Trip Report
The Minivan Mountaineers
Friday August 23, 2013 1:54pm
I don't remember the last time my wife and I did a multi-pitch climb together. Over ten years ago, sometime before we traded in the Subaru for a minivan.

Carseats and cragging gear.

Note the mountain goat sticker. We were determined to have an adventure worthy of the The Greatest Outdoor Ad Ever:

So we choose the White Maiden's Walkway at Tahquitz. I had never done the route before but it seemed like a good choice for adventure.

We'd heard that route finding can be a challenge on the route, but a new copy Bob Gains' new guidebook, we had a all the beta we needed.

We dropped the kids off at Grandma and spent forever waiting for the traffic lights in Hemet. We made it to the crag around 10:30 and started the approach.

There's a point where the talus field seems to go on forever, but eventually we find ourselves at the base.

We found the start of the climb easily enough. After about thirty feet on the first pitch, there are number of possible lines to take. In the second half of the pitch I found myself making much of the upward progress on the twisted branches of a tree. We belayed on a small ledge that probably was not quite on route, but close enough. Another pitch up a corner and we were on a nice ledge.

There was a slow moving party above us - they were yelling back and forth quite a bit and seemed to make every belay command overly complicated: "Off Belay" - "Am I on belay" - "No I said Off Belay" and lots of that sort of thing. So we decided it was a good time for lunch. After the required cleansing with hand sanitizer we snack on some sandwiches.

Up a couple of pitches to the "improbable corner:"

Some more tree climbing and up another nice corner pitch, where we catch up to the party above us. From here the route starts to traverse right. The other party moves on, there's more yelling about a scary traverse but I can't see exactly where they are.

Another pitch, mostly traversing right to a ledge with a tree. This is where the guide shows three alternative exit routes: A 5.1, 5.3, and 5.7 variation. From what I can tell the 5.1 goes mostly straight right from where we are. I can't see the whole pitch from our ledge, but what I can see looks slabby and thinly protected. There's a traverse to a bulge, above which I cannot see the terrain. I check and re-check the guidebook but am not certain of the route.

Some clouds were forming and thunder was rumbling so I decide to go for it - thinking the 5.1 is the easiest and likely fastest way to the top. I start up the ramp and past a couple of bushes when it starts to rain, and then pour. The terrain is not terribly steep, but I was looking at about fifteen feet of soaking wet runout traverse, and I couldn't see beyond that. When the hail started, and it got really cold, I downclimbed back to the belay to wait out the storm.

Our route was now a small stream and looked pretty intimidating, even though it was supposedly 5.1. We put on our jackets watched the clouds move.

The minivan, with its heated seats, far below our cold wet ledge.

Ten minutes later the rain stopped and were were getting little windows of sun through the clouds. We waited for the route to dry, but it continued to look shiny and slick. I made another attempt up the ramp, but it just didn't seem right. Even if I could have managed it, I could not protect it well enough for the second. So we decided to try another path.

We moved the belay about twenty feet left on the ledge to the base of a wide crack. For some reason the rock was much drier over here. The crack was steep but easily bypassed on some slabs to the left. After about fifteen feet of unprotected slab, I moved right to the crack, found a place for gear and worked through a squirmy but easy offwidth. On the right there was a slab under an arching roof on the with a good crack along the base of the roof. After a slightly wet and delicate move onto the slab, I was on a low angle traverse with a nice crack for hands and pro. Thirty feet right and over a small lip took me to the trees on the summit.

Even after studying the guidebook and montainproject, I'm still not sure where I was on the last pitch. I think I was on the 5.3 finish, but perhaps it was the 5.1 finish and my initial line was completely off.

We had the summit to ourselves, for a few minutes until a soloist came along and asked if we got caught in the rain. He had started after the rain, so he must have done his entire climb in the time we were sorting out our last pitch. I don't know what route he did. I don't know who he was (one of you guys perhaps?) but he was definitely familiar with Tahquitz.

We hiked down the friction route. It was wet in a few spots but not enough to cause any difficulties. After the seemingly endless switchbacks on the lunch rock trail we made our way back to minivan.

Credit: Dave Kos

Back to grandma's house to pick up the kids...

  Trip Report Views: 2,089
Dave Kos
About the Author
Dave Kos is a social climber from Temecula.

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Jon Beck

Trad climber
  Aug 23, 2013 - 02:55pm PT
Fun day, thanks for posting. That drive through Hemet is never ending. Years ago we would go the back way through Anza to avoid Hemet, but Temecula is just as bad now.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Aug 23, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
Nice break! Good for you for making time to do something together.

