Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  09/05/2001
Modified:  07/29/2016
Date Climbed:   09/05/2001
Author:  awflynn
 Diamond - Casual Route   

My guide, Bob, and I hiked into the Longs Peak Chasm on the afternoon of Sunday, August 5, 2001, (see Photograph 1) with the intention of spending the week climbing various technical routes around the Chasm, including the Casual Route on the Diamond (a objective on my list which I had yet to attain), and the Portal on Ship's Prow. Although the weather was warm and clear during most of our hike in, it quickly turned cloudy and cold as we circumnavigated Chasm Lake. No sooner did we find shelter beneath a large boulder to set-up our bivouac and add layers, when it started to rain.
Shortly after the rain began, Bob asked if I heard someone calling for help. At first I did not, but we crawled out from beneath our rock, and I did begin to hear a faint, repeating call for help coming from the direction of the Diamond. We could barely make out someone on the casual route. Two other climbers were out near us, one of whom was looking up at the wall with a pair of binoculars, and indicated that he could see two climbers on the Casual Route with insufficient layers for the cold and rain. He also indicated he believed they had gotten their rappel rope stuck. Other climbers around us were taking notice, and after comparing notes, we all agreed that there was nothing anyone could do to assist them. They would need to get themselves down. After some time, we noticed one of the climbers ascending the presumed stuck rope, and placing protection against a release of the rope and related fall. We were relieved several hours later when the two distressed climbers came through our bivouac area wearing additional warm layers and rain gear. They indicated that, before they started the Casual Route, they had stashed their extra layers on Broadway, based on their expectation that the weather would not turn so quickly and so dramatically, and even so, they did not anticipate the possibility that their rope might get stuck as they attempted to rap off the route.
As I recall, the weather wasn't great on Monday, August 6th, so we took a rest day. I believe we were up around 4:00 a.m. to do the Casual Route on (or about) Tuesday, August 7th, we were the first climbers in the North Chimney, and the sun was starting to light up the chasm as we ascended the Chimney. The Chimney was this rotten mix of greasy mud, snow, ice and rock, so we were protecting against a fall. A guy and girl from Argentina were next in line behind us, and they were protecting as well. Two guys behind them were free solo climbing the Chimney. While trying to pass the guy and girl from Argentina, one of the free solo climbers fell about 70 feet before arresting. Bob and I, as well as the guy and girl from Argentina could see climbers below us beginning to render aid, so we all proceeded up the Chimney toward Broadway. When we got to Broadway, everything and everyone was turning orange due to the mountain glow. We built a common anchor for all four of us. Bob looked up at the sky, advised that the weather was going to turn, and that we might be able to complete the D1 Pillar (the first pitch) before we would need to rap off the wall. I asked Bob "How can you tell?" He responded "I can tell." As we topped out on the pillar, Bob stated "We need to get down, now!", and as we were rapping down, we watched a helicopter fly into the Chasm, land on a large rock, load the injured climber (see Photograph 2), then fly out. No sooner did we finish our rappel and take shelter under a rock, when it started to rain, hard.
I later found a report of the fall incident. The reported date of the incident was August 8, 2001 (Note: either this reported date is off by one day, or the date stamp of August 7, 2001 on Photograph 2, and my recollection, are incorrect). The source of the aforementioned report is "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2002". The aforementioned report states the following: "On August 8 at 0745, Scott McLeod (23) and Dana Drummond (age unknown) were ascending the North Chimney (II AI 1 5.6) on the East Face of Longs Peak. Although primarily a rock route, the North Chimney contained hard alpine 'black ice' at its base and as patches inside the chimney. They were ascending unroped in order to get a faster approach to the Diamond Face. McLeod slipped on ice and fell 70 feet down the North Chimney. McLeod landed on both feet but sustained closed injuries to his left ankle and right heel, as well as minor abrasions to legs and arms. McLeod rappelled the remainder of the distance down North Chimney with the assistance of other climbers. Rocky Mountain National Park rescuers met McLeod at the base of the chimney, splinted his injuries, and transported McLoed to a landing zone area on Mills Glacier. Flight For Life medical helicopter picked up the patient and transported him to St. Anthony's Central Hospital in Denver, CO."
The next day (I believe it was Wednesday, August 8th) Bob and I were climbing The Portal on Ships Prow. During the climb, Bob stated "The weather will turn. We might finish the second pitch." I asked "How can you tell?" He responded "I can tell!" Once again, his crystal ball was clear. We did finish the second of three pitches (reportedly the best two pitches of all three), and got down just in time to shelter under a rock and wait out the torrent.
We decided the weather would probably not enable us to bag the Casual Route during our week in the Chasm, so we packed out, went to Estes and worked on climbing skills in a local crag.
Toward the end of August, I called Bob, told him I planned to be back in the area in early September, and asked if he thought we might be able to try the Casual route at that time. He indicated that the weather had been unusually good, that there would probably not be many others (if any on the route), and that I should pick him up at his home in Estes at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 4th, which I did. As we approached the Chimney, we looked up and observed the moon directly over Zumie's Thumb, dotting the "i". Bob asked "How do you feel?", to which I responded "Pretty good.". He said "It's not gong to rain the whole time, and we're going to get it." I asked "How can you tell?", to which he responded "I can tell." Once again, he was right on all fronts. There were no other climbers anywhere to be seen that day, and it did not rain the entire time. We were off the wall as the sun was going down on the 5th, and I dropped him off at his home sometime around 4:00 a.m. on the 6th. It had been a long day, as is so often the case in the Long's Peak massif.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Jon Frohlich

07/26/2016 12:19
Is this a trip report from 15 years ago?


07/26/2016 15:43
was around in 2001?! I thought all the mountains came about when God (Middlebrook) flipped the switch for this site

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