RIP R J Secor


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Trad climber
No. Tahoe
Nov 7, 2017 - 08:33am PT
So sorry to hear. I’ve used his book as a reference for countless adventures.

Mountain climber
Nov 7, 2017 - 09:02am PT
The accident was bad, it must have something to do with this.

Gary, I heard that he had not been doing well lately.
Before his accident, I would see RJ working out on the Mt. Wilson toll road. He was always training with a huge pack on.
I had been on a couple of trips to the Sierra with him as well.
His accident was bad, and did take a toll on him.
However, the last time I saw him was at a Caltech Alpine Club function. This was probably five years ago. He was looking as well as can be expected. He came up to me, and remembered my name.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Nov 7, 2017 - 09:09am PT
Roger that. He put a lot of work into his guide books. Condolences to family and friends. Many a Sierra peak bagger relied on his books to get them up.
Agreed. One would see various gripes about his guide on different forums but they always struck me as coming from people who 1) wanted their hand held, 2) probably lacked basic route finding skills, and 3) failed to understand the magnitude of chronicling a place as big as the Sierra. I always appreciated his guide and wish I had more time to get out there and use it. In a different life it would be great to do nothing but wander the range and gather information to share with others, but that's what people like Roper and Secor are for. A dying breed perhaps, no pun intended.

Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
Nov 7, 2017 - 09:10am PT
So very sorry to hear this.

I have known RJ since the mid 70's through the RCS and later SCMA. He was the Honorary Member of SCMA mostly for his huge Sierra, Mexican Volcanoes and Aconcagua guide books. RJ traveled to a lot of places around the world to hike and climb. But Sierra was his place and every summer he did huge month or longer trips there gathering data for his guides.

He knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish regarding the Sierra guide series and would not be derailed from including hikes, cross country routes as well as climbs. He could be pretty stubborn. I think he was in nomination for the Pulitzer for the first edition.

RJ and I spent wonderful 5 weeks in Argentina in 1998. He was very well known in the climbing scene in Mendoza and spoke Spanish well. We tried the seldom attempted but wonderful Ibanez-Marmillod route on Aconcagua, gave up half way up the Grajales Couloir in terrible weather. This was one of the best trips I have ever had outside of the US.

I will miss RJ. He was an individual, doing things his way and seeing things clearly. RIP.

Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Nov 7, 2017 - 10:54am PT
This post on while RJ was recovering warmed my heart and made me feel like I had helped in one small way on his road back.

His mom specifically wanted me to thank for her, Jody Langford and Kurt Wedberg, who both arranged to have beautifully crafted photographs of the Sierra enlarged for RJ's wall. He seems to focus on them specifically!
--Ken Murray, M.D.

Jody, thanks for posting this quote of mine. Your and Kurt's actions meant a lot to him, as was a big contribution to his recovery.

I'd run into RJ from time to time, and talked to him on the phone occasionally. He never seemed to completely recover from his accident, and to my knowledge, never climbed again. His mom and dad, interesting people in their own right, were anchors for him, and their deaths in recent years clearly had a big impact upon him. They were highly religious people, although I did not see that rubbing off on him. Perhaps that gave him some solace with their passing.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Nov 7, 2017 - 11:28am PT
:( RIP and thank you for all the knowledge and work you put into the Sierra Guide.

Nov 7, 2017 - 11:38am PT
Secor's guide to the Sierra is the source of a long running affectionate joke about understatement.

"Ascend the east face"

Whenever we'd be somewhere with maps / topos / beta somewhat less detailed than what would be preferred, we'd joke about this.

That guy was a master of less is more.

Sorry to hear of his passing, what a body of work he left us with. Much appreciated.


Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Nov 7, 2017 - 12:17pm PT
What is the source of this news?

A report on the SCMA website. There's absolutely nothing else on the Internet. Not that that means much, after the accident RJ became even more of a recluse than before.

If this is true, I wonder who will take on the task of relieving all those JMT hikers of their excess food?

Social climber
NZ -> SB,CA -> Zurich
Nov 7, 2017 - 12:34pm PT
This is sad news. He was a huge influence. I blame his guides for my having spent a bit of time going up and down volcanoes in Mexico. Great times.

Cheers and RIP,

Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Nov 7, 2017 - 01:04pm PT
Not that Orizaba is a difficult peak to figure out, but it was RJ that gave us a clue.

RIP and condolences.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Nov 7, 2017 - 01:25pm PT
Such a bummer, I always wanted to meet him.

I was hoping for edition after edition and worry there will never be another attempt at a guide like his in my lifetime.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 7, 2017 - 01:36pm PT
Rest in peace friend.

