Bruce Miller follows the crux pitch of a new, yet unnamed free route (V 5.12a, 9 pitches) that climbs the center of the Diamond on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Miller and Chris Weidner spent nine days working on the route over the past month, at times rappelling in to locate and clean the weaknesses with the most solid rock. [Photo] Chris Weidner
Bruce Miller and I spent nine days on Longs Peak between July 27 and August 26 establishing a new free route (not yet named) up the center of the Diamond. We climbed the first four pitches of the Enos Mills Wall (V 5.11 A3), already freed at 5.10, with a short new leftward traverse to a stance. We then added a new 45-foot face traverse pitch that climbs leftward into a prominent right-facing corner on Jack of Diamonds (V 5.10c A4). We added two bolts and one pin on this 5.11+ traverse. The route overhangs slightly for the next 350 feet.
The sixth pitch climbs the corner (5.11-) to a semi-hanging stance where we added one bolt and one pin at the belay. The crux seventh pitch comes next: steep face (one new pin, 5.10R), then endurance crack climbing from fingers to fists for 90 feet (5.12a). Pitch 8 is 100 feet of steep crack climbing (5.11c) ending with a spectacular hold-studded roof. The second half of this pitch is new climbing in between Jack of Diamonds and Enos Mills Wall, including the 5.10+ roof. The final pitch traverses right for 10 feet into the Enos Mills Wall for 100 feet of 5.10 offwidth and another 60 feet of easier terrain to the top of the Diamond.
The aid cruxes from the first ascents proved some of the easiest free climbing. For example, the 5.10R start of the crux pitch was A4 on the first ascent of Jack of Diamonds, back in 1963.
Bruce and I rapped in from the top six different days, spending many hours finding the best, driest cracks and cleaning them of loose rock. Some days we were stormed off by 11 a.m., having hiked four hours to the summit just to get two or three hours on the Diamond (then another three hours down). We attempted to send the route August 21, but the crux pitch was inexplicably dripping with water (it had been dry even on wetter days). We freed all but 30 feet.
We came back on August 26 and left the car at 1:45 a.m. We began climbing off Broadway at about 6:15 a.m. The crux was dry, and we redpointed the route with no falls. We topped out at 5:15 p.m. after 11 hours of climbing, then hiked about 10 more minutes to the summit of Longs Peak. Our car-to-car time was 19:40.
Our new free route is safe and relatively solid–very high quality for the middle of the Diamond. It goes at V 5.12a, 9 pitches. We placed three bolts and three pins, in both cases two for lead protection and one at belays.