RIP R J Secor


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Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Nov 7, 2017 - 09:10pm PT
RJ was an interesting character. The end pretty much came with the accident. This is a suprise though since we are about the same age. (60ish)

I met RJ in the SCMA and we climbed together once. I also assisted in an annual Eaton Canyon Crevase Rescue Seminar we put on together a few times.

And we hung out together at SCMA slides shows; sitting in the front row and making fun comments.

Dude was excentric. Here are some trivia bits from my time with him.

Claimed he had never been kissed by a girl but that a few had tried. Guidebook authoring had attracted groupies or something.

Loved to go sailing and regularly did.

Pretty much lived at home with parents his whole life.

Wore funny clothes sometimes, like a black and white referee shirt when he went rock climbing at Tahquitz, or that fateful rain slicker the day of the accident.

He went out of his way to find the weirdest looking car possible. I think it was 1980's Nissan or something.

I have been missing him for years. So long old buddy. :-(

Nov 8, 2017 - 03:49am PT
No word of a memorial yet. Please post if you hear. RJ had many friends in and out of the Sierra Club. His presence after the accident on Baldy was a loss for anyone climbing, and a wake-up call. Be safe out there. If can happen to anyone.

Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
Nov 8, 2017 - 04:21am PT
2 From the origanal 6 post thread;

Dingus Milktoast, climber, NorCal
,Apr 18, 2005 - 02:28pm PT

Check out this thread on summit post if you're interested:

Seems like a glissade got away from him.

??- I'm not familiar with the search function on Summitpost. . .

TioTony, Big Wall climber
Yorba Linda, CA
,Apr 18, 2005 - 11:08pm PT

Hi everyone,
I was skiing Baldy Saturday and stayed at the hut Friday night. I assisted with the rescue and can confirm it was R.J. that was injured. Here are the facts.

He slid at least 1000 feet as best we can tell, from in or near the bottom of one of the chutes to within about 200 yards of the ski hut.

He was hiking with some one he just met that day at the hut, it wasn't a pre-arranged thing.

He had severe head injuries, possibly other injuries.

He was conscious the whole time and was slightly confused (understandably).
He knew a few of his rescuers which I think helped calm him down.

A few members from the Mt. Baldy Ski Patrol happened to be at the hut at the time.
They coordinated the rescue and administered first aid. A nurse also happened to be at the hut.
There was probably less then 5 minutes from the time he stopped sliding to the time the first people reached him.

The rest of us were just runners and muscle, hauling first aid supplies back and forth, as well as moving R.J. on a litter which we keep in the ski hut.
Two people headed down to call 911,
they got them on a cell phone at about 1/2 way rock and the helicopter was on the way.
The air medics and helicopter arrived shortly there after. Sorry I don't know the exact times.

It was amazing to watch the pilot manuever since he couldn't land.

Everyone did a great job to get him to evaced from the mountain as quickly as could be expected. Everyting was executed like it had been scripted. I have only met R.J. a few times. He is a true mountaineer and is tough as steel. I expect he will recover fully (but I'm not a doctor).

It was incredibly fortunate there were so many trained people around that day, the hut was open, and we got to him right away.
It could have turned out much worse. I've been up there other times and not seen another human all day.

As a side note, we also escorted 4 asian students down the mountain Saturday evening. They had hiked up from the ski lifts wearing sweat pants, tennis shoes, and wind breakers.
No hats, gloves, crampons, ice axes, boots, or other winter gear. They managed to summit but 1 of them was really having problems getting down. We got them in the hut, warmed them up, and walked out with them to make sure they got back to their car.

Way too much excitement for a day on Baldy.

BTW, the corn was excellent. I got the first tracks of the day!

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Nov 8, 2017 - 07:01am PT a black and white referee shirt when he went rock climbing at Tahquitz,

RJ in happier times signing the register after climbing the White Maiden in 2004.

Note the cheap Carl's Jr sunglasses he got for free.

Most of his gear came from garage sales. They did an article on him in the LA Times outdoors section, it seems like his whole backpacking kit added up to $7.34.

It was that cheap ass yellow slicker that he glissaded in that got him, IMO. Folks on the scene said the snow was just a thin layer over ice.

