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Casual Route Comparison


Original Post
Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

My partner has been trying to convince me to do the casual route. i am a little worried its over my head right now and with a baby coming within the next month, i will be doing my best to maintain (as opposed to increasing) my capabilities.

A lot of what I have read says there is only one .10 move and a lot of other reports have made the route sound like its fairly tough. I know there are a lot of people out there who underestimate their own accomplishments.

Late this fall I did both Conn Diagonal Variation (5.8+) in SD and Bon Homme Variation (5.8) on Devils Tower. I am wondering if anyone who has done either of those routes and the casual route can tell me how they compare in difficulty. I understand that the diamond has elevation and is a much longer route as well. Its easy enough to say .10 is harder than .8 but with the differences Ive mentioned above, Id love to get a good comparison.

Just dont want to bite off more than I can chew when I could do a different trip like the full exum and still have a blast.

Thanks.

Jeremy in Inyokern · · Inyokern · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 73

following 5.10 is easier than leading 5.8

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28

There is, as I recall, only one move of 5.10a. What makes the route tough is the fairly remote location, the technical approach (up Alexander's Chimney to Broadway), and the fact that you're climbing at 13,000 - 14,000 feet above sea level, instead of the elevations most of us are used to. When we did it (September 2000) I recall the route going into shade around 11 AM, and my hands going numb while following 5.9 cracks when the rock got cold. The 5.10a move was actually easier than dealing with my hands going numb in the cracks.

Are you planning on a car to car ascent, or would you bivy in the Chasm Lake/Mills Glacier area?

Full Exum would give you more sunlight and lower elevation.

Leaving your wife/partner with a newborn while you run off and do a multi-day trip doesn't strike me as a recipe for marital bliss, unless you've got a very understanding wife/partner.

Lothian Buss · · Albany, NY · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 15

I'd also think hard about the 5.7 runout traverse.

Following a hard vertical 5.10 section is one thing - you can french or jug. But even an easy runout traverse gets to my head.

Jun Kim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 15

Jake,
I haven't done Bonne Homme or Conn Diagonal, but I have done several routes up Devil's Tower. Regardless, I don't think comparing anything up Devil's Tower lends itself well to the Casual Route as one is Alpine rock and one is not. One is volcanic rock, one is granite. Expect a long day if you or your partner are climbing at even near your limit. a couple things to consider:

The approach to Diamond is not a concrete paved loop like Devil's Tower. It's a long walk in and a seemingly even longer walk out (worse if your old knees and ankles hate you).

Even if you choose to bivy at Chasm Lake, you still need to get to Broadway Ledge before you start the Casual Route. This will eat up some of your day.

There is only one 10a move on the route, but you are climbing at 13,000 feet and doing a lot of movement and a lot of route finding combined with two traverse pitches. Once you're done, you're still faced with several double rope rappels to get to the ground. The rappel spots aren't always blatantly apparent. Plan accordingly.

I think you may have answered your own question, "I am a little worried its over my head right now and with a baby coming within the next month"

Always trust your gut.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

thanks for the replies.

the wife and i have a fairly good understanding that i will get one or two climbing trips per year. so im just trying to decide if this be one for 2016.

it would likely be a long weekend (5-6 days). allowing a day to acclimatize.

we would do the rappels into the climbs as opposed to the chimney.

as far as the difficulty of the approach, I will be climbing mt rainier again in july so long hikes with heavy loads will be right in my wheelhouse.

csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 330

The 10 section is short and not too bad. There is a wide section of 5.9 before it that IMO was more difficult. The long 5.8 dihedral pitch left me gasping a bit too. There is some runnout traversing 5.8 where the consequences of a fall are just as bad following as leading. I know I've done the CDV in SD, but honestly I don't remember much about it or how it compared.

As alpine rock routes go, the actual climbing is not very long, but the approach and decent make it feel much longer, especially car-to-car. The times I've been on the Diamond, the weather always seemed to come from the opposite side and made it difficult to see incoming storm potential.

