Alan Arnette, an experienced mountain climber with summits of Everest and K2, has climbed Longs Peak 40 times, often as training for his high-mountain climbs. There are many routes to get to the Longs Peak summit, but the Keyhole Route is the most popular. Elevation: 5,000 feet+ (Starting at 9,400 feet, summit at 14,259 feet) Longs Peak. •The Keyhole: It’s about a mile from here to the summit. The weather in the mountains are constantly changing, and it’s important to be up-to-date on the conditions before you hike Longs Peak. I’d recommend class 3 experience before attempting this slog of a hike. There are several trailheads, but most routes and variations start from the Ranger Station at Longs Peak Trailhead and start on East Longs Peak Trail. Longs Peak Keyhole Route This album is a personal collection of my photos from my three attempts to climb Longs Peak (two successful). The trough especially has potential for rocks to get kicked loose by other climbers from above. Longs Peak is an extremely difficult hike that should only be attempted in good weather conditions. Longs Peak is the only (“14er”) peak above 14,000 feet located with Rocky Mountain National Park. It's close to one mile from the Keyhole to the summit. Check out our video on hiking in high altitude for more tips and information. We summited around 11 after getting super lucky with the weather/wind/crowds and the descent after the keyhole section was again pretty easy. It is primarily for organizational purposes for my Trip Report Curing My Summit Fever. The mileage is about 15 miles roundtrip with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Before visiting, look at the weather forecast for higher elevations as the weather conditions change very quickly and afternoon thunderstorms arrive without warning. Beautiful views down into Wild Basin are a distraction. So, hope for the best for weather but use good judgement when passing through the keyhole to the summit and back because it's a long commitment in very exposed terrain where the footing can become more slick. Very hard. Once you reach the Keyhole, you’re a mile out from the summit, but you still have a dangerous, exposed sections to go full of slippery shale along the ledges, the trough, and the narrows. You will eventually reach Chasm Lake Trail junction at which point you will traverse Lady Washington as you head toward the Boulder Field. •The Narrows: You're completely exposed on the south side of the mountain. The last half mile to the keyhole was mostly boulder hopping and battling the wind gushes. One should be comfortable with class 3 scrambles to safely enjoy the climb. To register, visit Heavy spring snowfall made Longs a technical climb for much of the summer, but with the snow melted from Longs’ most dangerous sections, now is a great time to climb. "The Trough" was slick in places & definitely had potential for rockfall from above climbers. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. © 2020 Recreational Equipment, Inc. All rights reserved. •Layers of clothing (jackets and pants), including insulating, windproof clothing, such as synthetic or wool, not cotton. What’s more, the panoramic views you’ll find at the Longs Peak summit are truly iconic. A nearby hike with views of Longs Peak is the Chasm Lake Trail. The park fee is $20 for 3 day access or $35 for an annual pass as of 2005. Circle a date on your calendar (preferably a week day), or register for our Coloradoan hike Aug. 28 to hike Longs Peak. If there's any chance of snow being on the route (like on Sunday) traction devices for boots are highly recommended. Rocky Mountain National Park 970-586-1206. Cost is $20/night and there are around 25 sites. As somebody said at the Keyhole point, "It's not a no, it's FUCK No!". The Keyhole Route is by far the most popular route on the mountain. At your final destination, Chasm Lake ripples with the spurts of wind and Longs Peaks’ monolithic granite stretches 14,259 feet tall into the sky. The Keyhole had gnarly winds (+50 mph), which made it unsafe to tread forward. I climbed it with my daughter and left the parking lot which was 3/4 filled at 2:40 am just after some rain showers had passed through. Once you’ve reached the summit, you can release your hands from gripping the slippery granite and enjoy a relatively flat area to walk around and enjoy the accomplishment. Longs Peak, the only fourteener in Rocky Mountain National Park, is one of the most popular Colorado mountains, with more than 10,000 hikers every year making the summit. However, even during summer, the day can start out as sunny and blue skies, and by the afternoon, thunder, rain, or snow could come over the pass! Trailhead: From Estes Park, take Colorado Highway 7 south about 9 miles to the Longs Peak Ranger Station. The National Park has put together a more in-depth description of the Keyhole Route that can be found here, as well as a video with