Climbing and Bouldering Guide
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Hueco Tanks: Climbing and Bouldering Guide

by John Sherman

First Edition: Chockstone Press, Evergreen. Colorado, 1990
Second Edition: Chockstone Press, Evergreen. Colorado, 1996;    pp. 407

“Possibly the most routes and boulder problems ever compiled between the covers of a single volume. All routes clearly described, lots of photos, the V rating system explained, quality ratings, doubly indexed by grade and name, plus Sherman's ratings of Mexican restaurants in El Paso. Even if bouldering is not your thing and even if you think Sherman has a juvenile (or worse) sense of humor, this book is an impressive achievement. Putting together this guide was clearly another labor of love for Sherman, who dedicates the book to those who climb for fun.”
David Stevenson, “American Alpine Journal” 1996, p. 376, [commentary to the second edition]

“If Hemingway had ever written a climbing guide then perhaps the result would have been somewhat like the new Hueco Tanks climbing and bouldering guide. A guide that does more than justice to and keeps in character with "the best bouldering anywhere". Familiar Hemingway preoccupations are sex, alcohol and death. The guide echoes these and tells us that Coppers Ale and oral sex are three star activities whereas "pulling her lycra off" is only a one star activity. A two star activity is "watching your closest rival fail on a route you've secretly wired".  Not quite in the same league as one or three star activities but easier to stomach multiple doses of, perhaps.
This vein of humour runs right the way through the guide. (…)
Not only is this work imaginative but it also informs. A trial use of the guide showed that even the most obscure bouldering areas are eventually located. The open-ended boulder grading system is novel too, going from VO to V10 - "the larger a number you tick the bigger a stud you are and the more excuse you have for acting like an arrogant twit." The traditional US system is used for roped climbs. There is much of high quality here both in the routes, their descriptions and the guidebook that contains them. The imagination that drives this guide is not to everyone's taste and there are those who will pick huecos - the photos for example, or the lack of a first ascent list. Again it matters not - the guide to El Paso entertainments makes up for this. In fact the novel photo exhorting readers to do just that more than outclasses most found in guidebooks by virtue of its humour, message and sheer cheek. This guide can be summarised as having more imagination and style than almost any that I've seen. Not only does it do a great job of describing a complicated climbing area but it also provides an entertaining read.”
Martin Berzins, „Mountain” 1991, July/August, No 140,      p. 49

“The book itself—from the outside—is as glossy and beautiful as any centerfold. The cover photo of the Front Side at sunset wraps seductively all the way 'round to the back, and in between are just enough drawings and pictures to keep the pages turning at a leisurely pace. Indeed, some people flip through it with a mania that approaches their anticipation of the Pet of the Year; but then, this guide is much anticipated, and almost anything published about Hueco would have been pawed in this same way. (…)
I am not easily offended, but this book is extremely sexist and vulgar. I am surprised that it is so prominently displayed at the front desk of the State Park ranger station. (…)
To some people, one of the more captivating aspects of pornography is its anonymity. The participants often have fake names, or no names at all. This namelessness reduces people to objects, and as objects, people are easier to put down. Significantly, the authors do not include the names of the first ascensionists with the climbs, and unfortunately, the book is also used to put people down. Not only does this book not give credit where credit is due, it goes out of its way to slander well-respected members of the climbing community. (…)
Ultimately, would I buy the book? The book is very usable. Whether or not to support slander, vulgarity, and sexism with a hard-earned dollar is up to the individual, a matter of personal politics and sensibilities. Since it goes out of its way to cheapen the dreams of those who experience the place, maybe it's best to go without a guidebook at all.”
Brad Werntz, “Rock & Ice” 1991, May/June, No. 43,         p. 92-93


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