About Tom Higgins

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In the early 70s, I turned to golden walls of Tuolumne Meadows teamed with Kamps, Vern Clevenger, Pat Ament, Chris Vandiver, Tom Gerughty and other partners. I have never felt so fully joyous as climbing on the domes of Tuolumne. Knobby, largely unclimbed faces beckoned under a cool, deep blue sky. The same face climbing and protection techniques honed from the past worked to create new routes on seemingly blank faces - ground up progress, protection along the way, no tension rests and minimal repeat attempts. We stood on edges and smears, hammering our Rawl drills to place quarter-inch bolts where necessary. Journal and magazine articles under the Climb Histories section of the site detail my early excitement, fun punning with Kamps, and eventual farewell to the Meadows atop Fairview Dome. For good lines and rock, my favorites include Lucky Streaks, The Vision, Fairest of All and Piece de Resistance. Outside the Meadows during the same period, my two other favorites are Hair Raiser Buttress with Clevenger at Granite Basin and first free of The Line with Frank Sarnquist at Lover's Leap.

Fairview Dome in Tuolumne Meadows 

As the 70’s closed, climbing styles in Tuolumne and elsewhere changed. Climbers began placing protection from hooks and rappel. Rope rests and hangs for progress came into play. I wrote a critique and reconciliation piece on the style change, "Tricksters and Traditionalists" for the Sierra Club publication, Ascent. It seems the term I coined for the prevailing style up to the mid 70’s now denotes an entire camp and philosophy of climbing - "traditional" as opposed to "sport." Several style articles, letters and web posts are on the web site.