| Longs Peak - Loft and Keyhole Routes
Ascend Loft route, Descend Keyhole route
Approximately 14 miles
Total Time 8.5 hours
Group: Colin (astrobassman), Jeff, Stephanie (slynn4_13run)
The last time I did Longs Peak was two years ago with my brothers, so I was excited to do it again and see what I thought about it the second time around. The first time was via the Keyhole both ways, but the Loft route looked like fun and less crowded.
We all met at the Longs Peak TH and were on the trail by 5:20am. I was a little worried that my lack of sleep the last three nights and hiking North and South Arapaho Peaks the day before was going to make this hike a struggle, but once I got moving I felt much better. We made our way up to the trail junction just after Mills Moraine by 6:30am and took a quick break for food and to put on more layers. It was just starting to get light out, but the skies were already clouding over. We took the Loft route towards Chasm Lake. Just then the sun was rising in the east and we got to see a beautiful sunrise. Unfortunately that was the only sun we saw all day.
We started our acsent up the wide slope between the Ships Prow and Mt. Meeker and eventually got to some small class 3 cliffs. There was just a bit of ice and snow on the rock, but most of it was avoided. After a quick break we made our way across the 10 foot wide ledge and on up towards the Loft. From this point we could see the clouds coming in from the southwest and it didn't look very promising. Mt. Meeker was going to have to be for another day.
We crossed over towards the Northwest corner of the Loft and made our way down a scree-filled gulley. I hate downclimbing this type of stuff, so I was glad to be out of it and into the boulderfield. I tried to find Clark's Arrow but had no luck. If we weren't up against the weather then it would have been fun to scramble around on those boulders hunting for it.
We started heading up past the Palisades on some loose scree. Eventually we found some solid rock to climb on and it made the ascent much more fun.
Jeff on the loose rock
Ascending the solid rock
Picture of the Palisades while playing with my camera
Upon seeing the Notch we traversed Northwest over towards the Keyhole route.
Colin heading over towards the Keyhole trail juction
Colin went on to the beginning of the Homestretch while I waited about 10 minutes for Jeff to catch up. As soon as I saw him, I made my way over towards Colin and we scrambled our way up. It took about 10 minutes to reach the summit from the start of the Homestretch. We reached the summit around 9:50am.
Colin approaching the summit
There was no one ahead of us, and it was pretty cool to have the summit to ourselves for a few minutes – not something I would expect on Longs. As we waited for Jeff to summit, I went around and got some pictures of the clouds passing through the mountains.
Playing around with my camera settings
Me enjoying the view
After about 35 minutes on top, we decided the the weather was looking pretty nasty, so we started making our way back down. We passed about 20 people or so between the summit and the top of the Trough. I enjoyed the Narrows, but it seemed much shorter than the first time I did it. It also didn't seem quite as exposed as I remember, which I was a bit disappointed in since I love exposure.
The Trough had some packed snow and ice, but nothing you couldn't avoid. It took us about an hour to reach the Keyhole. Colin and I chilled out in Boulder Field for a few minutes while waiting for Jeff to catch back up. From this point on the route back is pretty straightfoward. We made it back to the trailhead by 2pm, just beating out the storms.
Overall, I thought the Loft route was much more fun than the out-and-back Keyhole route. Longs is still a pretty sweet mountain to climb and I'm sure I'll go back again.