Ron Skelton/68th Birthday/Crack-a-Go-Go


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Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 4, 2009 - 11:25pm PT
Most climbers who frequent The Valley know or know of Ron Skelton, a long time Valley climber who lives in El Portal. Today is his 68th birthday. As he has done many times, he spent part of his birthday at The Cookie. His normal "birthday lead" is Crack-a-Go-Go. Today we met up there, in perfect weather. He hasn't done this lead on his birthday for the last two years, since it was only in January, 2008 that he finished chemotherapy (successfully, with no signs of any cancer returning).

I'm awfully pleased to say that Ron fired it, perfectly, on lead, although he was a little nervous. Two years ago I seriously wondered whether he'd ever be able to get on it again. This was a great day.

Several locals who are Ron's friends were there getting in some laps and wishing him on. After Crack-a-Go-Go he finished with a TR lap on Red Zinger (or as he calls it Red Zingers, 'cause more than one finger usually gets gummed up).

A few photos:

Two other notes: Ron has huge hands and boulderers might think that chalk bag he's toting is one of their "buckets." No, just a custom made bag that lets the whole hand in at once. And, of course the jeans. He almost always climbs in 'em.

Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Feb 4, 2009 - 11:28pm PT
Cheers to Yo Guy, looking fit and looking great klimbing. A HUGE Happy Birthday to YOU and MANY MORE. : DDD Lynne

Social climber
No Ut
Feb 4, 2009 - 11:31pm PT
Here's to you, Ron. Way to keep on keepin' on!


Social climber
wuz real!
Feb 4, 2009 - 11:42pm PT
Happy birthday Ron!
Also I think Mike Friedrichs (50th!) birthday might be today, or tomorrow, so unimaginable high greetings, Mike (Mike you know how much I have to thank you for and celebrate you on ) wish you a happy birthday also Happy Birthday Royal Robbins, (pretty sure he, was a climber)! And happy 37th wedding Anniversary to Teri and Chasbro! Without Chazbro would I have ever gone climbing the first time? Let alone, as a pre teen climb with the Stettner Broa?

Back on topic, Happy birthday Mr Skelton! Don't know you, but but I thought Crack 'o' no-pro. was scary problematic, back when I was in my first spring for things like that.. Hat's off and all the best.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 4, 2009 - 11:59pm PT
real nice Brad. worthy post for sure.

Look at the Ron guy fly up that thing. You'd think he was a member of an elite british climbing club or sumpthing. ;)

HBD Ron!
Double D

Feb 5, 2009 - 12:14am PT
That's way impressive! I hope I can get that good when I grow up.

Happy birthday to ya Ron.


Social climber
El Portal
Feb 5, 2009 - 12:17am PT
Happy Birthday Ron!
You're a super climber and one heck of a nice guy.

May the coming year find you stronger, happier, and healthier than
you ever imagined. Keep on crankin Ron!

Jo Whitford

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Feb 5, 2009 - 12:30am PT
68? No way! 58, more like it. Could Brad be wrong on that?

Happy Birthday Ron! You are an inspiration. -- From Mei and Erik

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 5, 2009 - 12:36am PT
No, it's 68 years old. Born in 1941. I started climbing with him when he was 48 and I was 28. And now I'm the one who's 48.

right here, right now
Feb 5, 2009 - 12:45am PT
Very cool!
Sweet photo sequence too.
I remember you Skelton: Happy Birthday!!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 5, 2009 - 12:50am PT
Happy birthday Ron,
"may you stay forever young"

chica from chico, I don't claim to be a daisy
Feb 5, 2009 - 01:10am PT
Wow, he looks great... Many moons ago he fixed my car.. Happy Birthday to the El Portal mechanic.

Hey, What's the name of his B & B ?

Trad climber
Vacaville Ca,
Feb 5, 2009 - 01:37am PT
Happy B-day Ron.

That guy's a human guidebook of route beta. Why just last Sunday he stopped me when I was heading up to the Orangutan Arch and convinced me I'd need more wide pro. I was racked up with a bunch of small stuff and nothing over 2 1/2in.

Holy sh#t was he right. Dispite having admitted not being on the thing in over 20 years, he sure was still able to give me blow by blow directions for the whole route. He didn't know about the colony of ants nesting in the thing though.

Hats off to you Ron, see ya at the Cookies.

