To Be Brave - Royal Robbins Autobiography


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Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 13, 2009 - 05:59pm PT
See for detailed information on posting photos.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Aug 13, 2009 - 06:17pm PT

I only met your parents once or twice in Camp 4 since they were in Europe when I arrived in California in the early '60's and then my husband and I also went to Europe in 1969.

I have always been more curious about your mother than your father whose record is so well known. There were very few of us women climbers in those days and she set the standards for many years. I was always amazed that she could beat out all those pitons when she seconded Half Dome. That was hard manual labor for a woman who looked as delicate as she did.

Has she written anything about those times? If not, please encourage her to do so as we need a lot more done about the early days of women climbers in America. When you mention it to her, she'll recognize my name.

Jan Sacherer

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Aug 13, 2009 - 07:47pm PT
Per RR writing multi-volumes. It's not that RR feels his exploits are "worth" six or seven volumes (though they ae to some of us), rather he is approaching this project as a writing adventure and a voyage of self discovery. Climbing is merely a vehicle and at times, a metaphor for the other issues he wants to explore. IOW, the guy feels like he has six volumes of material in him. That he will be talking about climbing some of the time is incidental to the through line: what does it mean to be alive?

Six volumes can barly scratch the surface of that one . . .

Tamara Robbins

Aug 13, 2009 - 11:51pm PT
John - your simple, eloquent reply sums it all up.... my gratitude...
Tamara Robbins

Aug 14, 2009 - 10:21pm PT¤t=Tam1975.jpg

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Aug 14, 2009 - 10:50pm PT
We shall see. "The History of the Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire" by Edward Gibbons was also six volumes.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 14, 2009 - 11:01pm PT

I say this because I first met your parents...September of 1966... and spent a bunch of time with them in the formative years of your family businesses. Perhaps here or in a different thread, could you--- on your own----please give us more of these images (and script?) from long ago?. This was an interesting time, Tamara, when you had just arrived and then grew. Some 38 years ago. It is a great opportunity for you, but for us all here as well, certainly!

Here is your very wonderful photo from 1975, cleaned up. You look so much like Liz:

Peter Haan

Aug 14, 2009 - 11:41pm PT
I think we need some history here. One night I slept in a barn in the
Shenandoah. The next morning the farmer came out and told us how they had
to move all the stock into the hills every time Phil Sheridan came through. Now
Phil was a banty rooster and the Virginians were very proud of Robert E. After
more than 100 years I could still hear the Virginian contempt. West Virginian's
did not want to be dragged into someone else's war, especially if they were
acting so damned superior. And they weren't dragged into it. I was in a
political/high technology meeting once run by someone from the mountain
state. A horsefly was cruising around until the discussion leader rolled up his
sunday paper and slammed it down on the poor fly. His point made he said,
"You were saying?"

It is good to know that there are people whose central core may be tied to
issues being confronted.

Now Tamara, from my own experience I will construct something regarding
yourself. Minutes after my daughter was born she looked up at me and I knew
what she was thinking, To wit, "Just what is your function at this little
ceremony?" To some degree I had been dealing with the question of how some
one so much like me could be a girl. That ended with the look. Even though
just a placid New York State boy my universe had been turned on its head, in an

OK. So if I may. Your dad can, and will, write any (......) thing he pleases.

I leave the West Virginia words to your imagination.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 15, 2009 - 02:04am PT
Well, Gibbons' The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire did, with all due respect, cover considerably more in its six chunky volumes than it is likely that Royal has to say, even given the tendency of 18th century historians to go on and on.

