Pulishing guide books to such "adventure climbing areas" as Black Canyon, Zion.


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Ryan Crochiere

Advanced climber
anywhere, USA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 6, 2001 - 01:32am PT
While climbing is becoming a popular sport in the US I have to wonder how available should detailed information be to a few climbing areas. I must personally admit that Im a guidebook fiend however watching the fumbly and bumbly pull into Zion, a park with few trade routes and many more scary adventure routes I have to wonder how misguided and unaware folks are. I dont care to take on an elitist attitude or any thing but I do believe that some places should be left out of the books (El Gran Trono Blaco) and leave a climber who fiends enough for adventure to use there skill of research and smoozing beta at the bar. Not only are areas being used by people not prepated for certain situations, but they are also being trashed and eroded faster then they could ever recuperate (Franconia Notch, Wind Rivers). In this world of information I believe there should still remain a few climbing areas with the true adventure of a bushwack and some information collecting skills. Cheers to all my climbing brothers and sisters and have fun climbing whatever it is whereever it is.

Novice climber
Mill Valley
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2001 - 10:54am PT
I understand where you're coming from but I'm not sure it would be fair to describe Zion as adventure climbing. I did my first wall there(I suppose that makes me on of the bumblies you refer to). I seem to remember a sequence of events that went something like this: Get on shuttle bus at 7am...drive down smooth paved road for half an hour...have bus driver drop us off at the trail head...hike 100 feet to beginning of climb. Then...while you climb, watch bus load after bus load of tourists stop below your route and gawk through binoculars.

Now don't get me wrong...I think Zion is a magical place and once you're a few hundred feet off the deck you can certainly get lost in your own vertical world of sandstone. However, to call it a wild adventure destination isn't really being fair. More beta or guidebooks is simply not going to change what is already another Yosemite.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Nov 6, 2001 - 01:50pm PT
Most climbing areas don't have guidebooks. Anyone who wants solidtude is in luck because 99.99% of the rock in the US has not been climbed and that unclimbed rock certainly does not yet have guidebooks. Even if you go to a place that has a guidebook you find that 99% of the routes are rarely climbed. Just open up the Yosemite Reid guidebook, randomly flip to a page and I am sure that most of the climbs on that page will have had less than five ascents in the last year. You could do this with almost any traditional guidebook to even the most popular areas.

In general, with todays guidebooks, it is the people who want obscure routes, with poor topos and no crowds that are in luck. It is the people that want really classic climbs with good topos that are out of luck. The need for good climbing information is the whole reason I started SuperTopo.
bushwack king

Intermediate climber
Otto, NC
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 7, 2001 - 05:43pm PT
There's plenty of guidebooks out there. if adventure is to be preserved in this world, the best thing any of us could do would be to drop our egos at the trailhead on the way out and stop publishing beta for beautiful, obscure places. Anyone who really wants to find out about these places can bloody well buy a few beers for their beta, or just slog in there and have their own first ascent. There's plenty of Disneyland out there for those who require it--let's leave a few adventures for future choss hounds..........
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Nov 8, 2001 - 01:42am PT
In climbing, I have seen a lot of "preserve adventure" talk that often is a disguise for "just let your friends and locals climb the area." This is played out in Yosemite where people have told me to only hand topos to people they deemed "qualified" to climb a route.

This also plays out on the East Side of the Sierra every time a new bouldering area is discovered. Locals and Born Again Locals get all bent out of shape when suddenly people who are not their friends start bouldering at "their spots."

Its all public land right? What is wrong with people enjoying that land? The Happy Boulders might still be an "adventure area" if people had not blabbed and multiple guidebooks had not been published. But if that were the case then myself and thousands of other people would never have enjoyed climbing those cool volcanic formations. Truth is, there is endless amounts of rock in the East Side and across the US that is both quality and unknown.

In the end, it's all about money: most of us couldn't afford to buy a friend a beer every time we wanted to go climbing. (Of course it would be nice to be the local expert who everyone had the pay off in booze for climbing info.)

