A Climber's Guide To Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Edited by F. R. Robinson, Potomac Appalachian Trail Mountaineering Section, 1971. $2.50.
Finally there is an accurate assemblage of the routes on this fine crag in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. Mr. Robinson has compiled descriptions of eighty routes, and their variations, in this compact and easy-to-use guide. The written descriptions used in conjunction with the fifteen excellent line drawings of the crag by John Christian, make this book a thorough compendium without being a hold-by-hold account of the climbs. The editor’s introduction reflects not only his British origin but also the current trend to climb clean. In it he asks those who climb on Seneca “to consider artificial or natural chock- stones or rock spikes or horns for protection, or even retreating, before pounding yet another nail in some of Seneca’s delightful routes”. Mr. Robinson does fail to mention that on many of Seneca’s routes the possibilities of using or placing these types of protection are quite good.
One section of the book is, I feel, extremely valuable. In Notes On The Climbs excellent descriptions of the descent routes are given. For many new to this area and unfamiliar with the rocks, these are usually the cause for much confusion. For those interested in climbs of certain grades there is Appendix A. Here all of the routes are listed according to their difficulty by number but, unfortunately, not by name, making it necessary to refer back to the text to correlate the two. Interesting sections are also included dealing with the geology, history, and local traditions of the area. Here I should have liked to have seen a section devoted to the local flora and fauna, since in close proximity to the rocks are some areas of unique vegetation which are quite beautiful. The names of those who pioneered the routes are to be found at the rear of the book. The climbs are listed numerically followed by the names of those who made the first ascents. Here again only the numbers of the climbs are given. It is the best guide available to the Seneca Rocks and should be of great interest to climbers in the East.
JOHN H. MARKWELL