The Colorado Bouldering Guidebook

Posted on 11. Aug, 2008 by in News

As I was walking down the endless rows of vendors today at the Trade Show, I happened to walk by Falcon Publishing and lo and behold there it was, Colorado Bouldering by Bob Horan. I flipped through the book in 20 minutes or so and what I saw was appalling, embarrassing, and the source of much entertainment.
The Poudre Canyon, RMNP, and Mt. Evans were all included in the guidebook and each section was rife with gratuitous mistakes. In the Poudre Canyon nearly every problem on Hank’s Boulder was renamed. It was also written that Hanks boulder was named after a climber named Tom Henry.
The Park may have been the worst of three areas I looked at closely. Most boulderers know the massive boulder that sits in the lake as the 50/50 Boulder. While there was no mention of 50/50 Where it Counts, it was written that on that boulder were several problems, including European Human Being, The Centaur, HandiCapps, Nuthin But Sunshine and the “highballs” Skyscraper and Stars and Stripes (none of which are actually on that boulder). The boulder with Tommy’s Arete is listed as having two problems named Tommy Arete, one of which is V7, the other V8. The Gobot was listed as V4. I also saw “The Kine Traverse” as well as the “Large Roof V10″ at Emerald Lake. Directions to everything are horrendous and unusable. In Upper Chaos, Triple Threat Arete is shown in a photo and labled as Sunspot, with McFly on the same roof to the right. There is a picture of Freshly Squeezed, with Bob “topping out” that is labeled as the Freaky Boulder and the problem is called Freak of Nature V14. I can’t emphasis how laughable his mistakes are.
At Mt. Evans the trajedy continues. Ty Landman’s problem Blackie V11 is listed as Jiggles V9 and All Dogs go To Evans is listed as Pat’s Arete V7. On the Dali Boulder we have The Dali V5, The Lime Wall V13 and The Lime Wall V12. Although Bob told Cameron that Area B,C, and D would not be mentioned, there they are clear as day and in fact Area D lists “The Big Four” This would be great except there are five problems listed and most incorrectly, by either name or grade. He also mentions an area at Lincoln Lake called the “Greener Grasses Area” Perhaps that was Bob’s name? I could go on and on. Trice V10, Animal (pictured as No More Greener Grass and given the V11 grade) Suspension of Disbelief renamed to something forgettable and inaccurate, as well he gives directions to The Tropics (which don’t even exist because they were blown up 7 years ago!) Cage Free called Hit Hard Tactics V7, etc etc and this is nothing to say of how lightly access issues are dealt with, if at all. At one point I was surrounded by Carlo Traversi, Daniel Woods and Paul Robinson and we were just laughing aloud at how bad it really was. All of this was uncovered in a mere puruesing. I can only imagine what a good sit down viewing would reveal.
I talked to a fellow there from Falcon and he said that they would contact Bob and that he would really look into it. He also suggested that myself and my group of friends maybe had the wrong names and that Bob was very experianced in Colorado Bouldering.
When this book hits the shelf in a month or so, I recommend keeping the 50$ to yourself. I will happily give free tours of accurate information to anyone that wants them. This book was written with little regard for anyone in our community and its unfortunate so much time and money was wasted on a very poor effort.

24 Responses to “The Colorado Bouldering Guidebook”

  1. mervo

    11. Aug, 2008

    As if I have to say this to anyone reading Jemerson’s blog.

    This is precisely the reason why people such as Cam, Jamie, and Bennett should be informed when people decide to write guidebooks.

    I’m not saying that these people are Gods and should be enlightened regarding all actions of the climbing community, but what I am saying is, knowledgeable people in the community should be used as a resource by Bob and Falcon.

    As a person who cares about, and enjoys learning about, climbing history (fancy that, i was a history major) it bothers me when situations like this arise. This is a situation that could have been easily avoided with so much as a cell phone call and a few emails.

    Very unfortunate for people that have done a ton of work accurately recording this info such as Jaime and Bennett.

    I hold Falcon as accountable as I hold Bob in this situation.

    Seth Murphy

  2. B. Kimball

    11. Aug, 2008

    I particularly enjoy the part where this guy from Falcon suggests to Jamie that “he and his little buddies ‘DW and Carlos’ may have the names, grades and locations of the problems a little mixed up”. This guy had NO IDEA who he was talking to.
    There is practically no one more educated on Colorado Boudering than Jamie and from what I am reading it seems there is practically nobody more misinformed and uneducated on the subject than this author.
    I for one will be contacting Falcon to let them know my thoughts on guide book authors publishing such blatant misleading information.
    Being a guidebook author is a tough way to make a living. Being a guidebook author that publishes incorrect information of this magnitude-now that is just a SAD, SAD way to try and earn a buck.


