom at put up Tahquitz, back in the 60s, in junk shoes. Try and climb the last pitch of Jonah in lug sole shoes and you're looking at 5.12 for sure. And run out as hell.

All of us Stonemasters followed Tom's footsteps, along with Kamps and Powell and all the rest. But Tom was a special talent.

Sorry to all concerned.
wayne burleson

climber
Amherst, MA
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:06pm PT
Very sad. He was always one of my heroes.
His web-site http://www.tomhiggins.net/ has lots of his writing and photos.
the goat

climber
north central WA
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:13pm PT
Always thought if it's a Higgins route, be prepared. RIP Tom.
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:17pm PT
Of the recent passings, this is the one that got me crying. Condolences to family and all our community.

Darwin
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:23pm PT
I let out a cry that frightened my wife. Tom and I weren't close friends, but we shared a friendship with Bob and Bonnie Kamps and Pat Ament and found ourselves the same places over the years. We are part of a generation (technically more like three generations) that has been shedding members, both famous and not, for the last ten years, and I find the loss of one of the tribe often seems surprisingly personal, perhaps because our adventures were part of the same era and that era disappears as we do.

I had heard about Tom's struggles with back pain. He is now, finally, at rest. My sincerest condolences to Nancy and to his friends and folks like me, who felt a deep connection even without the bonds of a personal friendship.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:29pm PT
I knew Tom mostly through my work as President of Friends of Pinnacles.
Tom was always up for coming down to the Pinns and helping to spread the
word about what a special place the Pinnacles was for climbing. He
participated in a number of special events we worked with the NPS to
promote.

Also, I worked with a number of climbers, including Clint, to rebolt a
lot of Tom's Pinnacles's climbs. Tom was very grateful for this work
and every few years a check would show up in the Friends of Pinnacles
mailbox from Tom with a note of thanks.

Most recently, as Clint posted upthread, I contacted Tom to see if he
would write a piece about the FA of the Pinnacles Classic Shake and Bake.
His prose eloquently captured the spirit of that historical moment though
penned 41 years after the first ascent.

Obviously, we needed photos and Tom was gracious to scan his archives
and digitize them. We responded to his generosity by asking for more
photos:-)

Of course, none of this even begins to describe the impact that Tom's
climbing and his writings had on the general climbing community. He was
at the leading edge both in his climbing exploits and describing them for
his fellow climbers in such prestigious periodicals as Ascent and the
American Alpine Journal.

As with his landmark climbs his writings are still held in high regard
and referenced many, many years later.

RIP, Tom.

ps - in his later years Tom did a lot of road bike riding. I think it's
time to go out now and log a few miles in his honor.
aldude

climber
Monument Manor
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:45pm PT
What a shame...his excellent essay "Tricksters and Traditionalists" was an influential treatise on first ascent climbing style!
AKDOG

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:48pm PT
So sorry to hear this, condolences to all Tom’s friends and family.

Tom was already a living legend when I started climbing in the late 1970’s. My friends and I actively sought out his routes in Tuolumne, because we knew those routes would be full value.
RIP…
i-b-goB

Social climber
Wise Acres
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:48pm PT
RIP Tom!
life is a bivouac

Trad climber
Bishop
Mar 21, 2018 - 03:50pm PT
It's with tears that I type this that well up so many memories flashing in and out of view... The sandstone that first brought us together, oatmeal and little more on our first bivowacs, fear and challenges on Tahquitz' granite we all worked so hard to master. I'm just so sorry We fell out of touch...
My deepest condolences to Nancy and their daughter, Alanna.
Russel McLean
jogill

climber
Colorado
Mar 21, 2018 - 04:00pm PT
This stunned me. I used to meet with Tom, Bob Kamps, Mark Powell, Rich Goldstone, and others in August in the Needles of the Black Hills. I would sit back and watch Tom and Bob carefully work their way up some forbidding spire, tip-toeing on tiny nubbins, always in control. A beautiful thing to observe.

My condolences to family and friends. RIP, Tom.

(Bonnie Kamps is not his daughter)
Levy

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Mar 21, 2018 - 04:07pm PT
My deepest condolences to Tom's family. He left us a legacy of magnificent routes put up in impeccable style. He was also a class act.

His writing was always spot on, top quality stuff.

R.I.P. Tom
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Mar 21, 2018 - 04:25pm PT

Goodbye Mr. Higgins. You inspired us.

Peace to his family and friends.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Mar 21, 2018 - 04:50pm PT
So sorry to hear this. It seems especially hard when the person who dies is younger than oneself. So many strong climbers have died before me.

I'll always remember Tom as much for his intellect as his climbing. He wrote such insightful pieces on the Sacherer thread. RIP. Your pain is over.

Condolences to his family.
Neander

Mountain climber
Reno, NV
Mar 21, 2018 - 04:57pm PT
Hard to know what to say. Lost Bud Couch a while ago.
Did a lot of climbing with Higgins, had a lot of trust.
I climbed better with Tom than with anyone else.
He expected it.
Drank some whiskey. Ate a lot of Ramen.
Higgins has been part of our family in many ways.
He and I somehow managed to squeeze into the Mendenhall/Dyar world.
Did a lot of laughing. Never uttered a single cross word.
I'm going to miss him.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Mar 21, 2018 - 04:59pm PT
I had just spoken to Tom, as he was helping me with my new book. We did so many good climbs together, but always we laughed. A short while ago he wrote to me, "We digitized all the old prints, negatives and albums and get to go back in time with mouse clicks. And there we are, big red walls rising above us, Eldorado, our youthful faces... your smile near smirk, hardly did we know what a prize our youth and climbing were. It all sits in me as far fading. Nothing new in how time moves and the past fades... I am so very grateful in spite of all the stupidity... I was privileged to teeter up and up with friends in sun on the most gorgeous walls we then knew.... Great was the raw earth, and our touching it....
Me"

Tom was the best, our best.


A small P.S. I am generally very happy to let people use photos, but that does not mean I would not appreciate at least a credit, or simply to ask....
RURP_Belay

Big Wall climber
Bitter end of a bad anchor
Mar 21, 2018 - 05:02pm PT
So sad - RIP Tom.

His last post is eerie in it's similarity.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=3034220&msg=3034843#msg3034843
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 05:06pm PT
I'm so sorry to hear this. I am always inspired by Tom's stories and words, which capture so much of the spirit of climbing.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Higgins.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Mar 21, 2018 - 05:11pm PT
Neander

Mountain climber
Reno, NV
Mar 21, 2018 - 05:29pm PT
I remember the shirt--and that FAST Porsche that got us to Colorado, where we stayed with Dave Rearick.
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 05:48pm PT
RIP - lost for words.
Curt

climber
Gold Canyon, AZ
Mar 21, 2018 - 06:07pm PT
I'm really sorry to hear this. RIP, Tom.

Curt
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 21, 2018 - 06:11pm PT
Surprising and sad. My sincerest condolences to Tom's family and friends.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 06:11pm PT
This is very sad news. Condolences to his family and many friends.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 06:53pm PT
McLean just called me.

Stoney Point: Tom Higgins, Bob Kamps, Dennis Hennek, Ken Boche, Russ McLean

That was Stoney back in the 60s

Rest easy Tom.
rmuir

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Mar 21, 2018 - 06:54pm PT
Rest in peace, Mr. Higgins. Your leadership was an inspiration to us all! My condolences to everyone who knew this fine man.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Mar 21, 2018 - 07:07pm PT


Darwin, the same happened here. I have not cried for years but when I read the FB post a few hours ago I cried so very hard.

I met Higgins @ 6 years ago and he has been a huge blessing and help advising Yerian and I on the book we are putting together, Tuolumne Climber. I cannot say enough about his wisdom, caring, creativity and genuine love for his family and the climbing community. Peace Tom and huge hugs and love to his family. Lynne Leichtfuss
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Mar 21, 2018 - 07:24pm PT
Oh man, so very sorry.
Best thoughts and healing to all family and friends.

SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, A sailboat, or some time zone
Mar 21, 2018 - 07:45pm PT
So very sad.


Susan
Bushman

climber
The state of quantum flux
Mar 21, 2018 - 07:53pm PT
Face Climber

I found an edge
then trusted it
from hand to foot
and then another
I searched and found
a minute rugosity
and trusted it
like a brother



To many of us
You were one of the great ones
Goodbye Mr Higgins
Larry

Trad climber
Bisbee
Mar 21, 2018 - 08:36pm PT
Every Higgins route that I've climbed shines in my memory.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Mar 21, 2018 - 08:57pm PT
I’m at a loss for words, my deepest condolences and empathy for Tom’s family and friends.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Mar 21, 2018 - 09:18pm PT
Anyone who has stanced a hand drilled bolt knows Tom's spirit. Or at least I would like to think that.

