COOL AID, 1961

        “The image of Royal Robbins in the early and mid 1960s was the very expression of Yosemite .”  (Pat Ament, Wizards of Rock)


“Climbing as we know it would not exist without Royal Robbins.  The way we move, behave, and even think is, 30 years after the end of his Yosemite reign, shaped by Robbins.  His competitive drive was the impetus for Yosemite ’s Golden Age, a period of such progress that may never be matched.  Robbins’ laundry list of firsts stretches around the globe, but most remarkable is the Salathé Wall in 1961, a serpentine, natural line that he, Tom Frost and Chuck Pratt pioneered in semi-alpine style with just 13 bolts – a hole count that remains El Cap’s lowest.”  (Duane Raleigh, Rock and Ice 142)


“Robbins saw that climbing big walls in good style could do wonders for the soul.  Climbing, for him, tended to be a spiritual exercise:  not man overcoming the rock with garrison tactics, but man striving and reaching for a deeper meaning.  If you pushed into the unknown, then perhaps you’d discover something about yourself.”  (Steve Roper, Camp 4)


Here, Royal leads the third pitch of the Salathé Wall.  The climbing route follows natural rock features where cracks provide handholds, footholds, and enable the placement of pitons.  The second man removed the pitons as he followed the pitch.  Thus, the route was left for the next party in the same condition in which we found it.  This leave-no-trace philosophy was a cornerstone of Robbins’ style.  It was a natural style, incorporating appreciation, cooperation and stewardship.



COOL AID, Royal Robbins climbs the third pitch of the Salathé Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California, first ascent by Robbins, Pratt and Frost, in 9½ days of September 1961.