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 Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
 Post Date:  07/18/2009
 Date Climbed:   07/18/2009
 Posted By:  Aubrey

 Longs - Keyhole conditions   

Our sixth time up Longs Peak today was under clear skies and comfortable temperatures. I wasn't going to post a trip report, but since so many people have been asking about conditions, I thought I'd post some info/pics (if you click on photos, larger versions will pop up).

In short, we made it up and down without touching any snow, and without exceeding Class 3.

Driving to the trailhead, I was so tired I was on autopilot. That is, until a bat slammed into the windshield. I'm not sure if it survived or not. But it woke me up.

We got started up the trail at 2:35 a.m. under a brilliantly starry night, with lightning flickering from a storm way out east.

There were still plenty of spots in the Longs Peak Ranger Station parking lot, but I was surprised by how many cars were already there, especially with the route still rated technical.

Fifteen minutes up the trail my headlamp started to fade. By the time we got to Mills Moraine it was almost dead. From there to the Boulderfield I kept tripping over rocks while following Jen's light. The sliver of moon didn't offer any luminance. Fortunately, by 5 a.m. I could see well enough without a headlamp.

We passed through the Keyhole at 5:30 a.m.

Some snow lingered in patches on the Ledges but it was easily avoidable.

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Because of all the clouds out east, near the Colorado-Kansas border, we didn't see a sunrise, though we witnessed it indirectly from the Ledges:

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Making our way up the Trough, there was some snow on the right side, but the trail was mostly free of snow. In the places where snow dipped into the trail, it was easy to bypass on the left.

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Many sources talk about two ways up the Chockstone at the top of the Trough, but really there are three good ones. As you're climbing, you can go to the left, take the crack, or go up the right via a semi-ledge. I usually go up the crack and come down the ledge. Jen normally goes up the left and comes down the crack.

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This time she went up the crack:

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Above the Chockstone we enjoyed the traverse along the Narrows.

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Rounding the corner to the base of the Homestretch:

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The Homestretch is still holding snow in its upper-left portion but it can be bypassed easily. The climbing is only slightly more difficult than when it's free of snow, if at all. There are just less options and climbers bottleneck a little more. Some rocks had some patches of ice, but as long as you pay attention where you're stepping it's not a problem.

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At 6:50 a.m. we gained the summit and strolled around for a bit.

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20 minutes later we started back down the Homestretch.

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Somewhere on our descent I came across this old beat-up marker:

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Returning via the Narrows:

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Climbing back down the Chockstone:

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It took us longer to get down to the Keyhole than it did to get up because of all the traffic.

Back at the Keyhole we noticed a couple climbers going up the Cables Route:

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Made it back to the trailhead at 11:10 a.m., where we met some friendly Rangers that questioned us about route conditions.

Sorry, this TR was kind of slapped together. I just wanted to get some info/pics up quickly for those that needed the beta.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (5)
greenwok


Informative TR!     2011-02-04 17:22:15
Aubrey - thanks for posting - one of the better TR‘s on the Keyhole route from an informative standpoint - you‘ve been hanging around Bill M too long

Thanks for the very useful info!

Cheers!

KG


toasty


Thanks for the timely TR     2010-11-30 10:28:47
I'm glad someone posted current conditions. I summited Friday, but just got home tonight. When I left Longs Peak Campground Saturday morning, the entire Trailhead parking lot was full, and we counted 54 vehicles parked down the road. It's going to be a busy period, but other than dealing with the crowd, it's a great time to climb the Keyhole Route.

On Friday, a ranger heading up told me the Park Service was going to downgrade Keyhole to non-technical, due to the lack of snow & ice. Beyond the Boulderfield, there's no need for trekking poles, ice axes, or crampons. Just avoid the snow and any water/ice, and have fun.

BTW, I think that's the same chewed up marker I saw just below the summit on the Homestretch.


cftbq


Mucho Thanks     2009-07-19 01:18:36
”Slapped together” or not, this is a big help. Great pictures. I appreciate it because we were stymied by ice at the top of the lingering snow on the Homestretch in late June, and now it‘s ”unfinished business” that needs to be attended to. We can‘t match you guys‘ pace, but it‘s nice to have confirmation that the difficulties caused by the snowy spring are just about gone.


unclegar


Nice report!     2009-07-19 09:06:52
Great pics! Thanks for the info on current conditions.


Phill the Thrill


Thanks for update!     2009-07-20 08:39:35
We‘re going up this weekend and I sure appreciate the current beta!



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