Tahquitz Tales - Got Any?


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Trad climber
Golden, CO
May 6, 2009 - 10:02pm PT
Sheesh. I've only read the first and last post and perused some of the pictures and I'm thinking this is already a top 10 of all time thread. Looking forward to reading it all the way through. Fantastic old pictures. Thanks, Don (I'm not worthy). As a Tahquitz climber of the early '70s. Lauria, Kamps, Powell...these guys were my (pre-Stone Masters) heroes.

Great story Mooser. Sorry for your loss.

Trad climber
May 6, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
Story to follow,


Trad climber
May 7, 2009 - 12:49am PT
Thanks, eeyonkee. I remember being up on some route back in the 70s, and you and Dave Rightmer crossed paths with us. You were finishing your pitch in your socks (for real...I don't know if you remember that, or not). I thought, "Man, that Cameron can climb! A .10-something, in his socks!" I doubt you'd one the crux in them, but still...

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
May 7, 2009 - 01:22am PT
F10, post up. A schlitz! hahaha

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
May 7, 2009 - 02:59am PT

Here's a few;

NE Farce;...climbed in the fog;....only could see maybe 40'....got to the summit, and was above the cloud in the sunlight;....quite beautiful.

Y Crack.....Almost dropped Pat Brennan when he fell while I was giving him a hip belay;....I flipped around backwards, shreaded my hand on the rocks, but somehow held on.....

NE Face East;....First climb on Tahquitz, with Tim Heatherington in June of 1976

East Lark ....Simul-climbed this whole climb with Rich Sims in about 45 min. in June of 1981.

West Lark ....Did this climb with my boss from work;...it was his first climb;....he was scared shitless.....

Edgehogs.....Did FA of pitches 3 and 4 with Bob Gaines and Bob Austin.

Larks Climbed 8 pitches of ice one winter up the Larks;.....the whole N. Face was covered in about 3 to 5 feet of hard snow or waterice over rock.......best conditions I've ever seen up there.....late 70's or early 80's....

Hog Var. to Whodunit FA with Gaines in July, 97

White Maidens....got off route on this climb with a girl I knew from college...it was her first climb, and I got on some very run out 5.8.......I was whining, and she was saying;...."If it's too difficult for you, I'll never make it up......to which I replied.....Watch my ass carefully...."....

The 5.7 Arete.....FA with Evans, Cole and Floyd, 1986

Vampire......One of my top 10 favorite climbs on earth.

Chin Strap Crack.....climbed this with the late Psycho Kenny and The Troll in July of 83.

The Rack Climbed this with John Long in 1981;...it was a climb both of us had not done, so we roped up for the tick...

Angel's Fright. Climbed this with a Swiss climber who spoke no english. Climbed it another time with the lovely teen girl who worked at the bakery in Idyllwild;...her first climb.

Human Fright....found an ancient wooden piton on this climb;...donated to the museum in Yosemite.

Bedrock FA with Gaines, and Charlie Peterson in Aug. of 1997

Traitor Horn .... climbed with my baby brother when he was 16 years old.

The Edge ... Climbed with face master Hensel and Evan/Floyd, July 1985.

Zig Zag.....found a 1 1/2 friend on this climb ....it was Kevin Powell's...I returned it to him....

Flying Circus....did controversial 2nd ascent of this with Hensel, Evans, Floyd and Fry.....

I love Tahquitz;.....I have been quite frightened a number of times on climbs here....but kept coming back for more...I sort of grew up climbing in Idyllwild and sleeping in my car in Humber Park...It was my home away from home......It's one of the best crags on the planet. I still try to go there each year for a climb or so.....still new stuff going down on N. Face areas..Have yet to take a leader fall on Tahquitz...(knock on wood....now Suicide; different story....)........Tahquitz RULES!

Trad climber
May 7, 2009 - 04:37pm PT

Trad climber
May 7, 2009 - 08:35pm PT
One of many "Tahquitz Tales"

Three of us head up for the day from San Diego when about 45 minutes out we do the equipment check list. No rope. Turn around grab a rope and the VW bug is headed north again.

