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wallwombat


Jul 15, 2003, 8:44 PM
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Info on Tobin Sorensen?
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I have been reading a lot of my old guide books lately and have noticed Tobin Sorensen's name popping up. Apparently he made a bit of a whirlwind tour of Australia in the late seventies and was responsible for putting up some very bold routes here. I know he died in the Canadian Rockies soon after, but that's about all I know?
Has anyone got any more info than that?


apollodorus


Jul 15, 2003, 9:07 PM
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Tobin lived in San Luis Obispo, California. One memorable thing he did was put up one of the area's most feared runout routes, Inner Sanctum, at 5.10a/R/X. He also first freed the Cobra on Royal Arches (Yosemite Valley, 1975), the great crack to the right of the big RA roof, a route also known for long runouts.

The local climbing guide (California Central Coast Climbing - San Luis Obispo; by Tom Slater; Mobius Publications) has a memorium to Tobin as its introduction.

Here is the eulogy from the SLO guide book:

"Tobin was a supreme artist, alive in a way the rest of use were not; but we could see from day one he was going to die, and soon. He never drew the line, never knew there was such a thing. Time seemed too short for Tobin, who always lived and climbed like he had only months or perhaps only minutes left. It came as no surprise when he perished attempting to solo the north face of Mount Alberta in winter."
-from John Long's "Tales From The Steep"


Like John Yablonski, he was too good for this earth and God called him home early.


vulgarian


Jul 15, 2003, 10:33 PM
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Tobin also put up "The Edge" (5.11) on Taquitz. Today it is still considered one of the most psychologically demanding climbs in So. Cal. I haven't done it yet. Aint got the sack. The legend goes that when he got to a stance 50' above his last bolt he cried like baby all the while drilling a bolt by hand and breaking a bit in the process. Gives me pause everytime I read that story.


bvb


Jul 15, 2003, 10:57 PM
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there is too much to write about tobin, and i am not worthy.

he was actually from covina, not san luis obispo.

suffice it to say that during the late '70's, he was probably one of the top two of three all-around climbers in the world -- ice, cracks, steep face, big walls, bouldering, everything. he soloed the north face of the matterhorn in levi's jeans, the same summer he ticked the FA of what was at the time the hardest ice route in the alps with ricky accomazzo, did the eiger (of course), was just an all-time great climber....a socal fixture and even though he was only two or three years older that me, i consider him one of my "childhood" heros, and the occasional times when i got to boulder with him or attack some tr'd project in josh, it was quite the experience.

hand's, down, one of america's, and the world's, great unheralded masters.

he died trying to solo the north face of alberta in 1980. he was a fundamentalist christian. john long has written about him some, but pretty much that's it. he's one of the great unknowns. he free-soloed superfly at josh, adding a 360 spin to the hairy jump problem, and as a joke, tr'd the left ski track wearing a noose around his neck. later, he was critisized for this in a magazine by some idiot who'd never even met him.

as i say, i am not worthy; others who maybe know him better than i should speak to this. fredbob, you out there?


apollodorus


Jul 15, 2003, 11:47 PM
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He was actually from Covina, not San Luis Obispo.

My bad. I thought he lived in SLO (or maybe he did for a while). For the record, Covina is in So. Cal., about 30 miles west of Los Angeles and three hours south of SLO.

I went through the SLO guide's FA list, and Tim Sorenson (Tobin's brother?) has many listed. It gets confusing (to someone like me), because Hans Florine's name also appears there. Is Tom Slater related to Rob Slater?

This is a small town with a rather small crag.


mike


Jul 16, 2003, 3:34 AM
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John Long relates several adventures involving Tobin Sorrenson in "Climbing Anchors".


bvb


Jul 16, 2003, 8:26 AM
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whoops..correction. obviously, i meant superfly at suicide, the "leap" route from the top of the sunshine wall over to the paisano pinnacle.


dingus


Jul 16, 2003, 9:03 AM
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Lynn Hill talks about him in her book too. Good stuff.

DMT


grigriese


Jul 17, 2003, 3:35 PM
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Like John Yablonski, he was too good for this earth and God called him home early.

Didn't John Yablonski call himself home early?


thegreytradster


Jul 17, 2003, 4:51 PM
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Don't forget the classics he put up in Joshua Tree!

