Doug Robinson

News

faviconJune 8, 2016: Doug’s review of Brave New Wild, Oakley Anderson Moore wonderful new feature-length documentary, which offers an offbeat chronicle of America’s Golden Age of rock climbing, is hot off the presses.

faviconJune 3, 2016: Doug wrote three of the pieces in Outside’s newly published collection, “The 25 Greatest Moments in Yosemite Climbing History.” Doug is also featured in one of the other pieces: Brad Rassler’s “1973: First Hammerless Ascent of Half Dome.”

faviconMay 25, 2016: DATE CHANGE! Doug’s presentation about Yosemite climbing has been rescheduled to July 29 (formerly June 18) at the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center (formerly LeConte Memorial Lodge). See the DATES page for details.

faviconMay 20, 2016: Doug’s added two more American Alpine Club events to his fall calendar, one in Yosemite Valley in September and the other in Bishop in early November. See the DATES page for details.

faviconApril 18, 2016: Check out Doug’s new piece in Adventure Sports Journal, Royal Robbins: The Man Behind the Legend.

faviconMarch 25, 2016: Doug wrote a beautiful obituary for pioneering High Sierra mountaineer Glen Dawson for Outside.

faviconNov. 4, 2015: Stephen Goodwin, editor extraordinaire of The Alpine Journal from 2004-2013, penned a wonderful review of The Alchemy of Action in the 2015 edition of this UK journal. You can read the full piece here or check out a short blurb on the BOOK page.

faviconJan. 15, 2015: Crazy night here last night. Doug was interviewed FOUR times about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s amazing achievement on the Dawn Wall route of The Captain. There were even two live TV interviews via Skype. Gotta love technology!

Here’s the BBC World News TV interview with Alastair Leithead. (Thank you, Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, for posting this.)

And here’s a link to the BBC World Service Radio story: “The High Water Mark of Rock Climbing.”

faviconDoug’s mountain profile about the Palisades is the cover story of issue 48 of Alpinist magazine.

faviconYou can purchase Doug’s books and DVDs online at Doug Robinson’s Store. Tell your friends!

faviconDoug’s book, The Alchemy of Action, is also available as an e-book. In addition to being able to buy the book for your Kindle, iPad or other electronic device, you can peruse the Foreword, Introduction, Table of Contents and first few chapters online.

faviconDoug’s tour has generated some terrific interviews and write ups. Read more on the PRESS page.

Bio

Photo collage

 

Doug Robinson is a professional mountaineer known internationally for his climbing, guiding and backcountry skiing, as well as his poetic writings about the mountains and why we climb them. Closely identified with California’s High Sierra, Doug has been called “the modern John Muir.”

WRITING

The Alchemy of Action
Why do people climb mountains? Because it gets us high! Doug’s long-awaited new book, The Alchemy of Action, offers a fresh—even shocking—explanation of why people climb mountains, by delving into the brain chemistry behind climber’s euphoria. The intriguing story behind why we are so much more than “adrenaline junkies” leads deep into the psyches of all adventure athletes as they push toward the ragged edge of human potential and return with shimmering new awareness from a heady brew of hormonal cocktail that includes the surprising ingredients of home-made organic psychedelic compounds.

A Night on the Ground, A Day in the Open
“John Muir meets Jack Kerouac” is how William Broyles, Jr., (who wrote the screenplays for Apollo 13, Cast Away and Planet of the Apes), summed up Doug’s 1996 book, A Night on the Ground, A Day in the Open. A collection of Doug’s earlier writings about climbing, backcountry skiing and the spirit of wilderness, it sold out of its first edition and received much critical acclaim. In 2015 Dougald MacDonald, the Executive Editor of the American Alpine Journal, included Doug’s first book in his list “Doctor of Climbology: 33 Must-Read Climbing Books” in Climbing magazine.

Other
Doug’s writing and photography credits include National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Outside, Men’s Journal, California, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Alpinist, Ascent, Climbing, Mountain, Rocky Mountain, Mountain Gazette, Powder, Rock & Ice, with translations in several foreign languages. Co-wrote Climbing Ice with Yvon Chouinard. Co-wrote screenplay “Hard Rock” with William Broyles, Jr.