  3. climbingnarc

    11. Aug, 2008

    I’ve never been to 90% of the problems and it sounds like I know more about them than the guidebook author.

  4. sock hands

    11. Aug, 2008

    i could see myopic route-based publishers believing that such mistakes are not really a big deal because it’s ‘just bouldering’ and the guide would ‘get em into the right area.’ if these descriptions were for a trad guide, folks would potentially die after setting off on some unclean, undone line with loose rock mistaken in the guide for an area classic. melodramatic example perhaps, but there is a tremendous responsibility for anything purporting to be a guide to present known information in an accurate manner. if these mistakes are not considered as serious as they are to the bouldering community, the credibility of the publisher is completely corrupted for all purposes and all prior and subsequent guides. lazy justifications that folks should anticipate and embrace poor directions and descriptions as some sort of “adventure” element is irresponsible and irrespectful of people’s time and money invested to visit these areas. countless hours i’ve spent bushwacking to find boulders on even decent guides is not equity in ‘adventure’ for me and does nothing to improve my outdoor experience. considering this a ‘natural’ part of guidebooks proves to me that a given publisher really does not care about its customers at all. climbing magazine editors give more thought and attention to 100 word forgettable essays.

  5. matt

    11. Aug, 2008

    that really is embarrassing! who would put their name to such a travesty?

  6. A.M.

    11. Aug, 2008

    I find this appalling from falcon. They claim there are not going to be access issue from this book. If someone does find the problem from the information in the book, they are going to go bushwhacking through the woods til they find it.
    Getting names wrong is one thing. Putting in an area that was blown up over seven years ago. I mean really how could you not know.
    I also find it very funny that they said to Jamie that he probably did not know what he was talking about.

  7. Julian

    11. Aug, 2008

    There’s an old Falcon guide called “Rock Climbing New England” that’s also rife with errors, omissions, and mis-labeled photos. Guess I’ll be avoiding Falcon guides even more studiously now.

  8. weatherman

    11. Aug, 2008

    Not only have Bob Horan’s prior guidebooks had innacuracies with respect to directions, problem specifics, grades, blah, blah blah, but his guides have been misleading as to what Bob has climbed and not climbed.

    People who know Bob on a friendly basis have questioned him about problem specifics on numerous occasions. A COMMON response to these inquiries, and I’m paraphrasing heresay here, has been “Oh, yeah, that thing, I cleaned some holds, but didn’t climb it.”

    WTF? This tells me all I needed to know BEFORE I heard anything from Jamie about the quality (or lack thereof) of his current book, Bouldering Colorado. There is a reason that the standing joke in Colorado is “Sorry, Bob Horan did all that back in the 80’s.”

    Boulderering is a detail-oriented activity. There are lots of specifics, but they’re not impossible to come by. In a guidebook with the breadth of Bouldering Colorado, there are bound to be errors, but the errors of every type and kind revealed during a cursory viewing of a few areas Jamie knows well and remembered well enough to regurgitate for us are fatal flaws found only in the worst of books.

    I would like to believe Falcon will come to their senses if enough pressure is applied in the right places, but Falcon publishes too many guides for too many activities in too many places. It may be up to us to make the sale of this book impossible.

  9. michael beck

    11. Aug, 2008

    JE, we had the same problem with the Wolverine guide to Utah Bouldering. Rife with mistakes, totally uniformed, no mention of access issues, no consulting with locals (other than on Moab (where Noah did a good job) and perhaps Ogden) and wholesale copying of others previously published materials. It still burns me to see people out in the areas around here with that book. I feel sorry for you guys, that kind of negligence can have a big impact on an area.

  10. dan

    12. Aug, 2008

    Off topic but..after reading interesting blogs from pringle and trotter about the trade show comp (and climbing comps in general), just wondering if you had any comments or contructive criticisms of it.

  11. MTE

    12. Aug, 2008

    There is a proactive step that can be taken to avoid these situations, namely to document areas with accurate, responsible and easy to find information on the web for FREE. This practice could certainly take the profit motive out of guidebook publishing. Yes, it also means that anyone could go online learn about an area and climb there … but if it’s on public land and truly open to all then perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. The entire guidebook publishing business might be unhinged if in-the-know climbers made their knowledge available to the public. This could prove to be a good thing, although it would also disrupt the “brahs only” ethic that prevails in so many places today.

  12. si m

    12. Aug, 2008

    is this a joke jamie?

    If not then Falcon should really not be selling the guide. They should withdraw the publication. Thats really embarrassing and problematic and will do colorado bouldering much more damage than good.

  13. peter

    12. Aug, 2008

    That is already happening on the Front Range with a comprehensive online guide to Flagstaff mountain, Castlewood Canyon and my developing guide to Boulder Canyon. See my blog for more thoughts on this direction for guidebooks and their future.