Social climber
Feb 5, 2009 - 02:54am PT
hey there mtnyoung, say, thanks for the great share about you buddy of many years...

say, ron--

happy birthday to you, as you make an old dream come true...
and up you head, under the wide sky, so blue...

reclaiming your health...
and life's new and richer wealth...

may you have more enjoyable successess, each day...
to match this joy, on this, your birthday...

*say, i have a treasured pic of my brother on crack-a-go-go, and now, i will keep a copy of you, climbing there, as well, on my computer... as this is a "tropy" day...

god bless, and warmly, so...

Truckee, CA
Feb 5, 2009 - 08:40am PT
Wow, great photos!

Happy Birthday Ron! Wishing you all the best, you are an inspiration!

Captain...or Skully

Social climber
North of the Owyhees
Feb 5, 2009 - 08:42am PT
Good shtuff, there, Mr. Skelton.
Woohoo, 68 & crankin'........That's the Shizz!!!

Barcelona, Spain
Feb 5, 2009 - 09:05am PT
Right on! Ron's my new hero.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Feb 5, 2009 - 09:11am PT
Love to hear of old dudes still crankin'
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Feb 5, 2009 - 09:56am PT
I am floored by this thread for Christ's sake! Being 60 myself, I really have to say Ron Skelton is a paragon. I did the 2nd free ascent of Crack-a-go-go in 74 and know how hard and how continuous that lead is. It might even be 5.11D and if not it is a sandbag 5.11C at any rate. And it does have two distinct cruxes, the lower one photographed here and a second one a bit further up that is 5.11b. Ron has a great body for climbing as well! He will be climbing forever.

Happy birthday is an understatement!!!

best to you Peter Haan.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 5, 2009 - 10:35am PT
Impressive fun.

Happy birthday, Ron.

And, I went to the gym last weekend! Oh well. Hope springs eternal. So, I have a few years to get in shape. Come one, Peter, let's set a date? The 40th anniversary?

Since you have done it, you can lead.
Dingus Milktoast

Feb 5, 2009 - 10:37am PT
Inspiring. Thanks Brad.


Gym climber
Otto, NC
Feb 5, 2009 - 11:15am PT
Wow! Ron, I just mey you the other day standing in fromt of Greg's, where you hooked me up with all kinds of beta on the Eagle's Eyrie. Had no idea what kind of shape you were in, as I had only really heasrd of your illness.

I am inspired.

Happy Birthday, congratulations, and thank you!


Boulder climber
pads are for girls
Feb 6, 2009 - 08:55pm PT
Full honors O.G. - El Portal posse

Trad climber
Feb 6, 2009 - 09:16pm PT
very, very sweet.

Jah Meadows,ynp,ca
Feb 6, 2009 - 09:46pm PT
Hey Ron! Happy bday buddy.....You are a great friend and always an inspiration.

I have been best friends with Ron now for a long time. I have followed him up some very inspiring and run out leads. He is a true Valley master. Looking forward to many more years of climbing and visting with you and Liz. thanks for always being there for me buddy you are a great friend!

your friend Ted Roberts

Feb 6, 2009 - 10:32pm PT
Way to go, Ron! We oldtimers appreciate your dedication.

Feb 6, 2009 - 10:57pm PT
Hahaha I'm just wondering?

Ron Skelton, do you even have a computer?
old toad

Trad climber
yosemite, Ca.
Feb 6, 2009 - 11:33pm PT
Thanks to all the folks who posted, and thanks to all my friends who came over for my birthday. As you age you realize your faith, family and friends are the most important things in life.

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Feb 6, 2009 - 11:41pm PT
Ron and Liz now own and operate Yosemite Blue Butterfly Inn -- a beautiful Bed & Breakfast on Merced River, perfect for a romantic relaxing getaway. How easy is it to meet the legend in person!

(I hope they do not mind me doing a little advertisement for them here.)

Boulder climber
Redmond, OR
Feb 7, 2009 - 12:01am PT
A lot of style comes through in those sequence photos! Happy Birthday Ron Skelton and many more! Bruce Adams

Feb 7, 2009 - 06:05am PT
As you all know, Ron is a Yosemite expert, but what you may not know is that he has travelled extensively, and done lots of stuff in England, Wales, and Scotland - The Pinch Direct, T Rex, Coronation Street etc etc.

Happy birthday Ron from all your friends in the UK!

Trad climber
adelaide, South Australia
Feb 11, 2009 - 01:54am PT
Ron is and will be forever an inspiration to me!

