Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  01/23/2013
Modified:  01/26/2013
Date Climbed:   01/19/2013
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   Stone_man, kushrocks, letsgocu, moon stalker, USAKeller, sdkeil
 Longs North Face / Cables Route  

Longs Peak

Mileage: 12.54
Elevation Gain: 5,154'
Route: North Face / Cables Route
Time: 16:20
Beta: Dancesatmoonrise TR & Mountain Project

All good trips start out full of promise and expectations. We were excited for the possibility of climbing the Cables Route in January during a low snow year. The photos/beta looked great, we discussed gear and racks and meeting times, etc. A plethora of emails were exchanged in the week leading up to the climb. Then the night before came and somehow we had to get some sleep, despite how excited we all were. We knew it would be a long day. 7 people on a climb like this, will take a while, a long while.

3am came quickly. I readied my gear, boiled my water, made hot cocoa and coffee, got in my car and started driving to the rendezvous point... hmm where exactly is it? Since our group was coming from all over Denver and Boulder, it was decided to meet in North Boulder, at the Bustop Gentleman's Club. Yep. Thankfully it's a long running joke in Boulder, so I knew roughly where it was on Broadway, but not exactly. Here's some beta: typing "Bus stop" into iPhone maps feature in Boulder will not get you to the Bustop (one s). As the night was still young, for some, the place was still hopping. It felt weird to be hanging out in the parking lot, waiting for the rest of the crew to show up, dressed in climbing gear, and discussing nuts and ice screws... Too many jokes, too little time!

The guys discussing their racks, outside the Bustop... guess who chose this meetup location?! Not I!

Once finally at the trail head, gear was divided up, and we started up the well packed trail (microspikes are useful). Ryan set a blistering pace and eventually we had to have Shawn set a more humane one. Since otherwise, we'd all be down to base-layers in a few more miles! Oh the exposure! The miles ticked by and we found the Rocky Mountain rescue short-cut, to get rid of one annoying switchback. Once beyond that, we were above treeline, and we could see the glowing lights of the Front Range below. The sun quickly followed us up, and I ran to get a good vantage point of the Diamond for sunrise.

Sunrise on the Diamond

The team coming up the trail, sunrise behind

I remember the trail up to the boulder field being long, but the good company made the time go by quickly, maybe a bit too much so! We took a nice break below the pass, as we knew it would get windy once above it. Above the pass, the approach just kept going, it seemed like the peak wasn't getting much closer. Eventually as we got closer to the route, we could see a group of 3 in the middle of the climb. They were making good progress, so we wouldn't have to wait on them.

The Mummies

Ahhh, Longs North Face!

Still more boulder field to go...

Brian Crim's crew on the route

The apron below the route has a bit of snow, and during the climb up, I kinda wish I had my axe or crampons on, but it is doable without. For the last push up to the belay station, some did get out the spikes and points, since the snow was pretty hard packed. I certainly didn't want to fall here!

Shawn coming up the slope

Kyle and Joe traversing the snow to the base of the climb

The fun class 4 crack to the base of the climb

Looking back down the approach

Kelly using her tools to come up the rock

There is a nice ledge to the west of the belay station, that served as our gearing up zone. Joe got ready quickly and headed over to the base, to build the anchor. As he was starting up the route, the group of 3 we had seen before, showed up. Thankfully from our ledge, we could communicate with them, that there was a climber on the way up. They waited until Joe got to the top and then rapped down to get out of our way. It turned out it was BrianC! Small world on the Cables Route today.

The gals in silhouette

Joe leading the route

Joe just past the first crux

Joe using his ice tool, guess there is some ice!

With one rope up, Shawn followed on Kyle's bright orange new rope, and unclipped as he went. Then Kyle did a sport climb to bring up Joe's old crappy rope for the rest of us to abuse with ascenders. Standing there waiting for Kyle to climb up, my toes got rather cold as I was belaying. So I had to shake them as best as possible to keep them from freezing, since I would not have that opportunity while climbing. I then got the task to clean the route of gear, to finalize the fixed rope. I'm glad that my climbing mentors have had me second them so much, so I've had plenty of practice taking gear out. Thanks Bethany and Ben (ie B(3))!!!

