To Be Brave - Royal Robbins Autobiography


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Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Mar 8, 2011 - 06:05pm PT
6 or 7 VOLUMES???


You ARE kidding me, right?

Jesus got half of ONE book. Einstein, Ghandi and McArthur managed to be crammed into single volumes.

Can you tell me again what Robbins did? ((Was it him that named the Arches across from Glacier Point?))

Keep it brief. Doesn't he market clothing?

EDIT: That is Sooo funny. I made the above comment before I read the first few pages of this thread, and Donini makes the same comparison, using ...

... Einstein, Ghandi and Churchill!

We think alike...

Social climber
Mar 9, 2011 - 11:29am PT
Just finished my copy of the first volume. Excellent writing that draws the reader in. Stinkeye (upthread) calls Robbins' early life "ordinary, even boring" but I think stinkeye is missing the point. Somehow, out of these mundane, dysfunctional beginnings, Robbins blossomed into the best climber of his generation, still the single most influential climber of the last fifty years.

How did that happen?

On the surface is the clear description of the two disappointing father figures. A careful read reveals hints of the intelligence, creativity and drive that were so keenly in need of direction, and so poorly served by these role models.

As the author himself suggested up-thread, he is trying to be be honest, and here, I think, is real honesty. The young Robbins could have so easily fallen into a cycle of bad parental role models--even domestic violence, the whole, ugly cycle of children brought up to violence and in turn becoming violent adults--yet the teenage Robbins escaped this fate by latching on to very different role models in the scouts. They propelled him in a new direction, the world of rock climbing, where, in order to survive, one learns a very different approach to dealing with problems. An approach that, ahem, he seems to have mastered quite well over the years....

The best books, like the best climbs, go in unexpected directions in order to go from A to B. Somewhere along that journey one understands that the whole point never actually was to go from A to B.

I'm looking forward to reading the next installment.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2011 - 11:35am PT
The second volume, Fail Falling, is in print.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Mar 9, 2011 - 12:26pm PT
Jox, you are out of line to condemn somebody for the number of their pages rather than their content.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2011 - 12:30pm PT
Yes, grumblings from RJ about the volume of the contents, or the content of the volumes, seem a trifle strained.

(Doesn't RR like word plays?)

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Mar 9, 2011 - 01:15pm PT
I started to buy a copy of Vol 1, then flipped it over and saw the price. Did the math, MSRP x 6 Vols...I don't think so. Maybe the library will get copies, because I'd love to read it...just not $150 worth of lovin.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Mar 9, 2011 - 01:26pm PT
How much did you spend the last time you climbed your namesake azz?

How much more would it have cost you had not Royal pried open the door for you?

Largo and MH have each read a book or two and they say you get what you pay for.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Mar 9, 2011 - 01:44pm PT
Feel free to buy me a copy and send it over Ron, and when I'm done I'll dontate it to San Bernardino Co library system, Joshua Tree branch. My climbing book allowance was spent on a signed Desert Towers book for Kor benefit, THAT was worth my money....this, not so much. Not really sure why my opinion and choice of where I spend MY money makes you feel the need to argue about it, but hey, whatever...
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Mar 9, 2011 - 02:11pm PT
Apparently I was not informed about this benefit.
No problemo, but if you have a book allowance how does that compare to your climbing allowance?

I was intrigued by what MH said about the absent father figures, in light of the Roberts book on expedition hoaxes (NTM my own experience with a father that was on tour much of my early years).
Maybe its not the gripping existential heroics that you seek in your literature Eazz, but underlying motivations can be far more enlightening.

Still, I'll keep my powder dry until I've read more.

Big Wall climber
Rio Oso
Apr 13, 2011 - 06:59pm PT
Most of you are young-in's when it comes to Rock Climbing. I started when Harding, Frost, Chinourd, and the always Big Ego, Robbins was forging ahead and nailing the walls of Yosemeti. As for Robbins, he was and remains full of himself, but one hell of a climber. 1st solo of El Cap, etc. My Royal Robbins climbing boots, (Blue) took me to the top of many a rocks in my day, El Cap, Heart Route, Sentinal, Washington Column, Royal Arches, Lost Arrow, Sunny Benches. Devils Tower, Mt. Whitney, Lovers Leap, etc. My last line in the sand was bolting up the Smoke Stack of the old Sacramento City Incinerator to honor the Irainian hostages of 1981. I was looking at the new climbing shoes. My oh my how the equipment has changed. From my RR boots, and my Gold Line, pitons, rurps, cliff hanger, etc. But the one thing that never changes is that rush, those moments when nothing is in between your brain, no thoughts of anything, just you and the rope. Keep it going, "on belay" brothers.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Apr 13, 2011 - 07:35pm PT
making fun of Royal is a fool's mission

