Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/09/2012
Date Climbed:   08/08/2012
Author:  SolarAlex

Longs Peak has probably been at the top of my 14er wishlist since i started hiking these mountains last year. I frequently see longs when i drive to boulder. It just looks so huge, much bigger than anything around it. I had always thought longs would be too hard for me...i remember looking at the pictures of the narrows and the ledges when i first joined 14ers last year, and just thinking there would be no way i could get up there. It looked really, really scary. Still, i really hoped that one day i would be able to do it.

The weather forecast for wednesday looked stellar...0% chance of storms and calm winds. Almost seemed too good to be true for early august. I have now done a few class 3 routes and felt that i was up for the challenge on longs. Chase, Annie, Will and I decided to go up and give it a shot. We left Golden at 2:15am, and instantly hit construction on 93. We detoured, picked up will in boulder, and made it to the ranger station around 4. no parking spots, so we ended going about 1/4 mile down the road. After some waffling, we hiked up the road and hit the trail at 430.

The trail through the forest is so mellow and gentle you almost find yourself wishing it would be steeper. no such luck though, as its an easy walk through the woods to treeline. We made it to treeline right as the sun started coming up...not sure what the mountains are to the east of longs, but they made for an awesome sunrise.



Turning back to longs, the alpenglow on the diamond was amazing. I have never seen a face like the diamond in my really dont do justice to how huge it is. The fact that people actually climb this thing blows my mind.

the diamond

Continuing onward, we hit granite pass and looked at the sign that said it was 3.3 miles to the summit of longs. I really wished i hadnt seen that sign. Hiking to the boulderfield was easy going on a great trail. Pretty soon we could see the keyhole and i started getting excited. I was ready for something different after 6 miles of walking.

The keyhole looks so cool from a distance, and it just gets better as you get closer.
We came to the campsites, where we took a quick breather and a couple of us elected to use the solar toilet. We noticed a lady set her pack down, and almost immediately a marmot poked his head out of the rocks. It was comical to watch him creep up to the pack, looking around to see if anyone was paying attention. We called out to the lady and she managed to save her pack. the marmot slunk off to the boulders to wait for his next mark.
i wouldve gotten away with it too if not for you meddling kids!

There is a sign at the keyhole that proclaims the danger of longs, but apparently a lot of people dont take it seriously. Throughout the day, i was blown away by how unprepared people were. Jeans, tennis shoes, wifebeaters, no packs, tiny water bottles etc etc etc. We saw one group below granite pass that had 1 small backpack between 5 people. They were headed up at 430 in the afternoon.
self reliance is essential

I found the hike through the boulderfield to be kind of fun...after reading countless trip reports of people complaining about the endless slog through the boulders, i was expecting it to suck. But there were plenty of cairns and big stable rocks to walk on. Coming up to the keyhole, we stopped to check out the little stone hut.

Coming through the keyhole was one of the more impressive sights ive seen in the mountains. It was just breathtaking. The keyhole is really well really does feel like you are passing through a little keyhole. The huge over hanging piece of rock that forms the keyhole is spectacular.

glacier gorge


So now the real route begins, over the ledges. As we started out, i realized that the ledges were nowhere near as difficult or exposed as pictures had led me to believe. It gets a little narrow in spots, but for the most part its plenty wide. The rock with the metal bars is very easy to get around...i didnt feel like i needed to use the bars. The route finding is extremely easy thanks to the bullseyes. The only real hazard i noticed was the polished rock in some places. I found it slippery in my trail runners, but most of it was avoidable. Pretty soon we were staring up the trough!
most exposed section of ledges


The trough is big, and looks pretty difficult, but once you get going, its very easy. There are bullseyes every 20 feet or so. We all took different paths, with chase and will (rockclimbers) opting to play around on the slab the right side of the trough. I just tried to stay where it was most solid, which was generally 'off route' but id say there is no right or wrong way up the trough. just whatever feels best and gets you to the top.

me and annie in the trough

chase picking a much harder line

The most challenging part of the whole route is at the top of the trough. The chockstone is a big, imposing rock blocking an easy exit. We went around it to the right on a slab, but there is an equally easy way to the left. If you were shorter, i could see it being more difficult, but we all made it up and over no problem.

