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Cannonball is Newest Bold Ice Route on Longs Peak

Kevin Cooper has announced on Instagram that he and Cordes have opened a new smear of ice in the Crazy Train area and called it Cannonball. Read a recent interview with Cooper by Chris Van Leuven here.

The Crazy Train smears are a collection of thin ice routes between Smear of Fear and Field’s Chimney at the base of The Diamond on Longs Peak in Colorado.

The smooth granite slabs at the base of the famous wall are just off vertical enough to hold frozen ice, but it requires a strong head and good thin-ice skills.

“Somehow, Kevin and I had never climbed together until yesterday,” said Cordes. “I certainly wouldn’t have come off the couch (ice wise; I’ve been rock climbing lots) were it not for his stoke and the confidence of climbing with him.

“All three pitches were full value, especially his pitch (the middle one). Shit, what we’d thought would be the approach pitch, the first, nearly shut me down. If there was good enough pro to lower from, i’d have bailed and then the upper pillars spilling over the roofs on the final pitch, those had never connected before. So, felt pretty special to be up there (and nice to finally place ice screws on that pitch).”

Cannonball topo by Kelly Cordes

Cordes continued, “Last weekend, some young crushers [Tyler Kempney and Wesley Fowler (

“>see here)] climbed the prominent, long, thin smear to the left of ours (so, the obvious one in the center of the photo) and called it Conditional Love. Amazing, elegant looking line and no doubt full value.”

Coredes said the wall “is as close as we get to the Trophy Wall [the famous wall in Banff National Park with Sea of Vapours, Terminator and Replicant] down here in the ‘rado.'”

Cordes moved to Estes Park, Colorado, where he still lives today, in the fall of 2000. He heard about Smear of Fear and asked around for beta.

He was quick to learn that the Jeff Lowe, Duncan Ferguson and Malcolm Daly route, that goes at WI5 M6R only forms in the fall. So he went up to explore the area.

That year with Topher Donahue, he opened Crazy Train WI5, and Donahue and Cooper made the first ascent of Morning Dew.

In 2013, Cooper and Donahue made the first ascent of Window Pain WI6+, which you can read about here.

“This zone has great potential for natural lines,” Cordes wrote on mountainproject.com in 2012. “Depending on the ice, of course, and depending on skill and boldness – better climbers will surely fill-in the blanks and connect some of the rarely-forming smears above the roof.”

The smears change year to year and are only good to climb in the fall. So if you’re keen, head on down while the getting is good.

As Duncan Ferguson once told Cordes, “The lines define the climbing, rather than the climbing defining the lines, there’s an elegance there that I like.”

Cooper on the first ascent of Window Pain Photo Donahue