Up to this point, I had never done any aid climbing, so my ascender was new, and while I understand the physics of how it works, I wasn't quite about to trust it completely. (Yes I did test my weight at the start) So I treated the climb like a lead one, and used my mantra of "don't fall", that I use while climbing in general. Yes, I know, falling is a part of this sport, and it can make you a better lead climber. Well, I'll fall another day, in a "safer" environment! It made the climb a bit more difficult with this mindset, but it also showed that I could lead this pitch, eventually (and definitely with experienced partner(s)). I'm not there yet, I have a lot more learning to go before I would feel confident to lead a group. Since knowledge and skills do not equate to experience. In that, I feel I know just enough to be dangerous, and I need to be careful in what I am willing to do. There are plenty of situations I have not seen, and in that I need to be aware of my own knowledge gaps. All that is needed is time and more learning experiences.

There is some ice along the route, which requires an ice tool and crampons, but not enough to be an easy ice climb. Plenty of places where you have to "spread your legs and trust your points". I found that it was too difficult to remove gear with my mittens on, and had to remove them each time. I wish I had brought my ice climbing gloves, as my liners were not enough to keep me warm, my hands were frozen by the top. I also need to work on removing gear with my left hand, as I had to constantly remove my leash from my axed right hand to get gear out. When I got to the top of the route I noticed a bit of a twinge in my right wrist, like I had banged it against a rock and bruised it. Now I know that I managed to inflame the tendons (hopefully minor), as there is swelling without bruising. I think over gripping my axe without the leash for support, may be what injured my right forearm.

The rest of the crew used their ascenders on the fixed rope to get to the top. One of these days, I'll have to try this aid climbing thing again. Maybe it will go smoother when it's not so bloody cold! With 7 people on the rope/climb, it took a long time to complete, and we all went as fast as we could, but not fast enough to stay warm in the shade and wind. I felt bad for the team of 3 who had to wait on us to get up the route. Especially when we later learned that it was Jim, the guy who holds the record for ascents on Longs, with 399 on this day! May # 400 be much faster!

At the belay station

Shawn seconding Joe, taking up the first rope

Kyle lead sport climbing, taking up the second old rope - Photo Credit: Caroline

Me belaying Kyle - Photo Credit: Caroline

Me using my beloved Grivel Rambo ice tool, cleaning the route - Photo Credit: Caroline

The first crux, and first bolt

Some ice, mostly friable crap to send down on your team/belayer. Beware!

Ryan follwing me up, on ascender

A view down the face

Once above the top anchor, the route to the summit is mostly snow free, otherwise barely ankle deep. It was nice to get to the summit where my feet could finally warm up in the sun. I really hate getting screaming barfies in my toes, but they don't make boots my size, and I didn't want to hike in my clunker size and half too big Koflach's! I may have to look into getting some of those fancy battery operated toe warmers that Kelly has. She had warm feet, I did not.

The route up the remainder of the face

The view from the North Face of Longs

We hung out on the summit for only a short time, as it was getting really late, and we all were exhausted. Longs just seems to have a way of taking it out of you! We snapped some pics of Jim's 399'th ascent, and headed down.

Pano to the north

Jim had set up a rap above our anchor, and so we graciously utilized it to get down the snowy steep section above our rap station. Since it was a very thin rope, I did a backup fireman on Caroline's first ever rap. It definitely contrasted with the next rap, as Joe's rope was almost too big for the alpine ATC I had brought. I had to forcibly shove the rope through the device to get down to the base. At least I knew I wasn't going anywhere! Though I did another light fireman on Caroline, just in case.

