SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. rock climbing icon Royal Robbins, who founded the outdoor clothing company bearing his name, has died after a long illness, the company’s CEO said Wednesday. He was 82.

Michael Millenacker said Robbins died Tuesday at his home in Modesto, California, surrounded by his family.

“Royal was a legendary pioneer who approached everything in life with a true spirit of adventure. He gave me my first break in the outdoor industry and set me on the path to meld a passion for the outdoors with a career,” Millenacker said. “He taught me to work with purpose – that the harder we worked, the more we could give back.”

Robbins was part of the Golden Age of Yosemite, a post-WWII time from roughly 1955 to 1970, when a vagabond group of climbers lived in Yosemite and devoted their lives to climbing. They claimed a number of first ascents that were once deemed impossible like El Capitan and Half Dome.

He was also a major promoter of clean climbing techniques and equipment to avoid rock damage.

“I think that he set the rules for the game of climbing and he believed in the rules of the game. The lives of those of us who climbed were enriched by Royal’s insistence on getting the rules right,” said Daniel Duane, who has written three books about climbing, including one on Robbins. “If it hadn’t been for Royal, all those cliffs would be a total mess.”

In 1967, Robbins and his wife, Liz, made the first ascent of the Nutcracker route in the Yosemite Valley using only removable gear for protection. It was the first climb of its kind in the United States. Afterward, Robbins published a seminal article in Summit magazine.

He climbed well into his 70s, friends said.

He was a prolific writer. His instruction manuals “Rockcraft” and “Advanced Rockcraft” provided climbers with the only manual available to learn climbing ethics that respected the rock. His three-part autobiographical series, “My Life: Royal Robbins,” details his journey from rebellious youth in Los Angeles to Yosemite’s Camp 4.

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