Social climber
CHC, en zed
  Aug 23, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
Good on ya for getting out there.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Aug 23, 2013 - 04:13pm PT

you cats are brilliant for having packed rain gear


Social climber
  Aug 23, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
ah yes, the old talus approach. the quickest way to the northside routes.
I have been caught twice in deluges in Idyllwild. Once on Tahquitz, once on Suicide. Both times the route I was on became a waterfall.

  Aug 23, 2013 - 05:03pm PT
RightOn. . .yer gonna LOVE your Sienna!

Rippin' the middle seats out ROCKS!


photo not found
Missing photo ID#317553

photo not found
Missing photo ID#317555

Trad climber
monrovia, ca
  Aug 23, 2013 - 05:19pm PT
Nice to read a TR more at my level. thanks.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Aug 23, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
Good job Kos, but who who are those people in the photos? I was expecting something more like

Thanks for posting your adventure.

Dave Kos

Social climber
Author's Reply  Aug 23, 2013 - 05:32pm PT
Good one DMT!

I always wanted to redo our bedroom in that retro decor, but my wife isn't going for it.
the Fet

  Aug 23, 2013 - 07:01pm PT
Cute wife!

Hans Florine drives a Sienna so it must be the climber's minivan.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Aug 23, 2013 - 07:13pm PT
Thanks for the memory flashback,
That was my first lead at Tahquitz in the early 70's
and yer right many variations can be done.

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
  Aug 24, 2013 - 12:22am PT
Nice report......interesting seeing a clear to rain to clear situation. I learned something interesting at Taquitz in the same conditions. I learned that shoes stick really well in flowing water. Not so good when just wet. Never forgot that. Finally you get to climb with your better half.......

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Aug 24, 2013 - 12:30am PT
Looks like a great time with your wife!

I always wondered what you look like in the flesh.

Gym climber
Being In Sierra Happy Of Place
  Aug 24, 2013 - 12:35am PT
Nice TR David!

Looks like a great time with your life partner - nothing better than that!


Trad climber
Can't get here from there
  Aug 24, 2013 - 12:44am PT
Safely up, an safely down, sounds ideal for every climb.

LOL, I've got one of those BackCountry stickers on each one of my vehicles.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 24, 2013 - 12:50am PT
Yo9ur guys flashed that pretty well for not having gotten out on rock together for so long. Have any plans to do another route this summer?

Thanks, too, for the oppo to visit the WMW. I've never even looked at it as a reference point for any others of the climbs I've done there.
That was a good TR, too. Pics helped lots.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Aug 24, 2013 - 11:01am PT
It's been 40+ years since Matt Hale and I spent five days or so at Tahquitz, so thanks for the memory boost!

We were there during the week and there were no other climbers at all. That's probably changed...

Looks and sounds like a great day out, with a little (but not too much) adventure thrown in to spice things up.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 24, 2013 - 06:30pm PT
Nice write up and great little adventure. Yall just need a little lift kit and some mud tires on that minivan and you'll be the envy of the crag. It was nice to read and get a feel your personality via being outside on the rock rather than on the political/religious threads! Thanks for sharing this excellent day out. Keep em coming.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  May 21, 2015 - 02:01pm PT
I was on vacation when you posted this, Dave. Excellent TR - this said from one who acquired a minivan 20 years ago. Now that it's been almost ten years since we had one, we're missing it more.

Thanks for a most entertaining trip report.


Social climber
  May 21, 2015 - 02:35pm PT
Looks like there is hope for me Dave. We have a Toyota Sienna too! Nice TR!

California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
  May 21, 2015 - 03:19pm PT
Nice TR, Dave. Your wife's a real trooper!

Loved the rainbow shot.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 23, 2015 - 04:42pm PT
Brilliant , a great Tr,
I once went to a friends wedding there in idyl wild,
Good times !

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  May 28, 2015 - 02:32pm PT
Nice TR.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  May 28, 2015 - 03:18pm PT
Looks fun!
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  May 28, 2015 - 06:57pm PT
missed this the first time around which only reminded me how much I miss Tahquitz. I spent so much of my youth there thru middle, high school and a returned after college now is over 40 years ago! Thanks for the post and bump, got to get back to my roots to enjoy a day in the sun and to stir fond memories.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  May 28, 2015 - 07:22pm PT
Queens Thrown
Queens Thrown
Credit: rincon

Branscomb, Charlie D., and RonV

Branscomb, Charlie D., and RonV

Credit: RonV


Trad climber
  May 28, 2015 - 08:21pm PT
I had a minivan once but it wasn't tough enough for the Ghost river area so I had to get rid of it
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