Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
5.9 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 9 Votes

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Created On: May 13, 2007
Last Edited On: May 13, 2007


Whodunit is THE classic climb at Tahquitz. Seen from Humber park in afternoon light, this route is a sweet looking right-facing, sunlit dihedral stretching along the length of the cliff nearly all the way up the North Face.

It is a long and sustained climb. Two moves of 5.9, sustained 5.8 pitches and some easy scrambling at the last pitch. Joe Fitschen and Royal Robbins snagged the First Ascent on this route in September, 1957 (5.8, A1). Tom Higgins and Bob Camps came along in 1966 and freed the route as it goes today.

Whodunit tops out right at the summit, making the exit even sweeter!


Whodunit runs along the bright, sunlit dihedral just left of center. It angles right as it tops out just to the left of the summit.


From the parking lot, take a moment to gaze in wonder at the beautiful line that is Whodunit on the North Face of Tahquitz. Take the Ernie Maxwell trailWalk for about 5 minutes or so, then start watching for a use trail cutting uphill. You will pass under a large boulder and go another 2 or 3 hundred yards max. The use trail is rough, and possible to miss depending on the time of year.

Once on the use trail, follow it, pretty much straight up until reaching a large rock that is flat on top. This is lunch rock. Above lunch rock, head left and follow the base of the cliff until you reach climbs in the Northwest Recess.

Route Description

If you have a 60 mtr. rope, you can connect pitches 1 and 2, 5 and 6, and presumably others as well. There are good, bomber ledges every 100 - 150 feet. Strong parties have done this climb in as little as 4 pitches. I'll describe the route as being 7 pitches without any connections.


Pitch 1 - Begin by scrambling up and left on ledges from the Northwest Recess. The first pitch climbs easy flakes for about 100 feet until a difficult section is encountered: Follow a thin crack straight up over a small overlap (thin 5.9). Then traverse up and left to a two-bolt belay. These are the only bolts you'll find on the route.

Pitch 2 - Go up the right-facing dihedral. Bomber protection and cracks. Go up to a series of ledges well below the chimney.

Pitch 3 - Climb the cracks and slabs leading to the chimney (5.8). Climb until the chimney narrows, then awkward jamming (5.9) over some wild exposure to exit the chimney. This section is easier than the first 5.9 because the holds and cracks are solid, but the exposure is BIG, making it more of a mental challenge.

Pitches 4,5 - Continue climbing up the dihedral (5.8). Its pretty straightforward from here, but the fun doesn't quite let up yet and stays around the 5.7-5.8 range.

Pitch 6 - The crack system soon reaches an overhanging section (5.8). A piton is banged into a crack right near the crux to protect it. The route climbs right through the OH.

Pitch 7 - Above the overhang, climb up the easy left leaning slabs to another overhang. This one's easy (5.2), and you can cruise through this one. Above the overhang, some 4th class scrambling leads to the top of Tahquitz rock!

Leading the Chimney Pitch on Whodunit

Essential Gear

A full 60 meter rope. Pro: to 3 inches. A full technical rack (set of cams up to #3, nuts, a few hexes, and about a dozen slings).

Since the protection is great along the length of this route, some leaders who like to place lots of pieces may find that you run out of pieces. Doubling up on a few cams and a few nuts is not such a bad idea. Bring a few double slings, and lots of extra ones to wrap around tree branches.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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fossana - May 25, 2009 5:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Approch & Descent


The turnoff to the Lunch Rock trail is more like 2-3 minutes from the trailhead. It is currently marked by a signpost with a carabiner.


The N Gully descent is a more direct route to the base of the climb and to N Face trail that accesses the upper parking area. From the summit stay left, aiming for the gully behind the NE Buttress (note: there were ~no cairns when we did this in May). The top of the gully is marked by a prominent saddle. Once down contour around the base of the NE Buttress to your pack(s) and/or the N Face trail. Overview map here.

ahughes03 - May 15, 2013 7:32 pm - Voted 10/10

Linking 1 and 2

Pitches 1 and 2 can be linked with a 60 or 70. The bolted anchor mentioned as the belay for P1 is actually a belay for Edgehogs. Just keep climbing til you get to the ledges mentioned as the belay for P2.

My version of P2 (P3 above) takes a bomber #2 at the chimney exit, just make sure you extend the placement or the drag will be bad...

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