<-- Map of summer 2019
     climbing roadtrip 
     (click to enlarge)

Route: Curving Vine (5.11a, 6p) + Forrest Finish above Table Ledge (5.9, 2p) to the top!

TR #: 360

Category: Colorado       
 14,255 ft (Longs Peak); 13,700 ft (Table Ledge at top of Curving Vine); ~14,000 ft (top of upper Forrest Finish)  
Rock Type: Granite

Partner: Tom Wright

Climbing the Diamond from Broadway Ledge to the upper rim of the Diamond (instead of stopping at Table Ledge).


Before I get to the trip report, here is a link to a beta page I have compiled for the Diamond....

The trip report on this page represents the 6th time I have climbed the Diamond.

I cannot seem to get enough of this amazing alpine wall of granite, and I keep wanting to come back. I have put together a DIAMOND BETA PAGE summarizing the main methods of approach and descent as well as summarizing/comparing the time stats of the various approaches and descents I have taken. Check it out by clicking the link below!  

Page features:


I cannot seem to get enough of The Diamond, so just over a week after climbing the Black Dagger, I was back for another lap on the Diamond's steep walls.

Most routes/parties on the Diamond stop at Table Ledge and rappel back down to Broadway Ledge. However, the Diamond's vertical walls continue upward for a few hundred feet above Table Ledge. The top rim of the Diamond ends a mere 200 vertical feet from the summit of Longs Peak. On my previous five climbs of the Diamond before this trip report, I had only once continued above Table Ledge, when we cut left and scrambled up Kiener's Route (3rd/4th) to the summit after climbing the Yellow Wall + Forrest Finish to Table Ledge. But I had always wanted to continue straight up and top out on the upper rim of the Diamond's towering walls. My partner Tom had also climbed several routes on the Diamond and never climbed above Table Ledge, so he was eager to do so too. This trip report marks the first time that I climbed the full length of the Diamond from Broadway Ledge to the top rim of its vertical walls.

The route Tom and I climbed to Table Ledge was Curving Vine. The first pitch of Curving Vine is what you rap over on the final rappel to Broadway Ledge on the Diamond Rappel Route so this route had always intrigued me as a "mostly-moderate-by-Diamond-standards route I have not done" every time I rapped past it. Curving Vine climbs a crack system between Ariana/Pervertical and D7, eventually intersecting Pervertical Sanctuary for the final two pitches to Table Ledge. The original route contained two pendulums for which the route is named, but it is more standard these days to climb the free version, which is what we did. The climbing on the free version is 5.9-5.11a and, like all routes on the Diamond, steep and athletic. I found Curving Vine to be harder than any other route I have climbed on the Diamond thus far (including Black Dagger which gets the same 11a grade and Ariana which gets a 12a grade). Perhaps I was not climbing as confidently on this particular day, but the rock on Curving Vine felt slick and insecure and there were several moves above marginal gear. It was still a great route, but I found it a bit more heady for me than others on the wall.

Above Table Ledge, we climbed the last two pitches of the Forrest Finish route. These pitches were wet 5.9, even in mid-August. They are probably rarely completely dry. I doubt these pitches are climbed much and I will probably never opt to climb them again, but it was very much worth it for the sake of climbing above Table Ledge to the top rim of the Diamond at least once. It was awesome to climb the full length of the vertical face!

Climbing the Diamond is always a bit of a logistical decision regarding approach and descent. I have actually created a "Diamond beta page" summarizing the two major options of approach and the two major options of descent. Tom and I decided to approach via the North Chimney. The last few times I had climbed the Diamond (including just a couple of weeks previous to this trip report) I had used the Chasm View raps to access Broadway Ledge, so this gave me an opportunity to get a good comparison of the "time from trailhead to Broadway Ledge" for these two main methods of approach. The North Chimney was indeed a bit (~30 min) quicker than the Chasm View rappels, but also there were half a dozen parties in it with us, which made it a bit nerve-wracking with the looseness of the rock in the North Chimney. I think my preference of Chasm View raps or North Chimney comes down to the time of the season; if the North Chimney is icy or wet, I'd opt for the Chasm View rappels.

Because we were going to the summit, we also had to decide how we wanted to descend. Descent Option 1 was to downclimb Kiener's Route from the summit to Table Ledge and use the standard Diamond Rappel Route. Descent Option 2 was to scramble northward from the summit down the Cables Route and intersect the trail down in the Boulderfied and hike out on easy trail. Both options had their advantages and disadvantages. The big advantages of Descent Option 1 were approaching with more comfortable packs, climbing with lighter packs (not having to bring our crampons up the route for example), and having extra water and food at the base of the route for when we got back down to Broadway Ledge. The big advantages of Descent Option 2 were a more mellow descent from the summit and the streamlined nature of an up-and-over climb. In the end, the undesirability of schlepping crampons up 5.10 terrain won out and we decided to go with Option 1 (i.e. back to Table Ledge and Diamond Rappel Route). Descent Option 2 would make more sense if we had done the Chasm View raps and had left stuff at Chasm View. Yeah, you see, it's quite a logistical decision.

