The Diamond

The Diamond on Longs Peak consists of about a million square feet of fabulous climbing in an alpine setting. The pictures on this page are from an ascent my daughter Andrea and I made in July 2000. The serious climbing starts at 13,000' on Broadway Ledge, which can be reached in a variety of ways. We took the conservative but grueling approach -- hiking to Chasm View at 13,500' and then doing three rappels to Broadway. [In a 2003 repeat of the climb, we hiked to Chasm Lake and simul-climbed the North Chimney to Broadway. This was more satisfying and less tiring, but the downside was the painful descent of the Camel Gully in climbing shoes, in order pick up our approach gear at Chasm Lake.]

The next picture (taken on another day) is a view of part of the Diamond from Chasm View. The sixth pitch of the Casual Route finishes on the Yellow Wall Bivy Ledge, at the top of the leftmost of the three prominent dihedrals. (A climber is standing at the righthand edge of the ledge, about to start the crux pitch. Two more climbers are on Pervertical Sanctuary about 80 feet to the left -- one of them a little below the level of the Bivy Ledge, the other a little higher. Another climber is visible about a hundred feet lower on the Yellow Wall, about 20 feet left of the dihedral.

View of the Diamond from Chasm View (13,500')

We alternated leads the whole way, breaking up the climb so that each of us put in about the same effort. I led the first pitch, an easy scramble partway up the D1 Pillar. Andrea then led to the top of the pillar and continued up a 60' 5.9 jam crack.

Andrea leading the jam crack (pitch 2)

The traverse pitch follows a series of flakes left and slightly up for about 100 feet. This section is the key to the Casual Route and though it is quite easy it caused some grief in the late 70s before people learned exactly where to go. The most common error was to traverse too low, and this leads to difficult unprotected climbing.

Roger starting the traverse (pitch 3)

Next comes the squeeze chimney, which is pretty straightforward when it's dry (which it was for us). The next shot shows Andrea about to leave the squeeze chimney. The rest of the pitch consists of enjoyable 5.8 - 5.9 stems, dihedrals and laybacks.

Andrea in the squeeze chimney (pitch 4)

The next pitch is never more than easy 5.9, but it's incredibly sustained. We both thought it was the most demanding section of the climb. It's essentially a 150' vertical layback, though there are little stances every now and then, and many of the moves can be done by jamming rather than laybacking. The protection (here and on the whole climb for that matter) is uniformly excellent. We took advantage of a small stance about 100' up in order to break up this demanding lead. Since the whole dihedral, from the top of pitch 4 to the Yellow Wall Bivy Ledge is more than 200' (counting the relatively easy last 60'), it doesn't cost a pitch to stop here. I had certainly had enough at this point and was happy to have Andrea to take over the lead!

Looking down the first half of the dihedral pitch (pitch 5). Andrea is at the top of pitch 4.

Looking up the second half of the dihedral pitch (pitch 6). Andrea is on the Yellow Wall Bivy Ledge.

Then there's the crux pitch. Technically this pitch has the toughest climbing, with one tricky move after another; but you can usually find ways to rest after each move. Yeah, I took an age leading this pitch in this style! The first 60' are sustained 5.9+ and follow a vertical and overhanging shallow recess (visible in the shot below). Then you burrow back into the wall and chimney for about 30'. After emerging from the chimney you climb some more 5.9+ before reaching the crux, a spot of 5.10 just before an amazing stance at Table "Ledge".

Roger starting the crux pitch (pitch 7)

From this point you do a little 5.8 hand traverse left. After about 15 feet Table Ledge really becomes a ledge (Andrea's hands are on it in the next shot). At a break, you have to descend a bit, move left, and then climb back up to Almost Table Ledge. We belayed here, though one could probably include the final 30' 5.8 jaunt up to Table Ledge proper in the eighth pitch, at the expense of some serious rope drag.

Andrea traversing left on Table Ledge, at the top of the Casual Route.

We unroped and hiked up the last few hundred feet of Kieners. Since the sun had already set, we hurried over to the North Face, where one rappel brought us to Chasm View. We packed up and began the long hike to the car.