Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Date Posted:  09/10/2021
Modified:  09/11/2021
Date Climbed:   09/06/2021
Author:  skythian
 Short notice Boulderfield camp and summit   

Just got back from my 2 day trip to Long's Peak. Things went great overall, but I definitely hit some snafus.

First of all, after calling on Sunday morning and asking if there were any available camping spots left in the Boulderfield, I was astonished to find that 5 people hadn't picked up their passes. I asked if they could reserve a pass over the phone, but they said I'd have to drive in. I live in Evergreen, so it was a 1:45 hour drive to the Wilderness office. I decided to chance it.

I arrived around 3 PM on Sunday (the day before Labor Day!!!) and picked up a pass to campsite 1 in the Boulderfield. Awesome! I drove down to the parking lot, packed up my things, and started hiking. Unfortunately, I drastically underestimated the amount of time it would take to hike my gear in. The Boulderfield is about 6 miles from the parking lot, and carrying my tent/sleeping-bag/iso-mat/etc slowed me down quite a bit. Not to mention, I.... actually got lost on the hike in. The signs are a little confusing, and I ended up hiking towards Battle Mountain before I discovered my mistake. It was getting dark, so it took a little night land-nav to get me back on track and at least point myself at Long's. I hit a service trail and followed that up to the Boulderfield trail. Moral: be careful hiking up there at night. I may just be dumb, but the signage was confusing to me. Luckily I always bring a map and a compass. Never know when you'll wish you had them.

Anyway, after getting to the Boulderfield at around 8:30 pm, I set up camp and went to bed. Unfortunately, I found it pretty tough to sleep at that altitude. I'm aclimated to ~8000 feet in Evergreen, but I felt like I was kind of out of breath all night, and my heart was racing (possibly also due to a little nervousness for Long's). I wish I had taken some ZZZQuil or something to help me sleep, since I basically got about 30 minutes of sleep at the campsite.

Nevertheless, I decided to take on the climb as scheduled the next day and things went.... really well! I won't go into the details of the climb (they are well documented in other places), but some things to keep in mind:

1) If the wind is high at the keyhole, definitely keep going another 100 feet or so down the route. It should die off significantly, and then you can make a decision if you want to continue.

2) This is my first Class 3 climb, and I didn't find anything too difficult. The Narrows and Trough were intimidating, but they consist of fairly easy climbing. I did think the Homestretch was a little scary at first, and it is definitely the most difficult climbing of the entire route, but I didn't have any issues getting up to the top. I will say that coming down the Homestretch was the hardest part of the day for me. Maybe I need to practice downclimbing, but I felt pretty uneasy several times knowing that I didn't really have a good foot or handhold as I was sliding my butt down the rocks. It only happened a couple of times but it was scary. It's possible I didn't go down the "easiest" way.

3) Using real "grippy" climbing shoes versus my old Marine hiking boots probably would have helped.

It sucked having to pack up my stuff and hike the 6 miles back to the truck, but it's worth it if you can get some sleep at the campsite. Overall, it was a fun day! Many people turned back along the route, for a variety of reasons, but I do think that any person with some basic rock climbing experience should be okay trying Long's. The Homestretch is daunting, but completely possible. Good luck!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice report
09/10/2021 17:20
That was a nice report with wonderful photographs.
Longs is my favorite 14er.

My Experience Was Very Similar!
09/11/2021 12:02
I too climbed Long's for the first time on Labor Day.
I'm sure we must have seen each other.....I was actually happy to have not gotten the Boulderfield site once I started going down the trail, as it took all my energy just to get to the Goblins Forest a mile or so in.
I too slept very little Sunday night.....going to bed at 6:30 pm just didn't work!
I found the Ledges, Trough, and Narrows far easier than I expected.....but that Homestretch scared the heck out of me....made it but knowing I had to go back down it made my time on the summit a bit antsy!
Oh, and that hike back was long.....
But still all in all a very good experience!

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