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Desert Rock Series: What Happened?
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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Dec 6, 2011

First: Props to Bjorstad. It boggles the mind how much work he put into it, and it's an invaluable resource. I just got a copy of the original desert rock and it's an amazing book for the time. Nice glossy thick pages, chock fully of photos, maps, topos, history. It's obvious that he wanted to expand out in multi-volume set since there is too much out there for just one book.

which got me to wondering why

the new books are total pieces of sh^t in comparison. Areas are scattered all over the 4 volumes, gone are the tons of useful photos, topos, maps, history, and entire areas left out, and vol 2 is out of print. WTF happened?

Also, any word on volume 5? I'm assuming he gave up on the indian creek volume since Bloom took care of that.


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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Dec 6, 2011

The Larry wrote:
I talked to Eric a few weeks ago and he is working on his autobiography. It didn't sound like he would be writing any more guide books. A new guide book with a lot of new info of new crags should be coming out next spring though.


That's too bad. It's amazing in this day and age that information like this can disappear.

Sure it's cool to climb into the unknown, but guidebooks can add a level of richness too. Without preserving the info, many things will fade away. Imagine climbing the eiger without knowing about its history.

Hopefully someone picks up the torch.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 7, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

the newer books (3 and 4) have quite a bit of interesting history, side notes, etc. the first desert rock is pretty spread out, geographically. with DR 2 and 2.5 (the parks, wall street to the swell) the areas are somewhat organized in terms of location. during that time period a ton of new routes went up, or were learned about all over the place. DR 3 is pretty organized geographically as well, basically kane creek eastward to colorado nat monument. DR 4 basically fills in the gaps and includes some really out-of-the-way stuff.

the desert is a big place and there are always new routes going up. kind of hard to keep it organized. after you spend some time studying each of the DR books you will start digging them more. probably a 100 lifetimes worth of adventure in those books.


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By Michael Schneiter
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 7, 2011
Goofin' on the Grand after soloing the Upper Exum with my wife.

slim wrote:
the newer books (3 and 4) have quite a bit of interesting history, side notes, etc. the first desert rock is pretty spread out, geographically. with DR 2 and 2.5 (the parks, wall street to the swell) the areas are somewhat organized in terms of location. during that time period a ton of new routes went up, or were learned about all over the place. DR 3 is pretty organized geographically as well, basically kane creek eastward to colorado nat monument. DR 4 basically fills in the gaps and includes some really out-of-the-way stuff. the desert is a big place and there are always new routes going up. kind of hard to keep it organized. after you spend some time studying each of the DR books you will start digging them more. probably a 100 lifetimes worth of adventure in those books.


Agreed, I have all of the Desert Rocks, the original and 1-4, and they are enjoyable as much for the coffee table reading as the getting to and fro information.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 7, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

i have an hour bus commute for work. i pretty much have all of them memorized. now i just have to actually go out and climb some of the routes!


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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Dec 7, 2011

true, but i meant comparing them to the original. I'm assuming it was just Falcon doing their thing to make guidebooks a bit more soulless. The whole reason for my original post was just how shocked I was at how nice the first book was compared to the rest, except maybe the blue book. why is the blue book is not longer in print? it was the best of the series besides the original in terms of quality, and contains some of the most popular climbing in the desert.

as for creating new books b/c of more first ascents? isn't that what new editions are for? Imagine if Beckey took that approach for the cascade alpine guides? It would be a similar cluster-fk.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 7, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

when you say the "blue" book, are you talking about the wall street to san rafael book? i would say DR 3 probably has the most popular areas (aside from wall street) - castle valley, the fishers, CNM. I actually like DR3 and DR4 better than the red national parks and the blue wall street to the swell guides.

i guess i'm surprised that you think DR3 and 4 have less soul - they have quite a bit of historical info and cool non-climbing tidbits.


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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Dec 7, 2011

maybe it's the glossy pages?


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 7, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

probably considered environmentally unfriendly these days. the shiny goop causes cancer.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 7, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

layton wrote:
Imagine if Beckey took that approach for the cascade alpine guides? It would be a similar cluster-fk.


if you think about it, it still happens on some level. there are the beckey bibles for the cascades, but there are also other guidebooks that cover various areas that lie within the general area of the cascades, as well as the falcon washington and oregon guides that cover some of the same and new areas.

just how it goes i guess.


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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Dec 7, 2011

the bottom line is that I'm bored at work, my shoulder still healing, and i have the interwebs to vent.

seriously though, it will be interesting to see what MP evolves into, and if it can help solve some of those issues. It's too bad Bjornstad couldn't finish his series, and that part of it is already out of print (and they aren't glossy)


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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 8, 2011
Andrew Gram

The desert is such a difficult place to write a guide book for - I think the job Bjornstad has done is pretty amazing considering all of the circumstances.

I doubt any other comprehensive guides to the desert will be attempted anytime soon, if ever. the climbing is too spread out, the formations and walls too intricate, and the climbing so varied and mostly either hard, dangerous, or unpleasant. it also doesn't help that there are so few locals and so many traveling climbers, and no locals at all for the remote places.

My guess is we'll start to see a bunch of smaller scope guidebooks come out for Wall Street, the Buckhorn Wash, River Road, and maybe a handful of other areas in addition to the Indian Creek guidebook. We'll also see loads of "best of" type compilations, but hopefully they'll become more interesting and stop just being rehashes of castleton/washer woman/the owl/etc. We might also start seeing some ebook type of publications for contained scopes that aren't popular enough for a print guidebook on their own - places like Monument Basin, Valley of the Gods, Swaseyland, etc.

