Peak(s):  Mt. Meeker  -  13,911 feet
Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Pagoda Mountain  -  13,497 feet
Storm Peak B  -  13,326 feet
Mt. Lady Washington  -  13,281 feet
Battle Mountain (12044)
Estes Cone (11006)
Date Posted:  08/03/2020
Date Climbed:   08/01/2020
Author:  Brian C
 Radical Slam!   

I’ve always felt like however loved and used, Gerry Roach’s guidebooks are primarily used for bagging the standard routes on Colorado’s 14ers. These days, with all the info out there on the internet, I think it’s safe to say that fewer people are using guidebooks even for that. In my opinion, it’s a real shame, as there is nothing quite like being able to flip through a physical book versus staring at a screen, and you also miss all the extra nuances that go into writing a book. Roach really excels at putting his own voice into writing versus other guidebook authors that I have seen, and one of his best traits is the addition of all his route variations especially his use of “classic” and “extra-credit” ratings. Not only do these routes see a tiny fraction of the traffic that the standard routes do, but they’re usually more enjoyable and more challenging.

I’ve used my 14ers guidebook since 2006 and although I have only done a small portion of the routes, I’ve flipped through it numerous times perusing for interesting ways to spend some time in the mountains. One route in particular that had always caught my eye was the Grand Slam on Longs Peak. It came with such an enticing lead-in that “Climbing Longs and its four buttress peaks in one day is a project that will stir sturdy souls.” It also was marked with the tempting Classic rating! Sitting right next to the description, in an unassuming Extra Credit variation, was the Radical Slam. As Roach stated it was “For the handful of souls still standing, there’s more.” and added on Battle Mountain, Estes Cone, and 50 pushups in the parking lot. What craziness! Unfortunately for me, both of these were simply something outside of my fitness level, and although I visited Longs a number of times over the years, I had pretty much pushed the Slams out of my mind. Fast forward to the present, and I had been very lucky in my scheduling to have been able to get out frequently, and also to built up a nice base of uphill “running”. These last few months I’d done Longs several times, and the thought of the Grand Slam had crept back in as I peered over to Pagoda each time I went up there. Finally, the stars just sort of happened to align, and my previous weekend plans fell through, and I found myself alone driving up the familiar road to the Longs Peak trailhead with a half baked notion of trying it out and even telling myself that I would tack on the even stupider variation of the Radical Slam.

Chasm Junction - 0:52:49
Meeker - 2:00:02
Longs - 2:43:20
Pagoda - 3:20:50
Storm - 4:12:10
MLW - 4:56:27
Battle - 5:20:20
Estes Cone - 6:09:47
Total Time after Pushups (I forgot the trailhead to pushup split…) - 6:50:35
Strava Link

To my complete lack of surprise, by the time I got there, cars were lined up way down the road and I parked without even trying to go for a higher spot. I quickly changed my shoes and walked slowly up toward the trailhead. I started up right about 4:30 and fought to the urge to be annoyed that it was so busy that I passed 5 people in the short distance to access the ranger’s trail. The uphill went smoothly considering that I’m always a bit uncomfortable being alone in the dark, plus it didn’t help that I literally almost ran into the side of a bull moose two days before on the same trail. Pretty soon I popped back out onto the main trail at Jim’s Grove and made it through the masses to the Chasm Junction 52 minutes in. My stomach had decided by this point that is was very unhappy and threatened lower intestinal carnage while I switched into a slow jog down the hill. Pretty soon I started heading back up steep enough terrain I could stop pretending to run and I enjoyed going up the Loft instead of down (which sucks a lot in my opinion). Stopping briefly to reevaluate my stomach and filter about a liter of water was a nice break, and after I started huffing and puffing up the Loft. The sun had just crested the slopes of Meeker and other than climbing too high and missing the exit ramp, I was able to make moderately efficient time up to the summit of Meeker arriving exactly at the 2 hour mark.

Getting lighter

Lofty hiking



Meeker is a great summit and one I had not been on in a decade. It was made even better but an excellent wildlife sighting of what I think was a pine marten, and it was super cool to watch him dart around the summit block checking me out. After eating a few bites it was time to go and I trotted downhill toward the Loft and made directly for the gully down to Clark’s Arrow. Having done it twice this summer (coming from the other way), I foolishly assumed I would nail the gully, but I was wrong and soon got cliffed out, right by another solo hiker. We chatted briefly, and I soon got back into the correct gully, scooted down right to Clark’s Arrow, and started crawling my way up Keplinger’s toward the Homestretch. At this point, I was getting a little worried about the day since I was more tired than I had anticipated already, but I kept my head down and distracted myself with the hundred people all in a conga line going up the Homestretch. Thankfully for me, everybody else’s comfort of sticking together in a line worked in my favor, and I was able to go up the last bit thirty feet to the right of everybody else without having to worry about passing anybody.

