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training for the diamond on longs peak
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Aug 23, 2011
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Please don't forget or underestimate the mental training. The exposure can make a climb twice as hard as it would be for you normally. I am also interested in climbing the diamond, but I know I need to mentally prepare a lot more. Practice on routes where the protection is not in your comfort zone and routes that require a minimum amount of gear racked on your harness. IE practice on other longer multi-pitch routes at the same grade but at lower elevation. Once your head is in the game, conditioning is all you lack. I still believe climbing is 2/3 mental and 1/3 physical.

I recently climbed Hallet Peak and found the mental aspects of the climb much harder than the physical. Huge exposure, run out pitches, and difficult gear placements have nothing to do with physical condition.
Nelson Day
From Joshua Tree, CA
Joined Nov 13, 2010
1,443 points
Aug 23, 2011
I'll try not to repeat the advice already given. All good. Just climb a lot of long multi-pitch routes and start with something less committing than the Diamond, but at altitude.

Nobody's mentioned this though: climbing efficiently on alpine terrain is all about quick, decisive, continuous movement. Leave the chalk at home.

Get used to climbing for speed, not style. I am often surprised these days to watch people climb in the mountains like they would in the gym: carefully engineering every move, chalking, chalking, and re-chalking, thinking about it some... come on! It's alpine: what matters is to move as fast as you can (so you get to the top before lightning does), not finding the very best way to do every move.

Also don't waste time at belays: you need a very efficient transition. No chatting. Both climbers should be doing something at all times during transitions. One can re-rack gear, the other re-flake the rope, etc. Get to the belay, clip in, exchange gear, and go! And don't use shoes that you cannot keep on all day; taking shoes of is a big waste of time.
Eric and Lucie
From Boulder, CO
Joined Oct 14, 2004
167 points
Sep 11, 2011
The approach often takes the spring out of many climbers steps. If you are bivying, plan for a heavy hoof and an uncomfortable night at elevation. To prepare, carry similar weight up similar terrain. If you are cranking in a day, then prepare for a long day. Train with similarly long days. Carrying loads at elevation will certainly help. Remember, the minute you enter the mountains you start weakening, so the more power you have to start the better off you will be. I was amazed last time I was out there how cold it could be during the approach. Long's is a big son of a gun and should be approached with respect and a solid commitment to fitness or it can be dangerous out there. Enjoy and be off the route and descending as early as possible. Noon has always been a solid time to be done. That often means climbing pitches in under a half hour as a team of two. Practice with your partner so that you move efficiently and as previously mentioned be quick at the anchors. Eric Whitbeck
Joined Mar 27, 2006
321 points
Sep 11, 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wal...
Or, if you're blocked by traffic, inefficient at belays, and the altitude kicks your butt, then hope you get lucky with perfect weather.

I wasn't in bad shape that summer, by the way, shuffling up the Keyhole route to the summit in 3 hours.
Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Joined Mar 4, 2008
325 points
Sep 12, 2011

I've guided the Diamond a dozen times and have advised on many successful first Diamond attempts.

I don't care what you do in Chicago. Just get strong. Laps and laps and laps in a climbing gym are what I'd do but if you prefer kettlebells and crossfit, go for it. Include lots of full-day workouts. Get used to exercising from 0700 to 1800.

Come to Estes Park at least a week before your climb. For this schedule I'm going to assume that you can fly out on a Friday and can stay through the following Sunday.

Saturday: Climb 5-6 pitches on Lumpy Ridge. I know that doesn't seem like a lot but, as an intro and with sea-level lungs, you'’re gonna feel the heat. Plan to be back at your car at 2. Then drive up to the top of Trail Ridge road and walk around until dark. Drink water until you pee clear.

Sunday: Sleep in. You'll need it. Then go climb the hardest trad pitch you think you can on Lumpy.

Monday: Climb the Petit Grepon. This will get you moving at alitiude but will, hopefully, be a cruise. Culp Bossier on Hallets is a good subsitiute. If you’re feeling proud, hike up to the Meeker and climb the Flying Buttress. Extra points for climbing the direct start.

Tuesday: Have a great day on Lumpy Ridge. Climb Mainliner on Sundance or link up Pear Buttress and J-crack on the book.

