Our Wilderness has two favorite climbing destinations - Tahquitz and Suicide Rock. To increase our awareness of this growing sport, we invited climbers, Merritt King and his climbing partner, Ashley Alonzo to introduce us to rock climbing on June 11th. What a day!
A group of us volunteer Wilderness Rangers, along with Andy Smith, watched as Merritt and Ashley demonstrated the techniques of technical climbing.
Merritt and Ashley like most climbers in our mountains are free climbers. The lead climber finds appropriate crevices to insert cams. They they attach the rope to this "anchor".
The second climber or belayer feeds rope to the lead climber. This pattern continues until the destination is reached. An anchor is set so that the belayer can start climbing up the mountain removing cams along the way.Early climbers hammered or hand drilled pitons, anchors, into the rock. They were not removable. With the explosion of gym rock climbing, there is a resurgence in this type of climbing on preexisting pitons. As you have heard on the news, there is a small minority of climbers who climb free solo without ropes, cams or pitons. They rely on their skill and strength with no room for error.
A few historical facts to remember....Technical climbing was developed at Tahquitz Rock and so was the system which rates climbs. YDS (Yosemite Decimal System) should have been named TDS (Tahquitz Decimal System) We hope that Merritt and Ashley will be able to give another demonstration in the future. In the meantime, check out the display at the Idyllwild Historical Society Museum. by Robin Roberts