Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  06/16/2012
Modified:  06/17/2012
Date Climbed:   06/16/2012
Author:  zephyr_pelicante
 Fourteenth Fourteener - Longs Peak Keyhole  

Why this peak?

This peak was climbed by my Dad and I for several different reasons.
1. It is my 14th 14er.
2. My birthday
3. Father's Day (close enough)
4. My first venture into class III climbing.

I had wanted to do Long's for a while now, and when Dad called to see what we could do when we met up this weekend, I jokingly spurted out "Long's Peak"

I was kidding of course, because I had no prior experience with class III climbing and I had planned to do many more class II's, and wait until later in the year, before I attempted Long's. However, when Dad replied "Okay, lets do it" I begun to sincerely consider it.

Throughout the week I pondered the opportunity and researched the route. It dawned on me that my next 14er would be my 14th. How cool would it be if that were Long's peak? So I called back and made it a plan, and continued to watch countless youtube videos and read trip reports on the peak.

In summary: We did it

We hiked the peak, and the whole time, the thought constantly pressing on my mind was that it is not as scary as it looks on the internet.

The hike to the keyhole

We started at 2AM after leaving FOCO at 12:30AM. The hike up to the keyhole was a well-maintained easy route. It was dark except for the beautiful view of the expansive array of the lights over the front range. We'd also see an occasional cluster of headlamps above or below us.


We got to the boulderfield around sunrise.
Boulderfield and Keyhole

There was actually a trail about half way though the boulderfield. We crossed about 5 tents and a restroom, then followed the cairns to the keyhole.

The Ledges

The beginning part of the ledges has a part where there is rebar put into the rocks, which helps getting up this section. The rest of the ledges are simply class II climbing done next to a cliff. The ledges were entirely snow free.
The ledges

The Trough

The Trough had a little bit of snow, but it can almost entirely be avoided by hiking to the left. If you're a taller person, the crux move at the top of the trough can be also circumvented by hiking to the left. The portion you see right as you pass through the keyhole with a ton of snow is not the same part you hike on (you hike higher). I was a bit out of breath at the top of the trough just because it's so much quick elevation gain.
The trough (hike to left of snow)

The Narrows

The Narrows are completely snow free. It is not as scary as in the pictures. The most narrow part is at least 3 feet wide with good handholds most of the time if you need them.
The Narrows

The Narrows

The Homestretch

The Homestretch has a bit of ice near the top. Finding a route around the ice is easy going up, and a little more difficult going down. I came down on my back like a spider and felt comfortable. We had a reality check when a member of another group accident lost grip of a nalgene, which instantly bounced off the rocks a thousand feet down the mountain.

The Summit

Longs has my favorite view of any 14er. The peak was surrounded by clouds, so we were in the sky above the clouds, we even saw an airplane fly by below us. As you know, you can see Longs from almost anywhere on the front range form Fort Collins to Denver. It has visibility for hundreds of miles. We had a brief ~5mins time with the summit all to ourselves before we were joined by a couple in their 20's. I understand this is rather sparse for the Long's peak summit.
Clouds as seen from summit

Longs peak

This was an incredible climb with a more interesting route than any 14er I've done so far. The route from the keyhole to the summit was breathtaking and rewarding. I can see why people go back to hike Longs again and again. This is not only a peak that I am willing to repeat, but one I plan to and look forward to doing again.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great Job!
06/17/2012 02:32
Nice story, nice pictures and a nice climb!

Happy Father's Day!


KSU Wildcat

Great gift!
06/17/2012 04:18
Glad you had a great climb. I'll bet your Dad enjoyed his Father's Day gift!!


06/17/2012 14:41
on your accomplishment and thanks much for the great TR. Looking to hit up Longs in a month or so for my first class 3! Sounds like it'll be open for business for most climbers soon (I'm assuming some people (like me) still have concerns about the ice on the homestretch).


