cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


557 Summer Stories

climbers on the Narrows

The Narrows on Longs Peak

Last summer ('11), we saved climbing Longs Peak until our last day of our Colorado visit. There had been a lingering snow pack that had delayed some of our plans. After a month in Rocky Mountain National Park, we left and climbed elsewhere in the State, including: a long route on Mount Evans, then a great little route on Torreys, and finally an ascent of Pikes Peak, before we returned to the Park. For our last few days we spent a night in the backcountry and then were going to climb Longs Peak. Returning from our backcountry overnight trip, Amy re-injured her foot. I was going to have to climb Longs without her.

Amy drove me to the trailhead at daybreak. I promised to hurry as I joined hundreds of hikers on the trail as we toiled along the seven mile and over 5,000 foot climb.

Walking alone, I set a good pace. The advantage of walking alone is being able to walk just as fast as I wanted to. I could slow down or speed up to meet my mood. The disadvantage of walking alone its there is no one to share the experience with, well, other than the throngs of other hikers.

Steadily I hiked along. I had no agenda, other than climbing.

After a couple of hours I reached the Boulderfield and began the scrambling. I was climbing the easy route on Longs Peak. It is a Class 3 climb, indicating the route has exposure and that you actually have to use your hands to climb.

Soon I made my way through the large boulders to the Keyhole, a noticeable gap in a prominent ridge. The next section of the trail is known as the Ledges. The "trail" follows ledges across slabs for a good distance. The Ledges mainly traverse the west side of the mountain and ends at the Trough.

The boulder strewn gully, the Trough, breaks many hopeful climbers. It is steep and loose enough to make the climber work. I avoided most of the crowds staying to their side and soon was looking at the boulders at the top of the Trough.

The Narrows continue the traverse around the mountain as it leads from the Trough to the Homestretch. The Narrows received it's name for a few narrow moves. It does have a bit of exposure as you traverse using big holds.

Finally, I was on the Homestretch, which climbs a few hundred feet up the cracks on a slab that leads to the summit. After going around a few more climbers, I was on top. The ascent took a little over three hours. After a short break, I reversed my climb.

On the descent I met a couple of mid-twenty year old hikers in the Narrows. I had spoken to them on the ascent. I smiled to them and quickly moved around the hikers as they clung to the wall. White knuckled, one of the guys said to the other, "you know, older folks are not as scared as us." I clearly overheard their comment and just laughed.

I doubt that being old had anything to do with me being less scared. A few things that did matter were - I was fit, acclimated, climbing alone (faster), had climbed Longs Peak numerous times, and had been rock climbing since my youth. The peak was well within my comfort zone. Getting older had made me more cautious; but not less scared. When I don't know what I am doing, which happens frequently, I do get scared just like everyone else; but years of experience in the mountains has eased those fears.

I still enjoyed their comment. It made my day.

Happy scared trails


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: