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Open Book 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 490'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: John Mendenhall and Harry Sutherland, September 1947 FFA: Royal Robbins and Don Wilson, 1952
Page Views: 28,765
Submitted By: Luke Stefurak on Feb 3, 2006  with updates from Sam Cannon

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (196)
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Charlie, rounding the roof and arriving at the sec...


This three pitch beauty ascends a very obvious dihedral.

1) The first few moves off the deck are exciting and lead to an enjoyable first belay in a little nook.

2) The second pitch contains the business. You layback a 4" crack for 60+ feet to gain a belay either inside a little cave or right after depending on what gear you have left.

3) Pull the roof out of the alcove if that's where you set your belay, and continue up the dihedral in the left-side crack, much less steep and quite a bit easier than pitches 1 and 2. Eventually cross the slab and continue up to climb the deceptively easy roof on the right side. Top out and hike to the top of Tahquitz on easy 3rd class. Then you can hike out.


Standard rack with a doubles in the 3" - 4" range. The crack gets too wide for an old # 4 camalot but you can easily run it a bit to a placement higher up.

Photos of Open Book Slideshow Add Photo
The grand Open Book (5.9) dihedral ©
The grand Open Book (5.9) dihedral ©
Todd Smith
Todd Smith
about to pull the crux move
about to pull the crux move
Levi from San Diego on P1.
Levi from San Diego on P1.
The start of Open Book.
The start of Open Book.
Charlie, placing gear on the second pitch of Open ...
Charlie, placing gear on the second pitch of Open ...
The first pitch of Open Book. (you can also see th...
The first pitch of Open Book. (you can also see th...
5.7 lieback on P2/3 (depending on where you set th...
5.7 lieback on P2/3 (depending on where you set th...
Jascha at the crux flake
Jascha at the crux flake
Open Book.
Open Book.
Rob takin on the second pitch of Open Book in the ...
Rob takin on the second pitch of Open Book in the ...
Looking up from belay 1
Looking up from belay 1
Reconciling gear at the top of the popular Open Bo...
Reconciling gear at the top of the popular Open Bo...
Why would you lieback this beautiful crack?
Why would you lieback this beautiful crack?
the crux move
the crux move
Open book is the right facing dihedral seen to the...
Open book is the right facing dihedral seen to the...
5.6 slab/chimney that exit onto the class 4 slabs
5.6 slab/chimney that exit onto the class 4 slabs
pitch 1
pitch 1
Nathan Fitzhugh going over the 3rd pitch roof.
Nathan Fitzhugh going over the 3rd pitch roof.
Kim Miller on start of the Open Book
Kim Miller on start of the Open Book
Pulling the crux P1 flake (Eric Isaac climbing).
Pulling the crux P1 flake (Eric Isaac climbing).
  leading the 2nd pitch of Open Book. Looking up t...
BETA PHOTO: leading the 2nd pitch of Open Book. Looking up t...
From good ledge overlooking 5.4 chimney.
BETA PHOTO: From good ledge overlooking 5.4 chimney.

Comments on Open Book Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 16, 2014
By Dpurf
From: Superior
Feb 9, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

FA - Royal Robins. The first 5.9 in the country, it a classic and must do. For the 2nd pitch there is a number of ways to get through it. The layback options, less secure and harder to place gear, not the options I would take. The next option is to stem it in the wide section then finish with your crack climbing skills. Or just grovel up the offwidth, it secure and is very short.
By Chris Owen
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Mar 12, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I always thought that a move about halfway up P1 was the crux, a steep little sequence.
By Isaac T.
From: Yokosuka, Japan
Nov 22, 2006
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

I personally think that this route was harder than 5.9. Also do not climb this route unless you have big cams (think Size 4 BD)and at least 3-5 of them. This is based on Beta from other climbers since I did not get past the first pitch because of other climbers warning us to bail since we had 1 #3 BD cam. The rap off the first pitch was sketchy as well. The rap rings were hanging off a chock stone from webbing that has seen better days. It was a good route though, just come prepared and you will have fun.

