American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

A Climber's Guide to Pinnacles National Monument

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  • Publication Year: 1967

A Climber's Guide to Pinnacles National Monument, by Steve Roper. Berkeley, California: The Ski Hut, 1966. 69 pages, 7 photographs, 5 maps. Price: $2.75.

This is the second climber’s guide to be published on this compact and pleasant area in California. The original guide by David Hammack in 1953 is now out of print but some of its material reappears even though a new author and publisher have produced this book.

Pinnacles is a small National Monument in the Coast Range about 125 miles south of San Francisco. Steve Roper has called upon his own personal knowledge of the area (50 trips in 10 years) and described routes on nearly 150 pinnacles. In addition to the seven photographs that illustrate the general type of climbing, five detailed maps of Robert Swanson and Allen Steck add to the Guide’s usefulness. These maps attempt to pinpoint each important named pinnacle in relation to main hiking trails. As the author indicates however, finding the route on the rock is often easier than finding the pinnacle. Climbing equipment usually required is discussed, including Roper’s recommendation that a bolt kit be carried at all times since pitons are of little use. Climbing is usually on high angle faces on knobs of various sizes. The rock is often loose and soft but fortunately holds are plentiful. An interesting feature of this Guide is a section on recommended “Tours.” Six itineraries are suggested ranging in difficulty from an easy day of hiking and climbing to a tour involving cross country bush whacking and a number of "nightmare” rock climbs.

The Guide also covers some climbing history, trails, campgrounds, safety, route upkeep, and rating systems. And even if you don’t really plan to rock climb at the Pinnacles, a copy of the Guide might be handy to help understand some of the thought processes of rock climbers while undertaking an ascent, since most of the names of the pinnacles are unofficial and often are decided upon during the climb. Much can be learned from such names as: Burgundy Dome, Crud and Mud, The Flimsy Flume, The Heffalump, The Trauma, Long’s Folly, The Shaft, The Teeter- Tower, The Terse, and The Unmentionable. This book is a welcome addition to the growing number of climber’s guides available in the United States and will certainly make any visit to the Pinnacles more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Richard C. Houston

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