<-- Map of summer 2018
     climbing roadtrip 
     (click to enlarge)
JULY
9
2018

The DIAMOND Route: Yellow Wall /w Forrest Finish (5.10, 6p, ~800') + Kiener's Route (4th to summit)

Category: Colorado      Trip Report #295
Partner: George Foster
Rock Type: Granite
Summit Elev: 
14,255 ft (Longs Peak); 13,700 ft (Table Ledge at top of route)

A magnificent line up the best wall of granite in RMNP.

INTRO

Despite Colorado's reputation as a climber's paradise, I haven't climbed much in Colorado (only two short trips while passing through, in 2007 and in 2014). It's a long way from home in Bellingham, Washington. Finally, in Summer 2018, I planned a 3-week climbing trip to Colorado (objectives involving Black Canyon of Gunnison, Eldorado Canyon, Mt. Evans Black Wall, and Rocky Mountain National Park). The Diamond—a world famous wall of alpine granite on the East Face of Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park—was high on the list of objectives. There are several awesome routes on The Diamond. I had climbed Ariana (5.12a) in 2014, thought it was fabulous, which only inspired me to want to climb other routes on the towering wall. 

George Foster joined me for my second week of climbing in Colorado. He also wanted to climb the Diamond. We decided to climb Yellow Wall + Forrest Finish, which sounded like an awesome route. The Yellow Wall is reputed to be one of the best routes on the wall. It can be kept at 5.10b with a few variations (a 5.7 bypass to the 5.11 start to Pitch 1, and taking the Forrest Finish directly to the top for Pitches 5-6).

During my trip, Colorado was experiencing its "summer monsoon season", which means nearly daily afternoon thundershowers. These can be particularly fearsome at higher elevations. And The Diamond happens to be on the high point in RMNP. But luck was with George and me, and the second day of our trip together we got our one-day weather window: a day with no forecasted thundershowers sandwiched between days forecasting 40% afternoon showers. So we decided to go for it and climb The Diamond! 

Apparently so did everyone else. By my best count, there were 16 parties climbing on The Diamond that day (3 on Yellow Wall, 1 on D7, 2 on Pervertical Sanctuary, 1 on Curving Vine, 6-8 on Casual Route, 1 high up above the Casual Route on some route I don't know). There could have even been a couple of more parties that I missed! The crag-like atmosphere resulted in about 3 hours of waiting at belays for the pitch above us to clear out, but with the bluebird skies the waiting was just part of the experience and didn't add any real worry to the day, just some chilly semi-hanging belays. George and I found the climbing on the route to be excellent: consistently steep and sustained at the 5.10 level, with an amazing position up the center of the towering Diamond. 

This page gives a trip report from our climb, including a route overlay, discussion on the main approach and descent options, time stats from the climb, and lots of photos. Enjoy! 

(Update: The Diamond is so awesome I had to climb it again before I left Colorado. Two weeks later, at the end of my Colorado road trip, I returned to the Diamond and did a two-route 13-pitch link-up of Pervertical Sanctuary (5.10c) and Casual Route (5.10a).)

ROUTE OVERLAY FOR YELLOW WALL + FORREST FINISH


APPROACH & DESCENT OPTIONS

There are 2 main methods of approach:
1. 
Chasm Lake + North Chimney to Broadway Ledge. (This is what I did in 2014 when I climbed Ariana.)
2. Chasm View Rappels to Broadway Ledge. (This is what we did in 2018, this trip report.)

There are 2 main methods of descent:
1. From Table Ledge, use rappel route down left side of Diamond and regain trail at Chasm Lake area. (This is what I did in 2014 when I climbed Ariana.)
2. From Table Ledge, scramble up Kiener's Route to the summit (or you can climb some 5.10 route above Table Ledge but these routes are not climbed as much). From the summit, descend via the Cables Route (3rd class scramble and 2 single rope rappels) to Chasm View. Regain the trail in the Boulderfield. (This is what we did in 2018, this trip report.)

Usually Approach 1 is combined with Descent 1 and Approach 2 is combined with Descent 2, although variations can be made.

Approach & Descent Options 2
(what we did in 2018,
this trip report)
Approach & Descent Options 1
(from 2014 trip report)


TIME STATS

As of July 2018, I've climbed the Diamond three times. The following table gives our time stats for our climb of the Yellow Wall+Forrest Finish, and also summarizes/compares the time stats for the other routes/approaches/descents I've done on the Diamond.