Rest well Tom
jstan

climber
Mar 21, 2018 - 09:35pm PT
Many decades ago I was talking to Bridwell about a Higgins face climb I had had trouble with.

Bridwell said, " I was not a face climber. But Higgns........" At that point Bridwell only shook his head.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Mar 21, 2018 - 10:02pm PT
Tom left this autobiographical sketch (2014) on his website. I never knew about The Line's FFA till now.

http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php/about-tom-higgins?showall=1&limitstart=

Into the void...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 10:03pm PT
such very sad news

whenever I met Tom it was always a memorable occurrence, and I will keep those fond memories as a gift. Those memories always bubble up when I'm imagining my line through one of his climbs, getting up the courage to go where he went first.

thanks Tom.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Mar 21, 2018 - 10:27pm PT
In the fall of 1972, (my senior year at Cal) Tom showed up in Berkeley, and we bouldered together at Indian Rock quite a bit. This news stuns and saddens me greatly. He was one of the most likeable climbers -- and people -- I've ever known. I can't imagine the grief his family must feel now.

Rest in peace, good man.

John
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Mar 21, 2018 - 10:43pm PT
hey there say, tamara... i did not know him, or his family... i am so sad to hear this, and, my prayers and condolences,to her, the rest of his family, and his loved ones... :(


may friends and loved-ones make her strong, through this sad hard time, of
moving on without him... :(
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 22, 2018 - 05:19am PT
Lynne, the op was edited and the only reference to what you mention is your own. You too, have the power to edit.
I don’t entirely agree, btw,but I’m sure that topic will get its own thread
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Mar 22, 2018 - 06:26am PT
The fact that Tom Higgins, a Titan from my youth, would post here as LongAgo and tell stories was one of the things that charmed me about this place.
Tom Patterson

Trad climber
Seattle
Mar 22, 2018 - 06:37am PT
What a profound loss. My sincere condolences to his family and all his many friends.
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
Mar 22, 2018 - 10:12am PT
my sincere condolences to tom's family and friends. he will be immortal in my eye for his routes in my beloved tuolumne. long ago he helped me with an article on tuolumne, much appreciated. so sad, steve
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Mar 22, 2018 - 10:39am PT
Sad news.
Fly free Tom.

I offer my sincere condolences to Toms Family and friends.

RIP
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Mar 22, 2018 - 10:48am PT
So very sorry to read this. I never knew Tom personally but followed his climbing accomplishments from afar throughout his career and occasionally had the opportunity to sample some of his many outstanding routes. We were pretty much exact contemporaries based on the opposite coasts(though Tom was a far more accomplished climber than I have ever been) and we shared a common profession. More recently I have always been impressed by his occasional contributions on this forum. Condolences to his family. RIP Tom.
Chris Jones

Social climber
Glen Ellen, CA
Mar 22, 2018 - 11:07am PT
A stunning loss to not only the climbing world, but the wider world itself. Our thoughts are with his wife Nancy and their daughter Alanna.

One of the several climbs I did over the years with Tom was his superb Tuolomne route, "The Vision." We both found the crux pitch quite sketchy on that occasion, but had such a good time. And that wonderful heartfelt laugh he had. Such a fine, fine person.

Some years ago I gave a talk on American climbing at a UK conference. I stated: "I remember talking to Californian Tom Higgins about his trip to the Alps in the mid 1960s. He had spent his time in Chamonix free climbing the routes on the Aiguille de l’M and Pointe Albert! I was appalled. It struck me as absolute stupidity; what about the great North Face routes! These Americans simply don’t get it I thought to myself. But many years later I now realize that his quest was in fact visionary."

aspendougy

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 22, 2018 - 01:36pm PT
You struggle up a run out route in Tuolumne, and you sigh in relief as you reach a bolt. Then you think, "This guy stood on some dinky stance long enough to put in that bolt."

A unique form of service to fellow human beings, thank you Tom for all those dicey placements, and for your thoughtful, articulate musings on the climbing scene.
Bruce Morris

Trad climber
Soulsbyville, California
Mar 22, 2018 - 01:58pm PT
I can still remember when Bob Harrington sent me and Nick Badyrka out away from the road to do Tom Higgin's "Vision". Beautiful location, beautiful rock and the crux pitch was just amazing.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Mar 22, 2018 - 02:01pm PT
My condolences to his family and friends.

I only knew Tom Higgins through his fine writing & the writing & photos by other climbers.

My life is poorer for never having met him.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Mar 22, 2018 - 03:40pm PT
Very sad news, about someone whose uncompromising ethics and actions set an example for all to aspire to.

We corresponded a little, but never met - I'd hoped that he would be at the Robbins memorial.

His deft writing was also a marvel, such as his satire "In Due Time". It's fascinating that Yosemite in the 1960s should have inspired the work of Sheridan Anderson and that of Higgins, and also that of Robbins in Tis-sa-Ack. All somewhat introspective and all gently witty.

Some of us once did his route The Peanut, on the apron by the Yosemite Falls trail. Rather adventuresome, although being inured to Squamish slabs helped.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 22, 2018 - 03:50pm PT

So sad.
My sincere condolences to Tom's family and friends.

Rest in Peace, Tom.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Mar 22, 2018 - 05:48pm PT
I was lucky to meet him in my formative years. Tom and Bruce Cooke were the most influential people in my little world. Delightful. Thanks, Tom. You made a difference. Best wishes for Nancy.
Steve Moyles
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California, now Ireland
Mar 22, 2018 - 06:30pm PT
Oh no, so sad. Like John, I used to boulder with Tom at Indian Rocks, a super nice guy, a gentleman, and a darn great climber. Patrick
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 22, 2018 - 06:43pm PT
Tuolumne Meadows
Tom Higgins

FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY
high-angle face climbing in cool, glistening surroundings, the granite domes of Tuolumne Meadows are ideal. Near to Yosemite, but 4,000 feet higher, Tuolumne is a cool alternative to climbing in the heat of a Yosemite summer. Also, in contrast to the smooth grey rock of Yosemite, the granite of Tuolumne is orange, bright and knobby, though sometimes broken by a flashing sheet of smooth glacier polish. Climbing here is an airy, visually titillating experience.

There is only one drawback to climbs on such gorgeous rock. So perfect are the domes that many routes are broken by few if any cracks. Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint - the established routes without cracks are generally well protected by bolts. If one chooses to use them (virtually everyone does) they first must be found. A certain amount of squinting into the sea of reflective knobs and crystals is necessary to turn up the small hangers on quarter-inch studs.

Tuolumne and Yosemite climbs differ not only in their character and temperature but in their length. The longest climbs in Tuolumne are around 10 to 12 pitches, but most average three to five pitches. As a result, there is plenty of time for beer drinking, swimming' and hiking before or after climbing. A seasonal store and restaurant provide some of the basic food and drink necessary to keep one going.

Tuolumne Meadows is located at 8,000ft in the high country above and north of Yosemite Valley. The area is reached by driving from Yosemite along Tioga Road for about an hour, or until the first view of the large, shining granite domes knocks you out of your car.

First to come into sight while travelling west to east are Polly Dome and its subsidiaries along the north side of the winking Tenaya Lake. Pywiack Dome stands at the east end of the lake and the Pennyroyal Arches to the south. In another few minutes of driving Medlicott Dome, a long low schooner, appears to the south-east. Its highest neighbour, Mariuolumne, is just to the north. Together they hide a shallow lake near their summits. Next, again to the south of the road, appears a soft-looking pyramid, the Lamb. A gradual turn and drop in the road prepares one for the free-floating feeling of encountering Fairview Dome, hovering huge above treetops, isolated from all the rest. Across from Fairview is Daff Dome, named by an acronym (Dome Across From Fairview). The trip ends in another mile or two in Tuolumne Meadows proper, touched off by little Lembert Dome at the east end.

The development of climbing on the beautiful granite domes of Tuolumne Meadows is a story with many paradoxes. In his Climber's Guide to the High Sierra, Steve Roper says Tuolumne is visited by "vast numbers" of hardmen who establish residence there. "Crowded", Roper calls it. In fact, Tuolumne traditionally has not been excessively crowded, as one might expect of such an attractive area. Only recently have many climbers been attracted to Tuolumne. Perhaps this paradox can be explained by another - one of the best rock climbing areas in the country has no guidebook exclusively devoted to it. Except for Roper's Guide to the High Sierra and an old article in Ascent, there are no descriptions to the Tuolumne Domes. Finally, a decade of tradition in climbing style, turned topsy-turvy inside of a few recent years, adds still another irony.

