|Peak:||Longs Peak (14er)|
|Route:||Loft and Keyhole Routes|
|Posted By:||Michael Underwood|
|Date of Info:||10/23/2013|
Ascended Loft Route and descended via Keyhole Route. Very nice-looking ice forming near Chasm lake. Several feet of loose snow and substantial verglas are present on the ledges where the Loft route diverges from the Loft Couloir to the climber's left. I climbed 4th class rock to avoid as much of this as possible and would not have relished the descent.
The Loft proper and Keplinger's Couloir were very navigable, but the section just past that, where the route leaves Keplinger's Couloir and heads climber's left to join the Keyhole route near the Homestretch was covered in 2-4 ft of loose snow. I had to engage in uncomfortable uphill postholing and some 3rd or 4th class rock scrambling adjacent to significant exposure.
Because of the steep, loose snow, I decided to forgo the Homestretch and environs, making immediate descent via the Narrows and Trough, which were full of 2-4 ft deep loose snow. The snow was quite steep in the Narrows, requiring effort to wade and step through. In the Trough, lots of shallow snow concealed steep rock, making for tremendous slip potential. Descent was very slow and deliberate.
The Ledges were covered in the same loose and relatively deep snow, though certain sections were bare rock or shallow snow, which was a pleasant change of pace. Descent into the Boulderfield after the Keyhole was a little snowy, but not much of a problem. All in all, the snow is loose enough on both routes at the moment to render crampons superfluous and trekking poles a rather better option than an ax. Solid gaiters were a necessity.