Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2013
Date Climbed:   07/16/2013
Author:  Rambler
 15 hours on Longs   

I've decided to write this report as what I was thinking during this climb. The route is well marked and documented, so I thought I'd give you more of a play by play of what was going through my mind.

Drove out to my sister in law's house in Kersey, CO from Olathe KS Friday, July 12th to start this adventure. Instead of a warm up hike, I chased my twin 9 year olds and 10 year old nephew all over Elitch Gardens Saturday. Sunday we headed up to Estes Park to meet more family and stay at Streamside at Fall River. Tuesday seemed like it was going to be the best weather day, so we decided to start our hike with myself, my cousin Mike, cousin Matt, sister Monica, and my wife Eliza at 2am from the ranger station. We were on trail walking at 2:12am.
The hike through the forest seemed to go pretty fast and I was happy with the pace. The stars were AMAZING and Boulder was just about the only thing giving off light besides our headlamps. Saw several shooting stars and even a few satellites, just the view of the sky with no light pollution was worth it. Our progress seemed to slow as we continued up and we saw a steady stream of headlamps following, and many overtaking, us.


Not a rock, a ptarmigan covering up her 3 chicks

By the time the sun came up we had been caught and passed by several groups. At about this time I realized how much time I had spent studying trip reports and how really 80% of your time is spent below the Keyhole, and only a fraction of it on the Ledges, Trough, Narrows, Homestretch. I knew we were running a bit late since I wanted to be at the Keyhole near sunup, but we pressed on to make a decision at the Keyhole.

First view of Longs as the sun is coming up

Finally we reached the boulder field and privy area. We were easily able to access the stream on the climbers left to filter our water and were off to gain some elevation up to the Keyhole.

What I think the moon must look like

For some reason I was thinking that you just walk over to the Keyhole from the boulder field, because you know, I did my research by looking at this site's pictures. Just more proof that pics don't do this area justice. This was our first scramble up to gain the Keyhole/shelter area.


View back down to privy

Me in Keyhole

As you can see from the pictures, we were blessed with a total bluebird day thus far. We were definitely behind schedule (9:30ish at Keyhole), but since the weather window was there we decided to push on to see how far we could get. At this point Mike's legs were toast and he smartly made the decision to hang back at the boulder field with a walkie and wait for us. You may have seen him that day (he was wearing an MU hat) and he said he easily spoke to 30 some people as they were making their way up and down the mountain (a few in bad shape, some guy got carried out on a horse). Again, we had plenty of water and food so we felt comfortable working over to the Trough to see what we were really up against.

Crossing Ledges

About half way up the Trough I could see that my sister was getting to her stopping point. It was her first 14er (coming from CA) and in hindsight it was a bit much to bite off for her first one. She did a great job getting as far as she did, and was smart enough to call it quits with enough in the tank to get back.

My sister and cousin navigating Trough

By then my cousin Matt and myself were at the top of the Trough and were going to try to push on to the summit. We had left my sister and my wife with the other 2 walkie talkies and expected to meet up on the way down. Next came the Ledges, and man what a sight! The exposure was intense and made you watch every foot and hand hold. Photo doesn't really do it justice.

Exposure on Narrows

After coaching Matt across the Narrows all we had left was the Homestretch. Passed about 10 other people coming down from the summit, and we were just grinding it out to get there. There was still some water running down the cracks and a bit of ice, but it wasn't anything that couldn't be avoided. This was my first class 3 scramble and I LOVED every minute of it (at least past the Keyhole).
We finally summited at about 11:15 or so, again way behind schedule, but there were only thin wispy clouds around so we felt pretty good. We were the only 2 up there for a few minutes before being joined by 2 more. Here are a few of the pics we got from the summit.

Summit marker

Matt's first 14er

Number 7!

Above the clouds

Matt descending Homestretch

We spent probably less than 10 minutes on the summit. We were eager to get our group reunited and get our hike out of here started.
To my surprise, I ran into my wife at the base of the homestretch. She had joined another group that were wearing KU gear (my alma mater) and were on a mission to summit to spread a loved one's ashes on top. I really appreciate you guys helping her across the Narrows and I hope you were able to summit. Due to the time and fatigue setting in, my wife decided to turn around and go back down with us. Don't care what you think, I'm giving her an honorary summit just for being the badass she is.

We caught up to my sister halfway across the ledges. She had a wonderful time snacking and enjoying the views of Glacier Gorge.
Back at the Keyhole (Mike had decided to head back to the car) we were all ready to get the heck off this mountain and back to the hot tub at the cabin. We descended back to the boulder field and again filtered our water to top us all off.

Then started the hike out. Yikes. We all joked that we saw none of this stuff on the way up since it was dark.


Beaver shot (hehehe)

Loft route, maybe a return trip?

I was getting a few pics of the Beaver and Loft when I saw the sign...

She didn't know how much she'd hate those 4.2 miles

4.2 MORE MILES?!!? Oh man!

After an hour or so an even suckier sign....

Hate you sign

My wife shifting into "get me off this mountian" mode

At this point we were all pretty exhausted. We had a nice couple take our picture at the last stream crossing.

Tired but happy!

Then I decided that I'd run down the trail to the car. I just wanted this hike to be over, my legs and feet were screaming at me. I jogged (and swore) past a sign that let me know I still had half a mile left. FINALLY I broke into the parking lot, threw off my socks and shoes, and sat in the back of the jeep waiting on the others. It was about 5:30pm. 15 hours, about 15 miles. This was truly the hardest, yet one of the most satisfying hikes I've ever done. There had been some discussion on the forum about whether you should take a first timer up this mountain. I'd say no to that one. Its a really long and physically demanding hike and I think it would be pretty discouraging if it were your first experience. That said, my cousin Matt made it up (his first) and he was super psyched about it. I don't know if I'll ever get back up to Longs again (think I'd like to try the Loft route at some point) but I definitely had a GREAT time with some great people up there.

Looking forward to my next trip out to Challenger/Kit Carson Aug 1-3rd! I just hope to get as great a weather window as I did with Long's.

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 21 22

Comments or Questions

08/28/2013 01:05
Nice job on an epic peak guys. Its awesome to see good judgment and communication used in the mountains. Glad you had an awesome experience. Whats next?

Doctor No

Photo #10
08/28/2013 18:47
Enjoyed the photos. You may not have realized it, but you got a great shot of ”The Hearse” (at the right of your tenth photo).

great job!
08/29/2013 20:05
I love reading these kinds of reports. Longs was my first, when I was 23. I've done it 3 more times. Each time swearing ”never again”! But with regard to the Loft route, yes that is the way to go. I've done it that way the last 2 times. But you need to be comfortable with the prospect of route finding on the back side and feeling remarkably alone!
I've climbed most of the 14ers and claim that Longs is indeed the most physically demanding. And it is somewhat crazy how many rookies (like me) blindly continue along the narrows and homestretch just because others are doing it. Those in your group that chose to stop are to be given congrats. You do not want to be exhausted physically or mentally and have to descend homestretch.

How'd you do on Kit/Challenger? They can be very tough too! Took me 2 trips and I took a shot from a rock the first time. I'd say Challenger is one of the most discouraging/infuriating slopes.
Props to your entire party!


Long For Longs
08/31/2013 21:22
Great trip report! We climbed it on the 31st and I want to go back and visit that summit again. Nice pictures, and you are right in that last mile or so back down to reach the parking lot is a killer!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!
10/23/2013 02:04
Love the hat! ROCK CHALK!!! I just moved to Denver from Lawrence! I am a true Jayhawk fan!!
and Congrats on the mountain!!

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