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Recommendations for first time in Tahquitz

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Conway Yao · · Washington, District of Col… · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 49

First time climbing in Tahquitz / on granite / on the West Coast. Coming from D.C. Any recommendations and comparisons of the various multipitch moderate routes (5.7 or below)? My frame of reference is Seneca Rocks, which is notoriously sandbagged. Is Tahquitz the same story?

My party will be two multipitch trad leaders, and two followers-- both climbers, but not multipitch or trad.

Thinking about the following routes:

  1. Trough
  2. Angel's Fright
  3. Fingertrip Traverse
  4. Left Ski Track
  5. White Maiden's Walkway
Which would you recommend?

Would you recommend picking up a guidebook (and if so, which one?), or is Mountain Project sufficient to find the routes and beta? And where can I find the best info on the friction descent?
FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

A guidebook is almost always better than MP.

Your best bet for the friction descent is to follow another party down it, for your first time. That's not an option that's always availble. It's not obvious where the route starts or goes. But read the guidebook, MP and, I think there are Youtube videos for the friction descent.

matthew merina · · El dorado hill & Burbank, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Go to jtree. Those routes are good but I think there is a storm right now

Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 11,044

FYI before it was called the YDS it was called the TDS (Tahquitz Decimal System) so technically there is no way the grades can be sandbagged ;-)

It all depends upon how long a route you want to do. Long = White Maiden's Walkway. Shorter = Fingertip Traverse. IMHO.

Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

Angels Fright, but the others are good too.

Sean Post · · Laguna Beach, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 24

I don't know how long you all will be out there, but you said 5.7 and below, so I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you to try Fingertrip. It's the original 5.7, and has a little bit of everything--lieback, great jams, airy traverse, fun roof moves. Do the left 5.4 slab finish for extra spice. For the friction descent, I highly recommend following someone down it the first time. Also a bit of a plug for P2 of El Whampo, probably the finest moderate, low-angle hand crack in Southern California. Upper pitches of El Whampo are also 5.7, but chossy. 

Also, to avoid any confusion, what you called the Fingertrip Traverse is actually the Fingertip Traverse. It's somewhat confusing because it's right next to Fingertrip. 

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

If you climb at Senica.... you will have no problem.

Like Roots said, Angels Flight. I think it’s one of the best especially considering when the FA went down.
Skip White... do the Whodunnit or the Swallow.
Ski tracks are in the hot sun all day.
Look at Traitor Horn.
A GB is very good to have- lots of great short climbs that are variations. 
And don’t forget Suicide....  nice shady climbing in the afternoon. 
Enjoy California   

Will Cavanagh · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
Conway Yao wrote: 
  1. Fingertrip Traverse

Fingertrip (5.7) or Fingertip Traverse (5.4)?

Fingertrip is a blast and would be my #1 off the list in terms of fun.  After that I think I would pick Left Ski Track (but it's on the south face and you can really bake on a warm day.)  The other climbs are in my opinion less fun / memorable.  I think routefinding on WMW is more challenging than the other routes you listed (although still should be no problem if you're comfortable reading a topo) - if you do WMW I highly recommend the beautiful hand crack variation for p2.

If you're climbing on a weekend you'll likely have no trouble finding the friction decent...  Just follow everyone else.  Also, if you're in doubt about the descent once on top, you can always play it safe by walking up to the summit and taking the longer but more obvious descent from there.

** Edit to say that the commenters above me are much more qualified to give advice so you should listen to them ;) -- they posted while I was typing.
Beer-Muscled Has-Been · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0

Although some will say it's technically impossible for ratings at Tahquitz to be sandbags, the climbs are old school like Seneca. I'd say the two areas are comparable in difficulty for climbs of the same rating.

Ryan Strickland · · Idyllwild, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 127

Here are some thoughts if you decide to climb in Idyllwild:

  • Can you and the other leader possibly go climb a route first without your less experienced friends? This will give you a chance to learn the approach and descent without the added pressure of "guiding."
  • I don't recommend The Trough, despite how easy it is. It's not really a fun climb and is difficult to bail from without leaving gear. There are often other inexperienced parties on this route that you'll have to deal with. You need to know how to jam or it'll probably feel hard.
  • Left Ski Track is my go-to for taking a new climber. The movement is more straightforward for the beginner, there is little to no required jamming, and you can bail (70 m rope required) from an easily accessed bolt anchor off left of the first pitch if needed. The climb is steep and exposed though, so it might feel too extreme for new climbers. Pay attention to the final pitch, there are a few options. The biggest bummer is that the approach is longer than for most routes.
  • Don't do Fingertip Traverse. Half the route is 4th class and the other half is not-so-obvious route finding. There are plenty of trees to bail from in this area of the rock if you do go this direction.
  • White Maiden's Walkway is one of my favorite easier routes on the rock, because it's really long and there are many possible routes you could take. If you get stressed about begin "on route" then this may be a lot to handle with new climbers along for the ride. Bailing from anywhere above the first pitch is a serious proposition that would involve leaving gear and potential rope snagging. This is a great route to do with your experienced partner, but not as a group of 4 in my opinion.
  • Angel's Fright is another really cool route on the easy side. The first pitch chimney can be a "showstopper" for people who cannot climb chimneys, despite the easy grade. The chimney protects well with 1-2 inch gear and is easily climbed if you have basic technique. The steep face section 50 feet up is really cool, but doesn't protect well and requires thoughtful route finding to find the easiest path. After that, easy pro, obvious line, and comfy belay ledges. No fixed anchors for bailing. I think this is a good choice route. 
Don't underestimate the seriousness of taking less experienced people up a multipitch route with few fixed anchors, particularly since you don't have experience in the area. It could get real serious real fast if things don't go right. Make sure you're building bomber anchors and protecting your followers adequately. Consider going over to Suicide Rock to try Graham Crackers (5.6, 2 pitches) and a few other easy routes to get comfortable with the style of climbing and logistics. Or just go to Joshua Tree.

