Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/19/2010
Modified:  01/31/2012
Date Climbed:   08/08/2009
Author:  HarknessHooligans
 Long and Lovely Longs - Keyhole route  

Starting time: 2:00 am
Summit: 9 am
Descent: 10 am
Ending time: 4 pm
Total RT length 14 hours

We camped near Longs since the Longs campground was full. I hear that it is always packed like that.
goofy pic at the campsight

We woke up around 1:00 am and headed to the Longs parking lot scoring the last spot before having to park on the road. It is 2 am and I cannot believe that the lot is already full for how big it is...I guess we are all crazy hikers for starting a hike at 2 in the morning. What am I thinking?

We signed the register and headed out. Hiked about 4 hours in the dark with head lamps. This has been one of the coolest experiences ever! I highly recommend it to anyone. I love looking down the trail above timberline and just seeing a trail of little lights. No need to worry about wildlife since this hike is so incredibly busy...But for me, it just made me feel that much safer.
It is also quite the experience to watch the sunrise above timberline. It was beautiful!
pointing to Longs Peak

circling the keyhole

We finally reached the Boulderfield and it was FREEZING. I saw a lot of people up there that were very poorly dressed. One girl was wearing booty shorts with a thin long sleeve on; no gloves and no hat. What a ding dong. I swear some people go for fashion on hikes. But seriously are hiking a 14er that is 14 miles long!!! Looks should be the least of your worries. Luckily I had done a lot of research and knew to pack tons of layers with wind-breaking pants and snowgloves. I highly recommend your snowgloves to help break the wind...because it is soooo cold and windy. With the right stuff though, you will be just fine.
looking back at the boulderfield from the keyhole. LOOK can see all the little hikers for more perspective on how big this section is.

By the way there are bathrooms up here at the boulderfield. It is amazing! So after a potty break and trekking across the many many many rocks and boulders, we finally reached the Keyhole.

There were mainly people who hiked all the way to the keyhole and then turned around because of the cold and wind and the exposure on the other side. BUT, it is not as bad as it may look. My most favorite part of hiking Longs was after the Keyhole. Just get yourself through this section and the wind will stop once you are on the other side.

Follow the painted bulls-eyes across the ledges. Pay attention though because it is easy to get distracted and off course.
The Ledges

Looking back at what we just crossed on the ledges


Next is the dreaded Trough. This section is straight up and probably took us a hour just on this one section. I dont do well with steep climbs, so it was hard for me. And it is STEEP. Please be careful not to knock rocks loose. It is a very busy climb and most everyone did not have helmets (including us).
Matt below the trough

After the trough you have to climb over the choke stone. No one seems to really prepare you for this part...But this was the hardest part of the whole entire trip. You almost need people to help lift you over this thing. The rock is very smooth and slippery...It scared the crap out of me! But I overcame it and was finally on to the Narrows.
The choke stone

The Narrows seems to be the part of the climb that most people hear about with Longs. They say it is so scary because it is a straight drop off and you have to stay in a single file line the whole way because it is so narrow. NOT TRUE!!!
This was my absolute most favorite part of the climb! I LOVED the narrows. It is not scary if you just focus on your footing. There is plenty of room to pass people. Most of it is about 5-7 feet wide. I never felt unsafe or worried that I would fall off a cliff. It is not near as scary as pictures show.
Matt on the Narrows

Looking back at The Narrows

Me on the Narrows

After the Narrows we came to a rock wall that you have to climb over before the Homestretch. There were very nice guys at the top giving everyone a helping hand to get over this section. Thanks guys!
We finally reached the Homestretch. Pictures make it look much scarier than it really is. There is a lot of exposure here. But keep in mind that the rocks are very sturdy and as long as it is dry, you shouldn't have a problem. Think of it like climbing a ladder. Coming down this section felt like crab crawling on my butt.
Matt on the homestretch

Whoa, this pic makes this section look terrifying.

Finally! The summit! Much flatter than I had imagined and it was so big.
So big and flat!