UPDATE In response to Murf - In my defense on the decent back to the car I started coughing up blood, had some kind of weird lung infection that put me in the hospital the next morning. So that is why I probably rated it higher than most. 2nd - the gear beta was given to me by climbers below who had just completed the route.
However I do need to get back up there and give the route another go and I am sure I'd probably change the grade back to 5.9...

So for anyone coughing up blood with a weird lung infection this route will feel like 10a/b just FYI :)
By Murf
Nov 22, 2006

veedublr - you give it 3 stars and a rating of 5.9 when you didn't even do the crux pitch. You rate it 5.9 but you don't think it's 5.9?

You are lucky you bailed, if you need 3-5 cams in the #4 BD range for this route, you shouldn't attempt to climb it.
By Adam Stackhouse
Dec 19, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

From a historical gear perspective, I went out and specifically bought one whopping 3.5 WC Friend. Kind of hysterical, in that I placed early during the second pitch, retrieved it and placed a bit further up, and then gave up on placing any more gear until the belay. With a total arm-bar near the top of this "run-out" pitch, I felt secure enough, especially considering the options. As recommended, two #4 Camalots would be perfect for this climb.
By Tim McCabe
Jan 2, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13

The standard 5.9 that all other 5.9's are based on. The first pitch is a little hard to protect after that the gear is great. Standard rack plus one #4 BD Cam.
By Chris Owen
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Sep 14, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

As the datum 5.9 it can't be anything but 5.9 ;-)

Been a long time since I've done this but I didn't have a big friend or the BD copy.
By Scotty Nelson
From: Boulder
Jun 19, 2008

This climb is the dictionary definition of 5.9!
By Brian Hench
From: Costa Mesa, CA
Jul 28, 2008
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

The notion that you need a bunch of #4 Camalots and larger to do this route is complete nonsense.

My rack consisted of a set of Clogs to #4 (same as friends) plus Green and Red Camalots, 2 Yellow Camalots, and one Blue Camalot. The only piece I wish I had more of was the Yellow.

Many of the places that are wide have small cracks nearby. Sometimes you can get a smaller placement by going deeper. The places that only take really large gear are easy and can be run out.

This route was very difficult for me, so you can't say I was running it out because it was easy.
By Adam Stackhouse
Jul 28, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Brian, gear recommendations are just that. Calling someone else's "complete nonsense" seems benighted at best. You did the route using what you thought was safe, and thats ok. But moreover, you said you employed the #4 Friend equivalent, which interestingly is a only touch smaller than a #4 Camalot.
By Ryan Kelly
From: work.
Sep 2, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I think this may be 5.11- now.
By Scott Z
From: Highlands Ranch, CO
May 26, 2009

I now can go through my head of all of the other "5.9" routes I've done and see if they are true 5.9's or not. I can also give more respect to some of those climbs and revel in the fact that I have just completed a truly historical route.
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Mar 26, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Jam the crux, don't lieback. Way more fun!!
By DJ Reyes
From: Northern Nevada
May 29, 2010

Did this route today with Larry S. and loved it! Great route requiring a variety of techniques. I thought that the first pitch was the crux to be sure. The ten feet or so before I reached the flake were wild! Larry and I both jammed the second pitch and thought it was secure and casual.
By fossana
From: Sin City, NV
Jun 5, 2010

Did this today. Thought one #4 Camalot was plenty. A few burly moves on the first pitch, but the second felt more sustained. Climbed it a lb with jams for gear placements. Fun route.
By x15x15
Aug 3, 2010

combine pitches 1 and 2 for quite possibly the best pitch in idyllwild... stellar i tell ya... you won't find a better 5.9 pitch anywhere...
By Cory
From: Boise, ID
Sep 19, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Awesome climb! The start had a little spice, but the rest was really well protected. I agree with Fossana that, while the first pitch may have had the crux move, the second was way more sustained.