i was much younger than him, but BITD i shared a rope with him on many climbs, shared a campsite in Camp 4 and the Tetons, and shared many discussions about possibilities for the sport

my friends Mark and Warren and Layton and Chuck and Tom and Yvon and Frank and Bob and others were all great climbers

we were all playing catch-up to him

i think they would all agree that this sport would not have progressed nearly so far and so fast without Royal's vision and drive and inspiration

Edit: Royal has always been a very thoughtful individual and has become very mellow and modest in his old age. he has absolutely no need to defend his accomplishments. any of the old controversies are long since water under the bridge. i think he feels a duty to the sport to write his memoirs in detail; and i certainly agree that is true. i am also very supportive of others such as Layton and Jello who are doing similarly. their climbs were absolutely amazing for the era in which they were accomplished
Johnny K.

Apr 13, 2011 - 07:39pm PT
Bill with all due respect,the majority of SuperTopo climbers are individuals who grew up climbing in the era you talk about and beyond.Even some continue to climb just as hard to this very day....

Personally I respect every individual for that,being individual.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Apr 13, 2011 - 09:47pm PT
If nothing else, Royal loves to write, always has. It has never come easily for him, especially when he is working on something more creative. He taught himself, basically, and valued this area of his endeavors a whole lot, would think about stuff he was working on, all day long even, while toiling away on something unrelated, or if we were driving somewhere.

Mountain climber
Porta Ledga Onza Kaleefa
May 2, 2011 - 08:12am PT
"6 or 7 VOLUMES??? ...SHEESH!"

Hey, he could probably write one volume for each of his E.C./H.D. FA, and the correlating relationships, times, gear, discoveries, and adventures etc., alone and fill 6 or 7 volumes at a minimum!

The man is a regarded as a living legend from Yos to Chamonix. If you can't remember your first pair of blue boots, and recall the days you perused and studied a copy of Advanced Rockcraft, or never attended an R.R. climbing clinic at your local crag as a youth, then I guess you wouldn't understand.

Inspirations come and go, but the ones that help in developing your character, and influencing your goals and dreams, there the ones that stick with you for a lifetime.

Thanks RR, for being an incredible inspiration for a generation of aspiring hardmen.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 3, 2013 - 04:35pm PT
I got some Xmas cash, and went to to finally order the second volume, "Fail Falling".
I saw the 3rd volume was published in September 2012, "The Golden Age", so I bought that one, too!
Plan to read these quickly after they arrive!

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Jan 3, 2013 - 04:53pm PT
Clint, they are both worthwhile.

Vol 1 is still my favorite so far since there is so much about his So Cal experience that resonates with me.


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 3, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
Six volumes.....I can't even get through an issue of Alpinist.

I have alway found it difficult and unsatisying to read about climbing. I much more enjoy reading about activities i know little about.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Jan 3, 2013 - 05:27pm PT
More cheese, less fiber Donini.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 3, 2013 - 05:36pm PT

Volume 3 published September 2012...


I liked volume 1 "To Be Brave" very much, too - with all the childhood misadventures transitioning to early climbing adventures.


I rarely read books, and don't read climbing magazines cover to cover anymore. But I've always liked Royal's articles and adventures. I used to have many years of Summit magazines and got to read some of his great stuff like "Cutting Canadian Capers"! (Edith Cavell, etc.)
P.S. Can you tell us a story sometime about the club where people hunt down the last members of an endangered species? I always thought this was a great spoof on environmentalism! I heard the story from my climbing friend who met you in the 70s, Brinton Young.

Jan 3, 2013 - 05:37pm PT
I have alway found it difficult and unsatisying to read about climbing. I much more enjoy reading about activities i know little about

I'm not criticizing people who like to read about climbing, but I agree with Jim. Climbing books, climbing magazines, and (especially) climbing videos never interested me too much. Personal preference, nothing more.
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