• Timmy O'Neill

The Red Book

Lessons from Yosemite’s first climbing guidebook


“I have this idea,” Mikey texted last October. “Let’s climb all of the suggested routes from the Yosemite red-cover guidebook.” I agreed immediately. The tattered copy of A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley arrived in the mail less than a week later. First published in 1964 by the Sierra Club, it was the first stand-alone resource for the hundreds of routes put up over the previous three decades.


I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing those early days of Yosemite climbing and seeing this place I knew intimately in a different way. He texted one stipulation, “No online research, we can only use the info in the guidebook.” A project like this could take multiple seasons to tick off the recommended classics, which apparently ranged from “short scrambles to the most demanding routes yet accomplished.” A few looked short and relatively easy, others would require long days, and the majority read like historic footnotes scattered across the Valley.


Even though Mikey and I had met over 20 years ago scrap-jumping leftovers in the Lodge cafeteria, we’d yet to tie-in together. The fact that it would be to uncover old-school choss piles and not to establish a new-wave test piece was a nod to our roots as toilers in search of obscure challenges. It was appropriate that all the climbs we’d be pursuing were put up before we were born.


READ THE FULL STORY AT THE CLEANEST LINE BLOG HERE



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