Few mountains in the American West have such star power as Colorado’s 14,259-foot Longs Peak. Credit its easy access (about 90 minutes from Denver), its popular non-technical trail to the top, and the Diamond, an unusual 1,000-foot vertical face with dozens of routes between 5.10 and 5.13—veritable siren songs for climbers. “I free soloed it four times in 2007,” says Davis. “That was for me a very cool thing, since I had spent a lot of years climbing there before that. I’ve always thought it was one of the beautiful walls and a very special place.”
Most climbers, of course, use ropes. Starting at 2 a.m., they hike up to the base of the Diamond and climb to the top by mid-morning, watching the sunrise from the middle of the gigantic face. The less vertically inclined hike the 15-mile round-trip Keyhole Route, a highly exposed but nontechnical route that winds right past the Diamond. Look carefully and you might be able to pick out tiny human specks working their way up.
Outfitter Colorado Mountain School offers guided climbs up the Diamond’s technical routes for $475 for one or $770 for two.
Steph Davis turned climbing royalty in 2003 when she became the second woman to free climb El Capitan in a day. In recent years, she has added new credits to her athletic repertoire: free soloing, BASE jumping, and wingsuit flying. Among many accomplishments, she has free soloed the Diamond on Colorado's Longs Peak four times, free soloed the north face of Utah's Castleton Tower, and BASE jumped off the top.
- Nat Geo Expeditions