Steph Davis free solos the Diamond!
This season Steph Davis has fulfilled her two dreams. The first one was to learn skydiving in order to prepare for BASE jumping, the other - to free solo the Colorado’s Diamond wall.
The Diamond was the first place Steph was exposed to alpine-type climbing, when she was 24. After that she has spent many summers on that wall. On July 7 she started her free solo experience on the Diamond from soloing the easy classic mountaineer’s route, Kieners.
I’ve never actually done Kieners before, but always wanted to. It seemed like the perfect first trip back to the Diamond and a good way to get a little conditions check - climb up the south side, and come down the north… Climbing last few hundred feet of rock up the Staircase, I was overwhelmed by memories of years past, finishing a route up the Diamond’s face and climbing up these easy steppes to the top of Longs. So many adventures, with so many good friends. Those memories kept a huge smile on my face, feeling the pure happiness of touching the rock, breathing open air, remembering each feature I was scrambling over – wrote Steph on her blog.
On July 14 she free soloed the Casual Route 5.10. - I was warm and relaxed as I reached the crux pitch, but surprised myself by feeling a flash of fear as I stood in the bulging section, one hand in a hand jam, feet stemmed out a little. I reached high for a side pull with one hand, making sure the other was securely jammed. Fear crossed my mind again, and I felt my heart beat faster. I realized I needed to move, get back onto vertical ground, and get over this section. So I did, and got higher to the safety of big holds. I wasn’t expecting to feel any fear, and was kind of unhappy that I had for a few seconds, but I had made it through. It’s interesting soloing—some days everything is relaxed and easy, and other days it can be more edgy.”
On August 10 she made another free solo, this time not on the Diamond, but on the Flying Buttress III 5.9 of nearby Mount Meeker. On August 27, Steph free soloed the Casual Route again to see if she would feel more relaxed this time.
After soloing Casual Route twice, she felt ready to voice her greatest dream - to free solo Pervertical Sanctuary 5.10+ (or 5.11a), the beautiful steep crack climb, topped with an offwidth section. Steph did it on September 3 and 10 days later she repeated that feat.
I was hoping to feel solid and safe on the finger crack crux, and reminded myself as always that I am a crack climber. I feel totally confident on positive cracks, especially steep ones… Good finger locks, good foot locks, calm breathing. I felt how I wanted to feel. Solid, grateful, and totally in the moment - Steph recalls what she felt when she was making the crux moves.
In the last months the American also realized her sky-diving and BASE jumping dreams. She claims that learning to skydive and jumping all the summer definitely influenced her free solo mentality on the Diamond.
The Longs Peak’s Diamond is the most famous alpine rock climbing destination in Colorado. The wall is vertical to steep granite, and tops out at 4346 meters in altitude. The face of the Diamond is 305+ meters of vertical granite. The nature of the rock are good cracks surrounded by sharp-edged holds.
Charlie Fowler made the first free solo of the Diamond, soloing the Integral Route, the classic 10a, in 1978. The climb was then renamed the Casual Route. No one has soloed anything harder on the Diamond except for Derek Hersey who soloed the Yellow Wall 5.11a to the 5.10 Forrest Finish, down-soloed the Casual Route, and then on-sight soloed Pervertical Sanctuary in 1990. This free solo link-up, adding up to roughly 2300 feet of vertical climbing, was one of the most revered Derek’s feats.
Quotes taken from http://www.highinfatuation.com/blog/