Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  07/01/2006
Modified:  07/02/2006
Date Climbed:   06/30/2006
Author:  ursidae
 All alone on top of Longs Peak, Keyhole rt.  

Subject says it all, I got to spend almost an hour alone on top of Longs Peak before my climbing partner arrived. Shortly after him joining there were 6 more, then 5 more, then 8 more, then we left : )

I know, so many people complain about this being one of the most highly trafficked mountains in Colorado and there seems to be a tendency therefore to downplay the joy of climbing Longs Peak. However, like Mike Donahue says "it's an experience" (The Longs Peak Experience and Trail Guide).

The scenery is incredible and with the great variety of routes to the summit there is something for everyone (with some reservation, the final mile after the Keyhole on the easiest route is still not easy for your average Joe, plenty of exposure and opportunities for involuntary basejumping...).

If you can get out of bed in time you might have the trail almost to your self until you go back down. Below the times we made a few landmarks on our trip.

Keyhole route:
1:15am left TH
2:10am Alpine Tundra sign
2:55am Chasm Lake turn off sign (L.P. 4miles)
3:27am Boulder field 0.7 miles sign
4:18am Boulderfield privy...
4:50am Sitting in the Keyhole waiting for my hiking partner (bring a thermos with something warm if you are doing this part...)
5:59am Hiking partner arrives, leaving Keyhole
6:52am Top of Trough
7:51am Summit
8:40am Leaving summit
10:25am Keyhole (Since it now was light we took oodles of pictures on the way back to the Keyhole with plenty of climbing back and forth for best angle etc. that probably made this part take 1/3 longer then it needed to)

One side note on Bill's route description. When you get to this point "After crossing the Narrows, scramble up onto some more difficult rock" you are looking at 3 bullseyes that appear to go straight up the cliffside. Your brain, if still in normal operational self preservation mode, might then insist on going straight back to the car. You will find though when you close in that it's really not that bad and just on the other side you finally have the Homestretch. See pic below.


Going down I noticed that very few climbers wore helmets. Both in the Trough and on the Homestretch there are possibilities of getting a permanent implant without one, not to mention if you like me are a klutz and tend to bang your skull while doing rock hugging to avoid flying lessons.

Also, returning to the Keyhole from the Trough, if you see a wooden plank bolted to the rock with an arrow carved in it you are probably too high up even though it appears to be a faint trail there. Look down and you will see the bullseyes again, the route stays low until it rounds the last outcropping and you can clearly see the Keyhole again. Below a pic of the Keyhole from the back.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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