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Longs Peak Gear Advice

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
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Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby ashlee03 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:48 pm

I'm hiking the Keyhole of Longs Peak this upcoming Saturday with a group of about 4-5. I see that it's probably going to be a little cold (about 40 degrees) so I have a couple of questions since I'm coming from the Kansas City area.

1) How big of a pack do I need? I have a 3 L CamelBak that I usually put extra water bottles and food in with it. I plan on making this a one day climb...not even sure how far treeline is. Will my pack be enough?

2) I haven't climbed this late in the season before, so what kind of clothing would be best? Please don't say warm. If you could even show me examples on REI.com (that's where I get most of my gear), that would be awesome! I was looking at this: http://www.rei.com/product/787088/patagonia-down-sweater-womens and I'm not sure if this would be a good hiking jacket?

3) What kind of pants would be best for this? I have a pair of thin, breathable hiking pants (would putting thermal pants underneath be enough?)


Thanks for any help! I want to go climb that bad boy!!!

Ashlee

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby HikerGuy » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:25 pm

Gear is such a personal thing and usually you must learn what works for you through trial and error. You will probably get a wide response to your questions. That said, assuming nice weather (sunny, but possibly windy)...

1) Little bit confused on the description of your day pack. 3L implies a water bladder that holds 3 liters of water (100 oz), but you mention carrying extra water bottles. So I am not clear on the actual size of your pack. 100 oz. of water could be adequate for the climb (varies widely among hikers). Some people carry a water filter and resupply in the Boulderfield, some get by on much less. This time of year with good weather, you will probably need room in your pack for extra clothing layers (insulating and windbreaking), gloves, hat, and food.

2) Down sweaters pack down small and are great for keeping you warm when you are resting. Down loses its insulation ability when it gets wet from perspiration, typically they are not worn while hiking. Layers are key, that way you can add or remove depending on how hot/cold you are. Maybe two different fleece layers, one light and one medium and a jacket with windblock may be particularly useful.

3) Again, given good weather, normal hiking pants with a base layer should suffice. However, if it is windy, this might not keep you warm and a windproof pant may be more comfortable. However, if you hike warm, sweat a lot, then you may not want to hike in windproof clothing, it's a delicate balance (which explains the biggish pack I carry with multiple clothing options).

The weather forecast looks nice and dry this week (this could change), but there will be snow in the Trough from recent weather (gaiters might be required to keep your feet/boots dry). I would think the Narrows and Homestretch would melt out. Might be some snow and ice on the Ledges. Sometimes you can avoid difficulties (ice patches, etc.) by climbing around them, but microspikes might be reassuring.

Edit: Be prepared (mentally!) to turn around if conditions are not ideal or if you feel that they are exceeding your comfort/ability level. If turned back, hiking to the Keyhole is cool in and of itself and you could also climb Mount Lady Washington as a consolation, the views are pretty damn good from there.
Last edited by HikerGuy on Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:06 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby smoove » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:32 pm

Hi Ashlee. You're not going to want to hear this, but you and your group should probably pick an easier peak this time of year. Winter-like conditions are already hitting Longs. http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/longs_peak_conditions_report.htm

It becomes a "technical" hike/climb in these conditions. Only those with adequate experience, proper gear, and knowledge of how to use that gear (and practice) should be attempting this. With the questions you're asking, it sounds like you're still figuring out the basics (which is good), but I'd recommend experimenting on a much tamer (probably class 1) peak this time of year. I don't mean to sound like a jerk or a nanny, but Longs can be quite an undertaking in ideal conditions (a month ago), and is probably too risky now. Enjoy something easier this trip and come back for Longs next August!

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby ashlee03 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Thanks for the advice, HikerGuy! I meant bottled water in case I need more water and there's no water source to refill. And, YES, HikerGuy! As hard as it is to have to call a climb, you have to know how to play it safe. Mountains have a mind of their own! I've driven to the Rockies (over 10 hrs) and have had to call a climb a few times. It sucks, but nothing compares to your safety!