The Friction Descent is pretty easy to find if you know where to look. From the top of the Trough and Angel's Fright area, scramble straight up over low angle slabs and blocks (Class 2-3) following the path of least resistance. From the top of Left Ski Track, scramble up and right. Look for two large, garage-sized blocks with trees growing between them. Follow a path between these two blocks, then drop down behind them, moving through some trees. There's a 20 foot steep Class 3 section here. Zig-zag down ledges on the south face, generally trending skier's left (east). If you are doing anything more technical than walking and butt scooting with an occasional easy move, you've taken a wrong turn.

If you can't find the Friction Descent, just scramble up to the top of the formation, gaining 400 feet or so at Class 3. Once at the top, continue scrambling towards the saddle formed by Tahquitz Rock and the mountain ridge. Follow the easiest terrain and look for ledge systems. Once you reach the saddle, scramble down the base of the south face of Tahqutiz over mostly Class 2 terrain.

Buy the guidebook and bring it with you.
B Dub · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

The Trough was my first trad multipitch and it's defiantly a good route to get your feet wet. I then moved on to Finger Tip traverse and then White Maidens Walkway.
How many days are you staying? The friction decent it a little tricky to find for a first timer. Once you are at the top look for cairns and then some water pools in the rock for the start of the decent. For the beginning of Left Ski Track head right at lunch rock. If you follow this trail while hugging the mountain it meets up to the bottom of the friction decent.

master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 247

no such thing as a sandbag - just fluffy grades

  1. Fingertrip
  2. White Maiden's Walkway
  3. Trough
  4. El Whampo
  5. Left Ski Track - could be pretty toasty over there right now
Kyle vH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 16

Hey, one gem I missed for a while was Coffin Nail, which sounds terrifying. But is a completely, completely safe 5.8. I think there are 3 pitches, but the money 5.8 pitch is so, so nice--long arching hand to finger crack with rests and perfect gear. We linked it to Traitor horn by aiding/rapping a few feet as a link pitch. Flower of High Rank also awesome. The intimidating roof is very reasonable.

Greg Retkowski · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 14

I just had my first trip to Tahquitz this weekend. Did trough Saturday; It was busy, so be prepared to pass less experienced parties and have faster parties pass you. The approach, climb, and descent the first day made a long day, so the second day we went to Suicide which has easier approach and walk-off trails and some good ~2 pitch routes for a 'down' day of climbing.

Another option on a 'guide book' is… - it even has a solid description AND topo for the friction descent. If climbing on a busy day you can just follow everyone else off the friction descent. My climbing partner was not a fan of the friction descent btw. To climb there again I may need to lower her through the 4th class section.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,535

^^^^Catch all that Conway? All these fellas have pretty good info.

What days are you climbing? I might be able to show you the friction descent. On that note, there's got to be some pics from the top out showing you the path. Anyone?

I will be warming up the chopper!

ThomasR · · marina del rey, ca · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

since no one has mentioned it- Jensen's Jaunt is a fun 5.6 it does require decent jamming technique and does have one semi-hanging belay, but its pretty fun and it'll give you a good view of traitor horn if you're feeling a little more adventurous

otherwise everyone else has good info. fingertrip is a classic

x15x15 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 215

although there is a shit load of beta already spewed... and spewed...  I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Red Rock Route.  Look, if you're on the summit of Tahquitz, AND you can find the Red Rock Route, climb the damn thing.  Pretty damn good for the grade.  Then look behind you as you do, you will see a big, obvious rock that is kinda flat on top.  That is the start of the Friction Descent... Oh, I know, this is scary, but You Can Do It!!!

Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 7,200

I’m just going to come out and say it Locals only 

Tim FromMaine · · Maine->Colorado · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6
Adios, Supertopo! wrote: I’m just going to come out and say it Locals only 

But if your going to come out at least buy a guidebook from Nomad...not amazon. 

Josh C · · Somewhere out West · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 1,120

Pitch 1 of Fingertrip Traverse to pitches 2 to 4 of Fingertip Traverse is highly recommended. And, yeah, the traverse to the skimpy tree and finishing up the slab is the only dignified way to finish this route. The lieback section on pitch 1 of Fingertrip always felt 5.8 to me. (And if Fingertip Traverse is 4th class then White Maiden's Walkway must be 3rd class).

My two favorite ways to descend Tahquitz is the rap from the top of The Open Book (two 60 m ropes will get you down in two raps) or descending the north side.

And I'll second Jensen's Jaunt. The second pitch is quite good. From the top of Jensen's, it's a short walk to the rap off.

On a side note, I always liked the link-up of Coffin Nail to Traitor Horn. A good 5.8 romp.

ThomasR · · marina del rey, ca · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

yea coffin nail to traitor horn is a fantastic linkup

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Southern California
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