Peak(s):  Meeker Ridge  -  13,860 feet
Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
"Southeast Longs"  -  14,060 feet
Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  10/27/2013
Modified:  10/28/2013
Date Climbed:   10/26/2013
Author:  goingup
Additional Members:   FireOnTheMountain
 Crying tears of joy does NOT make you a pansy.   

Well, I am back to bore you with another tale of mountain debauchery, only this one is a little different because Longs Peak and friends are truly mesmerizing hunks of rock.

Thursday was coming to an end and FireOnTheMountain (Abe) and I needed to make a decision about what we wanted to tackle on Saturday. Since I am a total winner and every Wednesday I sip tea and discuss meteorology with an 80 year old physics professor at school I knew Saturday's forecast was to be windless and perfectly sun shiny. This would be ideal for our final decision. We threw around the normal ideas: some Sawatch slogs, Silverheels came up, or maybe another day in the Gores but it observed to be heard in both of our voices that we wanted to go play on Longs. Abe poked around on and came up with two trip reports: AndYouSeeMe's on the first day of winter Iron Gates adventure up Meeker (HOW did you go back and forth on Meeker's ridge with icy rime? That's amazing! Seriously.) and geojed's sadly snowless winter ascent of Longs via the Iron Gates (this is pretty much the exact route we took minus Mount Lady Washington. I cannot believe you threw that in after such a long day!) After reading both of these delightful treats I of course was sold on what appeared to be a route that offered it all in an area that demanded respect.

Based off of geojed's gps tracks
Estimated around 13-14 miles
Estimated 6,000 feet of elevation gain
Variable conditions, everything from dry rock to deep snow.
13.5 hours (we had a few short breaks)

Saturday started with a 2:30 a.m. wake up call for me (these are the moments {not when you are dangling off of exposed rock} that you ask yourself "Am I crazy?") Of course I was running late to meet Abe in Boulder but we were both happy we could take my small fuel efficient car to the nearby trail head. This is the part of the story where we almost did not make it to said trail head. I had made mention to Abe that I was unsure what roads are or are not open in between Boulder and the East Longs area. A little research and one CDOT lie later we were weaving through Left Hand Canyon around 4:15 a.m. Now I guess the Road Closed sign that we both decided was a mistake and drove around maybe perhaps should have tipped us off about things to come BUT we are both young and dumb so please road gods and 14ers members forgive us for our sins of passage. We got to survey flood damage first hand and it was BAD. The first part consisted of a lot of "DAYUMMMMMS" and huge chunks of missing road (that we could go around) but then we came to the crux where there was no more road just a dirt path with a bent guard rail. Naturally we followed the dirt path, luckily back onto solid road. The drive improved as we climbed higher and finally we were in Ward. This canyon was ripped to shreds and I am sorry to those who lost property

Thanking our lucky stars we arrived at the East Longs TH and started up around 5:45 a.m, making another beautiful sunrise around the Chasm Lake split.

As we made our way down to Chasm Lake Abe became VERY excited. He loves Longs Peak and began pointing out all the mountaineering routes he has done and he wants to do. He has put some serious work into this mountain and I am thinking, just a hunch but it may be one of his favorites in Colorado. We arrived at the base of the Iron Gates around 7:30 a.m......what a breathtaking area.
Iron Gates, if the name doesn't scare you the knife edge they lead to probably will.

Now there is nothing terribly difficult about gaining Meeker's east ridge unless you have chosen to get your gangster lean on and wear a pair of snowboarding pants with no belt that are two sizes too big for you, then you are falling all over the place like a bumbling idiot. It was the sweetest of relief when we emerged from the cold shadows of the gates and the suns warmth allowed me to take those problem pants off. I spent the rest of the day in a pair of Nike yoga pants that allowed me full use of my legs which happened to prove useful in the endless scrambles to come.

Top of the Iron Gates (photo Abe)
Damn it feels good to be a Gangsta...

On a small sidebar it was time for me to get a new bag. My 28L Osprey that chafes the sh*t out of my hips was no longer cutting it so on Friday I went to 123 Mountain and tried on every single pack in the store. They probably hate me. The only bag that fit my small frame was a 35L (expands to 45L) unisex Millet. Good thing this pack totally rocks! Point being I loaded that bad boy full of all sorts of goodies and was carrying about 15 pounds more than usual on the most exposed and committing route I have ever done. This added some excitement as the bag loved the idea of hurling me off the mountain and getting me all tangled up in hairy narrows.