He traveled very light. I dropped him off once at Tuolumne for what he called "Vision Quest". His plan was to head down the JMT, bag some peaks and take photos for the third edition of the book. One reason he was able to travel so lightly was he didn't carry much food. JMTers, he said, always carry too much food and they are always happy to unload some. That's the trip, I believe, where he rendezvoused with Reiner Stenzel to climb Devil's Crag.

Somehow his camera was stolen. He wasn't so mad about the camera, but losing all those images for the book.

Spider is right, he was eccentric. He came from a family of eccentrics.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Nov 8, 2017 - 09:00am PT
This is Sad....

Only got to meet him at SCMA Slideshows... I always loved and used his fine books to map out the next adventure.

Thank you for doing all the hard work - so I can dream of bigger adventures.

I offer my sincere condolences to RJ Secor's Family and many Friends.

Rest in Peace


Mountain climber
Nov 8, 2017 - 09:14am PT
Thanks for the photo of RJ and your post, Gary.

I never managed to meet RJ, but his Sierra guides were an essential part of most of my California mountain adventures. What a phenomenal amount of work was involved in putting those together.

Rest in Peace, RJ. Thank you for all your work on documenting so many routes in the Sierra.

A report on his Vision Quest from 2001, that Gary mentions, is at

Quite a list of peaks he climbed during that trip!

Arrow Peak, Mt Barnard, Mt Carl Heller, Devils Crags, East Vidette, Mt Hilgard, Junction Peak, Mt Julius Caesar, Merriam Peak, Norman Clyde Peak, Pilot Knob N, Pyramid Peak S, Red and White Mtn, Rodgers Peak, Royce Peak, Mt Ruskin, Trojan Peak, Tunnabora Peak, Wheel Mtn

Nov 8, 2017 - 09:29am PT
I met RJ a few times up on Baldy, but cannot claim to know him. From what I can see he was an interesting guy - wired differently than most.
I always enjoyed reading through his Sierra guide. It was like walking through the history of the range.
The last time I spoke to him I told him I was thinking about sending him a write up of an ascent some friends and I had made of an obscure Sierra peak. He was very interested and encouraged me to do so. I expected no reply, but was looking forward to the 4th edition, hoping to see the entry.
About a week after , I received a note back thanking me for my submission, but stating he would not be including it.
I smiled.
RIP RJ. You were unique and will be missed.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Nov 8, 2017 - 11:44am PT
I had the pleasure of giving a talk to a Sierra Club group last night, on the topic of the "Theodore Solomons Trail", and dedicated the talk to RJ. Quite a few people there had known him, and quite a few had not heard the news.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Nov 8, 2017 - 11:53am PT
That's because there is no news, only this thread and a post at the SCMA website.
the museum

Trad climber
Nov 8, 2017 - 12:21pm PT
Here's the ST original injury post from back in the day:

the museum
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Nov 8, 2017 - 02:30pm PT
Arrow Peak, Mt Barnard, Mt Carl Heller, Devils Crags, East Vidette, Mt Hilgard, Junction Peak, Mt Julius Caesar, Merriam Peak, Norman Clyde Peak, Pilot Knob N, Pyramid Peak S, Red and White Mtn, Rodgers Peak, Royce Peak, Mt Ruskin, Trojan Peak, Tunnabora Peak, Wheel Mtn
Wow, that's quite a list. I get a couple summits when I'm in the backcountry and it's been a productive trip. I only have a couple of those summits under my belt.

Mountain climber
there and back again
Nov 8, 2017 - 08:56pm PT
I met him a couple of times and liked him immediately. I don't think he ever really recovered from his accident. His guide book is an inspiration and well love by me. Sorry to hear of his passing. We've lost a bunch of folks this year. Guess I should check in to ST more often.

Camster (Rhymes with Hamster)

Social climber
Nov 8, 2017 - 09:16pm PT
Wow! I'm so sorry to hear this. RJ was a good friend...or rather, a really, really good acquaintance. I saw him mostly at AAC events, and he often brought his father along, so my wife and I would have dinner with the two of them.
He was an heir of sorts, didn't have a regular job, and he used to complain to that managing all his money was really hard, time-consuming work. I'd scoff at that and get some very RJ-esque glares. You guys know the look.
I kept writing to RJ after his accident, over and over and over. Never got a response. Now I understand a bit more why.
Rest in peace old friend.
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Nov 8, 2017 - 09:40pm PT
I had the pleasure of giving a talk to a Sierra Club group last night, on the topic of the "Theodore Solomons Trail"

Had no idea about that trail and had to look it up-thanks!