With all that I've heard about this climb I was expecting it to be harder. As far as the grade, this actually did feel like 5.9. Not the softest 5.9, but not the stoutest either. Go figure. :)

I brought 2 #4s as recommended, and it was more than enough. I placed both of them on every pitch, but that was more because I didn't want to carry them than because they were necessary. I think it would have protected just fine with 1 number 4, as there always seemed to be other options. If anything, I'd say bring an extra #2.
By Robin like the bird
From: mountain center ,CA
Jan 29, 2011

doing pitch one and two together sounds like a rope stretcher. can it be done with a 60 m?

climbing out left from the second belay, on to bookmark and then finishing traitor horn makes for a great variation to this route.
By badtraddad
May 16, 2011

finally lead this route, it is awesome,and requires almost all climbing techniques. two number fours if this is at your level will be appreciated unless a thirty footer is ok. also, one number three and three number twos. This will make it seem like a sport route but you can always skip a placement if you feel the need to run it out to feel cool. Better to have it and not place it than to not have it if you need it.
By Murf
Jun 18, 2011

Oh McDonald, you are so very humorous. Are we supposed to snap at you for downrating "the" 5.9? Are you so very much better than RR with your fancy shoes, slim rope, and #3 Camalots? Or should we pity you that your pithy comment is one in a long series and anything you can say has already been said (and said better)?

Whichever you were thinking, thanks so much for your valuable contribution to MP.com.
By Jim Dover
From: Idyllwild, Ca
Sep 28, 2011

I've been climbing for a year and only leading for a few months and this has been on my 'someday' list for a (relatively) long time. Showed up to the base today with my friend, Kurt, kind of expecting to maybe lead the 3rd pitch. Instead, I led the first pitch and ran it out half way through the second until running out of gear. Kurt led the now abbreviated 2nd pitch and I led the 3rd. Wow! Better and scarier and harder than I thought it would be.

As for gear--I really wish I had 6 #4 Camalots! But the 5.6 friction run-out was kind of cool!

I believe you could link pitch 1 and 2 with a 70 meter rope--maybe even a 60--with more judicious/sparse gear placement (I was really gripped a few times).
By Tradoholic
Oct 22, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This is absolute classic! Good belays, bomber gear in a striking dihedral. A must do.

On P2 I plugged a hex at the last good stance and laid it back to the alcove. There's one last rest stance before the top. I thought laying it back was by far the easiest way to do this.

DONT BELAY IN THE ALCOVE! Your rope will push the gear into the crack while you climb P3. It's been mentioned to traverse right after the alcove but I just pulled around the roof and set an excellent hanging belay.

P3 will still stick with you with a no hands traverse to the right and there are bolted anchors after you exit the final tight chimney.
By J Dowd
From: Denver
Feb 21, 2012

I was fortunate enough to be raised in Idyllwild. Of all the climbs in the area this one held our attention as we climbed it atleast twice a month for years. All the "hard" moves on p1 have the pro where you need it. Look for good stoppers on the left wall before the crux flake. Bomber!
As a side note.. Swinging to hard for the top of the flake has caused shoulder injuries. I once "dislocated" my shoulder while underclinging the flake! Popped it back in and finished the pitch.
It sucked!
By Rob Selter
From: running springs Ca
Apr 10, 2012

After climbing this I have a whole new found respect for those old guys in there tennis shoe that put up the FA on this sort of route. A must do climb!
As for gear doubles or even triples in the BD 3 is nice, and a 4 is a good thing to have.
By Ben Gordon
From: La Canada, CA
Jun 13, 2012

Definitely a classic climb. It combines all sorts of styles up a very distinct and interesting route. Definitely takes some wide gear as everyone else has been saying.
By The Ruin-er
From: CA
Jun 30, 2012

one of the funnest routes Ive done
By generationfourth
From: Irvine, CA
Aug 14, 2012

Completely amazing line. Rich in history and filled with unique features like the elephant ear on the first pitch– gaining it and standing upon it may give you slight flashbacks of Traitor Horn. The third pitch has a heroic 5.4 Roof (take that Gunks!) that leads to a slight squeeze chimney. Then out onto a heady slab with a few friction moves that will prepare you for Suicide. Pleasant belay stations: For the second pitch belay, clip a bong older than you and add a couple of pieces. Third pitch belay: After traversing out under a small roof (fun!) at the end of the second pitch you do a couple of lie back moves to gain a small obvious belay ledge. If you don't have extra hand sized pieces for the left side, don't stress as you can set up a belay on the right side using a couple of nuts and a couple of TCU's.