Hell, seems like not too many left,..

Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
Nov 7, 2017 - 01:49pm PT
When the Sierra Club decided in 1986 to eliminate technical climbing from their outing program, RJ was one of the first people to call for a new club to be set up out of the ashes of RCS. He wanted to name it "Sierra Club My Ass" or SCMA. Cooler heads prevailed and the club was born as Southern California Mountaineers Association. RJ could be very funny at times...

Mountain climber
Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 7, 2017 - 01:49pm PT
[Posting the notice of RJ getting the Sierra Club's Farquhar Award.]
The 2013 Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award Going to Mountaineer & Author R.J. Secor

Mr. Secor is a prolific mountain climber with numerous ascents throughout the American and Canadian mountain West and Mexico, as well as mountain adventures in South America, the Himalayas and the Karakoram. In 1997 he became the second person (now four) to have twice climbed the 247 peaks on the Angeles Chapter’s Sierra Peaks Section’s peaks list. However, his nomination for the Francis Farquhar Mountaineering Award rests principally upon his authorship of “The High Sierra – Peaks, Passes and Trails.”
This massively detailed guidebook, first published in 1992, is now in its third printed edition (2009), plus a Kindle edition. It is the successor to the pioneering work begun by the Sierra Club in the late 1930s, initially under the direction of board member (and later president) Richard Leonard. “A Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra” first appeared in the Feb. 1937 issue of the Sierra Club Bulletin. Part I focused on the Sawtooth Ridge area, and the series continued with various editors covering other high Sierra areas through Part VIII in the May 1951 SCB. R. J. readily acknowledges the subsequent Sierra Club-published high Sierra guidebooks authored by Hervey Voge, Andy Smatko and Steve Roper.
In working on this mammoth project Mr. Secor has made more than 700 Sierra mountain ascents on about 300 different peaks, climbing as many as 60 peaks in one year. The book covers more than 600 Sierra peaks, and it provides a great deal of history and first ascent records, plus a vast number of invaluable photos and many maps.
In addition to his national renown as a guidebook author, Mr. Secor has also earned international recognition for producing three editions of “Mexico’s Volcanoes: a Climbing Guide,” two editions of “Aconcagua: a Climbing Guide,” and one edition of “Denali Climbing Guide.” All four books are still in print and available on Amazon, which has a “R. J. Secor Page.” All his books have a strong statement about minimizing the environmental impact of climbing.
In summary, this nomination is made in grateful recognition of the invaluable service provided by Mr. Secor to countless thousands of mountaineers who have entered the High Sierra far better prepared to contend with and to succeed on its vast array of peaks than otherwise would have been the case. The award honors him, as well as the legacy of this grand effort initiated by the Sierra Club over 75 years ago.

Previous recognition and service:
• 1980-85 - Chair, vice-chair, secretary & treasurer – Angeles Chapter / Ski Mountaineers Section
• 1988 - Angeles Chapter: “Special Service Award”
• 1989-90 – President of the California Mountaineering Club
• 1998 – Chair - Angeles Chapter / Sierra Peaks Section
• 1999 – California Mountaineering Club: “Service Award”
• 2004 - Elected “Honorary Member” of the Southern California Mountaineers Association (the successor to the Angeles Chapter’s famed Rock Climbing Section).

Co-nominators: Bill Oliver, Dan Richter and Kathy Rich. 9/13/13
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Nov 7, 2017 - 02:20pm PT
Crushing news

Mountain climber
Nov 7, 2017 - 02:51pm PT
My battered, dog-eared, coffee-stained Secor always stays in the box of books I carry with me over the summer. I wish I had made the effort to meet him. Ormes, Ortenburger, Beckey, now Secor... few of the Old Ones remain.

Social climber
Nov 7, 2017 - 04:42pm PT
The guide referred to is "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails", a climber’s guide. He made at least 4 ascents of Mt Starr King and wrote nothing boastful in the register other than 4X!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
Nov 7, 2017 - 04:52pm PT
A life well lived. An honorable work to send to future generations. May our own quest be as wonderfully lived out. Cheers! Lynne
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Nov 7, 2017 - 05:13pm PT
My hats off to R.J. He not only pursued climbing and peak bagging with a passion, he channeled that drive into some very fine guidebooks, sharing that hard won knowledge with everyone.
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Nov 7, 2017 - 05:34pm PT
One of only a few books I brought when I first moved overseas going on 19 years now.
And, one of only 2 that I regularly haul back and forth when I go home each summer.

Thank you for all the dreams and adventures you help make happen for me RJ.

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