Climbing the Rostrum with Surfer Bob


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Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 8, 2007 - 05:27pm PT
Having started my rock climbing career relatively late in life, and starting it out from the backwaters of far western Washington, my first few trips to Yosemite as a climber were you might say cautious. Lacking the magnetic charisma, the looks, and the climbing skills to attract a partner that made easy work of the classics, I bumbled along and eventually by the end of my second trip had transformed myself into a crack climber of modest ability, onsighting even a few 5.10 b and c climbs.

After I had just led Stone Groove up at Reedís one fine fall day, a good looking blond gal and her companion a tanned muscular fellow with a pony tail came up to do a few laps on some classics.
The gal I recognize from some Greg Epperson photos of her on Midterm as the taco standís own Jobee, and Bob I had seen a very nice shot of him leading the Twilight Zone in a glossy book somewhere. Needless to say they both do Stone Groove so easily that I wonder why I found it so challenging. We hang out and chat while taking turns running laps on Stone Groove and Bob and I make plans to climb down at Arch Rock the next day.

The next day I meet with Bob down at Arch hoping to give my learning curve a big jump, since I finally latched onto a partner who was clearly a far better climber than I was. We share an olive oil loaded protein drink that he has prepared then head up to the rock.
Up at Arch with Bob doing all the leading we climb Entrance Exam, English Breakfast Crack Blotto, Leanie Meanie, and the first pitch of Gripper all in the course of a few hours. I am able to follow these climbs cleanly with the exception of Leanie Meanie where I take a hang 2/3 of the way up the pitch. Based on this performance Bob deems me able to follow him on the Rostrum, I have my doubts but I agree to do it anyway. After all if I wait till I think Iím ready I might never get on the thing.

I meet Bob at the Rostrum pullout at about 10 in the morning we share another of his protein concoctions, load up and head down the hill, stash some water and goodies at the mid point ledge, and then rap to the base of the climb.

The climb starts mellow being no harder than 5.9 up to a set of chains about 100 feet up. Instead of belaying here and then going left for an 11a pitch like most parties do Bob continues straight up into a 10d flare that sort of looks like a reverse version of pictures Iíve seen of 10.96.

The second pitch follows a stellar hand crack up a corner passing a few roofs, certainly one of the finest pitches Iíve ever climbed and one of the few pitches on the climb I could comfortably lead. However Iíd probably want a little more pro than you see Bob using here.

We grab our water and share some snacks on the mid point ledge and continue on.
The third pitch is the crux where after giving it an attempt I resort to doing a few A0 moves not wanting to slow the momentum down. Here is Bob styling it:

Here Bob leads up pitch four which follows hand to fist crack up a beautiful orange corner.

At the start of pitch five Bob does the 10c traverse places a few pieces and has me lower him down the Uprising so he can run a lap on it. It looks absolutely stellar and would love to try it but feel Iíd better save my strength for the mandatory climbing that lies ahead. Here's looking down on the Uprising from the fifth pitch belay:

The fifth pitch offwidth goes down without a hitch and weíre onto the 11b hand pitch which I manage to free climb, hereís Bob jacket casually tied around the waist laughing and joking making it look like its all of 5.8.

This pitch delivers you to a nice perfectly flat ledge underneath the also perfectly flat Rostrum roof a cozy four foot high horizontal slot probably dry in any weather.
From here you do a scrunchy little traverse right over nothingness to gain the final 5.9 offwidth with its museum of stuck #5 camalots and long sticks from attempted retrievals in the back of it and forge up it to the summit.

Climbing the North Face of the Rostrum truly is the climb of a lifetime and now thanks to you Bob Iíve gotten to do it twice. Sorry I never caught or more likely have forgotten your last name Bob but if youíre still around maybe you can drag me up Astroman next time.


right here, right now
Nov 8, 2007 - 05:46pm PT

Trad climber
Nov 8, 2007 - 05:52pm PT
Sweet! Good read and pics!

Thanks for posting Kevin.


Sport climber
Lexington, KY
Nov 8, 2007 - 05:56pm PT
I have wood.

Thanks for the pics!

Right side of the Brain, Left side of the Road.
Nov 8, 2007 - 05:58pm PT
What a beautiful climb! Nice job on the TR Kevin.

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Nov 8, 2007 - 06:23pm PT

Social climber
Nov 8, 2007 - 06:35pm PT
More Wood.
Really Nice!

A tent in the redwoods
Nov 8, 2007 - 06:37pm PT
Surfer Bob's classic.
scuffy b

The deck above the 5
Nov 8, 2007 - 06:48pm PT
Great going, Kevin.
Thanks for the report.
It's only two pitches to the ledge?