Next came the dreaded narrows. I fully expected to be scared shitless right here. But, much like the ledges, they really arent that narrow. There are a couple of narrow spots and there is expsoure, but the moves required are little more than walking. I couldnt believe how calm i felt. We walked across, climbed the little wall at the end and we were at the base of the home stretch.

most exposed section of narrows


The home stretch looks impossibly steep and difficult in pictures, but in reality its not bad. There are some very polished sections of rock, which are slippery, but they are avoidable. We worked our way up, generally staying on the left crack. Chase, wearing approach shoes, just walked right up, barely using his hands. I had more trouble in my well worn trail runners, but it was not difficult. When I reached the final 20 feet of the homestretch, i realized that i was about to summit longs peak. I pushed up and over onto the huge summit of longs and felt elated. My goal had been realized.

you really could play football up here

crew relaxing

me and keith richards on the summit block

peering down the diamond (i think)


We summitted in about 6.5 hours from the car, with a 20 minute break in the boulder field. We took our time, since the weather was perfect. We sat on the summit for about 40 minutes, had some food, took some photos, and just relaxed. Walking from one end of the summit to the other takes a surprising amount of time. During the summit block photos, i had my camera and chases in my hands and managed to fumble both of them. Luckily the only damage was to mine, and it was minor.

Coming down was uneventful, just long. The homestretch is easy going, just watch for the polished granite. the hardest move going down is the same as going up: the chockstone at the top of the trough. I went around to the right and was basically able to walk around it, with a biggish step down. Once we came through the keyhole the difficulties were over. We started the slog through the boulderfield (which seemed much longer on the way down), down to granite pass, down to the forest and finally to the ranger station. one last walk down the road to the car and we had made it. 12 hours car to car.

A few random observations/thoughts
- we were the only people wearing helmets. seemed like we didnt really need them, but i prefer to keep my brain intact
-there was a bag of poop on the ledges. several more on the length of trail. Also lots of horse doodoo on the trail in the woods.
-had it rained for 10 minutes, a lot of people would have been in major trouble.
-narrows/ledges are generally wide enough that there can be 2 lanes of traffic
-the last half mile to the ranger station seemed to take a lifetime

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice job!
08/09/2012 18:45
Congrats on a goal accomplished!


Ah memories
08/09/2012 18:51
Nice pictures. You actually have some good beta for people wondering what certain pictures or portions look like, and I think your observations are spot on too.

This reminds me of when I did Longs, and it holds a special place in my heart. Great stuff! Thanks for posting. Why does the trip back down seem to take so much longer?


08/09/2012 19:00
Your report almost echos mine (climed in 2009) The only difference is there was no keyhole sign when I did it and we didn't wear helmets.....but it if were to do it again, I def would wear one... esp through the trough. I too thought the chokestone was the most difficult part of the whole hike. Exposure on longs isn't nearly as bad as people talk it up to be. Great finish!


08/09/2012 19:14
Such a good feeling to finally climb a peak that you've been wanting to for a long time. Great job. Also nice to see that at least a few people are prepared. Thanks.


Great Job!
08/09/2012 20:44
Really good info. Only 11 more months till I make my attempt....sigh


Congratulations on a job well done!
08/09/2012 20:57
Great report on a beloved mountain! Super photos too! Your one at sunrise has the Twin Sisters silhouetted FYI. Nice alpine glow on the Diamond at Chasm Jct too!


So similar!
08/10/2012 04:54
This is insane, you and me have basically had the same experiences haha. I joined and started 14ers last year as well, and I'm planning to do Longs for my 21st this weekend! Congrats on the summit and great weather! Here's to hoping for good weather this weekend!


Longs As Well
08/10/2012 12:04
A group of us plan to do Long's 3 weeks from tomorrow, Labor Day Weekend so your report and photos were very interesting and helpful. We are concerned about the crowds but plan to start by 2:30am. We had debated on helments but we do plan to take and wear them as well. Thanks again and congrats!


Full Parking Lot
08/10/2012 13:39
I've discovered over the years that you should plan on reaching the Ranger Station by 3am. Although on rare occasion a slower day offers a spot later, whenever I've gotten there by or before 3am I've always found a spot - sometimes right in front of the station itself. Good luck!


08/11/2012 00:37
And thanks for the info! As someone who hasn't summited Longs (but feels ready to) the picutres of ledges and narrows look intimidating, but knowing they can accomodate 2 lane traffic makes me feel better about attempting. Thanks for clearing that up and also other misconceptions about the route.


To the East
08/11/2012 16:44
The morning view has Baldpate Mtn(L) Twin Sisters Peak(mid) and Twin Sisters Mtn(R). Always a beautiful view. Nice report! I hadn't seen the Keyhole sign. I guess I need to get up there this year.

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