Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/11/2010
Date Climbed:   08/10/2010
Author:  Mtn_Topper
 Longs Peak circuit  

Given that I see Longs Peak (taunting me!) off in the distance almost everyday, I could no longer go on having not climbed it. I set off early Aug 10 from Denver so that I could at last ascend and stand atop its majestic summit. I left my house in east Denver at 2am and arrived at the trailhead at 3:30am. The parking lot was already almost completely full but I did manage to find one of a few remaining spots and the quickly hit the trail. There was no moon it the sky, so the trail was pitch black. It was a neat experiences climbing alone through the dark forest. Just after 4:30 I cleared tree line and the lights of the Front Range cities came into view. Looking across the vast open expanse leading up to Mt Lady Washington, one could see a snaking procession of about two dozen headlamps along the Longs Peak trail. At the Chasm Lake turnoff, I left most of the traffic behind and began my approach to the Loft Couloir. Route finding at the base of the Loft Couloir wasn't easy in the dark but it didn't matter too much as I just needed to start climbing. By the time route finding became more important (about a 1/3 of the way up), the sun had risen enough to provide adequate light. The rest of the climb to the Loft was a lot of fun but did involve sections of class 3 terrain with considerable exposure. Once I reached the Loft, I could clearly see the summit but wasn't exactly sure where to go. I followed the route described but had trouble spotting cairns to mark the route. With a bit of uncertainty about exactly where to go, I started to descend a steep gully down into Keplinger's Couloir. This section was for me the most challenging part of the Loft route but I was soon down in the couloir and ascending once again. I never did see Clark's Arrow. From here, it took me about 10 minutes to get to the Notch and then another 10 minutes to reach the base of the Homestretch. The Homestretch was not yet very busy so it was a quick scramble up to the summit of Longs, arriving at 7:30am. The view from the top did not disappoint and the weather was perfect. Rather than descending the Loft route, I chose to make a circuit of the summit and went down via the Keyhole. I left the summit at 8am and started down the Homestretch. The descent to the Keyhole was pretty easy but traffic was quite heavy. After passing through the Keyhole and hopping down through the boulders, I was pleased to finally be back on trail. It was a long descent but I made it back to the trailhead by about 11:30. I great day in the mountains on a very worthwhile peak.

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