Sunday, August 3, 2014

Clean teeth-- Clean climbing!

Ariana winks.  

Precisely etched corners refract the dawns early rays.  The orange, no, the pinkish-red glow of triangular granite looms overhead.  An evolving electric blue sky hugs from behind.  A gurgling pitter patter of fresh snow melt slips its way through lime green tufts.  
Color and energy abound.  

The Diamond lives up to its namesake this July morning.  


We approach quietly, soaking in the scene.  Long's Peak and its East Face stand proudly at 14,000 feet. 

14k Diamond.  

Two parties are tucked in a boulder bivy on the west side of Chasm Lake. They are friends of ours from Durango.  Just six of us hoping to claw upward through dreamy granite splitters.  Lucky to be with friends, lucky there wasn't more.    


The North Chimney is no joke.  The Diamond's proximity to the Front Range, a handful of 'moderate' climbs such as Pervertical and the Casual Route, combined with the proliferation of climbing in Colorado---eh, the world -- makes it a crowded alpine 'crag' some days. The Diamond has become a popular first alpine climb.  Sadly, delicate grace and mountain humbleness has not yet been cultivated. 


Loose blocks tumble, grazing by heads and ropes---if your lucky!  Death and serious injury do occur.    

Stomping our way up steep snow, a wet cross over onto a rock apron finds us shoed-up and tied-in.  Jens sets sail up the North Chimney in one long pitch.  We dance the fine line of casual-moderate-terrain-effortless-cruising and wheels-off-the-wagon-loose-rocks-shit-could-hit-the-fan.

Unscathed, we sashay across the massive Broadway ledge.  
Jens following the golden crux pitch

Ariana teases.   

I begin to ascend the perfect dihedral's-- stretching to the ropes end.  My lead felt fluid, but my head was already spinning in anticipation.  

Thoughts refract.  

On-sight? Failure? Motivation? Ability? 

Jens arrival to the ledge snaps me from the day dream.  Gear is exchanged and he dances upward. 

Another moderate pitch sets us at the base of Ariana's goods.  A golden pillar sliced with a shallow finger crack.  I didn't pause, I am not even sure I made eye-contact with Jens. 

I played through.    

Timid at first, cautious of rejection.  Ariana's finicky nature precedes her.  

My breathing is labored.  Chasm lake glimmers and tiny boulders 2000 feet below edge my peripheral.  I place a wire, with a firm yank it holds fast.  

I shrug, still uncertain.  

Feet--feet-- stay on your feet.  

I step left precariously than upward, placing a small cam.  


A grunt escapes as I delicately jam upwards.  Blood pulses into my forearms.  Ariana holds steady, providing thin finger locks and meek shallow hand jams  These provide temporary relief, calming my breath while balancing on tiny edges.  I miraculously find tiny stances and continue ascending.    


Many more loud grunts echo through the Chasm cirque.  Exhausted, I throw myself through the final moves to the anchor.  

HOLY SHIT!!!  I exclaimed or thought or whispered.  

Jens follows gracefully, with a toothy smile and a giant exhale he arrives ready to tackle the final pitch.  Another full value brilliant hand and finger crack with a slabby crimp finish. 

Soon I am moving upwards.  While not as pumpy as the crux pitch, there is no backseat during this 140 foot pitch.   

With a glance at the time and a quick conversation of up or down...we couldn't resist.  
UP, one more at least!! 

I jetted up the last 5.9 pitch to Table Ledge.  With an ever important dentist appointment at 3pm--we thread the ropes and worked our way back to Broadway and the once far far away scree field.  Chasm lake still shimmering but the Diamond much darker.  
Her brilliance exhausted for the day-- Ariana let two cruise by first try!!   

What a day!!!            What a dream!!!!              What a dentist appointment????
Table Ledge Success, Ops --11:45--Time to Jet!