For a long time, Maple Canyon had the distinction of being the most popular climbing area in the country without a current guidebook. There are bigger areas out there that lack any published info, but nothing compares to what has become one of the best summer sport climbing destinations in the U.S. The narrow corridors, ample shade and variety of aspects make it easy to stay out of the sun, and it just never seems to get too warm there, even when the forecasted high in the valley shoots into the 90′s. Add to that incredibly featured (and STEEP!) rock, with grades from 5.4 to 5.14, and you’ve got a true cragging paradise.
Dave Pegg, of Wolverine Publishing, has been visiting Maple for years, and saw the need for a current book. When I asked him about the process, he had this to say:
“I’ve been climbing regularly at Maple since 1998. I’ve seen it grow in popularity and seen a lot of new areas developed. I felt it desperately needed a new guidebook – the last print guide was published in 1999 – and is now 13 years out of date! On just about every trip I’ve made to Maple in the last few years I’ve been encouraged by visitors and locals alike to produce a guide. I held off for several years as I heard Darren Knezek from Provo was working on one and had almost finished. Several years went by and it never appeared.
The new guide was a team effort. I know Maple well from all the trips I’ve made over the years. My friends in Salt Lake City and Ogden, who know the harder climbing in Maple inside out, and were active in developing The Compound, provided all their information. I was also incredibly lucky to hook up with co-authors Josh Holmes, a local from Mayfield, Utah, who has been climbing in Maple for years, and Sibylle Hechtel from Silverthorne, Colorado, who undertook the task of climbing and checking Maple’s easier pitches – the area has lots of great climbs in the 5.5-5.8 range. Sibylle was able to write engagingly and provide insights for the easier climbs. With this team and community support, I knew we could put out a quality, accurate and much-needed guide.”
Maple Canyon Rock Climbs is everything you’ve come to expect from Wolverine books, and it’s easy to get lost in the pages, reading and plotting your next assault on the cobble choss paradise. The photos are top notch, showcasing a broad range of climbs, from a little kid on a 5.8, to Chris Sharma onsighting 5.14b. The photo topos are easy to read and make finding a specific route a breeze. Without knowing the names, I was able to instantly pick out the routes I’d done on previous trips. The overview maps are simple and easy to orient to, and give a great idea of how close the different crags are to each other.
There’s really nothing bad to say about this book, though one thing might stand out upon first glance. A couple of the areas seem to have more than a few of routes listed as “Name Unknown.” When I asked Dave about it, this was his response:
“I’d rather be accurate than wrong, so we called these Name Unknown (routes at the Matrix and The Frontera and Trash Compactor fall into this category). Other routes labelled “Name Unknown” are truly “Name Forgotten”. Bill Boyle was the primary developer of routes in Maple Canyon. He developed Northgate and Southgate, for example, and we talked with Bill and got his old topos, and he’ll genuinely tell you he either didn’t name these things or if he did he has truly forgotten what he originally called them (Bill has probably put up more than 100 routes in Maple so it’s understandable). Some of the more popular Name Forgotten routes have acquired names over the years, like “Scoops” at Southgate, a name somebody made up, but it has caught on and is commonly used so that’s what we went with in the guidebook.”
The grades in Maple have been known to be all over the place, with some places coming in soft (Minimum) and others fairly stiff (Box Canyon). This book attempts to get everything about where it should be, and generally falls in line with the consensus you’ll find on Mountain Project. Also, as a way to give back to the community, for every copy sold the publisher will donate 50 cents to the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance ($5 per copy during the pre-order period.)
One last thing of note, the print book is also available as an e-pub for your iPod, iPhone, Kindle, latest gizomo I have no idea about, etc. I downloaded a version to my iPod touch, and was duly impressed. It’s simpler than the apps Wolverine has put out for places like Joshua Tree and the Red, but I think that adds to its appeal. Being the firs time I’ve used an iBook, I was psyched to see you can easily search through it, add bookmarks, notes, etc. Those who think print is dead will be happy to have this option, and I’ve also heard it looks amazing on an iPad, which I don’t doubt.
This is a great book, and finally gives this amazing climbing area the guidebook it has long deserved. I’ve already spent many hours
sitting on the toilet drooling over all the routes. Guess I better go make that camping reservation!