Beginnings

There are probably two reasons why the first long, notable route in Tuolumne did not spur on other climbs until four years later. Chuck Pratt and Wally Reed climbed the Fairview Dome by way of the most central major crack system on the north face in 1958, bivouacking once and using many pitons for aid. Along with a few short routes on Lembert in the 1950s, done by Warren Harding, Dick Leonard and others (including the now famous Water Cracks), the long Pratt-Reed ascent of Fairview was to become a classic and popular climb, but not immediately. First, more interest in face climbing had to develop and second, interest had to be quickened an area lesser in scale and grandeur than Yosemite.

Edging, friction and route-finding techniques, so necessary on the blank faces of Tuolumne, began to develop in Yosemite and Tahquitz to the south shortly after the first major climb in Tuolumne. Bill Amborne, Eric Beck, Jeff Foott, Bob Kamps, and Frank Sacherer, among others, created excellent Yosemite face-climbing routes on Glacier Point Apron and/or Cathedral Rocks, beginning in 1960. Then, in 1962, some of the best California climbers were to visit Tuolumne, diverging from climbs where the greatest prestige and interest centred - Yosemite aid walls and smooth crack climbs.

The stage was therefore set for 1962 and 1963. In these years Bob Kamps and Mort Hempel freed the Pratt-Reed route on Fairview, though not in a style which was to credit them with a first free ascent. Kamps followed one pitch free on which Hempel used one pin of aid leading. Frank Sacherer and Wally Reed climbed West Crack (5.8) on Daff Dome in 1963. This intimidating but moderate climb probably attracted crack-man Sacherer because it follows an unbroken 400ft sliver on the west face. However, delicious knob climbing, not jamming, characterises this climb and makes it a perfect introduction to Tuolumne rock.

The Great White Book (5.6) on Stately Pleasure Dome, another now-popular climb following an unmistakable left-facing open book, was done by Hope Morehouse, Jim Baldwin and Jeff Foott in 1962. In the same year Wally Reed and Glen Denny climbed the Inverted Staircase on Fairview Dome, and a year later Kamps and Reed freed this route (5.10). Perhaps Kamps had more than his usual one or two cups of morning coffee. He eased up the crux lead like smoke, but with no puff. To this day, the three-step arch pitch turns back top climbers and has limited the current ascent total to perhaps half a dozen.

Plum years -- 1965-70

A few of the climbers who first nervously toed on to the Tuolumne walls and felt the cool, deep blue air knew a decade or more of face climbing might be beginning. All was not certain - whether one could stand on knobs and edges long enough to place protection bolts on sections of crackless walls, or whether the sense of teetering was pleasure or fear or what. But the beauty of it all, the weakening inside at tilting back to see oceans of rock, this feeling of being propelled around - up, down, or was it away - this convinced some to try a dose of Tuolumne rock, cracked and crackless.

One of the first to take too strong a dose of crackless rock was Tom Gerughty. Tom, his camera eye far in front of his climbing eye, chose to follow the lovely white crystal strings on Pywiack Dome. Perhaps he hoped for a path of friendly crystals. He set out in 1966 with Dave Meeks and Roger Evja. Tom had not placed bolts before from small stances and found he could not stop at hard sections to do so. He trembled up and up on the continuous last pitch, afraid to go on, afraid to go down. The drill dangled uselessly from his side. At the end of the last pitch, he risked a 200ft slab-splashing fall. Shaking violently, he somehow made the move. Since Tom's ordeal and with his permission, one or two more bolts have been added to make the climb (5.8) a sane, though scary, venture.

The Dike was the aesthetic plum on Pywiack, following the sinuous crystal dikes on the north face. It was a pivotal climb as well, for it alerted other climbers to the possibilities and risks of venturing on to crackless Tuolumne rock. The lesson was well taken. Between 1965 and 1970, climbers - including Gerughty - took the main arches and grooves of Tuolumne Domes. Only now and then were totally crackless areas climbed, and usually only between cracks. The resulting routes are some of the most pleasing to be found anywhere. The Hobbit Book (5.7) is a striking dihedral route on Mariuolumne, where the climbing is on chickenheads and waves of orange rock. Topping off the route is a hidden, highly reflective lake just over the summit.

Many of the lines following cracks on Medlicott were also done in this period, the finest being the Yawn (5.9), the Coming (5.9) and Chartres (5.9). The Yawn, done first by TM Herbert and Gordon Webster and freed later by Phil Bircheff, is the only long chimney and crack climb in Tuolumne. Some mysterious order in things has put the most elegant dihedral in the Sierra at the top of this climb. Chartres, done by Kamps and me, is an ethereal line connecting several long arches. When we first climbed the route we arrived at dusk below an enveloping roof at the top, utterly stymied. At the very last we found the secret -- a thick dike glowing around the roof corner.

On Daff Dome, the prominent Crescent Arch began a rating debate in Tuolumne. When Layton Kor and Fred Becky first climbed the route in 1965, neither had much experience with Tuolumne rock. Without the confidence to use the many small crystals and edges, they nailed much of the route. Kamps and Herbert soon after climbed it free, calling the climb 5.9. Robbins disagreed. He called the route 5.10 because the final pitch is so sustained. Kamps disagreed. He claimed that ratings should be tied to sections, not pitches, and that Crescent has no 5.10 sections. Some, including me, have tended toward the Kamps method of rating, while other climbers have not. Thus, rating disagreements stemming from section versus pitch arguments still surround such notable routes as Piece de Resistance, the Vision, and Lucky Streaks. This confusion affects primarily the 5.10 and 5.11 climbs, as it probably does everywhere.

Gradually, many crack systems, buttresses, roofs and other prominent features were climbed in this period, and even several crackless faces. Rawl Drive (5.9), Nerve Wrack Point (5.8) and Vision (5.9) represent examples of lovely, sustained routes on glistening, golden rock made possible by bolts placed on lead from difficult stances.

Here we learned there is no trick to bolt placements from small stances. All one can do is twist, hammer, twist, hammer, stop, hold that flake, free one foot, shake it, free the other, shake it, twist, hammer. In time, the calves bulge, then break through a pain barrier. Ten to 20 minutes later, the bolt is ready to clip through. A lead involving several bolt placements might take a couple of hours. After placing several bolts, the common method of resting was to come down to the last decent stance, rest there, then climb back up and continue until it was possible to stop to place another bolt. It soon became possible to stop in the middle of 5.8 or even 5.9 moves.

Phobus and Deimos (both 5.8 or 5.9) are crack climbs up steep walls and over roofs made possible, even moderate, by knobs and edges. On Deimos, TM Herbert sat below the climb screaming that Gerughty and I should come down off our first ascent. TM said a block was moving on to us, but we kept on trusting the rock over TM. It turns out there are no moving rocks on Deimos. Lucky Streaks (5.9 or 5.10) follows an inspiring, wispy crack system on Fairview. Kamps and I both had several bowel movements before starting this climb, but again, shining gold knobs allowed us to shake along this preposterous line, all in one day with no shenanigans. Thy Will Be Done follows a step over a roof where an undercling can squash your nose into the ceiling as you jig along. Many of these now-classic routes were done by only a handful of climbers in the '60s, probably because there was little information about routes and some exaggerated stories about route difficulty.

Approximately 50 routes were done between 1965 and 1971, and three or four climbers figured in well over half of them. Tom Gerughty, Bob Kamps, TM Herbert and I climbed in Tuolumne in this period without much notice and with an abundance of new route possibilities. An article or two in Ascent and the American Alpine Club Journal told something of Tuolumne climbs, but no formal guidebook developed. Certain climbs, Lucky Streaks and Chartres for example, became known as deadly routes and were unrepeated for three years after the first ascents.

TM Herbert probably did much to scare climbers away with his rubber-faced, wide-eyed tales of first ascents. Swigging a beer and pacing intensely, he would say: "God, you should have seen them," (referring to some first ascent team) "their butts quivering, no place to stop, no protection except for some dinky bolt ... I yelled to 'em over and over there was nothing to go for and no way to reach the ground, and they'd better just jump, but they wouldn't listen . . ."

The controversial '70s The 1970s in Tuolumne have thus far been marked by many new routes, much debate about the appropriateness of guides and articles on Tuolumne, and some arguments about ethical standards. The most active climbers of recent times in Tuolumne are Dale Bard, Bob Harrington and Vern Clevenger. They have created perhaps 30 fine new climbs in Tuolumne since 1970. Vern kept (and still keeps) an informal guidebook to Tuolumne which is passed around only to a few other climbers for fear of attracting too many climbers to the area. Vern initially contributed portions of an early draft of this article, but decided: "I just don't think it belongs in Mountain." Perhaps Vern also feels, as I do, that it is difficult to be objective about a place one has climbed in so much. Yet Vern has contributed considerable information about route development in the 1970s which is presented here, though I must take full responsibility for any misrepresentations. And we have discussed continuously the pros and cons of several recent climbing styles which stand in sharp contrast to the methods of the 1960s.