Recipient of the American Alpine Club’s Literary Award, 2010.

CLIMBING

“The father of clean climbing.”Climbing magazine

Doug helped lead the “Clean Climbing” revolution in the early 1970s, an environmental movement that changed forever the way climbers anchor themselves to steep rock. Clean climbing eliminated the traditional hammer-driven pitons that were increasingly damaging even hard granite. It substituted aluminum wedges slotted by hand into cracks in the rock. The result has lightened the impact of climbers on mountain environments around the world. Doug’s essay, “The Whole Natural Art of Protection,” sparked the movement. And then his first clean ascent of the face of Half Dome, made in 1973 with Galen Rowell and Dennis Hennek, slam-dunked the revolution when it was featured as the cover story of National Geographic magazine.

Fifty-five years including dozens of first ascents on ice, rock, and alpine terrain. Doug cut his teeth on Yosemite granite during the Valley’s Golden Age in the sixties, a time when all the climbers in Yosemite could fit around one campfire at Camp 4. First Ascent Dark Star on Temple Crag, the longest alpine rock climb in the Sierra. Developed Buttermilk bouldering. First ice ascents V-Notch and Lee Vining Icefall with Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. First ascent Ice Nine, the hardest alpine climb in California. Second ascent of Ama Dablam (22,495′) in Nepal, 1979, filmed for ABC Sports.

VIDEO

“Best-selling rock video of the early Stone age”

Produced, wrote and hosted Moving Over Stone (1988), which was ground-breaking in its fusion of instruction and entertainment, basics to cutting-edge.

GUIDING

“California’s premiere mountain guide”San Francisco Examiner

First President, American Mountain Guides Association. AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine guide. 50 years experience, US and foreign countries. Guide to Fortune 500 leaders (e.g. William Randolph Hearst III) and corporate training (Apple, Sun Microsystems, Levi’s). Teaching and mentoring to apprentice guides. Palisade School of Mountaineering, 12 years. Royal Robins Rockcraft, 2 years in southern Yosemite “hinterlands.” Catalyst Consulting Team, corporate climbing programs, 12 years. Founded Foothill College climbing program. Chief Guide and long-time Board of Directors Member, Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG).

SKI MOUNTAINEERING

Led first continuous ski traverse John Muir Trail, 250 miles, 1970. Many first telemark ski descents, including Mt. Rainier, 1980. Current speed record Sierra High Route: 50 miles and over 11,000′ gain/loss in 22 hours. Guides backcountry expeditions.

EQUIPMENT DESIGN

Developed climbing Stoppers and Tube Chocks for Chouinard Equipment, also packs and boots, several patented.

PRESENTATIONS

“You made 400 climbers sit still for what was essentially a poetry reading!”—Jim McCarthy, former president, American Alpine Club.

Inspiring slide shows, lectures, and reading that have headlined at the International Festival of Mountain Literature and the Int’l Climbers Festival.

EDUCATION

BA in English, San Francisco State University, 1969.

FAMILY

Doug loves to hike and backpack, climb and ski with his kids Toryn and Kyra.

HOME

Doug lives in Kirkwood, CA, with his partner Eva Eilenberg.

Books

The Alchemy of Action

By Doug Robinson
With a foreword by Dick Dorworth

View/buy the e-book        The Alchemy of Action - Front Cover

Buy the E-BOOK               Buy the PRINT book    

Why do people climb mountains?
Because it gets us high.
But adrenaline junkies we are not,
and beta-endorphin isn’t behind runner’s high either.
The surprising answer reveals natural psychedelic transformations
at work
deep in the brains of adventure athletes.

