| Longs Peak - solitude on Keyhole Ridge
Just so there isn't any confusion, this trip report does not depict the standard Keyhole route on Longs.
Route: Keyhole Ridge, 5.5/5.6
Vert: Approx. 4,900
Mileage: Approx. 13
Time: 7.5 hours up, 11 hours round trip with breaks
Group: Carl & Brian
This route was high on my interest list this summer. I was finally able to talk my friend Brian into taking a break from single handedly finishing his basement and joining me on a climb. Brian's only prior attempt on Longs was on the Diamond (Pervertical) so he was partially motivated by a route a little more likely to result in a summit. Had the gear discussion on Saturday, and decided to go with a red and yellow C3, a red and yellow Alien, C4s from .5 to 3, and a set of nuts. Saw a placement for a smaller and larger cam, but it wasn't necessary. 60 or 70m rope would work fine, we used the latter.
With a good forecast we left the TH at 4:20am. Brian's wife Mary, and their friend Erica, joined us on the approach and then climbed the Keyhole. Also happened to cross paths with 14ers.com member geno71 as we hiked in the dark past the Goblin's Forest.
A windy morning made the predawn hours a little cold. Sunrise was a welcomed event.
Was hoping to make the Boulder Field in two hours, but we came up short, making it about to here.
Paused for a bit to take in the alpenglow. The Diamond at sunrise is pretty spectacular.
The Keyhole Ridge route follows the ramp from the Keyhole and stays mostly on that east side, as pictured here.
A shot of Mary's Ledges and the North Face.
The ramp reminded me a little of Broadway.
The ramp leads to what I believe is the false keyhole. It doesn't look much like the Keyhole, but there is a sign (on a large boulder on the right side of this photo) telling you this is not the Keyhole. Seems like a better location for this sign would be the beginning of the ramp.
We continued scrambling on the east side to where we roped up. Brian is at that point here in the middle of the photo.
I led the first pitch, and was glad to have the rope for the first 30 or 40 feet. The difficulty eased about half way, as you can tell by the lack of pro placed.
Not being sure if this was the spot where we crossed to the west side, I stopped climbing at about half rope and brought Brian up. I was wrong, but it was good to get Brian out of the shade and I'm sure he was anxious to lead something. Also a nice spot for a break.
Brian led about half a rope pitch and ran into the same issue I did, wanting to consult with his partner about the route. He belayed me up to a good size ledge below a short off width crack.
I recognized this from Sean's TR of his and Marc's climb last summer and knew they had ascended the crack. A traverse in the sun looked doable but we opted for the sure thing. If your leader wanted to protect this move, I think you'd need a #5. Next time we'll try to link these first 3 pitches.
At this point it was time to cross to the dark side. We could see the Keyhole route as we rappelled about 10 feet to an obvious ledge. The downclimb looked doable, and we had the discussion, but opted to do a quick rap, doubling the rope through instead of untying.
The rappel put us on the shaded side of this cool looking fin. You then traverse on a ledge/ridge to the next interesting section. We stayed roped but the climbing, or walking rather, was easy. Brian is pictured here finishing the traverse.
After heading up a few feet to a wide ledge, you can continue across (the ledge narrows), or work your way up. We chose to head almost straight up. Brian led.
This pitch may have some 5.6 moves during the first 30 feet before things ease. The exposure is awesome.
Brian at a comfortable belay. The next traverse is pictured behind him.
I thought this precariously perched rock sitting above the Keyhole route was worthy of a photo.
After the traverse, a couple hundred vertical of class 3 slabs leads to the summit ridge.
Arriving at the summit a little before noon, we had the place to ourselves.
Stopped at Chasm View after making one 70m rappel down the north face and had a conversation with a couple friends on the Diamond. Because the terrain acted as an amphitheater, we were able to clearly hear each other without yelling, despite the considerable distance between us.
One last look back at the Diamond as we watched our friends slowly ascend the face. It will be a while before I attempt one of these routes. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy slowing working my way through the easier routes. The Keyhole Ridge was my 7th route on Longs, and probably my second favorite. Thanks for a great climb Brian.
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