Ok so this TR is not really a summit of Longs Peak, but it was nearby...
Jason and I departed from the TH at a gentlemanly 3:15 am. Our plan: climb the Flying Dutchman Couloir (which was rumored to be in fat) and then make our way over to Broadway and up Kieners.
After casually shuffling across Chasm Lake, we arrived at the base of the colouir. The weather: blisteringly cold and lightly snowing with the towering mountain tops all socked in around us. Guess the replacement refs were hired by NOAA following their NFL departure.
So we figured, what the hell, lets just give the Dutchman a go and decide from there.
Jason Headin up the talus laden apron
Who needs trails to run when you got crampons and couloirs!?
Frozen Chasm Lake below
Perhaps due to the weather, Jason and I expected to see no one on this climb, but lo and behold, we made a new couloir best friend whose name we never got...
Jason and Homeboy diggin it
Rock Band up ahead, we followed the left branch of snow
After making our way to perhaps the middle of the climb, we stood at the base of a medium-sized rock band. I went up first and homeboy second. Going up, I noticed that the base of the rock band was a smooth slab. Homeboy and I were able to use the snow still clinging to it to make the committing move, however, the slab was now devoid of snow and it was Jason's turn.
View from atop the rock band
Jason quickly realized this move would be very skecthy so I descended a little, threw down some webbing and hauled up his pack where the rope was seeking refuge. Slinging a rock, I belayed Jason up in one piece.
Terrain higher up before the ice
By this time, homeboy was long gone and we would not see him for the rest of the day. Another some odd 100’ and we were at the base of the ice crux pitch.
This would be my first time ever climbing water ice and Jason's first ice lead, and man did we pick some gnarly conditions to do so! We set up an anchor 20' or so below the ice, all the while listening to the tearing sound of wind slapping against the rock around us. The spin drift never relented and occasionally huge waterfalls of sugar snow would cascade down the ice and rock to our left and right loading the upper snow field. It was a landscape that both Jason and I had never been in and it truly added to the raw alpine feel of the climb.
I would be lieing if I said that the thought of bailing did not come to mind, and I definitely posed the question. However, in the back of my mind I believed Jason when he said that up was the best way. The aforementioned waterfalls of snow were seriously loading the couloir and descending that could have been a serious mistake.
We were both feeling the effects of the sheer power that engulfed us as I wished Jason good luck on his lead (Sorry for the melodrama, but the setting we were in was unbelievably spectacular. It is also worth noting that we knew above the ice a steep snow field did not reside so that provided some comfort.)
Eyeing a formidable opponent
A look down after topping out
I have since learned there are pitons very near the top out, Jason built an anchor higher up
Perhaps I was just way too focused, but I never once did I feel uncomfortable even when the going became nearly vertical. The ice was solid and it took a few swings to break the outer layer to gain a solid purchase, but I trusted my placements and footing. Topping out, it was hard to restrain the jubilation, but we had to get down.
Just another smiling face in the mountains
Looking down lambslide all we saw was death ice so the loft it would be (going up Kieners didn't even need to be mentioned).
View of the Ship's Prow
A Look down Lambslide
Still lightly snowing and windy, we topped out and descended to a large snowfield.
The snow in the loft was pretty firm down below and somewhat sugary up top but we never saw any signs of slabs or cracking (which can be said about the Dutchman also). Dispersing ourselves, I led the way across the traverse choosing a line that would allow us to hop scoth from one rock to another.
1 2 buckle my shoes
We marched on with a gingerly earnest in our step making our way across the ledge system below the loft and down to the basin floor.
Look down the ledge system below the Loft
3 4 shut the door
5 6 pick up sticks
Once near the basin floor, we took our very first true break of the entire day as it did not seem in our best interest to stop at any other point in the day other than to set up climbing stuff.
Leaving the basin, the clouds still lingered low as we watched some ice climbers (Dave B apparently!) rockin some nice looking ice. We continued on to the Chasm Junction liquor store for some fine, cool beverages and a moment to venerate the cirque we had just come out of.
Overall, I have to say this was an amazing climb! It is outings like these that I learn more about myself, the mountains and my partners and it is for that very reason I keep returning.
Tread Lightly my Friends.