Ariana (2014)
(for comparison)
Yellow Wall+Forrest Finish+Kiener's (2018)  (this trip report) Pervertical Sanctuary + Casual Route (2018)
(for comparison)
16 hours car to car

Leave trailhead: 3:40 am
Chasm Lake: 5:40 am
Base of North Chimney: 7:00 am
Base of route on Broadway Ledge: 8:11 am
(Trailhead to base of route: 4:31) *

Start climbing: 8:30 am
Finish route (Table Ledge): 3:05 pm 
(Climb route: ~6.5 hours) **

Begin rappels: 3:20 pm
Base of rappels: 5:04 pm (~1.75 hours)
Trailhead: 7:50 pm 
(Table Ledge to trailhead: 4:45) ***
19 hours car to car 

Leave trailhead: 3:40 am
Chasm View: 7:20 am
Base of route on Broadway Ledge: 8:35 am 
(Trailhead to base of route: 4:55) *

Start climbing: 8:55 am
Finish route (Table Ledge): 5:05 pm 
(Climb route: ~8 hours) **

Summit (via Kiener's Route): 5:40 pm 
Chasm View (via Cables Route): 6:30 pm
Trailhead: 10:30 pm 
(Table Ledge to trailhead: 5:25) ***

22.5 hours car to car

Leave trailhead: 1:35 am
Chasm View: 5:00 am
Base of Pervertical on Broadway Ledge: 6:30 am 
(Trailhead to base of route: 4:55) *

Start climbing Pervertical: 6:56 am 
Finish Pervertical (Table Ledge): 11:25 am 
(Climb Pervertical: ~4.5 hours) 

Begin rappels from Table Ledge: 11:40 am
Broadway Ledge: 12:25 pm (45 min)

Start climbing Casual: 12:56 pm
Finish Casual (Table Ledge): 6:35 pm 
(Climb Casual: ~5.5 hours) **

Begin rappels from Table Ledge: 6:55 pm
Base of rappels below N Chimney: 8:22 pm (~1.5 hours)
Trailhead: 12:09 am 
(Table Ledge to trailhead: 5:14) ***

Some comments about time:
*  For Pervertical and Yellow Wall, we approached via the Chasm View rappels. For Ariana, we approached via Chasm Lake + North Chimney. My trailhead-to-base-of-route times suggest that the times for the two methods of approach are comparable. The Chasm View rappels took about 25 minutes longer, but I felt they were safer than the North Chimney and the annoying snow slope at the base of the North Chimney.
** For Ariana, we had to wait perhaps 30 minutes at the base of the final pitch for a party who had merged in from Curving Vine. For Yellow Wall, there were several climbers on the Diamond and at least 2 hours were spent at belays waiting for the pitch above us to clear out. For Casual Route, the route was very wet, causing us to slow down quite a bit. I think we could have shaved about 2 hours off our time had it been dry. As these comments suggest, things are rarely ideal, so can usually expect something will slow you down!
*** For Pervertical and Ariana, we descended via rappelling from Table Ledge and hiking out via Chasm Lake. For Yellow Wall, we continued on to the summit of Longs via Kiener's Route and descended via the Cables Route. My Table-Ledge-to-trailhead times suggest that the times for the two methods of descent are comparable. Perhaps taking Kiener's Route + Cables Route is about 10-40 minutes longer, but it is worth tagging a summit!



PHOTOS FROM CLIMB

Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
We approached via the CHASM VIEW RAPPELS to Broadway Ledge.
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1. The Diamond as seen from the Boulderfield approach.
2. Zoomed in view. What a face! And we are going to climb that!
3. Pit stop at the bathrooms at the Boulderfield.
4. Just past the bathrooms, we cut left off the trail and headed across the boulders towards Chasm View (which is the upper notch).
5. View of the Diamond from Chasm View.
6. View of North Chimney from Chasm View. I approached via the North Chimney in 2014 and I didn't enjoy it. It's easy 5th but a bit sketchy at times. Even though all other parties on the wall that day approached this way, George and I were glad to be doing the Chasm View Rappels. They are certainly safer than climbing below other parties in the North Chimney.
7. Zoomed in on Table Ledge, a cool feature that splits horizontally across the face. This is where more routes end, although it is possible to continue climbing upward via various routes, mostly 5.10 and harder, and not as well-travelled as the pitches below Table Ledge.
8. The top rappel station at Chasm View. There are 3 rappels with double ropes off rap anchors (shiny new bolts and chains as of 2018).
9. Broadway Ledge as seen from Chasm View rappels.
10. Rappelling Chasm View raps.
11. Looking up from the base of the 2nd rappel.
12. Looking at the exposed scramble across the top of the North Chimney on Broadway Ledge. Our guidebook said there was some 5th class here, but we never found anything harder than 3rd class to get across the top of the North Chimney. But although it might be easy, the terrain is exposed and loose and accidents have occurred here, so be careful.
13. Chasm View Wall as seen from Broadway Ledge. Apparently there are some good 3-4 pitch climbs on this wall. If I lived in Colorado, I am sure I would target this wall for some climbing.


