New Free Line Up the Diamond

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Brett Nelson on the 5.11+/5.12- fifth pitch of Full House, a new free line on the Diamond that combines sections of two old aid climbs. Photo by Aaron Voreis.

Brett Nelson on the 5.11+/5.12- fifth pitch of Full House, a new free line on the Diamond that combines sections of two old aid climbs. Photo by Aaron Voreis.

Phil Gruber and Brett Nelson have completed a new free line up the Diamond on Longs Peak, linking sections of two old aid climbs with some new ground.Full House (5.12, 8 pitches) has six pitches of 5.11 or harder, all above 13,200 feet (4,023m), on Colorado’s premier alpine wall.

Full House weaves between La Dolce Vita (5.8 A4, Casarotto-Fowler) and Gear and Clothing (5.9 A4, Copeland-Hirt). During their initial exploration of the line, Gruber and Nelson started on two moderate pitches and then found unlikely face-climbing variations to the right of the A4 third and fourth pitches of La Dolce Vita. They protected the face climbing with three bolts (plus two anchor bolts), and their third pitch became the free route’s crux (5.12).

Gruber said the pair had intended to continue up La Dolce Vita but then learned of another climber’s hopes of freeing that route. After talking to Kent McClannan, who made the probable second ascent of Gear and Clothing with the late Cameron Tague, they decided to look for a way to link into that route. The pair discovered a surprising line of edges on the fourth pitch that allows a 15-foot traverse to the right across an otherwise blank face.

Full House then follows the fifth-pitch overhanging corner crack of Gear and Clothing, which Tague had onsighted in 1998, calling it 5.12-. (Gruber and Nelson rated it 5.11+.) Three more pitches of 5.11 climbed past Table Ledge—actually a roof on this side of the Diamond—to reach the top of the formation at just about 14,000 feet (4,267m).

The Diamond in winter. Full House takes a direct line above the arrow. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

The Diamond in winter. Full House takes a direct line above the arrow. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

After two days on the Diamond in July to suss out the route and place fixed gear, Gruber and Nelson returned in late August for the redpoint. The two swapped leads, with both the leader and the second free-climbing. Gruber, who has done five other 5.12 routes on the Diamond, said Full House is “as good as anything I’ve done on the Diamond and probably harder.”

Date of Ascent: August 28, 2009

Sources: Brett Nelson, Phil Gruber, Kent McClannan

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