I think it thunderstorms here every afternoon during monsoon season. It's not like the southern Sierras, where you can sometimes go a week or more without rain. I got nailed by thunderstorms and hail the last two times I hiked this mountain, and yep, I got it again this time. Maybe I should set my alarm clock, so I can start hiking early, like the smart people.
This was one of the epic mountains I've climbed. The weather was perfect, it meandered around 20 degrees F and the 0 degree mark at night. I made a camp near the frozen Columbine Falls where it blew spindrift into my vestible both nights. I woke up on the 24th at around 7:00 am and headed towards Chasm Lake. I then hiked up to the summit of Mount Lady Washington to a beautiful view. From here my goal was the Keyhole. The snow was fairly shallow with ice precariously formed on most of the rocks. I had to be very careful with each step. I was especially concerned with the black ice underneath the snow. Several times I managed to find this without wanting to. I made it up to the last traverse at around 1:00 pm and decided to keep going. It was very difficult to do so because of the intermintent snow/ice that seemed to drain every bit of energy from me. In a few choice sections, I was concerned that I didn't have a rope to repel after my climb. However this didn't stop me and I figured that I was taking calculated risks. After one particular area, I descended to make sure it was possible. I finally made it to the summit at around 2:00 pm. I was rewarded with an incredible view of the surrounding mountains which made for a very memorable Christmas. I made it down safely and enjoyed an evening meal of chicken with noodles and wonderful cup of hot chocolate. As I headed out the next day (Christmas) I could see the clouds developing over the summit very rapidly and knew that I had just made it. I look forward to coming back soon.
Climbed the route with my dad after first talking about it 22 years ago. Route was still in winter conditions with the Trough completely filled in. We were the only people camping at the Boulderfield. Perfect setting...highly recommended!
Was intrigued by Jon Bradford's tale. On one of my climbs one of our party got a big headache at the homestretch and quit. I think its just a couple of hundred feet up from there to the two acre corn field. Too bad. I enjoyed seeing the west face above the trough. Nobody ever writes about these cracks on the west face :-(
Longs stands out as one of the scariest climbs I have been on. I got off route on the narrows and ascended the south-west side of the summit block; via some parallel cracks that were easy at first but ice filled later on. At one point an exposed dynamo was required to pull myself above a polished smooth granite slab. Before this the sewing machine legs was making me seriously reconsider my routefinding skills. I would guess the cracks were only 5.2 or so but at the time they tested me. I arrived on the flat summit drenched in sweat and utterly elated. The most exciting wrong turn I have ever made. The Homestrech was quite tame in comparesin (but agin raised the question what was I thinking to leave a bullseye painted route to head straight up a set of parrallel cracks above the south side cliffs). Great mountain but a little overly popular for my tastes.
Good climb. Started from Boulderfield. Rangers said tech climb. no way great view from summit, no wind either.
A long day, but perfect weather !!
First 14er I did after moving out to Colorado. Coming from Ohio only two weeks before, hauling a full pack up to the Boulderfield was no easy task. Probably the essential mountain for someone looking to do a 14er.
Definitely a long day, but well worth it. The lower parts of the route were scenic but otherwise boring mileage. Things get more interesting AFTER you pass the keyhole and start the actual climb. The upper third to the summit is the best. We were up by 10am, had some great sun for lunch on the summit, and got down before the serious weather came in around 1pm. Made it back to car just as sprinkles were turning to downpour.
This was my first 14'er a few years ago and I have been back many times since. The view of the Meeker/Long's cirque at sunrise is one of the most inspiring sights I have ever seen.