Gaining "Meeker Ridge" (13,860) requires some blocky rock maneuvering, nothing serious yet. The views are pretty great.
Summit "Meeker Ridge" with "Southeast Longs" aka The Beav in the right background and Mt Meeker behind me

Now the fun starts. This photo pretty much sums up the next hour of my life (photo Abe)
That's a long way down...Oh wait, show no fear.

I quickly adapted to the exposure and we began our traverse. There were several tricky moves in approaching the knife edge. One particular down climb comes to mind. We both decided we probably should have gone right but instead went left and ended up staring at each other for a little while as we made the decision to make a power move. Abe had brought a 30m rope (as a back up safety for me because he is awesome like that) and I had brought some basic climbing gear in case of a situation like this but in the end we both safely over came the difficulty unroped. There are no pictures for obvious reasons. A few more moves and we were at the sort of famed (but not as much as Capitol or Kelso) knife edge.

There is a tale that this knife edge is more exposed than Capital. It may be a while before I know.

Start of the knife edge (photo Abe)

Abe is camera shy and likes to blend in with the rock. I am getting him a neon green jacket for Christmas.

photo Abe

As we were approaching the Iron Gates it appeared the north side (our right in pictures) of Mount Meeker is completely carved out by an ancient glacier and that that is where most of the exposure (there still was plenty) would be however, it was actually the south side (our left in pictures) that presented the dizzying drop offs. Apparently since traversing Kelso Ridge I have gotten better at knife edges because I was not awkwardly straddle clutching my way across this one. The exposure did not bother me and I found the knife edge to be the easier part of this traverse.

Once across the knife edge there was a fairly challenging overhang that required everything my wimpy arms had to give, good thing Abe doesn't mind sound effects because I paired my moves with grunts all day. There was more scrambling that brought us to another interesting choice in passage. We were once again staring at each other and the area around us when Abe noticed a tiny little window in which we proceeded to crawl through. This is a place where being small came in real handy. We had a good laugh about that move and Abe noted he had never shimmied his way through a rock window that small to attain safety.

We powered right past the actual summit of Mount Meeker and had to go back to snag it. Well I did, Abe has already mountaineered Meeker via Dreamweaver but he came with me anyway. In order to reach the actual summit I did the most ungraceful barrel role move in all of history and Abe had a pretty good laugh.

Summit Mount Meeker (13,911) photo Abe

I think it was around 11 a.m. when we started descending Meeker. Our next segment of adventure would take us to the summit of "Southeast Longs" (14,060). I totally have a thing for unranked sub summits of 14ers, lucky for me so does Abe even if he did call me "slave driver" for making him go up there. We did something fabulous and dropped our packs near the spot where we would begin the Loft route and charged up Longs estranged brother. Yes, Longs Peak is a man. I often refer to mountains in the female tense but there is nothing feminine about this rugged manly mountain. Call me sexist, don't care. A large, noticeable, and famous notch separates the two fourteen thousand foot peaks. If ever in the area I suggest a trip up SE Longs as one gets some pretty unique views of Meeker, Longs, the Palisades, the Loft route, Chasm Lake, and Notch Couloir (a word I can neither pronounce or spell correctly, damn french).

Mount Meeker

Abe investigating Notch Couloir.

Abe got pretty excited again and dangerously close to the edge when he laid his eyes on Notch Couloir. It was a sheer drop down, I get why geojed asked "Dude where's my bridge?" in his TR. Longs Peak is right there but the work put in to get there could be simplified if someone would build a bridge, actually Abe, isn't that what you do for a living?

I can see into the future and Abe will be in this Couloir. photo Abe

photo Abe

It was time to descend and begin the Loft leg of our journey. We got to our bags and I strapped back on that damn dead body weight and onwards we forged. I think it was around 12:15-12:30 ish. Up until this point we had experienced very little snow and ice (that was about to change), I am still in awe that AndYouSeeMe traversed Meeker's covered in rime ridge. That would take nerves of steel.

A short down climb and around brought us to the other side of Longs and the start of the Loft route for us.
Abe whispering in Longs ear

Abe is alright at route finding. And by alright I mean I don't call him the mountain whisperer for nothing. He knows, he always knows the way to go sooooo I got to learn a whole lot from him. His choices did not always follow the cairns (although we did keep an eye on them) and I ended up being very pleased with my experience.

