5.13 on the Diamond of Longs Peak

The Diamond of Longs Peak. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

The Diamond of Longs Peak. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

7/29/11 - Josh Wharton has free-climbed the second 5.13 route on the Diamond, a 900-foot vertical and overhanging wall that rises entirely above 13,000 feet on Longs Peak, the northernmost 14'er in the Rocky Mountains. On July 23, Wharton led every pitch of the Dunn-Westbay Route free, with the crux checking in at 5.13b.

Jimmy Dunn and Billy Westbay established this route in 1972 at V 5.10 A3; it roughly parallels King of Swords (5.12a) toward the right side of the face. In recent years, Andy Donson and Pete Takeda had worked on free-climbing the line, and had found a couple of key variations, placing two protection bolts on the crux traverse. Wharton preplaced some wired nots for his climb but did not add any permanent protection.

Wharton worked on the route solo on a toprope during three separate days over a period of three weeks, and then redpointed the line on his fourth day of effort, with longtime friend Kevin Cochran belaying. The crux third pitch has a V7 traverse after 140 feet of steep 5.12 climbing. Above this are four pitches of 5.12 or 5.12+, and this year there were significant wet portions on these leads. The final day was "a battle due to wetness and me not redpointing the crux pitch until my third try of the day, and at nearly 3 p.m.," Wharton said. "I fell off a few times due to wetness up high, but managed to lower, pull the rope, and send. I topped out just before dark, with severe cramping and a very tired body. Definitely a proper day."

He added that the rock on Dunn-Westbay was "shockingly good. I think this might be the best route on the Diamond, but I have to climb the Honeymoon before i can have a strong opinion. It's certainly better then any other free route i've done on the Diamond, and I've done most of them." The Honeymoon is Over (V 5.13) was established by Eric Doub and free-climbed by Tommy Caldwell in 2001.

Wharton has had an interesting year of climbing. After breaking his back badly while rebolting a route in Rifle, Colorado, he recovered to win the mixed climbing comp at the Ouray Ice Festival, put up a multi-pitch M8 trad route in Rocky Mountain National Park, and speed-solo the north faces of the Eiger and the Matterhorn this year.

Date of Ascent: July 23, 2011

Sources: Josh Wharton, climbing.com