Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
"Southeast Longs"  -  14,060 feet
Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
Meeker Ridge  -  13,860 feet
Lady Washington, Mt  -  13,281 feet
Date Posted:  01/22/2013
Date Climbed:   01/19/2013
Author:  geojed
Additional Members:   Yikes
 Ooo La La Longs! - A Winter Slam   

Uniquely Majestic view of Longs Peak from the Iron Gates

Peaks (In order of summit): Meeker Ridge - 13,860', Mt Meeker - 13,911', SE Longs - 14,060', Longs Peak - 14,255', Mt Lady Washington - 13,281'
TH/Route: Meeker-Iron Gates, Loft/Clark's Arrow-Longs Peak, Keyhole descent
Distance: 12mi
Elev Gain: 6800'
Time: 13:00 (5am - 6pm)
Technical Gear: Microspikes, Trekking Poles
Climbers: Geojed (Jed), Jim Yaich (Yikes)
Special Thanks: Aaron (Andyouseeme), Jeremiah (Gen131)


Ever since Aaron posted his TR for the Meeker Iron Gates route over a year ago I've wanted to do this route. I don't know maybe it was because "Iron Gates" sounds cool or something. Now with how dry this winter has been it opened up the possibility of adding Longs Peak to the mix. The trickiest part would be the climb up the top of Keplinger's Couloir and the traverse to the Homestretch. A bad cornice and 50+ deg snow slopes can form here as shown in this picture from a TR by Brad Snider for the Keplinger's Couloir

I was pretty sure with how dry the winter was this tricky area wouldn't have much snow in it but it's always nice to be REALLY sure before committing to the route. Two days prior to the climb Jeremiah (Gen131) posted a conditions update for Chiefs Head Peak in the Wild Basin. I immediately PM'd him asking if he had any good pictures of the back side of Longs Peak and Meeker. He very kindly and generously emailed me 12 FULL resolution pictures that confirmed my suspicion of the Keplinger's Couloir being pretty darn dry. So the planned route was a GO! Thanks again Jeremiah!

The Climb

Jim and I met at the rockin Longs Peak TH. Otina and another group from were doing the Cables Route on Longs on Saturday too. Jim and I set off up the trail at 5am sharp making good time up the bootpacked trail. The temperatures were warm for January and we spent 20min of the next hour de-layering. Finally when we got above tree line a nice breeze was there to keep us cool. We arrived at Chasm Meadows just in time for the alpenglow to hit the Diamond on Longs. From the meadows we followed the gully towards the Loft to a talus bench and then hooked a left and climbed up fairly stable talus blocks towards the Iron Gates on Meeker.

The Iron Gates

I had been eagerly anticipating the very unique and breathtaking view of Longs that can only be had from the Iron Gates route on Meeker and it did not disappoint in the least! I couldn't stop turning around and taking pictures of it!

Longs, MLW and the Chasm

The talus steepened at the top of the gully and the last 30' prior to topping out was some fun/solid Class 3 scrambling. It was nice to finally get to the south side of the ridge to be out of the wind and to be in the warm sun. I basked in the warming sun for 20-30min or so until Jim made it to the ridge. We drank and refueled here for a bit and then headed up the last ~850' to Meeker Ridge.

Longs from Meeker Ridge

From Meeker Ridge we dropped down to the left and did an airy scoot around a boulder and then stayed on the ridge crest for the most part until the knife edge. At the knife edge there are some ledges on the North/right side we could shuffle along while our hands were on the knife edge crest at chest height. The ledges eventually angle back up to the ridge crest and the knife edge relents. We then scrambled over and around large boulders that led finally to the 13,911' summit of Mt Meeker. Centennial #65! Fantastic views were to be had all around.

