“A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it
away with him and leaving something of himself upon it.” —Martin Conway
On May 11th, 2012, Chris El-Deiry and I made what we believe is the first ascent of the direct west face of Suicide Rock, a 1,491-meter summit kind of near the Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah in the United States. We chose Suicide Rock for its distinct summit and prominence, as well as the fact that you totally can’t miss it every time you drive north on the 215.
Also, because it is there.
We chose to do this route alpine style, as light and fast as safely possible with no high camps or bivy gear, after work on a Friday.
We approached via the bike path starting from the parking lot at the dead end of Wasatch Boulevard. The approach presented no major routefinding difficulties, aside from when we had to decide whether or not to crawl through a giant hole in the fence that led to a shortcut down a gully.
Our approximate approach is marked in yellow.
We racked up at the base of the climb at approximately 6:30 p.m. Our rack consisted of two 60-meter ropes, double Camalots from .3 through #3, one #4 and one #5. We brought a single set of ice tools.
I led the first block of pitches to a ledge partway up the right side of the west face. There is plenty of loose rock on the route, and protection is marginal, possibly enough for future climbers to give our route an “R” rating. We did not carry a bolt kit.
“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” —Greg Child
Chris led the second block of pitches to the summit block, where the rock steepens leading to the true summit. The crux of the route was the final section of the last pitch, pulling over a bulge to the summit with sparse protection below.
As I joined Chris at the summit, we clasped hands victoriously amidst the light whisper of a mountain breeze blowing down Parley’s Canyon. And some honking horns from people driving by on the 215, which is basically eye-level with the summit, which is kind of weird.
We coiled ropes and walked off the summit on terrain just to the left of our line, which photographer Joe Penacoli had free-soloed as we climbed.
We believe our line to go at IV 5.11 A0, although changes in route conditions may force subsequent climbing parties to variations that could make the route more difficult. We have named our route “The Nose.” We believe other lines are possible on Suicide Rock, and exploration of this pristine mountain will only be limited by future climbers’ imaginations and boldness.
“One does not climb to attain enlightenment; rather one climbs because he is enlightened.” —Zen Master Futomaki
(all photos by the talented, young and bold Joe Penacoli)