Tom Higgins

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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.
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