8 14ers summited (7 unique/summited Quandary in both summer & winter) but had never previously climbed the peak I see every morning from my Louisville home.

Longs Peak is by far the most technical 14er climb I have ever attempted (a Class 3).  Additionally Longs’ climb window is shorter because of inclement weather (snow, ice & lotta exposure to afternoon lightning).

Dropped Ro at his pal Molly’s on Friday night (Longs is located within RMNP – no dogs allowed) & set my alarm for 1:45am.  Yep, seriously early start.  Hit the road for a 3am meetup in Lyons with hikers John & Cammy (from Flattop/Hallett hike).  Left the trailhead just before 4am – only 2 spots left in parking.  Crazy, huh?

Headlamps for an hour half, day break, then our first view of Longs.  Another hour across the Boulderfield & up to the Keyhole (popular winter hike challenge).  Super star hiker Cammy slowed briefly so I could catch my breath – then across the Traverse as we followed a well-marked trail of bulleyes.  (John stayed behind at the Keyhole.)

To the left of the Keyhole stands a stone hut erected to memory of Agnes Vaille. Having accomplished the first winter ascent of the East Face on January 12, 1925, she was caught in a storm a died of exposure, a companion lost fingers, toes, and part of a foot; and a would-be rescuer also froze to death.

Next up, the Trough.  Not a huge fan of the Boulderfield (John’s fave), but that was meek whining compared to the show playing in my head at the Trough – aka Stairmaster from Hell.  Cammy said the key is not looking UP….and UP & UP & UP.

Much of the remaining altitude is accounted for here, climbing over chunks of granite at an angle approaching 35 degrees. Be aware of falling rocks, and be careful not to free any.

The Trough gave way to the Narrows – a rock ledge loop around the backside of Longs.  Honestly, found this narrow ledge far less frightening than stories posted from hikers past.  PLUS the sun came out – so our horizon kicked up big time.  Beautiful.

For the most part the route is level and as wide as a generous sidewalk, but there is a short stretch where it’s only a couple of feet wide and the wall about tilts out above you and over the dropoff – but only for a few steps.

The Narrows looped around into the Home Stretch – a rock climb scramble to Longs summit.  AMAZING, LOVED it!  Lotta natural hand holds available on the rock face.  Scaled over to avoid wet rock (poor footing). UP, UP, UP.  Favourite part of hike!

Summited at 940am.  WOW!  (Cammy does not let up – super fast hiker.)

Sunshine, no lightning.  Incredible views!

ALSO, met up with 2 different hikers whom I had met last year when hiking Grays.  What are the chances?  Shane had FB’d me a day prior, inviting me to join his man group of 3 from Loveland.  Chris has just moved from Iowa last September & was getting married within weeks.  This day, met the wife & snapped their Longs summit pic.  Small world.

Hike return could be broken into 2 distinct hikes.  Summit to Keyhole, Cammy suggested we crabwalk.  Trail running & crabwalking – we barreled down the mountain fast.  Took a short break & rejoined John at the Keyhole.

Paid for poor eating habits over the Boulderfield return, emptying my stomach at least 3 times (woke uber early & ate little during our 11 hour hike – bad combo).  John & Cammy suggested I power nap for 15 minutes.  Located a large flat rock – SUCCESS!  Not 100% but probably 85% better.  Hooray!   Face wash, bathroom break & now good to go.

Shane, Milt & Sergei invited our threesome to join them for soup & pie at the Baldpate Inn, just outside of Estes.  Anytime food is involved, just say yes 🙂  Fun conversation & I’m a HUGE fan of pie (the rhubarb pie was A+).  Will return for soup & pie after RMNP x-country ski adventures this winter.  Yep, already looking forward to snow 🙂

 

WATCH my video ‘Longs Peak 14,259ft’

 

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