The main ethical debate between climbers of the 1960s and 1970s has revolved around a transition in specific climbing style. Until 1971 and 1972, the prevailing belief was that aid climbing was not desirable, even though it occurred. I recall Kamps and I turned back at least twice from a route on Fairview Dome which seemed to require aid to surmount a 20ft roof above Crescent Ledge. More strong than the unwritten rule against aid was that 1960s prohibition against: (1) pre-protection (placing protection on rappel or on aid, then free-climbing); (2) previewing (rehearsing moves on rappel or with a top rope); (3) doctoring (fixing chock-stones, chopping holds); and (4) sieging (on climbs, team members following on jumars or on fixed ropes for easy returns to high points, and on pitches, lowering by the rope, then hand-walking it to the high point).

Before 1971, norms excluded these methods, but after 1971 ethical preferences changed. In the years subsequent to 1971 aid climbing, pre-protection, previewing and sieging, though not doctoring, have become more acceptable in Tuolumne.

On Pywiack Dome, Royal Robbins and Chris Vandiver did Boa (5.10 or 5.11, A4 or A5) in 1972, and aid and free climb surmounting a roof on the north face. That same year, a line of bolts obviously placed on aid appeared on the beautiful golden wall on the southern margin of Medlicott. There is still uncertainty about who placed this aid ladder. The Plastic Exploding Inevitable aided the giant roofs above Crescent Ledge on Fairview, a particular disappointment to climbers of the sixties who had left the roof unaided expecting someone someday would climb it free.

Also disturbing to those holding to 1960s Tuolumne ethics were cases of previewing, pre-protecting and sieging. Some routes involving one or more of these tactics include Mr Toad's Wild Ride, Shambles, Hoodwink, Death Crack, Wailing Wall, Handbook, Crying Time Again, and Willie's Hand Jive.

Climbers of both eras have sometimes made fools of themselves defending one or another style. About 1974, I chopped the bolts on Hand Jive because they were placed on rappel and lectured one of the ascent team. Thinking about it afterwards, I felt pretty foolish, but soon found company in the den of fools when the bolts were replaced on rappel, this time more than last! Chris Vandiver reports that arguments continue about the route, and in one case climbers nearly came to blows. Perhaps Werner Braun holds the answer. He chose to climb a route not far from Hand Jive by doing it solo and in work boots. Werner's Wiggle is 5.8, not bad for Werner's first climb!

However many of the recent routes were originally done, several lines of the 1970s offer fine challenges to climbers no matter what their ethical preferences. For face climbers who crave bursts of ??? on tiny edges and glossy knobs, Polly Dome and vicinity are a must. There is Get Slick (5.10) just to the right of the classic Great White Book. And nearby are Piece of Grass (5.10+) and Sweet Nothings (5.10+), just a notch up on the jitter scale from Get Slick. Finally, Dreams (5.11+) and Golden Bars (5.11) are currently the most touchy short face climbs. Climbers who do these routes will look over to the Dike and smile at the thought of Gerughty trembling. Yet the route they are on would not have been possible without the Dike and other climbs, each of which pointed and forever points to the next head-swimming possibility.

In the category of roof problems, several stand out. Jim Bridwell and Roger Breedlove climbed Hoodwink on Harlequin Dome to create that upside-down feeling until a bucket is reached. The roof is followed by a bolt ladder which was placed on aid and then freed immediately. Other climbers felt the ladder wasn't necessary and fewer bolts would have been adequate. Wailing Wall is a roof problem of much more serious nature than Hoodwink. Here, fierce underclinging and jamming on the crux pitch provide plenty of scare. Initially called 5.12, the roof was protected on aid, then slowly but surely freed.

Uh-Uh on Fairview provides a comic relief roof. Imagine a 25ft ceiling which looks impassable but is only 5.3! Unfortunately, getting to the roof is not so pleasant. TM Herbert nearly lost his life (again) on the third ascent, when he was deceived by the devious second (or it is third?) pitch. Sixty feet out in the middle of nowhere and in the midst of incessant whimpering, TM finally placed a bolt. Boa on Pywiack has a roof which resists a free ascent, no matter how defined. Clevenger strained his back on the route and sieged it, but to no avail.

Crack climbing in Tuolumne took off in the 1970s. In 1972 Bridwell and Breedlove climbed Handbook on Whizz Dome to create a 5.11 hand and finger problem. Hints of resting on protection still surround stories of the first ascent. Several years passed before a second ascent, done in reportedly better style. Oz takes an appalling bold crack line on a small dome below Marioulumne. Done in 1975 by Bard and Locke, the route might be the steepest in Tuolumne, a truly dizzy experience.

Reportedly, two aid bolt ladders were employed to protect a headwall which was then free-climbed, all below the main dihedral. Also, the entire route was fixed with ropes to allow easy up and down access.

Death Crack (5.11) on Stately Pleasure Dome provides the overhanging fist and off-
width challenge in the area. After being top-roped by Clevenger and others for two years, it was led in 1976. So overhanging is this crack that the toprope swing is worse than a leader fall! The experience of sailing toward Tenaya Lake horizontally is like hang gliding. Blues Riff (5.11+) on Polly Dome is Bard's contribution to Tuolumne crack climbing. Ten tries over two years and much pre-protection finally created this horrendous route.

In the category of long climbs, the best are on Fairview and Medlicott. Probably the best of all is Piece de Resistance (5.10 or 5.11) on Fairview Dome. I usually am restless the night before first ascents, but for this one I flipped and flopped in my bag from dusk to dawn. Clevenger, on the other hand, showed up at sunrise with his usual relaxed yawn. He and Harrington had been working on the crux headwall pitch some weeks before and could perhaps be more casual. But I also knew they had had to use aid at one point on the headwall and it was not certain it could be eliminated.

I voted for a haul bag with extra shoes, water, food and sleeping bags so as to allow us a good chance at the climb. We hauled lots of junk none of which we ever needed, but all of which helped our buzzing brains. The aid went free, resulting in steep, ceaseless edging up one 5.10 move after another. Because of the quality of the rock, its aesthetic features and the continual blaze of varied difficulty, this route is my favourite in Tuolumne.

Near Piece de Resistance is Mr Toad's Wild Ride, a multi-year effort by Clevenger and others, sieged and aided but eventually freed. An enormous left-facing dihedral (not part of the climb) marks the general line. Here again, the action is superb steep face climbing on rock which sparkles in the afternoon sun. Also nearby are Fairest of All and the Plastic Exploding Inevitable, two other grade V's on Fairview. The latter involves some aid climbing over roofs high on the climb. Freeing the roofs should be ample challenge for the next few years. These are undulating, inverted bulges with few decent cracks. Fairest of All hooks too wildly right at its middle to be a completely satisfying climb, but does involve some intricate, fun pitches before deviating right. When Mike Irwin and I first did this climb in 1973, darkness forced us to rush one pitch below the prominent bowl on the route. I recall climbing a fair amount of 5.8 some 50ft out where a bolt was needed. Reportedly, a subsequent ascent team has added a bolt or two to make this pitch safe.

On Medlicott, a couple of medium length face routes stand out as good examples of climbs of the seventies. Clevenger reports Shambles (5.11+) "has got to be the most continuously scary long climb in the Meadows." Here Vern rediscovered the pull of excitement and push of fear which underlie all the greatest Tuolumne first ascents. After steep, unprotected face climbing, he was tugged ever closer to the gold wall, a dead vertical, deeply coloured sheet of rock on the right edge of Shambles. "I felt pulled toward it, as if the route had to finish on its margin. Jesus, there you are 700ft from the ground, with the sun glowing from above and below you."

The right edge of the gold wall marks Sweet Jesus (5.9), a pleasant excursion on fabulous rock, though a little devious toward the top. More fun, but shorter, is Ciebola (5.10), done last year just to the right of Sweet Jesus. Clevenger reports this is an "instant classic…" with three parties waiting in line for the climb two days after the first ascent". A three foot wide swath of knobs and good bolt protection make this the most joyous of the climbs on Medlicott.

Looking back and ahead

Among the many climbs done in Tuolumne, perhaps a few stand out as the most satisfying and challenging. For face climbers, the Vision and Get Slick are satisfying short climbs in the hard, but not hardest, category. For the hardest, Golden Bars and Wrinkle in Time are two short-climb challenges, with Mr Toad's, Shambles and Piece de Resistance in the long, hard category. Crack climbers will enjoy Phobus and Deimos in the moderate category, and Handbook, Death Crack and Blues Riff in the hardest category. And for classic, moderate routes (5.9 or below), there are the regular route on Fairview Dome, West Crack on Daff Dome, the Dike on Pywiack, the Hobbit Book on Marioulumne and Water Cracks on Lembert Dome.

