How did R.J. Secor Impact You?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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maverick
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How did R.J. Secor Impact You?

Post by maverick » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:34 pm

After his recent passing, would be interested in hearing, how his books aided you, in your backpacking and climbing careers?


Sierra Club honored R.J.Secor back in 2014, with the Francis Farquhar Mountaineering Award:

If you’ve done any amount of hiking or climbing in the Sierras, you’ve probably bought, borrowed or stole a copy of the guidebook "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails" by
R.J. Secor. That “bible of the Sierras” has guided untold numbers to discover and explore the wonderful peaks and hidden gems of the high Sierra range.

At the Sierra Peaks Section banquet in January, R.J. received the national Sierra Club's Francis Farquhar Mountaineering Award which honors an individual’s contribution to the sport of mountaineering and enhancement of the Sierra Club's prestige in that field.

R.J. is a longtime member of the Sierra Club and the Sierra Peaks Section. He is one of only four people to complete the SPS list two times and one of only two who has achieved a third Master Emblem. R.J. is a lifelong mountaineer, adventurer and author. Besides The High Sierra, he has authored guidebooks on Denali, Aconcagua and Mexican volcanoes.


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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, an HST member: http://reconn.org






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Re: How did R.J. Secor Impact You?

Post by ironmike » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:33 pm

I first met RJ back in the late 70’s/early 80’s when I joined the (now defunct) Rock Climbing Section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club. The RCS had a history of active participation from a number of greats in California climbing history. I met Glen Dawson, Chuck Wilts, Nick Clinch, Andy Fried, and many others by way of joining the section and going on climbing outings to the typical SoCal haunts - Taquitz, Suicide, Stony Point. RJ was a very active member in those days (of course) and encouraged me to get more involved with the RCS board (which I did by editing the section newsletter for a couple years) as well as spreading my climbing wings to areas outside California. Expeditions to Vinson, Changtse, and Denali soon followed and a lifelong passion was established. Not all due to RJ, but he was definitely a pioneer and role model for someone like me who wasn’t a super skilled alpinist but definitely loved the challenge and lure of mountain wilderness. I am very sorry to hear of his passing.

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Re: How did R.J. Secor Impact You?

Post by wildhiker » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:22 am

I never met Secor, but his book gave me (and still gives) great pleasure in imagining and planning backpacking trips. It's also given me occasion to curse him more than once over his "class 2" routes that I think are actually harder.
-Phil

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Re: How did R.J. Secor Impact You?

Post by LMBSGV » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:33 pm

The original edition of Secor’s book along with the original edition of Steve Roper’s Sierra High Route book (the Sierra Club tote book version) were my main sources for trip planning in the pre-internet era. I’d look at maps and come up with a possible route, then consult Secor to get trail mileage and research both books for cross-country routes. I’ve never been interested in peak bagging so my use of Secor’s book was confined to trails and cross-country routes. I agree with Phil on some of the class 2 routes, such as Harrison Pass. At the same time there were others, like Feather Pass, which I found easier than Secor described.

Once so much information became available online, especially right here, I did not consult Secor and Roper as in the past. However, for many years, his book was indispensable.

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Re: How did R.J. Secor Impact You?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:41 pm

I joined SPS when I first moved to California and went on their trips. Then joined and was active in CCC (California Climbing Club). I bought RJ's book and then tore out pages to carry them on the climbs I did (this is my normal practice with guide books). I was also on several trips either lead by RJ or where RJ was participating. RJ also came on one of my climbing trips in the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming.

RJ's gear, as such, was a throw-back to another era! Never one to need or want the latest new gear, he looked like he stepped out of hte 1970's! He insisted on hip belays (never would use a belay device- called it a hocky puck). He was the original minimalist. On a "planned" bivouac to do the Palisade ridge, he took no bivy gear and after listening to two hours of his teeth chattering, I gave him my bivy sack and someone else gave him an extra pair of socks to put on his hands. He was on the trip where I (accidently) blew up my stove on 4th of July, while watching the fireworks down at Independence! He immediatly realized what was happening and ducked down behind a rock, while the rest of us just stood there, and luckily the shrapnel missed us. On that trip he went up an obscure peak to get a photo for his guide update, and accidently left his ice axe on top. He ran back up to get it coming back at dark, but while gone missed a herd of mountain sheep that wandered by our campsite. We were climbing Langly and he convinced us (he did not go with us) to check out a gully climb that was in his guide- he had never been on it. He had some other obscure peak to check out. Well, that turned out to be exciting as the sun hit the upper ice in the gully and bowling ball sized rocks came off the top and bounced back and forth on the walls of the narrow gully, barely missing us! Since I never bought his third edition guide, I do not know what he said about that climb. We suggested he simply not put the route in the guide. But on a subsequent trip, my husband knocked his boots together at a rest stop to get the mud off them, without realizing that RJ was standing next to him. I guess we got back at him for the blowling ball gully! All in all, he was a character. I recall he had a degree in English literature. He could get into some pretty academic disscussions.

RJ definitely "did his homework" on his guidebook. He was a peak-bagger of the old-school bent. Even though he was not a great technical climber of harder 5th class, he was very comfortable on up to class 4 without a rope. The "sandbagging" in his guide is more of his old school philosophy as well as its "rule" that if Normal Clyde called it class 3, then by all means, it was class 3 regardless of how difficult it really was!

Very sad that his accident injured him at the peak of his climbing career and contributed to his early passing.

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