Type: Trad, Aid, 2000 ft, 22 pitches, Grade VI
FA: Bill Forrest & Chris Walker
Page Views: 4,593 total · 27/month
Shared By: phil broscovak on Dec 31, 2004
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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With all the " undeserved hype about the 'Stratosphere' Route everyone seems to have forgotten the "original" P.W. route. The Stratosphere is really only an anomoly. An insignificant 5 pitch variation that was rehersed on top rope with pre placed pro. Yes it was a great thing to establish a free route up the main Painted Wall. But it was so out of context stylistically with the rest of the route developement in the Black that I for one have never thought of Stratosphere as 'legitimate'. The Forrest Walker however is the real deal! Forged with the blood sweat and tears of very hard men, from the ground up. A truly major accomplishnent in Colorado big wall climbing. 2&1/2 pitches of 5.8 climbing deposits you on the 2nd talus field. 13 additional pitches puts you in the start of Death Valley. 3 more 'serious' pitches takes you to the top. The roofs are HUGE and the exposure is incredible!


Everything and the kitchen sink. Prehaps two sinks!


Phil, I appreciate your opinions about the Stratosfear, but respectfully disagree. Coyne & Leavitt made two pretty ballsy 2000 foot ground up attempts with some way serious climbing and epic retreats, before resorting to top down pre-inspection. I wasn't aware that they rehearsed any of the pitches. Also, consider that a number of other routes in the early-mid 80s (not to mention the 90s-to the present) required top-down trickery to free: Air Voyage, Eight Voyage, the original line of Stoned Oven.

It does seem odd at first that such tactics would be used in America's foremost "adventure climbing" arena, but it makes sense when you consider the inverted nature of Black Canyon climbing compared to normal climbing areas. It's just so easy to rap in from the rim and fool around, especially on North Chasm View Wall, and therefore so tempting. Jun 12, 2005
phil broscovak
  5.10+ A4
phil broscovak  
  5.10+ A4
I in no way was dissing the early attempts by Coyne and Levitt they were fantastic efforts (Personally I love and relate to the taxi cab hallucination). Just as I wouldn't discredit the awesome efforts of Coyne and Russell on the free ascent of the Goss-Logan. But I think it is fair to say that Leonard screwed up by forgetting the lead sleeves for the bolts. Just as I think it is fair to say that coming off the rim to establish a route while convenient is still tainting the wall. How many epic efforts did it take for Rusty and the boys to establish the Dragon? They didn't resort to lowering from the top. Nor did Bill and Chris. And if memory serves, they also had a 'few' epic days forging the FW. Just because you can rap from the top to "put down" a route doesn't mean you should. As I have said before Machievelli was an intriguing philosopher but he sucked at climbing. With all respect, philo Jun 12, 2005
Phil in many respects I do agree with you. Though I wouldn't compare the style of aid climbs to these various free efforts, as it seems kind of pointless to do an aid route top down. Also, let's not forget that these rappel shenanigans did not lack for adventure in their own right.

Maybe what it comes down to is that, in my opinion, those guys put in so much effort to do the thing ground up that they kinda earned the right to sacrifice a few style points. (and it's not like they rapped in and drilled a bolt ladder, it was one bolt and a couple heads, right?) They deserved to get the damn thing done after what they went through! Plus, is there a climber alive today who wouldn't have an adventure doing Stratosfear? Jun 12, 2005