Ryan on the rap

Me rappelling - Photo Credit: Caroline

Caroline on rappel

Caroline rappelling

Shadow of Longs behind Ryan

Sunset from up high

Jaw dropping exposure by the Diamond

The sun set as we took off our points and got out the microspikes again. It was quite beautiful to have watched sunset from so high up on Longs. Unfortunately the price you then pay, is going through the boulder field in the dark. Thankfully the moon rose and lit up the rest of our descent below granite pass. Finding our short cut route proved a bit time consuming, and taking the trail may have been faster than the wallowing we ended up doing. Once back on the trail it was a peaceful moonlit stroll through the trees, to get back to the trail head incredibly late. A very long day on Longs, but a fulfilling one for most!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

 Comments or Questions
I Man

Way Cool!
01/23/2013 20:52
Nice to see the team out and about on a fun and challenging route!

It was great to run into you guys on Huron...hopefully it will happen again. You guys will be in good shape if you keep this training schedule up

Thanks for writing, O!


oooooh man
01/23/2013 21:10
what a crew! AWESOME job gang.


01/23/2013 21:41
I'm just going to go ahead and assume the night concluded with lap dances at the Bustop. Nice work to Otina and the Denali crew. The photos and descriptions of the route are some of the best out there -- invaluable beta. Thanks, Otina!


Super job, people!
01/23/2013 22:30
... and beautiful photography as usual, Otina! Yes, a LONG(s) day for sure. Thanks for posting!


Awesome Work
01/23/2013 23:11
I was waiting for someone to put a TR together on this climb, thanks Otina. Awesome work to the entire crew!

Brian C

Good to see you all!
01/23/2013 23:52
It's a small world out there! Glad that you all made it and nice work getting such a large group up and down safely.

”All that is needed is time and more learning experiences.”
Too bad there aren't more people out there such a humble attitude! You have way more experience than many others that I've seen out in the hills. As Harvey Carter once said, ”The more 'good fights' a climber has had, the richer he becomes.”

Great report!


01/24/2013 00:14
Congrats and thanks for sharing - love the pictures!


01/24/2013 01:01
Great TR worth posting. How long was that rappell?


Hot Damn
01/24/2013 01:06
Great report and awesome climb. Looks like you've got a great team dynamic for Denali!


Rappel length
01/24/2013 01:22
From the top of the technical climb to the bottom of technical climb we used a 60m double rope rappel. That does not include the short class 3/4 section above the technical section, which Otina talked about us rapping on a single line that the other group provided nor does it get you down the class 3/4 section leading up to the technical section. We down climbed that off rope. There was maybe 5m to spare for the rappel.


Incredible trip report and photos
01/24/2013 02:27
Great job by the whole crew. The last 3 photos are masterpieces. Thanks for sharing the journey. 5 stars!


01/24/2013 03:23
Good info. What did you use for anchor on rappel? Retrievable or a Fixed?


Eye bolt
01/24/2013 03:57
We used one of the old ”Cable's Route” eye bolts. We ran the rope through and were able to pull it down after the rappel.

Good stuff
01/24/2013 04:06
Enjoyed the report and insightful comments. Good job to you and the team. Hard to imagine Jim D is still at it, I've crossed paths with him over the years. Great report!

Great TR....
01/24/2013 16:36
As always Otina, you reports are very useful and the pictures are fantastic.

Congratulations everyone!


Thanks everyone!
01/24/2013 21:10
I'm glad our crew could get some more beta for future trips! It's the main reason I put this up, so soon after Dances' TR.

SurfNTurf - You may assume, but you may not be correct! Have fun when you take this route!

Brian C - Thanks, I guess I've just heard too many stories of accidents happening with newer climbers, that I want to be conscious of all those tiny mistakes that can happen. That, and I have a 'healthy' fear of heights. I'm happy to take the slow journeyman approach to climbing.

Brian C

The slow approach...
01/24/2013 21:40 the way to go. It took me years to push up my level into technical stuff. I learn new things all the time. Like I said, it's too bad more people don't have that approach. Climb on!


