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The Diamond!

Clear blue skies, warm temps, and calm winds: a rare forecast for Rocky Mountain National Park, but that’s what Kiley and I found on a recent ascent of the Casual Route on the East Face of Longs Peak (8/26/10).

Our day started at 2am at the Longs Peak Trailhead. Hiking by 2:08am, and a quick pace found us at the east end of Chasm Lake at 4am to fill our water bottles. An hour and 15 minutes later I was leading the first pitch of the North Chimney. Kiley and I cruised the chimney arriving at Broadway just before 6:30am. We ate some food and stacked the ropes and were off 20 minutes later.

I linked pitch 2 with the infamous “Traverse Pitch.” Moving quickly we had climbed the first 3 pitches before 8am. Another short pitch of 5.8 squeeze and we were below one of the best pitches in RMNP, a 200ft 5.9 hands and fingers corner at 13,000ft! Kiley arrived at the belay saying he “got a little pumped.” We rested at the deluxe belay to recharge before the upcoming crux pitch. Stepping out from the belay, the exposure starts to hit. The crux seemed overhanging and strenuous while wearing a loaded pack. Breathing heavily, I arrived at Table Ledge and belayed Kiley.

I stared left from the belay at the blank traversing pitch, guessing it was 5.12. On closer inspection, hand and footholds start to be revealed and the climbing clocks in at 5.8 with 2,000ft of exposure to Mills Glacier below. We climbed one more rising traverse pitch to join Keiner’s and easier ground to the summit of Longs at 14,256ft.

We spent a few minutes at the summit downing some bars and water. Then began our descent down the North Face to the Camel Gully and finally back to Chasm Lake. Thanks to Kiley’s fitness level and time spent acclimating, we had a successful ascent of Longs Peak via the Diamond, one of the most sought after alpine walls in the Lower 48.

Eric Whewell
AMGA Rock Guide
Colorado Mountain School

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