Reviews

Alchemy is a joyous trip, guided by a knowing roshi who blends the insight of Aldous Huxley (much referenced) and the romance of John Muir with the vernacular of The Dude in The Big Lebowski… With this stimulating and original book it is now Doug Robinson who is the alchemist, turning wit, words and dedicated personal research to wisdom. And as he says of the hormonal cocktail served up on the edge: How could you resist?”
~ Alpine Journal 2015 (UK)

“This is a beautifully written, deeply researched, insightful, and groundbreaking contribution to human understanding (and consciousness). It is a great read about climbing, among many other human activities, but it is bigger than that in the same way contemplation from the summit encompasses more than summit-inspired chest thumping…”
~ American Alpine Journal 2014

“In 1969, Doug Robinson published “The Climber as Visionary.” The article raised the question of whether a climber’s brain, in times of stress or elation, could produce natural drugs that mimicked the effects of recreational chemicals including LSD and marijuana. Forty-four years later, Robinson thinks he has found the answer… The natural high Robinson describes is more one of enhanced visual acuity, a slight sensation of floatiness, an alert mind, a forestalling of time, an amplification of self-efficacy, and a sense of the profound, which is so evident in mountaineering literature.”
~ Ascent magazine 2014

“What [Doug Robinson] is doing is similar to Michael Pollan’s conceit in The Botany of Desire, but he takes it a step further… Doug is urging you to get high on your own brain by simply getting off the couch, putting down the iPhone, and getting outdoors to experience your brain when it’s turned on fully.”
~ Explore Big Sky

Need more of a preview?

Read the first few chapters of the E-BOOK in your browser. You don’t need a Kindle to read a full Kindle book that you purchase: you can download free Kindle apps to read Kindle books on any device.

Read a PDF of the Introduction to The Alchemy of Action.

Read a PDF of the Foreword by Dick Dorworth.

 


A Night on the Ground, A Day in the Open

By Doug Robinson

“John Muir meets Jack Kerouac” is how William Broyles, Jr., (who wrote the screenplays for Apollo 13, Cast Away and Planet of the Apes), summed up Doug’s first book, which came out in 1996. A collection of Doug’s earlier writings about climbing, backcountry skiing and the spirit of wilderness, it sold out of its first edition and received much critical acclaim. In 2015 Dougald MacDonald, the Executive Editor of the American Alpine Journal, included Doug’s first book in his list “Doctor of Climbology: 33 Must-Read Climbing Books” in Climbing magazine.

Doug has a few copies he can sign and send to you. Order here:

online

Video

The 25th Anniversary Edition – on DVD!

Moving Over Stone, Doug’s instructional-inspirational video about climbing—featuring Lynn Hill, Peter Croft, John Bachar, Todd Skinner, Dale Bard, Bobbi Bensman, Jerry Moffatt and Stephen Glowacz—is the best-selling “rock video” of the early Stone age. The original VHS tape (what’s that, Dad?) came out in 1988, and we just released the 25th Anniversary Edition on DVD. It’s a classic, and it’s still really current. For gym climbers who are interested in transitioning to real rock, it is invaluable.

“Moving Over Stone was a breakthrough video for climbers 25 years ago, but the lessons it taught remain relevant. 
…Every climber should watch it.

~ Duane Raleigh, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Rock and Ice and Ascent magazines

Moving Over Stone opening

Reviews

Recent Press About Doug and His Work

The Climbing Zine, Feb. 16, 2016 – Review of The Alchemy of Action, by Al Smith III, co-founder of The Climbing Zine

The Climbing Zine book review “Doug’s book speaks to me because he gets at that natural high in life that we, the ‘conquistadors of the useless,‘ get to experience.”


Alpine Journal 2015, Volume 119 – Review of The Alchemy of Action, by former editor Stephen Goodwin

The_Alpine_Journal_UK_2015Alchemy is a joyous trip, guided by a knowing roshi who blends the insight of Aldous Huxley (much referenced) and the romance of John Muir with the vernacular of The Dude in The Big Lebowski… With this stimulating and original book it is now Doug Robinson who is the alchemist, turning wit, words and dedicated personal research to wisdom. And as he says of the hormonal cocktail served up on the edge: How could you resist?…”


American Alpine Journal 2014 – Review of The Alchemy of Action

AAJ 2014 cover thumbnail“This is a beautifully written, deeply researched, insightful, and groundbreaking contribution to human understanding (and consciousness). It is a great read about climbing, among many other human activities, but it is bigger than that in the same way contemplation from the summit encompasses more than summit-inspired chest thumping…”


The Alchemist, by Brad Rassler, Ascent magazine – May 2014 issue

The-Alchemist-lead-photo-th“In 1969, Doug Robinson published “The Climber as Visionary.” The article raised the question of whether a climber’s brain, in times of stress or elation, could produce natural drugs that mimicked the effects of recreational chemicals including LSD and marijuana. Forty-four years later, Robinson thinks he has found the answer… The natural high Robinson describes is more one of enhanced visual acuity, a slight sensation of floatiness, an alert mind, a forestalling of time, an amplification of self-efficacy, and a sense of the profound, which is so evident in mountaineering literature.”


TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson, by Duane Raleigh, editor-in-chief, Rock and Ice magazine – September 16, 2014

TNB-email-cropped“Doug was of the generation that bridged the old school of Royal Robbins and Yvon Chouinard, and the newcomers Jim Bridwell and the Stonemasters. He’s a hippie (he might prefer “bohemian”) molded by the Bay Area scene of the 1960s when you could freely enjoy certain now nearly forgotten liberties that I suspect provided the germ for his alchemy concept.”


Speaker Series: Doug Robinson – Rock and Snow blog article and interview, by climber-writer Whitney Boland, October 2014


Doug Robinson is Coming to BKB! – Brooklyn Boulders blog post written by Cyrena Lee, October 6, 2014


Get High, by Kelsie Bowman, Get Out Chattanooga – October 2014


Getting High in the Mountains, by Emily Wolfe, managing editor, Explore Big Sky – March 21-April 3, 2014

Explore Big Sky
“What [Doug Robinson] is doing is similar to Michael Pollan’s conceit in The Botany of Desire, but he takes it a step further… Doug is urging you to get high on your own brain by simply getting off the couch, putting down the iPhone, and getting outdoors to experience your brain when it’s turned on fully.”


Articles

A Selection of Recent Articles of Other Writings by Doug

2016

The 25 Greatest Moments in Yosemite Climbing History, Outside, June 1, 2016, online. Doug wrote three pieces for this collection: “1869: John Muir Makes First Ascent of Cathedral Peak,” “1875: First Ascent of Half Dome,” and “1933: Climbers Adopt Camp 4.” He’s also featured in this one by Brad Rassler, “1973: First Hammerless Ascent of Half Dome.”

Brave New Wild, Adventure Sports Journal, June/July 2016, Issue #61: Doug’s review of Oakley Anderson Moore wonderful new feature-length documentary, which offers an offbeat chronicle of America’s Golden Age of rock climbing.

Royal Robbins: The Man Behind the Legend, Adventure Sports Journal, April/May 2016, Issue #60, p. 22.

Obituary: Rock Climber Glen Dawson (1912-2016) “In the 1920s, long before the days of soloists like Alex Honnold, pioneering climbers like Dawson put up daring ropeless ascents across the West…” Outside, March 25, 2016.

2015

Like Surfers Gone Alpine, on Sustainable Play, Dec. 2015. Loosely structured around a first ascent on Birch Mountain, this essay ranges widely into the meaning of climbing. The post also includes a sidebar, “The Atomic Broom,” in which Doug proposes a radical and controversial theory about rockfall in the High Sierra.

Photo by Shawn Reeder

 

 

 

 

 

Foreword to Dick Dorworth’s most recent book, Climbing to Freedom: Climbs, Climbers & the Climbing Life, 2015, Western Eye Press.
Climbing to Freedom - Cover

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Wringing Light out of Stone, Mountain Profile | The Palisades, Alpinist Magazine, Issue 48, Autumn-Winter 2014, p. 44.
Alpinist 48 - Cover

 

 

 

 

 

The Whitney Massif: Classic Routes, Hot New Lines, and a Blank Canvas for the Future, feature article co-authored with Amy Ness and Myles Moser, The American Alpine Journal 2014
American Alpine Journal 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011

The Curious Tale of Smoke Blanchard and His Buttermilk Rock Course, Ascent magazine, 2011, p. 56. Smoke’s Rock Course in the Buttermilk (Bishop, CA) represents a unique from of climbing that Doug’s mentor, Smoke Blanchard, called “mild mountaineering.”
Smoke Chimneys

 

 

 

 

 