The Loft route delivered more excitement. I felt it was more involved than Meeker but slightly less exposed. Or maybe I was just getting tired.....

We got to do a little bit of this...

And a little bit of that....
photo Abe

The palisades are unreal. This is by far one of the most incredible areas I have scrambled in


photo Abe

We arrived at Keplinger's Couloir which was fairly devoid of snow. Abe used some steep wet slabs while a failed attempt on my part to follow in his footsteps (at least I tried) left me post holing through some deep snow with no gaiters on (really living on the edge).

A look at the route ahead.

photo Abe

At the top of Keplinger's it became clear that this was now going to be a snow thang. Also the wind picked up to a dastardly 5 miles per hour so we were pretty concerned with that. Up until this point I was pretty pe'od that I had lugged my ice axe around all day but man did the next 2 hours change all of that. I now slapped on my gaiters while Abe did not, why you ask? Because the plan was we were going to ignore the boot tracks already laid out, lay our own, and I was going to learn how to climb a mountain in snow using my ice axe allowing Abe to follow my tracks. And learn I did. The snow was soft and deep making it no surprise that it was tiring. Abe coached me on how to properly wield an ice axe, how to kick step the "easy" way, and how to store my ice axe "Zorro" style (this is an Abeism). We also practiced self arrest. Good thing because the homestretch was all sorts of trouble, we'll get there.

Photos by Abe...another first for axin up steep and deep snow on one dreamy mountain...



He also taught me how to spider man ( :

And then Abe asked me "Do you hear voices?" and I replied "Yes, everyday." We were now at the base of the homestretch staring two younger men in the eyes. They were incredibly perplexed as to where we came from and asked if our route was "more work." I responded, "If by more work you mean fun and exciting than yes it was more work." They added to the conversation by expressing their concern that we were doing all of this in regular hiking boots as they donned crampons for the keyhole route in its entirety.

The snowy and wet homestretch.

Abe and I had been together and alone all day, we had a really good rhythm going, and we make great partners. These two dudes completely threw me off. As Abe and I started up they followed us and the one right behind me would NOT stop talking. The home stretch was sketch and it required a certain responsibility. I began to somewhat mentally fall apart as I could not concentrate over the nonsensical ramblings of that guy Abe is so cool, calm, and collected and somehow got me to refocus. Ties back in with the whole great partner thing. Abe slowly and methodically led our way up deep soft snow and wet rock until we topped out and I teared up. Yes it happened, tears of freaking joy! I was so happy to finally be standing atop of Longs Peak and to go around the entire mountain to get there (circles for summits) I was so completely overwhelmed with happy feel good emotions. It is a long story (no pun intended) but I have tried to climb Longs a few times and failed.

Abe doing one of his favorite things.

Moments from summit tears.

We summited at 2:30 p.m. and I forced Abe to take a picture with me and those dudes to take it.

What goes up must come down, it is a law of physics or something. It began to set in that yes we were on top of Longs Peak but we still had to descend the treacherous homestretch and then complete the entire Keyhole route back to my car making for an entire tour around this mountain, Oh and have I mentioned it is one incredulous mountain.

Descending the home stretch was as you would imagine, serious and I asked Abe the silly question, "Is this something you would glissade?" (I half knew the answer was no) He had another good laugh. At the bottom Abe told me to go ahead a bit as he lingered to make sure those guys were getting down all right. That's the kind of guy Abe is. The rest of the keyhole route was covered in snow. I don't know what comes first after the homestretch, the narrows or the ledges but here is what it looked like...

photo Abe

Once we reached the trough we were in the icy shadows of Longs in hip deep rock and sugary snow. There were icy down climbs and slick exposed areas. To be quite frank it was huge pain in the arse and I am quite glad we did not ascend it. Then we were back in the sun and headed to the keyhole on a combo of icesnowrock. We arrived at the keyhole at 4:20 p.m., 40 minutes before Abe forecasted. Abe changed his drenched socks and I tried to eat a stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

It was here I realized I had only drank 1 L of water all day, had ate barely anything, and had just completed our ENTIRE route free from the stylishly hideous noob/boob/newbie (micro)-spikes. I dedicate my boob-spike free day to Ryan aka Monster5. I didn't even miss them once (well maybe for a fleeting moment because they really are pretty sexy and make you look official). Despite depleting my body of all its resources I felt pretty dang good.

