Nothing as Extreme as The Diamond at Longs Peak, Colorado
Have I found a rock face for you… something different and certainly extreme.
Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park is, at 14,255 feet, the northernmost “fourteener” in Colorado, the 15th highest peak in the state, and the 48th highest mountain in North America. Instead of the classic pyramid shape, Longs is perhaps more like a loaf of bread. The summit area is as big as a football field.
It is made up of high quality granite that has not broken down into scree. It is a massive and complex peak with many steep walls on all sides (the biggest and most famous being the Diamond). These two factors make for a large number of high quality climbing routes and ensure that there is no easy way to the summit. Although there is a “trail” up the peak it corkscrews around the peak in search of easy terrain, and in many places near the top a mis-step will plunge you off a cliff.
The Diamond is the best known face on Longs Peak and is considered to be the El Cap of Colarado – in an alpine environment. It is a registered V- VI, 5.10-5.13 climb…
There are three other classic routes on The Diamond that you can choose from.
The Yellow Wall (V, 5.11a), Eroica (V, 5.12b) and The Casual ( IV, 5.10a) route.
Each climb has a different degree of difficulty, but ‘Casuals’ is considered the classic rock route up the center of the Diamond and the path of least resistance on this incredibly steep big-wall. Although it is considered the easiest technical route up The Diamond, at 5.10 and 13,000 ft it is still a challenge as you can see from this photograph!
In the opinion of pro-climber Will Gadd, the Casual Route is the best alpine rock climb in the country. “Remote,” “beautiful,” and “impossible-looking” are all adjectives Gadd employs to describe the 1,000-foot-long rock route.
It is one of the all-time best rock routes in North America and one not to be be taken lightly due to it’s high-altitude and the stormy weather often encountered on this “northern- most Fourteener” in Colorado.
If you have the time it is best to climb The Casual on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds. The goal is to be up and off this beast before noon because of the thunderstorms that are known to sweep through, so it is essential to focus on moving at a speedy pace when possible, especially at change-over’s, anchors, etc. A high level of fitness and technical experience will be needed to achieve this.
In the summer climbing the peak is extremely popular with 100 people reaching the summit on a busy weekend day, most via the trail. However, winter is a very different tale. The peak is often blasted by winds of hurricane force and the 2ft + coverage of snow at the base makes the boulderfield a tedious trial.
These wonderful videos from captaincrimp, show us The Diamond, the Casuals, the terrain and the one thing you cannot control – the weather. It will give you a very good idea of what you are about to tackle – if you are thinking of taking a trip out to Longs Peak.
Have fun… it looks awesome.