Guy H. · · Fort Collins CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 7,306

If you are not comfortable leading 5.10a at your home crag, you probably shouldn't be testing your abilities on the Diamond. It is not uncommon to see 7-8 parties queuing up at the base of the Casual Route, with half of those bailing due to slow parties.

Just getting to the start of the climb is a task. It is not uncommon to have 5+ parties racing up the North Chimney just as the sun comes up. It is easy to get off route your first time, and rain down loose rock on other climbers. This has become a big issue with the increased popularity of the wall.

Dylan Carey · · TX · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 145
mark felber wrote: Leaving your wife/partner with a newborn while you run off and do a multi-day trip doesn't strike me as a recipe for marital bliss, unless you've got a very understanding wife/partner.
True story, wise man right there
Vaughn · · Colorado · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 50

The casual is definitely much more difficult than those routes you listed. The main difference being the length and that it's alpine. You should plan to be up and off the summit before 1-2 PM when the thunderstorms tend to roll in. This means being fast and efficient with climbing and swapping leads. Because it's East facing, you are only in the sun for a couple hrs so its almost guaranteed to be cold, so you need to be able to handle that (down sweater recommended). You should practice on some smaller multi and time how quickly you can climb and then knock a good 30% off that speed to account for the altitude.
All that said, when I first climbed the casual, we were pretty unprepared and epic'd really bad. We weren't off the wall until well after dark and we didn't die. If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough!

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460

I was always intimidated by the casual route. But when I finally got on it, I found it to be tone of the most well-protected and least commiting routes I've done in RMNP. With double ropes, you could bail off of any pitch without leaving gear. And the 5.7 traverse is super, super fun and never feels runout. In addition, with the right linking of pitches, you can belay from big cozy ledges every time, limiting the exposure tremendously. The only real sketchy. Part of the day is the North Chimney. But with patience and a good headn on your shoulders, even that part of the day can be fairly chill.

And also, i would say to disregard all these folks saying that this is going to be somehow detrimental to your relationship with your life. Because really, how healthy is it for your relationship if you feel trapped and unable to adventure because of it?

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
Guy H. wrote:If you are not comfortable leading 5.10a at your home crag, you probably shouldn't be testing your abilities on the Diamond.
Amen. This is how people get in trouble. You're talking about climbing a two grades above your leading ability on a remote crag, peak really, with substantial altitude and really variable weather, not to mention a pack on your back. I understand that people have goals, but unless those two 5.8s you've done felt really easy, I'd just say find some other worthy objective. You might climb it and do just fine, but then you might epic and wonder why you got yourself into that.

Interestingly, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, I got permission for final (for a while at least) dude's trip to climb the S. Face of Clyde Minaret. The climb went fine but my friend pulled off a block that landed in his lap on the descent and we had to get rescued by a chopper the following day. That part of the climb really sucked, particularly for my friend, who had to bivy in the open with a broken pelvis. Glad I got to do the climb, but your wife might appreciate it if you were more modest with your expectations.
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,045

comparing a casual stroll up rainier to a route on the diamond is not even a remote comparison. comparing either of the two routes you mentioned is not even a remote comparison. as in, not even remotely in the same ball park. my guess is that you would get slaughtered up there. not trying to be a jerk, but i don't think you are being very realistic.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175
slim wrote:comparing a casual stroll up rainier to a route on the diamond is not even a remote comparison. comparing either of the two routes you mentioned is not even a remote comparison. as in, not even remotely in the same ball park. my guess is that you would get slaughtered up there. not trying to be a jerk, but i don't think you are being very realistic.
my comparison with rainier was in reference to another poster's comment about the approach to the diamond being a long walk in. I was not saying since i can walk up rainier ill be able to lead 5.10 on the diamond...