I had the honor of knowing him at the very beginning of his climbing career. He lived down the street from me in Covina. If he ever lived in San Luis Obispo it was only for a very brief stay. He got around a lot though and had a knack for snaging the best lines.

A lot of what I've read about him emphasizes the reckless abandon that he threw into his ascents. That's understandable with the deserved reputation his routes have, but it doesn't paint a complete picture. It wasn't reckless in the conventional sense although it often looked that way. He was definitely driven at an intensity level that most of us only achieve in short bursts, if ever.

He approached all facets of life with the same intensity. In his partying days it was full bore. When he embraced his religion later it was full bore. (I ran into him shortly after his return from down under and he was spewing about the preaching he did, not the climbing). Unlike most tightly wound types, he was one of the most guileless individuals I've ever met. Never heard him say a bad word about anyone or not be genuinely interested in what someone had to say. If he had a fault it was his generosity. He had an annoying habit of extending it to things that weren't really his but he did it in such a disarming way that he was always forgiven.

Few personalities have so much impact on those around them. That's why, I beleve, he's received so much ink in relation to the length of his tenure. Lots of climbers have put up more bold and briliant routes without achiveing semi-legendary status.

There were several hundred people that he had influenced, inspired, or loved him enough to show up at his funeral. The climbing contingent, (including me) numbered less than a dozen at the back of the standing room only crowd. His world was a lot wider than us.


tenn_dawg


Jul 17, 2003, 4:52 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Like John Yablonski, he was too good for this earth and God called him home early.

Didn't John Yablonski call himself home early?

Yep.

Travis


grigriese


Jul 17, 2003, 5:16 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
Like John Yablonski, he was too good for this earth and God called him home early.

Didn't John Yablonski call himself home early?

Yep.

Travis

Thanks tenn_dawg. The only reason I brought that up was because I thought it was interesting to bring up Yablonski in a thread about Tobin Sorensen. Kind of like bringing a tomato into a bushel of perfect peaches. I have heard some great stories from some guys that used to climb with Tobin and nothing bad was ever said other than he just pushed and pushed the limit.

Of course, I know nothing! Only what I've read or been told and I try to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.


fredbob


Jul 17, 2003, 5:48 PM
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... I thought it was interesting to bring up Yablonski in a thread about Tobin Sorensen. Kind of like bringing a tomato into a bushel of perfect peaches. I have heard some great stories from some guys that used to climb with Tobin and nothing bad was ever said other than he just pushed and pushed the limit.

Of course, I know nothing! Only what I've read or been told and I try to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I knew Yabo far better than Tobin (who I knew only a bit). While Tobin may have been all the things people have attributed to him, Yabo was a good person and gentle spirit, if perhaps more troubled (and more misunderstood) than some of the rest of us.

Of any of the things I have read about Yabo, the insights of Lynn Hill (in her book Climbing Free) seem to hit the mark best.

You should rethink your baseless slander of Yabo.


rockitjeff


Jul 17, 2003, 8:11 PM
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fredbob's got it right... ...yabo was a gentle wild soul..

i recall John Long wrote about how when Yabo and Tobin tied into the same rope, you had the most "go for it" team that ever exisited


climber1


Jul 17, 2003, 10:06 PM
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Thanks tenn_dawg. The only reason I brought that up was because I thought it was interesting to bring up Yablonski in a thread about Tobin Sorensen. Kind of like bringing a tomato into a bushel of perfect peaches. I have heard some great stories from some guys that used to climb with Tobin and nothing bad was ever said other than he just pushed and pushed the limit.

Of course, I know nothing! Only what I've read or been told and I try to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Lynn,
I see you've only been climbing a couple of years. HITF do you know anything about Yabo? you are not credible.


benpullin


Jul 18, 2003, 1:10 AM
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climber1, I see you did not read the last two sentences of grigriese's post.


grigriese


Jul 18, 2003, 10:30 AM
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fredbob - I don't recall slandering anybody.

climber1 - you're right I've been climbing a couple of years, exactly 2. I know no one and nothing. I've also never been anywhere and only climb with fellow noobs. :D


dsafanda


Jul 18, 2003, 10:44 AM
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Kind of like bringing a tomato into a bushel of perfect peaches.

Some pretty sensitive people here. The only way to construe that as slander is if you happen to dislike tomatos. :)

I think her point was that one has nothing to do with the other. I agree.


grigriese


Jul 21, 2003, 1:44 PM
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dsafanda - that was exactly my point. Thanks for catching it. I think the offended ones must have thought I meant rotten tomato, which was not the case. A tomato is a fruit but a different kind of fruit all together. I happen to love tomatoes, raw with salt. Yum.