even more visuals and information. It would have added confidence, speed and especially safety to some of the snowy/ice sections. The East Longs Peak Trail does have a ranger station with a small campground of 26 sites. Know that the scrambling, the long approach, the weather, and the high altitude bring an added risk when attempting a summit of Longs Peak. Watch a live feed of the mountain at While an epic feat, Longs Peak is not a great “first 14er” to check off your bucket list. You, too, can make the summit and safe descent — if you take the proper precautions. The flat-topped monarch is seen from almost anywhere in the park. Some hikers begin their hike at 1 or 2 a.m. Often, you’ll find the parking lot full by 2 a.m. on weekends. Past the keyhole and along the ridge, the route can be somewhat treacherous. The maintained forest hiking trail ends at the Boulder Field 6 miles from the trailhead. "The Narrows" section wasn't too bad if you have previously experience with exposure. Turn right onto Longs Peak Road. Unlike other access points in Rocky Mountain National Park, there are no entrance fees or day permits required to access this area. We left the trailhead at 4:20am and got back around 6:00pm. During a mid summer weekend the lot probably would have been filled well before this time. You will begin the hike through a dense forest until you reach a transition zone past the treeline, at which point you Lady Washington and Longs Peak will come into sight. The Chasm Lake Trail begins from the Longs Peak Trailhead at 9,405 feet, and climbs around 2,500 feet to Chasm Lake at 11,823 feet. This summer, the Coloradoan and Xplore reporter Stephen Meyers hosted a hiking series, culminating in a summit attempt of 14,259-foot Longs Peak. A fantastic failure! As its name implies, it's a trail that works through ledges and leads you to the Trough. Second, the Keyhole Route only becomes nontechnical when the snow melts out of the Trough, which generally doesn't happen until late July. Winter conditions usually take over in the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park in September and often persist through June. During this section we both wore helmets with the purpose of protecting from rocks falling, but we ended up just bumping our heads several times and were glad for the protection. Keep consistent pace it’s about a 16-17 mile round trip. The Narrows were snow free and mostly dry, as was the Homestretch. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Throughout the views are stunning. So worth it!! The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. Please note: This is a challenge route which requires some rock climbing experience, with intense class 3 sections after the keyhole (ledges, trough, narrows, homestretch). Longs Peak is Colorado's northernmost fourteener in the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and one of the most accessible to the Denver area. The infamous, exposed “Diamond Wall” may even have climbers on the face that you can watch working their way up as you snack and stare at the giant peaks before you. From the trail head to summit its 8 miles, the board that says its 7.2 miles is 0.8 miles from trail head. The parking lot fills quickly, so get there early. The keyhole route is a dangerous and technical section of the trail with narrow ledges and falling rock. Perhaps I had just set myself up for disappointment with the world hype of Colorado to discover it’s not really that remarkable. REI and the REI Co-op logo are trademarks of Recreational Equipment, Inc. Layers with good insulation, windproof (synthetic or wool) (midlayer and a puffy jacket), Sun protection: sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries. At the summit, you won't find a narrow peak, but an area about the size of a football field. A great casual hike basically up to the boulder fields before it got difficult. This is a strenuous hike with difficult terrain that should not be underestimated. While most of the way up is a trail, it quickly turns from boulder hopping to Class 3 rock scrambling. The real challenging bits of the hike with a steeper ascent shows up around 6 miles in when you hit the Boulder Field. This area can be slippery when snow-covered, requiring some Class 3 scrambling. If you want to summit this burly peak, you’ll need information on the route, how to hike in high altitude, the gear you’ll need, and the logistics you’ll need to plan in advance. Difficulty: Difficult Elevation range: 9,400-14,259 feet. Keep your eyes on the trail in front of you, but don’t forget to stop and make frequent glances skyward. •Before you go, check conditions on Longs Peak at The route is pretty straightforward UNTIL you attain the Keyhole, then route-finding becomes more tricky & there's class 3 exposure. We started at 3 in the morning and finished it at 5pm in the evening.

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