| Longs via the Loft, return via Keyhole
Yes - climb the Loft route! It is a very fun alternative to the Keyhole!
This past Saturday night (midnight), our group (me, Derek, Charles, Artie, Mike, Gaby, Priya, and Mary) met in Boulder and headed up to the TH for a 1:30am departure. We were full of energy and optimism about a route none of us had hiked (I was the only one to have hiked Longs via the Keyhole previously) and three of the hikers had never done a 14'er at all!
After reaching the Chasm junction, we continued to poke our way thru the night and try to veer towards the couloir as best we could guess. Natural tendency is to veer a little to the right, but keep left and you'll find the snowfields at the bottom of the Loft.
The stars (many of them shooting!), the sunrise, and the rock were all epic!
Crux of the climb turned out to be getting from the North side of the couloir, across the the ledges on the South. The snow field was hard and icy - so much so, that I couldn't make a dent w/ the ice ax. Without crampons, we were forced to go higher to the waterfall and traverse on its ledge and then downclimb to the appropriate ledges.
We then made it up to the Loft, took at 15 min break to enjoy the views, and we continued NW looking for the cairn to mark out descent towards Clark's Arrow. Staying high, we traversed until we saw the cairn on that massive couch sized rock and then descended. With care, this was not difficult at all!
We then passed beneath Clarks Arrow and veered right under the Palisades. Now climbing up towards the Homestretch, there is a little ice from the snow melt, so caution is prudent on some of the big slabs.
We met up w/ the keyhole route, skipped up the Homestrech and enjoyed some Coors Lights at the summit. The descent had nasty 60mph winds thru the Homestretch, Narrows, and the Trough, but we made it. RT was 14 hrs for us.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):