Longs Peak
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Longs Peak - Keyhole Route

Approach Photos

Sunrise - Longs Peak

After nearly 3 hours on a good trail in the pitch dark (3am start) the morning dawns

Just below the boulderfield - Longs Peak

Early light upon Longs Peak and the Keyhole

The Boulderfield is longer than it looks - Longs Peak

Ah, the Boulder Field is quite long isn't it

Boulderfield camping commodes - Longs Peak

Reserve camping and solar toilets can be found in the middle of the Boulder Field at 12,760 feet

The easy part is almost over - Longs Peak keyhole

The boulder hop up to the Keyhole

Keyhole Ledges to the Trough Section Photos

The adventure begins pray for good weather - Longs Peak

First look at the terrain just past the Keyhole

Dry footing is nice, icy footing think twice - Longs Peak

More terrain past the Keyhole, footing not too bad

Bull's eyes are your friends, missing them could be your end - Longs Peak

Follow the Bull's Eyes over to the Trough

Kindred souls crossing to the trough with fear and trepidation - Longs Peak

A closer look at the trail as you approach the Trough

Ah, a friendly Bulls eye your mountain guide - Longs Peak

Another look at the trail to the Trough

Almost to the trough - Longs Peak

Last section of trail before the Trough

The Trough Section Photos

Were supposed to go up this?!! - Longs Peak

Rocky terrain at the bottom of the Trough

Well, I'm glad the trough is dry today - Longs Peak

Shot of terrain in the lower part of the Trough, lots of footholds and handholds as needed

Is this really the route, you sure?  - Longs Peak

Taken part way up the Trough, photo shows it steeper than it is

Keep following your nose - Longs Peak

A look at the terrain half way up the Trough

Almost at the top of the trough - Longs Peak

The upper Trough

The chockstone at the top of the trough - Longs Peak

The short bit of rock climbing 10-12 feet to the right of the chock stone

Top of the trough, the scary parts are next - Longs Peak

A look down the Trough after climbing past the chock stone

The Narrows Section Photos

Well time to scare ourselves, you look around the corner first - Longs Peak

From the top of the Trough you start the Narrows

Yikes! That's as far as I'm going said this girl - Longs Peak

Here's a look back at the start of the Narrows, the top of the Trough is just on the other side

Footing and trail width on the Narrows not too bad - Longs Peak

The middle section of the Narrows

Good footing in dry conditions on the Narrows - Longs Peak

A better look at the footing on the Narrows

Take your time here and follow your friendly Bulls eyes, last part of the Narrows - Longs Peak

The last section of the Narrows as you climb through the Notch and get the first view of the Home Stretch

Closeup of the notch - Longs Peak

A close up view of the notch before the Home Stretch

The Home Stretch Section Photos

The hands on begins it's dry you can win, take your time the summit is sublime - Longs Peak

Unfortunately it is hard to take a photo that communicates the angle of the slope. It is not as steep as this photo looks. Check my other photos looking back down.

This thumbnail has a larger photo to look at which will give a better perspective on the slope

Lots of foot and handholds on the lower part of the home stretch - Longs Peak

Here's a look at the lower part of the Home Stretch

Middle of the Home Stretch - Longs Peak

Here's a view of the middle part of the Home Stretch

Yes, the summit is right before me, last part of the Home Stretch - Longs Peak

The last part of the Home Stretch

A good view of the Home Strech from the top - Longs Peak

A good view of the angle of the Home Stretch looking down from the top

Top of the Home Stretch cairn - Longs Peak

The top of the Home Stretch pops right onto the summit

The Summit Section Photos

The Summit awards ceremony, pat yourself on the back - Longs Peak

Nice threesome, Gold, Silver and Bronze awarded

The unusually flat summit area - Longs Peak

The flat top of Longs

A happy scrambler on Longs Peak

A long day on Longs for sure but a most interesting mountain and route

Mt Meeker to the South of Longs Peak

Mt Meeker to the south

Longs Peak Ė Keyhole Route

Scramble: Class 3

Altitude: 14,255 ft

Elevation Gain: 5,100 ft, 15 miles return

Start Time: 2am to 4am to be on your way down by noon and avoid potential lightning storms

Ascent Time: Around 4 1/2 hours to the Keyhole, then around 2 hours to traverse the mountain to the summit. So 6-7 hours to the summit and 4-5 hours to descend for a total trip time of 10-12 hours. This would be for the first time climber of Longs of average hiking fitness.

Highlights

This is one of the classic scrambles of all the Colorado 14ers. Without doubt the traverse from the Keyhole around to the Home Stretch is an adventure to say the least. If this last part of the route is bone dry itís a mental adventure if you spend too much time examining the drop to your right. If weather comes in while on this traverse it ups in danger and difficulty significantly. Many people take a look past the Keyhole and decline going any further. Any experienced scrambler in dry conditions will enjoy this route, exposure is manageable, some hands on stuff on the home stretch.

Getting There

The Longs Peak trailhead and campground are about 11 miles south of Estes Park on Colorado highway 7. Access from Boulder or Denver is via highway 119 and 72 which intersects with highway 7.

Camping

Right next to the Longs Peak trailhead and Ranger Station is Longs Peak Campground. Cost is $20/night and there are around 25 sites. Restrooms but no showers. However 2.8 miles south of the Longs Peak turnoff on highway 7 is Meeker Park Lodge which has public showers for $3. There are a couple of other forest service campgrounds a few miles south on highway 7 as well.

Route Description

You can obtain a good map from the Rangers Station. The Ranger station also has a good binder with photos of most of the route to help you gauge the terrain. Dogs are not allowed on this route. There is a good trail from the Ranger Station all the way to the Boulder Field just below the Keyhole in the ridge. The distance to the Boulder Field is 5.9 miles and you gain 3,350 ft to this point. Of course you will be hiking most of this trail in the dark so bring a good headlamp and spare batteries to last at least 3 hours. Hike half a mile to the first junction, stay left here, the right takes you to the Eugenia Mine. Continue straight up the main trail past the turnoff to the Battle Mtn Group Site at 2.8 miles. Keep on the main trail up to the Chasm Lake junction at 3.5 miles, head right at this junction. Continue up the trail to the Granite Pass junction at 4.2 miles, keep left here as the trail circles around Mt Lady Washington and switchbacks up to the Boulder Field. The Boulder Field has campsites and a couple of solar toilets. Continue on past these and the official trail ends but follow the cairns as you boulder hop up to the Keyhole and the small rock hut to its left. Once at the Keyhole you have covered about 6.0 miles of the 7.5 miles and 3,750 ft of the 5,100 ft of elevation gain.

From the Keyhole take a left turn and follow the painted bullís-eyes on ledges to the bottom of the trough or big gully. The safest route is to follow the bullís-eyes all the way from the Keyhole to the Summit and back. Once in the trough itís a 600 ft ascent up to a chock stone which can be passed either on the left or the right. About 10-12 feet worth of rock climbing here but no exposure. From the chock stone you enter the Narrows which winds its way around to the base of the Home Stretch. The Narrows are about 3-5 feet wide in most places. At the end of the Narrows you climb through a notch and receive your first view of the Home Stretch. The Home Stretch is mostly hands on climbing but you can usually find handholds and footholds as you follow the bullís-eyes. I am not sure of the angle of the pitch but most pictures I have seen make the Home Stretch look steeper than it is. Going up and down the Home Stretch in dry conditions is not too bad as you can usually find the next foot or hand placement on an edge or in the cracks. At the top of the Home Stretch is the flat summit of Longs Peak.