Back to the topic - I remember watching benpullin lead Tobin's Dihedral at Dome Rock in August of 2001 and thinking how bold a first accent that must have been. benpullin used very large Camelotís, I'm sure that Mr. Sorensen didn't have those at his disposal. Nor would he have had todayís sticky rubber climbing shoes. One of the guys on the trip shared some really great stories of Tobin Sorensen.

As a noob, I feel very fortunate to be able to climb the routes established by the legends of yesterday.


fredbob


Jul 21, 2003, 2:41 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Kind of like bringing a tomato into a bushel of perfect peaches.

Some pretty sensitive people here. The only way to construe that as slander is if you happen to dislike tomatos. :)

I think her point was that one has nothing to do with the other. I agree.

I think bringing Yabo up in a discussion about Tobin is certainly not out of place. Both were characters pushing the outside edges of what was (at the time) considered a fringe activity. Both were highly talented climbers who engaged in daring and perhaps foolhardy adventures.

And despite the graceful backpeddling, there is an clear implication in the statement. It seems to reflect the general attitude towards these two individuals as well as our inclination towards oversimplification.

Maybe the myth that has become Tobin's public persona is easily digested or perhaps Yabo's life and struggles present too many uncomfortable questions. Maybe there is much more to both of them.

Both intrigue us. Their lives could be parables, cautionary tales, existential quests, or insights into the human spirit and the depth of human character.


thegreytradster


Jul 21, 2003, 4:18 PM
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You hit the nail on the head!


cyraknow


Oct 27, 2003, 2:33 AM
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After reading the generous descriptions of Tobin, I feel inclined to establish a claim on him as a fine Canadian and Albertan. He lived and climbed in California and elsewhere but came from colder climes (climbs?)

I never met him, but my parents worked with his at one time on some summer camping projects and I certainly heard of him and found inspiration long before I was a climber. (I can remember how it was emphasized how careful and prudent he was in his climbing, so it turns out my sources were not all that good on some counts, but they were unanimous in their good opinion of him.)


guyzo


Nov 15, 2003, 1:15 PM
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It was an honor to have known Tobin as a friend and fellow climber. He was one of those people who would inspire and encourage others, I remember one time after I had failed miserably on a climb at suicide. Tobin took me aside and just looked at me and said "go back tomorrow clear out your fears and do the sucker- I know you can do it" He was always a cheerleader for the whole crowd who climbed at Tahquitz in the 70's and had a huge impact on the scene. When ever I get gripped on a climb today I think about those words. I think a biography would be in order....ya reading this John? BTW Tobin liked fast sports cars and he could drive FAST. We would meet in Hemitt on Friday pm and blast up the road to Humbler Park- street racing I guess. Anyway my MGB was faster than his DATSUN and I would usually win but one incident that stands out in my mind was when I was stuck behind a truck waiting to pass it and he was right behind me. When we got to this place where the road is divided for about a mile he drove down the wrong side of the divided road! He beat me to HP by a couple of minutes and was sitting on the fender of his car with that special grin on his face. Anyway the old days were great fun. I really miss Tobin a lot and wonder what would have happened to him had he stuck around with us over the last couple of decades. :( :( :) :) :lol: :lol:


dee


Jan 16, 2004, 1:36 PM
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I knew Tobin and family (Dibs) well in the 70's and all you folks say about him is true. I climbed with him a couple of times and camped many but when I remember Tobin I think of one morning in Humber. While standard morning prep was taking place my friend Mike Watt and I pulled out our Banjos and started jamming. Tobin was there and commenced to some high energy country style dancing. We played and played and Tob danced and danced. That is how I still remember Tobin, dancing in Humber. PS. I concur with Mr. Fredbob about Yabo. Tortured yes but a good good sole. He worshipped Lynny but had tremendous respect for all women. More than once I saw him go out of his way to do something for a woman and without being motivated by th possible score (unlike most guys). I miss them both.


gunkiemike


Jan 20, 2004, 5:25 PM
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[quote="dee"]I saw him go out of his way to do something for a woman and without being motivated by th possible score (unlike most guys)./quote]

Anyone looking for slander in this thread need read no further. Thanks for the slap Dee. :wink:

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