Novice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2001 - 12:48pm PT
Is someone focing us to pick through topos to gleen all the beta we can from them??? Walk up to the Nose or whatever with no topo and just start climbing like Harding did. Adventure is where you find it. In Zion don't they have that big note book/s with topos from a lot of FA's. I used to live in Gunnison, CO for awhile and started climbing in the Black Canyon NP where beta used to be hard to come by. I found a fellow drugged him with alchohol, and got copies of all of his topos. Before this you had to use your nose to find the start of a route and the route itself. This fellow became a very good friend. Turns out he wrote the guidebook for the BCNP. I used to give him piles of crap for writing the book saying he was destroying the ambiance and adventure of the place. His most valid response (he had many defenses) was that if he didn't someone else would, and at least he cared enough about the place to document it accurately. The book is not full of "supertopos" (which I love Chris, and have used often). The adventure is still high, now you just know what grassy crack to start up. As climbing continues to grow you attract all types...someone hate topos, some love them. As long as there are people who want beta before they launch there will be people who want to document. As far as being "qualified" to climb a certain route, this makes me laugh...having a topo for a route on the Porcelin, Falls, or Firefall wall gives you no better chance of getting up it if you don't possess the requisite skill.

Sorry I'm long winded.
Two Cents

Advanced climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2001 - 02:43pm PT
I really get sick of hearing this same old tired tale "you should have to find your beta in the bar by buying XXX person beers. I have no problem with this approach, but I know that most of these dudes with the info would think I was some weirdo gay guy and freak out if I came up and started hitting on them. Plus there's a lot of bars and a lot of faces out there. Do these guys wear a t-shirt with "I'm the man with the secret info?" Nope. So even indentifying them is a pretty good stretch sometimes. Yeah, maybe if you know someone who knows someone who... you might get the dudes name with the goods. Seems like this kinda sucks you into today's social circus climbing scene, though. What if you just want to be left alone and do your routes, no noise, no press, no fuss, no muss? I guess when it comes down to it, you could just skip the beta like the old guys and approach it like they did. What would people say if you lined up at the base of the Nose with two weeks of foot and 1200' of fixed line, plus 100 bolts and just did it like you wanted? Not good.

For what it's worth, guidebooks are gold to help keep people from assuming they're the first schmucks on a chunk of rock, so maybe it might help preserve the adventure some instead of having to listen to the old "well, we didn't know it had been climbed with a fishing reel and an old pair of underwear back in the day, so we bolted that sucker." At Cochise Stronghold in southern Arizona, this is being played out in spades. The last guidebook edition for the place has a note in it "another climber says this (new) route duplicates a portion of a previous ascended route, but declined to give details." The old school southern AZ climbers refuse to give any info about their FAs (and some of them have a tons of lines out there), so what's happening is these new dudes come out and start up a "route", bolting the thing to pieces, because they have no idea the line has been done and they're too ambitios or arrogant to assume that such a choice line has already been done in (usually) impeccable style. What's the solution? The "good ol' boy" system of passing route beta by mouth just ain't working in this sense. My personal feeling about this "duplicate ascent" thing is that it's a crying shame, especially in a place like Cochise, but that none of these guys keeping quiet about their routes can complain if someone does a "first ascent" up their lines. There's a good way to keep them from bolting your proud line into the dirt and it's called a guidebook, for good or bad.

On with the show...

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Sep 2, 2010 - 11:27am PT
Another history BUMP!!!

I love "pulishing" in the thread title!

Who the hell are these people?
Ryan Crochiere

I recognize...uh....ONE!
Good ol' C Mac, trying to get his site up and running.

Wow, dark ages bump for sure!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 2, 2010 - 12:36pm PT

Yes, it is possible to erode away what adventure we have left.
Ian Jewell

Sep 2, 2010 - 03:05pm PT
i believe you should roll your own pack from a tarp and p cord, make fire using a bowstring and spindle, and be capable of physically restraining agitated 16 - 25 year olds each and every time you enter the backcountry to go climbing.


whazzup !

i used to work with him , havent seen him in a while
Matt M

Trad climber
Alamo City
Sep 2, 2010 - 03:57pm PT
The vast majority of "new climbers" don't venture to far off the beaten path regardless of a guidebook or not. If that approach gets much more than 20 minutes, your chances of feeling "crowded" drop considerably.

