Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Text and photos:Olaf Mitchell
Late in the summer of 1980 my friend Edward Gerety and I made a free ascent of The Diamond Face of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.
We bivouacked in The Boulder Field below Chasm View and woke to drizzling rain and strong wind.
We were wet, cold and our stoke was completely gone. We just crawled back into our sleeping bags and snoozed a while longer.
The rain dissipated by late morning and we both started feeling guilty about hiking all the way up to Chasm View and not even trying the route.
 I forget which one of us first suggested it, but it was unanimous that, we had to go for it.
Our bevy spot was in the Boulder Field and we hadn’t even put the rack together.
We hastily assembled a bunch of hexcentric and stopper chalk nuts and carabiners.  Friends had not even been invented at this time.
We put together a small ruck- sack with our rain gear and not much else. We sprinted up the steep loose skree, to the rappel anchors at Chasm View.
 Edward swiftly set up the rappel ropes and bailed.
As soon as he was free of his double carabiner brake system and shouted, “Off Rappel” I was ready and descending.
When we were repairing the next rappel. Edward asked me for a runner to clip in with and I told him, “You have the slings.”  He responded with, “No you have the slings.”  WELL???
We forgot the runners and needed to make a decision as to what to do about that.  We noticed that there were a lot of resident runners at the rappel station so we just started untying them and by the time we reached Broadway Ledge we had quite a few used runners. Some of them were in pretty good shape and others, well, they weren’t so good.
We quickly traversed Broadway Ledge and found where we thought our climb started.
I set up a belay and Edward put the rack together.  As usual Edward moved swiftly and steadily never backing down and in very short order he shouted,”Off Belay! On Belay!”
I was moving as soon as I heard his signal. I sprinted the entire distance of that pitch.
I quickly re -racked and was out of there. I remember the pitch being thin and sparsely protected with the antiquated gear that we had in those days but I moved as fast and steady as possible.
When I reached the belay ledge and tied in I assembled an adequate belay  then I looked at my watch and said ,” Ed, that pitch took me twenty minutes to lead and you have ten to second it!”
Well no one has ever extended “Edward the Bold” (that’s another story) a challenge that he didn’t accept or at least give his best effort.
Edward met the challenge by a large margin. He was at the belay and already climbing before his time was up.
Edward led the next pitch swiftly.  He reported his time and extended a similar challenge to me.
This friendly competitive spirit extended throughout the duration of our climb.
It is really difficult to recall every detail of that day but we made exceptional time and were very stoked that we rallied and rose above our initial insecurity and doubts.
Realistically the climb went brilliantly but the decent and hike out was EPIC!
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