Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Santa Barbara Climbing History In Print: IV

Note: Recently I've spent some time compiling and scanning as much printed medium that I could find that covers climbing in the Santa Barbara area. Originally intended to be one post, I've broken it up into what will be several, with some [I think] cool stuff that appeared in books, magazines, and newspaper articles over the years.

Part IV: 1995- 1997

SoCal Bouldering Guide - 2nd Edition - 1995
1995 brought along a revised and much expanded SoCal Bouldering guide from Craig Fry, including topos and select problem listings for Lizard's Mouth, The Brickyard and Painted Cave. Also included was a short write-up with some excellent photos of the The Swimming Hole, which also garnered the coveted cover shot showing SoCal bouldering legend Jeff Johnson on Shock Wave (a photo erroneously identified in the credits as Paul Anderson, although everyone knows Paul never had that much hair). In a mighty coup, Jeff also nabbed the back cover shot of the guide as well, busting out Streetcar in J-Tree.

Another guide dear to my heart, before moving to Santa Barbara this was the book I had in hand when I went bouldering up at The Brickyard for the first time in 1996 (I'd been up to Painted Cave and Lizard's Mouth the year prior on another road trip). While a topo of The Yard was provided in the text, it was, shall we say, not so helpful. Luckily for me, I met two locals bouldering there (Steve Edwards and Chris Leube) which made things a bit easier to find.

One unfortunate part of the book is the photograph of "The Brickyard Technique", where the climber 'clips in' to avoid the consequences of frightening topouts. Particularly offensive to bouldering in general, in that the Brickyard chapter is followed by The Swimming Hole, where pretty much the best landing out there was higher and flatter than anything The Brickyard had to offer for spice. Luckily this "Brickyard Technique" never caught on.

Rock and Ice - Tar Creek Bouldering by Wills Young - January 1997
Next up, Wills put out this nice mini-guide to The Swimming Hole aka Tar Creek in the winter of '97. Due to some, shall we say, personality conflicts between Wills and another Swimming Hole developer Jeff Johnson, it's not the most complete guide that it could have been. Jeff was generally anti-publicity about The Swimming Hole (he truly didn't either anticipate or welcome the interest that Sherman's book provided to Tar Creek), and since Jeff was the longest running local of the area, he essentially refused to offer information about many things that had/had not been done. Because of that, some names are incorrect, and some problems that had names aren't named, but it's a nice little guide to get you there nonetheless, and Wills did his best to sway the masses with the tales of the epic hike, wild animals, horrific landings, etc.

Santa Barbara Bouldering - Steve Edwards - 1997
Finally, the first "real" bouldering guide
to the area was Steve Edwards' excellent Santa Barbara Bouldering, which covered in detail for the first time, The Lizard's Mouth, Painted Cave, The Brickyard, Red Rock, Westmont College Boulder and Pine Mountain (access issues at the time prevented publication of The Swimming Hole). Most notable of the guide was the cover shot is of a guy who has only bouldered outdoors a handful of times, and I'm not talking about the legendary dog who's standing on the summit (a 2 year old Ratso). The boulderer in question is [a much younger than now] Phil Requist, who on the very few times I have gotten him out bouldering, have seen him dispatch with some damn hard things (I recall him flashing Grotesque Old Woman at The Brickyard). Pretty sure he fired Red Rock's awesome The Seven Year Plan very quickly that day of the photo.

The book itself is another of those kind that I love. Obviously put together on a shoestring budget but with a lot of care and stacks of work put into it. It was also put out at the time when I was so rabid about bouldering and living in Santa Barbara that I did almost nothing else but climb.

As much as I love it though, the maps to the more difficult areas of the Brickyard and The Lizard's Mouth completely blow. Steve is a man of many talents, topography was never one of them. I still have my original copy of this guide, where I was trying to do every single problem in it (came remarkably close), but there's a lot of notations of "Can't find it, doesn't make sense." Of course, then you get Steve out there with you one day and he shows you where stuff is and it makes perfect sense, but that's not really the point of a guidebook, to have the author standing there guiding you. Right?