Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
Date Posted:  07/27/2021
Date Climbed:   07/26/2021
Author:  triordie
Additional Members:   mikec
 A fine day on Longs   

Longs Peak was my first 14er back in 2007. My father and I did the Loft route up and the Keyhole down. Mike has also done Longs before. I have wanted to climb the NW Couloir route for quite some time, but also was compelled to put together a fairly unique line as much as it is possible with dozens of people climbing Longs daily. here is what we ended up doing:

Longs peak TH --> Chasm Lake --> Camel gully --> Keyhole --> NW couloir --> Longs summit --> Loft via Clark's arrow --> Mt Meeker (West, ridge, East) --> Iron Gates --> Chasm lake trail --> Longs peak TH

Not sure if anyone has done this exact sequence.

We tried to get some sleep at Mike's house in Evergreen. Mike succeeded, I did not. At 2 am we got into Mike's Jeep and drove to the TH. It was full by 4 am, we parked a little down the road and started hiking. After a little over an hour, the sun rose over the Twin Sisters.

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At the trail split, we turned towards Chasm lake. After 2 hrs we reached the lake. This is one serene place where you are in a total awe of the Longs diamond.

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Our goal - the Camel rock near Longs - Mt Lady Washington saddle. This "shortcut" (in distance, but perhaps not in time compared to the standard route to the keyhole) is described in the Roach book and there is a nice report on it by flying_magpie.

the Camel rock

We went around the lake, continued to the upper snowfield and saw the Camel gully to the right.

the Camel gully

It took about 15 min to ascend it (mostly class 2), after which we turned left and scrambled on and between large boulders to reach the Camel rock (class 2-3)

view from the top of Camel gully

closing on the Camel

Looking at the Camel from the west

After reaching the Camel, we boulder-hopped to the Keyhole, contouring just below the snowfield without losing too much elevation. We met a fast ultralight hiker who was going up the Cables.

Keyhole visible

Despite the huge crowd of people on Longs, we did not see anyone at the Keyhole. We started on the Ledges and in a short time our goal, the NW couloir appeared to the left

NW couloir from Ledges

We put our helmets on and started up the couloir carefully stepping to avoid knocking rocks down to the Ledges. In fact, this was the hardest part of scrambling (the couloir is almost like an hour-glass), so we moved to the right part of the couloir where climbing was a bit harder but the rocks more solid. It was mostly class 3 with maybe a move or two of class 4. There was plenty of water trickling down the rocks after the recent rains. After about 30 min of scrambling we reached the crux. The route is described well by flying_magpie, and users TomPierce and pbakwin gave me some comments last month on the crux difficulty. It is also in the Roach book. I apologize for not having taken any pictures there, it was dripping buckets, and the water was splashing off our helmets like no tomorrow, so I just went up for the cave. The rock was very wet, but my Vibram sole of the right shoe gripped well on the wet ledge, I was able to put my left foot on the old rusty python and just like that I was in the cave. The move did not feel exposed or difficult, but i imagine, with some ice it can be daunting or even impossible. The cave was huge, i was able to take the backpack off without any difficulty. Mike joined me shortly. The exit on the other side of the cave, however, was not as large and I banged my helmet over the rock. After the cave, there is a couple of class 4 moves (easy, solid holds).

Excellent rock in the upper couloir
mikec climbing after the crux

triordie climbing up a rock

It took us another 15 min to reach the top of the couloir.

View down the couloir from near the top

At the top of the NW couloir

The remaining trot to the summit on solid class 2 rock on or near the ridge took another 15 min.

Longs summit is close.

The summit was very crowded. We took some pictures, texted home that we made the summit, and started going down the Homestretch. Now, was that place crowded! We had to move to the skiers left to avoid the hordes of people ascending Longs.

Mikec on Longs

Pretty soon we turned left towards the Keplinger couloir going towards the Loft via Clark's arrow (which I did not see again!). View back on the upper part of keplinger and Homestretch.

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There were some people but not crowds. Pretty soon we were at the Loft. Since we had plenty of time (it was 10.45) and Mike had not been to Meeker before, we decided to go up Meeker on a trail.

Meeker from Loft

We reached the West summit, traversed the ridge (BTW, the knife edge on Meeker may be shorter than one on capitol, but it is sharper and, perhaps, harder). Not long after we were on Meeker's East summit.

Mt Meeker - view from west to East with a knife edge in between
Mike on Meeker's East summit

Instead of going back to the Loft, we decided to descend Meeker's east ridge to the Iron Gates. It was a slog, mostly boulder-hopping with some semblance of a trail here and there. After a while we saw the Iron Gates below us and started to climb d

own. The first moves were hard class 3 (Mike felt it was a class 4 since he had to face in), but after that it was all class 2- either a loose scree, or boulder-hopping. The Iron Gates almost had a Lord-of-the-Rings feel to them.

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Past the gates we could see the Loft trail down below. we made a line for it and reached it shortly. It rejoined the Chasm lake trail just below the waterfall. We got to the trailhead after a little over 10.5 hrs and 13.5 miles. All in all, a great day on Longs, if you have not done the NW couloir route, I highly recommend it.


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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Excellent report
07/28/2021 14:45
That was an excellent report with wonderful photographs.
That looks like quite the tour of longs and its neighbor.

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