10/11/15 – 10/12/15
Summer was fading away and fall was already in full force in the high country. Pat “Perry” Johnson and I decided it was time to knock out a Front Range 14er that we had waited to do until tourist season was over, Longs Peak. We planned to depart from the trailhead in Estes Park on a Sunday morning, camp at the Boulder Field right below the Keyhole, and summit Longs Peak the following day. This would hopefully ensure relatively low traffic on the route and allow us to enjoy an unfamiliar area without the congestion it typically attracts in the summer months. I talked to a ranger a few days before to make sure a campsite was available and work out any fees we would need to pay before heading up on the mountain. He informed me that the Trough section of the route contained both ice and snow so I decided it was a good idea for Perry and I to bring an ice axe and crampons to be on the safe side. We made our way to the trailhead early Sunday from Breckenridge and started our approach to basecamp later that morning. After one of the windiest approaches either one of us had ever experienced we arrived at the Boulder Field, setup camp, and relaxed, mostly in our tents to escape the incessant wind that persisted throughout the night.
After an extremely windy night we were greeted with a beautiful day to attempt the summit. With some reluctance we finally made it out of our sleeping bags, ate breakfast, and began our ascent toward the Keyhole. After a relatively easy scramble we found ourselves entering the Trough section. As promised, we were greeted with snow and ice but were well prepared. After navigating the easier sections we donned crampons and ice axes and completed the crux section to the start of the Narrows. Here we were happy to have dry rock and sun which allowed us to continue towards the Homestretch section quickly.
After a fun scramble through the Homestretch we arrived on the summit and took in the beautiful surroundings. This has been a 14er we had wanted to complete since late summer and was glad we were able to do it with some ice and snow mixed in.
After a short stay on the summit we quickly descended back to basecamp, ate some lunch, and finished our descent back to the trailhead. Despite the high winds we were stoked to have made a successful summit and looked forward to pursuing more difficult routes on this mountain in the future.