| Tour de Longs
Tour of Longs Peak
An early season conditions report and little tour of the Longs Peak Massive (Grand Slam minus Pagoda).
Peter and I set out from Boulder at the leisurely hour of 7a, headed up to Longs Peak for some sort of hike/scramble/climb. Our original intent was to try for Keiners, but reports of high winds, lingering snow on Broadway and water on the lower sections of the route dissuaded us from doing so as we weren’t planning on bringing ropes/harnesses.
We left the mostly empty Longs Peak parking lot at 8:20am, hardly an Alpine start, which is why it was so amazing that the lot was half empty on a Sunday in June. We cruised up the trail then took the short cut route up the creek to the first river crossing. There was almost no snow remaining in the trees, a much different story from when I was here in March. The wind began to pick up as we crested out of the trees toward Chasm Jct. The traverse over toward Chasm Lake is mostly free of snow with one 50ft section of snow to cross near the end of the traverse, there are good steps kicked across.
We made a beeline for the Loft, skirting the snow to climbers left, never having to pull out our ice axes, staying on class 3-4 rock the entire way. You may be able to keep it class 3 as usual, we just didn’t try. There was some ice around the beginning of the exit ledge to the Loft, but easily negotiated. Along the traverse into the Loft there was one section of rock hard snow around the boulder step that one normally has to scramble over/around. While the snow was hard there were great steps kicked in and the traverse was not exposed, no gear required. There are some additional snow patches as you climb into the Loft, all avoidable.
We made a straight line for Mt Meekers summit, scrambling the rock/slab straight to the top as the cold wind continued to blast us (20-30mph). It took us a leisurely 2:30 to the summit of Meeker, then we proceeded to head directly into the wind tunnel that is the Loft for Clarks Arrow. The scramble down to Clarks Arrow was snow free and mostly dry, so no issues. Keplingers is also mostly dry and no problem navigating around the few patches of snow/ice that remain in the upper portion of the route.
Once exiting Keplingers we had to hop around a few sections of verglass and snow enroute to the Home Stretch. The slabs of the Home Stretch are mostly dry with a few patches of ice running down them from the snow on the summit. We topped out on Longs at 3:20, under light cold winds without a single soul in sight, was it really Sunday in June? After lounging on Longs for a bit we opted to skip out on Pagoda as it would be exposed to the worst of the wind and the prospect of a long snowy traverse back to the Keyhole wasn’t too enticing.
We clambered down the Keyhole, mostly dry down the Home Stretch, dry across the Narrows, then a partially snow filled Trough. I stayed on the slabs to climbers left in the Trough as I usually do, which avoided most of the snow/ice (class 3-4). The traverse back to the Keyhole from the Trough was almost completely dry, no snow or ice that is an issue. We only saw 3 people during the entire decent from the summit to the Keyhole.
From the Keyhole we hopped off across the boulders toward Storm Peak, staying just below the ridgeline to avoid the cliffs and any wind. We topped out on Storm Peak at 4:30, just barely sheltered from the wind. We had a nice view of the North Face, still covered in snow with plenty of water (maybe verglass) running down it. We descended back down to the Boulderfield, finally pulling out our ice axes for an unnecessary, but enjoyable 200ft standing glissade. One more climb, we made a direct line at Mt Lady Washington, and up we went. The climb went by quickly and at 5:10 we were atop the last peak of the day.
Views from the Lady were quite nice. Lambslide looked very solid and in, there are some sizeable patches of snow on Broadway (it also looked wet), a few lingering snow patches on Keiners, The Notch Coulier is mostly snow filled but probably muck by now, and to the North the massive plume of the High Park fire billowing above Fort Collins. From the summit of the Lady we descended straight down to the main trail, back to Chasm Jct, and the trailhead, stepping back onto pavement 6:18 after we’d started. The parking lot was finally filling up, but there were only a few cars parked down the road, light for a summer weekend, but a welcome sight. So that is our tale of scrambling, running, climbing on a cold blustery day on the Longs Peak massive. Peter has dubbed our route the ‘Rand Slam’, since we didn’t do Pagoda we’re one letter short of the full ‘Grand Slam’. I’ve also posted a few photos below for conditions and views, enjoy.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):