Tobin Sorenson

Last updated

Tobin Sorenson (June 15, 1955 – October 5, 1980) was an American rock climber and alpinist famed for establishing bold first ascents on Yosemite big walls, in the Alps, Canadian Rockies, and New Zealand. [1]


Early life and education

A California native, Sorenson was the son of a minister, Lee Sorenson, and was raised in Covina, California. [2] As a teenager he played the guitar at church and sang in the choir, and continued to emphasize faith and spirituality throughout his life. [2] Sorenson graduated from Biola University in 1980.


Sorenson honed his climbing skills at Tahquitz Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, Suicide Rock, and Yosemite Valley. [2] [3] [4] [5] Later he turned his attention to the European Alps, and conquered several dangerous ice climbs in the Mont Blanc massif and the Eiger north face. [2] [6] Sorenson is considered by some to be the best all-around climber of his time. [2] [7] A contemporary of John Long and John Bachar in a group they called the Stonemasters putting up daring new routes in the Idyllwild, California area, Sorenson pushed risk standards in the realm of rock climbing and alpine mountaineering. [3] [7]


Sorenson died from a fall during a solo attempt of the Mount Alberta's North Face on October 5, 1980. [8] [3]

Further reading

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lynn Hill</span> American rock climber

Carolynn Marie Hill is an American rock climber. Widely regarded as one of the leading competitive climbers, traditional climbers, sport climbers, and boulderers in the world during the late 1980s and early 1990s, she is famous for making the first free ascent of the difficult sheer rock face of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, and for repeating it the next year in less than 24 hours. She has been described as both one of the best female climbers in the world and one of the best climbers of all time. One of the first successful women in the sport, Hill shaped rock climbing for women and became a public spokesperson, helping it gain wider popularity and arguing for sex equality. Hill has publicized climbing by appearing on television shows and documentaries and writing an autobiography, Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">El Capitan</span> Vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park

El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is about 3,000 feet (914 m) from base to summit along its tallest face and is a popular objective for rock climbers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Huber</span> Germany Mountaineer

Alexander Huber, is a German climber and mountaineer. He became a professional mountaineer in 1997, and was one of the most successful climbers and mountaineers of the 2000s. While being an all-round climber, Huber is most famous for his bold free ascents of big walls, and his expeditions in the Pakistan, Antarctica, and Greenland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tommy Caldwell</span> American rock climber

Tommy Caldwell is an American rock climber accomplished in sport climbing, hard traditional climbing, big-wall speed climbing, and big-wall free climbing. Caldwell made the first free ascents of several El Capitan routes in Yosemite National Park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal Robbins</span> American rock climber (1935–2017)

Royal Robbins was one of the pioneers of American rock climbing. After learning to climb at Tahquitz Rock, he went on to make first ascents of many big wall routes in Yosemite. As an early proponent of boltless, pitonless clean climbing, he, along with Yvon Chouinard, was instrumental in changing the climbing culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s by encouraging the use and preservation of the natural features of the rock. He went on to become a well-known kayaker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Free solo climbing</span> Form of climbing without protection

Free solo climbing, or free soloing, is a form of technical ice or rock climbing where the climbers climb alone without ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment, forcing them to rely entirely on their own individual preparation, strength, and skill. Free soloing is the most dangerous form of climbing, and unlike bouldering, free soloists climb above safe heights, where a fall can very likely be fatal. Though many climbers have attempted free soloing, it is considered "a niche of a niche" reserved for the sport's elite, which has led many practitioners to stardom within both the media and the sport of rock climbing. "Free solo" was originally a term of climber slang, but after the popularity of the Oscar-winning film Free Solo, Merriam-Webster officially added the word to their English dictionary in September 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jim Bridwell</span> American rock climber and mountaineer

Jim Bridwell was an American rock climber and mountaineer, active since 1965, especially in Yosemite Valley, but also in Patagonia and Alaska. He was noted for pushing the standards of both free climbing and big-wall climbing, and later alpine climbing. He wrote numerous articles on climbing for leading sport publications. He was an apprentice to Royal Robbins and Warren Harding (climber). He was the unofficial leader of the Stonemasters.

