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The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks
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jcpace


Mar 14, 2008, 10:06 PM
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The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks
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In designing the upcoming Los Angeles Bouldering guide, I want to use as many resources as I can in order to produce the best guidebook as I am able. One way is surveys. The internet is a great thing.

What are some 'things' guidebook authors do that cause confusion or agitation in using the guide?

So this is a broad question so maybe once the discussion starts I can narrow down some specific areas for discourse.

For starters, if you feel compelled to respond, let's keep it focused. None of this "I hate it when guidebook authors get me lost" stuff. Let's avoid the obvious errors such as misnaming problems, areas; poor grading, etc.

If a book get's you lost, I wanna know about it, but I wanna know why or how... Get it?

I'm really trying to make the upcoming LA guidebook as intuitive as possible and avoid a lot of common mistakes so I could use your help in firing up some discussion.


pro_alien


Mar 15, 2008, 1:38 AM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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jcpace wrote:
If a book get's you lost, I wanna know about it, but I wanna know why or how... Get it?

How to make sure the climbers never arrive at the target ?

Give vague, verbal description of where it is. After all, this is much easier than drawing a map.

Don't give GPS coordinates, that would take away all the fun.

Don't point out obvious landmarks that could be used for navigation.

Don't test the instructions (i.e. hand your topo to a climber who hasn't been there before, and see what happens).

Don't provide a web page with links to the boulders on Google maps or the like.


rat-baby


Mar 15, 2008, 4:32 AM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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one of the worst, in my opinion, is cheap binding on the book. Half my guides are piles of lose leaf paper.


lofstromc


Mar 15, 2008, 6:15 AM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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Some guide books I've used when talking about one climb, reference another.
They say things like "climb A is 15 feet right of climb B", and when you look up info for climb B you end up having to reference even another climb!

Some books say things like "...start at the base of a large tree". If you can, describe the tree. Is it an Oak, Pine, dead, multi-trunks or single, etc.


socalclimber


Mar 15, 2008, 6:30 AM
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Re: [lofstromc] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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After 15 years of climbing, and knowing a number of well known guide book authors, here's my advice:

Go out, and hike/climb every area you plan on including in your guide. Big Al Barlett did this with his guides in Joshua Tree. This is why they are as good as they are.

If all you are going to do is to rely on second hand info, then your guide book is going suck like the rest of them.


snaffel


Mar 15, 2008, 6:45 AM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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If you need some reference material, I have a copy of Getting High in LA an older guide to the area. It's pretty small and i could easly copy it for you.


stonefoxgirl


Mar 15, 2008, 7:16 AM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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Personally, I would like to see a guide with accurate grading info not someone's ego attached to each climb in their book. This is a matter of safety I think. There have been times throughout my climbing career where I have read a description in a book and then route read the climb standing beneath it, they didn't match up. I think grade accuracy is important.


JAB


Mar 15, 2008, 9:18 AM
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Re: [stonefoxgirl] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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With boulders, I really prefer photographed topos instead of drawn ones, especially those top views.

Edit: problem with photo hosting.

Edit 2: New try

Bad topo:


Good topo:



(This post was edited by JAB on Mar 16, 2008, 1:04 AM)


endercore


Mar 15, 2008, 9:37 AM
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Re: [JAB] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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i'd like to see move by move the beta for every climb... If it's trad you better bet your ass i want to know what gear needs to go where!


JAB


Mar 15, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Re: [endercore] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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endercore wrote:
i'd like to see move by move the beta for every climb... If it's trad you better bet your ass i want to know what gear needs to go where!

Who talked about trad? This is the "Los Angeles Bouldering guide".


irregularpanda


Mar 15, 2008, 1:22 PM
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Re: [endercore] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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endercore wrote:
i'd like to see move by move the beta for every climb... If it's trad you better bet your ass i want to know what gear needs to go where!

