Long’s Peak, The Diamond, The Honeymoon is Over. For the past two years fellow Diamond
lover Eric Doub had been calling and sending topos of a possible 5.13 on the Diamond of Long’s Peak. He’d put considerable work into the project, which he’d named The Honeymoon is Over. He told me of clean, steep rock, devious cracks, thin faces, and just about everything else that a climber dreams about. It sounded like this route had it all. Since my first experience on the Diamond at the age of 12, I had gained great respect for this wall. Sudden thunderstorms and high altitude make any route an adventure. With these elements added in, a route such as Eric’s seemed quite intimidating. But with the Diamond staring at me through my back door, I had to give it a try. In early June my dad and I hiked up to the route. Being a former guide on the Diamond and a long-time climbing partner, my dad had as much enthusiasm for the route as I did. Starting at 2 a.m. we got to the base just before first light. After climbing the fourth- class North Chimney, we arrived on Broadway with plenty of daylight ahead of us. However, early season conditions turned the route into a waterfall. After five pitches we headed back to the comfort of home.
For a month and a half I thought about the climb. I had not seen the entire route, but what I had climbed was everything Eric had said it would be. In late July I headed up again. After wearing my dad out the first time, I chose as my partner the next obvious choice, my girlfriend Beth Rodden. Although never having been at 14,000 feet or climbing in an alpine environment, she was excited about going up there. Getting on Broadway at first light again, we had a full day ahead of us. The wall was much drier than before, and it looked like a great day for free climbing. The plan was for me to lead each pitch and for Beth to jumar with the pack. The first four pitches (shared with Eroica, followed by five independent pitches) were straightforward and went quickly. The next two pitches were the crux and took everything I had. Little did I know that climbing 5.13 near 14,000 feet would be so taxing. Luckily, it was a weekend, and we were not alone. Shouts from nearby climbers, hikers, and especially Beth gave me the motivation to send. The next two pitches took the rest of my energy. I nearly fell countless times, and the only thing holding me to the rock were shouts of encouragement from below. With only a 5.12 pitch left I was completely exhausted.
After a rest and more encouragement from Beth, I couldn’t turn back. As I started climbing, my arm cramped every time I bent it. Each crack looked like a dead end, and I could not find a line that seemed to make sense. I wandered over the face for a long time until I spied a camouflaged bolt and a fixed nut, both from Eric’s attempts. They tipped me off as to where I should go. I hit the highest point of the Diamond just as my gas tank hit empty. My screams of success were carried off by the wind.
Tommy Caldwell, AAC