King of Swords
Avg: 2.2 from 5 votes
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, Grade V|
|FA:||Roger Briggs & Dan Stone|
|Page Views:||5,387 total · 27/month|
|Shared By:||slevin on Jul 10, 2001|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionThe late, great Derek Hersey considered King of Swords one of his favorite rock climbs. The climbing is unrelenting, overhanging, strenuous, and intimidating, yet it also is varied, aesthetic, interesting, and memorable. It is one of only two free climbs on the right side of the Diamond (so far), the other being the much more difficult The Joker (which, incidentally, is named after Derek).
The tenor of free climbing on the right side of the Diamond is noticeably different than the left (i.e. Yellow Wall) side. Rock quality in the middle stretches is often fair to poor at best, with a decomposing, rotten nature, although there is some very good rock higher. The wall is much steeper than on the Yellow Wall, and hence the climbing tends to be very strenuous and taxing, and the "feel" intimidating and exposed. There can also be considerable seeping from snow melt on the higher pitches.
From North Chimney head right on Broadway and locate the first crack system right of the first major pillar (i.e. the Green Pillar; the dihedral is the start of the Dunn-Westbay). KoS is identified from below as the crack system which crosses the right side of the obvious "S" shaped roof a third of the way up (although the route starts in a system left of this).
P1: Climb this 5.9 crack for 125 feet to a sling belay.
P2: Continue up until the crack ends and traverse right (5.10-), then up and right to a belay on the right side of a ledge. There are 2 fixed pins at this belay- these are the last fixed anchors on the route. It would be very difficult to retreat from above this point since the route is so steep, and all anchors would be your own gear.
P3: Step right and climb "The Torture Chamber", a rotten, poorly-protected 5.11a slot (the worst rock on the route- it crumbles in your hands); or climb the original line (slightly harder though better-protected) moving out of the slot and onto the wall to the left. Set up a hanging belay 10 feet below the S-shaped roof; have several pieces up to 2.5" to make this anchor bombproof, and since it's hanging consider a butt bag. A lead of the Torture Chamber has been described as a "Rites of Passage" pitch.
P4: Now tackle the strenuous 5.11- fist crack above (liebacking may work also), moving out of the crack right, then back left, up corners, to below a clean right-facing corner. There may be slight variations to do in this pitch. Belay at the highest possible stance directly below an impressive, clean R-facing corner (the Gilbert variation) at some bomber gear (1.5F, 2.5 F, large stopper).
P5: Climb the crux corner (this is the Gilbert variation)- certainly 5.12a if you stay in it at the start, but you can climb a wee bit left for 20' before entering it. At the top step left to the top of the column and belay. Or, climb the original line, the left side of the column, at a slightly easier (5.11d) grade. If this climbing were on Castle Rock, it would be more like 5.11c, but up there...The Gilbert variation is one of the top 3 classic ".12a" pitches on the Diamond, the others being the crux leads of D1 and Ariana. It may be wet in places due to drips from above.
P6: Now proceed directly up the 5.11 thin hands crack above, through Table Ledge (an overhang here), up 30 more feet of .10d to an inobvious, wet .10 traverse left to a stance- another long pitch.
P7: Climb this crack to the top- wide, wet, and hard 5.10. Luckily the gear is good on this pitch (some fixed pins, if you can find them under all the slime).
This is a great adventure climb, and folks with a better-than-average tolerance for poor rock could argue for a 3-star rating. In 1995 this climb was linked with the Diagonal Super-Direct (V, 5.11d) on the Lower East Face in just under 11 hours.