So You Want to Write A Guidebook

I’ve been working on a guidebook, an update, actually, to the previous one for our area. This time around, we are splitting it into two books, as there are hundreds of new climbs, several previously unpublished areas, and some great photos of it all.

The interesting thing about writing a guidebook is that it’s basically glorified data entry. Putting together route information is tedious, and monotonous. And you have to format everything just so, so that when the publishing program takes it, it’ll spit everything out into the nice, neat format where you can tick off all your latest sends.

Editing cliff photos feels like the kind of work the magazines hire interns to do. Except I have no interns, though the thought has crossed my mind. Get pictures of the cliff. Open in Photoshop, clean it up, save the original version, make another with the route lines marked in, save both, repeat.

And then there’s the aspect of sharing our secrets with the world. I love guidebooks, and have always said, if the climbing is good enough, word will get out, so why not document everything properly and give people all the info they need. I also think guidebooks will be important in the future for showing historical use at crags when access issues arise.

Of course, it’s easy to find the opposite view, that guidebooks “ruin” places. And I get how they can increase traffic, though again, if the climbing is good enough, I doubt people weren’t already going to find out about it. Lime Creek certainly used to be a sleepy little canyon, and now it’s pretty busy all summer. But isn’t that point? For us to go out and have these shared adventures in beautiful places?

There will always be crags that are easy to get to, and become popular. But there will always be spots that take a little too much effort for most, and even when they are in a guidebook, I don’t think you are going to be queuing up for routes at the West Fortress or Upper Frying Pan, despite the quality of the climbing at both those places.

And maybe that’s what makes it easy(ier) to share these places. Knowing that some are close to the road, and will see more traffic, but some charge a steeper entrance fee, and likely will remain how they’ve been for a long time.

I can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel with this project, but my part in it is getting close, and I’m excited to share all these magical spots with all of you. I hope you’ll enjoy and respect them too.

4 Responses to So You Want to Write A Guidebook

  1. thank you for your dedicated efforts

    Cooper January 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm
  2. Splitterchoss interns, you say? What’s next, a CEO desk in the climbing closet?

    PS- Luc and I would totally intern for you.

    Tyler February 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm
    • Do you know how to use photoshop?

      BJ Sbarra February 6, 2013 at 11:38 am
  3. We appreciate all your hard work. Also, I have been in touch with Jeff Jackson about a trail work weekend. I would love to organize a call with some of you to talk about it.

    BTW I am the new section Chair for the AAC, Western Slope

    All the best,

    Lee Jenkins April 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm
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