Longs Peak - Keplinger`s Couloir
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 3 |
|Total Gain:||5,900 feet|
|RT Length:||16 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Longs Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Boulder: 303-441-3600
| ||Larimer: 970-498-5100
|National Park:||Rocky Mountain|
From the south, follow CO 7 for 2.1 miles past Allenspark. From the north, follow CO 7 for 1.1 mile past Meeker Park. There is a sign for Wild Basin along Colorado 7. Turn west here onto CR-84W and Follow this road for 0.4 mile. Take a slight right at CR-115 (Wild Basin Road). Copeland Lake is immediately on the right, with a year-round parking area and a sign announcing Sandbeach Lake Trail. This is the trailhead.
From the trailhead, follow the Sandbeach Lake Trail almost all the way to Sandbeach Lake, and turn north (right) off the trail about 0.1 mile before reaching the lake. It is close to four miles of easy hiking to this point.
After leaving the trail, bushwhack northwest through the heavy timber, eventually crossing Hunter Creek at about 11,000 feet. A good GPS is highly recommended for this section of the approach. Along the way, enjoy great views of Mount Meeker and it's Dragon Tail Couloir. Eventually Pagoda Mountain (Photo #1), then Longs Peak will come into view.
From the hiking trail, it is about 1.6 miles of bushwhacking to reach timberline. Nearby is an unnamed lake, at 11,200 feet. From here, continue straight uphill into the basin (Photo #2).
Ahead, Keplinger's Couloir is readily visible as the westernmost (farthest left) couloir, splitting Longs' south face (Photo #3 and Photo #4).
Climbing the couloir is straight-forward, and at its very steepest it may reach 45 degrees. The couloir stretches from 12,000 feet to 13,600 feet (Photo #5, Photo #6, Photo #7 and Photo #8). Nearing the top, the climber will be immediately to the left of the Palisades and Southeast Longs (Photo #9 and Photo #14).
At the top of the couloir, turn left (west), onto the ledge or snow-shelf. This section can range from a talus walk-up in summer to steep snow slopes exceeding 50 degrees in the winter (Photo #10 and Photo #11). This ramp eventually leads to the Homestretch (Photo #12), where yellow and red bullseyes are painted on the rocks, for the final push to the summit (Photo #13 and Photo #15).
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