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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.

Longs

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Longs

Derek Bartz

Descending Keyhole Ridge

Descending Keyhole Ridge

Trip Date: July 26, 2014
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Miles: 13.5
Vert: 5,000'
Start/Finish: East Longs Peak Trailhead
Permit Required?: Not for day use
Season: Mid July-Mid September, winter condition will likely exist outside of these months
Directions: Found here

I hadn't been up Longs Peak yet, and I'm still trying to figure out why.  The stories of hoards of people lining the Keyhole Route had kept me away, and it's close proximity to Boulder kept me saving it for a low key weekend.  Well...  

Choosing to forgo the standard route, Zach and I decided on heading up The Loft and going down the North Face for a classic "tour de Longs."  A 4:30am start had us up a Chasm Lake for sunrise, which is a mandatory quick side-trip when arriving at this time of day.  The low lying clouds hanging around the peak and the alpenglow on the Diamond was phenomenal. The Loft is a great alternative to the Keyhole if one is looking for another option up Longs with similar difficulties, but surprisingly a crowd of people also.  I quickly led us off route and into some Class 4/5 terrain near the top of The Loft after missing a sharp left turn toward a scree gully that avoided the steepening cliffs and led to easier ledges.   

A little more confusion on the traverse to Clark's Arrow had us ascending to early, and we ended up on the of south summit of Longs aka The Beaver with the Notch Couloir between us and true summit; adding a couple hundred feet of vert to the day.  We quickly headed back down, traversed to Keplinger's Couloir, and took The Homestretch to the top by 9:30am.

Early morning at Chasm Lake.  The Ships Prow to the left and the Diamond dominating center.

Zach was a savior and split half of his peanut butter pancake sandwich with me (half way to Lyons this morning I realized mine was still in the fridge) and we headed down toward the North Face/Cables Route.  We accidently started down the Keyhole Ridge, but were able to traverse back to the belay station above the 5.4 slabs were the old cables used to be.  I was thankful we had brought a rope, because the thought of down climbing the slick, wet slabs wasn't very appealing. The bottom of the technical pitch takes you right to Chasm View with an incredible profile image of the Diamond.  We could see a number of parties on the wall.  From there it was a bit of boulder hopping back to the Boulder Field and a quick couple miles to get back to the car by 1:00pm.

Looking up The Loft

Looking up The Loft

Looking back towards Mills Moraine from the lower half of The Loft

Looking back towards Mills Moraine from the lower half of The Loft

Off route, beautiful grassy ledges reminiscent of Broadway (minus the HUGE exposure) I would imagine.  The Class 3 ramp is in the left portion of the photo.

Off route, beautiful grassy ledges reminiscent of Broadway (minus the HUGE exposure) I would imagine.  The Class 3 ramp is in the left portion of the photo.

Summit views.  Chasm Lake and Peacock Pool below.

Summit views.  Chasm Lake and Peacock Pool below.

The second rap on the The North Face/Cables Route

The second rap on the The North Face/Cables Route