Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Diamond Couloir Still Shining

The Diamond Couloir of Mount Kenya, one of the world's greatest ice climbs, was thought to be a victim of global warming, destined not to reappear until the next ice age. This beautiful ice line, which splits the southwest face of the twin-summited peak, was first climbed in 1973 and then made famous by Yvon Chouinard, who pioneered its steep upper headwall two years later. Lately, the line has been deemed unclimbable. But this August, four Americans climbed the route by accessing steep ice with M7 drytooling. Jim Donini will have a story about these ascents in Climbing 246, available in mid-January.

Now it seems possible that the fall rainy season on Mount Kenya may be the best time to climb the Diamond Couloir, if you get lucky with the weather. (Most climbers visit the equatorial mountain in the dryer seasons of late summer or midwinter).
In October, Swiss guide Fred Salamin climbed the route and found great ice the entire way; he sent along these inspiring pictures. This may turn out to be an exceptional year, but for now, at least, it seems the Diamond Couloir has not disappeared.

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