"Secret" areas, in this age, or often just that because they require some effort to get to.

While guidebooks MAY increase traffic a bit I really don't see it becoming an issue. The ONLY place you see crowding because of a "larger" climber population is on the entry level climbs. Think Manure Pile Buttress, Sunshine wall at Smith, Less than 5.7 at the Gunks etc etc.

As stated above, the "guidebook haters" are usually annoyed because someone didn't have to "work as hard as them" to get to the same spot. They don't like to share.

With a family, work and all the other things that fight for my time, a well written guidebook gets me where I want to go quickly, saves me the epics that the wife hates and gets me climbing more routes.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 2, 2010 - 04:14pm PT
I've heard all the excuses before.

It still erodes adventure inexorably.

Seldom are people truly honest about all the motives for publishing guides as they are often far more selfish than those stated.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 2, 2010 - 04:52pm PT
I just enjoy sitting on the toilet thinking about areas I could go to, if I had the inside scoop. Not that I'll ever get there, but I definitely think about going to new and interesting climbing areas a lot.

nice historical bump

Mountain climber
Sep 2, 2010 - 05:13pm PT
Two cents, Absolute $$$$

Wow, just realized how old this thread is!!

That Cochise syndrome is playing out in a lot of places. While younger climbers generally have much respect for the hard men who put up FAs at their local crag, it's kind of hard to give respect properly (don't put a bolt here, I climbed it bolt free in '78) when it's never been documented outside the local hard man club.

This doesn't mean I feel all routes need to be reported, hardly.
I personally don't know what the best solution is for this situation but it seems a bit childish to moan when your route gets published as Unknown, Unknown FA and the wrong grade, if you had an opportunity to provide some info to the author and declined.

It can go both ways, an author can be to blame too for not putting in much effort to get this information, so like I said, not sure what the perfect solution is.

I also think there is plenty of adventure climbing out there to be had, most people just want directions to a route and to know what gear to bring.

I too sit on the toilet a lot and thing about how rad those routes look in places I'll probably never get to. My Chamonix book is practically stained brown.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Sep 2, 2010 - 05:23pm PT
Guidebooks have their place.
So do obscurities. It's all good.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 2, 2010 - 05:25pm PT
Problem is they're more interested in the beta than the history.

Check my link.

Trad climber
Sep 2, 2010 - 05:26pm PT
Awesome early thread resurrections recently. Goes to show the eternal questions in climbing:

1) what are the best moderate routes in your awesome area?
2) how can we keep the dweebs out of the best routes in our awesome area?


Mountain climber
Sep 2, 2010 - 05:35pm PT
Problem is they're more interested in the beta than the history.

Not all of 'em. The best guide book I know of is Jerry Handren's Red Rocks book. Granted I don't have a huge collection but this one stands out due to not only FA info, but the historical perspective it offers. There are multiple in-depth articles about the people, times and various methods used in the development of that area. That book should be the standard setter for guides, imho.
but yeah, you;re probably right that most are interested solely in the beta which is lame.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Sep 2, 2010 - 05:38pm PT
Paulina is wise....

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Sep 2, 2010 - 08:55pm PT
It isn't yours if you don't have the title to the land.

The definition of local varies considerably.

If you want adventure, don't buy the guidebook.

So many guidebooks have so little information that they add to the adventure. A name and a rating does not give you much to work with.

It is a bad idea for women to hit on old school climbing men in the bars to weedle beta out of them. Some of them will expect services for their services. Buy the guidebook and the guy independently.

Some guidebooks were published ostensibly to "spread out" the impact. Wasn't a truly effective strategy clearly demonstrating that short approaches and easy grades will attract crowds.

The one exception I've noticed is harder grades will be worked to death when easily accessible for top-roping.


