American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak, Lower East Face, Endless Summer; Lower Chasm View Wall, The Invisible Wall, First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2007

Longs Peak, Lower East Face, Endless Summer; Lower Chasm View Wall, The Invisible Wall, first free ascent. On July 31 Chip Chace and I completed Endless Summer (300m, V- 5.12- (5.11R)) on the Lower East Face of Longs Peak. This was the first free climb of the Nassewand, as it was called in the 1960s, the 1,000' Yosemite-like wall to the left of the Diagonal. During the late 1960s many attempts were made on this wall by the likes of Michael Covington, Wayne Goss, and Larry Dalke, but no one found a way through the giant wet arches of the lower part. The wall was abandoned and sat untouched for almost 20 years.

In 1987 interest in the Nassewand rekindled with two different parties completing aid lines up the wall. Jim Beyer, rope-soloing, found a dry, elegant start just left of the wet arches and forged a line up to Broadway that he called Antinuclear Tide. Also that summer Dan McGee and Layton Kor climbed a similar line, Question Mark Wall, which finished in a wet, vegetated crack. The next year Greg Davis and Todd Bibler began searching for a free climb up the Nassewand. By the time they walked away from the wall two years later they had established two lines that crossed at mid-height, each ending about 140' below Broadway. They named one line Slippery People and the other Endless Summer. Word got out that the left-hand start to the right-hand finish had all the best pitches, on dry rock, and this worthy six-pitch line received sporadic ascents during the 1990s.

In 2003 Chace and I climbed this line and added a connecting pitch from the right-hand high point to the left-hand high point. We were impressed by the superb quality of almost every pitch and the high standard of the climbing that Davis and Bibler had done. After reaching the high point, it occurred to me that the final 140' of blank marble up to Broadway might go free with a few bolts. The idea haunted me until the fall of 2005, when Chip and I rappelled off Broadway to have a close look. I came away believing it would go free, but wanted to remain within the stylistic limit of two bolts. We returned in early summer and rappelled down to place two protection bolts and fix a micro-cam. Then in late July we completed the line to Broadway. We chose the name Endless Summer as a tribute to the efforts and vision of Greg Davis and Todd Bibler 16 years earlier. This is one of the finest climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Unreported from summer 2004, Chace and I did the first free ascent of The Invisible Wall (200m, IV 5.12-), a little-known Kor aid route from 1965 on the Lower Chasm View Wall of Longs. The climb has superb rock throughout and several remarkable features. Two moderate approach pitches from the right lead to the heart of the climb, three elegant and challenging pitches. The first of these is a prominent gold corner that disappears after 130', just short of an amazing hanging crescent. The next pitch is the crux and moves left under the hanging crescent, ending at the base of a final clean corner system. A final moderate pitch to the left ends on Broadway, where descent can be made via five rappels down Babys R Us.

When we climbed it there was nothing fixed and no sign of previous passage. We left it the way we found it and hoped that it would remain in this condition. However, when we repeated the climb the next summer, hoping to add a direct start and finish, we found two fixed pitons, and 50' of beautiful vegetation had been torn out of the final corner pitch. Despite the heavy hand of another party, this is a worthwhile climb, with lots of great climbing packed into six excellent pitches.

Roger Briggs

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