A Nice Finish to Calendar Winter ‘09 – Longs Peak 03/14/09

A Nice Finish to Calendar Winter ‘09 – Longs Peak 03/14/09

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 14, 2009
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Mixed, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Winter

Route Stats

Mountains: Longs Peak (14,255’)
Route: Started at the Glacier Gorge TH (RMNP) ~5:00AM to Black Lake to the Trough to the Narrows to the Homestretch to summit.
Distance / Elevation Gain ~12 miles and 5200’ gain (approx)


I had all but decided to go ski A-basin until Friday evening when in a fickle moment I decided to meet up with the Jamies at Glacier Gorge TH at 3:30AM and climb Longs. I went home, packed in a hurry and stuffed a five dollar footlong down my throat stifling a cry of “What th…” from the pit of my stomach. I set the alarm for 12:50AM and arose a fair bit later going %#&$# alarm $%&%# mountain %$#^ Jamies $%#%^!!! Anyway I reached the trailhead at close to 5AM to find the Jamies had already left. Instead I met Strauss, Steph and Kiefer at the trailhead, mumbled something about finding the Jamies, ate my banana and scuttled off into the forest a few minutes after 5. I decided to skin up as far as I felt comfortable skiing down.

The Road

The road was pretty straight forward on the way up. I think I missed this often touted shortcut both up as well as down, but I wasn’t too worried. The turn off to Mills Lake can be a little deceiving under headlamps and one is tempted to stay straight and go on to The Loch but a map and compass come in handy here. Soon it was light and the other 14ers.com group had caught up to me with no sign of the Jamies. Black Lake was not too far off. We climbed past black lake to the base of the trough. Here I left my skis and we took various routes into the couloir. The talus slope to the left of the couloir is the easiest and quickest way up the initial part.

Longs 001The base of the Trough

The Trough

The early morning air was pretty cold until sunhit and the snow in the couloir was perfect for cramponing up. We made decent time up the couloir. Sunhit happened at around 10:30AM. Here’s looking down the couloir.

Longs 008Looking down the Couloir

Out to the mountains behind…

Longs 009Mountains beyond the Front Range

and cliffs above

Longs 011Cliffs above the Keyhole

Snow in the trough made for interesting climbing… The slope was super mellow.

Longs 015The Mellow Trough

Longs 016Icy Patches in the Shade

The slope was interspersed with patches of ice that could be avoided easily. Looking down at Mills Lake from the trough…

Longs 020Mills Lake

Narrows / Homestretch / Summit

At the top of the trough I opted to keep crampons on for the narrows and homestretch… bad move. There is no snow worth your crampon. My crampons made sick scraping noises over rock all the way to summit. The homestretch…

Longs 021Homestretch

Looking at the end of the Narrows / beginning of the homestretch…

Longs 022Beginning of the Homestretch

The summit was glorious. In the distance, a few degrees left of the medial line in this picture you see the only cloud we saw all day.

Longs 026Lone Cloud off Longs' Summit

Looking over the summit blocks over to the valley…

Longs 028Over the Summit Blocks to the Valley

The Descent

We began the descent at 2:15PM. We all decided to keep crampons off the ski boots for the descent. Here’s looking down the homestretch. That’s about all the snow it’s holding right now…

Longs 030Looking down the Homestretch

Steph makes the narrows look like cake…

Longs 033The Narrows

More of the narrows…

Longs 034The Narrows 2

Longs 036Steph works the Narrows

Soon we were back to the top of the trough

Longs 037Steph at the top of the Trough

Longs 038The Group at the top of the Trough

The snow in the trough had softened quite a bit thanks to the mid-summer night temps we were experiencing…

Longs 039Steph Descends Softening Snow in the Trough

Longs 040The Group Descends the Trough

We were able to connect some nice glissades down to the base of the couloir back to where I’d left my skis. Here we parted ways and headed down separately since some of us were on skis, some on silverettas with leashes (%^$&^#) and some on foot. Loud settling noises came off Mills Lake but I wasn’t too worried. The ice looks pretty solid so far. I took the long way back again below the trees which sported some spiffy dry spots which encouraged me to shoulder skis for a while. It was pretty satisfying to finish calendar winter off with a cool mountain. Longs is now the fourth 14er I’ve climbed for the third time (by a separate route each time… here was the second https://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/416996/Douchey-and-Gimpy-s-Excellent-Adventure-Keiners-Notch-Couloir.html) along with Grays, Torreys and Little Bear.


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