2008

Growing Up, On the South Face of Half Dome, Yosemite, feature article in The American Alpine Journal 2008, p. 104.
Photo by Shawn Reeder. From http://aac-publications.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/aaj/2008/PDF/AAJ_2008_50_82_104.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Better Half, cover story about about Sean Jones’ route up the South face of Half Dome, Growing Up, in Rock and Ice magazine, Issue 165, January 2008, p. 60.
Photo by Shawn Reeder


A Couple of Classics…

1970’s

The Whole Natural Art of Protection, 1972 Chouinard Equipment Catalog.
Chouinard Catalog cover 1972

 

 

 

 

 

Running Talus, 1975 Chouinard Equipment Catalog, revised by the author.
Photo by Bruce Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dates

If you’re interested in hearing Doug speak about The Alchemy of Action, climbing, guiding, mountaineering or writing, please go to the CONTACT page and send us a note.

Confirmed Dates, as of May 25, 2016

2016

  • July 29, 2016 (Fri.): Yosemite National Park, CA, Come see show Doug’s show “147 Years of Yosemite Climbing,” at the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center (formerly LeConte Memorial Lodge). Program at 8 pm. Arrive at 7:15 for free ticket. Capacity limited to 50. NOTE: this program was originally scheduled for June 18.
  • Sept. 27, 2016 (Tue.): Yosemite National Park, CA, Doug is presenting a slideshow about the history of climbing in Yosemite Valley for the American Alpine Association’s 2016 International Climbers’ Meet.
  • Nov. 5, 2016 (Sat.): Bishop, CA, Doug is leading a tour of Smoke’s Rock Course again for the The AAC’s Fall Highball Craggin’ Classic. Last year’s event sold out, so sign up soon!

Past Appearances—A Selection of Recent Presentations

About

About Doug, a selection

ARTICLES

Climbing Half Dome the Hard Way, National Geographic magazine cover story, Vol. 145, No. 6, pp. 782-791, June 1974. This article, which was Galen Rowell’s first of many for National Geographic, documents the climb that he, Doug and Dennis Hennek did up the Northwest face of Half Dome in 1973. It was the first “clean climb” of a big wall and it helped publicize the revolution that Doug helped spark with an essay he wrote for the 1972 Chouinard Equipment Catalog.
National Geographic-cover, June 1974

King of the Sierra: Doug Robinson, California’s premier mountain guide, by John Flinn, San Francisco Examiner Image magazine cover story.
SF-Examiner-cover-thumbnail

 

 

 

 

Running Talus: Profile of Doug Robinson, by Brad Rassler, Climbing magazine cover story.
Climbing-cover-thumbnail

 

 

 

 

Doug Robinson and the Extreme Bohemians, in California’s Adventure Sports Journal, Issue #24, January/February 2005, Matt Niswonger explores how the “extreme bohemians” of the Sierra, including Doug Robinson, Yvon Chouinard, and Royal Robbins, sparked an outdoor movement in the early ‘70s that continues to this day.
Photo by Mike Farrell

 

 

 

 

A Tour of Magic and Mystery, by Duane Raleigh, Editor-in-Chief, Rock and Ice magazine.

Rock Legends, by Greg Child, Outside magazine.

The 25 Greatest Moments in Yosemite Climbing History, Outside, June 1, 2016, online. In this collection of “The most pivotal climbing moments in Yosemite’s storied history, from some of climbing’s most celebrated athletes and voices,” Doug’s contribution to the clean-climbing movement is featured in Brad Rassler’s piece, “1973: First Hammerless Ascent of Half Dome.” Doug also wrote three of the other pieces: “1869: John Muir Makes First Ascent of Cathedral Peak,” “1875: First Ascent of Half Dome,” and “1933: Climbers Adopt Camp 4.”

 

Moving Images

Flatlander Films put together this beautiful introduction to Doug’s keynote address about clean climbing for the Access Fund’s 2015 Solid Protection event. It features interviews with legendary climbers/entrepreneurs Yvon Chouinard, Tom Frost, Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson, rock stars Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold and others–including Doug.
Flatlander Films Access Fund video

 

 

 

 

Lovely 2.5 minute interview with brilliant photographer Jim Herrington about his travelling photo exhibit about climbers, featuring Doug.
Jim-Herrington-Film

 

 

 

 

The Art of Clean Climbing, short film by Cyrus Sutton, sponsored by Patagonia.
Film-still

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