| Long's Peak Radical Slam
I moved to Colorado 10 years ago, and was very quickly introduced to climbing 14ers. So, of course, one of my first purchases was Gerry Roach's Colorado 14ers book. In that book is a description of the Radical Slam... consisting of climbing Long's Peak and six adjacent summits, along with 50 pushups at the end. I've been talking about doing this for a long time, and so finally, last Friday, I attempted the Radical Slam with two of my good friends (Dan and Eric).
We drove to the trailhead, arriving around 3:15 am. After knocking out a set of push-ups... just in case we didn't feel like it at the end, we started up the trail. Once we crested treeline, we were able to turn off our headlamps and navigate by the light of the full moon. At the Chasm Lake junction, we headed towards the Loft Route... the route that takes one to the saddle between Meeker and Long's Peak. The Loft Route wasn't bad to navigate in the dark, and thankfully, Dan had hiked it before, so he kept us climbing in the right direction. After finding the exit ledge and a little bit of additional scrambling, we arrived at the Loft. The sun was just beginning to crest the horizon at this point, and we were able to take in sunrise from the very windy Meeker summit block (about three hours after leaving the trailhead).
We downclimbed back to the Loft and then headed down the steep gully looking for the infamous Clark's Arrow. Although we didn't find the arrow, we did find the right couloir and begin climbing towards the Homestretch. Although the trail is loose and rocky, it wasn't too bad and we hit the Homestretch about 45 minutes after leaving Meeker. The Homestretch wasn't too crowded due to the still early hour, and we topped out on the summit about four hours into the expedition.
The next part of the climb was somewhat concerning, as the traverse from Long's to Pagoda seemed tricky. We followed the route description in Roach's book, and began downclimbing when we hit the bottom of the Homestretch. The key here is to descend far enough before angling SW to the saddle between Long's and Pagoda. Once we reached the saddle, it's a rock scramble to the summit of Pagoda.
We took a bit of time at the summit of Pagoda, and then began plotting our route to get back to the Keyhole. We descended back to the saddle and then debated which loose gully Roach was referring to in his book that brings you beneath the Keyboard of the Winds. We ended up taking the gully closest to the cliff band, and either that gully or the one closer to the Long's/Pagoda saddle would be fine, as they merge about 2/3 of the way down the gully. Once we got below the Keyboard of the Winds, we angled northeast on talus and were able to rejoin the Keyhole route near where it begins climbing the Trough. It sure felt nice to be on marked trail!
It was pretty windy at the Keyhole, so we plodded along towards Storm Peak. Storm Peak is the furthest rocky outcropping just north of Long's Peak. We descended for a short bit on the east side of the Keyhole before climbing Storm Peak. We were pretty tired at this point, so we took about 15 minutes to get some more calories and down some Powerbars/gels.
We then downclimbed to the Boulder Field and angled for the summit of Lady Washington. The official summit of Lady Washington is the further east of the two summits. We descended eastward towards the Mills Moraine trail junction, picking up the trail about 0.5 miles up from the junction. It felt great to be on solid dirt after lots of talus/scree scrambling!
Battle Mountain is a short scramble from the Mills Moraine trail junction... we used Dan's GPS to confirm that the furthest northeast of several piles of rocks was the actual summit. From there, we saw a helicopter flying overhead, which unbeknownst to us at the time was going to pick up the body of a climber who had fallen 800 feet from Broadway earlier that day :-(
The descent from Battle Mountain to Storm Pass could be described as character building. You basically descend northeast over tundra and then through trees to hit Storm Pass. Dan's GPS kept us on track, and after a slog, we arrived at the pass. The terrain below treeline was not horrible, but there were quite a few fallen trees and other obstacles that made this bushwhacking a challenge. If I had to do this again, I think I might just take the trail from Mills Moraine back to the Eugenia Mine trail junction and hike back up to Estes Cone that way...
From Storm Pass, it's a 700 foot grunt up to the summit of Estes Cone. We were thrilled to have reached the last of our seven summits for the day! We then descended back on the trail, reaching the Long's Peak parking lot around 4:45 pm... 13 hours and 25 minutes after we started. The 50 push-ups were tough, but we were able to knock them out. What a day!
For those that are interested, the GPS output from the Radical Slam is available here:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):