Obviously the style of ascent is important information in Tuolumne. For those coming to the area uninformed, it is important to know if the hardest routes have been done with or without previewing, rehearsing, pre-protection or sieging. If climbers are led to believe a route has been done without pre-protection or rehearsing, for example, they will find the going unexpectedly difficult, if not dangerous ("sandbagged" describes the predicament of those in trouble on a route because of incomplete information). They may also believe Tuolumne is filled with anti-gravity climbers.

I think all of this points to the need for honesty in reporting ascent styles. Thus the accompanying list of selected climbs makes an attempt to provide at least some information about climbing styles, as has the discussion of routes. I am not certain all of this information is correct or comprehensive, and I must take full responsibility for any errors.

What about the future of climbing and ethics in Tuolumne? One of the most active climbers in recent years, Vern Clevenger, sums it up this way: "The leading climbers, and their ideas, have combined to form an ever-changing style of climbing employed on first ascents. This style is only transformed into 'appropriate ethical behaviour' as time passes away, and only those who change with it are doing the best new routes as the years go by. The majority of the best routes have now been done, but there is always a new gem waiting just around the corner or back behind that dome.

"Obviously, no one has the right to tell another climber how to climb as long as the rock is not hurt… Historically, climbers move on to new places as they come to the conclusion that at least for them personally there just is not anything left worth doing anymore in an area such as Tuolumne. Most realize that they are merely eliminating problems, 'murdering the impossible', rather than solving anything.

"All climbers, especially those who are not yet at this point, have a responsibility to consider whether we really need another route which requires all of the aforementioned devious means of progress and maybe some new methods made up on the spot, for example the use of a bat-hook or quickie bolt in a shallow hole for tension so that a good bolt can be placed. Certainly, there are some excellent remaining possibilities left, but maybe all those days of terrifying strenuous effort could be expended elsewhere. Endless possibilities await the climber who journeys just a few hours away from the Meadows. For me, it is far more satisfying to do a new grade V on a virgin wall than to spend five days on a two-pitch route which barely manages to avoid easy climbing on either side.

"Closer to home, there are some climbs which could be redone in better style. The fixed protection, placed on aid, could be removed from the Wailing Wall, Death Crack, Boa and others so that their true difficulties can be dealt with. Far short of this extreme, however, lie hundreds of good routes to have a great time on, which after all is the whole point of climbing in the first place."

I have three thoughts about the future of Tuolumne. First, I hope climbers doing new routes in the future will be explicit about the style of their ascents. I think a guidebook should evolve and should contain a section about the style of ascents. This will allow future climbers to know about styles and their transformations and, based on complete information, decide for themselves what is an appropriate approach. Of course a guidebook might generate some new demand for climbing, but demand is already on the upswing and is driven by forces beyond the control of any Tuolumne devotees. Another obvious advantage of a guidebook is it would alert people to what has been done. There has already been an instance of a party claiming a first ascent where their route had been done a decade ago (the west faces of Cottage or Erratic Domes were climbed in 1968).

Second, to echo Clevenger, I suggest the greatest challenges of coming years are in doing certain routes in the traditional style of the '60s, rather than searching out still more lines between lines. There is just more magic per mile in climbing without lots of lowering, jumaring, aiding and the rest. Speaking about another climbing area, Eldorado Canyon, Jim Erickson has well stated a similar message in the book Climb!

Third, whatever sense or order one seeks in Tuolumne climbing, whatever direction anyone tries to give it, always seems doomed. The future there, as the past, will undoubtedly remain unpredictable and paradoxical. From the frustration and satisfaction of having no guide to the Meadows, to the hope for few visitors but enough to appreciate one's own routes, to the climbing in one style while idealising another, the future of Tuolumne will be as befuddling as the fear and elation Gerughty must have felt when he first shook upward on that thin, white web of Tuolumne rock.

Mountain
60, 1978
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Mar 22, 2018 - 07:01pm PT
Probably the best days of my life have been spent in what Steve refers to up thread as his "beloved Tuolumne". I remember reading that piece from Tom (^^ shared above) and just knowing that Tuolumne would always be the center of my universe.

The Higgins routes I've done continue to be the really special ones.
Thanks for making them possible Tom and sharing them with the rest of us.
amyjo

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2018 - 11:14pm PT
Oh Nancy

I am so terribly sad to be reading about Tom.
My deepest condolences to you and Alanna,
and all of us.

I first met Tom at Indian Rock, quiet voice
among the blond giants thundering down around me.
What was it we were so earnestly doing.
Games,
but never games at all.
And Tom,
one of the ones who could give it a form in words,
so eloquent. Leprechaun, sage, priest.
That explosive smile. The great laugh.
Always interested, amused.
Truly my heart aches for you.
Remember the conga line that greeted us at Tuoluomne
when we had been out too long birding.
Makes me smile, at least a little.

I hope you find some peace with this
with the passing of time
but, perhaps you already have.

Much love,
Amy Jo
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Mar 23, 2018 - 05:10am PT
So sorry to hear this news.

Much respect.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 23, 2018 - 07:03am PT
Still coming to grips ( crimps?) with this. He was so much a part of how I see things in climbing style wise, I'm. Having a hard time figuring where I was influenced by what he said and lived, and what I have taken for granted in my own approach.
Right now, I am pursuing and gleaning his website
Www.tomhiggins.net
I would highly recommend. It to anyone interested in. Him, what he said, the history of climbing as we know, and probably things you ve never thought it.

Thank you Tom!
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Mar 23, 2018 - 08:10am PT
Thank you Ed for posting that Mountain article. I had never read it before. So good, so evocative.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Mar 23, 2018 - 11:34am PT
Here's a photo of Tom on the first ascent of Resurrection Wall at Pinnacles National Monument in April 1978. Routes such as this and Shake and Bake were great examples of his vision and boldness much like his routes on Fairview Dome in Tuolumne.


The foreboding Resurrection Wall.

CaNewt

Mountain climber
Davis, CA
Mar 23, 2018 - 01:14pm PT
Dancing on rock.
Steep slabs.
Invisible holds.
Ever a smile and twinkle in his eye.
You are missed, Tom.

Condolences to Nancy and Alana.

Hugs everyone. It is a good time to check in with friends and family.

Bob Schneider
Brock Wagstaff

Trad climber
Larkspur
Mar 23, 2018 - 01:35pm PT
Tom was a truly amazing climber, and I’m sure there are others out there besides me that found their abilities tested on one of his 5.9+ routes. More than that, he was a thoughtful and caring person, and the world is a poorer place without him in it. I’ll treasure memories of the climbing and camping trips we shared, and so many interesting conversations. Love to Nancy, Alanna, and the grandkids.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Mar 23, 2018 - 01:49pm PT
Higgins, along with his frequent partner Kamps, were Tahquitz and Tuolumne celebrities in my youth. I talked to Kamps in the Meadows campground once or twice, but ran into Higgins only one time. I was near the top of the first pitch of what became Guardians of the Galaxy, a new route that Jim Wilson and I were doing on Lamb Dome. That route is to the left of Nerve Wrack Point, the Higgins/Ament route made famous in those days by a remarkable article the two of them wrote about its first ascent.

I was leading the easy, first pitch when I glanced up and left. I was startled to recognize Higgins in trademark white pants and T shirt peering intently down at me. He was on a big ledge just a pebble toss away. He must have seen us from the ground and scrambled up the ledge system that cuts across the east side of the dome. I remember being pleased that I had placed only one bolt on the pitch and the rope trailed a long ways below me, so I was in harmony with the TM zeitgeist.

For years, I had hoped to encounter him and have a conversation about Tuolumne and his style manifesto (he had criticized one of my routes--I thought unfairly-- in the Tricksters article), but it never happened. I now regret failing to connect with him over the years.

The lesson for me is: don’t wait until it’s too late, reach out to your friends and old comrades whenever the thought occurs. There is no time to lose.

Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Rick Accomazzo
mynameismud

climber
backseat
Mar 23, 2018 - 02:10pm PT
Condolences and

Here's to sweat in your eye!

The Pinnacles will miss you.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Mar 23, 2018 - 02:28pm PT
Tad,

That was the Stoney Point "Wild" Jim Wilson and the route was Guardians of the Galaxy on Lamb Dome. Also did Super Chicken on Medlicott with Wild Jim.
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Mar 24, 2018 - 02:56pm PT
Tom was only 11 years older than me in 1973. Now at 62 that seems to be a small gap - but at 18 and 29 it was huge chasm. My father introduced me to the outdoors, hiking and backpacking in the Sierras but I yearned for more. As a teeneger at Indian Rock I met Bruce Cooke and later Tom. They both took me under their wings, in a way and helped me learn a deep appreciation for the wilderness and the rock. I was steeped in the "old school" traditions and mentored by them in many ways - ways that extended beyond the climbing.

