Robbins, Royal

Royal Robbins. (Tim Tomkinson)

Climber, businessman, and archetype for the modern clean-climbing ethic, which espouses the use of removable protection instead of pounding pitons into rock. Robbins made numerous contributions to the gear world, importing European nuts and designing a climbing shoe with a steel shank for better rigidity. His best move may have been marrying Liz Burkner, who worked at Yosemite’s Ahwanee Hotel when Robbins climbed in the park in the early 1960s. (See Yvon Chouinard.) In 1965, the couple launched Mountain Paraphernalia, which became Royal Robbins; Liz designed the first belay seat and the classic Billy Goat shorts, a precursor to both cargo shorts and 5.11 tactical pants, now ubiquitous among law enforcement.

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