Draft-802.11s mesh networking will work properly for ath5k users. My patch is in wireless-testing and (hopefully) headed to the an upcoming kernel in a little while. This also means that my EEEPC 701 will finally have mesh capability out of the box! (well, after I build a new kernel for it and in doing so replace its patched madwifi driver with ath5k, working on that shortly)
There was a slight regression in the ath5k driver which has now been fixed, so mesh functionality should be working after this commit.