15 years after my first trip to Long's Peak and I made it to the top again! The first time I almost turned back at the point where the big iron bars are driven into the rocks. I was just about to go when I met someone coming down who assured me that point was the most exposed on the whole route. And I agree. Of course I was a dummy and didn't get to the top my first time until 1 p.m. and there was lightning everywhere and people's hair was standing up due to the static electricity and about 1/2 inch of hail fell and the homestretch was like an ice rink. But my second time I left the top by 9:30 a.m. and the lightning and the hail didn't start until I was almost back below treeline. The best 15 mile hike I've ever done. I hope to get back before another 15 years pass.
So far, I have climbed only Longs Peak in RMNP.
This was the first time I climbed Longs Peak. I've climbed it five more times since then. This is one of my favorites. It has a little of everything for the all-around mountaineer, including some hairy exposure on most of the routes. It is an accessible mountain, which makes it insanely popular. However, you should be prepared for anything when you climb it. Don't stroll up it with a windbreaker in a grocery bag and some sandals.
Loved the Keyhole Route. It wasn't a terribly crowded day, and there was no wind. The perfect day, for the perfect climb.
Got to the top of Longs Peak at 8:30am but had nothing left for the descent...after having summitted Mount Elbert six days earlier, I was ready for the Longs challenge. I drank two gallons of water the day before. I left my motel room in Fort Collins at 11:30pm, arriving at the trailhead at 1am. A couple groups had started before me and a group of 5 girls who work together for the YMCA in Winter Park, CO, were in a huddle at the trailhead praying for safety on their trip. The trail started up very gradually through the timber and after only a couple miles I got above treeline. I was doing much better with the altitude here on Longs than I fared six days earlier on Mount Elbert. Still, I stopped often (for a minute or so) to rest. The girls and I passed each other several times until they left me for good above treeline. I could hear them singing above me on the trail. That impressed me as I find it difficult to even carry on a conversation while ascending. I found out later that they were athletes (cross-country running and track & field). As I got higher in the blackness of the early morning all I could see were silhouettes of the surrounding peaks and the eerie stream of headlamps far below me. And occasionally the lights of the girls above me. As I neared the Boulderfield it became increasingly difficult to recognize the trail. I got to the infamous Boulderfield about 5am and then my headlamp burned out (the spare bulb was no good as well - poor planning). It worked out fine for me as I didn't plan on going further until the sun rose. So I joined a couple college guys from Texas (North Texas State and Hardin Simmons) huddled in one of the tent sites which consisted of a small area with a circular rock wall, giving us some protection from the cool breeze as we waited an hour for the light of morning. What a great view of the Keyhole and the precipitous East face! For a moment I imagined that the North face looked doable and maybe even easier than the Keyhole route (more direct, for sure). But the Keyhole route was what I came here for and it was what I had read so much about on the internet. At 6am we set out across the Boulderfield, reaching the Keyhole between 6:30 and 7am. The winds were ferocious - I'd guess 60-80 miles/hour. And a few hikers turned back because of it. I couldn't imagine turning back yet after the work in getting up here - climbing 6.5 miles up from 9400 elevation to 13,150 at the Keyhole. Those of us who continued the journey to the summit discovered we were protected from much of the wind shortly after passing through the Keyhole to the other side of Longs. And this is where the real challenge began: The Ledges, The Trough, The Narrows and The Homestretch. These are Longs Peak's last 4 obstacles that thwart many climbers. I found that moving across and up and down The Ledges were not difficult and exposure was minimal. This portion was a little longer than I expected, though. The Trough was time-consuming as I rested often going up the long slope. I found the going easier climbing on the rocks on the left side of this 800-foot couloir. Next going through The Narrows was quick and not very scary. If I had been up here 10 years ago when I