Tom and I parted ways in 1975. I put climbing aside for many years and even lived outside the US till 2005. So my impressions of my friend are purely from my youth. We didn't age together - I was out of touch, on another journey. But this gives me a unique perspective. Those experiences we had are a stark, clear memory, sharp black and white snapshots from deep in my past that never faded and were not nourished by an ongoing friendship. My climbing was suspended at that time as well for 30 years. So there was not a muddle of experiences and people through the years to take the focus off that time.

I learned grit from Tom. When I was stuck in the wrong place on the sharp end of the rope I could become calm myself, as Tom did, and keep my head together. I learned to take risks, but calculated risks. His first question on a climb was often, "What is the descent like." I still ask that today. But he did speed around those curves in his Porsche on on the way to Yosemite a bit too fast for my blood, but there was always room so as not have an accident.

Tom enjoyed life, he enjoyed just being on the rock and sharing that moment with others. We could be on a 5.7 or a 5.10 it didn't seem to make a difference. I remember well the morning we awoke in Tuolumne Meadows in September 1973, and he said today is the day. He was taking me along on the first ascent of a climb on the West Face of Fairview. I didn't know what we were in for and in the end neither did he, but I trusted him. That night when we bivied on the ledge hoping the snow would not come as it had the previous weekend, he kept apologizing for not being prepared, for getting me into this predicament.

We found our way up and though it may not have been the straightest and "fairest" of lines on Fairview, but we had striven into the unknown where no one had gone before and found a way. I went beyond my self-decided limitations, in a measured way and found I had more to give than I knew. Even 30 years later, when we met he was still trying to apologize and hoped I had not been angry with him. Relationships were important to Tom.

His penchant for free climbing ethics infused me as well. His writings resounded with my inner self. In those days, I don't recall many heated discussions just an understanding of "how things are done" that was passed from mentor to mentee. They were examined and spoken about, they were the rules of the game, that didn't restrict us but seemed to keep us honest. When something could not be done by the rules it was to be "left for the next generation", who supposedly would improve technique and training and following the same rules would pioneer new lines.

Tom was, and still is, one of those great souls of the climbing world. He was never the best free climber, though close at times, never the most famous or outspoken. He did not go in for the big walls, he was not a full time climber, but a weekend dirtbagger who quietly labored on walls that were significant to him and he had a life outside of those hallowed walls. But if ever the topic comes up who was thoughtful, deeply reflective, and yes, poetic in his description of people and climbs and the struggle with our inner selves, surely Tom's name would rise to the top, even to many who never knew him. Climbers and others will be pondering his words which outlive him and through which he can still live.

Today the bell tolls for Tom, tomorrow it will be us. We are a lttle less today because of Toms' passing but we are a lot more because of his life. Rest well, my friend. Part of you will live on in me and I will pass it on.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Mar 24, 2018 - 03:05pm PT
^^^That is one of the finest testimonials to ANY climber's career that I am likely to read ever, Michael. Thank you!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Mar 24, 2018 - 03:14pm PT
Only met him a few times, but corresponded with him about early Tahquitz and Joshua Tree history. He was always extremely helpful and provided detailed and thoughtful input and insights. As mentioned by Largo, he was free climbing at a rarefied level in the 1960s and was one of the true pioneers of the modern free climbing movement. Thank you Tom for all your contributions to climbing.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 24, 2018 - 03:40pm PT
Tom and I were contemporaries in the Valley and though I met him on a number of ocassions I never got to know him. I was aware of his exemplary climbing accomplishments but the testimonials on this thread, like Michael's, really flesh out the real man...and quite a man he was.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Mar 24, 2018 - 04:08pm PT
Thank you Michael for such a heartfelt and enlightening testimonial. And Fairest of All is one of the great routes on Fairview Dome.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 24, 2018 - 05:05pm PT
I had the pleasure of meeting Tom at the second Oakdale Climbers Festival and have been an admirer of his climbing, ethical clarity and style ever since I started paying attention to the deeper game that climbing had to offer four decades ago. His voice in concert with the example established subtly by Bob Kamps set the bar for the style in face climbing that I aspired to in my own efforts. I only wish that I had interviewed him before this came to pass...
My heart goes out to his family and friends as this is truly a monumental loss to the climbing community.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Mar 24, 2018 - 05:33pm PT
Sad news indeed, and my heart goes out to his wife and family. It sounds like they have many wonderful great and strong friends who will embrace them during this oh so difficult time....I hope so.

I met him only once.....it was my first trip to Tuolomne, with Jack, and we ran into him and Bob Kamps on the trail. Jack introduced me, and they chatted a bit, and off we went. Jack was terribly excited to see them....at the time, I had little idea of who they were, and so Jack "schooled" me. Over time of course, I have learned of his legend. I'm sad I never met him again, as he sounded like just a really nice, good guy. RIP.....and again, my very best to his wife and family.
Pam
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Mar 25, 2018 - 05:07am PT
Although I never met Tom he was a giant inspiration to me and I'm saddened to hear of his death.

His account of he and Vern's first ascent of Piece de Resistance defined the art of thin edging and fired my imagination for the face climbing possibilities on the lower flanks of the Grand Wall starting with the FFA of the Mislead bolt ladder and eventually the FA's of Java Jive, Cruel Shoes, Movin' to Montana and Grey Matter.

His passing is a painful reminder that the the hands of time march inexorably forward and wait for no one.

Condolences to his family and friends.

With great respect, RIP Tom.

PB
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Mar 25, 2018 - 02:49pm PT
Respect.

Condolences to us all.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Mar 25, 2018 - 04:53pm PT
“Jim [donini] said: Can't agree with you on this one. I've seen the Pirate and, to me, pin scars on otherwise pristine granite stand out like a sore thumb and are an unfortunate permanent reminder of the piton placing era of climbing of which I was a part."

Indeed. Pin scars are a reminder of days gone by when they were in use to the destruction of the rock, and on Serenity first free ascent I did wonder "what the heck" as I used the scars to move along and tried to imagine how it all would have gone (or not) without the scars. An odd and very mixed experience. Thank heavens nuts and cams came along as soon as they did.

As for early 5.11s around the time of Chingadera, I remember vaguely a FFA at JT on Intersection Rock I did way back when, maybe in the general period under discussion which now they say was 5.11, but really, who’s counting at this stage. For me, it's all a cloudy but glowing and deeply satisfying time I recall on the sharp and golden flakes of Tahquitz, bantering with my best climbing partner and lifelong friend Bob Kamps. I'd give back all my "achievements" there for an evening with him now if we could get him back from his ashes, some of which a few years ago I cast under a boulder he and I loved at Stoney Point and which I visit every time I'm in LA.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1292260&msg=1906895#msg1906895

Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Mar 27, 2018 - 01:15pm PT
Bump
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Mar 29, 2018 - 05:13pm PT
Memorial service was today.
More to follow.
AMB

climber
CA
Mar 29, 2018 - 05:23pm PT
I never met the man, but I was certainly influenced by him, as was every young climber in the 70's who ventured up onto an unclimbed face with a hammer and 1/4" drill. Working up through the grades at Tahquitz, his testpieces Blanketty-Blank and Jonah were required tickoffs. There were others as well. Mark Powell's and Bob Kamps' Chingadera was way ahead of its time, and at Suicide Rock the early developers like Charlie Raymond, Pat Callis and Ivan "Bud" Couch were showing that you could put up multi-pitch routes that were almost entirely bolted, drilled on lead and on stances. But it was in Tuolumne Meadows that Higgins' brilliance shined the brightest. When I started doing new routes there in the late 70's I was following in his footsteps, whether I knew it or not. Although sometimes his routes wandered in a curious way (Nerve Wrack Point, The Way We Were), most of his lines were excellent, especially on Medlicott and Fairview Domes, which surely rank as two of the finest crags in the U.S. Getting the second ascent of Piece De Resistance with Randy Vogel in 1980 remains one of the highpoints of my climbing career. Some people may have been put off by his written sermons about purity and ethics, but I wasn't. I embraced them as long as I could before the tide of rap-bolting, power drilling and bigger bolts washed over everything in the late 80's and early 90's. R.I.P. brother.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Mar 29, 2018 - 05:29pm PT
The notice in the newspaper: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?pid=188554962

And a fine tribute in Rock & Ice, by Peter Haan: http://rockandice.com/climbing-news/tom-higgins-purist-to-the-end/
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 29, 2018 - 08:30pm PT
Thanks for posting that, Anders.
Tom was more than 'just' a climber.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Mar 30, 2018 - 12:55am PT
The second ascent of Piece de Resistance was climbed by Bob Harrington and Dale Bard in 1977. Third was Nick Badyrka 1977. Fourth was Vern Clevinger and Steve Moyles in 1977.
Scoop

Mountain climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 2, 2018 - 11:40am PT

When I was a kid, I read and reread Never Wrack Point until I damn near had it memorized. I never met Tom Higgins, but he was the catalyst for me becoming a climber.