i also understand that doing the routes i mentioned will have been easier than doing the entire casual route. I was more interested in how much more difficult the 5.8 and 5.9 pitches on the diamond will feel compared individually with the 5.8 and 5.8+ pitches i mentioned.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Jake wander wrote:I was more interested in how much more difficult the 5.8 and 5.9 pitches on the diamond will feel compared individually with the 5.8 and 5.8+ pitches i mentioned.
While I haven't done the Casual Route, I have done routes of similar difficulty and length, and maybe 1000' lower. Set your expectation as being a full number grade harder. They may not actually feel that hard to you, but if that's your expectation going in, then you should be able to deal with it. If you haven't climbed alpine granite at elevation before, you might consider doing some kind of warm-up, reality-check route first.
Rob T · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 10
Guy H. wrote: It is not uncommon to see 7-8 parties queuing up at the base of the Casual Route, with half of those bailing due to slow parties. Just getting to the start of the climb is a task. It is not uncommon to have 5+ parties racing up the North Chimney just as the sun comes up. It is easy to get off route your first time, and rain down loose rock on other climbers. This has become a big issue with the increased popularity of the wall.
I think this is more likely to be the issue based on my experience. Found the climbing to be pretty easy, but there aren't any good passing opportunities. We got stuck behind a slow party and ended up bailing a pitch after they did as a storm caught us, then bailed them out from a stuck rope on the way down.

If you've only got one shot a mountaineering objective with multiple passing opportunities might increase your odds of success.
Jonathan Stickel · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 85

Preparing for the Casual Route is much more than being ready to do a single 5.10 move. You ought to have adequate experience with long approaches, multi-pitch efficiency, route finding, hanging belays, temperature management, weather-risk management, scrambling with exposure OR managing multiple double-rope rappels. Then, for the actual climbing, you need to be proficient at run-out traverses (5.7), splitter fingers (5.9), dihedral fingers (5.8-5.9), and squeeze chimneys (5.8+); it is NOT run-of-the-mill sport climbing. To get this experience, do some climbing at Lumpy, Vedauwoo, S. Platte, and easier alpine routes. Do this not just for yourself but also for the multiple other parties queuing up for the route on the day you make an attempt.

tim · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 50

You'll be in good company on the casual route, rarely anyone on it that can climb 5.10. One of the 50 classic shitshows of North America! Bring bivy gear!

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460

Well, essentially you've gotten to see the main hazard in climbing the Diamond. The #coloradouchebags. Especially humorous is the recomendations from folks who "haven't climbed the Diamond, but have climbed trad 1,000 ft lower and [I] think you're a dipshit for being psyched on this adventure I've never had".

Practice good french freeing. No shame in pulling on a few pieces of gear to move fast in the mountains. (Hell, bring an adjustable daisy if you don't want to piss off any prickly folks behind you, and it might even help keep the fun in the TYPE ONE area no matter hard, cold and sinister you find the mythical "Rocky Mountain High, Elevation Sandbag". Oh, and just to be safe, meditate on visualizing yourself on the ground if the EPIC EXPERIENCE WITH CRAZY SURPRISE ATTACK WEATHER FROM THE WEST intimidates you....

But really, if you can understand internet forecasts, and extrapolate that data into trip planning and then have the sense to make sound technical decision with patience, then The Casual Route is far safer than either The Petit or Hallet due to the rock quality and preponderance of bomber placements and straightforward route-finding.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
The Blueprint Part Dank wrote:Especially humorous is the recomendations from folks who "haven't climbed the Diamond, but have climbed trad 1,000 ft lower and [I] think you're a dipshit for being psyched on this adventure I've never had".
WTF? Show me where I said that. I said just treat the 8 and 9 sections as being a grade harder and it shouldn't be a problem.
The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460
Marc801 wrote: WTF? Show me where I said that. I said just treat the 8 and 9 sections as being a grade harder and it shouldn't be a problem.
indeed, that was unfair, I was commenting on the general yer-gonna-die tone, shouldn't have singled your post out, as it was reasonably put
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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