Two climbers killed at Tahquitz Rock

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Two climbers have died after what appears to be a rappel-related accident at Tahquitz Rock. The Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department responded to a report around noon yesterday of injured climbers and, after an arduous approach, arrived to find a man and woman dead from wounds at the base of the rock.

According to a longtime Idyllwild resident who spoke with two people involved in the recovery, a climber was attached to a rope with an ATC. The second climber had an abseil device attached to his harness, but was not attached to the rope. Both ends of the rope were tied. A refrigerator sized boulder may have fallen with the climbers – Tahquitz is known to have an abundance of loose rock. Brief but heavy rain accompanied by hail was reported in the area at the time of the accident. The names of the deceased have not been released.

Tahquitz and nearby Suicide Rocks are towering granite cliffs on the hillsides above the artsy resort town of Idyllwild, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains. Tahquitz is the highest peak at around 8,000ft, with routes up to 800ft and a steep 45 minute approach. One of the first technical climbing areas developed in North America, it offers classic routes up to seven pitches over cracks, friction slabs and flakes. Art Johnson and Bob Brinton originally climbed the 500ft Hollow (5.3) in 1936, and the decimal notation system was developed here for a 1956 guide.

Tahquitz is a traditional and serious cliff. Established roads tend to be clean, but the rock is prone to periodic rockfall. Rock quality deteriorates on the middle to upper slopes of the wall and belays can be elusive. Many leaders have taken a decent stance to get to the end of the rope in the middle of nothing.

“It’s cloudy terrain up there, criss-crossing ramps,” says John Long, who set up The roof (5.12a) there. “It’s nothing like Yosemite’s routes, it’s not nut-friendly rock. The cracks don’t tend to be deep, and other than that you get splinters and boulders, although you have to ask you about the blocks.

In 2002, Tahquitz was the scene of another double death when Dave Kellogg and Kelly Tufo, aged 32 and 41, fell from a multi-pitch course there, victims of what was likely a motor failure. belay anchor. Read the full article by Alison Osius here.

Memory of a double climbing accident in Tahquitz

Virginia F. Goins