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854 Longs Peak, RMNP
Keyhole Route

On the trail below the Boulderfield looking at the Keyhole.

On the last day of our summer trip to Colorado and Wyoming we were planning to climb Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. We timed the climb so that we could hike with Jon, Laura, and their nephew, Parker. Parker had climbed Mount Huron and Missouri Mountain (both over 14000 feet) with Jon and Laura and had climbed Hallett Peak with us. He was ready to test his meddle on Longs Peak.

Jon, Laura, and Parker planned to leave the Longs Peak Campground at 2am. I woke a few minutes before 2 and walked over to their site to wish them well and confirm our plans.

I went back to lay down for a few hours as their fun was just beginning ... After some starting confusion they finally began the long climb in the dark (the confusion was a great story, but we will save it for another time.)

A couple of hours later, we woke, broke camp, and hit the trail. It was a fine morning. We passed the time quickly as we walked non-stop to the Boulderfield. Jon, Laura, and Parker were already there taking a break.

After a brief rest, we were headed toward the Keyhole. It was a slow but steady climb as we kept the group together. Amy, my wife and partner, decided at the Keyhole, that she was not going to the top. She was more concerned about getting things ready for our trip home than the climb. After two months in the mountains, she was ready to head for home. Laura decided she would go with Amy back to camp. They both have climbed Longs several times. This trip was all about getting nephew, Parker to the top.

Parker flashing a V sign as he strolls across the Ledges.

Just beyond the Keyhole

Jon, Parker, and I continued. It was a pretty uneventful climb. Parker made the climbing look easy. In fact if anything, he had to be reminded from time to time to at least look like he was hanging onto the rock!

Longs Peaks Homestretch with a handful of climbers making their way up the rocks.

Looking down the Homestretch

We moved together quickly and soon were on the Homestretch, just below the summit. The rock on the Homestretch was wet, but Parker still moved easily. We summited at 9:40.

There were quite a few folks on the summit basking in the thin air of 14,255 feet. At the first opportunity, Parker jumped up on the summit rock and struck a hero pose. What a day for the Georgia boy! We all wished that Amy and Laura would have been there to share it with us.

After a brief stay on the summit (just long enough for Parker to eat), we were headed down by 10:00. After carefully climbing down the Homestretch, we made good time and returned to the Keyhole at noon.

Climber on the boulder like summit of Longs Peak.

The Summit

After we cleared the Keyhole, the group split. I was on a tighter schedule than Jon and Parker and I needed to hurry. Amy and I were leaving for Tennessee, just as soon as I got off the mountain. Scurrying through the Boulderfield and down the trail I arrived at the Trailhead at a few minutes past 2. We were headed home by 2:30.

It was my 38th climb of Longs Peak, but more importantly it was Parker's first.

A few trail notes ...

Parker was 16. He was strong and climbed with good balance and no fear.

Being a teenager, he did require a lot of food. I was amazed by how much he could eat!

The trail was in great shape. Of course, the trail was rocky, but it was easy to follow and with no litter.

I felt as if the bullseyes in the Trough had recently been re-painted. It seemed as if the route up the Trough had been moved a bit to the north (or left) to get the climbers out of the center of the gully.

The Homestretch was wet and there were little spots of ice covering the rocks (verglas). This is just a reminder - icy conditions are always a possibility on Longs.

Marmots had made a mess of the privies at the Boulderfield.

Last year I did not climb Longs. This was my first time to see the safety sign in the Boulderfield. Everyone should heed the message.

Safety Sign for the Keyhole Route. "Safety is your responsibility."

Safety Sign Located in the Boulderfield

We had a great climb and it was fun to share the summit with Jon and first time climber, Parker. Thanks guys.

Happy Longs Peak trails

Link to cloudhiking's Longs Peak


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