Anyone who has ever climbed at Joshua Tree has had one thing to say about the original Vogel guides; “Damn, I wish this guide was better.” Fuzzy black and white photos, black lines marking routes, no pro info, no beta- just a name and a number. That's it. On the upside, there were like 5,000 of them in the book, so you'd be guaranteed to find something. As much fun as those guides were, they provided little help for people new to an area known for its complex geography, tough climbing, and even tougher descents. Enter Classic Joshua Tree Routes and Bouldering, Vogel's new guide from K. Daniels Publishing- a 500 route/180 boulder problem guide that eats up almost 580 pages- in color!
The new guide is fantastic and lives up to the newer standard of the best guidebooks out there- color pictures, enough information to get you excited about the route, and some helpful information like rack beta and topos. Not so much information, though, to ruin the still quintessential Joshua Tree experience. It even notes its limited scope and refers you to Joshua Tree West and other Vogel guides for more in-depth route coverage. At 500 routes, this guide will tide over all but the locals with loads of classic, fun routes from 5.7-5.11, which is pretty much all most of us want in a guide.
Pros: Color pictures throughout. Excellent maps. Focus on classic routes. Rack beta. Descent beta! Burly binding means it'll last. Fantastic historical blurbs on the more classic lines. Nicki Dyal on the cover. Hilarious Five Ten ad on the back.
Cons: Heavy for lugging around long approaches. Limited routes means those who have climbed in JTree for years may not appreciate it. Color coding on the routes- would be a good feature, but it’s not intuitive and there are too many colors.
Result: Buy it if you're not a J-tree local and don't hate a little beta on how to find a classic climb in the park.
by John Wilder