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A Rock Climbers Guide to Pinnacles National Monument

A Rock Climbers Guide to Pinnacles National Monument. Paul G. Gagner. Taylor-Powell Printing Co., Fort Collins, 1983. 146 pages, 14 black and white photographs, 24 maps (including topos). $12.00.

The Pinnacles has recently seen a radical advance in climbing practices and a dramatic influx of climbers. The 1974 guidebook claimed that “Pinnacles is in the final stages of its development;” in fact, the recent routes have updated the standards into the realm of 5.11 and attention is turning away from peak bagging to the imposing vertical walls.

This is the fourth in a continuing series of guidebooks that began in 1955 and updates the 1974 version. About two hundred routes are described (roughly ten percent are new) and the profusion of maps should help cut down bushwhacking time. For the first time at the Pinnacles, topos have been used to describe the longer routes.

Paul Gagner worked as a ranger at the Monument and has climbed there for many years. His intimate familiarity with the area and respect for environmental values are evident throughout the introductory material. His style, perhaps, reflects the new generation’s attitudes in its reduction of the fear factor. Compare his description of the Hand: “… this large mass of rock with its enjoyable high-angle face routes” to Chuck Richards’ (1974) “… sheer, towering mass of rock presenting such a formidable challenge with no ‘easy’ way up.” Encompassing route activity and free ascents into 1983, this is a complete and accurate guidebook to an area whose popularity demands a continuing update and an available source of route descriptions.

Greg Donaldson