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 Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
 Post Date:  08/29/2012
 Date Climbed:   08/04/2012
 Posted By:  a94buff

 The Loft - This is why we Climb - Longs & Meeker   

There’s never a ‘bad day’ on the mountain IMO….what could ever be bad about being up in the hills? Some days are great days and then some days are incredible; days that defy description. This was one of those days.

Longs has been a bogey peak for me for the last couple years; I climbed it for the first time a couple years ago via the Keyhole route and was suffering with such nasty AMS that I hardly remember a thing from about halfway through the ledges all the way to the summit and back to the boulderfield. Stopping to dry heave every 3 or 4 minutes for 3 straight hours SUCKS when you’re trying to enjoy and appreciate such a fantastic mountain. I’ve been itching to get back up and truly experience Longs and finally got an opportunity to earlier this month. Mike and I opted for the Loft route as I’m a bit of a scrambling slut and thought as a bonus we’d prefer to avoid the masses on the Keyhole. After doing the Loft, I’ll never do the Keyhole again if I have a choice. I didn’t feel like it was much more effort than the Keyhole route and the scrambling is really wonderful; all solid rock and very straightforward especially with all the great beta in these trip reports.

I won’t duplicate most of the great info on the other reports related to Clark’s arrow; I found these two to be very helpful:

this one
and this one

We started out from the trailhead at 330AM. There was a dense fog blanketing the trail up to treeline, and I have no pictures from this segment of the hike.

Once above treeline, we broke above the fog/clouds into (almost full) moonlight that was so bright we were able to turn off our headlamps – what a magnificent sight to see the clouds illuminated from above and the silhouette of Longs – I didn’t bother with pictures as nothing could have possibly captured it.

We stopped at the creek below Chasm Lake to refill our reservoirs and take some stunning photos:

Image
Sunrise breaking below Chasm Lake


Image
Sunrise breaking below Chasm Lake


With that, we continued South to the base of the Loft Couloir and began to climb. The trail is very well defined all the way up the Loft; though it carries a fair amount of loose scree, in most cases you are able to find a more solid route up and as you gain more of the couloir, you are able to simply scramble up nice slabs and cracks to get where you need to go. As noted in other reports and the route description, just head towards the dark cliff band at the top. You’re making a left just below that on a fairly obvious ledge.

Image
Nearing the top of the Loft


Image
Above the clouds ascending The Loft


That ledge runs into a big block which you climb over, then shortly after that you’re switching back towards the loft. Longs comes into view; what a rewarding sight.

Image
You're going over this block before switching back


Image
A look down the Loft


Image
Topping out on the Loft


The trip reports mentioned above provide a good idea on how to find the key cairn. The utility pole mentioned in one of them is a good guide but if it’s not there, just head generally for where the flat part of the loft starts to slope up – you should see the key cairn about the time you feel like you’d need to start your downclimb. We followed the guidance in this trip report and downclimbed that class 3 crack – it is super fun. Note the distinctive spearhead rock on the right of this gully with the sharp, triangular shaped shadow. In the picture below I'm standing in the downclimb gully. You can get into the crack by going around the left side of that spearhead rock. Once downclimbing, resist the urge to exit the crack too soon. As noted, the tower that holds Clarks Arrow is on your left as you downclimb that crack (it was easy to spot from the downclimb from that flat rock perched on top of it, you can see that in the second picture posted). The arrow is visible once you exit the crack. We found this to be straightforward and direct. It’s worth noting that (from what I can tell) this downclimb is a little further NW than what Roach calls for. On the way down we ran into a pair of guys who downclimbed too early and regretted it – you’re in for a miserable scree slog if you go down too early.

Image
I'm standing in the downclimb gully. Note the distinctive rock with triangular shadow at right.


Image
Downclimbing the crack. Note the tower at left with the flat rock - Clarks Arrow is on west side of this tower and visible once you exit.


Once off the downclimb, head up Keplinger’s as noted in the route description. This is a wonderful place and the sight of the Indian Peaks to the South and the Palisades above you is awe inspiring to say the least. Longs from the top of Keplingers is mystical, almost prehistoric....the slabbly nature of the summit cone, with the Palisades rising like something from mars.....its places like this you realize that we are not in charge and mother nature is a bad-ass mofo. Hook a left at the Notch and continue up to the Homestretch. People exiting the Narrows and starting the Homestretch will have been visible to you for some time and this is very straightforward. An important routefinding note for the downclimb is listed later in this report.

Image
Nearing top of Keplingers


Image
Hikers visible exiting the narrows


Image
Nearing the Homestretch


Image
Contemplating the rest of the route


We were moving quite well the whole way but started to feel it a bit on the Homestretch. Between constant picture taking and stopping to fill our reservoirs at the creek, I figure we had a good 45 minutes of ‘non-moving’ time on the way up and summited at 9AM. Took our summit stone shots and headed for the relatively quiet west side of the summit which we had all to ourselves – I wondered why more people didn’t do this; the 5 minute walk over there is well worth it not only for the solitude but the incredible views down to Glacier Gorge.

Image
Standard August traffic on the homestretch


Image
Standard August traffic on the homestretch


Image
View of Glacier Gorge from west end of summit


After a nice respite there, we headed off for our 2nd goal; Meeker. On the downclimb, be sure to stay left of the ‘ship prow’ looking rock noted in this picture. We cruised past it on the right and quickly realized this was off route. Scree Hell lies below that. Luckily we realized it soon enough that we only had to backtrack about 20 feet.

Image
Stay to the left of that 'prow'


Image
Stay to the left of that 'prow'


Regaining the Loft, we headed right for Meeker. It’s well worth the effort for this nifty summit. I expected it to be much dodgier than it is – I guess technically it’s class 3 but you’re really just boosting yourself up onto it.

Image
Mt Meeker


Image
Longs seen from Meeker


Another snack break followed and then we were off again. The black cliff band at the top of the Loft had turned into a little waterfall with the warm temps of the day.

Image
Waterfall at the top of the Loft


We stopped again below Chasm Lake to refill reservoirs and then headed out. Mike and I are both big game hunters and had been talking about the upcoming season. I said ‘Seeing some Elk would really make this day complete’ and lo and behold, a huge herd greeted us further down the trail, including 2 spectacular bulls.

Image
Big bull in a herd of at least 20 Elk


Returned to the car at 3PM and headed to Oskar Blues for some well-deserved Deviant Dales and food, and literally could not stop talking about what we’d just experienced. In fact I couldn’t shut up about it for days afterward and it was just about all I could think about. Not only did I take down my bogey but I got the greatest day I’ve had yet; out of the sixty-something total summits I’ve ever done, these were my favorite by a mile. Perhaps this trip report is a little dry given how deeply this climb affected me, but quite frankly, there are no words. This is why we climb.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (3)
SolarAlex


awesome     2012-08-29 19:19:36
awesome trip report and great info/pictures....cant wait to go back to longs and try this route


Dave B


Picture 4...     2012-08-29 23:23:29
Is pretty epic, gotta love those undercast days.


djkest


Nice     2012-08-30 16:18:21
Nice pics and good route descriptions. Longs Peak is truely a classic and memorable experience.



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