Profile of a First Ascensionist: Tom Addison
A climber with over thirty years of experience, Tom Addison is a veteran of the rock. When he's not busy working as a lobbyist for clean air in Sacramento, he spends his time crushing the lead routes in the caves at Berkeley Ironworks, training for his weekends of first ascents. Addison is one of the most prolific first ascensionist in the Sierras with over one thousand new routes in places like Sonora Pass and Owens River Gorge. Not only has he helped develop new cliffs but he's also worked with landowners in access sensitive areas, like Sonora, to make sure that climbers can continue to climb there. Addison took a few moments to talk to the Touchstone blog about his first ascents and his climbing.
The Wide of Frankenstein 5.11+ Sonora Pass Photos by Jerry DodrillHow did you get started?
It was something I tried and I immediately knew I wanted to do. I learned to lead in college at the Gunks, and somehow survived that apprenticeship with some luck and lots of wise mentors. What areas have you established first ascents? How many first ascents have you done?
I’ve put up new routes in at least 17 states, all over the country from the East Coast to the West Coast. A few places where I’ve been overly enthusiastic include Farley Ledges (MA), Owls Head (NH), City of Rocks (ID), the Superstitions (AZ), and around California. I’ve established over 1,000 new pitches, but I lost count a long time ago. Hopefully I’ll have added another 2 or three in the next week.
The witty Addison cracking a smile. What motivates you to establish routes and areas?
I’ve always loved climbing, particularly at beautiful places off the beaten path. And figuring out if a piece of rock is climbable is a lot of fun. But you have to be a little bit demented to like putting up routes. What's your greatest first ascent experience?
For me, it’s the partnerships and friendships and camaraderie. That stays with you much longer than the memory of the moves or the sequences.
Hung Frankenstein 5.12a Sonora PassWhat's your access work like? Why is being concerned about climbing areas important?
I started working on access issues when I lived and was climbing in New England in the mid-80’s. Armando Menocal, Al Rubin, and Paul Minault are all climbers who’ve done tremendous things for all of us with their access work, and I really respect what they’ve accomplished. I’ve had the opportunity to climb in some amazing places, and I’d like for us all to be able to keep doing that. We tend to get worked up as climbers about some pretty inconsequential stuff, but none of that matters if we can’t even touch the rock.
Labels: First Ascent, Sonora Pass, Tom Addison