Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Date Posted:  05/15/2022
Date Climbed:   05/14/2022
Author:  RyanOhNoPleaseStop
 Longs Peak via Notch Couloir   

Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooow what a day! I was the new kid in the group and this experience was amazing! First trad climb/outdoor rock climbing/rappel, but thankfully I have nice co-worker who showed me the way.

  • Start Time: 3:17am
  • Chasm Junction: 5:20am
  • Chasm Lake: 6:40am
  • Broadway Turnoff: 7:50am
  • Loft Base: 9:59am
  • Loft Summit: 11:16am
  • Longs Summit: 1:20pm
  • Cables Rap Base: 2:58pm
  • End Time: 6:00pm
  • Going off metadata on photos I took, so all times besides start and end are +/-5 minutes.

  • Relevant info for people who only care about the Keyhole Approach:

Pretty much constant snowpack on trail from start to finish. No traction used, but microspikes would be useful. Boulder field filled with snow, looked like the keyhole had a 100-foot apron, doesn’t look like a fun time lest you enjoy hyperextended knees. A metric ton of snow was displaced via post-holing on the return.

We passed the Longs Peak RS at 3:17am, 17 minutes later than planned. A member of the party forget their hardshell and the winds were forecasted to be sustained 30 and doubts were in the air. Luckily I had a puffy I always bring, but rarely use, so the Notch would be attempted.

The approach went quick… or at least it felt quick… quicker than the descent felt… this approach sucks and it sucked more than usual thanks to the snow that covered 90% of the approach with varying depths and support. Between the parking lot and the Chasm Junction we were passed by a skier and split boarder who were ascending and dropping into the notch. There was also a trio going for Mt. Lady Washington via Martha Couloir.

First view of the route as we approach the junction
Crossin Chasm

We took a brief pause before crossing Chasm to dawn our crampons and harness. With the route fixed in our sights we eagerly made our way across the frozen lake to feast our eyes on our warmup, Lamb’s Slide. The ascent to the Broadway turnoff was quick and simple. The snow welcomed our feet and the tracks made before us held firm. We were quickly passed by a solo skier who we never got a glimpse of on Broadway. The dude was FAST

Ladies and Gentlemen, a short view back...
He do be quick.
I like this a lot, i feel very comfortable on Lamb's Slide.
Darren preps his rack while while Nick and I enjoy the views.

We made it about 50 feet or until the first corner/downclimb on broadway before we roped up. This was my first trad climb and it was pretty awesome. Their was a lot of snow on Broadway, but personally I preferred that over traversing some grassy ledges, next time maybe. My preference also doesn’t matter because Darren was leading the effort and setting protection, I know a few times he mentioned preferring dry or dryer conditions.

More snow than expected.
Nick and I traversing

When we made it to the base of the Notch I was both relieved and horrified. Relieved because I was off broadway and I had spent far too much time flexing my sphincter. But I was also horrified because we started it simul climbing and I had just spent a few minutes ‘appreciating’ the exposure while thinking I would be under belay protection for the first 60 feet or whatever. Idk. Im new to this.

Darren starting up the Notch
Nick chilling above a short slide to a 600-foot drop
Further up the notch

So we start up the notch and its just great. Pretty much everything I had wanted and more when I first heard of couloirs and started looking them up on google. Looking at the steps in front of me with towering walls of rock filling my periphery while air continues to fill the gap I make below me. It’s the vibe I thought it would be.

Great Views
Chokepoint 1. Lots of snow and ice ran down on the right side.

Our timing was anything but perfect as we approached the first choke point. We had been staying on the left since the right side of the cooly looked extremely ice. This gave us the added advantage of being out of the direct line of fire when the skier/splitboarder duo started their drop. We were showered by debri for a while until they made it to the same chokepoint that they would have to downclimb. Also they totally did try downclimbing while our 3rd guy was still climbing up the chokepoint. Rude.

Skier/Splitboarder waited for our 3rd to finish the climb :)

We returned to simul climbing after the first chokepoint until we hit more technical terrain. The snow was solid the entire time except for at both chokepoints where id describe it as snow covered ice and rocks. Spooky stuff for me.

Final Push

There was a lot of relief reaching the top of the Notch. So much relief that we put up our rope only to take it out again 40 feet away. The Staircase was my first mixed climb and first 5th class climbing outside of a gym. I was very uncomfortable. Trusting your crampons on rocks is a very uncomfortable feeling. At the top of the pitch the crampons and rope were put away. We scrambled to the summit and enjoyed our accomplishment. It was an amazing ascent.

Chilling on the notch
Scrambling to the top
Chilling at the top

The trip down was a slog. The first rappel station was accidentally bypassed on the cables route and Nick and I had to up climb to get to our first rappel point. Darren had enough of the mountain and downclimbed the whole thing while Nick and I enjoyed a more chill rappel.

After an exciting and short lived glissade to the boulder field we were off on the approach that gains 5 miles in the daylight.

This was a huge climb for me personally. It was my first trad climb and 3rd Couloir (4th if you count the couple times ive played around on Dragons Tail but didn’t top out). Its also only been 11 months since my first attempt at Longs via the Keyhole which was my first 14er attempt. I just feel really great after this trip and it feels like my skills are really progressing ð

Celebratory Ice Axe Guitars

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

Comments or Questions
Summit wind
05/16/2022 07:46
Nice job. I tried climbing the Trough Couloir on Saturday as well, but turned around at 12,600 feet. I started too late. What was the wind like on the summit? It was fairly strong in Glacier Gorge and I saw several plumes of snow blowing off the summit.

05/16/2022 16:48
Did you see what kind of shape keplingers was in? Or the homestretch, for that matter

05/16/2022 22:38

05/17/2022 12:31
@jfm3 we got super lucky with the wind. Only really dealt with it on the approach. We were pretty sheltered from it on the climb and there was NO wind on the summit for the 10 minutes we spent up there!! Super lucky.

@bbauer15 Kep looked like a mixed route. Lots of snow on those rocks from what I could tell. Homestretch didn't look bad. Resembled the pic I posted of us scrambling to the top. Some snow but it looks passable. I'd assume there is way more snow on the Narrows and trough tho.

05/20/2022 14:18
nice work!

Look Ma
05/24/2022 10:17
Warm hands! Seems like you figured it out. Super!
Nice TR

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