Success on Longs Peak North Face

We’ve tried four times….once a year ago, where we set out to climb the Diamond and ended up getting engaged instead, twice this spring under rough conditions, and finally yesterday…Victory!

We set out at 3:00 am from the Long’s Peak trailhead with our friends Sarka and Jakub. Apryle set a quick pace up the trail; we passed a bunch of other parties (blew my mind how many folks were out there) and arrived at Chasm Junction by 4:30 am, Granite Pass by 5am, and were getting set to climb at the base of the route (after screwing around looking for water, found a nice little cascade up high just below a snowfield fyi) at 7am. We passed some former CMS clients on their first independent alpine route. The route was easy – almost painfully so after we suffered and toiled to climb it without success earlier this year. We breezed through the “technical” section on a running belay, stuffed the rope in my pack and scrambled the last couple hundred vertical feet to the summit. Summited at 9am. Incredible views. Felt good to get there, but almost a cheap experience by how easy it turned out to be.

We decided to return via the keyhole route – what a nightmare. we must have passed a hundred people on their way up. sort of upset me….people shortcutting trails, blaring radios, kicking off rocks onto the hordes below….not my kind of mountain experience. I don’t think I want to climb Longs again in the summer, for that reason.

I slipped trying to pass a handful of idiots on the trail on the way down and hit my knee pretty hard, but made it down just fine. We reached the car at 2pm, even after spending 20min or so soaking our feet on the hike out. an 11 hour roundtrip. unbelievable to me, after this spring.

I’m tired this morning, and sore. I feel like we can climb mountains, though… we actually have a shot at something big someday.

Apryle’s take:

So…we made it. We picked up Sarka and Jakob at 2:30am, drove to the Longs Peak trailhead and began the 6 mile hike to the boulderfield around 3am. We easily cruised the hike in about 2:45, passing probably 12 other parties and having no one pass us.

The amount of people hiking to Longs was incredible.

After a time-consuming search for a water source, we began climbing the North Face of Longs at 7am.

The North Face starts off with a bunch of scrambling over talus, which leads up to about 200 feet of 5.4 rock climbing. The 5.4 section is adequately protected by slinging the old eye-bolts that are still around from the days when there was a thick cable handrail running up this route. Jakob led easily. After the climbing let up, we unroped, scrambled about another 650 vertical feet, and that was it. Done. No false summit. No route finding dilemas. It was straightforward and just plain easy.

After enjoying the breathtaking views, signing the summit log, taking the customary summit photos, and grabbing a bite to eat, we decided not to rappel back down the North Face but to instead take the standard hiking route – the Keyhole route – back to the boulderfield. In my opinion, the Keyhole route had more consistently tricky, exposed sections than the North Face, in part due to the slick, pollished granite that day after day takes a pounding from tourist feet. This route was made increasingly challenging due to all of the moving obstacles – tourist hikers and falling rock due to tourist hikers. Looking down into the trough of the Keyhole route, you could see them queued up like ants.

At the car by 2pm. Came home, showered, napped, ate.

150 Phil belaying
200 Longs Peak Summit
010 At the Trailhead
160 Chasm Lake
190 Longs Peak Summit
090 Jakub leading
020 Break at Treeline
050 The North Face of Longs Peak
110 Jakub Leading
130 Jakub enjoying the exposure
230 The Narrows
220 Lines in the Homestretch
100 Jakub leading
210 Apryle descending the Homestretch
060 Jakub reaching the base
240 An Opportunistic Marmot
110 Hordes in the Trough
080 Racking up at the base
120 Chasm View from above
140 Jakub belaying Apryle
180 Jakub on the summit
170 Climbing the North Face
030 Crowds at the Boulderfield
040 Sunrise over Lady Washington
070 Phil and Apryle at Chasm View


1 Pinchley { 07.30.10 at 3:29 pm }

Thanks for the photos and the trip report. I know that the descent via the Keyhole route was crowded, but was curious whether there were many people ascending via the North Face. Also, I was curious if there was a reason you decided to descend via the keyhole route as opposed to rappelling back down the north face? Thanks.

2 Apryle { 07.31.10 at 10:31 am }

We had never been up (or down) the Keyhole route, so we just wanted to see what the route was like. We live in the area and often get questions about the Keyhole route so we thought it would be good to know the route. There were not many people on the North Face/Cables route the day we did it. We might have been the only party. If you have technical climbing skills/gear, we highly recommend the North Face route.

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