Peak(s):  Meeker Ridge  -  13,860 feet
Meeker, Mt  -  13,911 feet
Southeast Longs 14060
Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Pagoda Mtn  -  13,497 feet
Storm Pk B  -  13,326 feet
Lady Washington, Mt  -  13,281 feet
Battle Mountain 12044
Pine Ridge 11909
Estes Cone 11011
Date Posted:  08/08/2021
Date Climbed:   08/05/2021
Author:  jessesumrak
 Radical Slam Deluxe - Ten Tadasanas   

I’ve been eyeing Gerry Roach’s Nesotaieux's Ten Tadasanas for a few years now, but weather kept thwarting my plans. Last year, I even had a friend from Utah fly out in September to do the attempt with me, but a snowstorm the night before cancelled our plans. This year, I made the deluxe version of the Radical Slam a priority, and I took off work when weather looked to be perfect (thankfully, that held true).

Here’s what the adventure would entail:

  • Meeker Ridge via the Iron Gates Route
  • Mount Meeker via the Knife Edge
  • Southeast Longs
  • Longs Peak
  • Pagoda
  • Storm Peak
  • Mount Lady Washington
  • Battle Mountain
  • Pine Ridge
  • Estes Cone

17 hours of hiking, and I’d finish it.

Two friends, Ben and Andrea, joined me at the Longs Peak Trailhead at 2:30am on Thursday, August 5, 2021. We started off at quick pace up the trail, joined by a surprising number of people for what I thought was a day off work. We split from the main groups heading up to the Keyhole Route at the Chasm junction and began our hike towards Chasm Lake. Now, everyone we saw was carrying ropes and gear for what seemed to be an awesome day of climbing. Climbers asked if we were free soloing…yeah, not quite.

We split from the trail at the base of the hike up to Chasm Lake and began making our way up a social trail along the water drainage. We began climbing some larger boulders as we made our way up the hill, then we began to veer to the left (east) to start searching for the Irons Gates route rather than the Loft route. It wasn’t quite light out yet, so it was hard to tell which of the towers we were header for, but my GPS helped us get our bearings.


21240_01
View of the Iron Gates as we approach.

The climb up the Iron Gates was steep and full of loose rock. We didn’t knock any down, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be under us, that’s for sure. We made progress up to the ridgeline, enjoying views of Longs Peak and Chasm Lake as the sun began to rise. We were going a lot slower than I had expected, having not anticipated what a slog it would be to the ridge. One fun little Class 3(ish) move to reach the ridge, but no real exposure on the move.


21240_03
Andrea hiking along the ridge to Meeker Ridge.

The ridge was fun and straightforward. You can stick as far left as you’d like or flirt with the ridgeline—we did a little in between as we made our way up. We hit Meeker Ridge and stopped for a short snack while we scoped out the knife edge. I’d never done a knife edge or something of that exposure before, so I was a bit intimidated, but I moved quick before I overthought it. I made the mistake of trying to go to low to reach the knife edge, but it’s better to stay high(er). We made it to the knife edge, and there were a couple of options. You could sidestep on top of the knife edge on the north side, grasping the edge and looking south. Or, you could flirt on some ledges on the north side of the knife edge and bypass some of the breezier exposure. I chose the higher option (thinking it’d give me better training for Capitol in the future). It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, and we made quick progress up to the true summit.

21240_04
Views of Longs Peak and Southeast Longs from the ridge.
21240_05
Scouting out the Knife Edge from Meeker Ridge.
21240_07
Ben taking a second as we approach the more exposed section of the knife edge.
21240_02
Me going across the most exposed section of the knife edge. I'm trying not to be a nervous wreck here, but the rock is solid and it's a big confidence booster. There is a less exposed way to go below this on the north side, but this is a tad more fun.

We made our way down a social trail to the Loft, and then my friends ended their journey and descended the Loft route back to the trailhead. I continued on my way up Southeast Longs and made it up and down in probably about 30 minutes. Here's a video of a quick view from the top of Southeast Longs. Great views of the top back at Meeker, though I was a little too scared to look down straight into the notch. Trying to beat any potential foul weather, I skipped any rest breaks and continued my way on the Loft route up Longs Peak.

21240_08
Looking at the south side of Longs across the notch from the top of Southeast Longs.
21240_09
Views of Meeker Ridge, the Knife Edge, and Mount Meeker from the top of Southeast Longs.