I grew up in Estes Park, and have made yearly pilgramages to the mountain several times each year. Many of them solo, and always a great time. This trip was a little different. I left for the mountain in Mid afternoon, planing a biovauc near Chasm Lake, that part of the trip went as planned. I didn't even need my snowshoes to get there as most of the snow was less then two feet deep, and 90 percent of it had a wind crust hard enough to support me even into the late afternoon. I set up my biovauc around 5:00pm and settled in for what would be a cold but comfortable night. At first light I was awakened by a howling wind and an unplesant ground blizard from the spindrift being generated off the snowfield of nearby Mt.Meeker I ate a hasty breakfast, strapped on my crampons, pulled out my only ice axe, and broke camp. I decided to have a go up to the loft, and scramble over the final hurdle to the summit proper, I was miserably defeated half way to the loft in grainy 3 foot deep snow that hissed around me like fluid as I worked upward. After 3 hours of slogging, I turned back, not wanting to become another statistic in Colorado climbing. I made it back past my previous camp in less then 45 minutes, and headed around to the old cable route. The conditions were vastly better. It was a combination of good hard ice, a little wind deposited snow, and some clean rock. I made very quick progress, until about 500 feet below the summit. Where the route usually is at its easiest, the snow was piled deep and loose again. I carfully made my way across it, over the finial ledge, and onto the summit itself. It was 230 in the afternoon, with beautiful clear skies, and a stiff wind kicking off spindrift plumes from most of the nearby peaks. A picture perfect winter ascent. I traversed the peak over to the South east side, made my way down to "Lambs Slide" and glissaded down as far as I could. This is where it got a little ugly. I found myself back in the vicinity of the same snow conditions that had defeated me on the way up, This time my fears were slightly different. The snow was no longer sandy and fluid, it had warmed enough that as I moved it began to "sluff" off the mountain. 200 feet shy of the snow shoot leading to the loft route (and back to Chasm Lake) I set off a small avalanche, it had little volume when it reached me, but hearing it pour over the sheer face to my left unnerved me enough that I had to sit down to collect myself. Back on my feet a few minutes later I gained the final snow shoot and glissaded back to the smooth runout above the lake. It was begining to turn dusk, and I raced out past the Rangers cabin, up the slope around Mt Lady Washington, and back to the trail proper. By the time I hit treeline on the way down it was dark, and I was alone. It was a beautiful walk back in the glow of my headlamp. Not a soul around, little wind, and my breath streaming out behind me. I'd finialy done it, Longs Peak, Technical, Winter, Solo. What a trip.
Trail was dry all the way up to just under the start of the route. Ice from cloud cover in the morning with sub-zero temps left the route a little slippery. Single ice tool used. Soloed up from boulder field.
Climbed Longs after a Rockies game one night. Didn't get much sleep that week.
After 5 other tries (mostly in the winter/ late fall) I finaly made it to the top. I started around 1am (not many people on the trail at that time) got to the leges around day break and reached the summit around 8 ?. The loft was too windy so I never made it to the very top of meeker, did get battle, Lady washington, and storm peak in though.
Ah, Longs...the only mountain I ever looked at and said, "I am going to climb that someday!" My sister and I left the trailhead just after 3:00 A.M. We reached the campsites on the Boulderfield around 6:00. Gaining altutude seems to be easier in the dark! The route was well populated, but wasn't too crowded. We summited around 9:00. By the time we got back to the Keyhole, the up-to-then great weather was deteriorating with dark clouds gathering above the summit. Near the bottom of the Boulderfield I noticed that my sister's hair was standing up. Needless to say, we tore off down the trail toward timberline.
Our timing was impeccable, the weather was perfect (not a single cloud the entire day!), but the route was a complete mess. We ascended the entire route only to find that the wall below the loft was frozen over by an inpenetrable shield of ice making the remainder of the route to the loft a much more difficult experience.
This was our 4th attempt on this route and we finally summited! We were slowed down a bit and eventually had to bivy on the Diamond because of nasty weather on the 30th - outside of that it was a GREAT climb! Descended Keyhole
My first 14er!!!!!
Very crowded on Labor Day, but it was a scenic peak.
A great, albeit very long day. I summited with my wonderful girlfriend and fellow SPer, Virginia (aka Vannibell).