Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Mt. Meeker  -  13,911 feet
Pagoda Mountain  -  13,497 feet
Storm Peak B  -  13,326 feet
Mt. Lady Washington  -  13,281 feet
Date Posted:  08/14/2016
Modified:  08/15/2016
Date Climbed:   08/13/2016
Author:  mlayman09
 A slightly less sick concoction   

Longs Peak Grand Slam
August 13, 2016
14 miles | 7,000 ft.

Recently, I've enjoyed reading anything and everything about trail/mountain/sky running, especially if it's a trip report by Anton Krupicka. The depth of knowledge and context he brings to his TRs is impeccable. The more I've read, the more I've come to appreciate one of the finest mountains we have here in Colorado, that mountain being Longs Peak. When I first started climbing peaks in 2011, I viewed Longs as just another checkbox on the list. I had heard that it is the most climbed 14er in Colorado and knew that even its standard route can be quite dangerous. I certainly thought the peak itself was beautiful, but never really gave it much more thought than that. All of that has changed as I've gotten to know Longs in much greater detail, from the place names of its exquisite topographical features to the incredible athletic efforts that have been put forth on this mountain.

I had a case of Longs Peak fever this week, and I decided that if the weather forecast was good, I would try the Longs Grand Slam route this weekend. Like any other mountain geek, I first heard about this route by reading about it in Gerry Roach's 14er guidebook. I researched the route thoroughly, and found this trip report particularly helpful. I also downloaded a topo map of the area to my phone and marked the gully I had to take to get to Pagoda from Longs. With a good weather forecast and feeling well prepared, I decided to give it a shot.

Like any great day in the high country, it begins with a bit of trepidation. Despite my preparation, I was a bit nervous about everything from the weather to route-finding. The last time I had climbed Longs was two years ago over Labor Day weekend and the wind was horrendous. I certainly didn't want to have to endure that again. I started up the trail around 4:30am, and quickly settled into a comfortable rhythm, reaching the base of the Loft in about an hour and a half. The sun rose soon after, and the wind was hardly blowing. Alright, maybe this day will turn out well after all! Once I left the exit ramp, I headed straight towards Meeker instead of climbing to the Loft first. This turned out to be a great decision since the scrambling was solid and I'm sure it saved me some time and distance.

Sunrise in the Loft couloir

Close up of Longs from Meeker

After a brief summit stay, I followed the trail down Meeker to the Loft, got some calories in me, and then continued on down past Clark's Arrow and up Keplinger's couloir. Soon enough I could see the crowds on the Homestretch. I enjoyed the summit for 10-15 minutes, chatted with a fellow Hokie, and ate some more. The wind started to pick up a bit, and that sent me scurrying down the Homestretch to warmth. I found it best to just continue my descent from the Homestretch, rather than heading west towards the Narrows before descending to the Longs-Pagoda saddle. From just below the Narrows, I knew I had to traverse quite a ways towards Keyboard of the Winds before finding a Class 3 gully that would take me to the Longs-Pagoda saddle. If you head straight towards the first two keys of the Keyboard, then you should be fine. There are a few cairns that will help you find this gully. Once you reach this gully, do not go straight down it, but rather continue on the left side for a bit until the terrain looks easier. Descend here. Once down, I traversed over to the saddle and sized up the impending climb up Pagoda.

RMNP from the summit Longs

Summit of Longs with Wild Basin behind me

Descend the gully in the left-center of this photo to get to Pagoda

This ascent was also remarkably solid. The route I took up, which was closer to the northeast ridge was definitely class 2+ with some class 3 moves, but on my descent I found easier terrain to the east of this ridge. I was quite surprised to meet other climbers at the saddle. They were climbing Pagoda from Glacier Gorge, and they confirmed that the gully they had just ascended was indeed quite arduous. I wasn't too worried about the traverse to the Keyhole since none of the trip reports I had read seemed to give it much attention. Having done the route now, I can see why, since it is simply a matter of traversing the easiest route up to the Keyhole, which is visible for most of the way. In hindsight, I think I may have stayed a little too high since I often found myself having to scuttle across wide slabs instead of hopping from boulder to boulder. Towards the end of this traverse I found a trekking pole, just below the Keyhole route above me. I bet you can find all kinds of gear down here if you're willing to descend off the route.

Summit register on Pagoda, looking towards Longs and Meeker

The ascending traverse to the Keyhole

Once at the Keyhole I breathed a sigh of relief, since the weather was still holding and the two easiest peaks of the day lay ahead. As others have noted, the traverse to Storm takes a little longer than you think it should. Avoid the temptation to head up to the ridge early, since you'll quickly find much harder terrain. At the summit, I mentally prepared for one last slog up to Lady Washington. I found the terrain to be easier to ascend than that of Storm and soon enough I was enjoying the view of the Diamond and north face of Longs.

The north face and Keyhole from Storm

Best view of the day of Longs is on Lady Washington

I briefly considered going for the Radical Slam, but was happy to just descend to the trailhead. Plus, who wants to do 50 pushups after completing a "sick concoction" of a route? Perhaps one day I'll be back to go for the Radical Slam, but on this day, I was perfectly content with what I had just done. My Longs Peak fever was quenched, for now...

--Matt Layman
@mlayman09 on Instagram

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

Comments or Questions
rob runkle
08/15/2016 06:53
Nice job. Had my eye on this one for a few years.

nice work!
08/15/2016 07:23
Matt, nice job out there! Tough to beat a long day in the Big Park on peaks like these. Well done!

08/15/2016 07:49
I've also been wanting to do this for a couple of years. Nice work!

Solid work
08/15/2016 09:39
And a nice report!

Add one more to the list
08/15/2016 19:47
Yep, definitely want to head out to do this classic.

Great photos
11/20/2020 16:39
Looks like an awesome hike! Nice job! RMNP views are hard to beat!

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