| Meeker and Longs - Loft up, Keyhole down
Chasm Meadows: 2 hours
Meeker summit: 4 hours
Longs summit : 6.5 hours (including ~45 min on Meeker summit and a couple other shorter stops)
Since most aspects of this route have been thoroughly covered, most of this trip report is information about getting to Clarks Arrow, and some differences from other accounts.
Started at 3am, reached Chasm Meadows about 5am and started up towards the loft as some daylight appeared. There were already a bunch of climbers way up on the loft in the darkness - a line of lights going up the exit ramps. Ascent went smoothly and fun.
Summitted Meeker at 7am - didn't see others up there - looks like most of the loft climbers were just doing Longs and a couple up SE Longs. Hit the class 3 part a bit before sunrise and was close to the exit ramps around sunrise.
Meeker's summit ridge is fun and scenic. I had no problem with the summit block, despite reports saying it was tricky/exposed to get up, it was very easy and enjoyable. It was totally calm, and could see a blanket of clouds in the valley west of the divide.
After hanging out on Meeker for a while, it was down to the Loft to find the Clarks Arrow downclimb. Here is some info on that part.
- I didn't see the white cairns mentioned in the route description. Found a white rock here and there, but not the cairns shown in pictures. There are normal colored cairns that lead the right way. There is an orange/red flag on a stick in one of the cairns, like the ones used to mark utility lines. This leads to the 'key cairn'. Per route descriptions and directions, I went up a bit higher at first, but should have stayed level. I had the GPS coordinates for the key cairn marked, and was able to see it from a bit above and head towards it. It's smaller than the pictures show.
GPS coordinates for key cairn: N40 15.063 W105 36.811 13371 ft
- This is where there are many descriptions about which gully to take, class and moves, etc. Based on other TRs, I recognized the spear-shaped rock and gully. This was an easy way down. It was fairly easy class 3 (didn't find anything remotely class 4, and did the entire downclimb facing out). The gully splits in two partway down from the key cairn. We took the right fork which was pretty easy.
A tall boulder is in the middle - Clarks Arrow is on the back of this. Either way goes - I took the right branch and while from above it looks like a drop-off, as you get closer, you see a V-slot with a wedge-shaped boulder. Going down this V-slot is easy - practically a walk-down
Looking down at top of gully:
looking down from top of downclimb to Clarks Arrow
view to right about halfway down:
partway down the downclimb, looking right
looking up from top of V-slot:
looking up at the downclimb from the top of the V-slot
view from top of nifty V-slot. It looks like it drops off a cliff, but proceed downward.
at the top of the V-slot. Clarks Arrow cliff is on the left. The left edge of the V-slot slab is on the lower right of the picture
the nifty V-slot:
downclimbing the V-slot. It is more protected and less exposed than this picture shows. About walkable.
well protected on both sides with great footing. At the base of the V, there is a short, narrow ledge, like an exit ramp from the gully. Traverse this ledge, going left, a bit to a flat dirt area. You zig-zag a little bit. You can see the rest of the route up from here.
exiting the downclimb on the exit ledge after V-slot, viewed from Clarks Arrow
Clarks Arrow is to the left and up about 20 ft (get up on the boulder to see it) - and the route to the summit is obvious to the right. If you take this gully and this line, it's class 3and on the easier/moderate side (all downclimbing facing out). The pictures make it look much more exposed than it really is. I was surprised at how short the downclimb was.
The gully not chosen (one mentioned in most TRs)
the alternate/primary Clarks Arrow gully
The easy gully with nifty V-slot we took:
a look back at the gully we downclimbed, with the V-slot slab
From here to the summit is straightforward - takes an hour or so. It's cairned but even without that, the route is obvious. Good rock most of the way. Slabs on upper part have wet spots but mostly can be avoided. There is a trail of sorts the last little bit to the Homestretch. Other people were taking a look at the loft route from here. Then comes the conga line up the Homestretch, which was wet from overnight rains. This added to the congestion on the route and delays.
view of back of Notch:
back of the Notch
Took the Keyhole route down, through massive traffic jams. I don't want to do the Keyhole again (seeing people freeze in terror going down the trough makes me wonder how they got to the summit). Curiously, the chockstone at the top of the trough and the one at the entrance to the Narrows seemed missing. Due to the stimulus?
12 hour day for the loop car-to-car (including about an hour on each summit, and about an hour for traffic jams on Homestretch and Keyhole). The slog down from the boulderfield sucked (too many long switchbacks), even taking Jims Grove cutoff (which was a nice alternative anyway). The weather was also much better than the 50% chance of storms forecasted.
Loft route was much better than Keyhole, and I'll do it round trip next time.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):