Matt and Joanne’s Page

August 2, 2008

A Sampling of RMNP (Part 2)

Filed under: Climbing, Roadtrip — Tags: , , , — Matt Stamplis @ 9:00 pm

After the climb, we decided to take it easy for the next few days. We spent 1 day at the Monastery which is pretty cool. The climbing is mostly low angle with lots of crimping and smearing on small feet hole. The only thing missing from the climb was a selection of good 5.10 climbs – lots of easier and much harder things. This area reminds us a lot of Smith Rock.

Matt taking a big fall at the Monastary!…..or just fooling around?

Eldorado Canyon, just outside of Boulder.

After a few days cragging at Lumpy Ridge, I suggested a crazy idea to Matt. We were having fun at Lumpy but you can never climb more than 2 routes in a day due to the frequent thunderstorms. And I wanted something that can keep me busy for the whole day so I told Matt we should do another big climb. So I suggested going to climb the Diamond car-to-car – “Why don’t we do Pervertical Sanctuary car-to-car?”. Well, knowing Matt, he was definitely intrigued and so that was our next climb.

The East Face of Longs Peak, known as The Diamond. It gets it’s name from the shape of the upper half of the face. This might be the largest high altitude cliff (it’s over 13,000 feet in elevation!) in the lower 48 states.

We woke up at 11.30pm and drove to Longs Peak trailhead. After hiking the 4+ miles in the dark, we got to the base of the base of North Chimney around 4am and found a party was already in front of us. We decided to wait until they were up on Broadway before we get started because we heard of horror stories of loose rocks being knocked down. Just when I thought I was safe, I heard this loud scream of “ROCK!!” and Matt darted to his right taking cover and I wasn’t sure where to go so I just step a little right and cover up. The next thing I heard is this loud rock coming down and from the corner of my eyes I saw this thing roll down a few feet to my left. That was a real close call so we went further right and waited there. When those guys got to the top of chimney we started up behind them and got onto Broadway (a big ledge below The Diamond) around 7am. This is when the real fun begins!

Matt follows a tricky section of 5.9 climbing on the 2nd pitch

The first pitch was a bit junky but the rest of the climbing was great and the crux pitch is one of the most memorable I’ve ever climbed. At 13,500 feet you’re just gasping for air while trying to keep hanging on to make it to the next pitch. It’s hard to imagine what state of mind you would need to be in to free solo this! We were so focused on the climbing that we only took a handful of pictures!

Tada! The summit of Longs Peak. Hail started coming down while we were up top so we figured we should get out of there as soon as possible. We found the North Face rappels without any trouble and shortly after we were using the pit toilet in the Boulderfield. When we got back to the car we checked the time: 16 and a half hours after we had started! Not too shabby for hiking 12 miles and climbing such a big wall.

Continue reading here for our whackiest adventures in the Rockies yet!

More Route Info + Beta
If you get tired of climbing in the high peaks, there are plenty of crags to keep you entertained. If camping way up in the National Forest land like we were, it makes sense to make a stop at The Monastary. The approach is maybe a 45 minutes hike from the popular campground. You’ll be rewarded with great technical sport climbing with lots of fun knobs and crimps. The only downside is the lack of quality routes in the 5.10-5.11 range. You’ll find lots of great 5.7-5.9 climbs and lots of 5.hard, though!

Closer to Boulder you’ll find a number of crags. We thought Boulder Canyon was kind of boring and only climbed a few routes there. But Eldorado Canyon and The Flatirons were great fun. Easy access to long multipitch gear routes without the same commitment found in the high peaks.

Finally, inside RMNP there is Lumpy Ridge. In many ways (long approaches, somewhat high altitude, lightning storms) it’s not exactly cragging but at least it’s less committing than the big peaks. The climbing here is characterized by balancy, insecure moves with crack systems that tend to be flared and sometimes a little funky to protect.

But among all the routes we climbed on our roadtrip, the one that strikes me as our biggest achievement was Pervertical Sanctuary 5.10c on Longs Peak. I don’t usually try to brag but I’ll take the opportunity to do it here 🙂 I thought it was a pretty “pure” way to do the Diamond: Car-to-car in 17 hours with packs and two ropes (and ice axes!), gasping for breathe at 13,500 feet but still getting the onsight, summiting with the masses, then walking off. The climb as a whole might not be as solid as the Casual Route but the two crux pitches are better than anything on that route. Jaw-dropping!

For the approach to the Diamond, hike to Chasm Lake and climb the North Chimney to Broadway. You could hike through the Boulderfield to Chasm View and then rappel to Broadway but that would be stupid.

Everyone will give you a different opinion about the descent so I’ll share mine. Having done both the North Face Cables walkoff (while climbing this route) and the rappels (from the Casual Route) I can say that I wholeheartedly endorse the Cables descent. Perhaps Diamond veterans can cruise the rappels but I don’t see the advantage. Why the hell would anyone want to do 8 or 9 rappels down one of the biggest alpine faces in the lower 48 when a mellow alternative is available? Maybe if you enjoy facing rock fall from climbers on D-7, hitting said climbers with your own rope, or looking for strangely placed bolts as you get closer to the end of your rope.

Screw that. The Cables descent is impossible to miss if you follow cairns North from the summit. Plus you’ll actually reach the summit, which SHOULD count as something.

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1 Comment »

  1. take care hor….and be careful 🙂

    Comment by juenhau — August 4, 2008 @ 11:56 pm


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