Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  03/15/2009
Date Climbed:   03/14/2009
Author:  Bean
 A very long day on Longs - The Trough   

For a few years now, this route has been on my hit list. Yes, I've climbed the mountain a few times before, but always in summer or fall, and never with skis. When I saw a group was forming a few days prior, I checked the weather and jumped on it. In the days leading up, the forecast called for a high in the high-20s around 13,000' and a 10% chance of snow. On Friday, it was calling for 29F and no snow or wind...perfect.

Friday night, I ate, and ate, and kept on eating until I was stuffed and it was time for bed, around 8:30. At 2:30 the next morning, I'm awakened by my alarm. Sigh...time to get up. Fortunately I had packed the car the night before, so all I had to do was get dressed, eat, and go. I was on the road just after 3am, and pulled into the Glacier Gorge parking lot right around 5. At 5:10, the hudge group (of 6) was off!

An hour and a half later, it started to get light. It was nice to kill the headlamps, and to be able to enjoy our beautiful surroundings.


The sun was making its presence known, though I knew it would be a while until we got any direct sunshine.


We took occasional short breaks, which were helpful in keeping energy up for the long approach.

When I don‘t get out like this for a while, I can forget why it‘s so amazing. I remembered yesterday morning why I love it so much.

We made good time on the approach. Here‘s the group past Black Lake, which only took about 2 and a half hours to get to.


RMNP is an amazing place.


We finally got sight of our objective. Longs poking out on top, the trough just below it, and Keyboard of the Winds to the right.


It got pretty bare as we neared the end of the approach. As warm as it was yesterday, it‘s even more bare now.


I believe that‘s McHenry‘s on the left and Arrowhead on the right. I could be entirely wrong though. What really matters is how gorgeous it was. Not a cloud in the deep blue sky. The air was crystal clear and crisp.


This is where the group split briefly. Wesley went left of here and had a super-easy time. Stephanie and Sean went to the right and had to backtrack a ways. Kiefer and I went straight through here, and it was a disaster. I was drytooling with my whippet to get through here. Wesley got some photos from up above, which I‘m looking forward to seeing.


Immediately after that section, we hit the Trough and the real climb began. There was good styrofoam snow most of the way up, though at the top it became extremely rocky. The average pitch of the Trough is 30 degrees, so a pretty mellow climb in good conditions, and a good length at 2,200‘ or so.


At 10:52, the sun finally crested the ridge. The late sunrise was very welcome, as it was pretty chilly in the shade.


We took a break above the chockstone to delayer, eat, drink, and take crampons off. The narrows are almost completely dry right now. So was the homestretch, which made climbing it in ski boots miserable.


About 1:15, Wesley and I were on the summit.


Of course, Kiefer and Sean had been there a while, enjoying the absolutely perfect weather. 30F or so, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky.


Meeker, looking similarly bare.




The way back down the homestretch was even worse than climbing it. The narrows weren‘t hard but being tired, I moved pretty slowly to make sure I didn‘t lose my footing. Once we got back to the snow, everything was right with the world.


And now some shots of Wesley enjoying the funky snow. It was extremely variable, rapidly changing between creamy pow, sastrugi, icy hardpack, and breakable crust.




At the bottom of the trough, we took our skis off and hoofed it for a mile or so. Just above Black Lake, we said our goodbyes (for probably the 3rd time) and pushed off. Eager to get home, I didn‘t take any pictures from this point forward. Going past the lakes was slow and concerning, as I heard occasional popping and cracking under my skis.

When we finally got to the trees, we rocketed back to the parking lot. All the obstacles that proved inconsequential on the ascent had to be avoided, which kept things interesting. At 5:55pm, we hit the parking lot, for 12:45 car to car. Everyone (except the guy who didn‘t seem to plan on actually summitting anyway) made it, which is amazing for a group this size.

I‘m incredibly glad I was able to get this route done. It was a blast climbing in such great company, during such perfect weather. That said, I don‘t imagine I‘ll ever be back up that way.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Unbelievable winter conditions!
02/05/2011 00:22
Awesome day - glad you guys enjoyed it! Strong work!
Nice report.


Sweet - Glad somebody skied it!
03/15/2009 18:27
Brutally dry though. Good to know.


Great Job!
03/15/2009 21:01
I‘ve only been up to the top once, and I can‘t imagine climbing the Homestretch in ski boots! And now I‘m very interested in taking this route, although I have a couple of others i think I might try first, but still, thanks for the report! I was up on Quandary this day, and I agree the weather simply could not have been better.


Good job all!
11/30/2010 17:28
How many members of made the summit of Long's this winter? Seems like a bunch. Do we own the mountain yet?



Great work!
03/16/2009 04:38
Glad you guys made it... Sounds like you had a fun time!


Longs day
05/02/2011 14:23
Awesome climbing with all of you! Thanks Stephanie, Kiefer, Mike, Sean, Prakash, and Kruck for a great day. I think the picture of me hugging the summit rock accurately depicts my exhaustion! That was a long day. Here are some of my pictures...

Kiefer and Bean taking the direct route up the trough.

A class 2 alternative to this is found by going climbers left and then cutting over to the snow. Not that either of these guys didn't appreciate the challenge.

Prakash climbing in the trough.

Bean crossing the narrows.

Kiefer reaching the summit followed by Stephanie and Sean.

Bean heading up the home stretch.

Enduring the harsh winter weather.

On the descent, taking a break in the trough looking down at the approach.

Bean in the trough.

Too bad the skiing started at 13,250 and not 14,255!

Another hour of hiking then we were back on snow.


03/16/2009 12:19
Hey all - nice trip report. Sounds like a great day! Congratulations.

Be safe,


Ridge runner

02/01/2011 00:24
I had a great time with all of you guys, and it was nice to cross paths with the Jamies and Layne. What a gorgeous day to be on the summit; next time I‘m hauling up the grill. I‘ll send you all pictures when I get them uploaded.


Good report
03/16/2009 16:15
Nice meeting you all. Excellent work on the summit. The skiing looked pretty good considering it was probably windblasted in spots. Looks like it made hauling those planks to the top worthwhile.

Good climbing everybody!


Nice way to finish calendar winter
11/30/2010 17:28
Cool report bean, I've some pics I can upload tonight (EDIT: My pictures are on my SP report here I'm glad I had the opportunity to hook up with you folks.

Layne Bracy

Thanks for the report!
03/16/2009 21:41
Nice pics! It was great to meet everyone on the homestretch; thanks to the Jamies for letting me tag along!


03/17/2009 17:20
Nice looking day. Gettin after it Prakash

Thanks for the pics of the Homestretch.

Not gonna bother with Longs this year I guess

Ungh what a winter

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