We had some good conversation on the long slog out as the sun slowly vanished into the evening sky. We played the don't touch the lava (don't fall into the snow) game as we boulder hopped our way to Granite Pass, a game I suck at and Abe definitely won. Abe pointed out some routes up Longs he has done and some more he would like to do (I hope he takes me with him) and as he talked of Longs Peak I slowly realized the number of true mountaineering routes this mountain has to offer. Routes that put the one we had just done to shame. Am I proud of our day? Of course. But there are far nuttier ways to climb this mountain, ways I would LOVE to try.

When we reached tree line the trail turned into a deadly slip and slide and it was a dangerous walk out. In the parking lot (at 7:30 p.m.) we talked to two cool dudes who had climbed Dreamweaver and reported it was sugary crap. I asked them where they were from and when they said Golden I jumped all over it, "How did you get here?" Neither Abe or I wanted to drive Left Hand Canyon ever again for the rest of our lives. "Boulder Canyon" they responded. When I asked them if there were huge pieces of road missing I imagine the look on their faces to be that of confusion but they were shining their head lamps in my eyeballs so I guess I'll never know. Boulder Canyon was the opposite of Left Hand Canyon, it was repaired.

What a freaking spectacular day. I am SO thankful to have done such a demanding route, on a perfect weather day, with a super fun partner. Doesn't get much better than that folks. Until next time...thanks for reading


"At some point in life, the earth's beauty becomes enough."

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
nice job
10/28/2013 01:39
Getting out of the shadows under the gates and into the sun...such a happy moment.

Can we get a picture of the boob-spikes?

That's a super route...
10/28/2013 03:27
... and my favorite around Longs! But don't know that I'd want to try it with snow! I still prefer having my feet on rock. Maybe if I had a great partner like Abe along...

The Meek's knife is really not a whole lot different than Cap's if I recall correctly, just a little shorter. Still very solid with sufficient holds and cracks.

Great job, though, guys! Nice pics!

You must have been moving!
10/28/2013 14:20
Doing that route in less than 14 hours in the conditions you had is something. Another great report! You and Abe DO make a great team!

Death of Chivalry
10/28/2013 16:54
Consider it my version of Beethoven's 5th.

Another fine outing Kay! Only getting showed up 3x is something I think I can deal with too.

Summit of Longs on a really nice October day with a good friend after a fun climb, can't get much better than that!

Saturday, in The Park...
10/28/2013 18:15
nice job Kay and Abe! some really great pictures in there on a super awesome route. how about that knife edge Kay!

10/29/2013 02:45
...makes you a pansy - joyous or not, or so I was told! You said it ”...doesn't get much better than that...” - you got that right. That last shot is a masterpiece! Superb TR.

10/29/2013 15:56
Nice TR Kay, looks like it was a perfect fall day. Millet packs are tight -- especially when they're red. Also, I'm bringing back the word ”tight.”

10/30/2013 12:18
Awesome trip report congratulations on finally getting to stand on the summit of longs. I know it most have been very special to finally make it after having been turned around so many times in the past. Your persistence is inspiring.

Michael Underwood
Nice work!
10/30/2013 17:44
I too have been thwarted several times by Longs. Looks like there's substantially less snow up on the Loft and Keyhole routes than when I tried on the 23rd. Maybe this weekend...

great route
10/30/2013 23:59
I haven't done it in snow but it looks like fun. Good job!

Thanks for the comments everyone.
10/31/2013 00:42
Yikes~~ you know what boob spikes look like, you probably have a hot sexy pair in your gear room somewhere.

MtnHub~~The rock in RMNP is amazingly solid, loved it.

Jay~~ If it wasn't for Abe's slow ass we would have done it in 12 hours (just kidding he's a beast)

Abe~~ I only showed you up once and it was hilarious but cancelled out by my fat person roll onto the summit of Meeker.

Dillon~~ The knife edge was rad!!!!

Rajz~~ I am a pansy

Fat surfNturf (just kidding ) ~~ Red is the tightest of all colors...bonus points for solid usage of the word tight.

Michael U~~ Think it has been snowing some more up there this week. But the snow was manageable for us.

unclegar~~ Route was fantabulousisticly great.

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