Deconstructing guide books -


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Feb 18, 2014 - 12:25pm PT
My opinion? :-)

The best guide book takes you to where you've always wanted to go .......

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Feb 18, 2014 - 01:29pm PT
Crowd sourcing is where it's at. I know checking MtnProj entries has saved me a lot of bs hassles, where routes have altered (broken holds, now the route is significatly harder..makes a difference when you are climbing at your limit); where descent anchors or bolts have been chopped or fixed pins have fallen out; or where the in-situ hardware is sketchier than I trust. Also you get consensus ratings, and avoid ego driven sandbag artists (which has gotten plenty of people hurt over the years). You learn if a route is oddly morpho to go at the rating.

Consulting a guidebook written a decade ago doesn't provide that. Splitter cracks and moderates don't tend to change much. Hard face routes, reliant on very small holds do. There are countless examples in JT.

Another example, first time I did Maple Jam, arrived at the belay to belay. Tree was dead and gone, rotten rock mud and decaying tree remnants in the only crack system, and given I'd basically soloed the pitch (wide crack), was not happy. I promptly put the info on Mtn Proj, hoping tp prevent someone at their limit from getting hurt on it. Came back a couple weeks later, did a massive cleaning job on it that then allowed a safe belay on gear, and posted the new info.

If you want adventure, leave the book at home, walk up to an attractive line and have a go. Nobody forces you the read the books or websites.

I want to see detailed approach beta, that has been proofed by people who were first timers to the area. Photos of the crags with route line overlays. And sun/shade info, which becomes absolutely critical on harder routes.

An indication of where the crux is on the pitch is nice, but not vital. Relevant gear info, "pro to 3", when the route has 50' of 4" crack isn't helping me.

And finally, Individual pitch ratings. I remember a route in my old stomping grounds, Tallulah Gorge in GA. Probably the hardest route there at the time, Heaven and Hell, which climbed a sweet crack through a roof on the second pitch. I really, really wanted to try the roof. Guidebook (original single vol Dixie Cragger's Atlas) had no individual pitch ratings, and noted that the first pitch was runnout off the ground. Well, WTF?! Runnout at what rating? The thing is rated 12a, is the 12a the p2 roof, the first pitch before pro, or first pitch after you get pro? I like some adventure, but soloing at my limit is not adventure, it's stupid.

I tried to get beta for 4 years. Finally, about 10 years later, long after leaving the area for good, got accurate info. Same guidebook, errors/ommissions. Tried a route that was 5.xx, seemed insanely hard and I flat couldn't do the moves. Happened to be looking in the appendix one day and see it is rated 5.xx A1 where the main text had omitted the "A1" part. Thanks for wasting my time. Get someone to proof your stuff.

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