UKC

Todd Skinner was killed yesterday

Free-climbing pioneer Todd Skinner was killed yesterday, October 23, while descending fixed ropes on the Leaning Tower in Yosemite. Details of the accident are incomplete, but it appears that he and his partner Jim Hewitt were working on a free route on the 1,200-foot monolith.

Skinner, with some 300 ascents, mostly all-free, in 26 countries, was arguably the most accomplished rock climber of the generation that marked the birth of sport climbing. Most notably, he was the first to free El Cap, via the Salathe Wall (VI 5.13b), with his longtime partner, Paul Piana, in 1988. Although their ascent marked El Cap's first free climb (Lynn Hill wouldn't free the Nose until 1994) it was controversial at the time because the duo applied sport and siege tactics to what was then considered a traditional wall. Skinner was also the first to free Half Dome's Direct Northwest Face, and helped put Hueco Tanks on the map, with his numerous hard free ascents including When Legends Die (5.13b), at the time one of America's hardest sport routes.

Today, Skinner is heralded as a pioneer for showing climbers worldwide the free potential of big walls, and how strength and determination can overcome adversity.

Information on the accident will follow as we receive it, but Skinner and his partner, Jim Hewitt, were descending the route Jesus Built My Hot Rod, and were several hundred feet above the base when the accident occurred. Allegedly, Skinner went first, and suddenly fell; his rappel device and locking carabiner remained on the rope.

Skinner, of Lander, Wyoming, is survived by his wife Amy, son Jake, and daughters Hannah and Sarah.

A memorial will be held this Saturday at the Sinks Canyon Center, in Sinks Canyon, at 3 p.m. All climbers are welcome, as they always have been in Todd and Amy's home.



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