Monday, August 03, 2009

Longs Peak

Last year I failed to climb Longs Peak (elevation 14,259 ft) due to a knee injury in mid July. This year, the Keyhole route was snow/ice free and opened for non-technical ascents on July 20. Having never done the North Longs Peak Trail, which hooks up to the Keyhole route via Granite Pass, I decided to take this trail. It's longer than the popular east trail (21 mile round trip versus 16 miles) which begins at the Longs Peak Ranger Station, but has a couple of advantages. The East Longs Peak Trail is stupendously crowded with hundreds of hikers and a parking lot that fills up before 3am. The parking at Glacier Gorge Junction does not fill until much later. On my hike today, I did not see another soul for the first 7.2 miles of my hike. I believe the north trail is less rocky, climbs at a more moderate slope, and is prettier than the east trail.
Sunrise at 0556 from Granite Pass.
Alpenglow on the Diamond, Longs' east face.
Tents pitched in the Boulderfield...looks darned cold and uncomfortable. Notice the rock walls built to try and shield the tents from the winds which routinely sweep this area.
The Keyhole.
Not a graceful way to go through, but considering the high, gusting winds today, probably a safe way to do it.
View west through the Keyhole including McHenry's Peak, Frozen Lake, Shelf Lake, and Black Lake
Painted "targets" or "bulls -eyes", or 'fried eggs". Whatever you want to call them, these mark the route. This picture shows the end of the Ledges leading into the Trough.
Looking up the Trough, a fairly steep rubble-filled couloir.
Looking back down Glacier Gorge at Jewel and Mills Lakes.
The Narrows, a three-to-four foot wide path with big drop offs to the right.
Four hundred foot high cliffs known as "The Palisades". That's Mt. Meeker in the background.
This steep cliff with vertical cracks is called "The Homestretch". There's enough exposure here to make me mighty nervous, and I'm always relieved to finish this...both on the way up and on the way down.
View down the Homestretch from the summit of Longs.
Me getting ready to write my name into the summit log.

View of Mt. Meeker.
Looking east toward Twin Sisters with Chasm Lake and Peacock Pool in the foreground.
Storm Peak with a bit of residual snow. Down there in the lower center are those tents pitched in the Boulder Field. Good luck trying to pick them out!
Me tucking down behind some rocks for a well deserved rest and some food.
I waited for this group of climbers to attain the summit before starting my descent.
Paint marks and a sign direct hikers to the Narrows at the bottom of the Homestretch.
The Narrows.
View westwards down the Trough.
This was my view, and route, northwards and home from Granite Pass.
The North Longs Peak Trail.
High country elk. Notice this years calf still has its spots.
A pair of beautiful weather-worn tree trunks.
Glacier Creek...almost down to the trail head!


Anonymous said...

Awesome - thanks for blogging your trip to Longs Peak - hope to make the trip myself August 2010 with my 30 year old son via Black Lake

Slacker said...

To Anonymous: I've been wanting to climb Longs via Glacier Gorge, Black Lake, and the Trough. Good luck to you!

Daryl said...

I worked and lived in Estes Park from 89' to 2005. I've been to so many places in the Park, and yet, Longs Peak is still on my list. I've heard so much about the Narrows, I often wonder if it is really for me. Photos such as these does two things. They help me to clarity my faith it can (or might) be doable. The other, to clarity my faith in a higher power: because it will damn sure be needed!