Trad climber
SF, aka: Dirkastan
Nov 8, 2007 - 07:03pm PT
Good work!

goatboy smellz

Nov 8, 2007 - 07:05pm PT
All right, Kevin!
Glad to see you out & about.

Social climber
St. Looney
Nov 8, 2007 - 08:33pm PT
No wood here, but I'm really psyched for you. Thanks for sharing!

Trad climber
CA, now Flagstaff
Nov 8, 2007 - 08:43pm PT
get my #5 camalot out of the 6th pitch offwidth
Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2007 - 09:02pm PT
Hey Scuffy,
Yes if you are willing to combine the 10d flare with the first pitch it is two long pitches to the ledge.

Social climber
Santa Cruz Mountains/Los Gatos
Nov 8, 2007 - 09:12pm PT
Bob's a total stud! He bikes the Tioga pass regularly and runs laps on Goldfinger.
The Doctor

Social climber
Da Bronx
Nov 9, 2007 - 09:43am PT
Hey, I think it's Bob Jenkins, but I could be wrong. He lived in Prescott for a while, is a super guy and great climber. He also has the distinction of having the worst tattoo I've ever seen. It's these out of focus bubbles with blurry skulls inside them. Oh the life choices we make when we're young. I just did the Rostrum a month ago with Pennsylenvy after a 15 year hiatus. Like Russ said, Super!! The Dr.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 9, 2007 - 09:55am PT
Not Bob Jenkins...Don't know how googleable he wants to be though. Last name starts w/ a B fwiw. He's still around at the usual places when he's not working out of the area if you're looking for him. Hi, Bob, if you lurk into this one. Nice pictures!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 9, 2007 - 03:26pm PT
Great photos, Kevin - they show those cool pitches so well!
Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 9, 2007 - 04:21pm PT
Hey Clint,
Thanks for the compliments! Every time I go to Index I climb one of your routes, Princely Ambitions great line. What's the history?

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Nov 9, 2007 - 04:48pm PT
Thanks for the TR. Might be the closest I ever get to the Rostrum, unless you count driving by...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 9, 2007 - 06:21pm PT

> Every time I go to Index I climb one of your routes, Princely Ambitions great line. What's the history?

When Fred Beckey's "Darrington & Index Rock Climbing Guide" came out in 1976, it had an overlay photo which showed the Snow White and Frog Pond aid routes, but nothing in between. I did the first pitch of Snow White on aid, noticed the free climbable upper crack, plus the big moss- and block-choked flake down and right, and started thinking about doing a first ascent - it looked like something I might be able to free climb. The first thing I did was in August 1976 - a new direct finish for p1 of Snow White, so that it stayed left and hopefully people would not nail the moderate upper section which could be used by the new route.

Then in June 1977, I scrambled around the left end of the Lower Wall and got above both pitches for a long session of cleaning on rappel. After pitching off flakes, digging out dirt and blackberry vines, the climb was uncovered. It was a typical rainy day, and all the dirt made my rope muddy and wore some deep grooves into my carabiner brake rappel!

After some cleansing rains, I came back in July with Jeremy Metz and led it at 5.8. The crux at that time was an undercling/lieback on a giant detached flake (12' x 12' x 6"), halfway up the first pitch. I checked it on rappel, but it didn't budge. Some years later this came off and it became 5.9.

The name I wrote in my guidebook at the time was "Prince", to go with Snow White and Frog Pond (and I wrote "Dwarf" for the direct finish to Snow White). Although when I reported it to the guidebook author, I embellished it to "Princely Ambitions" to recall the mega cleaning session involved to uncover a moderate free climb. It's cool that it's popular; I was just in the right place at the right time to uncover it.

By the way, dated FA info for Index is at:
Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 9, 2007 - 09:01pm PT
Thanks for the history on Princely. I don't know how long its been since you were last on it, these days it is immaculately clean wonderful climbing.

Here I am up by where the giant flake used to be

Trad climber
Nov 10, 2007 - 12:09am PT
Thanks for the TR. That rock is beautiful on the Rostrum. You cranked it! Awesome. I enjoyed meeting you in Vedauwoo. Maybe I'll see you in Yosemite sometime. How about Chockstone Chimney? Ha ha. Hexes only they say.
Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2007 - 12:39pm PT
So Zander,
are you offering to do that Chockstone Chimney with me?
Gary Carpenter

SF Bay Area
Nov 10, 2007 - 01:31pm PT
Great TR Kevin.

I enjoyed meeting you at Vedauwoo also.

Sounds like you have all the skills (and more) for Chockstone Chimney. It's a great adventure climb but probably better left for the summer. Ed & I did it in July, no risk of sunburn on this climb!!

