Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  07/04/2010
Date Climbed:   07/03/2010
Author:  JA_son27

 Longs Peak-keyhole  

In August of '07 I climbed Longs peak for the first time and developed a deep admiration for the mountain. With its colossal face, and sweeping lines I can't get enough of seeing this hulking giant, and I hope you feel the same way too!
The last time I climbed this beast it took me over twelve hours roundtrip, I wanted to challenge myself and try to go a little faster this time and I pushed myself, maybe a little too hard!

I woke up at midnight and left my house at 12:30 a.m., and arrived at the TH about an hour and a half later. There were about six cars in the parking lot, which was much thinner than the full lot of cars present the last time I was here. When I last climbed Longs the National Park Service had long declared this peak non technical, but this time the peak was still considered technical which seems to have dramatically cut the potential summit climbers down to virtually nothing while I was up there!

*I would take advantage of the thin crowds now, no snow gear required whatsoever, and any snow I encountered was avoidable as you will see below*

I started my long trek at 2 am and was excited to see there were no crowds at the TH.

Virtually deserted parking lot!

During the first 2 hours of my hike I ran into a total of 5 people, two of which were headed down. I felt very secluded on this usually busy peak! After I exited the trees, I had the opportunity to turn off my headlamp and hike by moonlight which was awesome. I made it to the keyhole in about 3 hours and had just enough time to watch the sunrise, I absolutely loved it!

Fire in the sky.

Agnes Vaille hut and the keyhole

The snow in the hut didn't make it too high on the comfort scale


I did manage to squeeze between the walls of the hut and the lingering snow to put on some warmer clothes before venturing off to the other side of the keyhole. The basin on the west side of Longs beyond the keyhole is awesome!

Looking beyond the keyhole

Once beyond the keyhole I was pleasantly surprised at how little snow was present.

No snow on the Ledges

After a few minutes of scrambling I ran into a group of climbers who were debating on continuing. I gave them some beta on what to expect from the remaining route, but due to the windy conditions I was getting cold and needed to keep moving.

Climbers deciding what to do

A look back on what little snow there is on the ledges

It turns out that one of those climbers decided he wanted to continue up Longs. Luke caught up to me and we ended up climbing the rest together. Our first goal was to surmount the trough, which for me was the toughest part of my day. Since I pushed so hard in the beginning of the hike I was starting to feel it in the Trough. My legs screamed in protest and started to cramp up, I really need to start eating more while hiking!

The beginning of the Trough

Most of all the remaining snow in the Trough is on the right, with a small easily avoidable patch on the left side

I told Luke that I may not be able to summit with my legs cramping like they were, and that if I do summit, I needed to take it easy. I rested up for a few minutes, re-hydrated and continued on. My legs wouldn't bother me the rest of the day. We slowly ascended the Trough.

A quarter of the way up the Trough, looking down

Three quarters of the way to the top of The trough looking down

About three quarters of the way into this "little" gulley we affectionately refer to as the Trough, there is some snow that may give some a little pause. While we were descending there was a group of climbers that got stuck at this point, we showed them how we did it and hopefully it helped them!

Luke was fearless and was able to kick step into the snow, I on the other hand was trying to keep my sketchy shoes dry and went to the left.

I used the two larger rocks on the lower left of the picture as stepping stones to help me hop across to the rib on the left of the snow

Making my way past the snow on the rock rib. Taken right after my move in the above picture. Luke continues on the snow

Once past the short, avoidable section of snow in the trough we reached the top. For those of you who have never climbed Longs, the most advanced move of the whole climb waits for you at the top of the trough in my opinion. It's not a super hard move but it can be complicated with crowds going up and coming down. Fortunately for us, we had neither!

Looking back into the basin from the top of the trough. Longs Peak shadows the majority of the basin

Immediately beyond the trough you have to either go around, or up and over a large boulder blocking your entrance to the "Narrows". Both times I've just gone around. There is no snow present on the narrows.

Looking back at the entrance to the Narrows

Looking at the remaining route through the Narrows. Taken from the same place as in the above picture. The homestretch is beyond the rock rib.

Halfway through the Narrows

You can see the entire section of the "Narrows" from the pictured vantage point. It is a short section and once you cross the rock rib at the end of the Narrows, you can see the next named section- The Homestretch.

Looking back beyond the Narrows. This is the beginning of the "Homestretch"

As you can see in the below pictures, there is virtually no snow on the homestretch. There was some verglass to avoid, and some of it was pretty thin and difficult to spot but otherwise a pretty simple climb up!

The beginning of the Homestretch

Luke climbs his way up the last few hundred yards or so to the summit

Organ pipes and Mt. Meeker from the Homestretch

After battling my way through Gobblins Forest, the Keyhole, the Ledges, The Trough, the Narrows and finally the Homestretch I made it to the summit of Longs Peak for the second time! This was truly an epic battle!

A very rewarding summit!

I truly love Longs Peak, and it is still one of my favorites. I ended up back at the TH in a little under 10 hours, which was much faster than my first time in this magical place. I usually don't time my hikes, but I wanted to challenge myself. And in my mind I rose to the challenge and won! This hike is still physically demanding for me, but I feel like a much more accomplished and experienced hiker, and shaving off a little more than two hours felt good to me. Thank you for the company on this hike Luke, I wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors.


Casm Lake tail junction

Cool looking flower, I have no idea what it is.

Have fun out there!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
Excellent report with nice detailed pics! Thank you.


Longs Beta!
07/04/2010 14:32
Excellent Beta Jason! 2 TR‘s this weekend providing fantastic beta - thanks for taking the time to post! KG


I love that mountain to
07/04/2010 16:29
Excellent report. I love that mountain as well. So many intriguing features. It‘s an immense and magical place.

Well done!


Thank you!
07/05/2010 21:47
I appreciate the comments!


11/30/2010 17:28
The Homestretch is almost snow free. What a difference seven days makes. I climbed the Keyhole Rte. on the 26th for the second time. And within the next six weeks, I may attempt the mountain three more times using three different routes. I agree - Longs is a very visceral mountain, and one I don't mind returning to again and again.

Congrats on the fun and successful climb.


07/06/2010 20:57
Thanks for the great trip report. And, that flower you took a picture of is purple fringe

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