American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Long's Peak, The Diamond, Smash the State

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1998

Long’s Peak, The Diamond, Smash the State. Between May 15-20, Ken Sauls and I made the second ascent of Smash the State (VI- 5.8 A5) on the Diamond of Long’s Peak. Jim Beyer made the first ascent of this route in April of 1988, solo. Doug Hall and Ken had discussed doing the route, but Doug was killed in an avalanche in January, 1997. When Ken invited me to join him, it appealed to me as a memorial ascent for Mr. Hall, whose great spirit I will never forget.

We started hiking close to noon on Thursday, May 15. We carried all of our gear in one (large) load. We arrived at Chasm View at about 9 p.m., set up the ledge on a boulder and crawled in for a very windy night. At about 10 a.m., we made our way to the rappels for the descent to Broadway. We roped up for three pitches across Broadway to the base of the route, fixing lines and then ferrying our loads across.

The first pitch went quickly. We hauled up our bags, then Ken set off on the second pitch, leading about one-third of it, then rapping back to help set up the ledge. A good night’s rest and Ken finished up the second pitch through steep roofs and comers. The difficulty (A3) is demanding due to the quality of the stone. In the afternoon, I set off on the third pitch (A4); some A1 gear led to a hook move, then I placed five heads to another hook, which led to some circuitous flakes (somewhat dubious), and to the S-shaped roof. After this lead we discussed style; it became clear to me that it is better to use pitons if possible, as they make cleaning easier and therefore have less impact.

Ken led the fourth pitch (A5a). A sharp edge stands out from the lip of the S-roof. By using duct tape, Ken was able to lessen the sharpness of the edge. Up and away he went, a brilliant lead on hooks, nuts, copperheads, beaks, etc. Ken found an A1 stopper at about 40 feet height, calling into question the A5 rating. This pitch just ends in blankness and it is necessary to pendulum to the right to join the King of Swords route.

Late in the day, I headed up pitches familiar from a 1993 ascent, using a mix of free and aid on the 5.12/A1 climbing to make it to Table Ledge, where we camped. On day 5, two more pitches of 5.10/A1 brought us to the top. Wild place.

Jonny Allen, unaffiliated

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