Pitch 
1
YELLOW WALL. 5.9 or 5.11b. Climb upwards. See guidebook pitch description for details.
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14. George past the 5.11 section on Pitch 1. A hard lead to start the day!

Pitch 
2
YELLOW WALL. 5.9. Keep going up. See guidebook pitch description for details.
15.  15. Looking down from the belay anchor at the top of Pitch 2.

Pitch 
3
YELLOW WALL. 5.10d. Up. See guidebook pitch description for details.
16.    
17.   
16. Looking up from the belay below Pitch 3. Pitch 3 ascends the crack on the right. Notice all of the climbers on the wall above us! By my best count, there were about 16 parties on the wall that day (3 on Yellow Wall, 1 on D7, 2 on Pervertical Sanctuary, 1 on Curving Vine, 6-8 on Casual Route, 1 high up above the Casual Route on some route I don't know)
17. Midway up Pitch 3. Steep and sustained, protectable and fun.

Pitch 
4
YELLOW WALL. 5.9. Right and up. See guidebook pitch description for details.
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18. Looking at the start of Pitch 4, which traverses right on airy 5.8 terrain.
19. Looking down from the belay at the top of Pitch 4. It's a wild exposed pitch that traverses right and across ledges, so it's hard to avoid rope drag.

Pitch 
5
FORREST FINISH. 5.10b. Up. Don't go right since that's the continuation of the Yellow Wall and its harder (11a). See guidebook pitch description for details.
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20. Looking up the offwidth section that starts the first pitch of the Forrest Finish.
21. The final section of climbing on the pitch. George had set a belay from where I took this photo, but it turned out that about 20-30 feet higher there was an excellent belay spot in an alcove (you can see the alcove in the photo). This was a sheltered belay where you could pile the rope beside you and sit down. Highly recommended. I was leading the last pitch, but the belay spot was much better than the hanging belay George was at, so I reset the belay spot here before continuing up on Pitch 6.
22. George arriving at the belay at the top of Pitch 5 after my short pitch to it.
Pitch 
6
FORREST FINISH. 5.10b. Up of course. Finish on Table Ledge. See guidebook pitch description for details.
23.  23. Looking up Pitch 6. To Table Ledge! (or just below depending on where you belay)

Table Ledge to Summit
KIENER'S ROUTE. 3rd-4th. This involves traversing to the left side of Table Ledge and then scrambling up the blocky shoulder to the summit.
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24. George leading a short section to get to the actual Table Ledge (I had belayed just below it since when I got up there I ran into a party traversing across from the Casual Route and didn't want to get our ropes crossed up.)
25. Table Ledge (looking south towards Kiener's Route). The climber is at the top rappel station for the rappel route back to the base.
26. Table Ledge (looking north).
27. Scrambling up Kiener's Route to the summit. We unroped and put on approach shoes. There was a bit of 4th but it was mostly 3rd.
28. On the summit! Tagging the summit after a climb of the Diamond feels a bit more rewarding than just rappelling from Table Ledge. And overall it doesn't take much more time to descend off the summit via the Cables Route (or just downclimb Kiener's back to Table Ledge). 

Descent
We descended via the CABLES ROUTE (3rd class scramble and 2 single rope rappels) to Chasm View. Regain the trail in the Boulderfield.
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29. Looking down the Cables Route from the summit. This starts with scrambling down, heading towards the Chasm View notch which you can see below.
30. Rappelling off an eyebolt. We made 2 single-rope rappels when the terrain steepened just before Chasm View.
31. Hiking out in the evening light. What a great day!