Wednesday: Head up to Chasm View Wall and climb Directissima. If you're feeling good, climb the Red Wall instead. From the top, scramble up to Chasm View to scope out the Cables Route rappels. Note the landmarks because you’ll need them for the descent.

If this goes down easily, things are looking good for the Casual Route and you would be well served to climb the N. Chimney to Broadway then rap down. The number 1 reason for bailing off the Diamond is the N. Chimney epic.

Thursday: Easy, long day on Lumpy Ridge. Batman and Robin, Hand Over Hand and Climb of the Ancient Mariner would make a nice day.

Friday: Rest day. Don't touch the rock.

Saturday: Climb the f*cking Diamond.

Route day: Start hiking before 0200. Your goal is to be the first party in the North Chimney. DO NOT CLIMB BELOW ANYONE IN THAT CHIMNEY! IT"S DEATH. If someone is in it, wait until they finish before you get into it. Don't let anyone in while you're waiting.

If you are planning on climbing the Casual Route, know that reason number 2 for people bailing off the Diamond is the Casual clusterf*ck. If someone is on the route before you, you have a tough decision to make. If that party looks competent and IF THEY ARE MOVING FAST, they you're probably okay being the second party. If there are 2 or 3 parties in front of you, climb another route. BTW, I don't recall ever hearing of someone bailing off the Casual Route because they couldn't climb the crux. The Diamond for virgins is different than climbing elsewhere. The things that spit you off are not what spits you off the Naked Edge or the Central Pillar. People get lost, get late, get behind or get a FUBAR head.

Leave your extra gear where you hit the final snowfied below the East Face. You'll come right back to it. Cover it well with a big rock. The ravens can open zippers and will get all your stuff.

I'd highly recommend having the gear and the beta for either Pervertical Sanctuary or the Black Dagger as a backup. I climbed both before I climbed the Casual Route. Remember, it's not the difficulty of that route which turns people back. It's the clusterf*ck, the crowds, the weather, the route finding or your head which will turn you around.

And finally, don't succumb to the rap route down the Diamond. It's a cheesball way to descend after climbing 95% of the way to the top of Long's Peak and will fully engage you in the Diamond clusterf*ck. Don't do it. Traverse off of Table Ledge and you're on upper Keiner's. Follow the Keiner's beta to the step-around and scramble to the summit. Enjoy the view then head down the North Face to the Cables rappels (You did scope them out when you got to the top of Directissima or the Red Wall, didn't you?). Traverse down to the very lowest point between Long's and Lady Washington. Drop in to that gully via 25' of 5.3 downclimbing then scramble down until the gully completely chokes off and forces you to either rappel or fly. Instead, step around--blind--to climber's right and you'll find yourself on a grassy ledge, the Sidewalk, that will take you, hands in pockets, back to your packs.

Have a great climb.


Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
Joined Jan 1, 2001
440 points
Sep 12, 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wal...
Mal, that was quite a generous offering of experience, not just to mike526, but any aspiring Diamond climber. It's cool to have you in the neighborhood. Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Joined Mar 4, 2008
325 points
Sep 12, 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.
Frank K wrote:
if you can lead a 5.8 at devil's lake you can lead the entire casual route. if you can lead 5.9 at DL it won't even be exciting as far as the climbing goes. Anyways, cardio fitness will help! Success will depend on luck in regard to the weather and how many parties are ahead of you.

I haven't climbed on the diamond although I've hiked to chasm on a rest day. I've also lead 5.8's/5.9's at devils lake (upper D, birchtree, orgasm, etc) and I've also lead some 9's and 9+'s at Eldo (west buttress, green spur, the unsaid, etc.) I'd also like to do the casual route but I don't think I'm anywhere near ready. Training for the altitude is going to be your biggest obstacle. I think it's gonna suck if you try and do it on a short trip, by suck I mean you're just going to hate life from the altitude. My goal is to simply move out there.

Mike how much climbing have you done out there? Maybe do some other stuff out there first. I'm going back out there the beginning of october to spend a week at lumpy and maybe do the petit, or maybe something on hallet peak.
From colorado
Joined Sep 17, 2010
239 points

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