| Longs Peak - Kieners, the North Face, & #347
Route: Kieners ascent, North Face (aka Cables) descent
Vert: Approx. 4,900
Mileage: Approx. 13
Time: 5 hours up, 8:15 round trip with breaks
Group: Marc, Carl, & for part of the descent, Jim Detterline
Decided to head up Longs again this past weekend. Marc and I figured we could use the exercise at altitude and Kieners is one of our favorite routes on any peak. The gear discussion ensued and ultimately we decided to bring two 30m ropes but no rock pro. We didn't plan on roping up for any part of the ascent, but wanted a rope in case we needed to bail before reaching the Diamond Step. Once we were set on bringing a 30m rope, the option of bringing a second so we could descend the north face seemed to make sense.
Left the trailhead around 5:15am, well after the Keyhole crowds, and caught the alpenglow on the Diamond a little before the Chasm Lake junction around 6am.
Another shot as we head towards Chasm Lake.
Took our first break at Chasm Lake and were rewarded with a reflection in the water like nothing I had seen before.
The Diamond and the lake.
In the summer the best way around Chasm Lake is hikers right. After some boulder hopping, a trail leads towards Mills Glacier.
One of the more comfortable looking bivy caves near the lake (by permit only).
Next is about 1,000 vertical on Lambs Slide. Some moderate snow climbing adds a nice mix to the day but it does mean the added weight of an axe and crampons in your pack all day. Marc on the snow.
Hang a right at the top of Lambs Slide and work your way onto Broadway where the Kieners route is visible again.
Broadway is blocked about half way by a boulder that forces you to the edge. This notorious step around is exposed for sure, but I'll be honest, this picture seems to make it look a little worse than it is.
Marc continuing the Broadway traverse.
The trail does narrow a bit here.
A little fixed pro exists if you're interested in clipping something.
Two climbers are pictured here at the start of Kieners. Actually the first people we've seen since Chasm Junction. They've decided to belay the first pitch, which I would do too, if we were headed that way. An alternative and easier but much more exposed option exists if you climb to where the belayer is standing, and then traverse out towards the Diamond.
After this first pitch the difficulty eases and the options are even greater. We found an interesting chimney.
On the second half of Kieners, headed towards the Diamond Step.
Took a break along the way and checked out what I believe is the finish for the Casual Route and the Yellow Wall. That traverse (on the rock, not the grass) would be intense even roped I'm sure! The arrow I drew marks the anchor.
Back on route the Diamond Step is visible above Marc. The Diamond Step is the 4th class finish to Kieners. Other options would include continuing straight towards the summit for a pitch or two of 5.5 or greater.
On the Diamond Step. After that, it's just a quick class 2/3 scramble to the summit.
Marc and I on the summit at 10:15 a.m.
Headed down the North Face and after we scrambled passed the first eyebolt I recognized Jim Detterline nearing the summit of Longs Peak for his 347th time!
Put the two 30m ropes together with a Euro Death Knot and rappelled off the second eyebolt we came across. Passed the 3rd eyebolt on rappel and pulled the ropes at a 4th eyebolt. A very short 5th class downclimb put us on some easier terrain.
Had to stop of course at Chasm View and check out the progress of a few parties on the Diamond. Lambs Slide is also visible here.
Stayed on the ridge a while taking in the views.
Across the Boulder Field the Keyhole Ridge was looking mighty impressive.
Made our way to the Jim Grove trail and while taking a break, along came Jim. He had reached the summit of Longs, downclimbed the north face (no rap), and caught us! Jim offered to show us a thing or two on the hike down, if we could keep up.
I'll admit I really underestimated Jim's pace. Despite what appeared to be fairly heavy hiking boots on his feet, and a sizable pack on his back, he pretty much jogged the entire way back to the trailhead. I couldn't describe our descent route even if I wanted to, but every few minutes we would pause for 10 to 20 seconds and Jim would explain anything from the history of the telephone lines that ran to the hotel in the Boulder Field to the approximate age of a massive Limber Pine. A truly unique experience for which we both felt quite lucky to be a part of.
When Jim reaches the summit of Longs Peak (hopefully this week) for the 351st time he'll hold the record. Good luck Jim!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):