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Prep Hike for Long's Peak

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby ameristrat » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:24 pm

I suppose I should follow my last post with the disclaimer: I've only hiked straight on through - I've never camped along the way for Longs. My point was, if you're worried about time and weather, camp on the boulder field (reserve a spot immediately) so you can get to the keyhole by dawn and have as much time as possible to summit / avoid storms.

Good luck and stay safe!
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. - Rene Daumal

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby SuperiorTrailHiker » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:21 pm

I'd throw a vote in for the Boulderfield. I have been up Longs once via the Keyhole, and I camped at the Boulderfield, mainly to stretch out the experience.

I've seen opinions go far both ways on it, but my personal experience is that it was fun as hell and seems to fit your needs.

Disclaimers - I slept like crap and got woken up at 3:30 AM by some dooder poking my bivy with a stick wondering what kind of "emergency shelter" they had pitched for hikers up here, so you're not going to get a solid eight hours of rack time, but the camping out at that height, in sight of the Keyhole, was totally worth a few lost hours of snoozing.

Also, you're rolling the dice a little, splitting the climb over two days, weather-wise, but I had so much fun up there I always throw my vote in for a overnight at the Boulderfield. I am nowhere near a real mountaineer guy, and have little experience over four trips to CO compared to most others posting here, but in my humble opinion Longs is the real deal and a genuinely beautiful mountain, and the experience on it is definitely enriched by spending some time up there. Since they let you camp on it's shoulder, why not, right on?

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby TallGrass » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:33 am

schrund wrote:Take a stash of water and food and maybe your helmet and axe, and stash them up as far as you intend to "practice" hike. That way the next day on the "real" attempt you have less to carry for the first few miles.
... And take the chance that some Samaritan (or bear) finds it and packs it out on their way down before you get to it. If "being too $%^&# slow" is a factor, then I'll +1 camping in the boulder field or otherwise breaking it up across more than one day -- slower pace requires more time for same distance.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby mountaingoat-G » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:48 pm

Running into bad weather isn't something conditioning will help you with. When I was on Long's, I got lucky with the weather but remembr thinking how $%^&* scary it would be to be coming down that mountain in rain or lightning...
Also, I ran out of water and got a huge headache...
The hike out never seemed to end.

Next time I go, I would like to wing-suit off the Diamond and find someone willing to carry the rest of my gear down for me.

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby madbuck » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:31 pm

mountaingoat-G wrote:Running into bad weather isn't something conditioning will help you with.


I know what you're saying, but conditioning helps maximize chances by minimizing exposure to inclement weather.

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby DaveSwink » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:01 pm

madbuck wrote:
mountaingoat-G wrote:Running into bad weather isn't something conditioning will help you with.


I know what you're saying, but conditioning helps maximize chances by minimizing exposure to inclement weather.


I definitely agree with madbuck on this. You are much less likely to run into thunderstorms if you are back down to the Boulder Field by 10 AM. You need less water if you can do Longs in 8 hours rather than 12 hours too.

That is not to say wingsuits are a bad option. :-D

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby climbingaggie03 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:17 pm

Short jump with a rough landing imo, but to each his own. I know there are some containers out there that have room for gear so you wouldn't need anybody else to carry your gear.

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby bohlsen » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:53 pm

I would not hike the day beforehand. In my experience (I've climbed Longs twice as well as Meeker next door twice on separate trips) you can always get more energy by taking time to rest and bringing enough food and water to recharge. Sure it'll slow you down but it won't keep you from summiting you just have to start earlier (2 AM or possibly earlier isn't unreasonable depending on your pace) to make sure you beat the storms down. What will keep you from summiting is muscle or joint pain (pain not fatigue) from the pounding of a 15 mile hike. That's why I recommend hiking and running as much as possible in the months/weeks leading up to your trip but resting once you get here.
If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby Pennacle » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:58 am

The important point that should be made is you can't acclimate to high altitude in one day by hiking. You are virtually from sea level, so at 14000 feet you are at best getting 60% of the oxygen you are accustomed to. For a significant change in acclimatization you would want to spend closer to a week at higher altitude. If you are only going to be here for a few days, I think your best chance at success is being in better shape this time around, doing the hike over two days -camping at the boulder field, and taking Acetazolamide.

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Re: Prep Hike for Long's Peak

Postby joshmcd » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:06 pm

+1 on running to prepare.

I live in Houston and started hiking 14ers 3 years ago. The first year I did very little training (1 month of elliptical workouts...probably did more harm than good), and I failed at my first attempt of Class 2 La Plata. There were extenuating circumstances there (wife struggled with severe AMS), but I was slow, late, and just completely out of shape.

Last year, I started a more consistent cardio workout routine (combination of spinning, elliptical, and running), but I still didn't really push myself much. I reached a max of 6-ish miles in running (10K distance) in my training over several months and then climbed Longs via Keyhole in one day, the day after arriving in Denver from Houston (no acclimating hike or time). I started at 2:30 AM from the Ranger Station. It was an extremely long and exhausting day, and I had a beautiful weather window. I made it to the Boulderfield by sunrise and then started struggling with the altitude. It took me 5 hours to summit from the Boulderfield. I didn't get back to the Keyhole until 2:30 PM and then back to the car until 5:30 PM. The weather window was perfect, but if the weather were bad, I wouldn't have had a chance.

I then hiked up toward Capitol in a recon attempt after one day of rest and didn't get much further than the gullies on the backside of the Daly/K2 saddle. This was simply because I was exhausted and could tell I still wasn't in proper shape to be climbing these mountains. The altitude didn't bother me as much on Capitol, although my high point was only somewhere around 11,500'. The mileage I clocked that day was more than on Longs. A week later, I summited a 13,300' peak and had no altitude issues.

I continued training via running and returned to CO two months later to run in a 2 day relay and climb Torreys. After those two days, I climbed Torreys via Kelso (much easier climb than Longs), and had the best experience I've ever had on a summit. Even after being tired from running in the relay, my fitness and acclimatization were the best they had ever been.

I'm now actively training for a half-marathon next month, a couple of trips to CO over the summer, and a full marathon in Q4. My training consists fully of running, and I can tell that my fitness level is stronger than it has ever been. I'm looking forward to results over the summer.

Bottom line: make sure you're consistently training (especially when you live in lower altitudes) and you will see better results.

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