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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Royal Robbins is dead

Royal Robbins (1935-2017)

One of the great pioneers in rock climbing has gone: Royal Robbins died yesterday in Modesto, California after a long illness at the age of 82 years. “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 his 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.” In the late 1950s and 1960s, Robbins had set standards in bigwall climbing.

Legendary routes

Robbins in the “Salathé” in 1961

Robbins opened numerous routes on the granite walls of the Yosemite National Park, among others, along with Tom Frost and Chuck Pratt, the legendary 1,000-meter-high “Salathé Wall” on El Capitan, which was then considered to be the most difficult rock climbing route through a big wall. Robbins fought for a clean climbing style. In 1995, Alexander Huber, the younger of the Huber brothers, managed the first red-point ascent of the route, means free and lead climbing, in a single push. The “American Direct” on the west side of the Petit Dru in the Mont Blanc region, which Robbins opened in 1962 with Gary Hemming, is nothing more than history. After several rockfalls, the legendary original route no longer exists in the upper part.

Hunger for adventure

In the 1970s, Robbins increasingly suffered from arthritis. He then turned to extreme kayaking. Here, too, he managed numerous first descends. “I love it very much, and it is very rewarding, but I am first, last, and always a climber,” Robbins once said. “I will climb until I drop, and it would be the last thing I would give up.” Later, Robbins also led a very successful company for outdoor textiles bearing his name. In the heart, however, the entrepreneur always remained an adventurer: “We need adventure. It’s in our blood. It will not go away,” wrote Robbins. “The mountains will continue to call because they uniquely fulfill our need for communion with nature, as well as our hunger for adventure.”


15. March 2017 | 13:24