In the near future, the AAC library is scheduled to receive a collection of rare and unusual climbing guidebooks from Armando Menocal, a longtime climber and advocate of climbing. We asked Armando to give us some background about the collection, why he started it, and the significance of the collection. The following post was written by Mr. Menocal.
A common misconception about guidebooks is that their purpose is simply to give directions.
Prof. Jay Taylor, Journal of Historical Geography (Vo. 32: 190, 2006)
One day 25 years ago, a writer from a trendy magazine in San Francisco called me. She was doing a typical story on what people in the community were reading.
“What’s on your night stand?” she asked me.
Before I could think of something she might understand or that might make me look good, I blurted out the truth, “Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows.”
Silence. Then a dubious and clueless, “What’s that?” I still wasn’t thinking because I made a second mistake, one that climbers know all too well: trying to explain climbing to a non-climber.
“It’s a kind of book with directions for rock climbs and basic facts, like features and difficulty. This one has mostly drawings or photos, but it’s the first published guide to the Meadows, after years when the only info we had was a spiral notebook that was kept at the Sierra Club’s Soda Spring campground, where climbers would write down or draw their first ascents. Half’m were total sandbags.”
More silence, and then, “That’s really interesting. What did you read before that?”