Back to trad: this is the sort of thing I actually dislke about guidebooks that cover trad routes. Regarding the supertopo books yosemite free-climbs and south lake tahoe: the yosemite one rocks. It covers overall strategies to use, has topos, and pitch by pitch descriptions. The south lake tahoe one, however, says things like: go up to obvious belay, then it will write an entire paragraph describing ONE MOVE, and then there's one more pitch to go! Ridiculous. I have mixed feelings about supertopo, yet there are little options for california (falcon guides suck even more)
Some great guide books IMO: Squamish select, Sky Valley Rock, Smith Rock. Smith rock is probably the best ever, and despite being the best organized, it's the most thorough and easy to read.

Bouldering guides: meh, don't care. Whatever gets your palms sweaty.


8flood8


Mar 15, 2008, 1:46 PM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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don't use topographic linear maps.

use actual photos, be they satellite or google etc. Use photos from known trail heads with easy to find landmarks.

GPS? Take a picture of the start of each route, or of the wall as you look at it and then draw the lines of each route on the photos.

the main problem with the guidebooks in my area is that the maps FUCKING SUCK
the route finding is WEAK.

You don't have to spray beta, just make the route finding easier.


jcpace


Mar 15, 2008, 1:51 PM
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Re: [8flood8] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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thanks so much for all the input thus far. I am a little backed up here at work, but I'll be joining in as soon as I can. I agree with many of you. Aerial maps are much better topos, and we actually plan to use aerial images as much as we can. and yes, referencing one route to locate another doesnt always work for someone who doesnt know where either is located.

very good stuff, keep it up

and thank you.


MonkeyInTraining


Mar 15, 2008, 2:44 PM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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I recently was a bit lost trying to find a slab called Eagle Peak at a place called Aquarian Valley near Castle Rock State Park in the mountains above Santa Cruz Ca.

The guide book my partner brought along uses maps that are out of scale. It has stupid little drawings of things that slightly resemble rocks and lines connecting them and everything is totaly out of scale to make room for the drawings. It did say it wasnt to scale, but what for? simple small icons that can fit on a map that is to scale are far more helpfull then silly drawings. Even better would be distances in meters/kilometers (we have got to break the yard/mile habit people). The guide book was 'OK'. It got us there eventualy... and the route topos of the actual faces were good. But my partner and I waisted alot of time and energy hiking around looking for trailheads that were fairly overgrown this early in spring and with a map to scale we could have had a much easier time of it. I don't know the name of the guide I will add that to this post when I can get that info.

I have a copy of Bay Area Bouldering by Chris Summit and its pretty good, I didnt bring it along on that trip as its only boulders not TR or sport. I just looked in it and there is a much better map of the hike in as the place has boulders as well. I so wish I had brought it along :oP

Bay Area Bouldering has good maps that will get you to the spot but the route topos kinda suck. WTF is with an arrow with a few numbers pointing off the edge of the ground level photo? I would rather an overhead outline of the rock that shows everything they are going to have a text description of then a photo of half the problems (bad black and white photos on cloudy days from far away no less!).

I would like fewer problems described in detail in exchange for better maps to the best ones, and better information on the area and how to get there. Pointing me in the direction of the lesser problems is ok, but it seems worthless data was included at the expense of filling out other areas of the guide that were on the way to being really helpfull but needed just a little bit more attention to make them outstanding.

P.S. please pardon and forgive for the misspellings, I ran the check but it was so much red I was afraid of having a seazure and could not continue Unimpressed


(This post was edited by MonkeyInTraining on Mar 15, 2008, 2:46 PM)


irregularpanda


Mar 15, 2008, 4:03 PM
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Re: [8flood8] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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8flood8 wrote:
don't use topographic linear maps.

use actual photos, be they satellite or google etc. Use photos from known trail heads with easy to find landmarks.

GPS? Take a picture of the start of each route, or of the wall as you look at it and then draw the lines of each route on the photos.

the main problem with the guidebooks in my area is that the maps FUCKING SUCK
the route finding is WEAK.

You don't have to spray beta, just make the route finding easier.

Yes, what he said. Use the new bishop guide as a reference.


