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Route #5) Longs Peak - Keplinger`s Couloir

Difficulty:  Class 3 
Summit Elevation: 14,255 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 8,400 feet
Elevation Gain:5,900 feet
Round-trip Length: 16 miles
Trailhead: Copeland Lake
USGS Quad.: Longs Peak
County Sheriff: Boulder: 303-441-3600
County Sheriff: Larimer: 970-498-5100
National Park:  Rocky Mountain
Author: Brad Snider
Last Updated: 8/2009
TH:  From the south, follow CO 7 for 2.1 miles past Allenspark. From the north, follow CO 7 for 1.1 mile past Meeker Park. There is a sign for Wild Basin along Colorado 7. Turn west here onto CR-84W and Follow this road for 0.4 mile. Take a slight right at CR-115 (Wild Basin Road). Copeland Lake is immediately on the right, with a year-round parking area and a sign announcing Sandbeach Lake Trail. This is the trailhead.

Route: From the trailhead, follow the Sandbeach Lake Trail almost all the way to Sandbeach Lake, and turn north (right) off the trail about 0.1 mile before reaching the lake. It is close to four miles of easy hiking to this point.

After leaving the trail, bushwhack northwest through the heavy timber, eventually crossing Hunter Creek at about 11,000 feet. A good GPS is highly recommended for this section of the approach. Along the way, enjoy great views of Mount Meeker and it's Dragon Tail Couloir. Eventually Pagoda Mountain (Photo #1), then Longs Peak will come into view.

From the hiking trail, it is about 1.6 miles of bushwhacking to reach timberline. Nearby is an unnamed lake, at 11,200 feet. From here, continue straight uphill into the basin (Photo #2).

Ahead, Keplinger's Couloir is readily visible as the westernmost (farthest left) couloir, splitting Longs' south face (Photo #3 and Photo #4).

Climbing the couloir is straight-forward, and at its very steepest it may reach 45 degrees. The couloir stretches from 12,000 feet to 13,600 feet (Photo #5, Photo #6, Photo #7 and Photo #8). Nearing the top, the climber will be immediately to the left of the Palisades and Southeast Longs (Photo #9 and Photo #14).

At the top of the couloir, turn left (west), onto the ledge or snow-shelf. This section can range from a talus walk-up in summer to steep snow slopes exceeding 50 degrees in the winter (Photo #10 and Photo #11). This ramp eventually leads to the Homestretch (Photo #12), where yellow and red bullseyes are painted on the rocks, for the final push to the summit (Photo #13 and Photo #15).

Notes:    None

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Route Photos: (Did you know?)
Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11 Photo #12 Photo #13 Photo #14 Photo #15

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