Gym climber
Roca Rojo
Sep 2, 2010 - 10:28pm PT
I am still here. I love adventure more than ever.

There are no stopping the bolts, topos, or Palin.


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 2, 2010 - 11:19pm PT
I'd note that Chris's claims about unclimbed routes in and out of the guidebook may be true for the West, especially if you count the vast canyonlands, but it isn't even remotely close to describing the situation in, say, the Northeast.

I heartily agree with the idea that guidebooks are good and obscurities are good too. But the human need to broadcast achievements is way too strong to keep many areas in the adventure category, unless access is extremely difficult.

Adventure means, I think, that many things are unknown. Where to go, what to bring, how hard it will be, and perhaps how to get there and how to get down. Guidebooks provide information that makes climbs easier, and those easier climbs attract people who wouldn't be there if the information wasn't available. I consider these obvious facts; I am not trying to make pejorative statements about whether this is or is not desirable.

People who say "just don't read the guidebook" seem to think that "unknown" and "ignorant of" are synonymous. Putting on an artificial pair of blinders, denying yourself information everyone else knows, may occasionally be an exercise in bad-assery, but it is very far from the spirit and reality of confronting genuinely unknown challenges. It seems kinda stupid to purposely reject widely available knowledge that might critically affect the outcome of your enterprise.

Again, I'm not necessarily arguing that adventure is good or bad, but I am saying that those who say you can artificially create adventure once the real thing has been lost do not, I think, understand the idea in the first place.

Moreover, as the "less-adventurous" population increases, so does the pressure for more and more of the information they were raised on. As the internet, mobile devices, and global positioning technology provide more and more ways to acquire and share data, we can anticipate that ever more detailed collections of climbing beta will become available, making the old-fashioned topo look positively obscure. All this data expands the comfort zones of climbers and, for better or worse, brings more of them to the places that have been extensively documented.

In view of the inevitability of these trends, I think it makes sense, at least in the populated and overcrowded regions, for climbers to try to preserve at least some tiny backwaters where information is less available and less detailed. This means that future generations will have opportunities to experience the full spectrum of climbing types---rather than a much narrower and more uniform experience---without having to mount an expedition to faraway lands.

I also think that it is past time for guidebook writers to consider restraining themselves, rather than engaging in an endless pursuit of ever more fine-grained data. A minimal account, rather than a maximal one, will be good for climbing and for climbers.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 4, 2010 - 06:48am PT
That was a remarkable post even without using the term "bad-assery".
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Sep 4, 2010 - 07:52pm PT
If you close the door
the night could last forever
Leave the sunshine out
and say hello to never
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 4, 2010 - 09:24pm PT
If you show,
How the trick is done.
They will know,
And the magic's gone.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 4, 2010 - 10:35pm PT
I wouldn't pretend to know what AW's verses have to do with the issue at hand, other than a vague sense that maybe it's not nice not to share the details of a climb.

Which actually brings up a very contentious point: in the spirit of devil's advocacy, what exactly is so terrible about not documenting climbs?

If a few people find an area and climb in it, what principle obligates them to publish what they have done? If they fail to do this, they are accused of harboring a "secret area." But why exactly is the rest of the world somehow entitled to know about this place? It isn't as if the frequenters had somehow cast a spell that made the region invisible. If they found it, others could find it too.

If you do a bunch of climbs somewhere and don't report them, you will have to live with the fact that someone else may (or more likely will) find your little paradise, repeat your climbs (perhaps in worse style), and claim the first ascents. If it is important to you to prevent this tragedy, then of course you must document what you have done.

But this is the dilemma of the activist who is out in the puckerbrush doing the routes. The rants against "secret areas" all seem to assume that if someone knows something, then everyone has some kind of absolute right to the same knowledge, typically without putting in anything like the work that was needed to acquire that knowledge originally.

We are all grateful to people who convey the details of their explorations. But how does that gratitude somehow transmogrify into a sense of entitlement?

from where the anecdotes roam
Sep 5, 2010 - 12:21am PT
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