The West Ridge of Longs Peak is a seldom-climbed technical variation that continues from the top of the Trough straight up to the summit plateau. It goes at a modest 5.4 and not only attracts the attention of the many hikers below but provides an abrupt arrival on the summit. It is possible that this was first ascended by Enos Mills but this is only speculation.
Follow the standard Keyhole Route to the top of the Trough. Drop your packs at the base of the chockstone that leads to the narrows and rope up.
P1 - 5.4 - Work up a series of lichen-covered flakes just to the left side of the ridge. Set up the belay in a crack below a small right-leaning "gully". 100'
P2 - 5.6 - We got off route and climbed up wet/icy flakes just left of the belay and traversed back right to meet back up with the true path just above the small "gully". The actual route continues straight up the "gully" and engages the steep handcrack in a left-facing corner. Belay at the top of the crack. 80'
P3 - 5.4 - Move cleverly past the large blocks above by traversing right. You are above the narrows and will be looking straight down on the other hikers on the standard route. Climb up past a small overhang and follow a small right-angling crack to gain easier terrain toward the summit. Follow the ridge until you run out of rope and belay in an uncomfortable pod. 200' and slightly runout.
P4 - 5.0 - Un-rope and scramble toward the summit. The large blocks that bar the way can be passed through a small weakness about 15 feet to the left. Your arrival on the summit is very abrupt.
Gear needed could vary dramatically depending on your comfort level. Here is a suggested list assuming you want full climbing gear and you can trim it down to fit your needs.
Gear: Light rack - Set of stoppers, set of cams (C4s 0.5-3), TCUs 1-4, 60M climbing rope (pitches might be combined with a longer rope), 8 double-length runners to reduce rope drag.
This is an excellent variation to the Keyhole experience. The climbing is generally good, although most of the rock is covered in lichen and the exposure down to the Narrows is exciting and adds to the experience. Be careful not to trend to far left into the "inviting" cracks or you will end up climbing wet rock like we did. Finally, be wary of the other climbers below you because 1) If you knock anything down (and there were several large loose blocks) you could kill somebody and 2) On the first pitch people can get tangled in the rope and almost pull you off (this happened to me!).