Mounting the Diamond: Fifty years later

7:55 AM, Aug 8, 2010   |    comments
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Rearick, a 27-year-old rock climber at the time, knew he could conquer the cliff - known as the Diamond - with relative ease.

Physicality wasn't the issue; getting the correct permitting was the challenge. Rocky Mountain National Park prohibited anyone from climbing the Diamond, for fear it was just too dangerous an ascent.

Rearick knew it was off limits when he traveled to Colorado from California with his climbing partner, Bob Kamps, and Kamps' wife, Bonnie.

Unbeknownst to them, the Park Service was on the cusp of opening up the Diamond just as they arrived.

After the announcement was made, Rearick and Bob Kamps were first in line to fill out the needed paperwork. Much to the dismay of climbers from Colorado, the two Californians got the first go-ahead.

On Aug. 1, 1960, the two started their ascent. The press, the curious watcher and Bonnie Kamps looked on.

"People were very disappointed that I wasn't a basket case because of what my husband was doing," Bonnie Kamps said. "But it was routine."

As Rearick had predicted, the climb did not overwhelm them.

"On the second night, we spent the night on a ledge that was about two-feet wide," he said. "We reached the summit at about one o'clock the next day."

Celebrity met the two after their decent from the top.

"We signed hundreds of autographs, rode in a parade and we were on television," he said. "And then it suddenly ended as quickly as it started."

After fame faded, life took its place. Rearick remained in Colorado, but stayed friends with the Kamps'.

Five years ago, Bob Kamps died of a heart attack. When it happened, he was climbing on an indoor rock wall.

"We both miss Bob," Rearick said. "He was such a good friend to me, and such a good husband and companion to Bonnie."

On Tuesday, Rearick and Bonnie Kamps reunited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the climb. They stood at the Longs Peak trailhead, looked up at the Diamond and thought about what's truly priceless.

"I really wish he could be here right now," Rearick said.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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