| Longs Peak - Keyhole
Every time I climb Longs Peak, it seems that it reveals more of itself. And, in turn, each reclimb feels like a completely new experience. Yesterday's climb was no exception.
We opted for an extra early start to beat the crowds, avoid any afternoon thunderstorms and to ensure a parking spot near the trailhead. After snagging one of the last remaining spots in the parking lot, we started up the trail at 2:30 a.m.
We set a fast yet sustainable pace and made quick work of the trail below timberline. As soon as we broke above the trees, we both witnessed some shooting stars.
Near Granite Pass, I remember looking back and counting almost 30 headlamps coming up behind us.
At 5:20 a.m., just under three hours from when we started, we made it to the Keyhole. The weather was perfect and the wind was abnormally calm. Actually, there wasn't any wind in the Keyhole, which is rare.
No Longs Peak trip report would be complete without a sunrise shot, so here are a couple taken from the Keyhole. If you look closely in the first photo, you can see a climber standing on the summit of Mt. Lady Washington (the higher-looking bump is actually the lower summit of Mt. Lady Washington).
After passing through the Keyhole we killed the headlamps, as it was light enough out to see without them.
On the ledges, I think we ended up scrambling up some new sections of rock. There are many possibilities beyond the standard "fried-egg" path.
By the way, I don't know who came up with that fried-egg descriptor. To me, they look more like bloody fried eggs.
Once in the Trough, our progress slowed and we paused to catch our breath more frequently. But that was OK because it gave me many opportunities to turn around and enjoy the views. I think we timed it perfectly because we got to see Glacier Gorge and beyond get sun-splashed with alpenglow.
Jen, zipping up the right side of the chock stone at the top of the Trough:
Jen, on the Narrows, passing the rock on the outside:
Another section of Jen climbing the Narrows:
View from the top of the Homestretch:
At 6:40 a.m. we gained the summit. The weather was incredible – hardly any wind and the temperature was perfect.
Our Which Wich summit shots (gotta love free sandwiches!):
I never really noticed before, but there are at least three benchmarks up there:
In the Trough, we bypassed what Jen calls "loose sh*t" on the gravel trail, and we ended up going down the blocks, ledges and slabs (climber's right, when descending), which was a fun option.
Back on the Ledges, we ended up finding more new rock to scramble on. Beyond that, it was just a long, tiring hike out.
On our descent, we passed a lot of people on their way up, which we expected. Many seemed surprised that we were already heading down from the summit.
Longs Peak is always a butt kicker, but it's always fun and it's always a new experience!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):