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 noone 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? rom 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. Summit photo below.
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 (see picture below).
At the car by 2pm. Came home, showered, napped, ate.