| Longs Peak / Meeker via The Loft
LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE
(Sorry the pictures aren‘t great)
I decided to attempt Longs via the Loft and on the way, summit Mt. Meeker. It was my first attempt at this route. I set off at 3:15 AM from the ranger station on a great sat. morning. I set off to climb alone, but, as every summer week-end, the trail was full of climbers until the Mills Moraine. There I turned left and headed towards Chasm Lake. The trail was easy until reaching the wet grass, and being very dark (no moon to shine some light), I found myself second guessing the direction I was going.
I found a great landmark here: a flat faced rock about 100-150 ft tall (hard to tell at night), that I went around to the left and found my self at the bottom of the couloir up to the Loft. From here, the climb was quite obvious. It‘s easy to follow the trail up, even if the ground is fairly loose. Half way up, the sun started to illuminate the route and I could finally see the traverse and the Crux. From where I was, it wasn‘t immediately obvious, because it looks a lot bigger than in the pictures I had studied.
Making it to the Traverse and across, was easy and very stable.
At the Crux , I decided to veer off the Loft direct route and aim straight up to Mt. Meeker. This was a scramble over very stable rocks and I reached the summit without any trouble. The view from here is spectacular. At this point, I descended back to the Loft and found a White Cairns very easily. This was to be the only one I saw all day, even though there should be more marking the route.
Here is where my nearly fatal mistake was made!!!
Even though I had studied the route, I didn‘t catch witch way I was supposed to go from here and aimed up the rocky slope in front of me. The correct route was to the left and down from the Loft. It is important not to go up from here, because it becomes easy to miss-interpret the instructions and make the mistake that followed for me. As I climbed, I decided to make it to the top of the slope. From here the view is amazing and I was within shouting range of the summit of Longs. As I descended, I started to look for a Gully down, and found several. Re-reading only that part of the route instructions, I found that it said : "Most people chose the northern-most Gully". It also mention a downclimb of a cheminey and several leaps of faith.
So down I go!
Here is a picture (Poor quality) that shows where I was (Red Arrow) and where I should have been (Green Arrow)
I descended a class 4 cheminey, then continued in my mistake and crawled under some rocks (Spelonked). Lowered my backpak with a string, and downclimed an exposed class5 cheminey. At the bottom of this, I downclimbed a couple more class4-5 rocks in a very exposed area thinking I would soon find an easier descend to the now visible trail up the Homestretch across the couloir.
On this picture you can see the routh I took. Green arrow shows the climbing through the rocks part and the Blue is where I turned around.
I finally got to the point where the thin air inducing delusion came to a stop, and seeing an other climber below, I asked if he thought I could make it down. His response was as clear as my mind had become by then.
So, I turned around, re-climbed everything.
By the time I was on top of the Gully, I had become pretty tired and decided it was time to call it quits. Then, at the Loft I came across Richard and his crew. They were going to the summit of Longs and they knew the route!!!
OK, I decided to join them and go on. This was one hell of a great group of guys!!!
We set off for the correct gully, but even though Richard had done it before, it was still hard to find. We found ourselfs descending about 150 feet below it. The crossing from here was done on stable rocks without any difficult downclimbs (This can be an alternative to the cheminey and the "Clark‘ Arrow" route). As we reclimbed, we did see the Arrow!
From here it was easy to find the way with Cairns marking the faint trail. The climb is long (About 1000 feet to the summit), with class 3 scrambles, climbs and several areas of loose rocks and sandy surface.
All in all, it wasn‘t difficultly technical though.
At the top of the couloir, we rejoined the Homestretch and then, finally the summit!
Then, after a well deserved rest, it was time to go back down, the Keyhole this time.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Richard and all of his crew for the wonderful support they gave me.
I hope we get to climb again some day!!!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):