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Longs Peak this summer

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Longs Peak this summer

Postby PaliKona » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:40 am

Ok so I'm not just starting the 14ers but want to take it to the next level from class 2s. I've been longing for Longs for years. I really want to attempt it this summer. The length scares me though...and the fact that 7 miles in is the hardest part during a time when one's exhausted. A couple of questions: are there training regimes or other peaks you'd recommend to prep? Thoughts on camping at the Boulderfield or Battle Mtn or is that not worth it and better to do what most do and hike starting at 2 or 3 am. Also, is the Loft route as physically taxing as the Keyhole or more so? Thanks.

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby IkeB » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:54 am

I was in the same boat as you a year ago. Honestly it isn't that bad. The loft will be just as exhausting. Get your endurance up prior and you will be fine. Belford/oxford and other long approach sawatchers are good for that. If you want company when you attempt it let me know and I will likely join.

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby peter303 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:13 am

I second the the endurance aspect. Its 15-17 miles, 5000 feet, 9-12 hours or more.
Start a progression of easier 14ers in June and July- a 5 miler like Bierstadt, a 9-miler like Elbert, a 14-miler like the classic Massive and so on.
Many years Longs isnt ice free until almost August, so its often a later summer mountain.

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby PaliKona » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:47 am

Thanks for the info. So would you recommend not camping? Also, any recs on getting my exposure tolerance up? I know a lot of people say it's not as bad as it looks but everyone reacts differently. The Narrows concerns me.

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby painless4u2 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:10 pm

We climbed Longs last summer via Sandbeach Lake and Keplinger's Couloir. This allowed a camp at the lake, getting you closer to the mountain, and virtually no exposure or people the entire way until the Homestretch. It does require some route-finding, so you'll want to be comfortable with that. It's still a long hike, but very worthwhile.
Last edited by painless4u2 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby climbingaggie03 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:30 pm

I camped at the boulder field a few years ago (I ended up turning around the next day due to ataxia because of the altitude, turns out making a 12,000 foot jump in elevation in 36-48 hours is not a good idea sans diamox) It's a cool place to camp, and it does put you closer to the summit, but there are some trade offs.

I think it depends on how light you can go, I went pretty light, all my stuff fit in a 25L day pack and I think my load was around 20-25 lbs but I was still had to exert more energy to haul it up there than if I were just carrying water, snacks, and layers. Also the boulder field is exposed and above treeline so if/when a storm comes though, you're pretty much just stuck hoping you don't get hit by lightning, or retreating a couple of miles down to treeline.

I'd take up rock climbing if you want to get comfortable with exposure, or try the traverse between bierstadt and evans. I haven't been up the keyhole route so I can't say for sure, but honestly I doubt it's that bad, class 3 just isn't really that big a deal.

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby Tory Wells » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:53 pm

PaliKona wrote:The Narrows concerns me.

The Narrows is like a sidewalk up high. Sure, there is a big drop to one side but there is plenty of room to stay away from it.

Longs is a marathon and so very true to its name. It is best to train for a LONG day in the mountains, which of course includes endurance, but also includes blister prevention, nutrition and hydration. I'm sure many a Longs attempt has been thwarted by blisters and dehydration. Make sure you are dialed in on all phases before you go.
"Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, am I." -David Gilmour, Pink Floyd

"We knocked the bastard off." Hillary, 1953
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." Hillary, 2003
Couldn't we all use 50 years of humble growth?
-Steve Gladbach

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby Papillon » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:02 pm

There really is only one class 3 move and that is at the chockstone which is not exposed. The rest of the route is class 2 walking with exposure. You wouldn't want to play grab ass with somebody in a few places, especially after a rain shower. Some people get uncomfortable when they peer through the keyhole. OK, maybe the homestretch flirts with class 3. It may help to crab crawl down in a few spots.

Overall, things slow down once you pass through the keyhole and get on the mountain. Your legs and lungs will definitely catch up. Throw in a lot of people on the route and things might slow down too much. The Trough is a 500 foot grunt but other than that, you won't be breathing heavy and sweating.

Water is an issue because you have to haul quite a bit at 2.2 lbs per liter. In years past (when it used to snow here), there was a lingering snowfield in the boulderfield where you could resupply. The only other water is at the lightning sign about 2 miles in.

If you are unsure of fitness, hike out to the keyhole in the spring or climb Storm Peak and see how you feel.

A Boulderfield camp may add to the *experience* but I think the place is a god forsaken wasteland. It is high at 12,700. It can be very windy and cold at night. It can also be hot as hell in the afternoon sun. If you think you're gonna get yourself an extra few hours of sack time by camping up there, I can almost guarantee you will be woken up when day-trippers start arriving at 4 AM from the TH.
The look in his eyes when it hit - Kid, it was tasty... - William Seward Burroughs

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby Presto » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:08 pm

by Papillon » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:02 pm
... You wouldn't want to play grab ass with somebody in a few places, especially after a rain shower.


:wft: Speak for yourself. :wink: 8)
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby MtnHub » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:19 pm

PaliKona wrote:So would you recommend not camping? Also, any recs on getting my exposure tolerance up? I know a lot of people say it's not as bad as it looks but everyone reacts differently. The Narrows concerns me.


I guess it depends upon what your preferences are. I don't like to camp at all mainly because I never get any sleep. I have back issues that makes me very uncomfortable sleeping on the ground - even when it's relatively level and smooth - and the Boulderfield is rocky! And then you have the issue of carrying all that extra weight up to that elevation which I think takes it out of you more than the altitude. I much prefer to hike light and fast. But I also know there are folks who really enjoy being up there and the experience of overnighting in such a marvelous place too. Whatever works for you.

And I agree the Narrows is not a major concern. It is one of the most fun places along the route. You'd have to be really careless to fall off it unless, of course, wet/icy weather were an issue. Just stay focused on what you're doing and where you're going. It's really not that scary at all. Good luck!! :-D

Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby Steve Climber » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:14 am

I wouldn't be too concerned with the Narrows at all (keep in mind, quite a few of the pictures you will see of people on it are intentionally making it look as gnarly as possible). As others have mentioned, its quite easy to cross and is just a small mental block to push through. IMO, descending the Homestretch is arguably the most intimidating section of the entire route. The view down will make you very aware you are on top of a large mountain, but the rock is super solid. There are plenty of cracks for feet/hands...just make sure you do what you can to avoid wet patches, and you have your feet planted and secure before making your movements and you should be fine.

I might even suggest making a trip or two to Chasm Lake prior to attempting the entire mountain. There are some spots just below the lake where you can practice scrambling up and descending slabby rock similar to what you will find on homestretch (without as much intimidation factor) Plus, the view of The Diamond and the Meeker / Longs cirque doesn't suck too bad :-D )

I make several runs to Chasm each year just because it's one of my favorite places on the planet to pause and think. Will make you feel giant and microscopic in the same breath.
Dave B wrote:And/or line thy helmet with tin foil and realize this is a freaking mountaineering website.


Steve Climber wrote:So that's your backpack, huh?

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Re: Longs Peak this summer

Postby PaliKona » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:22 am

Thank you for all the comments.

What's the distance to the Keyhole? About 6 miles?

I've made a number of trips up to Chasm Lake and absolutely love it.

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