In Memory of Bob Kamps

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Bob's great love for climbing was meticulously documented in his climbing diary. He made the entries, and Bonnie translated them into a comprehensive database. Bob climbed more than 3000 routes in 50 years, pushing his limits until his death. Bob liked climbs that tested his skills: nearly two-thirds of his first ascents were 5.10 or harder. He made 162 first ascents, and 25 first free ascents. He was a regular at Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows, Joshua Tree, Tahquitz, the Pinnacles, and the Southern Sierra. His penchant for good, hard free climbs earned him an apt tribute from Steve Roper, Yosemite climbing historian, who described Kamps in his book, Camp 4 as, "one of the finest free climbers of the Golden Age."

A master slab climber, Bob's footwork dazzled spectators, but he also climbed overhanging rock and unpopular off-widths. He wasn't a muscle man, but finessed steep stone, resting and pacing himself. Climbers and hikers often stopped to watch him: craggy legs typically exposed in cut-offs, strong, sinewy arms poking from a frayed T-shirt; gray hair, leathery skin, gold-rim glasses. He edged with his feet turned out, ballet style, using the inside of his foot while pressing his hips close to the rock. He moved up, down, and fidgeted to get in impossible protection.

Climbing with grace and purity, Bob never rested on the rope when he fell, but instead lowered to the last stance and started again. He placed bolts sparingly, by hand, often from difficult positions, and was one of the first to write about bolt ethics in a 1966 article for Summit Magazine. To this day, climbers marvel at how his bolts above the aid ladder on Tahquitz's Chingadera (5.11) were placed from thin, thin stances. Bob derived no satisfaction in beating a climb to death, and usually gave up after about six or eight falls. Even if he made it then, he recorded the climb in his journal as "HD" for hangdog.