Stoney Point and Bob Kamps

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The smell of Stoney after a rain, climbing the big face on some pothole route in the rain with Bud (Ivan) Couch both wearing plastic bags with head holes because, well, we were trying to become mountaineers or Herman Buhl or something, meeting Bob Kamps who took me under his wing and tuned my lust for the game into safe and sane climbing practice, and bantered with me and challenged me and me him on flake after flake, boulder after boulder, then back to his house for a sumptuous meal from Bonnie, and on and on to Tahquitz, Yosemite, Tuolumne with Bob, now a brain full of walls, pinnacles, domes, routes and campfires and starry nights, Bob and our times still deep within me and why, in most measure, all of climbing now rests with me like a great lasting love.

Here's a small memory of Bob at Stoney, written a couple of years ago for a Stoney guidebook which may or may not ever come out. What better place for it than this thread, this bit of cyberspace where we connect full of exuberance and heart for the big lumps of sandstone called Stoney Point:


I vaguely remember a charred, skeletal car body at Stoney Point the first time I visited there. The place looked crummy and felt dusty and hot. The air was brown with smog. There were no climbers visible as I looked around Rock 1 (now called "Boulder 1"), just a few walkers, pooping dogs on the loose and some kids yelling, running and jumping around small boulders. Some of the boulders and higher cliffs were painted with names and hearts and four letter words. I think it was summer 1962.

I had come there to meet Bob Kamps. I had phoned him on a ruse, asking about the best rope to buy. I didn't care about ropes. I had heard he was good. I wanted to learn about climbing and maybe get to climb real walls with him. All I had climbed at that point was the outside of my house with friend and neighbor Bud (Ivan) Couch. We had salivated over the book Freedom of the Hills, bought a few steel carabiners, a hemp rope and soft iron pitons, but never been on rock. So I steered my phone talk with Bob toward meeting at Stoney. He agreed.

After walking around some, I found Bob topping out on Rock 2 (now "Turlock" or Boulder 2). He wore a T-shirt, shorts and a light hiking boots, probably Cortinas. His hair was short, army-like. He was a little sunburned, wiry, knobby, veined and strong, matter of fact, but flashing a wry smile as we talked about how I liebacked wood siding on my house. It was the smile that told me I had a chance with him. The first thing he showed me was to use my feet, to look for edges and undulations in the rock for friction. We did some no-handed routes on a smaller rock near Rock 1. Bob moved as if walking up a stairway. I got the picture about feet. Later, we did a top-roped climb on a pothole wall at the back (east side) of the area. As I struggled up nearing a crux, he called out, "man or mouse?" My blood zoomed, and up I went.