Last week was a fun experience. I was back spending a few days in Boulder, supporting Scott's book tour, seeing friends, etc. Part of this involved getting out on Kieners on Longs Peak with Buzz and Peter. Last fall, when my shin injury gave me time to rekindle my interest in technical rock climbing, Buzz started taking me out on the Flatirons for some scrambling--soloing on moderate terrain. After a few times up the uber-classic Third Flatiron, Buzz commented that we would do Kieners in the summer.
So, last Friday we did. I'm working closely with Buzz and Peter (and Scott) on developing a series of new packs with Ultimate Direction, and one of them is dubbed the "Adventure Vest". Kieners would be a perfect line for testing the performance of this kind of pack. Kieners is a classic mountaineering route on an even more classic mountain. "Mountaineering" meaning that it isn't just a simple walk up a Class 2 trail, like most standard routes on 14ers around the state. Instead, K offers a spicy and engaging mix of standard trail; talus and boulder hopping; the ascent of an almost 1000', 50 degree snow field; and then Class 4 & 5 scrambling along the edge of the Diamond before summiting and descending the 5th Class North Face. Kieners' consensus grade is 5.4, due mostly to some moderate crack-like climbing after the Broadway traverse.
|Up the red, down the blue. Photo: summitpost.org|
Buzz's post re-capping the day is here, but from my perspective it was simply a joy to be with such experienced friends in such an exhilarating landscape. So much so, that as we were negotiating the moves that Buzz and Peter deemed the crux, I pronounced that I was going to come back the next day and hit it all again. The line is that good.
|Peter works his way up Lambs Slide. Photo: Buzz Burrell.|
|Traversing Broadway. Photo: Buzz Burrell.|
|The crux move on Broadway. Photo: Buzz Burrell.|
|Climbing onto the Diamond Step, ~200' below the summit, with Chasm Lake almost 2000' below. Photo: Buzz Burrell.|
|Happy to share the summit with a pair of pioneers. Photo: Buzz Burrell.|
A critical piece of beta that we'd taken advantage of the previous two days was that a climber working a project on the Diamond had fixed a rope on the North Face descent slabs. This little fact meant that, even in the current water-slick conditions, I could do the route in nothing more than a pair of shorts and sticky shoes (with climbing rubber) and carrying only a 3oz shell (always a good idea in an alpine environment, even if you don't use it), one gel, and a pair of tent-pegs for crossing the snow-filled couloir. A unique opportunity, indeed (at least until the Cables slabs dry out later this summer and I can just downclimb them).
Here is a quick synopsis of my day out looking to set an FKT, that I posted to the Satan's Minions listserv.
Overall, I was proud of the effort, but I know it isn't my best, nor most focused, so I guess I'll be having to go back in the future.
Also, as per the above-mentioned run-in with Andy Anderson, I've become quite interested in the absolute roundtrip record on Longs (generally speaking, the shortest/fastest route involves ascending and descending the North Face slabs). Currently at 2:02:54, sub-2hr seems like a worthwhile goal. In the meantime, I really look forward to continuing to deepen my relationship with this profoundly beautiful slice of Colorado.