He always seemed to me the coolest climber in the world. RIP.
Old5Ten

Trad climber
Berkeley and Sunny Slopes, CA
Apr 2, 2018 - 03:11pm PT
i didn't know tom very well, but gained an quick appreciation of the man as a climber when i rebolted piece de resistance a number of years ago. what an awesome looking line! rip tom.
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Cascade Mountains and Monterey Bay
Apr 2, 2018 - 08:28pm PT
Very much enjoyed climbing with him. Very sorry to see him gone
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Apr 3, 2018 - 01:29am PT
Tom Higgins was the most influential climber in my world. His views shaped my early vision of climbing, and coaxed me to aspire to a certain set of ethics that were all but "out dated" long before the time I first set foot to stone. His writings, treasures of wisdom, through their subtle tones and hidden meaning, have steered my aspirations, and in times brought about my own humility along my journey on the stone.

Toms article "The Last Sandwich" ( http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php/climb-histories/20-the-last-sandwich ) changed my direction on the stone forever. Because it put into words what I've always known was my path, and truly defined who I am as a climber.

Here's to sticking to, and following the path less traveled...!
Thank you Tom Higging. You will always be remembered.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Apr 3, 2018 - 01:40am PT
I will always be grateful to Tom and Pat for "opening up" Nerve Wrack Point in particular.

As a young climber finding myself lost on that particular sea of granite not knowing where the next bolt was but knowing it was out there somewhere, I just trusted (that it being a Higgins/Ament route) I was in good hands.

To this day I still can feel the texture, the uncertainty, and smell the pines.
Thanks guys for allowing me to dig deeper than I thought I was able to.
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Apr 3, 2018 - 02:59am PT
sometimes on a burly day you gather it up
and march to the scene of a thrown gauntlet.

but from what i mostly inferred based on a smile and his way,
that day felt more like an unlocking, like a letter from a friend
ArmandoWyo

climber
Wyoming
Apr 3, 2018 - 03:34pm PT
I missed this sad news. I now live apart from the always connected-worldwide web.

Tom was yet another good climbing friend with whom I’d lost contact. Price we pay for our peripatetic lives.

Tom was a valued friend, climbing partner, and eventual adversary. Maybe I met Tom in early 70s. At least we started bouldering occasionally after 1975 when I bought a house in Berkeley to be within walking distance of Indian Rocks.

Climbing with Tom was simply fun. Also a challenge, since as with any partner you wanted to keep up, do your share. At Indian Rocks, we would stop to watch whenever Tom tried to solve a new problem. He had the best footwork of any climber I ever knew. Tom’s beta rarely helped, since most of us couldn’t repeat or retain his minimal stances.

Like others, my best memories of climbing with Tom where in the Meadows. I too was sandbagged on Nerve Wreak Point as a newbie. Revenge took couple of decades. Don’t hold me to route names, but I think we were on Big Boys Don’t Cry. Tom’s lead. Last pitch went right. I proposed we finish straight up. I’ve done it (true). It has pro (1 impossible to find bolt). Dubious, Tom headed up into the sea of licen-covered granite. Where’s a bolt? Where’d it go? Pissed at me, he came down, and said you do it. I cruised up as though I was Tom Higgins.

As our community divided over ethics and sport climbing, Tom and I were on different sides. He was passionate and committed but never rude. He was always a gentleman. It was an argument among friends. He’d argue and publish his beliefs without attacking his opponents, or their motive and values. Can’t claim I held to the same civil standards.

I was reminded of our arguments just last year when I was being interviewed about the conflicts in the climbing community at the time. I was asked about any hostile or violent encounters with trad climbers. I remembered our many emphatic yet good-natured discussions back then, and said, no, in fact I had more stormy scenes with young sport climbers.

I knew his ethics and spirit were right I thought I was being strategic. Bureaucrats shouldn’t decide the style, techniques, and equipment of climbing. The choice on whether and where to drill or run it out for climbers alone.

Focusing on our values benefited both sides. Tom was one of the noble ones who kept his eyes on the prize.

We were privileged to share a special person and were made better, and happier, for it.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
Apr 3, 2018 - 04:21pm PT

My first encounter with this famous spot. I was with two who knew Tom well and I soaked up their stories.
Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
Apr 3, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
When I would boulder at Indian Rock and he was around, I always felt i was witnessing some kind of magic, a shaman, a blurring of physicss watching Tom climb. He was such a cool guy, too!
jogill

climber
Colorado
Apr 3, 2018 - 08:26pm PT
My one romp on Indian Rock on a long-ago summer day was a slippery and slimy disaster. Worse than Devils Lake. Kudos to you who have practiced there!

Somewhere I have a photo of Tom leading the FA of the End Pin in the Black Hills. I'll try to find it. Such poise and mastery.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Apr 4, 2018 - 06:43am PT
28 August 1978 I was standing at the side of the road just uphill from Pywiack Dome with a dog-eared photocopy of a Mountain Magazine (#60) article in my hands, trying to work out where to walk up to a crag - Phobos and Deimos perhaps, I don't remember. An old VW campervan drew up behind me and a couple of guys got out and came over to ask if they could help. I told them what I was looking for and added something like '... but I've only got this useless article from Mountain... ' The two of them roared with laughter and eventually one of them cocked a thumb at the other and said 'It was Tom who wrote it! I'm Bob, by the way.'

That evening was spent with Bob and Bonnie at the campsite in Tuolumne - Tom had gone home. I did Lucky Streaks the next day with Bob and over the next four years was privileged to climb other routes with him and spend time with him and Bonnie at their home in LA. I never met Tom again but I remember that nanosecond meeting in Tuolumne very clearly.

From time to time I'd come across Tom's articles and essays which of course were superb, but none so beautifully written as 'In thanks':

Hey Kamps,

Bob, the years I've spent climbing in Tuolumne were pure nourishment to me. How about you? The Meadows always made the regular, flat world bearable, and the flat world made the meadows a sanctuary. It was the pull between the two which nourished. School and work without the mountains would have been deadly. The mountains without the nervous struggling down below would have been limbo, not heaven.

(... )

Well, man, as if you didn't know, you were like a father to me for those summers, modeling a conniving, effortless style, clever protection, and witty love for those soaring virgin walls. So, I'II say thanks and thanks also to Tuolumne for holding us like a mother might between deep blue and granite folds in the warmth of the Meadows sun....

Tom

Here's the whole thing: http://www.tomhiggins.net/index.php/climb-histories/27-in-thanks
cornel

climber
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Apr 6, 2018 - 05:55am PT
Thanks Tom for your vision, your dedication to excellence, and your eloquence. Your climbs made me dig deep ( incredible climbing in lug soles) and your eloquence gave me reason for pause and reflection. Sincere condolences to Bonnie, family and friends
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 6, 2018 - 06:15am PT
That's where I first met him Lynne!
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Apr 7, 2018 - 09:55am PT
Nancy sent me this excerpt from Alanna’s Eulogy for Tom fro posting here.

Alanna’s Eulogy for Tom
March 29, 2018

Tom Higgins was a loving husband for 45 years to Nancy, grandfather “Batom” to Charlie and Thomas, a friend to us all, and my very own dad.

Tom was raised in Sherman Oaks, California as the only son of his Irish father James and Italian mother Mary. He attended Notre Dame High School at a time when Los Angeles still had acres of orange groves. His childhood memories were of industrious science projects, tinkering with cars, and getting into mischief with his neighborhood friends. Tom cared for his parents and family home while he attended UCLA and lost both parents by the time he was 23.

In 1967 Tom graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and earned a Master of Public Policy from UC Berkeley in 1974. He and Nancy lived in Oakland thereafter, first off of San Pablo Avenue, and then in Crocker Highlands for the last 40 years. They made extensive improvements on their home on Rosemount over the years – designing and building a redwood deck and hot tub themselves, trimming trees and cleaning gutters using harnesses and carabineers, and refinishing just about every piece of furniture they own. If you live around town, you know Tom could be seen attending the Oakland symphony, bicycling in the hills in black spandex, or stopping for a coffee in Montclair. He also participated in the California Writers Club and worked with junior high students on their literary skills.

Tom loved travel – usually in a porsche – but sometimes in a plane. Weekends brought camping, skiing, hiking, and day trips to the coast or regional parks. These expeditions always required least 6 jackets, 2 pairs of binoculars, and 4 water bottles in the trunk for any combination of temperature and weather. Our family hiked together in many national parks, enjoyed holidays in Seattle, and explored Europe’s museums and culture. I won’t forget being dragged up miles of switchbacks exiting a volcano in Hawaii, wanting only to have just ONE day at the hotel pool. More recently, Tom and Nancy together experienced the natural wonders in Iceland, New Zealand, Patagonia, and Nepal.