We pull in to Humber Park around 11:30, we decide to have some lunch before heading up to the rock. After all it is June and the days long with plenty daylight. Lunch consists of some hops and herb, with a short nap. Paul is ready to go and so am I, however the third person won't wake up, toast for the day!

Paul and I decide to let him continue his nap in the parking area after all it is a nice summer day. So it's off to the rock for a great afternoon of climbing.

We head up the climbers trail, but the only thing we have are the EB's on our feet. That's right after going back and getting the rope we forgot, we decide to go sans rope, gear, approach shoes and our minds.

We had a blast cruising up the White Maiden and soaking up some socal sun and rock. The trail up and down didn't even seem that bad in the EB's.

Back at the car our friend was up and wondering the F#*k happened and why we "ditched" him? Just another one of those wonderful days spent getting seasoned at Tahquitz and Suicide

May 7, 2009 - 09:12pm PT
Hey Don and Guido and the rest of you.

Let's all go back to the 60's.

Fuk all this modern bullsh'it .......

May 7, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
And 70's
curt wohlgemuth

Social climber
Bay Area, California
May 7, 2009 - 10:26pm PT
It was summer of 1980; I'd been climbing with a "mentor" for 9 months, and this was the first time I was going with somebody new (to me). A girl. A really cute girl from work. What to do?

The Long Climb, naturally. Carrying the pack, so we don't need to go back to the base of the climb afterwards. I'm gonna lead everything, and I'm psyched -- having learned to lead a month or two before.

Naturally, she gets stuck in the first chimney pitch for a bit, with the pack, but she's game and a good climber to boot. But on the second pitch, the Mummy Crack... I'm shouting from above, she's screaming from below. How can it take anybody THAT LONG to climb a single stupid pitch like this ?!? What was I thinking taking this girl out?!?

Of course, I had no idea how hard it would have been with a pack; I just had a small rack of stoppers and hexes, right? And she more than redeemed herself on the Weeping Wall across the valley on Sunday.

I guess she forgave me. We've been married for 26 years now.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 27, 2009 - 12:32am PT
One February day back in 1955, Mark Powell, Don Wilson and Frank Hoover were poking around Suicide Rock looking for something to do. Wandering up the southeast face to what is now called Paisano Ledge, the trio spotted a clean, steep hand and fist crack leading up sixty feet to a virgin summit. They had no pitons anywhere near wide enough to provide protection but there was a small patch of snow at the base and they had a secret weapon, a gallon jug of Paisano wine!
The team began to boulder out the bottom of the crack, reasoning that the snow would cushion their landing, jumping off from progressively farther up the crack. The reward for the leap of faith was a sip from the jug!
To quote Mark,"the more Paisano I drank, the higher I got" until the difficulties eased off and the summit was theirs. Up came his companions and they finished off the gallon leaving the empty jug on the summit.

The Wilts guide had this description of what was aptly named Paisano Pinnacle.


Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 27, 2009 - 01:19am PT
So I'm up at Tahquitz with Hooman Aprin, an Iranian climber who would later manage West Ridge in West LA. But back then, at Tahquitz we didn't know what the f*#k we were doing - I think I was a junior in high school. I somehow managed to lead the Piton Pooper (bulging 5.7, several pitches up the wall) with several hangs and it scared the crap out Hooman and me.

On our way down we saw some guy way up on Open Book, which hardly anyone climbed in those days. The guy was jamming out under the roof on pitch 3 and he yelled down to his partner, "No worries. It's only about 5.7 here."

I'd just frigged my way up a 5.7 and it felt like death and this guy was making it look like cheese cake. I almost wept on Hooman's shoulder.

Couple years later, Tobin, Rick and I all free soloed the Open Book, one on top of the other. In '91, Hooman, my partner on Piton Pooper, summited Mount Everest. That's no sh#t.


Jun 27, 2009 - 06:12am PT
You dudes RULE and alway's have!


Trad climber
Jun 27, 2009 - 09:05am PT
It was around 1971, and I had just done the Nose with George Myers. He suggested we drive down to Tahquitz. For some strange reason, we decided to smoke a bunch of pot before roping up to climb the Open Book which I guess was a local classic. I remember getting alot of strange looks from the locals, as we started up. I had never climbed stoned before, ( or since). I do remember having a blast on it!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 27, 2009 - 12:30pm PT
Largo- Did your signature Hooo Man start with him?!?

