Yesterday, Shawn Diamond climbed what one of his two spotters at the time, Walker, describes as the "scariest thing I've ever seen," and which Shawn describes as "the dumbest thing I've ever done!"
Luminance (tentatively rated v11) is an exceptionally beautiful wall above a heinous landing. It is on the steep west face of a giant block (not in the guidebook) at the head of a gully between the Windy Wall and the Secrets of the Beehive Area. Eyed previously by a few of the best climbers around, it had always been left for another day, or another climber. Shawn threw a rope down the line to check the moves. Then he summoned up the courage to step on un-roped. The wall begins with some long moves to good sloping crimps that lead to the mental challenge of throwing a total-commitment dyno to a hold just below the lip.
"There was a moment there when I actually thought to myself, 'what am I doing here?'" Shawn told me, of the moment he arrived at the committing move, and for an instant became aware of his surroundings. He realized he had to give it 100 percent: a controlled lock-off was not an option, the lip could only be reached dynamically. He stuck the move, sinking his fingers into a hidden slot at the back of the sloping rail, and the rest was pretty much a formality.
"I saw that line years ago and had been walking around New York City dreaming about it," says Shawn, who is currently at medical school in the Big Apple. "It was definitely a big step up in my climbing... My most memorable ascent, and a big breakthrough for me."
Here are some more photos I shot of Shawn on the opening moves. See also his other line on this block.