Summit shot of relief

Chasm Lake (i think)

On our way back we ran into a little friend that was storing away his nuts for the winter. Love this pic!
a fat furry friend

When we got back to our campround, 14 hours later, we found a note in our tent from our fellow camp neighbors telling us that a black bear had gone through our campsite around 10 am and broke into their car. It pretty much tore through their back seat trying to get into the trunk. There was shattered glass everywhere. It didn't touch our tent and I was definitely grateful that we started our hike so early that morning.

Overall I loved Longs! Out of all the peaks I have done so far, Longs is by far my favorite. There is so much variety to this hike. I would recommend the Keyhole route to anyone. As long as you are prepared, there shouldn't be any problems and I think anyone could do it.

 Comments or Questions

Are we related!??!?!?
11/30/2010 17:20
Hmmm ... I'm just sayin' that first photo reminds me of some of my relatives. You are a delightful trip reporter (and what a cute couple you two are). Love your attitude ... great photos ... the "ding dong" comment is priceless. Thanks so much for posting. Happy trails! ... oh, and yes, that is Chasm Lake.

Doctor No

Nice shots!
08/19/2010 21:15
The Keyhole route always brings back fond memories for me.


08/19/2010 21:30
We love hiking and love taking goofy pictures. We must be related


08/19/2010 22:20
It is amazing how photos of the homestretch make it look almost vertical, eh? Those are the shots you send to family back home to scare the bejeezus out of them... so fun.

Great photos and report!


08/19/2010 22:43
i loved your TR, it is still one of my favorite mountains!


Thank you!
08/19/2010 22:44
Great job and great report! What an accomplishment!


Ant trail
08/19/2010 23:32
Nice report. What a major ant trail it looked like on the way to the summit.


08/20/2010 00:56
”Harkness” any Exeter connection?

You are waaaaaaay better looking goofy than he is...

Thanks for the report.


Great Post
08/20/2010 19:42
Thanks for the awesome report. I was thinking of starting at 2am but if you got the last spot maybe I should go a little earlier. Great pics to by the way. Thanks


Way to capture it!
08/20/2010 20:46
This report has some of the best shots i have seen of the keyhole route. I feel your shots do a GEAT job @ illustrating the scale. Thanks!


Thanks Everyone!
08/20/2010 22:46
I appreciate all the compliments! Longs was my biggest accomplishment so far. I love taking pictures (my husband would say I take too many). And robby-40, we dont have any Exeter connection. Never even have heard of that name before.


Longs Summer!
08/21/2010 03:25
I echo the comments above from others on a fantastic TR! Thanks for posting and providing the narration - was like being coached on the route. Enjoy the remainder of your summer!

Exiled Michigander

Job Well Done!
08/21/2010 16:45
Loved the report--took me right back to the Keyhole Route. I really dig the photo of Lady Hooligan at the boulderfield highlighting the Keyhole! That was a neat idea. Keep up the great climbs and reporting!


07/29/2013 21:01
Thanks for all of the pictures. I climbed longs almost 16 years ago and it sure brought back good memories. I was 11 years old at the time! You both look like you had fun.


Harkness/Exeter links
08/22/2010 23:29
OK, so no connection. So F.Y.I. the Harkness/Exeter connection--


Great Report!
08/25/2010 13:41
Thanks so mcuh for the great guys look like a kind of people!!!

I sent your trip report to my boyfriend to help ease his anxiety...he's not all that experienced in this realm of fun, but I am planning a trip for us to climb Longs next month. I can't wait!


Great Report!
08/28/2010 14:38
You guys Rock! You had GREAT explantations of areas and fun, and have helped me about thinking of some concerns, as I am doing longs with my partner this weekend! Thanks so much great report!


one more
08/28/2010 14:42
Seemed like a lot of people what day was it a sunday?


08/29/2010 13:39
We hiked on a Saturday. THe weekends are always much busier. But honestly, it didn't bother me at all. It made me feel safer and the hike is so long that everyone eventually spreads out. Good luck on your trip. I look forward to hearing about it!

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