Gentlemen's Club
01/24/2013 22:53
Always a fine location for a pre-dawn meetup. Just in time for the Ladies Open Stage night.


01/25/2013 02:34
Bean - Certainly, 7 is not ideal. But 7 are going to Denali (I'm not one of them). Guessing 2 rope teams. The temperatures and difficulties we saw on Sat, will be nothing of what they will experience in Alaska. From my winter mountaineering experiences up there, a team that doesn't climb hard things together and work through communication and other technical issues, is not going to have much success.

And yes, poor Rambo got scratched. Wish there was more ice!

I believe that jugging was utilized to speed up the climb by so many, and as a backup. I think everyone there could have climbed it in a traditional TR manner.

It took us about 3 hours from when we got to the base to the top. So my guess is we held them up for 1-1.5 hours, since they arrived when about half our group was already on top. But that's the risk you take when you are on a popular route. We had to wait for Brian's group to rap down, so that also took a little time as well.


01/25/2013 03:23
^ that's too funny! score!

EDIT: ps, congrats to the group on Longs!


Patient group
01/25/2013 16:44
Bean, I'm glad that we didn't run into an inpatient group then, since Jim's team was very good natured, friendly, and seemed more concerned that we did everything safely, than our speed (which really wasn't all that slow). I had a nice talk with Lisa, their lead climber, while our groups were rapping the route. She started the route next to the cables, but didn't bring enough gear. I guess that's what happens when you do this route so many times, you only bring what you need!

Natalie - There was NO ice being kicked on the belayer. It was noted for future groups. Nothing like huge rocks coming down gullies in summer...


01/25/2013 18:03
I agree with Brian that it's nice to see humility in your report. You acknowledge that there is room for improvement, but the ability to see that should be the starting point for everyone in the hills. Good luck to the Denali crew.


01/25/2013 18:12
Shhheeeit! I am not even worthy enough to read...

Brian C

Why all the criticism?
01/25/2013 19:20
I really don't see anything wrong with heading out in a group to try and push limits as long as it's in safe manner. I see people ”guiding” people in Eldo often when they are belaying incorrectly on a multi-pitch routes or belaying off of very poor anchors. Very different than having several more experienced members leading those with less experience under a watchful eye. It is common in the summer to see trip reports go by where people make potentially life-threatening decisions (i.e. heading up into a storm, overestimation of ability, epics) and nobody says anything negative to them. I just don't quite understand why Bean and Natalie chose this one to openly criticize. I agree that a party of 7 is a bit much and I raised an eyebrow when I saw them heading up behind us, but I am not in a position to chastise them about it. Am I missing something?


No snow blues?
01/25/2013 19:51
Not sure why all the criticism either, as I've certainly read my fair share of bad TR's where the person didn't even realize how dangerous they were being, dropping packs/Avy gear during the climb/ski etc. But I'm glad I've gone through far worse criticism during my PhD prelim/Comp exams! Maybe my humility was seen as an opening for attack.

The reality is this: I wrote the report as beta for future climbs (which I knew would be happening soon by friends). I pointed out some issues that I had, or that I noted, so that future groups would #1 think about group size, speed, gear etc, as well as #2 not make the same mistakes (like having better boots/gloves for climbing)

Our group was prepared for the wait. Had their ”Denali” puffies at the ready. We were safe, didn't do anything that we weren't prepared to do. Sure, it was a learning experience. But unless you're on par with Steve Gladbach, I don't think there are many in this community that can truly be without criticism of themselves either. We all need to look in the mirror and realize we don't know everything.


Nice job, my friends.
01/25/2013 21:19
Otina, you have my respect and admiration, and you need not defend yourself to ANYONE on this site. Between the 7 of you, there is an unbelievable amount of experience, competence and good judgement. Congrats on tackling that route and getting it done safely.


