Monday, December 29, 2008

Luminance (v11 super-highball) by Shawn Diamond

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.

The ground drops off dramatically, so spotting is also pretty terrifying. Walker, who was tied into a rope for safety at the time of the ascent, was able to save one fall from just before the most dangerous point, by pushing Shawn away from the worst landing and into a pile of pads.

"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.

Here's a shot of the boulder, so you can see the steepness of the ledge and fall-zone


DaveH said...

There is no video of this epic send?

Wills Young said...

Sadly not, Dave, but he and his spotters gave me a great playback. Sounded like a pretty harrowing experience for all involved, with quite a bit of screaming.

Walker Emerson said...

Yes very awesome indeed. Wish I had filmed the show. We were pretty occupied with trying to keep both spotters and Sean safe.

Unknown said...

Amazing job! Would be cool to see another picture of this boulder with the landscape and the bad landing on it. I guess it makes it even more impressing!?

Anonymous said...

maybe i don't understand anything to gravity...or the photo tweaks the all thing, but what the hell is she spotting for???
super rad looking boulde by the way!!!

Wills Young said...

Thorsten, I've added a pic at the end of the blog, for you to see the boulder in its environment.

Anonymous, it's really not that tilted I swear! Hey just turn your head a bit if it's all too much for you! Yeah, actually the spotting is kinda useless you're right, but you have to admit she is pretty cute, and makes the boulder look HUGE!

heretic said...

Wow...first time i've seen this boulder in its full glory. Certainly takes one very brave (or insane?) soul to go for that line~ Much props!

Doc MacKay said...

"Dan Beall makes the 3rd ascent and 1st ground-up ascent of "Luminance" - V11 in Bishop, CA, on October 17th, 2009. With one of the worst landings in the Buttermilks, four pads, three spotters, and terrible temps, conditions were less then ideal. After working the moves in less then a handful of attempts, he sent the problem on his second go."