Todd Skinner

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Todd Richard Skinner (October 27, 1958 October 23, 2006) [1] was an American rock climber and expert in big wall climbing. He made the first free ascents of many routes around the world, including his historic first free ascent with Paul Piana in 1988 of the Salathe Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite; it was one of the first-ever big wall climbs at 5.13b  (8a), and led to the birth of "free climbing" Yosemite. [2] [3]


Skinner's story was told in Jeff Smoot's 2019 book, Hangdog Days. [4]

Personal life

Skinner was born in Pinedale, Wyoming, and planned to "take a little while off to climb" after gaining a degree in finance from the University of Wyoming in 1982. [2] Instead, he became a full-time free climber and motivational speaker. In 1990, he settled in Lander, Wyoming, in part because he considered the dolomite cliffs there to be the ultimate training ground for free climbing. [2] He opened the Wild Iris Mountain Sports store in Lander and encouraged visits by climbers from around the world. He was married with three children. [2]


Todd Skinner was attempting to free climb the Jesus Built My Hotrod route up the face of Leaning Tower in Yosemite National Park on October 23, 2006. While rappelling down, he fell 500-feet and died. The cause of death was the failure of the belay loop of his climbing harness. [5] Jim Hewett, a friend of Skinner, had previously observed that the harness appeared worn. [6]

Notable first free ascents

See also

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  1. Ghiglieri, Michael P. & Farabee, Charles R. "Butch", Jr. (2007). Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite. Flagstaff: Puma Press. p. 368. ISBN   978-0-9700973-6-1.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Samet, Matt; Steve Bechtel (18 December 2006). "Todd Skinner: Loss of a Legend". Climbing . Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  3. 1 2 Editorial (1 June 2016). "The 25 Greatest Moments in Yosemite Climbing History". Outside . Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  4. Smoot, Jeff (2019). Hangdog Days. Mountaineers.
  5. Lober, Keith (Oct 30, 2006). "Follow-up On Fatal Climbing Fall" (archived at The Morning Report for Monday, October 30, 2006. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  6. "Fatal fall at Yosemite shocks climbing world". 26 October 2006.
  7. Rowell, Galen (1991). "Hooker's North Face Free-climbed". American Alpine Journal. Golden, CO, United States: American Alpine Club. 33 (65): 131–139. ISBN   0-930410-46-7.