Tom was a rock climber who left his imprint on climbers young and old. He found solace among the mountains. My own climbing experiences were mostly just around the corner at Indian Rock in Berkeley. There, he glued rubber to the soles of my child-sized sneakers and taught me to tie a knot in our rope. On a few bigger climbs, I remember the feeling of being above the tree line - a bird whooshing behind you, some pine needles on a ledge nearby, my fingernails gripping the granite. Even with the gentle tug of the rope above, with the best climber as my belay, I preferred to stay on the trail below, hiking with my mom. Together we peered up to locate him, a speck in the sky, while we listened to the climbers sing their commands through the trees.
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Apr 7, 2018 - 09:59am PT
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
Apr 7, 2018 - 04:13pm PT




Friends celebrating the life of a very special man.

Gilroy

Social climber
Bolderado
Apr 7, 2018 - 05:27pm PT
Thanks for those pix, Lynne.

Higgins led the way in his climbs and writing for me as a young climber. The day I led Lucky Streaks from the snow cone to the top is forever burned into my brain as the finest day I have spent in Tuolumne.
FredC

Gym climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Apr 8, 2018 - 10:01pm PT
I met Tom in the early 1970s at Indian Rock. I was in my mid-teens and probably trying to find a place in the world. All of the regulars at Indian Rock were lucky, the “gang” there was really great and several people were very friendly to a kid like me.

Tom was a standout in the group. He was successfully self-employed, could climb super well, and he drove a Porsche! To a 16 year old that was unbelievably good.

During the 1990’s Tom and I got to be pretty regular bouldering buddies for a time. It was really fun climbing with him. He was always working with the full focus of intellect on whatever problem we tried. His sense of humor was infectious and his intensity was too.





I was lucky to have had time with him over the years and am grateful for his example in climbing and in life.

Thank you Tom for all the fun times
Fred
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Apr 17, 2018 - 10:12am PT
Bump. For those who missed the news.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Apr 23, 2018 - 12:56pm PT
Thinking of you today, Tom, as I work on collecting the last few pictures and release forms for Tuolumne Climber. I came across our last email to you, the day before you died. What kindness and professionalism you showed to me, a relative newbie as well as to Yerian who was so inspired by you. You are gone Tom Higgins, but never to be forgotten. Lynne
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Apr 23, 2018 - 07:47pm PT
I lead the last pitch of Jonah in 5.10 mocs felt like 10.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jul 28, 2018 - 08:15pm PT
I found this on the Bachar-Yerian thread. Gold!

Probably, the BY saved my life. For a time, I did a fair amount of rope soloing, sometimes because I didn’t arrange for a partner as I was running to the mountains last minute after a full work week, sometimes just to be alone. Somewhere deep in the bowels of supertopo there’s a little piece on my self belay antics on the Owl Roof in Yosemite. I think eventually I did about a dozen rope solos, including the first ascent of Thy Will Be Done in Tuolumne. The ridiculous and dangerous part is I used a jumar as the self belay device, an item not designed for this purpose. I never fell on it, but came very close on a failed attempt of the BY.

Why I ever thought to try this run out route with my cumbersome and unsafe self belay system is incomprehensible to me now. I guess I thought I was climbing pretty well back then, maybe a year or two after the climb had been done, and that the technical challenge was not beyond me. As John says, there is a short 5.11 part on the first pitch, but between a tied off knob and cams for the layback, I felt OK. But the next pitch became more and more terrifying as I fiddled to move the jumar along, tired on sustained moves (seemed 5.10ish), and looked down periodically at the “system” wavering below. Between the second and third bolt, finally, finally I realized I would probably die twice if I fell, not only from just banging the rock but then rocketing into the woods when the jumar broke. Increasingly sane but rattled, I had to make a choice between down climbing to the last bolt or going for the third and retreating from there, though that bolt seemed about 20 or so feet away. Or was it? I thought I saw it, but couldn’t be sure I was seeing the dark hanger on just a dark spot in the rock. I did the worst thing of all - I continued on thinking going ahead was the safer option, then decided after several more moves I should retreat. Slowly, carefully but not calmly, I moved down, again fussing with rope slack and the jumar (sometimes using my teeth), hyperventilating, over gripping, mad and very scared. As I approached the last bolt and then the belay station, I felt a rush of thanks to the god I didn’t believe in. Blinking at the jumar, it looked more and more paltry, like something I picked up at a hardware store. I turned it a couple of times in my hand and knew my days of solo rope climbing had just ended.

As with many of our foolish antics and adventures, especially failures, we mostly keep them to ourselves. I never told anyone about this particular fiasco, though Vern Clevenger looked at me suspiciously one day and asked, face screwed up quizzically, “Did you do something stupid up there (pointing to Medlicott)?” I’m still not sure if he was referring to this incident or something else, as probably there was other foolishness of mine to remember on that dome. I took the easy way out. “No,” I said, and maybe there was truth in my lie – it wasn’t stupid, it was insane. Yet, thanks to the BY, I never again rope soloed or soloed in any way, and so live on to reflect back on all the good and ridiculous in my climbing days.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo
jogill

climber
Colorado
Aug 18, 2018 - 08:27pm PT
Here's a photo I took of Tom in the mid 1960s on the FA of the Endpin in the Needles of the Black Hills. I watched as Tom and Bob Kamps carefully made their way, delicately poised between moves. A delight to behold.

Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Aug 21, 2018 - 11:55am PT
Sitting at the desk finishing up the final drafts of all the bio's for the book Tuolumne Climber and began to go over the one Tom wrote about himself. As long as I live, Dude, you will never be forgotten. Tom won't be doing the Introduction, but his writing on Tuloumne will be included if we can get permission from The American Alpine Club.

Remembering......
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 21, 2018 - 12:03pm PT
I never met him, but his writing, writing about him and perusing a few of his routes, left me with an immense sense of the elegance and terror of slab.
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
Aug 21, 2018 - 12:32pm PT
Bruce -

Thanks a ton for bringing that story from Tom back to the surface!! I've sampled a few routes that Tom put up in Shuteye, one in particular on Red Eagle. The name eludes me but definitely a Shard-Yer-Pants City route!! Dunno if I found it by way of the Spencer guide or was given a rough topo of RE. I remember roping up and my partner telling me, "You are aware that this is a Higgins route, right?" Pretending I didn't hear him, I started up one of the biggest sandbag "5.9" routes I'd ever encountered. Hell, the second bolt was almost double the distance from the first! And the knob.....er, crystal I tied off to was fer shite! I just remember feeling that sick, sinking feeling all throughout the route, each move sustained. I was repeating negative stuff like "Don't come off, don't come off" or "FU, Higgins!!" (obviously, I didn't mean it). Damn, those Leeper's were hard to see! Somehow, I managed to nervously sketch my way through it all. Dood had huevos of steel! I've since steered clear of his routes. ;) Rest peacefully Tom!! You are missed!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Aug 21, 2018 - 01:53pm PT
RIP Tom, a great soul.
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Oct 12, 2018 - 08:35am PT
Bump.
FredC

Gym climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 15, 2018 - 08:23pm PT
From Indian Rock, around 2010

Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Oct 15, 2018 - 08:29pm PT
Fred C, Thanks!
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Oct 16, 2018 - 12:32pm PT
I'm trying to access Tom Higgins' article "Anti-Climbing At Pinnacles," but the only link I can find (the same link through which ive read it before) says the site is Temporarily Unavailable...

Anyone else have a link to a difference source to read??? Such a beautiful work of literature...
tiki-jer

Trad climber
fresno/clovis
Oct 16, 2018 - 04:43pm PT
Found this photo before.
FredC

Gym climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 16, 2018 - 10:17pm PT
Tom leading a cult? Or showing everyone some physical therapy thing?

These photos always cracked me up.

[photoid=541236]

This was in The Valley in June 2010

F
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 17, 2018 - 05:44am PT
You can access some parts of his former website on archive.org; here's a 2016 version:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160310220341/http://www.tomhiggins.net/
However, it only has the first page of 11 for the Anti-Climbing at Pinnacles story.
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Oct 17, 2018 - 04:23pm PT
Of course, I didnt think to just search mudncrud! Found the link posted by Bruce:

http://www.mudncrud.com/forums/index.php?topic=2330.msg32948#msg32948
Michael Irwin

Trad climber
San Leandro
Dec 12, 2018 - 10:05am PT
http://tomhiggins.net
Up and running again.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Dec 12, 2018 - 04:39pm PT
thx!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Dec 12, 2018 - 05:38pm PT
Yes, Thank You!
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