Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks have tons of great climbing from 5.3 to 5.12 on beautiful granite. Located near the small town of Idyllwild in Southern California, the crags can get really crowded during the week-ends as they are the main playground for LA climbers.

Trad climbs of up to 7 pitches in length within a 40 minutes approach are what you can expect at Tahquitz (Lily Rock). We'd been here before and remembered the outstanding climbing so we decide to make a stop on our way to the Needles. We end up liking it so much that we stay for three weeks...

The table below contains links to pics and/or trip reports about the climbs we did this time around. One climb we've done before, but did not repeat is the US' first 5.9, "Open Book". It's a great line, rarely crowded (probably because it is a bit on the wide side), but the climbing is not as enjoyable as on Whodunit.

Route Rating Pitches Quality Area
Edgehogs (p1) 5.10a 1 * NW Recess
El Camino Real 5.10a 5 *** W Face (right)
El Monte (p1-2) 5.10b 2 * N Face
Farewell Horizontal 5.10c 1 ** NW Recess
Fingertrip 5.7 4 *** W Face (right)
Human Fright 5.10a 1 *** W Face (center)
Left Ski Track 5.6 3 *** S Face (center)
On the Road & Traitor Horn 5.10c & 5.8 5 *** W Face (right)
Super Pooper 5.10a 3 *** W Face (upper bulge)
The Vampire 5.11a 5 ***** W Face (upper bulge)
Whodunit 5.9 7 ***** NW Recess

Other good and popular climbs are "Fingertrip Traverse" (5.3), "Jensen's Jaunt" (5.6), and "Angel's Fright" (5.6).

Idyllwild has all the amenities you will need: restaurants, a laundromat, two supermarket, a library, a used bookstore and free Wi-Fi (at the coffee shop and the pizza place by the supermarket).

Several camping options are available, though the official ones are not cheap. The County Park campground ($17/night as of 2008, with coin operated showers) is not super pleasant but is the "cheapest" option in town. Still pretty pricey in my world. Several National Forest campgrounds can be found within 6 to 14 miles from town. Fees per night range from $10 to $17 depending on the services provided. Stop by the National Forest visitor center for an extensive list. Good free camping on national forest within reasonable distance from town can be found with a little bit of exploring.

Suicide is Tahquitz's little brother. It sits right across the valley from Tahquitz. The formation is smaller, but good climbing up to 3 pitches long can be found. Unlike Tahquitz, there are fewer cracks, and most climbs are slabs (usually on the run-out side of things). Most climbs here range between 5.9 to 5.12 (only a few easier climbs).

The cliff catches the sun early morning but most climbs get in the shade by early afternoon. The approach takes about 45 minutes and is a liitle less steep than the one for Tahquitz.

The table below summarizes the climbs we've done. Click on the links for trip reports and/or pics.

Route Rating Pitches Quality Area
Etude 5.11a 1 **** NE Buttress
Flower of High Rank 5.9 2 **** NE Buttress
Johnny Quest 5.10b 1 ** NE Buttress
Peer Pressure 5.10a 1 * NE Buttress
Revelation 5.10a 4 ** Weeping Wall
Serpentine 5.9 3 ** Weeping Wall
Sundance 5.10b 3 *** Sunshine Face

Guidebook: "Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks" (Falcon Guide) has all the info you need. The local climbing shop carries it.

Season: The best time to climb at Tahquitz is late spring (May-June) or early fall. It's a high altitude crag (the summit of Tahquitz is at 8,000 ft) and it is usually too cold in April. Summer is also an option as long as you climb in the shade. The climbing season starts earlier at Suicide as most of that cliff face South. Driving to Joshua Tree (only a few hours way) during a cold or wet spell is always an option (assuming you like J-Tree...).

Red tape: A pass is required to park at Humber Park (the trailhead for Tahquitz rock). But no worries: if you don't have one, park along the road, just before the sign and you will be fine.

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... but the real center of Idillwild is Tahquitz Rock!

 
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We spent 2 nights at the (too expensive) Idyllwild County Park campground.
 
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Lucie leading Left Ski Track (5.6), a fun route on the sunny South Face.
 
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Eric following the second pitch (step-across pitch).
 
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Racking up at the top of the South Face.
 
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The incredible layback corner of El Camino Real (10a).
 
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Eric leading the great first pitch of Super Pooper (10a), one of the best routes on the Central Bulge.
 
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Good (and free!) camping on nearby National Forest land.
 
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On El Monte's second pitch (5.10b).
 
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Relaxing in the bus during a 5-day bad-weather window over Memorial Day week-end. It snowed!
 
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"Open Book" follows the obvious dihedral and was the first 5.9 in the US.
 
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Eric following the second pitch of Fingertrip (5.7), one of the best moderates at Tahquitz.
 
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Lucie on the fun third pitch of Fingertrip.
 
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Eric leading the incredible dihedral of On The Road (10c).
 
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Spying on climbers?
 
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Whodunit, one the best lines at Tahquitz follows the obvious RF dihedral (left of center) for 7 pitches.
 
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Lucie, just below the crux, on the first pitch of Whodunit (5.9).
 
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One of many 5.8 pitches higher up on Whodunit.
 
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Following the first pitch of one of Tahquitz' harder classics, The Vampire (11a).
 
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Eric leading the thin traverse at the start of pitch 2 of The Vampire.
 
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On the standard SW face friction descent (exposed cl4).
 
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The small town of Idyllwild has everything: restaurants, free Wi-Fi, a supermarket... and a used book store.
 
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Suicide Rock does not have too many cracks, but Etude (11a) is a great one!
 
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Lucie following the second pitch of Revelation (10a) at Suicide.
 
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Starting the first pitch of Serpentine (5.9), a classic slab climb at Suicide.
 
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Eric on the first pitch of Sundance (10b), another Suicide classic.
 
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Working hard on the website...

Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks, Idyllwild, California

May 18-June 11, 2008