  14. das bpc

    12. Aug, 2008

    an online guide is being considered for the distant future, but i suspect that if such is ever followed through upon, it will only be after the coordination with the rangers and administrators involved in the management of evans to ensure harmony rather than conflict, as cam and many others have begged regarding this issue.

    i was introduced to bouldering guides in the online format ala the site. my friends had prepared a printed guide in the past but broken holds and the constant discovery of new lines made the printed guide obsolete mere months after printing and they vowed never to expend the time, money, or effort in such a wasteful way again… they proposed the on-line guide as a way the entire community could chime in on problems, history, and new development.

  15. Jill

    12. Aug, 2008

    My take on all of this: I’ve climbed all over the U.S. and have never bought a guidebook. Not because of errors, but because part of the climbing experience for me is meeting and climbing with others who are equally as passionate about the sport. I’ve never once in 8 years of constant traveling run into a situation where locals, either at the craig or the town climbing gym/shop, were not willing to give directions or even a tour of their home area. I think that online guidebooks are simply an extension of this: Climbers sharing information with other climbers…for free. In particular, those who know an area best, sharing the best information.

  16. Eliott

    13. Aug, 2008

    Falcon guides, and usually the people who author them are complete choss. The NJ climbs guide is a pile. 99% of the areas mentioned are complete choss and utterly unclimbable. Indeed there are rocks there, but no self respecting climber would climb them. To add insult to injury the auther consistantly offers grades of V0 or V0- to problems that much more difficult and in one instance a grade of V5 (always with a question mark) to an arete that is pretty much unclimbable, suggesting that not only is the asshole who arote the guide a complete and total Gumbo, but also that he did not climb any of the problems or climbs mentioned in the guide. The directions to most areas are ass backwards and he leaves out entire areas of cliff containing numerous climbs in already established areas with their own respective guide books.
    I think Falcon needs to do a LOT more research on the people they are publishing and the people whoo want to be know as guidebook authors. It would seem to me that these people have no real motivation to accurately inform the climbing community, but only to self promote and associate their names with rock climbing. Pretty friggin tragic.

    I almost feel bad for my friend Chris being the poster boy for that guide book. But at least the areas he developed contain somewhat accurate information, but only because he was consulted directly for information on those areas.

    Oh and was “Faith in Chaos” added to the Mt. Evans section of the guide? If not, complete and total choss. Burn it. haha

  17. tim m

    13. Aug, 2008

    I appreciate the discovery of a new area without a guide book as well and enjoy connecting with locals for info etc.. however , here in the northeast most of the bouldering is on access sensitive land. Over time word gets out about any given area, then photos and articles appear in magazines etc.. There were articles about our local area full of misinformation including route names, grades and even the type of rock! With each articles publication there was a surge of visitors and a greater impact on the neigbhorhood etc…If someone is honestly interrested in publishing information about a climbing area they need to understand the ramifications of its impact, with access issues clearly spelled out and what is expected of visitors using the guide.I can only hope that any future parties interrested in publishing information about an area openmindedly consult the local climbing community for a better understanding of its history and all possible access sensitivities.

  18. Noah Kaufman

    14. Aug, 2008

    I wrote to Falcon, and we all should. It is so sad when this type of thing happens. This happened with Tahoe routes (Falcon) and bouldering (supertopo) and now nobody wants to see the amazing bouldering we have here. Bob Horan is an anti-contributor.

  19. slabdyno

    15. Aug, 2008

    this is most unfortunate. A TRAVESTy of sorts!

  20. Frank

    14. Sep, 2008

    Somebody tell me where this fool lives. I’ll fix it real quick …

  21. greasy enchiladas

    15. Feb, 2009

    I had to see for myself what all the uproar was about. I checked the book out from the Denver Library (impressed that they even had it) and sure enough what a joke. Like some of you above have stated, I haven’t been to a lot of these areas, but those that I have and know well were really misleading and pretty screwed up. I liked the photos showing the problems and hope that others will consider this format for future guidebooks. HS

  22. eric

    08. Mar, 2011

    Given the track record of Falcon guides, this comes as no surprise at all. Falcon guides are the least useful and informative of all major guidebook companies. Wolverine, Sharpend, and Greener Grass are much more informed and useful. I personally stopped buying Falcon years ago, after finding several that withh blatent errors and misinformation.

  23. […] information about RMNP and Mt. Evans to Mountainproject.  However, the Horan book got decidedly mixed reviews and MountainProject is only so useful out in the field**.  Enter a new guidebook to […]

  24. Brian

    07. Nov, 2016

    Ha this i great i bought that book at thought the same thing it has so many mistakes I live in vail and the red cliff section is completely messed up he uses the Minturn mile boulder photo for like 3 different boulders and i can tell this by the markings on the trees, which are aspen and have some unique carving on them. Pretty messed up indeed

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