Long Peak may not be the highest peak in Colorado, but it's definitely the most popular. Situated in the middle of Rocky Mountains National Park this mountain really dominates the sky, high above the neighboring mountains. The normal route (Keyhole) is not very difficult, but it's quite demanding in terms of distance and altitude.
Longs Peak is unquestionably the monarch of the Front Range and northern Colorado. It dominates all within sight of it. Longs Peak is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Its summit attracts thousands of people each year, and it is one of the most popular peaks in the western United States. Somehow, Longs popularity makes people feel safer, but the opposite is the case. Many people believe the greatest climbing hazard today is beeing below other people. Any route on Longs is a serious undertaking. The Keyhole-route is a class 3 climb (usually called scrambling). But the difficulty increases dramatically when conditions are bad, and many people have died here. Sudden summer storms can turn the Homestretch (summit-slabs) into a bobsled run. Ice-axe and crampons are usually needed until early July.
As usual I got a late start (arround 8 AM). When I studied the guestbook at the trailhead, I found out that most of the people had started between 4 AM and 6 AM. To avvoid the unpleasent experience with thunderstorms on Maroon Peak, I decided to walk fast and catch up with the other climbers. 1-2 hours from the trailhed, I arrived Chasm Lake. From here I could see Long Peaks slabby east-face (see big picture). The summit seemed pretty close from here, but the fact is that one have to go in a big circle to reach the back side of the mountain. Definately not a shortcut in this case.
One hour later I reached the Key Hole, which is an interesting passage through the ridge. Just below this point there is a huge open space suitable for tents for those who wants to take this peak in two days. Here I also met two Lamas, probably used for transportation of equipment between the trailhead and highcamp.
From here it was a traverse, before I started the scrambling in loose rocks. Luckily I didn't have many people above me dislodging rocks etc.
The final meters to the summit was rather exposed, but I was pleased to see that the so called Homestretch was free of ice. If this had not been the case, I would say that rope would be essential here, to prevent a fatal slide down the huge east-face.
I reached the summit before 1 PM. The weather was rapidly turning bad, so I decided to leave the summit immediately. All the people I passed on my way up, seemed to have turned arround before the summit. Appearantly I was the last person standing on the summit this day.
This trip ended my journey in the Colorado mountains (for now). I hope to return soon and climb more fourteeners....