Mountaineering – Longs Peak (14,255 ft) via the Keyhole

Slava on Longs Peak Summit
Slava on Summit of Longs Peak

Super Psyched on Longs Peak
Climbergirl Conquers Longs Peak

Longs Peak and the Keyhole from Boulderfield
Our Destination, From the Boulderfield

On Friday, Slava and I took advantage of the clear weather and climbed Longs Peak. Originally, our plan was to climb Mt. Lady Washington, but since the weather was gorgeous and we were making excellent time, we decided to go for the summit of Longs Peak instead.

We ascended the ever popular Keyhole Route. It was my first time climbing Longs Peak, so I was excited to do this route in winter when there would be no crowds. Additionally, the element of snow and ice made the route more challenging and I enjoyed the added technicality of climbing with crampons.

Jim's Grove Vacinity - En Route to Longs Peak
Jim’s Grove Vicinity, 10,800 ft. It took us one hour to get here, from the trail head. We were climbing at a fairly rapid pace, ascending ~ 1,400 feet in an hour.

Slava in Mills Moraine
Slava in Mills Moraine. He brought his big artsy camera. Good training weight!

Clare in Mills Moraine - With Longs Peak Lurking
Slava took this picture of me with his fancy camera. Nice, isn’t it?

Clare and Slava Above Granite Pass
Gorgeous Blue-bird day!

Slava Ascending the Keyhole
Slava approaching the keyhole. We made it here 4 hours after leaving the trail head. The weather was holding and we were feeling great, so we went for the summit.

Clare on West Side of Keyhole
After climbing through the keyhole, one exits on the west side. After descending the west side of the keyhole, we took a 10 minute break to put on crampons. The next 6 hours, 3 hours to reach the summit and 3 hours to come back, were technical and required alertness, concentration, and efficient climbing.

Slava Traversing to the Loft
Slava traversing to get to the loft.

Clare Gazing at the Loft on Longs Peak
It took us about 20 minutes to get to the base of the loft. Slava took this picture of me staring up at the climb.

Slava with Lofty Ambitions
Slava with “lofty” ambitions. Pun intended. It took us 50 minutes to climb the loft.

From the top of the loft, one is confronted with the narrows which are a series of ledges about as wide as a sidewalk. I really enjoyed the narrows. Since nobody was there, we were able to go really fast and made excellent time. Slava tells me that in summertime, it can take a very long time as there are cues of people waiting for the person in front of them to advance.

Slava on The Narrows
Slava after a crux on the Narrows

Slava on the Narrows
Looking at Slava on the Narrows (I made him turn around for this shot, on our way back down).

Clare Scrambling on the Narrows
Clare on the Narrows (Slava took this picture on our descent!).

Slava at the Homestretch
Slava getting ready to climb the homestretch. Somebody painted these targets into key spots on the route, to aide with route finding.

Slava Ascending Slab O' Snow
Slava climbing the last 100 feet of the homestretch. Since snow slabs covered part of the route and ice filled the cracks, we used a combination of snow and ice climbing techniques to get through this section.

Clare Finishing the Homestretch
Slava got this picture of me at the top of the homestretch. We did not need a rope or ice screws. However, having an ice ax and crampons were essential!

Clare and Slava on Longs Peak
Summit of Longs Peak! Super psyched. It took 7 hours and 20 minutes. This included several short snack breaks and gearing up with crampons.

Slava Taking a Photo on Longs Peak
On the summit, we walked around and took some pictures. We ate a quick lunch and then it was time to descend. We left the summit at around 3:15pm and made it back to the car 6 hours later. As we descended, the wind became more and more severe. By the time we reached the Keyhole, Slava clocked 86 mph gusts! It was an excellent day of climbing, albeit long (another intended pun).

I was grateful to Slava for driving and I fell asleep about 20 seconds after I got in the car. We made it back to his house around 10:30pm and his wife fed me beet soup, cheese, and crackers. Fueled by her good cooking and Slava’s most excellent Latte, I made it home by midnight.

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