Starting the second pitch, getting into that huge dihedral and looking up had my jaw wide open. Beautiful 4" crack. I'm not the biggest fan of wide cracks and admittedly this has become one of my favorite climbs I've ever done. Maybe because I was too caught up worrying about gear and stout wider crack climbing. I just wasn't expecting it to be so good. There isn't a single thing I'd change on this whole climb. Doubles up to #4 C4 is the ideal rack. You have to do it.
By Colin Parker
From: Idyllwild, CA
May 19, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I climbed this today for the first time and would like to confirm generationfourth's gear and belay beta. The only thing I'll add is that if you have a #4 and a #5 instead of two #4's this will also work. Combining pitches 1 and 2 sounds amazing but you had better bring a lot of gear! Also, if you want to rappel instead of doing the walkoff, be aware that the bottom 80 feet of the second rap is a free hanging rappel. I think the friction descent is probably the best way to go.
By x15x15
Jun 6, 2013

I can't think of too many places a #4 is really needed, and definitely not a #5. there is always a spot nearby that a #3 would work just fine. the first pitch is different character and gear than second pitch. the original pitches are rather short too, so you really don't need extra gear to combine the 2 pitches. just a normal rack for more normal length pitches.

a 60m rope will just work fine... barely... if your knot is just right...
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Oct 6, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

P1 - I used a pink tricam off the bottom, and slung the flake out right as a directional for my second. Definitely cruxy getting to the ear, but pulling over the ear is easy and has bomber gear.

P2 - Lieback, jam, it's all good. I went around the roof and belayed at the small ledge. #1 and #2 camalots for gear on the left, or finger size gear on the right.

P3 - Fun. The slab move is straightforward if you are used to Tahquitz/Suicide slab. A little chimney action is useful to establish yourself on the good holds for the slab.

Gear: Set of nuts, one set of finger sized cams, doubles #.5-#4 camalot. I had a #3.5 camalot as well which I happily used. A third #2 camalot is useful for the belays.
By Chris G.
From: Lakewood
Mar 9, 2014

I have eyeballed this many times while walking down. My gf and I climbed it yesterday and I am still smiling from it. Read other comments and bring what you feel is safe. Two #4's are great and mentally three #4's would be awesome! The last 20 feet of p2 will get your heart rate up. I lie backed and bumped a #4 a good 5-6 times. Take peoples advice and belay up and right outside the cave on p2. Extra #1 and #2's won't go unused.

Does anyone know about he rap route here? Is it 2 rope repel or is there multiple anchors for a single 70?
By Eric Santos
Mar 10, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I tried climbing the crack to the right at the start of pitch two and was spit out about twenty feel off of the belay. Anyone have an idea of what this variation might be rated?
By Ian Kesterson
From: Oakland, CA
Sep 3, 2014

Classic 5.9. Five years back, we climbed this after doing Whodunnit in the morning. As we racked up, this mystical old timer appears and suggested a #3 in this pod on the way to the crack, you know, in case of a fall the leader and belayer wouldn't go tumbling down a slab. Nice. So my partner leads off, a wild gust of wind rips through, startling him enough that he yells and I take him up real good, pulling him off the wall. The #3 held, his on-sight didn't. After the first pitch rumbling clouds came in. I ran up the lieback in a hurry, then topped out in the rain. Yikes.
By Benjaminadk
From: Lake George, NY
Nov 16, 2014

really beautiful looking piece of rock, and great climbing too. i thought the second pitch was about as good as it gets. the first pitch has a harder move, but get ahold of that big flake and its over. the third pitch isnt as great but who cares? topping out the easy chimney is a cool way to finish up. this climb and really the taquitz/suicide area as a whole made me want to move cross country and live in idyllwild, amazing scenery and awesome rock. jealous of the guy who grew up there! oh yeah...having two #4s made me feel alot better than if i had had only one.
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