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The keyhole route.
Trip Report

The keyhole route.

 
The keyhole route.

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Object Title: The keyhole route.

Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 14, 2004

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Fall

 

Page By: Boriss Andean

Created/Edited: Aug 2, 2007 / Nov 11, 2009

Object ID: 319301

Hits: 2586 

Page Score: 73.06%  - 3 Votes 

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Planning my climb

 
The Diamond, Longs Peak.
The Diamond as seen from the east.
I Couldn't keep the idea of climbing Longs Peak out of my mind during the whole day while at work. Its presence, far away in the distance, and being part of Denver's background catches everybody's attention, specially for those who just arrive to the Mile High City.


I had seen and read a lot about Longs Peak, and even assisted to a couple of slide shows and documentals held at REI's store in Denver. Longs Peak, the highest peak in the front range and the 15th highest of the 54 Colorado's fourteeners was in my to do list.

Leaving home

Got off from work and drove back home. It took me the whole night to organize my climbing gear and to fix a loose valve in my truck. Finally I was ready for my trip.

Left home at midnight, drove up to the Rocky Mountain National Park and got to the Longs Peak Ranger Station trailhead two and a half hours later. I hadn't slept at all the day and night before so I slept in my truck for an hour. My alarm went off at 3:30 am, I got off my truck and headed up to the registration office..

The Climb

I registered myself and started hiking up through the thick pine forest right away. Even though the moon shone bright above the timber, I walked in completely gloom through the forest 'till dawn. Once I reached timberline the first sunrays warmed up Longs Peaks eastern foothills and I got a better perspective of what it was ahead to come for me. The Diamond Face was before my eyes, impressive and in orange color. It was just awesome!
 
Longs Peak, Colorado.
The Keyhole
 
Longs Peak, Colorado.
Woodie

I approached myself to Mount Lady Washington foothills and traversed them north to the Boulder Field (3,841 m / 12,600 ft) a bowl below the north face. I still can´t believe how a clear sunny day can turn into a dark rainny day in matter of minutes. It started snowing as soon as I got to the Boulder Field, and lightning stroke at Longs Peak summit followed by its terrifying noise. I ran down like if the devil had been chasing me and found shelter below a boulder. The thunderstorm lasted a few minutes but it was enough to cover the whole mountain of snow. I waited a couple of more minutes. I met with Mike (IL) and Woodie (CO) who were hiking up together and asked me if they can follow me up to the summit. So, we all started hiking again towards the Boulder Field, passed by a shelter made out of rocks where we had some oreos and water and continued climbing up to the Keyhole.
 
Longs Peak, Colorado.
Longs Peak Summit

Once at the Keyhole, the mountain turned into a different one, its west face got steeper and covered by verglas. We did a long traverse until we got right below the summit. Mike, Woodie and I climbed up by mixted terrain, the snow was compacted in areas and we didn't bring crampons with us. So I started kicking steps on the snow, while Mike and Woodie followed me very closely. We all reached the summit (4,346 m / 14,255 ft) one hour later, after getting through the Keyhole. It took me 5 and a half hours to reach the top from the trailhead.

The view from up there was great, we could see other high peaks rising up from the sea of clouds below us. We were on the highest point of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Took some pictures and headed down safely.

Since then, everytime I look up to Longs Peak far away in the Front Range or even when I hold a Colorado quarter coin in my hand, I felt so anxious to go up again, next time by another route. It really was an amazing experience.

Images


Comments


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Viewing: 1-5 of 5    

CharlesDNice photos...

CharlesD

Hasn't voted

...but where's the trip report?
Posted Aug 9, 2009 10:53 pm

Boriss AndeanRe: Nice photos...

Boriss Andean

Hasn't voted

Thanks CharlesD. TR is on its way. Still working on it :)

Boriss..
Posted Aug 14, 2009 5:13 pm

slychels04Great trip report!

slychels04

Hasn't voted

I was hoping you might be able to help me. In July 2012 I climbed Guagua Pichincha and Iliniza Norte. On my next trip I plan to go to Colorado and climb a few of the easier 14ers ending with Longs Peak. How would you compare the scrambling on Guagua Pichincha/Iliniza Norte to the keyhole route on Longs Peak? Thanks.
Posted Dec 31, 2012 9:00 pm

Boriss AndeanRe: Great trip report!

Boriss Andean

Hasn't voted

Thanks!

I honestly don't remember much about the Keyhole Route, it was long time ago, but I do remember it was easier at least for me than Illiniza Norte, cause I almost didn't scramble or use my hands as in I. Norte. If you climbed Illiniza Norte, you'd be ok in Longs Peak which is a 14er while Illiniza Norte is almost a 17er.

Guagua Pichincha doesn't envolved any scrambling, unless that you climbed Rucu.
Posted Dec 31, 2012 11:06 pm

slychels04Re: Great trip report!

slychels04

Hasn't voted

Thanks for the info on Longs Peak. The guide roped me up for the last part of Iliniza Norte, but didn't use use rope for my husband. I am thinking that 2,500 ft lower will make Longs Peak much easier knowing that the scrambling will also be less intense. Thank you again for your insight.
Posted Jan 1, 2013 8:19 am

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