At least in English-language autobiographies and biographies of climbers, I haven't seen any that are more than one volume. Although most are the traditional 200 - 300 pages, at least somewhat ghost written, and stretch to fill the space. Somehow I don't think that Royal will have any difficulty filling say six booklets of 100 or so pages each. Looking forward to it, and that sure is a nice picture of Tamara upthread.
Royal Robbins

Trad climber
Modesto, California
Aug 16, 2009 - 04:28pm PT
Hi, everybody. I am kind of new at the "social media" but I am willing to learn. First of all, many thanks to my defenders, especially my daughter, Tamara, who is even more beautiful now than she was in that picture taken so many years ago. And thanks to Largo (John Long) for his eloquent and kind words. If John likes what I have written that means a lot to me as in my opinion he wrote the best climbing short story ever written ("The Only Blasphemy"), an account of soloing with John Bachar in Joshua Tree. Thanks, John. I see I stand accused of having a monster ego. Tamara has defended me well on that charge, but I would have pleaded "Guilty". Who cares? My main question would be "Is he or she honest?". I think that honesty is the real measure of the person, and of writing.
rick d

tucson, az
Aug 16, 2009 - 04:46pm PT
welcome RR!

stay and sit a spell.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 16, 2009 - 05:01pm PT
Glad to see you chime in here Royal. There really isn’t much to this “social media” thing. The hardest part may be issues surrounding the anonymity of the internet. I am also very glad you are participating on this forum. Too many of us older climbers aren’t yet contributing even when it would be a great thing to take part---- everyone would benefit.

How fun that Tamara also is here. Many of us are looking forward to reading your latest work and of course the anticipation might be getting the better of some. I am sure it is going to be a great read. I know how very important writing is and has been to you so hearing from you again now in later years should be fascinating especially since you seem to imply that because honesty is the vital principle in writing or your writing, there will be some very frank and open accounting of this enormous life you have been living.

Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 16, 2009 - 05:20pm PT
Welcome RR! I doubt if you remember, we met briefly at Lover's Leap a long time ago. You had a group of Boy Scouts (I think) there.

At least 15 years ago you gave a talk at UC Santa Cruz. I apologize (very belatedly) for having had vaguely negative preconceived notions about you when I walked in the lecture hall, but I have to say it was one of the most inspiring presentations I have ever seen. I walked out of the lecture hall a better person with my sights set a little higher.

Roger - do you know if that the same Dawn Erb in the photograph who grew up to be an astronomer?
Jerry Dodrill

Sebastopol, CA
Aug 16, 2009 - 05:38pm PT
Royal, Welcome to the "taco stand." We've sure appreciated you and your presentations here in Santa Rosa for the Rock Ice Mountain Club. Thanks for the laughs and perspectives.

See you at Pinecrest.


Aug 16, 2009 - 05:48pm PT
honesty. sounds like a great start. throw it up, and like a rorschach, it defends itself. this may just be the free-est land in the world of letters. so many ways to approach it, i hope you try enough of them to amuse yourself. we'll tag along in a sort of staggered realtime. glad to have a second chance to be among your contemporaries, in a kind of ephemeral rough and tumble. now that i'm thinking about it, seems like it will be a great fit, good call

Trad climber
Los Angeles
Aug 16, 2009 - 07:03pm PT

Basic Rockcraft(1971) $1.95

Advanced Rockcraft(1973) $2.95

Royal Robbins .........Priceless!

Mt. Pacifico, Because RR was there.
Tamara Robbins

Aug 16, 2009 - 08:28pm PT
Hi Pops! Nice to see you here. Phew.... now you can take over... :) -just kidding, all....-

Tucson, AZ
Aug 16, 2009 - 08:28pm PT
Hey is that Royal in one of Simon's BAT shirts?
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Aug 16, 2009 - 08:56pm PT
Hi Royal,

I look forward to reading your new book given the favorable comments here, especially given its writerly focus.

Best, Roger

Social climber
No Ut
Aug 16, 2009 - 09:31pm PT
Well, Royall, the Taco can now honestly claim to have enticed two Robbins into the nest. It was good to see you at John's memorial, and good to hear your words. Wish we had gotten a moment to chat but it was a busy time with so many good folks to catch up with. Hopefully there will be another time in the future.

Your autobiography, of course, has been anxiously awaited for years by those of us who've been so positively influenced by your climbing career (earlier), and lately by the emergence of what seems to be a truly wise and deeply compassionate side of yourself. Whatever form you choose to tell your story and share your insights, you will find an avid audience of old fogies and young upstarts ready to devour as many words and volumes as it takes.

All the best to you and Tamara!

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