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Stratosphere. Each belay is marked. The first belay is two bolts, the second is two pitons, the third is 3 bolts, the fourth is a tree. We didn't do the 5th pitch, so I'm not sure what the belay is like there, and I'm not exactly sure where this pitch goes in the picture...
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Tristan Higbee
Sep 28, 2008
Stratosphere. Each belay is marked. The first belay is two bolts, the second is two pitons, the third is 3 bolts, the fourth is a tree. We didn't do the 5th pitch, so I'm not sure what the belay is like there, and I'm not exactly sure where this pitch goes in the picture...  
DCool,
Glad you got down OK, but I have great memories of the 5th pitch so I respectfully disagree with you.
I think it is a great pitch, and in turn offers a very straight down (albeit wildly overhanging!) rappel to the rappel station at the top of Pitch #2.
Pitch #5 was also a bold and wild lead that Seth Shaw led on his only trip up to Stratosphere. I again returned with Dave Anderson and I retro-drilled the 5th pitch on lead with bigger bolts with my first Bosch Bulldog.
If the tree is an issue for stuck ropes and a major safety issue, perhaps it needs a more final solution.
The 5th pitch is well worth doing and it is all free on great stone. Jun 23, 2017
I would not recommend doing the fifth pitch for one reason: We got our rope stuck at the lip of that overhang, and we saw evidence that several before us had done the same. The knot got stuck at the lip of that massive roof in a small tree that is directly in line with the rap.

And, it would appear that this will happen with a higher frequency than desired...and that last pitch is nowhere near the quality of the lower four...just don't do it, and you'll avoid the epic that we endured that afternoon.

Marooned at the top of pitch three, my partner and I had an epic getting down, which involved tying off the bit of rope we'd pulled down, and rapping to near its end. The we did some sketchy down climb/traverse to the climber's right to get to the gulley. Along the way we came across a tied off section of rope on a small tree, which we descended, and still lower we unearthed another section of rope (same length) in the mud, which I coiled and took with.

Those sections of rope were exactly as long as the end of rope we were able to pull down before our rope got stuck!

A little farther down we had to use that rope to descend a class 5 section of the upper gully, and -luckily- that was the last of our needs for a rope.

My buddy returned later in the week with a different partner to retrieve the rope. Unfortunately, when a fixed pin pulled near the end of the 4th pitch, the other climber fell and took a good sized chip out of his elbow. They carried on, and when they rapped, they were able to diagnose the problem with the stuck rope, and they avoided it by tying off at the lip and pulling the knot below the roof, such that it could not get hung up.

Just rap at the end of pitch 4, knowing you are not missing anything by avoiding the 5th pitch...with the exception of a potential epic and a stuck rope. Apr 20, 2015
thanks for sharing - great pic. Sep 29, 2008

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