I remember my first trip to the valley as a fresh, 21yo aussie climber... I was there, as a tourist with friends on a day trip, no more than two hours, before Ron saw me drawling from a distance and called out asking if i wanted to climb! HELL YEAH!

and now, 7 years on, I am planning my maybe 6/7th trip back there to enjoy not only the neverending beautiful rock of Yosem, but Ron and Liz's neverending hospitality (especially Liz's amazing cooking - and don't forget the iced tea!)

And Ron's still climbing harder than me! :D

Can't wait to see the B&B finally finished and going strong!


 your long lost aussie friend, Sally!


Feb 11, 2009 - 01:57am PT
I was there that day watching him lead.

he's so damn smooth ......

How's that work?

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 11, 2009 - 02:07am PT
Ron, how is the computer doing? Any more issues?


Feb 11, 2009 - 02:21am PT
Happy Birthday Ron!

Nice lead, Crack a go-go is one of my favorite Cookie routes. Hopefully I can lead it when I'm 68. Way to go!

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Feb 11, 2009 - 04:31pm PT
Wow, that is really proud and inspirational. Way to stay strong!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Feb 11, 2009 - 04:38pm PT
Wow, impressive, looks pretty smooth in the pics too!

Happy Birthday.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 11, 2009 - 05:24pm PT
I've never met him but I'll tell you right now that he's my hero!

Go Ron!

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Feb 11, 2009 - 05:29pm PT
I think you have to get old yourself in order to appreciate what it means to be able to lead 5.11+ trad at 68.

Me, I'm three years younger than Ron, have 50 years of climbing under my belt, and haven't suffered the ravages of chemotherapy, but on most days I'm almost two grades away from his fantastic level of accomplishment, and the trend is definitely not heading up!

Happy birthday to an exceptional climber!
KP Ariza

Feb 11, 2009 - 06:08pm PT
First off, props to Mtnyoung for bringing this story to light, secondly, Ron, you are the man! Forget that you're 68 Years old, forget that you have beaten the big C, WTF are you doing above those tiny stoppers? Especially @ 6'15? You are an inspiration, I only hope I can get up the Nutcracker @ your age. Keep killin' it Ron.

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Feb 11, 2009 - 06:19pm PT
Very impressive, way to go! That climb had its way with me when I did it in my prime...

Feb 11, 2009 - 06:22pm PT
Way to go Ron, your an inspiration. Hope to hook up soon.


Social climber
Santa Cruz Mountains/Los Gatos
Feb 11, 2009 - 06:27pm PT
congratulations and happy birthday Ron. it was an honor to share a rope with you last spring.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2009 - 08:04pm PT
Werner said: "he's so damn smooth ...... "

I've been climbing with Ron for nearly 20 years and that's one of the best descriptions of his climbing that I've ever heard. He is just so smooth, especially with footwork. And I think I know part of the reason: he learned footwork climbing in EBs.

I can't remember the number of times I've walked under climbs in The Valley and The Meadows with Ron and he's commented: "I climbed that in EBs." (And often he climbed it in EBs with some well known climber or other, one we've all heard of.) I usually just shake my head. I can't even imagine using EBs on some of the routes he's done. I've seen and felt EBs. They must have been like climbing in wooden clogs (I started climbing myself at just the time that Fires came out, which means I'm still getting to be an old dad, but not that old).

I like to think that I've got decent footwork climbing. If I do, I know I owe a lot of it to climbing with, and learning from Ron.

Gym climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Feb 11, 2009 - 09:51pm PT
Happy Birthday Ron!

Good send bro!


Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Feb 6, 2013 - 06:28pm PT

Trad climber
Cheyenne, Wyoming and Marshall Islands atoll.
Feb 7, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
One of the best lines at the Cookie love it! Nice work!! Arent we all 60 these days? I agree 11D Peter, for me anyway.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 8, 2013 - 12:26am PT
John, it's even better than you thought. This thread is four years old. There's a new thread about him leading Crack-a-Go-Go this last Monday on his 72nd birthday. Here's the link:


Trad climber
Feb 8, 2013 - 06:43am PT
climbing like and looking like a 38 yr old. way to stay young!

Trad climber
San Francisco
Feb 5, 2018 - 09:27am PT
Saw him take a crack at it on his birthday yesterday. Styled it, whipped on it, got up the damn thing.

Feb 5, 2018 - 09:29am PT
Congratulation Ron!!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 5, 2018 - 09:47am PT
Happy BigDay and Long May You Run!
I had a beer with a gentleman who said that he was 105 years old a few days ago and still thirsty.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Feb 5, 2018 - 10:25am PT
Whippin good fun!
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