Tobin Sorenson

Climbing with Courage, Master of Surrender


What drives a climber?

  • The thrill and excitement
  • The adventure of where we go
  •  The dance-like movement on the rock
  • The escape from mediocrity
  • The commitment to excel and succeed
  • The challenge of goals not yet achieved
  • The respect and friendship of other climbers
  • The higher purpose for life in a boring world
  • The tranquility and confidence derived from the struggle completed
  • Or... just climbing itself

These and more motivate and drive all climbers.

No matter how committed we are to climbing as a sport and lifestyle, there are times when we have to deal with life beyond climbing.  At times, this can have a sobering and even depressing effect.  Galen Rowell in his article for National Geographic 'Climbing Half Dome The Hard Way' (June 1974) echoes these sentiments, after he and two of his friends finished the first clean ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome, Rowell wrote:                              

 "..we felt satisfied and yet strangely depressed - because our adventure was finished.  That feeling will disappear only when the next adventure begins..."

Many climbers are pushing the limits of their abilities and equipment in a search for greater fulfillment.  The thought being, "if I can only do that route." Each climber has his or her own dreams.  For some it is 5.12 or 5.13  or 5.14 or even 5.15, for others the Nose or the Nose in a day, for still others the summit of Everest.  Fill in your own dreams.  It drives us all!

Tobin Sorenson, a young Southern California climber who achieved world-wide superstar status on both rock and ice in the 70’s, realized goals of which most can only dream of.  He became one of the world's first 5.12 climbers before the new generation of "sticky" shoes.  Tobin honed his skills on Yosemite walls, including an early ascent of Astroman in 1978, leading every pitch and finishing the climb in only 6 1/2 hours.

Eventually, Tobin's main interest shifted to Alpine routes.  These routes included the first ascent of the Dru Couloir Direct, the third ascent of the Eiger Direct and a winter solo of the North Face of the Matterhorn in only 8 1/2 hours.

Although Tobin went on to climb in other countries like Peru, New Zealand, and Australia, establishing many new lines, the quality and quantity of excellent routes did not replace the inner sense of emptiness.  In an interview for Thrutch, an Australian climbing magazine (Thrutch No. 79), he said:

" was climb, climb, climb, don't stop and don't look back.  Climbing was my god, and I looked to it for my meaning, my social life, my every need.  I finally got to this point of fame I had always wanted, but when I stood on this little mountain of mine, this summit of fame and ability, I began to see the emptiness of it all..."

 He went on to say:

“... to me climbing is one of the ultimate challenges in life, but by itself climbing can be very meaningless..."

 What is it that causes that feeling of emptiness deep inside a person's consciousness even after attaining a goal they have dreamed of for years?

 Some people climb more in an attempt to escape that emptiness, others use drugs, alcohol, careers, possessions, lovers and a variety of substitutes to search for a solution.  King Solomon, held by some to be the wisest man who ever lived and also the richest of his time, wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. He found everything to be meaningless when made the ultimate of life: wealth, power, education, sex, and career.  In conclusion he wrote that what really matters is to be in awe of God, the creator of the universe, and to follow His guidelines given to help us lead fulfilled lives.

 The Bible tells us that people are created with a free will, they do not have to follow the guidelines God has given.  However, when people choose to disregard God and make their own way, they "sin", a word which means to miss the target.  Without God's greater wisdom and love we cut off a vast resource for full living.

 In short, choosing our way without God's help causes us to minimize what real living is all about.  This is what causes the wars, hate, greed, and other evils in the world today.  People are not in contact with God and therefore not living to their full potential.

 Emptiness is experienced in our lives because we have lived without God.  But God loves people anyway, even if they know don’t know  or care about Him.  The Bible says that, "God sent his only son (Jesus Christ) so that anyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." Believing in Jesus Christ means asking Him to take control of your life and to help you live a life pleasing to God.  Then you will begin living the greatest adventure that you have ever experienced.

 Tobin Sorenson said:

"...I have often tried to say that in Christ we must live radically ... Committed to him..."

You may have preconceived notions when anyone talks about Jesus Christ, God or the Bible (God's word), but there is an answer to the emptiness that you sometimes feel and that is Jesus Christ.

Tobin was known for long run-outs, bold soloing and courage at a time before they became popular.  He also pioneered the 'Dyno' move, becoming airborne to the next hold.

Boldness is what it takes to become a friend of God.  Forget about your preconceived notions, forget about what your friends will say, and go for it!  It takes all the courage in the world to ask Christ to take charge of your life.  Leave your emptiness and go for it.  It works.

Tobin not only had the courage to climb but more importantly had the courage to believe in God’s love for him and salvation through Jesus Christ. 

 Do you have that same courage?

How to have a relationship with Jesus Christ!



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Activities described and depicted within this site carry a significant risk of personal injury or death. Rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and all other outdoor activities are dangerous.

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