The following page gives a trip report from our adventure to the top of the Diamond. Enjoy!



Approach Option 1: North Chimney
 Option 1Diamond Rappel Route (+ downclimb Kiener's to Table Ledge)

Car-to-car time: 18 hours 25 minutes
Boulder-to-Boulder: 20 hours 30 minutes

Leave Boulder: 2:00 am

Leave trailhead: 3:06 am
Base of North Chimney: 6:02 am (2:56)
Base of Curving Vine on Broadway Ledge: 7:15 am (1:13)
(Trailhead to base of route: 4:09) 

Start climbing Curving Vine: 7:24 am
Finish Curving Vine (Table Ledge): 1:08 pm 
(Climb Curving Vine: 5:44)

Start climbing Forrest Finish above Table Ledge: 1:57 pm
Summit (via 2 pitches above Table Ledge): 4:17 pm 
(Climb Forrest Finish above Table Ledge: 2:20 (wet conditions))

Table Ledge (via downclimb Kiener's): 4:54 pm

Begin rappels from Table Ledge: 5:00 pm
Broadway Ledge: 5:45 pm (0:45)
Base of rappels below N Chimney: 6:22 pm (0:37)
Trailhead: 9:31 pm (3:09)
(Summit to trailhead: 5:14)
(Table Ledge to trailhead: 4:31)

Boulder: 10:30 pm 


Photo descriptions:
We approached via the NORTH CHIMNEY to Broadway Ledge.

1. Leaving the trailhead in the morning darkness. It was a Tuesday, but the parking lot was nearly full and several other people (mostly keyholers and a few other climbers) were milling about. I love how people don't seem to mind getting up early in Colorado.
2. Approaching the North Chimney. YOu can see headlights from another party at the base of the North Chimney, a party at the top of the Chasm View rappels, and a party already climbing the first pitch of Casual Route. A Tuesday and there were about a dozen parties up there. We were about 
3. Climbers without crampons/spikes getting stalled by the 100 foot snow slope at the base of the North Chimney. I think one party was contemplating bailing (I hope in that case they knew about Directissima on Chasm View Wall!). This slope is steep and hard enough that traction devices are worth having. 
4. Looking up the North Chimney.
5. Ascending between snow and rock for awhile.
6. Abut 1/3 of the way up the North Chimney. We cut left onto the rock here.
7. About 2/3 of the way up the North Chimney.
8. You can exit left or right from the North Chimney. We chose to exit right here, which involved a couple of 5.6-ish moves and put us on pretty solid 3rd/4th class ledgy terrain up to Broadway, with a short 5.4-ish layback section along the way. The benefit of going right is that it puts you on more solid terrain. But I think the 5.6 exit moves may be harder than the left exit.
9. Crossing above the North Chimney. It's just exposed 3rd, and watch you don't kick rocks on all the climbers in the North Chimney below.
10. Climbers queuing up at the base of the Casual Route. About half a dozen parties were on the Casual Route on this particular Tuesday, and they all seemed to arrive at the base at the same time (between 7-7:30am). Happy waiting.....
11. Tom enjoying his "power sandwich" before the climb. We were the first party at the base of Curving Vine so we had the luxury to not be too rushed as we got ready. (We thought we would be the only party on Curving Vine, but another party showed up as we were on the second pitch.)

CURVING VINE. 5.10c. Climb the shallow left-facing dihedral to a sloping ledge on the left with a bolted station (the bolts are on the Diamond Rappel Route).
12.    12. Tom contemplating the first sequence of moves on Pitch 1. I always find Pitch 1 on Diamond routes to be a bit heady, requiring some punchy moves above gear on slightly slippery feet. Perhaps it just takes the first pitch to get reacquainted with the rock again.

CURVING VINE. 5.10b. Climb the right-facing dihedral and continue to the end of the crack. Eventually step left to a ledge to belay (there was an old bolt and two old pitons at this spot). 
13. The start of Pitch 2.
14. Further up on Pitch 2.
15. Looking down from just before I traversed left near the top of Pitch 2.
16. Tom following Pitch 2. The topo shows setting the belay on a ledge on the left of the crack system, so that is what I did. There was an old bolt and a couple of old pitons here. 
17. Dylan Cousins having fun climbing on the Diamond. The party behind us was Dylan Cousins and Ryan Montoya, who were planning on continuing up the crack system above Pitch 4 of Curving Vine rather than traversing over to Pervertical. It ended up being pretty thin over there ("hairline seam with no free climbing features, unfortunately" were Dylan's exact words)  but they had a fun time exploring the option at least.....

CURVING VINE. 5.11a. Move up and then back right into the crack system from Pitch 2. Link together several thin cracks, stepping right to the 11a crux and belaying below a right-facing corner.
18. Tom on Pitch 3. Pretty much step back right into the crack system of Pitch 2. There is a short 11a section near the top.
19. Midway up Pitch 3.

