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Blake

first ascent [TR] Mt. Stuart - Gorillas in the Mist - IV 5.11 7/8/2009

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This picture strikes me as being a damn near perfect compostion between the mist, the consistent greyness of the granite, the little yellow flowers and the well positioned climber with bright colors. Nice job. I see a full page spread in the next Patagonia Catalog or whomever made the windbreaker.

 

WSW_074-1.jpg

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Is this west face wall in this photo? Can you point it out...there's some obvious steepness on the lower right...? Or further up the finger of snow, the triangular looking "wall" under the west ridge ?

 

Scurlock's photo obviously (so good!)

stuart_west_face.jpg

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Thanks for the stoke everyone! Great write up Blake.

 

This really completes a chapter in the Stuart Range for me, which began when wayne gave up the topos for Solid Gold and DOE. With those routes climbed, then the Tempest Wall and Der Sportsmen, it seemed only natural that Stuart needed a modern addition.

 

Definetly the best and biggest adventure i've been on in the Enchantments. Great to team up with both Jens and Blake for this, one hell of a team. A few more notes about the climb. Blake went the lightest of all of us with no gloves and no hat. So at the bivy he got the ipod nano to occupy his suffering a bit more, and really kept the morale high with poems, stories, and stoke. Though the bivy was burly, summiting stuart the next morning at sunrise after putting up such a good line was the most magical summit i've ever had in the range.

 

Some more info about the name: when we topped out on the W Ridge it had been decided that Blake and I would simul-climb and Jens would solo. A few hours into it we got seperated when Jens went high and we went low. We lost each other for about 2 hours in the mist and fog, every now and then getting a monkey call response between the two teams.

 

I have to give much thanks to Joe Puryear and Max Hasson, and my wife Ginnie Jo. When we were overdue, my wife rousted these guys out of bed, Joe jumped into action, collecting information, and establishing a Information Center at his place. Half the town knew we were late and we ready to come find us. Thanks alot guys, truly humbled by your selflessness. I feel very lucky to know that such a great crew had my back. Note: you'll get extra lovin from your wifey if you come home late from the mountains on you anniversary!

 

To answer some questions:

 

Off White: yep steep wall between the w ridge and goat pass.

 

Layton: yep, went left, than back right from the single and 1st bolt.

 

Noah: that's the wall, pic doesn't really do it justice, but if you contemplate how much of the rock in the photo is covered in snow and you look at the mostly snow-free W Face Wall you can get an idea of how steep that terrain is.

 

One more last shout out to Graham at Cilogear, Jim Nelson at Pro Mountain Sports, and Adam at Leavenworth Moutain Sports for the continued support, you guys rock!

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wouldn't you concider the Girth Pillar, which not only has a more difficult free rating, but a longer approach, ice/snow/glacier travel, and is a much longer climb a "modern route" on Mt. Stuart? Or are you talking in terms of when route was put up (didn't Colin put up a very difficult mixed line on Stuart last winter)?

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oh, sorry that came out kinda negative! I was just giving props to the hard climbs put up on stuart that were definately modern hard routes. I think that doing what y'all did in a white out is bad-ass!!!

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i would say colin's mixed climb is a completely different arena.

 

i've heard the deal with the girth is that the real climbing is super short. 3 pitches total and with the rockfall the new variation has 3-5 moves of 11a. it could very well be technically harder but it is not a 800-900ft overhanging wall that's for sure. I think there are climbers that could make it up the girth without too much trouble but would be intimidated by Gorillas in the Mist. either way both good lines with steep rock climbing.

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That is F-ing cool. I spent an hour or so staring at that wall from the West Ridge on Friday afternoon. I wondered if I'd ever have the balls to throw myself at it. You guys don't wonder!

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I just got around to reading this- fantastic! The opening photo is phenomenal. Nice job doods

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Actually we did debate that, with blake leaning more towards 10+. We figured like most obscure routes (solid gold, der sportsmen, acid baby) whatever grade we gave it would drop after a few ascents as it gets cleaned up. We cleaned enough of the route with three people climbing to definetly make some sections easier. 10+/11-, but maybe not a good 10 for a leader maxing out at the grade.

 

We discussed jens lead of the second pitch in which he cleaned tons of moss and ripped off some big blocks a ways out from his pro. Though only 10+, he said he was fully maxed out, scrapping his way through it, due to the condition of the rock.

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I was just joking. Because I was maxed out on a supposed 10c last weekend. It felt more like 11+ to me at the time. :blush:

I was pumped from the eairleir pitches though and did have a pack on.

 

 

5.11 in the mountains onsite and clean, up dirty rock in a moist cloud would be a real challange, not something most of us could do. But hey, you guys try to climb 15 11s in a day, so there ya go and other crazy crap. Nice job on the route.

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Good alpine rock and ice climbers in the Cascades are probably some of the best alpinists anywhere, IMO, b/c of the long approaches and rock conditions.

 

Nice work again, BTW!

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I talked to Blake right after you guys climbed the route, and he told me it was 5.10 because a 5.10 climber "probably" wouldnt kill themselves on it. I didn't really think that was the correct criteria by which to rate a route :)

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Ahhh, ratings...they are so hard to pin down. My experience with ratings in the alpine is that they are a bit soft. Alpine climbing and the difficulty of a certain stretch depends so much on the day's factors. For example, on the 10+ monkey traverse, I gave more effort than I do on sighting 11+ at the crag. The rock was dirty, I didn't know where I was going, the rope drag was heinous, and holds were ripping out in my hands. Technically 10+ yes, but it sure didn't feel like it at the time. As Sol, Blake, and myself walked down from this adventure we discussed all the routes we had done over the years, trying to think of an example of an alpine line with legit ratings. If there were any, they were very few and far between. From Cerro Torre to the North Howser Tower and everything in between, we decided that ratings in the 'pine are indeed on the softer side. I really think that in comparison with local routes and standard setting lines around the world, calling this route 5.11 is much more appropriate than a 5.10 rating.

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It also depends on what your strength and weaknesses are. I've never been able to climb 11+ at the crag, exccept maybe on TR (just don't have the finger strength or the right strength to weight ratio) but I have frequently climbed 10+ in the mountains.

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When a 5.12 climber puts up a 5.10 pitch that max's them out I bet the world ends up with one more route doomed to obscurity. Unfortunate, considering the accessible location and how quality some of that climbing looks. You should go back and throw in a few bolts to make it sane or let someone else. Just a thought...

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The only reason it was so hard was because of the conditions. Even when Blake and I seconded, the pitch had changed dramaticaly and was good 10+ climbing. there is gear the entire way.

 

Proabaly the most naturally protectable range in the cascades with more than enough bolts to clip down valley.

 

i'm drawing up a topo for some folks who might get after it this weekend.

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Well, I'll take the opposite view and suggest this is headed for classic status. A few sunny ascents will clean it up and lessen the intimidating nature of these clouds-brewing photos.

 

This looks like a far more interesting route than either the Girth (which I haven't done but seems like a long approach for a short section of real climbing) and the N ridge, which we know is endless simul climbing for most parties.

 

It doesn't sound like any bolts are needed, unless you want to bolt anchors so the route can be rapped instead of having to continue to the summit.

 

I would be inclined to respect the 11 rating as as these kids easily hike hard 11s North, South, East, and West.

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