Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  04/22/2010
Date Climbed:   04/11/2010
Author:  dcuz
 Longs Peak - Keyhole Ridge  

Nick and I left Boulder around 230 and were hiking from the LP TH at 400. We made decent progress up through the trees and were about halfway between Jim's Grove and Granite pass when the sun rose.


We kept a good pace through the boulderfield and got our first glimpse of the north face.


We got to the ramp leading up to the keyhole ridge around 9a. Here we pulled out the technical gear and conducted some quick snow tests.


The ramp was fairly straightforward against the wall but we just had to watch out for the shrund effect about a foot or two from the rock. We made our way to the first belay, put in a few stoppers and I started the climbing. First pitch was a nice warm-up. Belayed Nick up from a large ledge by the false Keyhole. We downclimbed 50 feet or so southwest and climbed the next pitch up a gully below the second tower that only required about 40 feet of actual climbing. The moves in this 40 feet were somewhat difficult, though and the pro was hard to find. I belayed Nick up. I then started a pitch of traversing over an exposed ledge system towards the bottom of the crux pitch. It was tricky in places but nothing strenuous and the gear was good. Belayed Nick across.


Nick then belayed me up the ramp to the crux pitch where I set up a very exposed and awesome belay. It was on a tiny little snowpatch over a 400 foot cliff below and awesome flake system to the right of where we'd be climbing. No pictures from the belay unfortunately.

The first move of this pitch was the crux move and the second move was the second hardest and the climbing got easier as I went up. That being said, the first move would be cake with sticky rubber shoes in the summer, but in giant crampon clad invernos it was rather tricky. I even hod to heel hook in crampons. I kept having trouble finding gear in the snow filled rock but the climbing after the first couple moves was lower 5th class so it wasn't really a big deal. After about 30 min of climbing I slung a big rock for an anchor and belayed Nick up. By the time he got to me we were both pretty tired. I believe it was about 230pm at this point. We ate and drank and then scrambled over to a ledge to belay the last pitch - a traverse through the notch in the rock. I led the pitch and belayed nick across. Nothing too hard there. We coiled the rope and commenced the fun hike to the summit. I got some nice views of the west face (which I busily overlooked from this same ridge in February when I climbed the NW couloir). The west face is somewhat unclimbed and there are still some first ascents to be had there - the diamond attracts all the climbers.

We finally reached the summit around 4pm and couldn't believe what we'd done.



But we were only halfway home. After a nice rest, food, and the little bit of water we had left we geared up for the scramble down the north face. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the rappels. We made it down in two raps with the 60m and we were out of the technical summit block! After glissading the snowfield down to the relative safety of the rocks below I felt that we were totally safe and made the appropriate victory calls - a luxury that Longs proximity to the city provides. We had very little water, were already dehydrated and hypocaloric, and we still had 4 miles of hiking back to the car.



We finally made it back to the car at 914pm. Over 17 hours of hiking and climbing. I was a zombie but not too badly - still able to operate a car anyway. I guess its time to see how much harder my climbing can be pushed. 24 hours? 3000 vertical feet of hard rock climbing? Time will tell.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Sounds fun
04/22/2010 17:27
”I was a zombie but not too badly”--- haha


Great job!
04/22/2010 17:48
I looked at this for a winter ascent this past season but didn‘t give it a go; great job & congrats! FWIW, Gillett‘s guide has a lot of west face routes on Longs if you‘re headed that way, not sure any FA‘s are left. But ya never know.


Nice TR
04/23/2010 02:58
I think I saw you dudes that morning. We were the guys on showed us the shortcut before treeline. Good day in the park.


04/24/2010 06:13
But you missed climbing it in march so you suck


Good point
10/05/2010 18:04
you bring up a great point at the end of this TR, which is the danger of driving home after a tough day in the mountains. I always assume the danger is past when I get back to the car, despite the physical and mental exhaustion. I can say will confidence that i've been closer to death driving home from the mountains than actually in the mountains

I wonder what the comparison is between a driver after 17 hours of climbing and a drunk driver

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