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[TR] Idaho - Heart of Diamond, Milwaukee's Best 09/15/2022

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Trip: Idaho - Heart of Diamond, Milwaukee's Best

Trip Date: 09/15/2022

Trip Report:

I've spent chunks of the last two Septembers helping some friends scrub, trundle, and bolt on a unique 800 foot granite wall on a subsummit of Storm Mountain, north of McCall, Idaho. At least for the time being, we're finished, and would love for folks to get on the two resulting routes to get some traffic and confirm grades -- everything about them is geared to optimize the experience of subsequent ascents.


The wall has an extraordinarily consistent angle at just under vertical, and is littered with overlaps, layback flakes, and small roofs, which together create routes that are extremely sustained and with varied and high quality movement. It's just the right angle, and has just enough edges and dikes, that it is almost never slabby, and also almost never requires cranking on micro edges. While covered in cracks, many of them are too shallow, flaring, or fragile for bomber gear (but are great for climbing), resulting in routes with around a third natural protection and two thirds bolts. It also tends to excellent free climbing conditions, facing northeast (so warms up quickly before going in the shade) at around 8000 feet in a relatively dry range.


Last year started by pushing a route ground up, since that seemed like an important thing to do. It was hard, scary, dangerous and required lots of aid and drilling on lead (not by me), and would have (as is) resulted in a route that was very poorly suited to repeats. So, from that point, we went top down and focused on making quality routes. For instance, much of the wall is initially covered in loose potato chips, which make free climbing ground up extremely challenging (and not very fun), but scrubbing invariably reveals bomber edges, divots, and dishes pointing in wild directions to create interesting boulder problems. As far as protection -- if there's bomber gear, you place it; but if it's questionable we put in a bolt. You can expect sizeable (but safe) whips at cruxes, but will always have confidence in whatever you're whipping on (well, except in a few .10 ish bits), and everything should be both clippable for short folk while still protecting talk folks' ankles.


Last year's route, "Milwaukee's Best" (MB, nine pitches, with two options for the last pitch), mostly tries to follow cracks on the left side of the wall, and is sustained at .11 to .12, with one pitch of .9 and one of .10. The two easier pitches are meh (easy .9 slab, somewhat fragile .10 cracks), but every other pitch is really good. This year, we had figured out that the climbing is often better if you avoid the big, obvious crack systems, and "Heart of Diamond" (HoD) zig zags right up the middle of the wall. Of the seven pitches, one (p5, a leftward .12 ish traverse) is perhaps a bit forgettable, but every other pitch is extremely high quality, with sustained and varied movement. There's one or two pitches of .11, two or three of .13 (so I'm told -- I can mostly do the moves but do not send that hard), and the rest some flavor of .12. Also worth saying -- these are real YDS grades, not Washington grades -- for instance I had little input, since my diet of index and ungraded bouldering gyms, and weird body proportions, mean my opinion isn't very transferrable.


Michal wrote up an excellent description on mountain project: https://www.mountainproject.com/area/123065053/storm-dome, so I'll just dump some photos here.


Northeast face of Storm Dome:



The NE aspect enforces the pleasure of relaxed mornings, during which you can explore the variety of shapes into which wood can burn. Maybe these holes were woodpecker homes:


MB pitch 3 before the roof:



MB pitch 3 at the roof:



MB pitch 3 after the roof:



MB pitch 7:



MB pitch 8, before the groove peters out:



MB pitch 8, right where the groove peters out:



Through the roof on MB pitch 9a (right option):



Starting rightward on HoD pitch 4:



Continuing rightward on HoD pitch 4:


Starting the journey on HoD pitch 6:


Near the top of HoD pitch 6, hanging in a hueco:



Immaculate, perfectly sculpted and oh-so-crucial dual pinches on HoD pitch 6:



Topo for MB and HoD:


Smokey sunrise from camp, which is a pika-filled meadow between the lake and the wall:


Gear Notes:
Light rack and draws (see MP link for details).

Approach Notes:
7 miles, 2800ft, 4-5 hours in, 2-3 hours out, see MP link for details.
  • Rawk on! 5

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Looks like a great area and super cool routes for those that climb hard!  Thanks for the TR.

But, Michal might want to get out further afield than Central Idaho: "This wall is as impressive as any in the lower 48."



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Nice job on finishing this up!  It is cool to see new development going on in this area even if the routes are a bit above my current pay grade!

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Nice write-up, Duncan!
I stand by my claim. It’s not the tallest wall around, but it’s sheer, striking, and holds potential for many more high quality routes. 

Also, you don’t have to deal with crowds, traffic, traditude, and climbing in the sun. 😉

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9 minutes ago, Michal M. said:

I stand by my claim

love it!   :battlecage:

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I think it depends partly on your preference for what fraction of moves should be near your limit -- do easier pitches add to the experience, or detract from it? El cap is obviously much, much taller; but like squamish and the bugs, yosemite granite is so smooth that you're mostly limited to continuous crack systems. This makes the grade more dependent on crack size than wall angle, so there are many easier pitches. For instance taking a cursory look at a salathe topo, if you ignore everything easier than, say, mid .11, you get I think around four pitches of .11+, four of .12, and two of .13.  Personally I'm probably more of an alpine dork than a sport climber on most days, and lean toward the more-total-vertical end of the spectrum, but on lots of other days, climbing stacked difficult pitches seems more appealing. I think the effect is pretty similar whatever the top grade you're climbing -- adding mid-fifth-class pitches to a 5.10 route in many ways feels similar to adding 5.10 pitches to a 5.13 route.


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Ah, I think we are defining the word "impressive" differently.

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I'd heard rumors of these guys locally. But never met them. High praise! This wall has enticed Idaho climbers for decades, but no one until now (I think) has tackled it. 

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