Well…it wasn’t as straightforward as I hoped it would be. I had studied the route online and in Gerry Roach’s books, and it seemed to be well cairned, and I knew where I’d be looking for Clark’s Arrow. I never saw either. I took the wrong route into dangerous notches twice and got cliffed out before back tracking and almost giving up. Fortunately, I received a text message and had about 60 seconds of signal to look up the route again on 14ers.com (bless you). I quickly screenshot some photos, and they helped me find the entrance to the Loft route, but I didn’t have enough signal to get anymore beta. I looked for the cairns in the photos, but I couldn’t find them (I don’t know if they fell over or were dismantled. If anyone else had the same issues recently, I’d love to hear about it). It was my fault for not doing enough research to not rely on the cairns, but I pressed on down what seemed to be the path. I don’t know what I followed, and that’s why I’m not sharing any photos of where I went. It seemed sketchy, and I definitely did some difficult Class 4 down climbs (maybe Class 5 in areas), which leads me to believe I got off route.

21240_10
Looking into the notch.
21240_12
Looking up at people reaching the very top of the Homestretch. This section requires a little bit harder climbing than what you'll find on the Homestretch, but not by much.

Regardless, I finally met up with Keplingers Couloir and made my way up to the notch before skirting to the left and finding my way up to the Homestretch portion of the Keyhole route. The portion connecting to the Homestretch was a little dicey (I’d say 1.5x harder than anything on the Homestretch, but I found nice and firm rock to hold on to as a I made my way up.

21240_13
Views back at the Palisades and some random route that I found on my way up. I won't even try to draw an arrow...
21240_14
The Homestretch. After everything so far, this is a cakewalk.

Made quick work of the Homestretch, passing a few people on the way up before taking a super short break on Longs and beginning my descent. Funny enough, I found my descent of the Homestretch surprisingly sketchy (despite having done it 3 years ago and already doing 2x more difficult stuff throughout the day) because it was so slippery and oily. Ugh, too many hands.

Got on down from the Homestretch and met up with the Narrows before looking for my descent gully for the Pagoda traverse. I overshot it and went about 25 yards to far on the Narrows. I descend and got cliffed out (again, Class 4, my fault) before realizing I was not in a good place and backtracking. Got back up and continued back towards the Homestretch before spotting a save Class 3 gully to descend. Finding the right route, it was quick progress over to the Keyboard of the Winds. However, I will not, oddly enough the boulders along this path were the most deceiving boulders of my entire life. While I’d say it’s entirely Class 3, my 160-pound frame somehow managed to teeter-totter a surprising number of 10,000+ rocks.

21240_16
Below the Narrows, looking for the route to Pagoda.
21240_18
Here's the solid Class 3 gully I found to descend to the talus to cross over the Keyboards.
21240_19
Another view of the descent gully.

21240_21

I was nervous about finding the notch to descend below the cliff band to Pagoda, but it was the easiest route finding of the day. I found it before I was really even looking. I traversed all the way to the topmost Keyboard, and then I began heading straight down and to the left before spotting it. Here's the view from the top of the gully looking back. There were a few cairns in the area too to confirm my suspicion. When looking down upon the notch, choose the right gully (not the left) to begin your descent. Here's a video with a closer look.

21240_22
Cairns marking the way to the notch that'll take you below the cliff band over to Pagoda.
21240_23
Views from the top cairn (in the picture above) looking back towards Long and the Keyboards.
21240_24
Looking down into the descent notch.

Once you’re on the upmost cliff there, you’ll have a few options. The leftmost side looked the most promising, but there was a lot of runoff making the most convincing rock wet and slippery, so I decide for the harder route straight down the middle that was dry. 1-2 easy Class 4 downclimbs (exposure more than difficult scared me), but it went by quick and I was soon heading out the exit to the right of the notch and making another sharp right to continue on to the bottom keyboards. Here's a short video taken from the bottom of the notch.

21240_25
Looking back up at the notch I just descended. The route on the right side looks the easiest, but it was very wet and not a good option on that day. I took the route that was center-left (not furthest left), and it had solid rock and good holds.

21240_26

21240_27
The large Keyboard to the right—that's where you'll begin to descend. That's where I left my bag to go and climb Pagoda, and that's where you'll return to begin your traverse to rejoin the Keyhole route near the Trough.

Here at the descent keyboard, I dropped my pack, took my satellite phone, and began the trek up Pagoda. Lots of report say this is a breeze and goes quickly. Yes, it’s relatively easy after all you’ve done, but it was not quick haha. At least not for me. I made it on up, ate a snack, and began the wobbly descent.

