Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Date Posted:  08/10/2012
Date Climbed:   07/24/2012
Author:  Paco

During the first 9 days of my 2012 trip to Colorado I had climbed Mt. LIndsey, Mt. Elbert, South Elbert, Quandary Peak, Castle Peak, Conundrum Peak, Mt. Hope, Mt. of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Ridge, Mt. Bierdstadt and Mt. Evans. (See part 1/Mt. Lindsey and Part 2/Mt. of the Holy Cross, of this report)

Day 10: At 4:00 A.M. I drove to Longs' main trailhead with a plan in mind but unsure of the final outcome.

It would be a very long day of climbing
The Loft.
, first up the steep and tricky not so popular Loft route to the connecting saddle,
Mt. Meeker's summit.
then turning south to summit 13,911' Mt. Meeker
Longs from Meeker.
from where I had a close up view of Longs Peak summit then returning to the saddle, (where I teamed up with to young locals who had lost the trail) and down climbing (class 4) to enter Keplinger's couloir
At the bottom of Keplinger's couloir.
Exiting Keplingers
and up to reach the homestretch and the summit of 14,255' Longs Peak.

After some awesome shots of the entire RMNP mountains we got down via the crowded Keyhole route, which is no walk in the park.
Summit group shot.

Even after running the last 2 miles down, it ended up being a 10 hr. journey climbing the two tallest peaks in RMNP making a complete loop around Longs in the process.
Down the trough.

Day 11: I took the day off to give my tired legs a break and explore Estes Park with the family.

Day 12: We traveled south to the small town of Crestone where I had left some unfinished business last year, grabbed my big backpack and hiked for nearly 4 hours to beautiful Willow Lake, where I joined other climbers and camped overnight.

I woke up early on day 13 after sleeping poorly and headed up the nasty slopes above the lake at 5:15 A.M., it was tough going; the accumulated lack of sleep was killing me, my legs were dead.
On Challenger's slopes.

I battled against a few demons but slowly scrambled up to the top of 14,081' Challenger Point,
Kit Carson and Crestone Peak From Challenger.
regained momentum then pushed on along the ledges and steep ramps to the summit of 14,165' Kit Carson Peak,
Challenger from Kit Carson.
the last stop of my itinerary.
Humboldt and Columbia Point from K.C.
Views of jaw dropping cliffs and sweeping valleys were topped off by the imposing presence of neighboring Crestone Peak, the monarch of the central Sangre de Cristo Range.
Needle and Peak from Kit Carson.

After feeding my soul with pure mountain energy for a good while I returned to the lake,
broke camp, packed everything and hiked down quickly to the trailhead where my family was waiting for me by 2:30 P.M. for an 8 hr. day. Unlike me up the mountains, they spotted a big bear the previous night right outside the hotel.

After a heavenly meal in Crestone, we made one last stop at the Sand Dunes Hot Springs pool, the best place to soothe my aching bones after having logged 100 miles on mountainous terrain and gained a total of 42,700' of elevation on my endeavor in an accumulated time of 69 hours and 20 minutes.
Challenger, K.C. and Colubia Pt. from Sand Dunes pool.
It wasn't until then that the tornado warning over the Rockies was finally allowed to expire.

(Though extremely rare, an actual tornado was spotted near the summit of Mt. Evans just five days after I'd been there)

Run far, climb high...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Comments or Questions

08/11/2012 04:03
I just finished up Challenger and Kit Carson yesterday and that hike was looooong. It's only 6 miles round trip from the lake, but it was a steep and loose trail. My Trip Report should be up by tomorrow

Well done my man! Glad you got to explore such a gorgeous area of Colorado. Keep up the good work!

Jeremy Bauman

Nice work!
08/11/2012 06:24
Glad to see a trip report from a fellow Texan! I feel like it makes the summits more meaningful to have to travel so far just to reach the TH (especially for you coming from Houston!).

Keep up the good work!


Houston Runner
08/11/2012 13:29
Paco, great report and photos - I am also Houston based and a runner - headed to Long's three weeks from today. By chance do you run early in the morning's at Memorial Park?


Houston Runner/climber
08/11/2012 18:40
@ emohr: thanks, I'll be back to the Sangres next time. Beautiful area and a lot to explore.
@ Jeremy: tnx. When you travel that far you just gotta make the most of it!
@ rockchalker: tnx; yes I run @ Memorial park most days before dawn; do you?
Good luck with Longs, wish I could do it again.


hosuton runner/climber
08/12/2012 15:01
Paco, Normally I run Tue/Thurs at 4:45am with a small group of other runners. Do you drive a small pickup? We also park in the tennis center parking lot not far from where you do. I think I know who you are and will introduce myself next time I see you.


morning runner
08/12/2012 17:46
O.K. I normally start around 4:30-35. I now drive a white Sentra, by mile 0, see you there.


Saw you on the Avenue!
08/16/2012 20:10
Way to get after it man! Johnson and I ran into you on Kit Carson avenue when you were heading up and we were heading down. You must be in damn good shape! I have a picture of you on the avenue but it's from pretty far away.. Didn't know how to post it but if you want it let me know!


Down the avenue
08/17/2012 13:56
I remember talking to you guys, I had the KC summit for myself after you. I'll include Peak/Needdle/Humbolt on my next trip.
Would be nice to see that picture if you can post or send it.
Hammer on!!!

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