Everyone has their own special place. Weekend warriors flock to a secret fishing hole. Flatlanders flow to the beaches of their choice, and climbers roll out to the crags. You have your favorites, the solitary spots, the project areas, and then there’s the best. The place where you feel right. You feel home. The place where you fell in love with climbing. The place where you measure yourself. Where you can feel the history ooze from the granite into your pores. Over the years, the best of the best 'cut their teeth' here, constantly pushing the envelope, razing the bar for the rest of us to either try and pull up, or simply stare up at the sky and wonder.
I love Tahquitz and Suicide. There is no other way to say it. And honestly it is hard to describe the emotion. Even before I dawned a harness and Acopa's I looked up from my dusty, dirty hiking boots along Devil's Slide trail and stared in amazement at the rocks. These granite churches rize above the quiet hamlet of Idyllwild so proud, so raw, so beautiful. When I did finally produce enough curiosity to try climbing, it took me a while to get comfortable in my own shoes at the lesser crags and rocks before I took my first plunge at 'The Wild'. I figured that it would be fitting that my first route, or climb to do at Tahquitz, should be fittingly the first route established there, The Trough. Lucky for me I had someone that I very much admire and respect in climbing to show me the way and fill me in on the area. We topped out on a picture-perfect sunny day, and as I helped Deb coil the rope on the summit blocks in preparation to descend, something made me not want to leave. Something had struck me really hard and sunk it's teeth into me. Maybe it was the great weather. Or the unbelievable feeling of following in history's footsteps. Could have been the rock itself; as up to that point in my climbing life I never understood when people talked about good rock quality. I now understood very clearly!
After my first day at Tahquitz, I jumped head first into the sea of history and lore for the two sacred grounds. I scowered and memorized the pictures, topos and stories. The guidebooks, and all the major players of the past and present. Only then did I start to fathom and grasp the effort in which these incredible places became. One can only stand and look in awe while gazing up at any one of many classic routes that spread from one to the other side of Strawberry Valley. Even today I love to read, and try to concieve the thoughts and feelings that flew thru the minds of the Old-School'ers to the Stonemasters, and every hardman and hardwoman to come around ever since. These were the people I tried to follow, to become, to envy.
Now you won't see me leading The Edge anytime soon, but that does not mean I can't, or don't want to. Right now I am the guy watching how it's done, learning, and just trying to get better. In these days of 5.15's and number chasing we need to remember the two reasons why anyone does anything: Because you love it, and wish to become better at it. Whatever it is. There is no doubt that I love climbing, and want to get better at it.
But when you mix a drive and ambition to excel at a challenge, with a concoction of unbelievable history, ethics, and raw beauty of this place, you have the best tasting climbing cocktail these lips have ever experienced. I guess now the only thing I have left to say is simple...I'm thirsty for more.
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