American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Rapid Ascents and Enchainments

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Rocky Mountain National Park, rapid ascents and enchainments. On the Diamond of Long’s Peak in early July, Tommy Caldwell and Topher Donahue climbed five routes, totaling 30 guidebook pitches, in 23 hours car-to-car (probably the most routes climbed on the Diamond in a day), in the process doubling the number of Diamond routes Caldwell has climbed. The pair rappelled from Table Ledge to Broadway, where they had food and water, after each route. The five routes were Yellow Wall (5.11a), Pervertical Sanctuary (5.10d), D7 (5.11c), Curving Vine (5.11a/b), and Casual Route (5.10a). Donahue reports, “We climbed on twin ropes and did minimal simul-climbing. We never climbed faster than seemed fun, and although we wanted to see how many routes we could do, we weren’t really gunning for a goal or anything. With true speed- climbing tactics it would be possible to squeeze in another one or do our link-up a lot faster.”

Also in July Jonny Copp and Kelly Cordes completed what’s likely the first enchainment of the three biggest technical rock faces in the park. They climbed the east face of Long’s Peak (14,255') via the Crack of Delight (5.7) to the Casual Route (5.10a), with the Forrest Finish (5.9), then the northwest face of Chief’s Head (13,579') via Path of Elders (5.9) to Birds of Fire (5.lOd), and finally the Central Ramp (5.8) route on the east face of Mt. Alice (13,310'). They tagged each summit, covered about 20 horizontal miles and climbed 28 guidebook pitches (but simul-climbed throughout). Total time from the Long’s trailhead to the Wild Basin trailhead was roughly 22 hours, 45 minutes.

In March 2004 Copp and Josh Wharton made the fastest winter ascent of the Diamond, via the most logical winter route, D7. Traveling incredibly light for winter on the Diamond (a single rope, for example), they reached Broadway via the North Chimney, climbed D7 with short-fixing techniques in one block lead, and finished with upper Kiener’s route, continuing to the summit and descending the North Face. They returned to the Long’s trailhead 14 hours and 17 minutes after leaving—an impressive time even for a summer round-trip.

Compiled from conversations with the climbers

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