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Mercury's Lead 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a R

Type:  Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 300'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a R [details]
FA: Bob Rotert, Tom McMillan - 1974
Season: fall, winter, spring
Page Views: 6,639
Submitted By: nbrown on Jan 18, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (25)
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Birmingham Ben leading P1 of ML


Climb to the very high first bolt. Clip it with great relief, and continue up past one more bolt to several belay options. Either belay at a flake on gear, The Great Arch bolts, or the belay atop "Storm In A Teacup." From the "Storm In A Teacup" belay, move out right past a short flake/crack (possible to get gear) and climb a long, but easier pitch past one bolt to an anchor just below the top (there may be one more bolt on this pitch, I can't remember).


Just to the right of "The Great Arch."


Very light rack. Consult the guidebook for further.

Photos of Mercury's Lead Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe keeping it together on lead. Super fun route!
Joe keeping it together on lead. Super fun route!
Rock Climbing Photo: Mercury's Lead first pitch, 5.9R.
Mercury's Lead first pitch, 5.9R.
Rock Climbing Photo: p1 MERCURY'S LEAD
Rock Climbing Photo: topo anchors for mercury's lead, and a few other r...
topo anchors for mercury's lead, and a few other r...

Comments on Mercury's Lead Add Comment
Show which comments
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Apr 7, 2008

Standing on the ledge and looking up, like most stone routes, its hard to see any holds at all. Once you get going on this a pattern of small edges (I mean small) appear and lead to the first belay. There is one opportunity to place about a #2 cam about 3/4 of the way up the second pitch. The rest goes easier..
By Bob Rotert
Jun 2, 2008

nbrown thanks for the route write up. Just a little comment on the line & intentions for the way this route was first done. The intention of this line was to stay well right of the Great Arch & be an independent line. I wanted it to fill the Gap between the Great Arch & Rainy Day Women.

It was a very long time ago but what I remember of the first ascent was the climbing and line put me where I ended up placing the second bolt a little bit left of the first bolt. When observed like a directissima line. So to compensate for this, from the second bolt the first ascent line actually goes up & trends right, at about 1 o'clock from the second bolt. My intention was for the line to move further back to the right, away from the Great Arch. I believe I belayed from a crack/flake & somewhat of a ledge system at the end of this. Pitch 2 goes up this.

As I recall doing it this way, is definitely a bit more difficult then going straight up or a bit left from the second bolt, I remember a distinct crux high above the second bolt just before getting to easier climbing and the belay. At the time it was quite exciting/nerve wracking and as I was "sweating it out" I remember wishing I had wings on my feet to make it thru the moves. Hence the name "Mercury's Lead".

As I mentioned it was a long time ago, Easter weekend 1973, but as I recall we didn't belay for any pitches in the Arch for this route...
By john strand
From: southern colo
Mar 24, 2009

I also went up and right , not into the arch. I seem to remember a thin belay on a small ledge. Great route Bob. I guess sticky rubber brought this one down a ways.
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Feb 28, 2010
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c R

It didn't seem as hard as I was expecting, but that may be because I'd just finished leading Great White Way. Exciting climbing nevertheless, and hats off to Bob Rotert for a great route!

By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Oct 20, 2011

Fantastic small featured climb! Almost like face climbing versus friction. LIttle holds lead you up, up and away! Pulling the slight bulge at the top of the first pitch seemed like the crux for me, but the line is pretty sustained overall! Totally recommend it!!
By Tim Fry
From: Charlotte NC
Nov 25, 2013

The description makes it sound like you don't get gear until the second pitch. That's incorrect; (unless I screwed up the way this route is supposed to go) you need it either to build a belay at the flake or for pro if you're heading to the Storm in a Teacup anchors.

No gear for P2 as far as I remember.

Don't screw up on the last 1/4 of the first pitch-- it eases off a wee bit but there's decking potential there.
By Jonathan Dull
From: Boone, NC
Jan 17, 2017
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13

P1 is amazing and super fun face/friction climbing and very exciting (and runout) after the second bolt - I'd recommend plugging a .5 and/or #2 in the small left facing corner after the long run from the second bolt and continue to the bolted anchor on the face. P2 is pretty chill (5.7 slab) but has a ~70' runout between the first and second bolt - while the climbing is never overly difficult, screwing up in the wrong places could have some major consequences. A great route overall.

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