By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
MODESTO, CA (ANS – March 16, 2017) — When I first moved to Modesto, California, in October of 1990, there were three things I knew about the city: one, it was the home base of Gallo wines, two, it had lots of churches, and three, California State University, Stanislaus was close by in a neighboring city Turlock. I knew the second fact because I left the Bay Area to work for the Empire Church of the Brethren, a fellowship in the nearby city of Empire.
At first I lived in the country by the Stanislaus River. When I decided to move to town in Modesto I chose the “College District.” It just so happened that I picked a duplex down the street from the first Royal Robbins store. It was then that I discovered something that has stayed with me to this day (other than my lovely wife, Melanie) — Royal Robbins clothing and the legacy of its founder Royal Robbins.
I became an aficionado of Royal Robbins Clothing, walking down the street to buy shirts, pants, and hats on a regular basis, particularly during the amazing sales. I found the clothes to be durable and travel-friendly fashionable. Believe it or not, I still have some of the clothes I purchased in 1992. And after twenty-fiver years they are still as strong as ever. Later, the band I formed in Modesto performed at one of the events sponsored by Royal Robbins. I even attended a couple of events where Royal shared some of his stores and pictures of his various adventures. To say the least, Royal Robbins was a legend in Modesto and the larger rock-climbing community of California.
Robbins was a renaissance man: sportsman, businessman, writer, environmentalist, and humanitarian. As one of the architects of “clean climbing,” he was part of the Golden Age of Yosemite ascension, a period that feel between the 1950’s through the 1970’s. According to the Modesto Bee, “his climbing career was full of firsts :”
1950: First climb, Stony Point in San Fernando Valley.
1952: First ascent Tahquitz Open Book (First 5.9 climb in U.S.)
1957: First ascent Northwest Face of Half Dome, Yosemite.
1961: First ascent Salathe Wall of El Capitan, Yosemite
1962: First ascent North Wall of Sentinel Rock, Yosemite
1963: First ascent Direct Northwest Face Half Dome, Yosemite
1967: First new route in Yosemite using only chocks and natural runner (Nutcracker)
1967: Liz Robbins first woman to climb NW Face of Half Dome.
1968: First solo ascent of El Capitan.
He began Royal Robbins clothing in 1968 after realizing that there was a gap for durable climbing and outdoors clothing. Throughout his life Royal was a man of vision. He once said, “Before the deed comes the thought. Before the achievement comes the dream. Every mountain we climb, we first climb in our mind.”
Royal is a classic example of a man with amazing thoughts, deeds, and dreams. And because Royal saw them through, we are the better because of the legend left by Royal.
And now the legend has left the Earth, and with Royal Robbins passing a little love has left Modesto and the world.
Born on February 3, 1935 in West Virginia, Royal grew up in Los Angeles. Royal was 82, passing from his home in Modesto, California after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Liz, and his two children, Damon and Tamara.
To learn more about Royal Robbins’ life, including some of his convictions, read his autobiography in three volumes: To Be Brave, Fail Falling, and The Golden Years.
For more books by Royal Robbins, click here: https://www.amazon.com/Royal-Robbins/e/B002NZLOYG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1489628798&sr=1-2-ent
For more about Royal Robbins’ business endeavors, click here: https://www.royalrobbins.com/
Photo captions: 1) Royal Ascending. 2) Royal at Yosemite. 3) Brian Nixon wearing his Royal Robbins flannel shirt. 4) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA), Veritas Evangelical Seminary (MA), and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon.
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