Knife Edge ridge to Meeker from Meeker Ridge

Northern IPW from Meeker

Looking back at Meeker Ridge from Meeker

SE Longs aka: "The Beave" and Longs Peak

After chilling on the summit for 20min or so we headed down to the Loft. I sped ahead to climb SE Longs as Jim had already climbed it. There was almost no wind across here as Longs must have been blocking it all. I scrambled up the ~600' to the summit of SE Longs in about 25mins from the Loft. Whereupon I yelled: "DUDE! Where's my Bridge?!" The view of Longs' SE face, the chasm 2000' below and the top of Keplinger's Couloir were just spectacular!

Dude where's my bridge? SE face of Longs Peak from SE Longs

Amphitheatre on Pagoda and tricky traverse we would have to do at top of Keplinger's Couloir.

Mt Meeker from SE Longs

I admired the views for a couple of minutes and then headed back down towards the Loft. We followed Bill's beta from the Loft Route on, the numerous cairns and a GPS waypoint to the top of the Clark's Arrow Gully. Here we descended down easy Class 3/4 blocks to the right turn onto a ledge below the famous and very faded "Clark's Arrow" at ~13,200'.

Jim coming down the Clark's Arrow Gully. The arrow is behind his right shoulder

From here we had our first close-up view of the very dry Keplinger's Couloir.

View up Keplinger's from bottom of Clark's Arrow Gully

As we scrambled up the Couloir towards the Notch we couldn't stop gawking at and admiring the incredible Palisades that towered over us to our right.

Jim contemplating the awesome Palisades

Hope that refrigerator sized rock doesn't decide to fall today!

Jim heading up below the Palisades

Looking towards Pagoda Mtn and a cool "diving board" rock formation

As we neared top of the couloir where it splits right for the Notch and left for the Homestretch we could get a better view of the tricky traverse section.

Almost to the tricky traverse to the Homestretch

That way to the Notch

There was some snow on the ledges but it was easy to kick steps in the snow when you had to and connect up dry, rocky sections.

Looking down the Keplinger's Couloir from the top

Jim on the tricky traverse with SE Longs and Palisades behind

We finally made it to the fairly dry Homestretch. Shortly thereafter I arrived at Longs' summit just before 1pm with Jim arriving 15min later.

The Homestretch!

I signed the register and noticed that Brian Crim., Pete K. and another had done the Cables Route that morning and were the only others to sign in so far for the day. Otina and her crew must still be on Cables/North Face route then. We rested and snacked on the summit for 30min or so before donning our Microspikes and heading down the Homestretch and the Keyhole Route.

Summiteer #1

Summiteer #2

Meeker from Longs' Summit

The Narrows were pretty dry too while the Trough had nice crusty/grippy snow that made it easy to descend. All the while we admired the spectacular views of the Glacier Gorge area.

The Narrows

View across the Glacier Gorge

Looking down the Trough

Looking back up the Trough

Almost to the Keyhole!

Jim in a contemplative mood admires the views

Traversing across to the Keyhole was easy as all the newly painted yellow-red dots were easy to see.

Jim heading towards the Keyhole

Last short climb to the Keyhole!

Through the Keyhole and looking at Storm peak

We reached the Keyhole at 3PM and took our Microspikes off as the Boulderfield area was pretty dry. We also split up here after a short rest as I headed to bag MLW while Jim headed down the Boulderfield to the Longs Peak trail.

Evening light/dark provides a nice contrast on Mt Lady Washington

As I headed across towards MLW I spotted some people on Longs' summit plateau. There's Otina and her crew! I yelled up to then as they began their descent down the Cables route.

Jaw dropping views of Longs' North Face

Looking back at the Keyhole

I made quick work over towards MLW though I did stop frequently to take in and photograph the awesome and varied views around me.

Sliver of sunlight left on MLW sub-summit

Take me to your Mummy!

Jaw-dropping face of the Diamond seen up close and personal

Meeker's impressive east face. Iron Gates at far left

Sun peaks out from behind Longs Peak. Keyhole at far right.

I reached MLW summit around 4pm and did a cursory look for the register but couldn't find it. I didn't linger long as the wind was picking up.

