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RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby wallspeck » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:19 am

Well this is very curious.
If "it is clear the peak has not been climbed"... then that means the process of climbing it would have left evidence that others could discover. If it is indeed possible to climb it without leaving evidence, then how can it be argued that it's never been climbed?
If it is on private property and the owners have not given permission and claim it's never been climbed, that is not proof.
If it is on military or Native American reservation property and they claim no ascents, that is also not proof.
If it is such a 'fragile' pinnacle that climbing it would destroy it, then yeah, that would be proof but that's now entered the ridiculous. Maybe near Triple Divide Peak there is a ridge pinnacle like that; a stack of dinner plates. But then, if that's the case, why the secrecy? Nobody wants to die.
If it is a truly legitimate peak, in the actual Sierras, not just a scrappy, death pinnacle, then the "box" we all gotta "think outside of" must be pretty weird.
It also would be a bit above just "a cursory level".
The hilarious truth, I believe, is that JD is a master of fishing and this is one of his better days.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby MoapaPk » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:47 pm

Until 10 or 15 years ago, there were a lot of "probably unclimbed" peaks in Zion, UT. This was possible because of the deep gorges separating peaks, summit blocks that were encircled by near-vertical wall of chancy rock, and thick brush. However, people didn't always leave a record, such as a cairn. We thought one peak was an FA, until years later when discussions with local climbers established a prior trip. Before the age of social media and digital cameras, many people did things quietly, doubting anyone else cared.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby Romain » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:24 pm

Even in the age of social media and digital cameras, some people still do things quietly!

I guess I must not be good at thinking outside the box, because I can't understand how a peak can be known to be unclimbed with certainty.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby Bob Burd » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:48 pm

Perhaps it is a class 5.9+ pinnacle at the bottom of Hetch Hetchy.
That's all I've got outside the box...
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby Tom Kenney » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:46 pm

Bob Burd wrote:Perhaps it is a class 5.9+ pinnacle at the bottom of Hetch Hetchy.
That's all I've got outside the box...


Ah, but it's only been under water for a relatively short while.

Maybe it's a peak that doesn't exist anymore? Fell over or blew up?
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:35 am

Romain wrote:I guess I must not be good at thinking outside the box, because I can't understand how a peak can be known to be unclimbed with certainty.


If there is GoPro footage of it on YouTube, it has probably been climbed.

I guess there is always a question. I often read uncertainty about who first "discovered" physical laws or math proofs. Maybe Wiles wasn't the first; maybe some Persian scientist discovered the proof long before, but the manuscript was lost in a war.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby lcarreau » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:52 am

You guys have ZERO imagination. Maybe a Sasquatch climbed the peak, then he threw all evidence into the campfire when nobody else was looking ...

Image
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby StartingOver » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:49 pm

Before seeing this thread, I had no idea that RJ Secor had been injured on Mt. Baldy of all places! Am I wrong to think that calls in to serious question his judgment, including information provided in The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails? That book has great scope but limited utility to a non-technical, beginning mountaineer such as myself, as he provides very little information on routes that would be of interest to me. A typical entry reads something like "Class 1 via X pass." Not overly helpful. SummitPost is much more useful!

Now I'm not trying to be overly critical of The High Sierra. Every hiker/climber is responsible for his or her own safety and judgment, including being able to make calls on whether to continue or abandon a climb due to difficulty, and Secor himself disclaims the complete accuracy of the information in his book. There is a clear subjective component to any rating system, and Secor couldn't provide complete descriptions for every route in the Sierra without publishing a 5,000 page book. And the book is quite obviously designed for experienced mountaineers (and probably those already familiar with the Sierra to boot(, and not to hikers who happen to like to stand on top of mountains. The book is quite good for what it does attempt to do.

I'm just quite surprised to learn that Secor got hurt on Baldy and I don't know if this was just bad luck that should not be held against him or if it was indicative of something else.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby wallspeck » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:13 pm

"Am I wrong ...?"

