Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/03/2008
Modified:  01/06/2009
Date Climbed:   08/01/2008
Author:  Kevin8020
 Longs Peak - Attempted Night Ascent  

Instead of writing up a normal report, I will give you some advice on trying this mountain at night. First off, I will advise you that this is NOT easy. I did this because I have done this a few times using the normal 2am start and wanted a different challenge for my fourth attempt. We started our hike at 11:30pm the night before, aiming for a 5am summit, though I could not quite keep that fast pace. The first part of the hike is no different from any other report on this site. One suggestion - if you do not know how to start the Battle Mountain/Jim's Grove shortcut, I would NOT recommend it. We found ourselves lost not far after the campground and ended up returning to the standard route. I will try to go up again before long, post a trip report, and route description on how to get up the Jim's Grove shortcut. The route to the keyhole was uninteresting, however, considerably more quiet at early hours in the morning than usual.

The hike to keyhole ridge was interesting to say the least. The ridges of rock look more like cliffs under only headlamps, and finding cairns becomes quite difficult. We ended up simply trying to find the most reasonable route up the rocks, and made it up without anything interesting. Post keyhole, we experienced more wind then earlier on the hike, though nothing like I have experienced on past trips up Longs. Our fist, and biggest mistake, was descending too far on the far side of the keyhole. The route stays high. Make sure you take some time to find the first few bulls-eyes before moving ahead. It is very annoying to be backtracking on the ledges without any light. A few rocks make the ascent more class 4 feeling, though the bulls-eyes are quite clear that at times, the more difficult route will be safer. Here is one specific example I remember having a tough time getting up:

The trough was tough. We waited a bit longer than planned here and had a bit of light during this part. Again, take the time to find the bulls-eyes and do NOT pick your own route. Our group met up with another larger group here and started our ascent together. From my experience, I suggested we shift a bit toward the middle, as the way we were headed seemed to push over towards the cliffs on the right more than I remembered. The correct trough route, which we did not find until half way up, goes up the right (south-ish) side of the trough. We found ourselves traversing class 4 cliffs without ropes, unfortunately, due to my suggestion to move towards the middle. Be careful and find the route - that is the best advice I can give.

I did run into a father and his young (10-ish) year old sun on the homestretch. From the coughing the son was doing, he sounded like he was suffering from pulmonary edema. The father was pushing his son forward with almost a rather angry tone. Being close to the summit, and due to a number of factors, I did not mention anything. I do warn you - if you are planning to go up any 14er - make sure you know the signs of altitude sickness and do not push too hard if you think you, or anyone in your party, is getting sick.

The rest of the route went completely according to specified routes. On the way down, I was AMAZED by the number of people headed up planning to ascend later in the morning. I tried to encourage everyone I could as we came down the trough and across the ledges as is customary. Most people seemed to be doing well. The capstone in the trough quickly became a team effort that kept me there for a while to help people. I also ran into an older grandmother on her way down the mountain - way to go!! As I got closer to the keyhole, I made sure people (who asked) knew the difficulty of the route ahead and, based on how well they seemed to be doing, how long it would take them. I told the overly ambitious and under-prepared ones to watch the skies.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.