01/25/2013 23:30
Ditto Keith's comments. Again, I am in awe.

frizzle fry!!
01/26/2013 01:10
cant do anything about the naysayers Otina...this was a great report and sounds like a good trip outing for ALL! photography is topnotch as well. its not up to others who weren't there or directly involved to judge who and who cant go have fun in the mountains, nor even define what fun is for each individual. Pay the naysayers no mind. Just keep on doing what you love and worry about yourself, not what a few negative nancies have to say about it.
enjoyable read!


The one after image 10
01/26/2013 02:59
That's hot.

Oh, Kelly, nice tools! : )

Nice to see that Joe felt the need to protect this as well.

Don't fall? Consider the Kevin McLaughlin approach: ”Don't test the system!”

Yes, Otina, one needs to be extremely careful about injuries in the cold. It is so much easier to injure an extremity in a cold enironment.

Beautiful photodocumentation of the route. You succeeded where I failed. A personal thank you, as well as one on behalf of the climbing community!

Images 29 & 30: Our favorite badass girl does it all!

But wait, no moonlight descent shots??? : )

Thanks for sharing a fun trip and a great report!

BTW - we're all 14ists, Can't avoid politics. I'll weigh in. I'm proud of you guys, knowing the risks and inherent difficulties of trying to get seven folks through the bottleneck of a one-pitch alpine technical route, and getting it safely and successfully. My hat is off to all of you!


no, bean
01/26/2013 05:46
We're friends.


01/26/2013 13:46
If Bean is entitled to his opinion, and if nkan02 is entitled to her opinion, I guess that leaves no room for Monster5 to voice his opinion? That's not right.

We all have our opinions. And there have been a few ”angry pushbacks” coming from both sides.

But whatever we do, do NOT question the skiers and their ethics. Do NOT voice your opinion in opposition of a skier.

Ethics were questioned. When we question someone's ethics, we should look at our own as well. I'm NOT excluded from this statement.

I understand both sides of the argument in these comments. But, if the group of 7 decided to split into smaller groups, would there not still be a log jam waiting to get on the crux pitch?


01/27/2013 01:04
The Flame War Ends Now!

Take it to pm or elsewhere, Not on my TR. No more personal attacks! I posses a copy of all comments for posterity, in case you edit. Consider deletion of offensive comments


Lost and Found
01/27/2013 02:56
Did anybody in your posse lose an FRS radio? Found one on the route today. Don't call me Radio, Unit 91.


01/27/2013 05:13


01/28/2013 22:42
Deleted. I liked the report


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03/25/2013 16:06


sixteen hours???
04/02/2015 19:45
in winter? Ouch. I would have been frozen solid. You are probably ready for Denali now


I tend to agree with Bean
04/02/2015 19:45
The main takeaway from the Dances report (at least to me) was that a party larger than 3 probably should not be on that route in winter. The risk is hypothermia. We were a party of two, moving pretty quickly and I was COLD. I was very thankful we did not have 3rd person (as when we did the route in summer, which was fine) to worry about.
I am disappointed to see that an experienced climber like Otina (and the crew) decided to go in such a big group. You would have enjoyed the climb much, much more if you split your group in 2-3 smaller ones. You would have cut down time you've spent on a mountain by a third or more.

p.s. Feel bad for the other party too that was held up by your group.
p.p.s. Kicking ice on your belayer? I did not think there was enough ice to begin with. ouch. Very gaper report, sorry.

EDIT: I was referring to the footnote in Image #22: ”Some ice, mostly friable crap to send down on your team/belayer. Beware!”
Glad to hear that at least you did not make that mistake.


04/02/2015 19:45
turned into a Monster... You know what? It seems like nobody on this forum can express a personal opinion without an angry pushback. As a non-skier, criticizing someone's ski style is a low blow. Bean skied the North Face if you didn't catch that part. And is entitled to his opinion. And so am I. And there is NO elitism. Just didn't see any helpfulness in stating the obvious.

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