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Tahquitz Rock Climbing Notes

Important Note!

West Face


The highlight of this climb is a clean, left leaning lieback. The crux section was relatively short, and a little awkward. I had been doing a lot of climbing at the time and expected it to be just good clean fun. In the middle of the crux my feet and hands got all screwed up and I turned a nice 5.7 into a poor technique 5.10.


This route can be climbed in combination with routes such as THE RACK, THE JAM CRACK or DAVE'S DEVIATION, that end at Pine Tree Ledge.

Although it's not particularly aesthetic at the start, the climbing improves a few feet up, and several difficult appearing moves have nice solutions. I started it by climbing the leftmost crack of two cracks just to the left of the large pine. This avoided climbing over a large, loose block.

THE RACK 5.10a

I'm kind of a mantle nut now, but when I did this route I wasn't, and almost fell at the second bolt.

If the original bolts are still in place they must be in pretty bad shape...I believe one was a "spinner" when we climbed it in the seventies.

This route was originally rated 5.9.


The first pitch is a nice jam crack in a left facing corner. Seems to me the second pitch was somewhat nebulous and difficult to protect.

This route was originally rated 5.7.


The first pitch is a pretty, straight in, finger/hand crack. Don't remember much about the second pitch, but it currently has an "R" rating.

This route was originally rated 5.10.


The 1979 edition of Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks characterized this demanding Mark and Bev Powell route as an "excellent route for sustained climbing in the 5.7 to 5.9 range." The 1970 edition of the guide rated the first pitch as "difficult 5.8" and the third pitch as 5.9!

The guidebook description for the crux of this climb is terse and to the point: "...pass the overhang and traverse 15 feet right to reach a thin vertical crack. Ascend 15 feet to another bolt." If it were only that simple!

The first time I did the climb was with Dennis Johnson (see the GIRDLE TRAVERSE) and he led the crux. As always, he did it in fine style. Several years later, when memories of the climb had become sufficiently vague, I went back and led the first and third pitches.

The crux pitch starts out innocently enough with fun, bolt protected climbing leading to a small roof. A move or two and your feet are at roof level. Ummm, doesn't look like there is any pro until the end of the traverse. Delicate, technical climbing, reminiscent of a Stoney Point traverse, leads to a thin crack with an OK (but not great) stance at its base. It's a relief to get to the crack only because it's better than being on the traverse.

As I recall the crack was somewhat irregular and shallow. Whatever it was, with my meager selection of nuts, and no small cams, it was difficult to get a good placement. And I really wanted a good placement. Another difficult section had to be surmounted before clipping the bolt 10 or 15 feet above, and my last psychologically sound pro was the bolt before the 15 foot traverse.

Futzing with the piece for far too long, the stance that was initially "OK" was now getting awkward and tiresome. This was one of those situations where you have to weigh the time and strength being spent on a placement versus the difficulty of the move it will protect. Finally I decided the pro was as good as it was going to get, and if I wanted to have the best chance of doing the move I better get on with it.

In retrospect I wonder if the nut would have popped. Part of the problem in the placement was the sideways force that would be placed on the nut in a fall.


The move over the roof is strenuous and a bit odd. For me it was the crux of the climb.


Not as hard as I thought it might be. Lots of stemming and smearing with the right foot.

FRED 5.11a

Excellent route. Classic balance and counterforce moves on the first pitch. More "conventional" face climbing on the second pitch. The variety of techniques required, fine line, continuous nature, and aesthetic quality make this one of the better 5.11a face climbs at Tahquitz or Suicide.


I enjoyed the Direct Start more than the standard route.


Delicate liebacking around a corner on the first pitch. The crux, on the second pitch, isn't too bad...especially if you (and your shoes) edge well. The third pitch is classic 5.10 face climbing.



This is a good climb for the grade and solid 5.7. It is technically challenging, requiring good route finding and pro placement skills. It is not uncommon for inexperienced climbers to have trouble with this climb.


The classic lieback pitch of EL CAMINO REAL remains hidden from view, until the very end of the second pitch. As you traverse left to a brushy platform and step left around a corner it suddenly comes into view. Whoaa! It's left facing, left leaning, very clean and more than a little bit intimidating. You just know by looking at it that the crux is going to be at the very top.

The big question is "Where is my last pro going to be?" It's obvious that at some point you're going to have to fully commit to the lieback, and it's going to be very hard to stop and place more pro.

An outstanding pitch.


As you walk along the southwest side of the rock, the true horn of the TRAITOR HORN route will be seen jutting enticingly into space above the OPEN BOOK.

To stand on this horn has been a climber's objective for over fifty years. Despite the many changes in the sport, I suspect there will continue to be climbers pondering the moves onto and off of the Horn for many years to come.

Depending on mood and ability there are several routes that lead to the headwall to the left of the horn. The easiest route follows broken slabs and ledges to a deep crack/dihedral.

Coffin Nail - On The Road

COFFIN NAIL (5.7+) is an interesting variation that starts to the left of the regular route in a converging chimney. Above the chimney, odd but excellent climbing up a low angle, right facing dihedral leads to a small roof.

Opposite, and to the right of COFFIN NAIL is the aesthetic left facing dihedral of ON THE ROAD (5.10c). This is an excellent and relatively difficult alternative. The ever diminishing crack in the dihedral is followed until it becomes difficult to continue. That sounds ambiguous, but it's not. My recollection is that this is a demanding climb.

Upon reaching the headwall, you can traverse right over the triangular "Traitor Horn" to establish a belay, or you can step left around a corner and climb JENSEN'S JAUNT.

Moving from the alcove to the horn, and then off the horn onto the shoulder of the rock is a wonderful problem. I won't spoil it for you here!

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