The climbing pioneer passed away yesterday at the age of 82.
Royal Robbins paved the way for many climbers who came after him. Born in 1935, he was an advocate for clean climbing, the founder of an outdoor clothing brand under his own name, and one of the top climbers during Yosemite’s golden era—putting up a long list of first ascents, including the Northwest Face of Half Dome and El Cap’s Salathé Wall. Royal died on March 14, 2017.
Here’s how the climbing world is reacting to the loss of the legend.
From Rock and Ice: “In 1967, Robbins made the first ascent of The Nutcracker in Yosemite, using only removable protection, with his wife Liz. This was the first climb of its kind in the United States. After their ascent of The Nutcracker, Robbins published a seminal article in Summit magazine where he advocated using removable protection rather than inserting and removing pitons that damaged the granite cracks of Yosemite. Robbins’ continued advocacy of clean climbing has continued to influence generations of climbers and shape the sport to what it is today.”
From the Modesto Bee, Robbins’ hometown newspaper: While Robbins used his name to forward his popular outdoor clothing company—a company that he started with his wife, Liz, in 1968, and sold in 2007—it’s his love of climbing that he’ll forever be remembered. “The rock was the only place where I thought I could get out and grow and do things and use my full potential,” Robbins told The Bee years ago. “I could apply myself on the rock. But in town, I was a mess. I didn’t have the power that I had on the rock.”
From Climbing magazine’s obituary: “My father faced challenges in his climbing, his writing, his business, his role as a father and husband, and later in life in his debilitating illness,” said Royal’s daughter, Tamara Robbins. “Through it all, he rose to the occasion, taking the challenges on with grace and humility. For that, he’s my hero.”
We stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. ?Royal Robbins was integral to the golden age of Yosemite climbing. From the NW Face of Half Dome, the Salathé and NA Walls on El Cap to the genre shifting free climb of the NutCracker Royal defined clean and free climbing. Layer up a devotion to the environment and wild kayaking, Royal played all his cards. ???To his family and friends: empathy and respect. Photo by his good friend Tom Frost, early 60s. ??? You forged the route of life with conviction. We will all follow.
From Adventure Journal: Robbins himself wrote, “We need adventure. It’s in our blood. It will not go away. The mountains will continue to call because they uniquely fulfill our need for communion with nature, as well as our hunger for adventure.”