American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak, The Diamond, Left for Dead

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Longs Peak, The Diamond, Left For Dead. During the first week of August, Shane Wayker and I finished a new route on the far right side of the Diamond, approximately 50 feet to the right of Sunshine. Peter Takeda and I fixed the first four pitches of this route in the fall of 1996. Terrible weather forced us to retreat one pitch from the top. I then returned in the fall of 1997 with Mike Duncan. Once again we were stopped by horrible weather. This year, to increase the likelihood of clear skies, Shane and I hiked in on August 3. There was one drawback to going in during the summer. The runoff from the melting north face would be draining down the route.

We hiked in under stormy skies and bivied under a tarp on Broadway. Unfortunately, we awoke to an inch of fresh hail, but by mid-morning the sun came out and dried things off nicely. As I started up the first pitch (5.7 A1 wet), dark clouds moved in and it started to rain, hail and snow. Shane led the second pitch (5.9 Al) in relative comfort due to the steepness of the wall. We fixed these two pitches and retreated to the tarp.

During the night three inches of snow fell. We slept in, and by 9 a.m. the sun was out and most of the snow was gone. We jugged our lines to the start of the fixed ropes Pete and I had installed on pitches 3 and 4 in 1996. The old lines looked great, so we jugged on lead and placed gear every ten feet or so. (Pitch 3 was A1+; pitch 4, which required some thin nailing, a few beaks and heads, was A3.) By the time we arrived at the start of pitch 5, we were both soaked. The weather was stable, but the north face had started to drain. Luckily, it was my lead. (I would rather climb in a cold shower than belay in one.) Forty feet of tied-off knifeblades, beaking, heading and hooking took me to the base of a large roof (A3+). Easy aid led out right for 15 feet and then up an overhanging chimney and onto the north face. Incredibly, Shane had not gotten hypothermic while belaying for three hours in an icy shower. He cleaned the pitch and we carefully rappelled the route (which we called Left For Dead, VI 5.7 A3+, 800'), stripping the fixed ropes as we descended. The tarp was warm and dry!

Dave Sheldon

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