21240_28
You can see the descent notch in this picture to the center and slightly left.
21240_30
Descent path from the Keyboards. Looks sketch, but it's probably all Class 2 if you choose your lines right.

After regaining my pack, I descended the notch (very obvious looking at pictures), meandering my way from the left to the right and back to the left again to descend below the large slabs. Traversed the rest of the way pretty straightforward to the base of the Trough. Continued past it for a little bit to find a social(ish) trail to rejoin the Ledges portion of the Keyhole Route. Embarrassingly enough, I got over-anxious and ascended too quickly and got off route on the very well-marked Keyhole route. I’ll excuse myself and say I was tired, but I was super bummed with myself. All in all, I’d probably lost 2-3 hours on the day now with poor route-finding decisions.

21240_31
Shot looking back towards the descent area from the Keyboards.

After passing through the Keyhole, I started my way to Storm Peak. Instead of sticking close to the ridge, I suffered myself to lose a bit of elevation gain to skirt around what I knew to be a false summit. Then, I started my approach up to Storm Peak, hugged the ridge, and made it to the true summit. Not too bad.

21240_33
Keyhole from the boulderfield.
21240_32
Views of Longs Peak from Storm Peak.
21240_34
Views of MLW from Storm Peak.

I made my way down to the bathroom in the boulder field and found a stream there (lots of streams) to refill my water bottles for filtered water. Then, I descend the northwestern side of Mount Lady Washington, finding a friendly couple on the peak who came from Chasm Lake. I got the summit, then made my way down a very (very) easy northern side of MLW to rejoin the Keyhole route trail until Granite Pass.

21240_35
Beautiful views of Longs Peak and the Diamond from the top of MLW.

I rested in the shade a bit before meandering around the west side of Granite Pass’s big pile of boulders and making my way towards Battle Mountain. I was speeding up now with the end in site, and I bagged Battle Mountain in no time. On to Pine Ridge. Again, you get to that one in no time. Next, into the unknown.

21240_36
Granite Pass.
21240_37
Battle Mountain to the center and Pine Ridge off on the far left.

21240_38

I could see Estes Cone, but there’s no clear path through the insane bushwhack to join the trail to its summit. I stumbled on down, avoiding the bushes and willows as best as I could. Into the woods, I made my way through deadfall and elk poop to finally (it felt like forever) rejoin the trail and begin my way up Estes Cone.

With a real trail beneath my feet, I was flying (meaning, I wasn’t going .5mph anymore). Gained the summited quickly, and then I started the long slog back to the trailhead. It felt like forever. I had run out of food hours ago, and I was dead. I made it back to the truck, but couldn’t quite muster the strength to do all 100 of Gerry’s demanding pushups. I did 10. Sorry, Gerry.

What an epic day. In the end, it took me close to 10,000 ft of elevation gain, 17 miles, and 17 hours. Woof. All-in-all, amazing journey that I’ll never forget. A little too much sketchy climbing for my liking, but almost all of it was do to my own mistakes. In retrospect, everything was straightforward (except for the Loft route to Longs, still don’t understand that). Gosh, I love mountains.




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
supranihilest
User
The pushups have to be the hardest part
08/08/2021 19:51
Seriously, after a climb this huge the pushups have got to be beyond brutal. Great effort on one hell of a climb, Jesse. I'm looking to do this myself yet this year as I try to finish out the Front Range 13ers, so this is a timely report. Thanks for posting this badboy!


jessesumrak
Dang Pushups
08/09/2021 07:29
Thank you! I honestly went in with the intention of taking good pictures/videos for future climbers, but when route-finding and scrambling just kind of forgot about it. Hope what I do have helps! Holler if you have any questions. Happy to do my best to answer

And finishing off the Front Range 13'ers”that's freaking awesome. Good for you! Not a bad way to knock a handful off the list haha.


headsizeburrito
User
.
08/09/2021 10:48
I did just the Grand Slam recently (no pushups required!) and found getting from the Loft/Pallisades to Homestretch a little confusing too. Can't expect perfect route finding the first time I suppose. Nice job on a big day!


jessesumrak
Agreed!
08/09/2021 11:10
Glad to know I'm not the only one, burrito Congrats on a big day! I study maps and trip reports like no other, but it's never quite the same on the actual mountain, and that's what I love about it”you never know REALLY what you're going to get until you show up and figure it out haha.



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