Last light on MLW summit with cool lenticular cloud forming high above

So I headed down the seemingly interminable East Ridge on MLW. I spotted Jim down below and yelled to him. He kindly waited for me at Chasm Junction and we headed down the trail towards the TH. Along the way we watched as the evening sun illuminated the numerous lenticular/wave clouds a gorgeous orange/red color.

Fantastic Wave Cloud seen over Mills Morraine

Another Wave Cloud on fire!

We reached the TH at 6pm, jumped in our cars and headed down to feast on yummy burgers at the Wapiti Bar and Grill in Estes Park.

What a fantastic day w/ a great climbing partner, and such an amazing circuit around one of the most spectacular peaks in the state. It has so many different faces with so much variety. When I climb Longs again it will probably be by this exact same route.


When I went to load my pictures on my computer there was a card read error and I thought I had lost all my pictures! I bought a drive memory recovery program for $70 and I was fortunately able to recover 99% of my pictures. The only ones I couldn't get were the ones of the sunrise alpenglow on the Diamond. Oh well. It was definitely money well spent IMHO.

Stay thirsty for summits my friends! 8)
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions
01/22/2013 21:40
Thanks for the beta! I only wish the weather would hold thru the weekend! Heck of an adventure guys - hats off to both of you.

Amazing route, Jed!
01/22/2013 21:45
Wow - you really kicked this one! Nice job on a tough route.

PS - The summit register on MLW was jammed into the space right below the summit rock.

Only 6,800' vert?
01/22/2013 22:00
By Jed standards that's a MEDIUM DAY. Nice job and congrats to both you and Jim, looks like a stellar route.

01/22/2013 22:24
That is an exceptional route in any season; done in winter it displays some truly outstanding views! Great job, and super shots! Thanks for posting!

Good Work..
01/22/2013 22:44
I must have just missed you on MLW... I ran up there while the rest of the group was on the rappel...

The Clouds
01/22/2013 23:44
I couldn't keep my eyes on the road driving home from Pikes that day as the sunset was amazing! Nice work Jed.

Brian C
Great photos...
01/22/2013 23:46
...and nice report. You were cruising when we saw you go over Meeker. Nice work!

sorry Jed
01/23/2013 00:29
My camera curse on Longs Peak strikes again. I didn't have much luck piecing mine back together.

Thanks again for the hike. My legs are finally starting to recover.

Huge day
01/23/2013 02:23
and really enjoyed the photos. Glad you recovered them. Such a great area. Nice work!

The joy of the mountains
01/23/2013 02:42
Great Pictures! Making me day dream of the next trip I get to take into the Rockies

01/23/2013 03:39
Nice work and I agree, someone else's money well spent!

Wookie Horn
01/23/2013 04:00
Great pictures and very cool route. You guys earned some beers after that long day.

I can almost see me in your pic of Glacier Gorge!

Wyoming Bob
My gosh it is dry . . .
01/23/2013 04:56
Well done and a long day,


Dave B
Image 1
01/23/2013 17:52
Is quite a unique view of upper Kieners. Never seen it from that angle before. It looks to make the one crappy scree route in an otherwise bomb-proof granite cirque seem worth it!

Good report.

SE Longs!?!?
01/23/2013 22:26
I've been there on my pet unicorn!

Thank You
01/25/2013 01:28
For posting this fun and exciting route of Longs. Its now on my GPS and on my to do list. Great pics. Great time of year to do it. No traffic jams.

Long (Longs) day!
01/26/2013 01:59
Nice work, gents.

Enjoyed the photos - beautiful!

07/29/2013 18:29
Way to go! BIG DAY

09/09/2013 16:55
Thanks for putting up a great TR - was invaluable beta for doing a similar route this weekend!

Steve Climber
05/09/2014 12:26
Pretty bummed I missed out on this one. Looks like it was ahelluva day! I'm considering a solo shot at it this weekend esp with your ”dry almost everywhere” pics. One bonus to another weak winter, I guess

07/21/2016 17:01
pictures and TR. pretty remarkable how dry it was that winter.

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