American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Tahquitz & Suicide

  • Book Reviews
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1994

Tahquitz & Suicide. Randy Vogel and Bob Gaines. Chockstone Press, Evergreen, Colorado, 1993. 197 pages, 29 black-and-white photographs, 63 topo maps, approximately 440 routes. $24.95.

It is fortunate that this, the 10th guidebook for the beautiful granite of Tahquitz and Suicide, was prepared by people who are best acquainted with the area. Randy Vogel has not only climbed there since (at least) the late 70s, but authored the two previous guidebooks to the area. Bob Gaines has pioneered several first ascents there since the mid 80s and can often be found at the crags teaching rock-climbing courses through his Vertical Adventures guiding business.

Even though Tahquitz and Suicide were considered “climbed out” by the early 80s, over 135 new routes have been added since the last edition of this guide. Many of these new routes are high quality, technically difficult climbs in traditional style. An updated guidebook was sorely needed. The 1993 guide is a truly complete, comprehensive book. It far surpasses the 1980 and 1985 guidebooks, both in quality and accuracy. The photos showing some of the recent difficult climbs are great. Better yet are the historical ones. Just imagine leading “Jonah” (5.10C) in Kronhoffers (light hiking shoes) as Royal Robbins did on the second ascent in the mid sixties! The thirteen-page historical section deals with the crags huge influence on development of the sport from the early 30s to the present. In fact, to truly find out what Tahquitz and Suicide climbing is about; all one needs to do, is to climb some of the routes mentioned in this section.

The book’s format is excellent and the drawings are accurate. In my view, the authors have (again) published one of the best guidebooks in the U.S. I have no criticisms and only one suggestion. After several storms in December and early January, the North Face of Tahquitz will at times freeze up to rival the best ice climbing areas, anywhere. Hopefully, future versions of the guide will list these possibilities. The book will be a significant help to those unfamiliar with Tahquitz and Suicide as well as Southern Californians looking for “a few” new routes on these great crags.

Alois Smrz

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