To Be Brave - Royal Robbins Autobiography


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Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Aug 9, 2009 - 11:46pm PT
Yeah, I reviewed To Be Brave for Rock and Ice. I gave it five stars out of a possible five. I couldn't put it down. The guy found just the right tone and it pulled him right through. Great stuff.

Tamara Robbins

Aug 12, 2009 - 07:47pm PT
though this is not the most accurate thread for this, it's where I was! I had encountered the posts on old Ascent issues, and wanted to offer my efforts at recirculating climbing literature of the past. I've put in substantial time over the years archiving Climbing, Climb, Ascent, R&I, etc. and would be happy to share these in whatever form! I'll be traveling to Modesto in the next month, and could scan and send then. Let me know what would be of interest!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 12, 2009 - 08:01pm PT
Do you have "Cutting Canadian Capers", from Summit magazine of the 1960s? That is a cool article; maybe hard to find, though. Steve Grossman seems to have a good collection of Summits, so he may have it.
Tamara Robbins

Aug 12, 2009 - 08:02pm PT
BTW, Bad Climber, I can say with complete and total assurance that the last thing Royal (my father) has is a "monster ego". Perhaps you have misread or mistook information about him... ? though not a climber myself, I do have a bit of insight into the nature of the beast - and feel safe saying that generally climbers (especially the most renowned) LACK a monster ego. When Dad, et al were excelling at climbing, it was far from a coveted "profession" - not much in the way of fame and fortune to be sought there! Regardless, I look forward to hearing your reaction to "To Be Brave", and hope you enjoy the read!
Tamara Robbins

Aug 12, 2009 - 08:06pm PT
I don't know exactly what's in the archives from here (Moab) - but will check for that when I'm at the homestead in a few weeks. I can say with certainty that the collection of Summit issues is extensive!
Bad Climber

Aug 12, 2009 - 08:38pm PT
Tamara et al: I look forward to reading the book. As I said, I really enjoyed the Rock Craft effort and expect this to be even better given his greater perspective on everything with the passage of years.

Re. ego: I think going up to chop Wall of the Early Morning Light speaks for itself. His encounters with Batso are infamous. Still, I hold no personal ill will against him. He has always been a climbing hero of mine--as was Batso! :) This book will certainly be part of my library.


Aug 12, 2009 - 08:45pm PT
If I recall correctly, RR told me that he used to jump trains hobo-style as a kid. He told me that he once tried to jump from one train on to a train going in the opposite direction, in his words "an intelligence test that I failed." I don't know if those stories are in any other collection of his work. He told me the stories after a slideshow years ago. Maybe some of those train-jumpin stories are in the book?

Tamara Robbins

Aug 12, 2009 - 09:12pm PT
Train hopping? You betcha! Hence the tracks spliced in.... :)

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Aug 12, 2009 - 09:13pm PT
I would love to read a "single volume" autobiography of RR"s life. He was an amazing climber who blazed a trail still being followed by contemporary climbers. But let's put things in perspective, Royal's major contributions to climbing covered a decade and a half. I haven't seen any biographies of Einstein, Ghandi or Churchill that spanned six volumes.
Tamara Robbins

Aug 12, 2009 - 09:15pm PT
BaD: BTW, I believe all accounts of the W.ofEML contained Dad's ultimate respect for Harding's line and humilty about the whole endeavor? Perhaps I'm mistaken?
Tamara Robbins

Aug 12, 2009 - 09:20pm PT
I want to be clear that I am NOT speaking on my father's behalf... but from what I know, the multi-volume format has more to do with a new and interesting "approach" than anything.

Aug 12, 2009 - 10:32pm PT
It is a great time when a seminal figure still lives. That way there can be new exciting discoveries every day.

The truth? It may be 100 years before we really can view things in a way that stands the test of time.

We need to be patient.

I know that is asking a lot from a climber.

But there it is.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Aug 12, 2009 - 10:53pm PT
I for one (of many) am truly looking forward to reading this book.

I really appreciated what he said at the Bachar memorial and am intrigued to see what else he has to say, considering all the stuff he's done and places he's been.

Aug 12, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
I'm glad you came to our campfire, Tamara. Stick around please.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 12, 2009 - 11:10pm PT
Thank you Tamara for your unexpected contributions here. How fun it is to hear from Royal and Lizís first child. I was with your father quite a bit before, during and just after you were born...much to say there. What was it, 1971? It was a huge moment for him and it took him many months to get ready for you, their first birth.

Everyone else, just wait for the book. They have published this themselves of course, so keep that in mind. There will be plenty to talk about when we can all read it. There will be more there than you anticipate. He is going to try to interpret what he has lived through.

I am sure he has done a good job. He may attempt to rewrite some history; he may not. That would be tempting.

The guy could be the best friend you could ever hope for; he also could be a wretch----even Ament has indicated this a few times in his biography. The main thing was he always was trying to figure everything out anew and it wasnít easy back then. I am also very grateful he came to the John Bachar memorial.

Trad climber
Central Coast
Aug 13, 2009 - 01:32am PT
To Be Brave...

Royal was a Boy Scout (started climbing in the scouts)... it's from the scout law -

"A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, BRAVE, clean, and reverent."

Seems more like a summoning up of some courage to do something heroic and daring, not braggadocio. There was also moral courage to be different and climb clean. But maybe that's a stretch? Dunno.

Royal is rad.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Aug 13, 2009 - 01:51am PT
OK, so who growled down to Royal from the lead complaining about his choice of pins to send up and and said,

"Everything but what I need!"
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Aug 13, 2009 - 02:06am PT
Tamara, thanks for putting in your thoughts. Your dad set a high standard and shaped the way many of us tried to climb. A game needs rules and he helped write the book.

Best to you,


Aug 13, 2009 - 02:15am PT

When I first started climbing around in Yosemite I always wanted those blue Royal Robbins boots made by Galibier after only having Sears work boots as climbing shoes.

Anyways one summer in Tuolumne everyone I saw wearing a pair of those blue boots I would first think it was Royal.

Never did see him.

Until one day that summer I was hitchhiking some where, forgot where, and a VW bus stopped and the guy said get in.

It was your dad ......

Bridwell told me how Royal eliminated bolts by lowering off a ledge because the pins were in the bottom back and you couldn't haul standing up. I thought that was so stupid and so cool at the same time that I employed this method on a new route myself once.

I wouldn't care to much about what others think about your dad if I were you. He's your dad and that's all that matters.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Aug 13, 2009 - 04:07am PT
Wow, Little Tamara

I was living with your mom and dad in Modesto when you were born. Royal was off on a "work" trip to Europe and I was the defacto dad while LIz adjusted to being a new momma.

Good on you, stick up for the OL' Boy. You have two very creative and powerful parents and irrespective of the climbing parameters, you were fortunate to be raised by the likes of Royal and Lizard. We could all be so lucky?

As far as the Wall of the Early Morning Light saga and the second ascent by Royal and Lauria, enough has been written and it is well documented as to the difficulty and the respect the endeavor entailed.

Perhaps someday we will get a chance to meet again, " although I would probably not recognize you."


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