had a strong fear of heights each of these final obstacles would have freaked me out. Those classic photos of The Narrows look much more harrowing than when you're actually walking through it. Finally, The Homestretch, the 200-foot 'vertical' climb to the top. It looked almost vertical as I approached it but found I could scamper up on all fours covering 30-40 feet quickly then I was bent-over for a couple minutes catching my breath. I was so tired, so exhausted. I got to the top of 14,225-foot Longs Peak at 8:30am and was 'reunited' with the 5 girls and the two Texans. The girls had already been at the top for a half hour. The top was covered in clouds. We all decided to head down 15 minutes later. I was pretty concerned about getting down as I had no energy at all. I had food, energy bars, but had no desire to eat a thing. I ate half a salted nut roll and sipped some water. Going down was extremely hard for me and after negotiating The Homestretch in reverse, I told the others to go on ahead as I needed to rest often and long. It took me longer to get back to The Keyhole than it did to climb up from there. The boulderfield was what I dreaded the most on the way down in my condition. Especially the steep section just below The Keyhole, where one misstep could result in a twisted ankle or broken leg or worse. I took it very slowly and thought about each step I made. I was thankful to find the rocky trail about halfway through the boulderfield, allowing me to get off the boulders and just follow the trail on down. The last few miles seemed to take forever. And I swear the mileage from the 2.5 marker down to the .5 marker was more like 4 or 5 miles than just 2. I finally got back to my car at 2:15pm. 7 1/2 hours up and 5 1/2 down.
Anchorage, AK USA
Only made it to Chasm Lake. Wind was incredible!Literally had gusts that almost knocked me off my feet! Views superb.The Diamond looks awesome up close.
Only 14er climbed with the entire famly.
Good weather. Success on 2nd attempt of this one.
Left the base at about 4:30 AM and the lot still had at least 20 spaces open, and summited at 11. A great hike up, though the weather was questionable and we got fairly lucky with the weather. Sprained my ankle on the way down in the boulder field and hiked the last five miles on it, but it as honestly almost worth it.
Started at 440 AM and summited at ten minutes past 10 AM. I was extremely glad they had privies on the way as my guts seemed to be most unhappy with my culinary selection from the night before. After twenty minutes on the summit I finished the descent at 310 PM for a ten and a half hour day. Brett and Torn from Texas caught up to me within a half mile of the parking lot. The summit area had a lot of room to spread out on.
Started at 5:30 a.m., summitted at 10:20 a.m., and finished at 3:30 p.m. Great day.
Starting at 2AM from the Ranger Station trailhead at 9,500', I met up with another climber and we hit the East Longs Peak trail. After reaching treeline at 11,000' we continued to the boulder field at 13,000' in the dark. We reached the Keyhole route just as the sunrise came, and we clambered onto the route. We carefully navigated the class 2 and 3 terrain towards the Trough, a 600 foot gully filled with loose rock. We made it to the top of the Trough, then began navigating our way across the Narrows, a class 3+ cliff walk with a sharp drop of of over 1,000 ft. on one side. We eventually made it to the Homestretch, a long smooth rock scramble that spills your out onto the football field sized summit. After making the summit of Longs Peak (14,259') at 7AM and spending about 30 minutes on the summit, we made our way back down the way we came up. We reached the end of the Keyhole route around 9AM and made it back to the trailhead around 1PM. A fun and classic mountaineering route.
I had such a blast on the keyhole route. Such a cool experience and I want to do other challenging ones like it. Perfect weather. 14'er #12. It felt like a death march on the way back to the car.
My first Class 3 14er, really got me hooked.
summitpost climbers log
one of the best, if not the best, colorado 14ers. Keyhole route is a blast to climb, fun class three scrambling. Wouldn't mind climbing the peak again
My first summit, my first love. A HUGE learning experience. A trip report to come. With Mike McMullen
via Keyhole Route
My first and still favorite 14er. Longs has it all. Six ascents by four different routes so far.
This was the first 14er I climbed in 1998 when I was in scouts! my latest climb was in 2009. I can't recommend it highly enough