First of all I would like to thank Wesley for his help with route information. With out his help this would have been difficult to find.
Sean and I decided to hook back up for another trip up Longs, this time through a route neither of us had done before. Our original plan was to attempt a full traverse of Mills Cirque, starting with the Iron Gates of Mount Meeker and finishing on Mount Lady Washington all the while staying as close to the cirque as possible. We meet up about 1 mile down from the parking lot (by far the most people we had ever seen at Longs) at around 4 am. After a gear swap and stretch we were on our way by 4:20am. Our gear consisted of one 70 meter rope, a few runners and quick draws, 5 cams and a few stoppers and tri-cams.
When we reached Chasm Lake basin we opted to ascend the normal Loft route and continue the original route without hitting Meeker. I've most often heard this rout called "The Beaver" so I'll stick with that. We followed surprisingly few people up the Loft and continued towards the summit of Southeast Longs (Beaver).
Upon reaching the summit SE Longs, Sean had already located the rappel station. This is located about 20 feet east of the summit block. It is down 6 feet from the ledge.
Beaver summit behind Sean
Sean quickly set up and inspected the 5 or 6 runner already there. Wesley had placed the black runner just a week or two prior. We fed our rope through both the quick link and the rappel ring already there.
This was the exciting part we had been aching for! Hating to go second on a rappel I asked to drop in first. A dozen deep breaths later I was hanging off the Beaver swaying in the winds.
We had both read that this Rap can be done with a 60 meter rope and would agree, but 70 provided extra comfort room. Sean followed suit and we found ourselves with a 20 foot down climb to reach the bottom of the Notch.
Sean coming down
There was another rap station backed up with a piton right where we landed, but decided not to take advantage of it.
second rap piton
From the Notch we moved directly north to a ledge system that swung around to climber right. (northeast)
The ledge was Very exposed and had devastating consequences if a fall was taken.
After about 20 feet on this ledge you are presented with a rather large dihedral with ample room for a bottom belay.
The climb from here is called the "Stepladder". It rather keeps to its name. Lots of holds at relatively low angle. Upon reaching the route we quickly decide it was within our abilities to free climb the pitch, plus the rope was already in my pack. We started left and diverted right before a skinny chimney choked us out. The moves right were a little more slabby but had plenty of good holds even in trail runners.
Route Up as described
John with a nice look down.
The angle drops and deposits you at Longs Peaks South ridge.
From here it's a short 2nd/3rd class hike up.
Sean above the Stepladder on South ridge
We took quite a long break on top, chatting with a nice couple about the history of this amazing peak. With the weather still holding we started on down the North Face for our final rappels.
The route from the cables
We passed several groups heading up and observed two folks gaining the top of Mary's Ledges.
Group coming up
The two who climbed Mary's Ledges decided to call it a day and meet us at the top of the Cables Route. Turns out the male in the group was none other than Gary Neptune, owner of Neptune Mountaineering! What a nice Guy!
Mr. Gary Neptune belaying Mary's Ledges
The leader of a party of four ascending the dihedral was kind enough to let Sean and I rap down off of his rope, which he tied off at the top bolt. One more rap from a lower bolt and we were on our way down.
Sean rapping the icy cables
cables traffic jam
Just a long 5.5 mile slog down an all too familiar trail. Thanks to Sean for his words of wisdom and kind company! Amazing route indeed!
Sean Rapping down:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxjxZOoSK-k