Trad climber
Nov 10, 2007 - 05:54pm PT
Hi Kevin,
I'd love to do Chockstone again. Not until spring and a little bit longer day. Coiler, who I know only by reputation, suggested in a thread that you gotta do it with hexes and stoppers only. I don't think I have the guts. This hasn't stopped me from going over the whole climb in my mind's eye and trying to imagine it. If you don't mind we'll take some cams.
See ya,

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Nov 10, 2007 - 06:09pm PT
Beautiful pictures there, Kevin. I'd love to do that thing again.

Trad climber
Nov 13, 2007 - 12:57pm PT
nice work kevin!!

sounds like you had a blast

thanks for postin up!
handsome B

Gym climber
Nov 13, 2007 - 01:21pm PT
this is the kind of thread-drift I like!

great TR of a great route!
Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo
Nov 13, 2007 - 01:25pm PT
I've climbed with Bob, nice guy and a solid climber. I took to calling him Cookie Bob as that is where I met him. While he talked about bicycling and climbing, I had not heard him talk about surfing. At some point over the last few years Werner corrected me, and told me that he is Surfer bob - not cookie bob
Hardly Visible

Port Angeles
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2007 - 04:15pm PT
Yeah NorCal I've never heard him mention surfing either, he sure is an outstanding climber though. Makes me climb better just being roped up with him.

Oakland: what's not to love?
Jul 28, 2008 - 10:16pm PT
Bump for incredible photos!

Trad climber
Durango, CO
Jul 28, 2008 - 10:37pm PT
Great pics, beautiful rock! Looks steller!

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Jul 29, 2008 - 03:03pm PT
Great bump le_bruce


Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jul 29, 2008 - 04:17pm PT
Great pics of a proud send and a proud route.


san diego, ca.
Jul 30, 2008 - 11:48pm PT
Must Bob Boorman - also known as Surfer Bob - also known as Sunset Bob. He was a fixture surfing at Sunset Beach (Oahu), especially when it got the biggest, like 12 - 15 feet and closing out. What a great character. He taught me a lot at Sunset. Or how about when he took random hitchikers at the Virgin River Gorge and taught them how to use a Gri Gri so they can belay him on Subterfuge (5.13). Good times for sure. Here's to Surfer Bob!

san diego, ca.
Jul 30, 2008 - 11:50pm PT
.....I mean Sunset Bob. That is what they called him in Oahu.

Social climber
Feb 25, 2009 - 04:17pm PT
One of my faves for bump day.

Santa Barbara, CA
Jul 5, 2012 - 11:50pm PT
Heard his name thrown around the campfire a few times, finally met the man last weekend - great character. Bob was letting his body recover, which involves soloing Cathedral on back to back days apparently.

Always wondered if the name Surfer Bob was ironic or not; definitely not. Surfing large Sunset and Waimea is legit! I'm sure he has some great stories.

Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
Nov 5, 2012 - 11:39pm PT
This one sticks in my head bump.

Gym climber
overchalking on Grant's Crack
Nov 6, 2012 - 11:15am PT
Wisdom of Bob bump.
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2012 - 12:00pm PT
surprized to see this here bump

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Nov 6, 2012 - 12:36pm PT
Surfer Bob is a legitimate badass. One of the all-time valley characters for sure.

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Nov 6, 2012 - 02:32pm PT
Awesome job! One of the best routes anywhere!

Nov 6, 2012 - 03:00pm PT
I'd like to climb with Silent Bob. Would be a wildly good day.

"Bob. I am about to fall off. Could you toss me a blue camalot?"

dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
Nov 6, 2012 - 03:11pm PT
Awesome TR. thanks. Some good insight into this climb. Cool pics
east side underground

Hilton crk,ca
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:21am PT

Nov 7, 2012 - 08:11pm PT
Hella bump

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Nov 7, 2012 - 08:50pm PT
Are all those "fixed" #5's still in place? A rather unfortunate consequence of climber's and their devices.

Go Bob dude.

Trad climber
Nov 18, 2012 - 07:56pm PT
Bump for radness

Trad climber
Nov 18, 2012 - 08:05pm PT
Surfer Bob? Used to spend winters at the North Shore and do a month or so in the Valley in the early 90's?? If so he was a stud. Super fit. Use to run up the falls trail for fun. Showed me pics of him surfing triple overhead at Sunset in Hawaii. Climbed a bit with Cilley I think. If not just ignore this post.

San Jose, CA
Mar 1, 2013 - 04:11pm PT
bump for Rostrum and Surfer Bob. He probably has a rest day today
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 30, 2014 - 08:31am PT
A bump for Big Mike
Big Mike

Trad climber
Jun 30, 2014 - 11:56am PT
Sick Tr Kevin!! What a great story of a legendary route with a legendary character!!
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