8flood8


Mar 16, 2008, 1:46 PM
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Re: [irregularpanda] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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oh one more thing!

indicate the anchors, or lack of and/or the walk-off


tedman


Mar 16, 2008, 6:03 PM
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Re: [jcpace] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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Actual pictures, not hand drawn crap.

I recently purchased 'Clear Creek Canyon Rock Climbs' by Darren Mabe from sharp end publishing, brand new this year. its 190 pages of FULL COLOR. Lists the approach time and difficulty of each area, has histograms of route grades in an area so you can tell at a glance what kind of stuff is there. shows what time of the day the crag will be in the sun, and of course, full color photos of all the routes with a drawn in line. Also lists the relative steepness (slab/vert/steep/roof) of each route, and if the route is particularly crimpy, powerful, techincal or pumpy (its terms, not mine). In addition all the regular stuff (how many bolts, what gear is recommended, how long it is etc).

compared to the hand drawn crap of the other books in the region, this should be the gold standard! If you cant do full color, at least get a black and white picture of each crag. The rest is dressing, but really photos are where its at!


(This post was edited by tedman on Mar 16, 2008, 6:07 PM)


Partner epoch
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Mar 16, 2008, 8:08 PM
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Re: [tedman] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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The best guide books/topos are the ones that are hand drawn on napkins with minimal directions scratched on the back. Everything else is passed along verbally.

I've always had a blast on those routes.

The "modern" guide book is ruining the sport and the adventure of it. Granted, there are areas that have seen so much development that you'd never know of all of the climbs in the area without a guide book, but beyond a hand scribbled topo and minimal directions it is too much and is catered to the crowd who is just leaving the gym. Essentially it takes the adventure of the climb, finding the area, and figuring things out. Becoming all cookie cutter and such.


byran


Mar 16, 2008, 10:22 PM
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Maps that are drawn to scale and relate everything to one main trail is a big help (and less damaging to the environment). If there's a bunch of nothing for a while then a little arrow with (1.2 miles to parking area) or something to that extent gets the job done. If the formation is visible from the trail, then there should be just a small picture of it taken from the trail. Then maybe a closer-up topo picture with the routes drawn on it. That especially helps when all the routes are on the opposite side of the formation from the trail or obscured by some other boulders/trees/whatever.

And I like it when each formation is listed by name and face (like Overhang Rock East Face, White Wall Northwest Buttress, ect...) even if there's only climbing on one side of the formation. That way when you're flipping through the guidebook and spot that 4 star moderate, you immediately know if it will have sun or shade just by the name of the formation it's on. If you have to consult the overhead diagrams each time it can get a little tedious.


bizarrodrinker


Mar 17, 2008, 4:35 AM
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You can't possibly be a boulderer if you can't look at a drawn topo and compare with the problem description.


i.e. start on low crimps move up and right to sloping rail then big moves to the top.

not too difficult me thinks.


8flood8


Mar 17, 2008, 8:28 AM
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Re: [epoch] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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Epoch,

you don't need a guidebook if you are that bent on making things hard, new and adventurous for yourself.


dingus


Mar 17, 2008, 8:32 AM
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Re: [8flood8] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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8flood8 wrote:
Epoch,

you don't need a guidebook if you are that bent on making things hard, new and adventurous for yourself.

So if you want things easy, familiar and pedestrian, go with a guidebook?

DMT


8flood8


Mar 17, 2008, 1:23 PM
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is that what guidebooks do?

or do you enjoy paying for a book that doesn't show you how to get to the climbing you want?

or are you so tard you only climb lines no one else has ever seen?


caughtinside


Mar 17, 2008, 1:24 PM
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Re: [tedman] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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tedman wrote:
Actual pictures, not hand drawn crap.

hey! I LIKE the hand drawn crap!


markc


Mar 17, 2008, 1:58 PM
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Re: [caughtinside] The Good, Bad, and not so Great of guidebooks [In reply to]
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caughtinside wrote:
tedman wrote:
Actual pictures, not hand drawn crap.

hey! I LIKE the hand drawn crap!

How's this:

If you're going to hand-draw crap, you better be able to win at Pictionary.

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