Yosemite Sport Climbs & Top Ropes Review

By Mike Schneiter

Halfway up the pitch, I fruitlessly shook my lactate-filled arms, perplexed by the chalk a long reach away in the opposite direction of where I found myself perched. Chris swore the pitch was 10+, but now I heard a faint giggle below as I found myself stymied as to which way I should go.  Both chalk paths couldn’t be right, I thought in my bewildered state, and my confidence quickly began to shrink.

We were climbing The Great Escape, a five pitch, 5.11c sport climb a few minutes walk from the car. Later, when Chris informed me he was writing a new sport climbing book for SuperTopo, I quickly insisted that he give that pitch its’ proper rating and not the sandbag one he gave me. Having spent more than a decade living and working in the Valley, Chris has surely climbed The Great Escape countless times, and perhaps it does feel 10+ to him, but most will find it significantly more challenging. Being his favorite route in the Valley, it’s fitting that a beautiful shot of Heidi Wirtz on the same climb graces the cover of the new Yosemite Sport Climbs and Top Ropes guidebook.

When most people think of Yosemite Valley, they think of long routes on the famed big walls of El Capitan and Half Dome. Or, they envision the myriad opportunities to hone their crack skills on some of the preeminent granite in the world. Rarely do people think of Yosemite as a place to bring their quickdraws. But on the hike in to the Great Escape that day, Chris pointed out the large concentration of well-bolted, chalk-covered sport climbs in the area.

On further reflection, I recall my first trip to the Valley, eleven years ago when I spied a “Yosemite top roping” guidebook, which I viewed with some disdain, and perhaps curiosity. “Why would people come to the Valley to top rope?” Now, after many years of annual summer pilgrimages, I’ve come to realize that visiting climbers are more often made up of the beginner to intermediate type than the hardened wall men and women tackling steep, difficult lines on El Cap.

SuperTopo guidebooks have widely become known for quality topos, detailed route descriptions and excellent information that will get you to and from the climb with ease. Yosemite Sport Climbs and Top Ropes continues in that vain with clear photos, detailed topos and  amusing historical perspectives on climbing in one of the most storied areas in the world. If you already own Yosemite Free Climbs, you’ll see some repeats, but in this new book you’ll find many quality areas that most people hardly know of. The book features over 200 climbs, from super easy (5.1) to some of the hardest around (5.14). And while most tend to think of Yosemite bolted climbs as runout, slabby, scarefests, this book will surprise you, revealing an impressive number of steep, well-protected face climbs that would fit right in at many popular sport areas across the country.

With the summer climbing and traveling season upon us, if you find yourself in the Valley and need a break from all that relentless jamming, be sure to check out Yosemite Sport Climbs and Top Ropes.

Mike Schneiter is our resident expert on Yosemite Valley, having spent most of his summers chasing big routes in the granite mecca.

5 Responses to Yosemite Sport Climbs & Top Ropes Review

  1. Ha, I used to get sandbagged by Chris as well (back in the late 90s)! Must be his MO. But I learned a lot from him too: did my first big wall in the Valley with Chris. I’m sure any guide he works on is in-depth and a great resource–he knows the Valley back’erds and forwards.

    Matt Paden June 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm
  2. I found the book to be full of errors, and often leaving me more confused then if I did not have the book. Considering much of the book is cut and pasted from the other Taco book there was not much work to be done. Despite of this new information is pretty inaccurate, and the book is missing many areas.

    I would not recommend this book to anyone I know due to the small amount of new information that is provided and is actually accurate.

    Anonymous July 10, 2011 at 3:06 am
  3. Thanks for the input, can you elaborate on the errors and such?

    BJ Sbarra July 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm
  4. Anchors are shown 80′ up on Underclingon that do not exist. The rating of Indisposed at Upper San is listed as 5.11c/d, and could have easily been cross referenced in the Reid book as 5.10d, and many more. Considering there are about three areas that are not in the other book you would think they would have taken the time to at least make this small amount of new information accurate.

    Anonymous July 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm
  5. Or take a look at the Mecca section the alphabet is backwards which does make it hard to figure out but then one of the pages got put in backwards so you have a backwards out of order alphabet to help you get around with poor route descriptions and many errors. Though the book does provide a few areas that are not mentioned in other books it just seems like a little bit more time and care could have been put into making the book. From an outside perspective I would seem like the book was slapped together very quickly and not properly edited. After a sport climbing really shouldn’t take to much work.

    Also one might think they would have edited the topos that were cut and pasted but instead bolts that haven’t been there for at least five years are still shown and then have lengthy written descriptions about how to use them for top rope anchors. It’s a 30 second walk over to the Swan Slab maybe worth looking at the non existent bolts they are writing about.

    Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 11:38 pm
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