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Watch story of Open Book, first rock climb given 5.9

The three-pitch classic dihedral is one of the most climbed at Tahquitz Rock

Open Book is an historic rock climb located on Tahquitz Rock in Southern California. When Royal Robbins and Don Wilson did the first free ascent in 1952 it was one of the hardest routes in the country and became the first climb given the grade of 5.9 on the Yosemite Decimal System.

The route was first climbed using aid in 1947 by John Mendenhall and Harry Sutherland, two leaders of the Sierra Club. Mendenhall famously fashioned wooden pitons out of 2×4 lumber which he pounded into the wide crack on the second pitch. He then attached stirrups to the pegs and stood up in them to make upwards progress.

It follows a very obvious dihedral. The first few moves off the deck are tricky and lead to a belay in a little nook. The second pitch heads up a layback for 20 metres to a roof. The third pitch heads up an easier dihedral.

This was not the first 5.9 ever climbed, only the first in America to get the grade. The first 5.10 on record was Perrykante at Elbe Sandstones, Germany, and it was climbed in 1906 by Oliver Perry-Smith.

To this day Open Book remains an all time classic. This film was produced by Cole Gibson and Giant Rock.

Yosemite Decimal System

The Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) of grading routes was initially developed as the Sierra Club grading system in the 1930s to rate hikes and climbs in the Sierra Nevada range.

The rock climbing portion was developed at Tahquitz Rock in southern California by members of the Rock Climbing Section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club in the 1950s. It quickly spread to Canada and the rest of the Americas.

Open Book