Tahquitz Tales - Got Any?


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Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Feb 3, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
In the late 90's I reunited with my good friend Eric, who, having been off the rock for a while, agreed to let me guide him up Whodunit, 5.9, on the north face. I, having done the route a few times, was up for the challenge of leading all pitches if need be. The offer of letting Eric lead on some of the easier pitches was discussed over the phone a few days prior, and it was agreed that he would take the sharp end if he felt up to it.

We met realatively late at the McDonalds in Rancho Penasquitos and, as the ritual dictated, had breakfast prior to the two hour drive which began by heading north on I-15. Turning northeast on CA-79 into Winchester, one gets his first glimpse of the incredible monolith of Tahquitz Rock in the distance! Continuing east into Hemet then up the scenic grade of CA-243, we passed by the Mountain Center junction which, for me, always brings butterflies to my stomach, knowing that another incredible alpine day awaits!

The crux is experienced on the first pitch of Whodunit by stepping left through a sequence of face moves to the first belay station (a controversial headwall, mid-route, is now listed as 5.10). From here, the right facing book system is followed for nearly seven pitches to the top of the route with every pitch at 5.8 and below. Eric is following, albeit slow, without event up to the awkward slot on the fifth pitch. As he reaches my belay I sense by his body language that something is wrong. With his head hanging low, he reluctantly raises it up, and I realize that he's in tears and explains to me, "Dude, I'm really having problems at home right now with my wife, and it's just been hard!" Granted that squeeze slot below was less than enjoyable but to say I was taken by surprise by his confession would be an understatement at five hundred feet off the ground! I can't say that I had been put in this position before while climbing, or since for that matter, lol!

It was already about 153O and knowing that we should have topped out by then, time was of the essence. I had to pick up the pace, finish the last two pitches, and get off the mountain, distraught partner or not. Still using a 150' rope, I came up short once over the last small roof near the summit, and had to set up belay in the crack system above. Even though awkward, a photo opportunity presented itself and I had to squeeze in one more of Eric, even though he wasn't too receptive about the idea when I told him to smile as his head popped over the roof! We finished up the summit slabs, and after a summit photo, I was glad it was over.

Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Feb 4, 2013 - 12:18am PT

You're absolutely right that our time here is special. That day with Ben was one of my best days on the rock in over 10 years of much climbing, he said the same as well. I feel privileged to have shared such an amazing day with such a unique individual. His positivity knew no bounds. He is missed, but his friends still celebrate his life regularly.


Trad climber
Feb 4, 2013 - 01:09am PT
I used to go up there every Friday afternoon with a buddy from San Bernardino. We would run up in our flip-flops, run laps up routes until it got dark, then run back to the car. I remember hitting lunch rock in 15min and almost losing my lunch!

Never got tired of climbing there. Remember a girl partnered with my buddy who was cleaning a pitch beside my wife and I and couldn't get a piece out. She kept asking how to make it move, we were yelling suggestions for nuts or cams. Finally my wife asked her what color it was. She said, metal, and rusty! We laughed and told her to leave the pin!

Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:02am PT

There's not a single route at Tahquitz that I'd solo in 10 minutes. I solo in control, and methodically. I started out doing those same routes in a full-day, not a half-day, so you're doing great!


Trad climber
Feb 4, 2013 - 08:10am PT
It was 1971, and I had never been to Tahquitz.

After doing the Nose with George Myers, he suggested that we go down to Tahquitz, with a friend of his. I had no idea where it was, and just came along for the ride.

George's friend had all this pot, and I just remember a fast ride on the freeway, in a light weight jeep.

We arrive, and George suggest we climb the Open Book, which I guess was considered hard. The only thing I remember is all of us smoking a joint at the base, while the locals looked on, wondering who the hell are these bozos.

I seem to remember having a good time on it with no problems, as we were all in pretty good shape.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 4, 2013 - 09:02pm PT

What a great group shot!

Perfect for the Tahquitz chapter in the Frost Book. I will contact Janet Wilts about using it.


Trad climber
Feb 5, 2013 - 12:18am PT
Thanks to all. Memories of Tahquitz and beyond live on and fulfill us after these many years.

Who can pretend to understand what it means or how quickly it slipped by? But clearly we all know how it feels from here - wonderful. Wonderful.

Tom Higgins

Trad climber
Jun 6, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Jun 6, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
Wow, what a line up:
Credit: Charlie D.
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