I'd say writing a comprehensive guidebook to the desert is a much harder task than writing one for Yosemite, or even for the Black Hills Needles - neither of which has been done even though the climbing is more accessible, in a smaller area, and with a lot more traffic.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 8, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

that sums it up pretty good. it is kind of funny that yosemite doesn't really have a COMPREHENSIVE guide to it.

i'd kind of like to see a towers guide book (or multiple volumes, etc). not like the supertopo book, that has like 10 towers, but something that has everything from popular to total podunk. that would be pretty cool.


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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Dec 8, 2011

slim wrote:
that sums it up pretty good. it is kind of funny that yosemite doesn't really have a COMPREHENSIVE guide to it. i'd kind of like to see a towers guide book (or multiple volumes, etc). not like the supertopo book, that has like 10 towers, but something that has everything from popular to total podunk. that would be pretty cool.



on the flip side, sites like this could be the new thing, or climbing areas start getting their own webpage.

not like there isn't enough to climb for a thousand lifetimes


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By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Dec 30, 2012

Bjornstad submitted a manuscript for the Volume 5 of the series. I forget now what areas that was going to cover. Kinda recall it maybe concentrated on tower climbs, especially newer ones that had not made it into the previous volumes or maybe it was remote ones around the fringes of the Colorado Plateau, but I may have this wrong.

Anyway, Falcon/Globe Pequot/Morris decided to kill the project. In truth, this day and age it's hard to sell climbing guidebooks and the desert books, with the complex approach directions and obscure destinations are particularly challenging to put together. I think the previous Desert Rocks (esp DR-4) had maybe not sold as well as hoped. Better money in recipe books. Bjornstad, disappointed, kind gave up on the guidebook thing after this. No idea what happened to the manuscript. I hope his autobiography eventually gets printed, somehow; there's some wild stories in there. Wonder if it's finished....

All the notes and topos and letters people sent him over the years are now at the AAC library in Golden.

The first volume, Desert Rock, has a wealth of historical info. That was back when he was pretty active climbing himself, so really understood the scene and knew all the people. Also, George Meyers of Chockstone cared about publishing a high quality book. Bjornstad quit climbing in mid-90s, just when the climbing scene exploded and the first-hand quality of the info suffered a bit by comparison to the original as he could not actually get on the climbs.


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By Josh Ewing
From Bluff, UT
Jan 2, 2013
1200 year old petroglyph near Valley of the Gods.

The Larry, you said a new guide with new crags is the works. Any idea who is putting it together? I've been contemplating a small guide of remote crags, but don't need to duplicate someone else's work.


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By Stewart M. Green
Jan 2, 2013

Good thoughts Crusher. Eric didn't finish the Desert Rock V book, which was going to primarily cover Indian Creek as well as some other remote areas. After David Bloom's comprehensive IC book came out, Eric lost steam on finishing the Indian Creek stuff and worked mostly on his autobiography, which is still unfinished. He's been ill the last few years and stopped getting out to do the guidebook research and photographs for DR5 and then he stopped working on the autobio. Right now Eric isn't doing too well so we all need to send good energy his way for a speedy recovery...


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By notmyname
From Stony Brook, NY
Jan 2, 2013

Can't wait to read the autobiography, I sure hope Eric's health improves. Fred Beckey was giving him sh*t for sitting on the couch, and I thought man give the guy a break that's my plan for 70+


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By Stevie Nacho
From Utah
Jan 2, 2013

around 2005-2006 ish, Eric contacted me about tower information in Southwest Utah. I think he was compiling information for a guidebook dedicated to Towers. We corresponded a few times, I mailed him topos...then nothing happened.

Perhaps people will decide that brining a tablet or smart phone to the crag isn't as fun as a good 'ol dog eared guidebook and we'll see the project continue.

Until then....


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By jakobi
From moab, utah
Jan 8, 2013
Southern Utah high country, summer 2012.

Josh, Karl Kelly of the Desert Bistro is writing the new guide. It's actually been complete for a while now, it's just held up with the publisher. In addition to new stuff in the areas covered by the Desert Rock Series he's got a ton of new stuff in Longs Canyon, the Gold Basin crag, Town Wall etc.


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By slim
Administrator
Jan 8, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

i had heard recently that sharp end was publishing a 3rd edition of the creek book - is that the one karl is working on? there has been a decent sized wave of new routes - should be cool to check it out.


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By coop
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Jan 8, 2013
Indian Creek Climbing

when is it expected out?

jakobi wrote:
Josh, Karl Kelly of the Desert Bistro is writing the new guide. It's actually been complete for a while now, it's just held up with the publisher. In addition to new stuff in the areas covered by the Desert Rock Series he's got a ton of new stuff in Longs Canyon, the Gold Basin crag, Town Wall etc.


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By -mn
Jan 8, 2013

If anyone is interested I've got a new copy of the original Desert Rock - 1988. Looking to trade it for a used #5 C4.


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Jan 8, 2013
The Shield

What happened? Mountain Project. It's honestly that simple.


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By coop
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Jan 9, 2013
Indian Creek Climbing

pm sent on the book


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By ben jammin
From Moab, UT
Feb 7, 2013
Aesthetics

Update: I'm sure not many of you know that Eric had an accident (a fall I believe, but I'm not sure) and had extensive spinal cord damage that will require him to live in a extended care facility. After a month or so at St. Mary's in GJ he has been transported back here to Moab.

I plan on visiting Eric here in the coming week or so and I'm sure that he would appreciate any of your thoughts and well wishes. If there is any messages I can pass on I would be happy to do so. I will try and give a more extensive update after I talk with him.


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