So cute! Pine Marten?


Clark's Arrow

Gorrels Shennanigans - These bozos thought they were cool doing Gorrels but were kicking rocks down on me without warning and yelling "F*** Yeah!" repeatedly

Cresting on to the familiar flat summit, I walked directly to the small highpoint and hit the summit of Longs 43 minutes after Meeker. Wanting to leave the crowds behind I didn’t stay for long, grabbed a quick snack, and headed back down the homestretch sticking with the other side of the face to avoid the line. Pretty soon, I hit the bottom of the Homestretch and found a short class 4 downclimb to access the talus slopes below the Narrows. Excited to be alone and on new to me terrain, I gradually worked over toward Pagoda knowing that there was a hidden cliff in the way. Listening to the conversations up on the Narrows was pretty entertaining, but I started to get a little nervous I wouldn’t find the access gully down through the cliffs. I had expected it to be a bit more obvious on the approach, but you really can’t see the cliff until you get really close to it. Guessing, I angled across the slope on kind of junky loose rock and luckily popped out right at what appeared to be a gully that looked like it would go. Some steep class 5 moves got me down onto easier ground and I happily came out right by the Keyboard of the Winds. My stomach had finally improved and it helped my pace up the steep slope to Pagoda’s nifty summit only 37 minutes after leaving Longs. This was a great vantage point of Longs, and I kind of wondered what it would be to continue along the ridgeline toward Chief’s Head. I also couldn’t help checking out the distant view down to the Indian Peaks and thinking how insane the LA Freeway would be.

Candy in my teeth

Pagoda descent gully

Narrow above!

It's closer than it looks to Pagoda

Descent gully to trough is below the cliff band

More snacks and it was time to descend, where I was surprised to run into another hiker right below the summit. He was nice and said he’d come up just for Pagoda and I enjoyed the brief interaction. Once again, I just kind of guessed which gully to go down and I stuck with the first one (toward Longs) since it looked the most friendly as I peered down while going the other way. It proved to be pretty nice, although a tad bit loose, and soon I came out on some broader slopes and tried to contour back over toward the Trough not knowing exactly where I would come out. Fatigue was starting to set in and I had a nasty surprise of being a lot further below than the Ledges than I had expected. This left some unpleasant steep and loose hillside to get back up which wasn’t helped by the snow in the Loft being way too hard to safely cross. Huffing and puffing I hit the bottom of the Trough and angled over onto the Ledges and moved quickly back over to the Keyhole. To the surprise of the people sitting there, I didn’t stop and angled directly over toward Storm. I’d done this once back in 2008, and it went smoothly and soon I was up on Storm, staring in exhaustion toward Lady Washington. It had been 51 minutes since Pagoda and I felt like I had slowed down considerably.

Awesome ridgeline to Chief's Head

Descent gully by Keyboard of the Winds

Keyhole on the left and the ledges visible

North Face looking good

My main concern as I left Storm was that I was out of water. Not wanting to implode from dehydration, I knew that I’d have to give up a direct line to Lady Washington and angle into the Boulderfield to try and find some water. It became a frustrating game of hopping down the giant, wobbly boulders while following aimless the sound of unreachable water below. Even into the Boulderfield, I could hear the water rushing tantalizingly close to me without being able to see or reach it. Just as frustration was at its peak, I found a small gap where I was able to get some water and filtered a liter. Thinking that this was going to be the hardest climb of the day, I shifted into a mindless march up the hill making small switchbacks and trying not to think too much about how tired I was. To my surprise, the hill gave up faster than I expected and I topped out on the wrong, lower summit. Oops! A short jaunt put me on the real summit only 44 minutes from Storm and I was happy to have completed the Grand Slam. The idea of calling it a day crossed my mind, but I made for a line down toward Battle Mountain and tried to ignore that although Battle looked easy, Estes Cone looked insanely far away.

Diamond! No helicopter today thankfully.

Trotting had become very hard and I kept almost falling down after catching a toe on various rocks. I was so happy to cross the trail and hit the easier gentle slopes over toward Battle. This was the easiest terrain I had been on in hours and I trotted as much as I could over to the rocky summit of Battle, arriving 23 minutes after Lady Washington. This was a great spot, and although it was getting uncomfortably hot, I felt good to finally be below 13,000 feet and get a bit more air. My optimism had built a bit and I happily made toward the distant Estes Cone not knowing that the worst was about to come.

