Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  07/29/2013
Date Climbed:   05/26/2013
Author:  moneymike
 Why everyone should include a scorpion on his list of essential backcountry gear   

The morning of Saturday, May 25, I dropped the dogs off at my good friend Mary’s house in Denver. Mary treated me to brunch and then I was on my way.

I arrived at the sand beach lake trailhead and began hiking in just after 4 p.m. The starting elevation was 8300’. Snow began just above 9000’ and about three miles into the hike I stashed my hiking boots in a tree and began to skin.

I followed snowshoe tracks for a bit, but when the tracks left the trail, I left the tracks and bushwhacked north a bit. Just as the sun was setting, I found a nice spot by a running creek to set up camp, around 10 600’. Before getting to camp, I caught a glimpse of the top of Longs.


Clearly the top of the line was in…really in!

After a good night’s sleep I began skinning in just after 4 a.m. An easy bushwhack lead me up to the base of the south face of Longs.


The moon

Looking South towards the Indian Peaks

At the base of Keplinger’s couloir, I switched to crampons and began booting up. The climb was easy: up to the palisades, up and left to the homestretch, and the homestretch to the summit. A couple steep traverses, left of the palisades, ate up a bit of time, but I made the snow-covered summit around 9 a.m.

The snow was frozen solid, so I decided to wait on the summit for a while for the snow to soften up. It was cloudy to the East, preventing the morning sun to warm up the snow.

Summit, looking East

But it was all clear to the west. So, if I give the sun a bit of time to get higher in the sky, there will be no cloud cover and the snow should soften nicely.

Summit, looking West

I lounged around on the summit: had some snacks, took some pictures, and even took a nap.

Looking down the North face


Keeping warm

A few before me. Nice work Jim!

Bottom of Keplinger's, viewed from summit

Looking down the line, from the summit

Side view of the top of the line

After 11 a.m., I decided it was time to drop in. The top was still a bit icy, but I knew that more easterly facing aspects and the lower elevations would be good.



Yes, Im on my hip












After the descent, I needed go back and find my tent in the woods. Since the snow was frozen in the morning, I didn’t make any tracks to follow. So, I found the stream I camped beside and followed it down until I came to camp.

After packing up, I decided to ski down and south to join with the trail. I decided not to follow my skin tracks in because that would involve a skin upwards. This proved to be a big mistake. I soon found myself bushwhacking in dense timber, with bare spots, and large boulders. It took forever to get anywhere. This was perhaps the worst bushwhack of my life. It was miserable.

Just before I lost my mind, I joined with the trail. Booting down through the snow, I soon came to the creek crossing where I had stashed my hiking boots in a tree. However, to my dismay, I discovered that my boots were missing. They were nowhere to be seen! The snow around the tree revealed no animal prints, just one boot print. Someone had stolen my &#?%! boots!

After talking to a hiker coming up the trail, I figured I was about an hour behind the likely culprits and began to pick up the pace, following their obvious tracks, in hopes of catching up with them. Neglecting to mention the events that followed, let me just give a bit of advice for all the low-life trail thieves out there: if you are going to steal a man’s boots three miles into the wilderness, you better be careful that you don’t steal from someone smarter and faster than you are.

In spite of the miserable bushwhack, the uncomfortable hike out without hiking boots, and the fact that I will have to buy new boots, it was still a great day on a great 14er. Getting an exact summit ski descent of Longs without any “billygoating,” “davenporting,” etc., is worth nearly any price, in my mind. I also learned a valuable lesson: never go into the backcountry without a scorpion to guard your boots. Placing a scorpion in my boots may not have prevented the thief from stealing my boots, but I imagine that the satisfaction I would have gained from knowing that the thief paid a painful price would be worth more than the price of the boots.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Dog days of summer
07/30/2013 00:41
Keep the winter stoke coming! After recently moving to Boulder, Longs is now somthing Id like to ski!


07/30/2013 00:58
I read your most recent tr today. It reminded me that I needed to get some more ski pics up


soloin like a boss
07/30/2013 14:37
Nice Mike. If you need some company next spring, I'm always down to climb with the crazy skiers. Might have to get you, me and Austin on another trip...Capitol you say....


07/30/2013 16:39
Looks a hell of a lot better than when we did it about month earlier. In and out Keplinger's must be a long haul -- bushwhack or not.

Stealing boots has got to be the lowest of the low.

ap snow

Nice work money!
07/30/2013 17:59
This brings back some fond memories. Skiing this route takes perseverance. Abe that sounds like a plan!!!


07/30/2013 21:13
You didn't need a scorpion. You needed a rattlesnake. Or maybe a cobra.


Das Boot
07/31/2013 00:23

Great TR. Great photos too. One of these days, I'll have to try Longs in the winter. You photos of the pure, pristine, and totally unpopulated summit are extremely inviting.

About the boots. Most hikers won't just out-n-out and steal a pair of boots. In part, because chances are pretty good they won't fit. In part, because that not the kind of folks you generally encounter in the winter wilderness.

What may in fact have happened is that the boots were carried down to the trail head and either left there or turned in at the nearby Ranger station. Perhaps you could check with the Forest Service for ”lost and found” posting or the like.

Anyway, good luck on recovering the boots. Hopefully you will have them back before long!

Hey, I caught sight of that Pikes Peak (Ascent/Marathon) t-shirt. That's a great way to bag that Fourteener!


08/01/2013 04:12
For the mid summer stoke!

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