Ascent of Longs Peak on 2017-07-16

Climber: Dan Hildebrand

Date:Sunday, July 16, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Longs Peak
    Elevation:14255 ft / 4344 m

Ascent Trip Report

I finally got around to my (new) hometown 14er and checked off the Boulder County High Point. I'd heard a great deal of negative things about Longs from peakbagging muggles, so I was curious to see it for myself. My GF and I woke up in our own bed, and drove less than an hour to the trail head, a super novel way to hike a 14er given our last few camp and bag trips. It was definitely a Pyrrhic victory since we were hiking up the Keyhole route by 3:15 and a 1:45 alarm nullifies any benefits of sleeping at home.

There's been plenty written about the Keyhole route, but I definitely wanted to mention that this was a great way to get some more experience on Class 3 terrain, once you make there... The first 6 miles of trail are broad, well maintained and easy to follow, which is great for cruising in the darkness. The sun was sweeping down the Diamond face while we navigated the Boulder Field, which is the beginning of real hike and a lot harder to navigate; if you can't find cairns, walk toward the Keyhole. We made it to the Keyhole by 6:15, managing a little over 2mph while womping through 3700 feet of elevation gain, and after 15 minute break stepped in the dark side of the mountain.

After the Keyhole you have the Ledges, the Trough, the Narrows, Homestretch and then abruptly, the summit. Essentially all evidence of winter has disappeared, except for a small section of snow at the top of the Trough, which we navigated around. While I had built up some of the "technical" features on Longs, given then summer conditions, everything was much more straightforward than I expected. People had complained that the Ledges were slippery because of the crowds, but they really weren't too bad. Grinding up the Trough was certainly the hardest part while navigating the Ledges and the Narrows was a nice break from grueling uphill. After the final cracks on Homestretch, we enjoyed excellent summit weather an hour and 15 minutes after lounging in the Keyhole.

We made it back down all of the Class 3 stuff and back through the Keyhole to start the long trudge back to the car. Once you're out of the Boulder Field, it's really easy to make excellent time if you're legs are still functional, and it's a lot of fun to take in the views in actual daylight! RT is 15 miles with a little over 5000 feet of gain, and we managed it in 9 hours with about 2.5 hours of lounging around. While I'm not planning on waking up at 1:45 to do this next weekend, this was actually one of my favorite hikes in CO so far :)
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