Smoove - I appreciate your concern, but I've been checking with my group, as well as online conditions, and it shows that the Keyhole has very little ice & snow, but very much avoidable. I just happened to notice the temp may be around 40 degrees, and clothing in the Rockies is the primary thing I'm not accustomed to in terms of how much clothing is too much or too little. But as HikerGuy mentioned, I think it will be trial & error. I'm used to scrambling & climbing in wet conditions, & we've all climbed Class 3s before. We have the gear, experience, and the confidence to have at it, but we're definitely keeping an eye out on the weather & climbing conditions. :)

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby smoove » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:46 pm

Ok, glad to hear you've been researching it. Bear in mind that that's a high of 40 and you'll be hiking in the early morning. That doesn't account for wind either. And it can get awfully windy up there past the Keyhole, even more so the closer it gets to winter. So windproof stuff is obviously important. I'd take extra pairs of socks and gloves if they get wet. I'd even recommend mittens just in case. I'd pack a balaclava too.

Like Hiker Guy said, layering is key with the colder weather. I actually find it more challenging not to get too warm when hiking in the colder months. If you feel warm while moving, you've got a little too much on. If you're sweating, you definitely have too much on. Sweating becomes potentially dangerous. In fact, a spare baselayer is a good idea too if you get it wet from sweat. It's good you guys already have class 3 experience. Clearly, class 3 with ice or even snow on it is a different animal. So hopefully it will be avoidable. I second the microspikes.

Well have fun! I'm sure you guys will turn around if it looks too dicey up there.

Mike

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby JB99 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:31 pm

Not much snow or ice reported online you say? You might check this thread on the front page of this very website: viewtopic.php?t=37830&p=455810#p455810

That said, the other advice shared about layers is good. You'll want to have options. If I was going for a hike in 40 degree weather I'd probably wear my Patagonia R1 pullover as a baselayer and then my shell of choice over that. In my pack I'd bring a small down jacket for breaks and a lighter shirt to throw on in case I break a sweat. If it is a more commiting route like Longs I might bring my heavier down jacket instead of the lighter one so I could get through an unplanned bivy. For my legs I'd probably wear my midweight soft shells, but thermals and hiking pants would likely be fine.

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby samoarob » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:57 am

Safe travels ashlee03, please post photos and tell us how it went.

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby dave_navy_VA » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:33 am

I'm going up with a group next week. They haven't climbed Longs before, or any peak in October with those conditions. Below the waist I told them not to necessarily copy me but if it's 50F to start but heading lower, I'm in softshell, light pants like some exOfficio or arcTs. I may wear but will certainly pack light wool longjohn bottoms. I'll pack a light hardshell top and bottoms.

Agree with all the other comments especially layering and microspikes. RE: footwear, consider something more sturdy than wearing trail runners if you are going to be strapping on spikes.

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby Brian C » Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:42 pm

Brian in the Wild
Lists of John
"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." - Wordsworth

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby SKIBREC » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:38 pm

too late indeed...pick another peak pls
Mike & Gail

There's no such thing as bad weather... just the wrong gear

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Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby ezabielski » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:28 am

ashlee03 wrote:Smoove - I appreciate your concern, but I've been checking with my group, as well as online conditions, and it shows that the Keyhole has very little ice & snow, but very much avoidable. I just happened to notice the temp may be around 40 degrees, and clothing in the Rockies is the primary thing I'm not accustomed to in terms of how much clothing is too much or too little. But as HikerGuy mentioned, I think it will be trial & error. I'm used to scrambling & climbing in wet conditions, & we've all climbed Class 3s before. We have the gear, experience, and the confidence to have at it, but we're definitely keeping an eye out on the weather & climbing conditions. :)



Sorry, but it would be imprudent to expect it to be simply wet.
New peak conditions show quite a bit of snow above treeline. The route beyond the Keyhole receives only indirect sunlight for a few hours per day. Any moisture in this area will be frozen, probably for the whole day. Climbing icy/snowy class 3 is significantly more difficult. There is no doubt that it can be climbed, but from what I can tell about your experience/knowledge, I am going to side with others. Pick a different peak.

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/peakstatus_peak.php?peakparm=15

Re: Longs Peak Gear Advice

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:04 am

Pick another peak

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