Barry Blanchard is one of North America's top alpinists, noted for pushing the standards of highly technical, high-risk alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies and the Himalayas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ron Kauk</span> American rock climber (born 1957)

Ron Kauk is an American rock climber. Kauk is associated with Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, where he lived for decades, now a resident of El Portal, California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Long (climber)</span> American rock climber and author

John Long is an American rock climber and author. His stories have been translated into many languages.

Kevin Thaw is a British rock climber and mountaineer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dean Potter</span> American climber and BASE jumper

Dean Spaulding Potter was an American free climber, alpinist, BASE jumper, and highliner. He completed many hard first ascents, free solo ascents, speed ascents, and enchainments in Yosemite National Park and Patagonia. In 2015, he died in a wingsuit flying accident in Yosemite National Park.

Miha Valič was a Slovenian mountaineer. He was the first person to ascend every 4000-meter peak in the Alps in one winter session. The Alps marathon was completed in 102 days.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alex Honnold</span> American rock climber (born 1985)

Alexander Honnold is an American rock climber best known for his free solo ascents of big walls. Honnold rose to prominence in June 2017 when he became the first person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, a feat that one commentator described as "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever." Honnold also holds the record for the fastest ascent of the Yosemite triple crown, an 18-hour, 50-minute link-up of Mount Watkins, The Nose, and the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome.

Charlie Porter was an American mountaineer and climate change scientist. He is best known for his bold first ascents in Yosemite, Canada and Alaska; and his significant influence on other notable climbers and the climbing community, in part due to his creation and development of innovative climbing equipment. He has also garnered a reputation as an adventurer and geoscientist in South America.

The Stonemasters were a group of rock climbers and adventurers in the 1970s, roughly 1973 to 1980, who originally climbed in Southern California—principally Tahquitz, Suicide Rocks, Joshua Tree—and later, Yosemite National Park further north. The initial group were those of the first ten ascents of Valhalla on Suicide Rock. The Stonemasters included some of the following members: Rick Accomazzo, Dale Bard, Jim Bridwell, Dean Fidelman, Richard Harrison, Mike Graham, Robs Muir, Gib Lewis, Bill Antel, Jim Hoagland, Tobin Sorenson, John Bachar, Lynn Hill, Ron Kauk, Ken Yager and John Long. Loosely organized, the senior member of the group was Jim Bridwell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jerry Gallwas</span> American rock climber (born 1936)

Jerry Gallwas is an American rock climber active in the 1950s during the dawn of the Golden Age of Yosemite Rock Climbing. He achieved a number of pioneering first ascents including sandstone spires in the American Southwest, and the first ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome with Royal Robbins and Mike Sherrick in 1957. Gallwas made his own heat-treated chrome-molybdenum steel alloy pitons, which contributed to the success of the climb.

Brette Harrington is an American professional rock climber and alpinist based in Lake Tahoe, California and British Columbia, Canada. She was featured in the 2021 film The Alpinist alongside her late partner, Marc-André Leclerc. She is best known for the first free solo of the 760 meter (2,500-foot) Chiaro di Luna (5.11a) in Patagonia, for her development of new alpine climbing routes, and as the star of Brette, a Reel Rock Film Tour short film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Westbay</span> American rock climber

Billy Westbay was an American rock climber, known for his ascents of El Capitan in California.


  1. Sacks, Ronald (1981). "Tobin Sorenson, 1955-1980". American Alpine Club. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Accomazzo, Rick (Spring 2015). "He Would Just Go: Tobin Sorenson and the Alps, 1977". Alpinist. Vol. 45. American Alpine Club. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  3. 1 2 3 Long, John; Fidelman, Dean (2009). The Stonemasters: California rock climbers in the seventies. Santa Barbara, California: Stonemaster Press/T. Adler Books. ISBN   9780984094905.
  4. "On Living the Adventure". One Pursuit. January 5, 2017. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  5. "On Living the Adventure, Part 2". One Pursuit. January 7, 2017. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  6. Sorenson, Tobin (1978). "Climbs and Expeditions: Europe". American Alpine Journal. 21 (2): 587–588.
  7. 1 2 Long, John (2019). The Little Book of Outdoor Wisdom: An Adventurer's Collection of Anecdotes and Advice. Guilford, CT: Falcon. p. 81-85. ISBN   9781493034734.
  8. "Covina Climber Killed in Fall in Canada's Rocky Mountains". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 1980. pp. A22.