Certainly, there are climbers who have more experience and better mountain sense. Those climbers barely need a guidebook as it is. But this article isn't about them. Instead, it's about the guidebooks that each kind of stereotypical climber might use. In other words, "the good guidebooks" and the "bad guidebooks."
What is a so-called "good guidebook"?
Most would consider a good guidebook to be one that is very clear. There are photos of everything. There are route topos. Pitch lengths are described. Bivi sites are detailed. And there is excellent approach and descent beta. In other words, nothing is left to the imagination.
Then what is a "bad guidebook"?
This was a phenomenal "secret" route with almost no beta.
There is actually an argument for "bad guidebooks." The argument goes something like this, if you have too much information, it kills the adventure. If you have too much information, the experience is somehow tarnished. If you have too much information, it's just not as fun.
Note the Guide Tennies while wearing crampons.
"It was an adventure...I'll put it that way," Coley said of the route.
A few years ago, I guided one of the couloir routes on Whistler Peak. There were approximately two sentences in the guidebook on the route. Essentially there was no beta. We climbed the route and found it to be utterly spectacular. It was a moderate climb with a bit of steep snow and a bit of mixed terrain.
There was also nobody else on the route...
In other words, I think that people should give certain guidebooks, (i.e. the Beckey books) a break. Historically, all that people had were limited descriptions. I think that every climber should try to climb at least one obscure, poorly described route a year. Every now and again, you'll find it to be worth it.
--Jason D. Martin