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SPIRIT OF THE AGE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF AMERICA'S MOST DISTINGUISHED ROCK CLIMBER, ROYAL ROBBINS Pat Ament 1992 1st ed Hardcover DJ Fine 2 Copies Available
By Ament, Pat
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Detailed Product Description
Nebraska, 1992, 1st edition. 301 pp, 219 b/w photos, cartoons, bibliography, index. Black cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Fine. 

Biography of one of the great climbers of Yosemite. Royal Robbins was one the pioneers of American climbing. His competitive spirit helped him change his sport forever. But it was his relentless desire that helped him push back the boundaries of what anyone had previously thought possible. Pat Ament is a fellow climber and friend who knew him well. Was shortlisted for the 1993 Tasker-Boardman Award in 1993. 

Also published in paperback in 1992 by Two Lights, Boulder, titled Royal Robbins Spirit of the Age, and another paperback edition of that title was published in 1998 by Stackpole Books in 1998.

Pat Ament has diligently chronicled Robbins's life and achievements by taking us from his Boy Scout days, to his triumphs in the Yosemite Valley, to his postscript career as a formidable kayaker. But the main focus is Robbins's years in Yosemite, where he went after whichever route the world said couldn't be climbed.

We follow him up the Washington Column, Half Dome, the Nose of El Capitan, and on a solo ascent of the Leaning Tower. Ament also plays historian by laying down the foundations of the American climbing scene, transmitting a feel for Yosemite during its golden age – when the world had not yet crushed 'the valley' in its clumsy grip.

Moreover, he allows us to appreciate what went into setting the routes we climb today by giving detailed accounts of the first ascents. It is humbling to know that the routes we struggle on were first protected by slinging wires through machine nuts called 'stoppers.' And you get a real sense of the dedication when you know that Robbins' friend and fellow pioneer, Yvon Chouinard, was first creating pitons from shards of old Ford axles.

Ament's style is constricted at times, and the biography often reads more like a textbook, but if you fancy yourself a student of climbing history, this is your textbook. And the life of Royal Robbins is certainly a prerequisite. –Benjamin Tiffany.

The definitive biography of a rock climbing legend with rare photos of Robbins and other premier climbers in action. A classic work on a seminal era of American rock climbing. In one of the most important climbing books of the decade, Colorado climber and author Pat Ament has written a superbly evocative and lasting biography of this most influential figure. –The American Alpine Journal.

Royal Robbins, more than anyone, defined American rock climbing in the early days of the sport. A colorful, influential, sometimes controversial figure, he was the first in America to climb a 5.9 route, the first to make a big wall Grade VI ascent (the Northwest Wall of Half Dome), the first to find and conquer new routes up El Capitan.

This biography was originally published in 1992. Rich in climbing lore and anecdote, the book reveals in both text and photos how a master climber made some of his most challenging climbs. Ament's prose also captures the spiritual allure of the sport.

Pat Ament, an expert climber himself who opened some of the first 5.11 routes in Colorado, is the author of numerous books and articles on climbing and is also a poet and filmmaker. He lives in Westminster, Colorado. Climbing was, for many people, something in which to dabble – romantic dilettantism. For Royal, it was a way of life – a consciousness closely related to the religious impulse. Although agnostic, his discipline was toward mental, technical, and spiritual virtuosity. He was deviled with resistance against less competent climbers who were trying to bolt the spirit out of the game. He found any hint of dishonesty deplorable.

His searching, as he wrote in an article, was for the highest human expression. In Yosemite, indeed there was a spiritualization of adventure.

From John Gill's Website:

Pat Ament : Pat and I first met in 1967, just after I had moved to Fort Collins. The friendship that resulted from our first encounter has lasted 36 years. Although ten years my junior, we had, in common the most important thing two climbers can have in common: remarkably similar perspectives of our craft.

We were both gymnasts, and Pat, independantly, had started using chalk in climbing only a few years after I had introduced it elsewhere. We both viewed rock climbing as an extension of gymnastics. What I had in pulling strength, Pat had in pressing strength. He could do a hollowback press to handstand from the floor, followed by a number of handstand push-ups. He once held a one-arm handstand on the parallel bars for 18 seconds (I don't think I ever went beyond 5). Along with one-arm mantels on the rock, he could also do a very slow and controlled muscle-up on the high bar, rotating both elbows simultaneously – a very difficult feat.

But, most importantly for our friendship, we were aware of spiritual or mystical dimensions of the sport. We also thought of our climbing as an artistic endeavor.

Pat is a significant artist. He is a prolific writer, having written literally dozens of books about various aspects of climbing, including an original guidebook 'High Over Boulder', that set benchmarks for precision and accuracy. He is a composer, pianist, and singer, and his line drawings are superb. He is also, and fundamentally, a poet. The balance he has achieved between the physical realm – including being a black belt Karate instructor – and the artistic or spiritual realm is extraordinary.

Now , for a few words about his climbing feats. Besides setting new bouldering standards at Flagstaff Mountain, in Boulder, during the 1960s, he made significant climbs in Colorado and Yosemite. Pat's ascent of Supremacy Crack in Eldorado Canyon at the age of eighteen in 1965 established one of the hardest short climbs in the country. He authored the first 5.11 in Yosemite - the Center Slack at the base of El Cap - as well.

He is also a true master of safety in climbing , having the ability to place adequate protection in even the most barren of traditional climbs. Pat was a leading innovator and experimented with various approaches to rock climbing during a transitionary era, fraught with ethical dilemmas, toward the end of the Golden Age. He raised a few waves because of this and because of a powerful intellect and a quiet but forceful attitude, not averse to philosophical and verbal argument.

He has weathered these minor squalls with determination and resiliency, and to some extent, I think they define him. He is a rare renaissance man in an age of increasing specialization. The only true poet I know who weaves his spell upon the rock as well. (2003)

For those of you interested in learning more about this great old friend of mine, I recommend Pat's Stories of a Young Climber – an Autobiography, and his 2004 book Everything That Matters.


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