Planning my climb
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.
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..
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!
The Keyhole 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 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.