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A Stroke of Brilliance 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 120'
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Brooke Sandahl and Doug Phillips 1995
Page Views: 1,085
Submitted By: Chris D on Sep 10, 2013  with updates from Topher Dabrowski

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (3)
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BETA PHOTO: Updated topo for Stroke of Brilliance

Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


Stroke of Brilliance is incorrectly documented in Alan Watts' Smith Rock Guide, 2nd Ed

This route starts at the 3rd pitch of Super Slab and veers left towards a bolt on the low-angled face. Continue up the slab finding 6 more well spaced bolts along the way and to a crux near the top.

If one follows the current description in the guide they will need cams to 2" and will be climbing a 5.10 crack to reach the slab. The crack is not bolted as described and the first bolt above and to the left of the crack is somewhat useless.


Climb the first pitch of Super Slab. Instead of following the buckets that are P2 of Super Slab, scramble and descend left on an easy third class ledge to a dirty landing and start up the unmistakable and attractive overhanging crack.


Bolts above the crack. Gear to 3 inches for the crack. The guidebook describes the crack as bolted, but it is not. Protects well with cams.

Photos of A Stroke of Brilliance Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Luis below Stroke of Brilliance.  The route starts...
BETA PHOTO: Luis below Stroke of Brilliance. The route starts...

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By Richard Denker
From: Portland OR
Feb 23, 2015

From the base of the climb to the first bolt is at least 5.10b after that it is a respectable 5.7 climb. It is possible to avoid the start by climbing to the second belay station of Super Slab. From the belay traverse right until under the third bolt of A Stroke of Brilliance. If you use the alternate start, there are two 5.6/5.7 cruxes. The first is located between the third and fourth bolt, 5.6 on mossy rock and the second between the last bolt and the anchor at 5.7. Yes the traverse to the third bolt is runout but so is the rest of the route. Also since you made it to the second Super Slab belay station, it is a better choice to climb the superb Super Slab third pitch then A Stroke of Brilliance.
By pritchtp
Feb 24, 2015

As noted, climbing the crack to the first bolt definitely isn't 5.8. It requires jamming through a bulge before reaching the bolt. It's fairly safe to the first bolt, but you wouldn't want to blow off hard to your left. I don't remember the climbing naturally pulling me left but that fall wouldn't be good. After clipping the first bolt, the line stays left'ish on the face you are on before a short traverse move right into the final crack of Super Slab to finish the route. Your next bolt isn't always visible, but just keep climbing you'll find it.
By Zach Parsons
From: Tacoma, WA
Apr 11, 2016

Starting up the overhanging crack is indeed hard (5.10) - bring a #2 cam for the crack. But it's a solid hand crack and isn't too terrible. What shut me down was pulling over the bulge on sloping, lichen covered holds.

The first bolt placement is rather poor, a standard length quickdraw ends up with the rope biner edge-loaded when fallen on. Suggest bringing an alpine draw to keep this safe.
By Alan watts
Aug 15, 2016

Sorry but I blew this one. Worst mistake in the entire book. The slab is fantastic. I've soloed it many times. 5.7 - solid and fun. A little heady for a beginner. Traverse into it from the belay nook at third pitch of Super Slab. The direct start is mid-range 5.10. Not great fun. Not sure who did it first. Was done after Sandahl/Phillips bolted the upper slab.
By Serge Smirnov
Sep 5, 2016

Regarding Richard's comment "From the belay traverse right until under the third bolt of A Stroke of Brilliance" - it should say "left" rather than "right".

Bolts on the 5.7 parts are in the right places. but there is a 20' runout on an easy section.

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