A Turn of Events
Kiener's had been at the top of my list for this summer but a combination of being out of state all summer and poor weather had kept me off Longs. We had decided to give it a go about a week earlier and turned around due to a 3am lightning storm that turned into all day rainy weather. I had high hopes of excellent weather the following week but my partner had a prior commitment to climb Snowmass with a friend of his. Not willing to scrap the day, I got in contact with a fellow from 14ers
to climb the Beaver route on Longs instead. The day before the trip, my usual partner's friend broke a toe and freed him up for Kiener's with me. We were back on!
Early Start and Overcoming Complications
Having been up Longs a few times before I knew that sleep was something I wouldn't be getting a lot of. We had decided on carrying a rope (9.8mmx60m) and a light/medium rack (set of BD nuts, TCUs 1-4, C4s .75, 1, 2). Since neither of us had done the route before and also wanted to rappel the North Face we wanted to be prepared. We arrived at the trailhead at 2:40 and were unpleasantly surprised to see cars lining the road for quite a ways down. Longs is usually packed but this early? We made quick work of the lower trail and soon were working our way around Chasm Lake in the dark. Counting headlamps, There was about 3-4 parties roping up at the bottom of the lower east face and one party and the bottom of Lamb's Slide. It started getting light as we put on our crampons and got ready. My partner was having some trouble with his old style crampons but after some fussing he thought they were stable enough to head up. Soon the sun was cracking the horizon and lighting up the Diamond above us. What a wonderful place to be for sunrise!
Sun hitting the Diamond
The snow was rock hard but with crampons we were able to move up freely. There were two parties above us and as they exited onto the ramp to broadway rocks began sailing down forcing us to hug the left side.
We didn't blame them for the rockfall since the exit is incredibly unstable but it was unnerving to have a toaster size block sail within 5 feet of your head with no verbal warning of "Rock". Being forced to the left edge became a blessing when about 400 feet up my partner's left crampon broke. He was able to scramble onto the left rock rib and climb up parallel to me. As the above climbers got high enough that they were no longer showering us with a deadly barrage, I continued up and across the snow as my partner moved up the rock. I exited onto the start of Broadway ledge and my partner was straight across Lamb's Slide.
He initially attempted to traverse the snow using his ax and single crampon but the ice on the edge prevented him from getting a safe footing. Now there were 2 more parties moving up the snow and he was concerned about sending down projectiles on them. A climber soon arrived at the exit to Broadway and offered a pair of microspikes to my partner if he wanted them. Thank you! After a brief conversation across the gully he decided he would be most comfortable to climb up and over Lamb's Slide and come down to me on the rock. He quickly made it above and waited for the second party to clear before down-climbing so to help minimize danger of rocks for those below.
As he climbed around I was happy to have a chance to sit, relax and enjoy the sun on the start of Broadway. I chatted with a pair of climbers from Boulder who were very friendly. Around an hour later my partner arrived and we put on our harnesses and headed out onto Broadway.
Broadway and Beyond!
After hearing stories of Broadway being terrifying, I was a little anxious. I have done some highly exposed routes before but was not sure what to expect. Thankfully, I found myself very comfortable and we moved along without feeling the need to rope up. The crux move around the boulder was very simple and the hands on the other side are reliable.
Start of Broadway
Just past the crux of Broadway
As we moved across the ledge, we were surprised to see the climbers who had started Broadway close to 2 hours earlier were only about 20 minutes across. One group was traversing roped and one had just started climbed past the notch. We asked if they would mind if we scrambled past them and carefully moved past the notch and up. We roped up below a chimney/chockstone about 50 feet above Broadway.
Taken right before we roped.
We quickly roped and I led up an awkward chimney to pass the other party without getting in their way. I was soon at the top of the "Bombay Chimney" and brought my partner up. We moved the belay and made short work of the second rock step. I believe that there was an easier line to the left of were I climbed but it worked out and I was able to lead everything in boots.
Looking up from the last belay
Bringing my partner up to scrambling terrain.
The climbing was very enjoyable and there are many possible ways to ascend. We coiled the rope and heading up. We tried to stay far right so to get some amazing views of the Diamond.
The views just never stop.
People climb that!
Finding the Diamond Step was pretty easy. You simply work up and right until there is really only one option. It is not nearly as exposed as I was expecting but still cool to know were you are on the mountain.
Almost to the Diamond Step
Peeking onto the Diamond Step with the Notch behind
From the top of the Diamond Step it is a simple scramble up towards the summit. We could hear people up there before we topped out and it is pretty entertaining to see the surprised looks of some of them when you come up from somewhere other than the Homestretch.
The weather had held beautifully and we topped out just before noon. This was Shaun's 3rd time on Longs and my 4th.
After a short break we headed down. There was a terrible traffic jam at the rappel bolt and I was shocked at the lack of courtesy/safety that people were displaying. There was a group climbing up the route that we were able to safely rappel past on the slabs to climber's left of the chimney they were climbing. Once we were down, another party showed up, threw their rope over the climbers and proceeded to rappel OVER
them. There was a huge tangle of rope, unhappy climbers, and confused rappelers as to why the climbers were unhappy. I felt sorry for the party heading up as there were ropes, rocks and other parties coming down on them. We just sat and watched in bewilderment as another party started down while the tangle was still going on halfway up the wall. All we could do was sigh and head out.
Cairn at first bolt
Start of the traffic
Climbers on the Diamond
What a Day
The hike down was uneventful and long
. My feet are always beat when I get back to the car after Longs. Our overall time was 14 hours but we estimated the "crampon incident" cost us close to 3 hours. Kiener's is an excellent route and I highly recommend it. We had an absolute blast and I would do it again without batting an eye. Every time I climb Longs I gain a new appreciation for how much it has to offer.