Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  07/23/2012
Date Climbed:   07/22/2012
Author:  zephyr_pelicante
 If one weekend could encapsulate why I love Colorado...  


Wow, what an incredible weekend and time in the mountains! I got to climb 2 of the longest, and most beautiful mountains in the state.

I met some new friends, and climbed with some old friends. I went with some first time-ers, and climbed with some veterans. I climbed a familiar mountain, and claimed a brand new one. I did some hiking, and also got my first taste of what running on a 14er is really like.

This weekend certainly held a wide spectrum of the different experiences to be had on these peaks, and well encapsulates why I spend my weekends "getting high"

Note: These 2 peaks are my first time without a pack (using a running belt)

Day 1: Longs Peak

Start Time: 2:45am
End Time: 1:10pm
Total Time: 10hr 25min (including 1 hr break @ keyhole, 2 hr break @ summit)
Distance: 15mi
Elevation Gain: 5100'

Our group was 7 interns from work and a rival firm. We are all in early to mid 20's. Two of us (Arjun and I) had climbed Longs before.

Arjun, Boris, Nikhil, and I made it to the keyhole in 3 hours, where we waited for the other 3: Jack, Peter, and Brian. We split up into 2 groups at this point.

Keyhole: one of the best sunrise locations in the state

It took us about an hour and a half to summit. Boris and I took a class IV variation on the left of the trough that I had been eyeing in the past. This time we followed it to it's logical end then went back right to the "crux" move.

Peter, Nikhil, Boris, Jack, Brian, Arjun, and I

On a July weekend, Longs is certainly an ant farm. Probably 300+ people on the mountain Saturday. On descent, Arjun, Boris, and I passed about 50 just on the homestretch and the narrows because we stayed to the right of the bulls eyes above the narrows. The climbing is a bit more difficult but you can get around people, this easily saved 30min.

Interestingly, Boris and I were able to avoid the section with the bolts in the rocks on the ledges. We went above it, and while I don't recommend going off trail it was a cool detour.

Since I had my running shoes, I ran about the last 3 miles of descent. From the 0.5 mi to the TH it took me just under 3 minutes: the closest I've ever come to a 6 minute mile.

Day 2: Mount of the Holy Cross

Start Time: 5:30am
End Time: 12:43pm
Total Time: 7hr 13min
Distance: 13mi
Elevation Gain: 5400'

This was a 3 person hike with some fast guys: Craig, Phillip, and me. Craig is my go-to 14er buddy, we've done many peaks together and will continue to do more. Phillip is a new friend who is well experienced, recently having done Pyramid Peak.

We did the loop with halo ridge and all the 13ers, and it is highly recommended.

We started with about a 3 mi pace, and made it to the top of the ridge near the shelter in about 2 hr.

Phillip (right) and I

Trail emerging from treeline

20-30 switchbacks on a very well made trail

The structure on the hill is very well-built and neat to see on the hill from other parts of the ridge. I don't know if it is open in the winter but would offer a great camping spot.

We then proceeded to knock out the three 13ers on the ridge, enjoying the boulder hopping and grassy plateaus. There were some interesting rock formations around the ridge that were overhanging.

What an amazing well-built structure.

First 13er on ridge

Phillip heading toward second 13er

Second 13er on ridge

Final 13er on ridge

MHC from final 13er.

Craig on top of rock face.

The great thing about these boulders, is that there were plenty of bowl-shaped ones with rain water from the day before to drink out of. I only brought about a liter of water, so it was nice to be able to suck down a little extra for good measure.

On the top, Craig and Phillip finished their 18th 14er and I my 19th. Phillip was wise enough to have brought a which wich bag to the top, a decision we would later be very thankful for!

The descent was also done via the standard route on a well made trail. It was a typical 14er staircase, with some orange and yellow plastic flairs as well as cairns to show the way.

Once you drop into the forest, you'll soon encounter a large river, after which there is another 1000' of elevation gain and 3 miles back to the trailhead. This is where I decided to start jogging, and it took me 43 minutes to reach the trailhead from here. (14 minute miles)


Elevation gain on return on standard route

Craig and Phillip arrived soon after, clocking in at 7hr 34min.

The other 2 had brought a copy of the Roach book I've heard so much about, and it certainly helped kill time during the stop-and-go traffic on eastbound I-70. After painful delays we got into Golden at 4:40 pm and enjoyed a free sandwich.

This weekend I was able to get a good taste of some of the greatest parts of the state, with some awesome people. After a deep and needed night of sleep, I experienced a flow of lucid dreaming detailing all the great things I have to live for. I can't wait for what the mountains hold next time!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Starting on the 13ers, huh?
07/23/2012 16:19
You're screwed. Feed the addiction.


2 of my favorites!
07/23/2012 19:00
Those are 2 of my all-time favorites! Beautiful climbs, but both pretty exhausting! Would love to repeat MHC again someday! Thanks for sharing!


07/23/2012 19:11
colby how many times have you climbed longs this month now? haha

nice job man


07/24/2012 01:00
Different groups of people want to do it so I keep accompanying them. It's totally worth the repeat to see the look on people's face when they first look through the keyhole!!

Good job on Capitol btw! You've really been crankin' em out this summer!

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