Sounds like a fun adventure though I am partial to the higher country.

Indirectly RJ just keeps on sharing...


Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:46am PT
...and he often brought his father along, so my wife and I would have dinner with the two of them.

John, his father, was quite a character. Only had the pleasure of his acquaintance a few times but enjoyed talking with him. RIP

And yes, the glare. RJ, my wife and I were climbing Angel's Fright. The little woman had taken the sharp end and was somewhere above us. We hear, "Oooh... ooooh... 'biner!" At that same moment a carabiner bounces off RJ's shoulder. He turned and gave me this dead pan look that was classic! I couldn't help laughing.

While he knew the systems inside out, he wasn't much of a technical climber, so he declared 2003 the Year of the Rock. We did lots of climbing that year at Josh and Tahquitz. RJ being RJ there was always something to remember about each day out.

The accident ended all that.

Trad climber
tahoe city
Nov 10, 2017 - 05:33am PT
I first met RJ at an outdoor retail trade show in the late 80's... this quiet guys sort of shuffles up to me with a white collar shirt and pocket protector and says, "I hear you've been doing some climbs in the Sierra? can you look at this map and confirm the location of a few peaks?" That started many years of friendship and swapping info. I would receive a letter with a section of a topographic map, a few notes and a series of questions about routes.

One of the more amusing elements of our friendship over the years was how he would take the topos I'd send to him of routes and "translate" it into a narrative description...often summing up several pitches (or a whole route!) into a short sentence...and do it well He was always very clear about not wanting to add drawings into his book, but to keep it in the traditional format he enjoyed.

One summer in the mid 90's I was hiking out from Little Slide Canyon and came across RJ a bit off route mucking around in the underbrush... he was hiking up to see what all the fuss was about the Incredible Hulk and admitted to being "lost"...after a good laugh together and setting him on the right path (there was no trail back then) he pointed out the irony of a guidebook author having trouble locating a peak by using his own book!



Nov 11, 2017 - 10:44am PT
Sad News :(

In the early 80’s, I was at Plaza de Mulas Camp, one of the busiest base camps on Aconcagua; lots of people and activity about. It was excessively windy and cold and damn near impossible to recognize anyone there all bundled up. This guy walks-up outta the blue and introduces himself to me. His sharp eyes saw my initials that I had sharpied onto a cuff of my jkt. A meeting of probably the only two guys there that went by 2 initials, “Hey, EC Joe, I’m RJ Secor.” Sporadically throughout the years following, we exchanged info about the Sierra. Sorry to have you leave us...


Social climber
State of decay
Nov 12, 2017 - 09:12pm PT
So long buddy. You were one of a kind.
One night after an SCMA meeting a bunch of us, including RJ, retired to the Tam for drinks as was per usual. Being that RJ had always been a bit of an enigma to me, I decided after lubricating my tongue with a few Black and Tans, that I should engage him in conversation, hoping to divine a fuller understanding of the man. RJ was a mountaineer, guide book author, occasional climbing partner and respected fellow member of the AAC, but RJ the man remained much a blank area on the map for me.
After an hour of talking climbing, writing, and the hardships of collecting accurate information on climbing routes and first ascents, I felt I was no where closer to a deeper understanding of R J. Finally, in a bit of frustration, I asked RJ what he really did for a living. I mean, like, what did he really do beside write guide books? RJ took a long, even draw from his Black and Tan and matter of factually said, “ I'm an international playboy.” I smiled and said, “Right RJ, what do you really do?” He looked me straight in the eye and said rather smugly,” I am an international playboy.” Then the conversation returned to my climb of Aconcagua without skipping a beat. What a character! If you knew RJ, you knew that being an international playboy was about 180 degrees out from who he really was. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants but I think RJ was serious!

Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:06am PT

From my experience, it took years to get anything personal out of RJ.

He was extremely reluctant to talk about those things. When he did open up, it was with almost embarassment about his family business etc.

He had a PhD (I don't know what discipline) but his family had large Real Estate holdings in Pasadena which he co-managed.

Over the years,I know of many girlfriends, a few of them long term. He never married. He was extremely loyal and friendly if he knew people well.

His weird sense of humor was legendary.


Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:53am PT
A bit more from the Sierra Club LA
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