Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Long's Peak

On our trip to Colorado we made a huge plan to climb Long's Peak. It is 14,255 feet tall- the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a big deal to climb- you start at 2 or 3 AM and need to be off of the summit before 12 in order to miss afternoon storms. It is a round trip hike over 16 miles with over 5000 vertical feet climbed. The first 6 miles are hiking, the last two are scrambling and grunting.

We started at 2AM- signed into the log book and began our voyage...

It was SO cold- just about 35*... So we kept moving as much as we could- But around 5:30 we stopped for a break and took these pics. It was so cool to be above the treeline and also above the clouds with the sun coming up.

Checking out the summit and where we were headed.

At around 6:30 we made it to the Boulder Field. This is a spot where there are actually campsites that you can stay at and then go for the summit from here. It sounds really cold, rocky and windy to me. There are solar toilets here also. At the top of the boulderfield there is a little house that you can go into that is really cute. It was build in honor of the people who have died on Longs (58). This is also a really killer place to take a quick morning nap in 34* weather!

At the top of the BF is the Keyhole. At this point you are 1.5 miles from the summit but you are only 1/2 way there- kinda like mile 20 of a marathon. You climb through this point and then you are hiking on the backside of the mountain.

Looking back to the Keyhole

When you first go through the Keyhole it is really windy, but then it dies down and it is a long scramble following the blazes that are painted on the rocks. The saddest part is when you look and realize that you have to go DOWN about 500 feet in order to follow the marked path. This is not a tricky part, but it is just long. I think that going back through this is one of the hardest parts of the whole climb just because of the amount of time that it takes and you are hungry, tired and well you are hungry and tired.
Climbing through the Keyhole

Then you reach the Trough. This is about an 800 foot ascent that is 1/2 mile long. There is lots of big steps up and while it is not really dangerous, it is a long ways down!

Looking Up

Looking Down

Once you get to the top of the trough, you climb back through another crevice- this one doesn't have a name, out around a little corner and the next step is the Narrows. This is maybe 400 feet of 3 feet wide rock that you are walking on. There are a couple of sketchy places like this: and THIS:

You can see where all of the people are scooting along the ridge...

Once you make it past all of this- there is once final part that you have to accomplish. THE HOMESTRETCH. This is a slab of rock that is maybe at a 45* angle that you just crawlk up on your hands and knees and then you slide down on the butt later on.


The sign at the top!

Finally you make it to the summit. You don' tthink about the fact that you have to do it all in reverse, you just jump for joy, collapse, or have a snack.

This was a huge accomplishment for our crew. We had made it a goal of the trip to complete this and had a few bumps along the way- one of them being that we were told that the climb was still being considered "technical" meaning you need ice axes and crampons to get through the snow fields and ice dams- luckilly for us, it opened up the day before we did it. Also, it was very very cold the morning we started- this was hard becuase as you were walking, you got sweaty, you stopped to take a break and got freezing cold, start walking again and get sweaty... you get the point. The best part was that we all made it- it was hard for all of us at some point, but they were all different ones! My hardest part: the walk back down on the trail... I was so tired!

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