Yes.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby StartingOver » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:31 pm

wallspeck wrote:"Am I wrong ...?"

Yes.


Thanks. That is what I want to know. Was it a simple mistake any climber could make, or something else? After all, it seems most hikers or climbers who get hurt on Baldy get criticized (and rightly so): E.g., another-baldy-rescue-t82254.html
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby mrchad9 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:42 pm

I think it is safe to say that anyone who has a problem on Mount Baldy has some serious issues. Maybe it is not as simple as blaming their judgment... but certainly their judgment, or physical abilities, or mental competence, or experience, or level of intoxication, or some combination of these or other factors has compromised their ability to perform at even a basic level in the outdoors.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby Romain » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:58 pm

Secor lost control while glissading. See http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Report_SierraClub_RJSecor.htm. Stuff happens in the mountains. For some, stuff happens less frequently than for others.

Given Secor's track record of accomplishment in the Sierra (2 times SPS list finisher, etc.), I'd trust his judgment over most. In fact you could argue, given that stuff happens, that given how much time he spent in the mountains the incidence of bad events / injuries in his career as a climber was amazingly low. That to me is a sign of generally good judgment - whatever the cause of this particular event.

I also think that expectations about what information guidebooks should provide have gotten out of control. We now head to the mountains with so much information it takes all the adventure and novelty out of it (I plead guilty, though I try to do with less information as I gain more experience). If you think Secor is too vague, try Roper. Or the one that came before (author escapes me, though I have a dusty copy somewhere). If a route is really class 1 from some pass, then you don't really need more information than that. Go to the pass, head up the class 1. You don't even need a book to tell you it's class 1: head to the pass, see for yourself that it's class 1, and hike up.

I think if you feel you need a move-by-move description of every route, then you should start with easier stuff and build confidence. mountain sense and skills, and make your way up the grades. You won't learn how to climb from a guidebook, and you won't learn much about the true nature of a route from a guidebook either. Secor's book is useful mostly to show what is possible. For the rest, it's the climber's responsibility.

Update 9/16/17: The book I was referring to is Hervey Voge's "A Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" (1954). I found an online version at http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/climbers_guide/.
Last edited by Romain on Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:17 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby asmrz » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:14 pm

How many listed peaks are there in the Sierra Nevada? How many routes?

If you wanted to write a detailed description of each peak and route, you would need many thousands of pages..

When RJ wrote the first edition of his book, it was over 20 years since the Roper's Guide was published. There were tons of new routes climbed by then. RJ book was totally timely and incredibly useful for anyone climbing in the Sierra. He didn't want to write "Best of" book and he wanted the book to be inclusive of all peaks, hikes, scrambles and technical routes, with short descriptions for all.

There were people who refused to provide him with any information on "their" routes because they felt that someone not from the East Side had no right to publish. Over all, the guide was/is great considering the huge scope of work (IMO).

And no, it was not designed or written for novices.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby StartingOver » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:51 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I was not trying to stir up any controversy.
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Re: RJ Secor's Mysterious Unclimbed Peak

Postby JD » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:45 am

R.J. contacted me about a climb I'd done. It was kind of ridiculous as my partner and I had gone up a scrappy way just because we were too stupid to bring our crampons for the gully we'd planned to climb. Neither of us thought of it as a route. We were off-route. But R.J. wanted his latest edition to be as comprehensive as possible. I was impressed by that, while at the same time aware of many inaccuracies in his book, some I thought he should have known about.

Although his experience in the Sierra is vast I suspect a fairly large proportion of his book is based on the reports of others. So it's not really his information, it's a collection of information.

Nowadays, perhaps the idea of a printed guidebook is getting a little dusty. Maybe it should all be electronic, on line. Or maybe not. I wonder what R.J. would think. And I wonder who will take over for him. The Sierra is far from climbed out.

And there's also that one peak that has zero routes on it.
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