CURVING VINE. 5.10b. Climb to the corner, then follow it to a break half way up. The rock seems a bit slicker then usual on this pitch. Make an exposed 5.7 hand-traverse left along flakes to the fourth belay on Pervertical Sanctuary.
20. Looking up the start of Pitch 4. Slippery 5.10b.
21. Higher up in the corner on Pitch 4. I think this section is rated 5.8. It looks like it should be easy, but the rock felt quite slick to me on this pitch.

22. The 5.7 hand traverse at the end of Pitch 4. This gets you to the belay at the top of Pitch 4 of Pervertical Sanctuary. This was my favorite part of the pitch. Very steep and exposed, but enough features for the hands to make it 5.7! (Yeah, I notice that the ropes got a bit funky. I was alternating clips to try to minimize rope drag, and after I clipped into the red X4 I spotted the horn and slung that and decided to clip it to both ropes; combined with the blue rope kinking a bit, things look a little funkier than they actually were. Here's a close up of the ropes. Yeah, still not ideal, but funk happens when you have 400 feet of air below you and insecure footholds.)

CURVING VINE / PERVERTICAL SANCTUARY. 5.10a. Climb the wide crack (fists+) in the dihedral to the top of the Obelisk Pillar.
23. Tom starting up Pitch 5. I had led this pitch when I climbed Pervertical Sanctuary the previous summer, and I was happy to follow it this time (for my hand size, I think I have to do a bit more offwidth climbing than someone with bigger hands).
24. Tom higher up on Pitch 5. Cruising! This is a great pitch.
25. Midway up Pitch 5.
26. Photo taken by Tom looking down at me climbing up Pitch 5.
27. The final stretch before the belay. Save a #4 for here unless you like running out 30 feet of #4-terrain.

CURVING VINE / PERVERTICAL SANCTUARY. 5.9. There are a few options here. Left is 10a, straight up is 5.9, and right is 5.9. I went straight up. This is a thin corner. Step right after 40 feet to a crack and finish up easier ground to Table Ledge. Fun climbing.
28. Looking up the direct exit. This is 5.9. I went this way. Fun pitch.
29. Looking over at the right exit. This is also 5.9. I've never gone this way.
30. Table Ledge at the top of the route. This was taken from the rap anchor on Table Ledge.I think it would also be possible to cut right lower and get to the rap anchor on Lower Table Ledge, if you wanted.

FORREST FINISH ABOVE TABLE LEDGE5.9. Climb the crack system that takes off above the Forrest Finish pitches below Table Ledge. It was decent climbing, but wet. (How hard is wet 5.9? Well, it's still 5.9. But it's wet. Usually feels scarier and harder than dry 5.10.) Probably seldom climbed. Our first pitch was 200 feet and climbed through all of the 5.9 difficulties. The pitch description in the guidebook breaks the 5.9 into two pitches.
31. Tom climbing the first pitch of the Forrest Finish above Table Ledge. The other climbers are on the finish of Casual Route. A safer belay would have been directly below Tom rather than over on Almost Table Ledge but we were not sure how far right it was and ended up just starting up it rather then moving the belay.
A view looking up as Tom climbs the first pitch of the Forrest Finish above Table Ledge.
Looking up from the base of the pitch. The other rope in the photo is from the climbers who were finishing Casual and traversing across to the rap anchor on Almost Table Ledge.
Midway up the pitch.
35. Even higher. It's getting a bit wet by this point. 
36. A photo taken by Tom looking down at the finish of the pitch. This was a long lead (200 feet) so the belay described in the guidebook is a bit lower. But this way Tom got us past all of the 5.9 terrain in one pitch. Excellent lead Tom! Wet 5.9 is harder than dry 5.10 any day!

FORREST FINISH ABOVE TABLE LEDGE. 5.6. Since our first pitch linked together all the 5.9 difficulties, this was a short pitch through a wet 5.6 chimney.
37.   37. Looking up at the 5.6 chimney finish. Wet 5.6. Wet 5.6 can be sort of fun. Wet 5.9 not so much.

From the top of the roped climbing, it was a short 3rd class scramble to the top.
38. Scrambling the upper Kiener's Route to the top of Longs Peak. Only about 200 feet of vert from the top of the upper Forrest Finish pitches.
39. Nearing the summit.
40. Tom enjoying the beautiful day on the summit. No threat of thundershowers today!

We had debated about the options from this point:
(1) Downclimb Kiener's Route (4th) to Table Ledge, and then descend via the 
DIAMOND RAPPEL ROUTE back to Broadway Ledge (5 raps with double ropes) and then from Broadway Ledge down to the snowfield. We then hiked out around Chasm Lake. 
(2) Descend via the CABLES ROUTE (3rd with 2 single rope raps) and scramble down to regain the trail in Boulderfield and hike out.
In interest of climbing with lighter packs and having extra water at the base, we decided to go with Option 1.
41. Descending Kiener's Route to Table Ledge. Mostly 3rd with a couple of 4th class moves.
42. View of Table Ledge from where you exit to meet Kiener's Route.
43. Rapping the Diamond Rappel Route.
44. Rapping the Diamond Rappel Route.
45. The final rap to the snowfield.
46. Moon and pretty clouds on the hike out.