July 21st my friend Jim McKinley and I decided to try to climb Long's Peak via the Lambs Slide route up to the loft. This was my fourth attempt on Long's Peak, but first non-winter attempt.
We left the trailhead at about 3 am, and were suprised to see about 50 cars that early on a weekday morning. After looking at the registry, it was clear that 90% of them were going up the Keyhole. We set off at a good pace and passed probably ten groups before branching off towards Chasm Lake. After that we only saw two other climbers before meeting up with the Keyhole route on the backside of Longs.
The route around the north side of Chasm Lake was tricky to stay on, and we managed to get up too high. Even with that we still made it to the base of Mills Glacier after about a half hour from the Ranger's Cabin. The sun was just coming up as we strapped on our crampons and began the best part of this route up Longs- the snow climb.
Lambs Slide was fairly steep, but nothing that made me uncomfortable without protection. There were a few icy spots, but other than that the Couloir was in excellent condition. About 2/3 of the way up we passed broadway and saw a few old footprints leading over to it. There was still snow on it, and it looked to be in OK condition. We made it to the loft by about 6:45 am and enjoyed the view.
The next part of the route consisted of downclimbing around the Palisades to Clark's Arrow. Well, we never saw the arrow and we made several mistakes trying to traverse over before we had downclimbed enough. We wasted almost an hour with that task. The climb back up towards the notch was through talus, and it was not the most enjoyable part of the climb. I started to get quite tired, but Jim was there to push me on. My excuse was playing in two soccer games the night before and getting no sleep.
Soon after that we had joined the long line of yahoo's going up the Keyhole route and we were on the summit by 9:45 am. Not bad. We hung out with the marmots on the summit and ate an early lunch, then decided to start back down. Since I was tired we decided to try and go back down the Keyhole route which I completely regret. I had no idea how far the traverse back around to the boulder field was, and the hordes of people didn't help either. The switchbacks after the boulder field also made the route down last forever. In hindsight, I would have gone back the way we came and tried to come down the standard loft route.