Rock Climbing In the Uinta Mountains – Ruth Lake
This Summer has been one of the better Summer’s of climbing I’ve had in a lot of years. I spent more days out on the rock than I have in the last six years. This trip was a trip for the books. The Uinta mountains are such a wonderful place to put a harness on and climb. I’ve been climbing, as I’ve mentioned before, for over ten years. Even after that amount of time in a harness, I had never actually been climbing in the Uinta range. All of my time spent in those mountains was for hiking, backpacking and fishing. I was determined to make a change to that.
School started for me this week, and I needed one last hoorah before my busiest semester ever started. There was one person that I knew I had to spend my time with climbing, that person being my older brother. I started climbing when I was 14 and my brother was right there with me at the same time, he and I spent some of our first days of climbing outside, together up Rock Canyon, in Provo, Utah. It was only fitting to spend the weekend with him.
Climbing in the Uintas has been around for many years. There are hundreds of trad routes in the area, and the setting of every crag is just amazing. For a climber, this is the perfect place to climb. The rock is quartzite and is some of the best rock that I have climbed on. The quartzite I am used to climbing on is polished, slippery and not that fun to climb on. However, the quartzite in the Uinta mountains is solid and so unique. Most of the crags in the area are mostly trad and are known to have some of the more difficult pro placement of any trad routes in the Wasatch. An absolute must for anyone looking for a new setting, in an absolutely beautiful area.
Climbing in the Uinta’s was a huge change for me, meaning that the climbing is all above 8500′. Ruth Lake finds itself in the 10,000′ range. Climbing at this altitude really does take a tole on your body and reveals your fitness level real quick. Most of the climbing in the Ruth Lake area is bolted sport climbing. This makes it a popular spot for Salt Lake locals looking for easier routes in cooler temperatures during the Summer months. Routes range from 5.6 to 5.12, and can be upwards of 80′ in length.
My brother and I hiked into Ruth Lake on a wet weekend. It rained almost the entire time we were there, but let up enough to allow for at least five hours of climbing. We didn’t climb anything harder than 5.10a, but I didn’t care, the climbing I did was some of the best climbing I have ever done. One of the 10a’s, Black Elk, is easily the BEST quartzite route I’ve ever climbed. It’s been a really long time since I have enjoyed a route like that. The movement and length of the route made this thing 4 stars in my opinion. The description of Black Elk on Mountain Project says that this route is worth the drive to Ruth Lake alone.
Ruth Lake has several walls to climb on, The Good Medicine wall being the most popular of them. Other walls in the area are the Memorial Wall, Assassin Wall, and others. Despite the rain, which wasn’t that big of an issue at all, this was one of the best climbing trips I have ever been on. This is an absolute must for anyone looking for a ton of 10’s to climb, in one of the most beautiful areas in Utah. Enjoy the photos from the trip.