Summer is right around the corner, the snow has nearly melted in the mountains, and as always I am excited to start the guiding season. I have been a White Pine Touring (WPT) rock climbing guide for almost a decade. This year, however, I have extra reasons to be excited for the upcoming season. White Pine Touring has secured the permits to guide on the Evanston-district side of the Uinta Mountains. This means three new venues; Stone Garden, Ruth Lake, and Hayden Peak are now available for our guided climbing tours.
New Guide Zones in the Uinta Mountains
Stone Garden has a full range of climbing, from moderate trad and sport zones to some of the steepest routes on the Uinta quartzite. This is predominantly a sport climbing area, however, Stone Garden has a little something for everyone. I did my first trad lead there on Fear of Gear 5.7, and yet the crag also holds the uber classic Sessions 5.12. Sessions is purportedly “the best” climb in the Uintas, but bring your guns, it is a pump fest!
Ruth Lake is hands-down the most popular zone in the Uintas for sport climbing; and with good reason. This zone has seven different climbing walls with all of the difficulty grades covered. The rock is solid and steep with great holds. It has great climbing for all ability levels, so you can fight your our own fight. The 5.11 climber will be challenged on his project just as much as a 5.8 climber will be challenged on a different project just a few steps away.
Sport climbing at its best, Ruth Lake has views as great as the climbing. At 10,500 feet above sea level, this beautiful alpine zone will capture your heart. It has mine. In conjunction with the Forest Service, I organize a Crag Day for the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance once a year at Ruth Lake. An event geared towards conservation and stewardship, Crag Day draws 30-to-40 volunteers who want to help minimize our impact on this pristine ecosystem. We climbers like to protect the places we love.
At 12,480 feet, Hayden Peak is one of the most stunning mountains in the Uintas. Not only is this peak highly prized for peak baggers, but it also boasts some of the longest routes in the area for rock climbers. When you look at the West face of Hayden Peak you can’t help but notice an enormous chunk of continuously steep rock. That is Iron Hayden which sits at 11,500 feet!
Home to many four- and five-pitch routes of varying difficulty such as Brave New World 5.11 and Where Vultures Dare 5.9, Iron Hayden has filled the multi-pitch niche. This is adventure climbing not for the faint of heart. The rock is a beautiful orange quartzite, the climbing is challenging and sustained, and the views absolutely cannot be beat. White Pine Touring is the only outfitter with access to Iron Hayden and the climbing along Mirror Lake Highway. Especially noteworthy for our clients is the fact that one of the first ascensionists of Iron Hayden, Julie Salmi, is also a climbing guide for White Pine. Julie has an intimate knowledge of this mountain and its various climbing routes.
Summer is near. Let’s get this party started. Climbing is good for the body, mind and soul. I can’t wait to show you the benefits of climbing and the amazingly beautiful places it can take us.
Blake Summers, Climbing Guide, White Pine Touring