Peak(s):  Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
Meeker Ridge  -  13,860 feet
Date Posted:  05/02/2018
Date Climbed:   04/28/2018
Author:  koeffling
 Meeker via the Iron Gates  

I get to look at Longs and Meeker every day while I drive to work in Fort Collins. That view never gets old so naturally Meeker has been on my short list for a couple years but has been somewhat elusive. It's moved higher on the list since my new list includes the RMNP 13ers. A 14ers.com member was looking for a partner for this route last fall so I jumped on the chance to join him only to have him make plans and then stop all phone and email contact a day before the hike. The following day he posted photos of his route up Kelso Ridge... so that was neat. Fast forward to this winter where I've been up Mt Lady Washington and Chasm Lake a couple times, scouting out Meeker and pushing it higher on the wish list. An 'almost attempt' in a dry December was pushed back by holiday plans and mild snowstorms. My winter/spring hiking buddy Rob was up for something last weekend. Saturday was a rare calm day in the Front Range so decided to give Meeker a go via the Iron Gates.

Rob and I meet in Lyons at 5:30am and we get our stuff packed and get on the trail around 6:30am, maybe later, we take a long time to get ready. There are a maybe a dozen cars in the parking lot and we see a few folks gearing up and heading out. The Longs Peak trail was snow packed soon after the trailhead, easy to follow all the way to Chasm Lake and beyond with no need for snowshoes. We run into several people on the trail and each one had a different destination or route for the day: Chasm junction or lake, Granite Pass, Longs via the Loft, Darkstar. One other was heading towards Meeker but wasn't sure of his route. A warm, sunny, and calm day as we left treeline and traversed to Chasm Lake on a well packed foot trail. The sun was shining and there was barely a breeze. It warmed up quite a bit on the snow as we reapplied sunscreen about 4 times to avoid that first burn of the season. We head up towards the Loft and take a hard left towards the Iron Gates. We encountered nice snow at the base the Loft but ran into a pair of guys who were on their way down that said it wasn't great near the top of the Loft which caused them to turn around (you be the judge). We wore spikes from the about Chasm junction to the base of the gully leading up to the gates and then was able to stay on mostly dry ground from that point.

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Chasm Junction, this view never gets old. We'll head towards the Loft and angle left

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The traverse to Chasm Lake. Well packed down

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Heading up towards the gates

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The Loft, and is that Dreamweaver? So dry up here.


The route to the Iron Gates is obvious. On the ascent we stayed climbers right but moved more towards the center of the gully where we found larger boulders. There was quite a bit of loose scree on the right side (read- everywhere) which was unpleasant. All of it was loose and getting through the gates was tedious but not difficult. A redeeming factor of this gully was the views you get from higher and higher in the gully. I turned back to see the progress of my partner and was pleasantly distracted by Longs, MLW, and Chasm. Looking back at my photos from the day, I have a huge amount from this gully, each perspective a little different as you get higher up. It's really incredible in there. The sound carried amazingly, there was barely a breeze, and we saw more hikers heading towards Chasm Lake throughout the morning. There's a short and easy class 3ish section to exit the gully onto the ridge where you are greeted with Meeker's south side and the IPW.

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Typical terrain throughout the gully

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East gate

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From higher in the gully. I have one million of these photos

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Mini pano, wowza

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Exiting the gully, the short class 3


Once on the ridge, we stayed fairly close to ridge proper all the way to the Meeker Ridge summit. The shear drop-offs on Meeker's north and east sides are quite dramatic. You'll pass a section of lighter rock before gaining Meeker Ridge. We found the ridge to be quite solid boulder hopping and didn't take long to reach the first summit.

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The rest of the route from near the white section of rock

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Some of the dramatic cliffs

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Much of the terrain to Meeker Ridge


Once on Meeker Ridge's summit, we debated for a while whether or not to continue. It was clear I was not going to make my evening plans that night and that we would return far later than I had anticipated, we had a fine forecast, but getting down from Meeker Ridge was tricky and had just enough snow to make it interesting. The knife edge was dry, but from that distance I wasn't crazy about getting off the knife edge on the other end. The left side looked slabby with some snow patches, which I hate; the right looked equally tricky. The summit was really close, and often things look worse from far away so we decided to go for it. We left our packs at MR's summit and exit on the left which was easy for 6'3" but I needed some verbal coaching on a foot hold I couldn't quite reach. I thought the exposure and difficulty rivaled Capitol (however shorter); and like Capitol, the knife edge was solid but bigger challenges lay beyond it. After the knife edge Rob headed low and to the left while I got stuck around to the right. I came back south after the knife edge and got stuck again, high. So I came back lower with Rob's route that was also tricky for me but manageable. Soon we were at the summit. There are two blocks and while on each one, the other looked deceptively higher (the block closest to Longs is the true summit).

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Meeker Ridge summit, Meeker is so close!

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How to get off this thing?

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South side exposure. Kind of like the north side exposure.

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Rob thinks he can go low past the knife edge. He can't.

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Some of us are not so graceful on slabs of granite.

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Others are more graceful.


The view of Longs and the Loft are incredible. We had an amazing sky and gorgeous light for a few photos. We didn't stay too long at the summit, returning the way we came.

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Summit!

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Love Longs from every angle!

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From false summit block


Our descent was about twice as fast and considerably easier. We stayed on the north side of the ridge for the majority of the way, knife edge proper and then returning to the north side to Meeker Ridge's summit to get our packs. The snow made things a touch interesting, but for the most part is was smooth sailing. We return down the ridge where it starts to snow and enter the gully where it gets sunny for a few more minutes.

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Me looking awkward again

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Ridge heading down


The return was uneventful, except for the loose path down through the gates which prompted some colorful language. Once we were able, we stayed on any snow patches for the remainder of the descent. The snow and wind picked up until we were back in the trees and, as always, the last 3 miles of the Longs Peak trail dragged.

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Last look from up high


An incredibly fun route with some great exposure and gorgeous views. What a day!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
MtnHub

A favorite route!
05/03/2018 11:03
This is one of my favorite routes! Nice to view it in winter conditions. Thanks for sharing your trip!


d_baker

fun dramatic route
05/06/2018 15:55
And great photos!


tain21

never gets old
05/11/2018 12:31
Nice work!


ReggieBop
Loveeee this commentary!
08/31/2020 13:10
First, thank you for your FUN yet informative post!! I had a blast reading it! And appropriate pictures to coincide with your description!
I am hoping to do this! Do you have a GPX link of your route by chance?
Thank you! Nice work!


Ritzn1

Amazing Pics!
11/20/2020 14:58
Thanks for sharing this amazing TR and pictures. Great eye for perspective!



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