By Steve Dieckhoff
Serious Play is an annotated guide to traditional Front Range Classics 5.2-5.9. This guide is a unique hybrid climbing guide/instructional manual. This beautifully illustrated primer teaches traditional climbing skills while providing detailed route information for the Front Range's finest moderate lines.
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I love the concept of this book. Basically, the author gives you beta on various moderate trad climbs in the Front Range. Being a beginner trad climber, I usually comb the Mountain Project page for as much beta as possible before I do a climb. The beta in this book can sometimes be as detailed as mentioning specific gear placements or hold locations, but usually it is a bit more vague and not much more helpful than the Levin guidebook. It has hand drawn route pictures which is kind of charming but ultimately photos would have been more helpful. Having climbed a few of the routes in this book I disagree with some of the beta or thought some was omitted that I would have found useful. I would have preferred to see more beta about where to set up the anchor, which specific gear sizes to use where, or even specific beta about how to get through the crux. Without this info, it's basically a guidebook with slightly more beta and only a handful of routes. Also, most of the descent beta is outdated as rap anchors have been added. Again, it's a cool idea, but if you want detailed beta on a route, you are likely to find more useful and relevant info by scrolling through the comments on the MP page.