Slopes by Battle Mtn

Descent from hell to Estes Cone

The terrain initially started easily, and in my mind I would work down some nice tree shaded slopes right to the trail to Estes Cone. My misjudgment of this section became almost immediately apparent as I approached treeling and was either wading through short willows or shoving myself through the sharp dense krumholtz. As it opened into taller, better spaced trees, the hillside remained a challenge as I wasn’t sure where to go and kept having to push through branches or crawl over downed trees. It seemed to take forever and I started to doubt myself and my judgment to go this way. It’s a good thing bailing wasn’t an option at this point as I likely would have, but the trail finally presented itself and soon enough I was heading up the signed junction to my final summit. This part was pretty terrible, but I maintained a steady pace and eventually hit the flatter terrain toward the summit. I was elated to having done the Radical Slam and as I started painfully lumbering downhill I had to start thinking about the final thing that would likely be the most traumatic part of my day, the 50 pushups. I tried to think of how on Earth I would be able to pull off such a substantial number of pushups and went through a wide set of feelings about it. My suffering on the trail was extremely high and served as a decent distraction from my last obstacle. Any time it angled even slightly uphill I had to switch into a crawling walk and was having a hard time keeping myself moving. The last trail junction gave me the final boost to run down to the parking lot where I happily stepping back onto the concrete. Walking a few feet down so not to make a total spectacle of myself, I tossed off my pack and eased onto the ground where I suffered through a few sets of moderate to low quality pushups until I hit 50. I think knowing that once I did them I could finally be done gave me pushup power that I don’t normally have and I finished at hit my watch right at 6 hours, 50 minutes, and 35 seconds from starting.

Trying to be Radical!

As I limped down the road toward my car I was very happy with how the day had played out. I had gotten very lucky in weather, route finding, and not getting hurt along the way. I had been able to see a bunch of new terrain and do something that I had thought was impossible for me to do. Not sure I can 100% recommend this to everybody, but if you’re into this sort of thing it really is a memorable outing!

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

Comments or Questions
"A" for effort
08/03/2020 21:20
I agree, nothing like thumbing pages of a book. Nice work on those fine peaks.

08/04/2020 07:54
Maybe an ermine, but either way super cute!
And great work on a big day!

08/04/2020 10:36
Man, you are an animal, indeed, of some rare breed, too. Most people would be proud of that time just for Longs alone!
At what point did you get rocks rained on you from the Gorrell? Do you have some more info on the Gorrell by chance? i wanted to do Gorrell from Longs to Meeker next summer and want to make sure that I will not harm anyone below me as well. Thanks, and an outstanding piece of work!

Great work! WOW!
08/04/2020 14:14
Ermine. Seeing we have them and pine martens like to spend more time in woods than in rocky/mountain regions. Nice to see, either way!

Pine Marten
08/04/2020 17:50
I think it's a pine marten, although I'm no expert in identifying such animals (or any animals for that matter...). In pics online, ermines look to have a long white patch that extends from their neck all the way down their underside. This picture shows a tan patch around just the neck. That seems to match the pine marten pictures. Anyone have a better argument?

Either way, cool sighting and great photos. Enjoyed the TR - thanks for posting.

Pine Marten 2
08/04/2020 17:57
also the little guy has black paws and a black nose, which seem to be a difference with ermines

Brian C
Weasel or Marten
08/04/2020 18:36
I also thought it was a weasel at first since it was up so high, but after looking at some pictures I think it's a marten. But I for sure don't really have any actual basis for that other than looking at pictures online. Here are two more photos I took...

08/05/2020 07:07
cute little killer

08/05/2020 08:19
nice work Brian!

you fast
08/05/2020 21:30

I'm tired
08/06/2020 10:16
just reading that. Nice work!

Hell yea
08/07/2020 08:51
Nice going Brain!

Eli Boardman
Nice work!
08/08/2020 13:12
I've always seen the various "slam" descriptions, and it was great to have a good trip report for it! Thanks for sharing.

08/08/2020 22:26
I've only done a section of that slam: Meeker-Longs-Pagoda. Suffice to say my splits were farther apart. Nice work!

Park Access
08/16/2020 12:24
Did you need to reserve a permit to make this trip or just have to pay the park fee to get in because you were earlier than 6 am?

Epic- crazy fast
08/29/2020 14:10
Pagoda looked very intimidating from the narrow

Pine Martin
11/20/2020 13:35
For sure! Awesome wildlife sighting! What an amazing feat! You are a machine. Nice TR! I might be able to do these peaks some day, one at a time that is! But nice to live vicariously through others.

07/20/2021 07:19
Nice work! That seems pretty fast! And that weasely creature is adorable, especially the way he's staring right at you.

Is there a trail from battle to estes cone, or is that stretch inevitably miserable? It sounds like that and the descent toward pagoda (since you mention steep class 5 moves) are maybe the two places where you got off route? I did the grand 14 years ago and might give the radical a try on Thursday... Any chance you'd export your gpx from Strava and send it to me to use as a guide?

"pretty fast"
07/21/2021 13:00
In my previous comment, I said this seemed pretty fast. It is in fact the FKT, which is quite the detail to omit from a trip report.

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