Doug Robinson, Clean on the Rock

In 1972, Doug Robison wrote an essay for the Chouinard Equipment catalog that became one of the most influential in modern climbing. “There is a word for it,” he wrote, “and the word is clean. Climbing with only nuts and runners for protection is clean climbing…Clean is climbing the rock without changing it, a step closer to organic climbing for the natural man.”

Robinson was far from the only one extolling a new ethic in climbing protection. His friends and Yosemite colleagues Yvon Chouinard, Royal Robbins, Galen Rowell, and others were in the midst of rethinking the damage pitons were doing to even the hardest Valley granite. But Robinson’s manifesto laid out clean climbing in print, in a catalog that could be passed around, discussed, debated.

We know how the story ended, of course.

Today, Robinson is in his 60s. He no longer lives in the Sierra. But he remains passionate and articulate about his hunger to be on the rock, as you’ll see in this short, beautiful profile from Cyrus Sutton.

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