It’s no secret that reading guidebooks is one of my favorite pasttimes so imagine my excitement the past month or so as guidebook after guidebook showed up at my door (or on my iPhone as it were). The guidebooks cover just about every climbing style imaginable (even aid!) from areas like Joe’s Valley in Utah, Yosemite Valley and Joshua Tree in California, The Obed in Tennesse, Summersville Lake and Gauley River in West Virginia and the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
An Insightful Guideo To Joe’s Valley Bouldering – By Isaac Caldiero
Joe’s Valley is a place I made plans to visit a couple of years back, but my fragile knee put the brakes on that trip. The one thing I remember when planning that trip was the awkward nature of the guidebook situation which basically required that I piece together information from two separate books. Not ideal, and with the pace of development in Joe’s picking up these past few years not a great way to stay informed.
Isaac Caldiero’s new self-published guidebook to the bouldering in Joe’s Valley should help alleviate this problem as it includes full color pictures, topos and descriptions for some 600 problems including many of the newer problems. From the book’s website:
That being said, the first edition of An Insightful Guide to Joe’s Valley Bouldering, is an explosive kick-start in capturing the many unknown, developed areas of Joe’s Valley, as well as all the pre-existing boulder problems. Bouldering in Joe’s Valley is all about quality not quantity. This compact, full color guide, captures over 600 quality boulder problems, with detailed beta and photos for every developed boulder.
One thing that did jump out at me from paging through the book though is the level of beta offered in the individual problem descriptions. For example, this is the description of the popular V10 Fingerhut:
same start as #1. Right hand goes first to incut crimp, cross left to hand to flat edge in the seam. Grab sidepull out right and dyno left hand to jug. Easy mantle.
Most guidebooks simply direct you to starting hold and point you in the direction the problem ends. When I asked Caldiero about this his basic thought was that onsighting doesn’t exist in bouldering and that most people like having beta to give things a good flash go. The “insightful” guide is his attempt to do something a little different. Personally, I appreciate all the beta I can get, but there may be others out there who prefer to figure things out on their own. To each their own I suppose.
The only other critique I have about the book is that the index only includes 3 star problems which makes it harder to find some of the problems in the book if you don’t know where to look. That said, the book is sure to be something you’ll want to check out if you’re going to Joe’s Valley.
Yosemite Big Walls – 3rd Edition – By Chris McNamara and Chris Van Leuven
I’ll be honest when I say that evaluating a book about aid and free climbing big walls like the 3rd Edition of SuperTopo’s Yosemite Big Walls is not something I’m overly qualified for. In the interest of full disclosure, most of my trips to Yosemite have been spent bouldering and eating It’s Its.
That said, I have had occasion to use other SuperTopo route guides like the one for Tuolumne, so I can attest to the fact that Yosemite Big Walls continues the SuperTopo tradition of providing a high quality guide. More specifically this 3rd edition includes 64 routes spread beautifully over 208 pages with updated beta for approaches, gear and overall routes strategy as well as my personal favorite expanded first ascent history for many of the routes.
- Print Book – $29.95
- eBook – $26.96
- Print/eBook Combo – $37.87
The Obed: A Climber’s Guide to the Wild and Scenic – By Kelly Brown
Building on the solid foundation of their guides to HP40 and LRC, Greener Grass Publishing is out with their first roped climbing guide with this guide to climbing in Tennesse’s Obed. The book has everything you would expect of a modern climbing guide including a lot of useful photos of approach trails and route lines as well as a really nice variety of high quality action shots. Check out the sample pages to get an idea what the book looks like.
As an added bonus, the book also includes topos for the bouldering at the Lilly Boulders. The design and layout will look familiar to anyone who has used the HP40 or LRC guides and is a welcome upgrade from the old Dr. Topo guide.
- $24.95 pre-sale – The book will be released in July
Red River Gorge Rock Climbs – By Ray Ellington
It’s been about a year since the iOS edition of the Red River Gorge book came out,and the app just recently saw another round of updates. The latest updates include a few new routes, a few updated descriptions and a handful of behind the scenes changes to the actual app itself. The latest changes allow the app to better support different types of climbs (i.e. aid, bouldering, toprope), allow for higher quality graphics and icons to be used and offer various performance improvements over previous versions.
These updates are great, but even without them this app has become an indispensable tool for me during trips to the Red. I don’t even bother bringing my print book anymore. If you can carry the full guidebook around in your pocket why bother carrying anything else?
Joshua Tree Rock Climbs – By Robert Miramontes
Covering more than 2,600 trad, sport and bouldering lines the new Joshua Tree Rock Climbs guidebook from Wolverine Publishing is a big book. At least I imagine it would be if I couldn’t carry it around on my iPhone using the new iOS app.
Building on the success of the aforementioned Red River Gorge app, Wolverine has added the new Joshua Tree guide to their app line-up. The new app really takes advantage of some of the udpates I mentioned about the RRG app, namely the way the topo images scale and display the route bubbles and lines. It’s pretty slick really.
The print version, which you can see a sample of here, should look familiar to anyone who has used other Wolverine guidebooks while those who are more inclined to use the mobile option can download a free “lite” version of the guidebook app by clicking here.
- Print Book – $40.00 ($24.94 with purchase of iPhone App)
- iOS App – $32.99
Summersville Lake & Gauley River Rock Climbs – By Mike Williams
There’s not much to say about the iOS app for Summersville Lake & Gauley River that hasn’t already been said about the two previous guidebook apps. At 343 climbs this one doesn’t feature nearly as many climbs as are in the Red or J-Tree, but its price reflects that fact. I’d definitely put this thing to use if I were heading out to Summersville Lake, just make sure you take your phone out of your pocket before you jump in the water to de-pump…
- iOS App – $7.99