Trad climber
the end of the world as we know it, & I feel fine.
Jun 27, 2009 - 01:40pm PT
Wow, this has made for a pleasant Saturday morning of reading... definitely a top ten thread. Thanks for all the great stories.

Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Jun 27, 2009 - 02:32pm PT

The question is whether it is really a solo ascent if you do it as a group of three! I had purposefully put off doing this ultra-classic because I wanted to wait until I was good enough for the onsight solo. When I suggested it one day at the base of the South Face, Tobin and John were all over it. So we had a mass, solo ascent. I think it was psychologically much easier to be up there accompanied by friends. Paraphrasing Winnie the Pooh, soloing is much friendlier with two, (or three).

John was in the front and I remember that each of us engaged in some whistling past the graveyard, encouraging each other about how solid it seemed. At one point, I asked John,

“How’s it going up there?”

John shot back,

“Hoh, man, completely casual!”

Tobin and I were still buzzing after that, so we went right back up to solo, also on-sight, the Mechanics Route. Even though it’s rated at an easier grade, it turned out to be the more exciting of the two because it is a face climb rather than a crack climb. I remember looking down at Tobin from above the crux and he hesitated a long time before committing to the move. This was very rare for Tobin.


Social climber
So Cal
Jun 27, 2009 - 02:40pm PT
Another Open Book story.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 27, 2009 - 04:20pm PT
Definitely counts as a solo, Ricky! With additional subjective hazards to boot. LOL

I gang soloed the very slippery Water Cracks in the meadows and was more than distracted by my companions above and below. The normal quiet zen soloing mindset just wasn't possible in a crew.
Once we got down from that little jaunt, I was still a bit hungry for adventure and started up Crescent Arch on sight!

I have a funky left shoulder thanks to a knob drop on the South face of Rixon's and too many inlocates on the rings and wasn't very happy pulling through the roofs to get into the corner itself. It was well into the season and the entire corner was greasy, insecure and far from the solitary fun that I was hoping for. Once I stepped out onto the friction exit the fun came back but it was the last big solo for me mostly because I hadn't really prepared myself for it. Whimsical ain't the way when climbing solo sometimes. LOL

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 27, 2009 - 06:25pm PT
Ah Tahquitz! In 1969 Ross Johnson (army buddy) and Sandy (first wife) and I drove from Minnesota to Colorado to see if we wanted to get serious about skiing or climbing- we had done a little bit of both activities in the Tetons. We first went to Aspen to investigate the job/housing situation with the thought of becoming ski bums. A short lived experiment- reasonable housing and jobs seemed scarce and an early season snow storm forced an open bivvy under the car after a night of bar hopping. The next morning, while nursing hangovers in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs, we pondered our future. The dye was cast, we would continue on to sunny California and become fair weather rock climbers.
We had read an article by Yvon Chouinard about climbing in Yosemite. YC was from SC and he stated in his article that an apprenticeship at Tahquitz Rock was a good, damn near obligatory, idea for someone considering climbing in the Valley. A quick look at the map showed us that the closest place to Tahquitz large enough for a good job market was Riverside. Two days later we had a cheap apartment in neighboring Rubidoux, and a day later jobs. We had answered an ad looking for people not afraid of heights to put up Xmass lights in local Malls. We weren't sure of the height thing but reasoned that, if were to become rock climbers, scrambling around high above the ground shouldn't be a problem.
Four, sixty hour work weeks later we had enough money saved to get serious about this rock climbing thing. Ross was tempted home by seductive letters from an old girlfriend, so Sandy and I found a sweet little cabin in Idylwild and moved in for the winter.
A few days later there was a knock on our door from local hardman Ivan(Bud) Couch who had heard that a climber had moved to town. Bud took me under his wing and in the ensuing weeks I did my first 5.9 (the Open Book) and my first 5.10 (Diddily) leads. More importantly, I met Phil and Paul Gleason. We climbed together their and in the Granite Mountains near Amboy and that Spring, Phil introduced me to Yosemite. Phil, if you read this, I owe you bigtime, and say hello to Paul.
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