Tommy Caldwell, Joe Mills Climb First 5.14 on the Diamond

The Diamond.

The Diamond. Photo by ProfPete / Wikipedia

8/22/13 - Tommy Caldwell and Joe Mills have redpointed the first 5.14 route up the Diamond on Longs Peak, the premier granite wall in Colorado's high mountains. The two free-climbed the full Dunn-Westbay aid line in four rope-stretching pitches, with the 80-meter second pitch checking in at 5.14a.

The dead-vertical Diamond wall begins at about 13,200 feet and tops out at over 14,000 feet.

In 2011, Josh Wharton free-climbed the Dunn-Westbay at 5.13b with substantial variations. But Caldwell and Mills both aimed to straighten out the line and free-climb the full, original Dunn-Westbay, a 5.10 A3+ route established in 1972 by Jimmy Dunn and Billy Westbay. Caldwell spent four days on the route last summer, but found it too wet to make much progress.

This year Caldwell returned to the route and spent several days working on it with Jonathan Siegrist. Last week, they halted their efforts to assist in the rescue of a severely injured climber below the face. After one more attempt, Siegrist had to give up on the route because of other commitments, and Caldwell teamed up with Joe Mills, who had also been working on the direct line.

On August 21, Caldwell led all four pitches successfully, and Mills followed all of the pitches free.

"I had the vision of trying to do it ledge to ledge [with no hanging belays], and that meant doing an 80-meter pitch, which made it fully 5.14," Caldwell said. "It was extraordinary. I never expected to find anything like that on the Diamond."

The four pitches went at 5.10+, 5.14a (80 meters), 5.13a (about 68 meters), and 5.12b.  The two climbed directly up the Green Pillar on the first pitch, where Wharton had traversed in from the Casual Route. And where Wharton headed left into another crack system on the second pitch, Caldwell and Mills climbed straight up. Caldwell said about half of the route differed from the free line that Wharton followed.

Caldwell said the route "protects perfectly—it's G-rated. So rad." The original aid crux was unprotected, but it was "5.8 free climbing and you just free solo it," he added.

Caldwell also pioneered the first 5.13 on the Diamond, The Honeymoon is Over, in 2001.

Date of ascent: August 21, 2013

Source: Tommy Caldwell


Previous Comments

Regarding the higher elevation difficult climbs in Europe: I believe that the hardest granite pitches are on "Le Tresor de Romain" on Grad Capucin a 13c at 12500 feet - established by Nico Potard, who named his son after Tommy: While climbs like Huber's Bellavista and Pan Aroma (14b in the dolomites) are below 9800 feet.

Vlad - 08/23/2013 3:28:13

Good question, BoulderClimber. One area that has harder climbs and is nearly as high is the top of Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo, where Daniel Woods, Yuji Hirayama, and friends have climbed 5.14d and 5.15a routes. These cliffs are at around 4,000 meters, or 13,125 feet, which is about 250 feet lower than the crux pitch of the Dunn-Westbay. So, slightly lower and a bit less "alpine,"but much harder climbing! Anyone know of other 5.14 routes above 13,000 feet or 4,000 meters? Mont Blanc massif?

Climbing Staff - 08/23/2013 2:23:23

Does this then make the Dunn-Westbay the highest 5.14 on earth?

BoulderClimber - 08/23/2013 11:58:12

Congrats to Tommy and Joe (and Jonathan) on finishing the route, especially in light of their actions last Friday being a key part of the the rescue in the North Chimney. Good mountain karma.

Dangerous Dale - 08/22/2013 9:13:03