Good Beta!
06/17/2012 17:47
Congrats! Good job! Great photos! Makes for good beta for anyone going up that route this week - way to go! PS - Was it exhausting? the 13.5 Mi RT trek for Harvard yesterday was very L O N G and tiring, and thought about what it would be like to add more mileage i.e. doing Longs It reconfirmed the advantages of making it a two-day trip i.e. camping overnight at the Boulder Field.


Re:Good Beta!
06/17/2012 19:03
I did the 15 mile Harvard to Columbia traverse from North Cottonwood TH last weekend, Longs is comparable to that. I'd highly recommend the H-C traverse to anyone who wants to prepare for Longs.

Camping at the boulderfield looks fun provided the weather is good. You'll just have to consider whether the decreased distance will be worth dealing with sleeping in a tent and the extra weight carrying it down. On the bright side you'll be able to summit pretty quickly (~2hr) from the boulderfield.

You'll be happy to see the trailhead when you finish, but if you've done Harvard then you're ready. We went on no sleep and weren't too tired, but after we drove down the road to Estes and our adrenaline subsided we started to get tired and hungry

I highly recommend climbing longs though. The climb has so much character and is really enjoyable.

Good luck!


06/17/2012 19:50
... on doing Longs! Yes! It is a fantastic climb, and it never gets old! I try to hit it now 1-2 times every year. Cool picture of the clouds below (#7). Thanks for posting!


Wildfire issues?
06/18/2012 15:26
I noticed you did not mention anything about the wildfire. My friends and I are climbing Sunday, July 1st and we had some concerns. Any issues with smoke? Anything else? Any info would be greatly appreciate. Thanks in advance.


06/19/2012 01:31
Hey. No problem with the fire. We definitely saw it far to the north as sort of a darker layer across the atmosphere. The wind had spread it out so much that it covered all of northern CO as seen from Longs but was not very concentrated in any one location.

Rest assured though that it is far away from the peak. As a (temporary) FOCO resident I was happy to read that it was almost half contained this morning. Hopefully they'll have this beast contained by July!


Congrats and good report.
06/20/2012 00:03
Good report, thanks for the beta. How long was your round trip? How would you compare the difficulty of scrambling with Sawtooth to Evans (if you've done it)?

If I bag it this weekend, it will be my 14th 14er in the Rockies (not counting duplicates). I've been concerned about the ice, so relieved to hear it's pretty avoidable. Thanks and congrats. Happy belated bday, too.


Check this out:
06/20/2012 00:38
From what I heard the sawtooth is roughly comparable to longs.

Our round trip was 10.5 hr, and we were purposefully dragging on the way up so we'd wouldn't be doing the tricky stuff in the dark.

I've seen videos of the sawtooth and it looked about the same. If it's your 14th 14er and you've done the sawtooth I'm sure you will be fine. Seriously don't worry about the ice, it's all avoidable. Longs is all around much easier than it looks (not to mention really enjoyable). In contrast to the status quo I loved the trough, in fact I loved every bit of it.

I plan to do the sawtooth and Bierstadt's east ridge (also class III) on July 4th (or maybe that weekend) If you do end up doing longs shoot me a PM and let me know how the two compare.

Longs is truly an excellent peak to make your 14th. Good luck.


06/21/2012 03:29
Yikes, the Home Stretch looks insanely steep, but you say it is not so bad?


06/21/2012 03:36
Sure, it's the steepest part, and I was being pretty careful on the descent (like I said: I got a reality check when another hiker's loose nalgene with flying down 1000 ft) but it's not too bad.

It looks like you've done 31 peaks including Wetterhorn and the entire sawatch range. I'm certain you'll have no problem provided you're in good enough shape.


Very nice!
08/26/2012 18:44
Did the Sawtooth via the Bierstadt standard route, then over to Evans and down the descent gully between Bierstadt and Spalding earlier this year. Also did Longs by the Keyhole route a couple days ago.

There is more route finding on the ridge approaching the crossover before the actual sawtooth, much less elevation gain and mileage. I'd say the Class 3 on the Sawtooth is a bit shorter but more intense without the obvious route markers. Less draining overall with the shorter distance and more than 1000 feet less elevation gain. Highly recommended. Based on your experience with Longs, you'll love it as well.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.