landscape and adventure photography of the Sierra, Yosemite and the West.
Images of the Sierra and the West · Climbing, Kayaking & Running Adventures
"Photography & Adventure for Those of Us Who Would Rather Be There, Than Here!"
SierraPhotography Menubar
Copyright ©1995-2024 Gary Valle'. All Rights Reserved.
This site uses image technologies developed by Digimarc.

Tahquitz Rock Climbing Notes

Important Note!

Northwest Recess

The Error


Did this route and the adjacent route SAHARA TERROR in 1973 with Phil Warrender. I believe we felt that SAHARA TERROR was a better route, but over the 40+ years since we climbed SAHARA TERROR it has had problems with loose blocks. Because of the jointed nature of Tahquitz Rock, and the parallel crack systems, many of the north side and other routes can have loose blocks.


This climb was originally rated 5.6. See the note above concerning loose blocks.



Seen from Suicide Rock in the late afternoon, the long, gleaming dihedral of the HOODENETT begs to be climbed. The route has two cruxes, one for the face climbers in the group and the other for the crack climbers. It tops out at the very summit of the rock and is an excellent and popular climb.

THE SWALLOW 5.8+ (5.10a)

Some moves just stick in your mind as being harder than advertised. One is the move around the "downward jutting block" on the LONG CLIMB. Another is the crux move on the SWALLOW. I've always liebacked it, and always found it harder than I remembered or expected. (In the 2001 edition of Rock Climbing: Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks, the rating of this route has been increased to 5.10a!)

The strenuous 5.7 chimney on the third pitch is also memorable.


This somewhat contrived line is fun to do when you've climbed the other routes in the Northwest Recess.

Discouraged by snow and wet rock on the far north side on a trip in the early spring of '92 we had returned to the Northwest Recess to do the HOODENETT. A party was just starting that climb, so we had moved up to the start of CONSOLATION and were getting ready to climb when another climber wandered over to us and asked if we were going to do CONSOLATION. I told him yes. He went back to his friends and relayed our plans. Hurriedly the trio got ready to climb and jumped onto the climb ahead of us. In over 20 years of climbing at Tahquitz I had never had this happen.

Since climbers were on the SWALLOW as well, we decided to start out on the GULP and find a line to climb. On the third pitch, the folks on the SWALLOW avoided the SWALLOW's strenuous "5.7" squeeze chimney by doing a pitch of the GULP, so we got to do the squeeze chimney. If you want to experience a moderate, but strenuous, Yosemite style chimney, this pitch is for you. It's on clean white, water worn granite. You'll think you're in the Valley. Above the squeeze chimney the line eventually leads to the crux lieback of the SWALLOW. Above this we freelanced on stacked plates and then traversed right to finish our improvised climb.

The climbers that had jumped in ahead of us on CONSOLATION yelled, screamed, whined and complained all the way up the climb. What geeks!


This is one of my favorite "hand jam" climbs at Tahquitz. One pitch of the route has a steep corner with double jam cracks. The main difficulty is deciding just which combination of great jams and pro to use--there are just too many choices!

The actual crux of the climb is probably surmounting a couple of small overhangs where, historically, there have been a couple fixed pins. The last time I climbed it (1992) the pins were still there, but don't count on it or them. It's been quite awhile since they were fixed!


I've probably climbed the LONG CLIMB more times than any other route at Tahquitz or Suicide. It was one of my early favorites , the move at the "downward jutting block" being especially memorable. I like to do the LONG CLIMB when I haven't climbed for a while, or when I'm introducing a new climber to Tahquitz, or whenever. The climbing is varied and fun.

The first pitch of the WONG CLIMB is a more direct, natural, and interesting start to the climb. Rather than starting in the right hand corner of the Northwest Recess, climb the jam crack that is just to the left and ends at the base of the Mummy Crack.

The second pitch is the "Mummy Crack," a classic squeeze chimney that can be climbed using a multitude of techniques. I like to climb it using conventional off-width techniques such as stacking feet and a forearm bar. As is the case with many Tahquitz cracks, there are cracks inside the main crack that can be jammed, liebacked and used for pro. A jammed chockstone/flake two-thirds of the way up the crack can also be tied off for pro. My son, Brett, doesn't like offwidths and squeeze chimneys as much as I do, so he just liebacks the thing.

Since the Mummy Crack gets much of the attention, an overhang near the end of the second pitch comes as a bit of a surprise. Actually there appears to be a choice of overhangs at this point: A blocky, lighter colored overhang directly above the end of the Mummy Crack and a darker overhang 10-15' to the right. Although it looks more difficult, the overhang on the left, directly above the Mummy Crack has some hidden large holds and fun climbing. I don't recall what the other overhang is like. This pitch ends at a broad ledge with a steep crack in a corner, and a lower angle, more broken area, of rock to the right.

I've climbed the steep crack in the corner and it is awkward and relatively difficult. The normal choice is to climb the broken rock/ramp on the right, following the line up to and over a small overhang. The pitch ends shortly thereafter in an alcove with gray rock and a mountain mahogany.

At this point, if you want to stay on the LONG CLIMB, you need to get to a medium sized White Fir that is out of sight, up and to the right, and less than half a pitch away. I like to climb diagonally right over an easy overhang to a crack that leads to the tree. I've seen others climb straight up from the belay and then move right to the tree.

A deep low angle crack leads up from the Fir tree to a "overhanging, downward jutting block," one of the highlights of the LONG CLIMB. The crux step around the left side of this feature is a classic move. I usually have a small wired nut ready to place, as I do the move. You can peek around the corner to get an idea of the pro you'll need.

.If the left side is not challenging enough, try the right side of the downward jutting block. Phil Warrender decided to give this a go on one of our ascents, and it turned out to be an excellent move, involving a fingertip lieback/undercling and a mantle. I'm not sure of the rating on this because I think we may have tried to do the move over the lip as a pure mantle with some holds deemed off route. A climber that did this variation recently suggested it was about 5.9.

The climb is normally finished via a V-notch above a ledge that is just to the right of the top of the downward jutting block. Many variations exist.


This is another good climb I avoided because of an overly dramatic guidebook description. While the climbing is a bit odd, the main difficulty is traversing right at the correct spot. The reason for the exit right is that the natural line of the route continues to a difficult (5.10 b) move at a small overhang.

SierraPhotography Menubar Main Page Order SierraPhotography Prints Request More Information Search All Web Sites Topic Index Southern California Creeking - El Niņo Madness, La Niņa Blues Nature Notes, Queries and Commentary Southern California Weathernotes Tahquitz Rock Climbing Notes More Outdoor Stories, Adventures and Notes Off the Wall Gallery - Adventure Sports Photography Split Rock Gallery - Black and White Images Teneiya Gallery - Images of the Sierra and the West

Copyright © 1996-2024 Gary Valle'. All Rights Reserved.