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2015-06-15 6:31 AM

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Subject: Longs Peak

I'm sure there are bound to be a few of you who can claim this beauty as a mountain you have ascended. I am planning on going out to Rocky Mountain National Park late next month and am thinking of running up that mountain. Have any of you ran part of it? If so, how long did it take? I am looking at the Keyhole route as my means of accomplishing my goal. I will probably start no later than 2-3 am. I know the FKT on it is a tad under two hours, but as being from no elevation here in Illinois, what can I somewhat expect. Four hours? Six?

 

Thanks!

 



2015-06-15 8:16 AM
in reply to: Bevie

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Subject: RE: Longs Peak
Longs has eluded me three times due to poor weather or other time constraints. You might consider not trying to run the keyhole. Never been up it mind you, but my understanding is that there is considerable rock scrambling, exposed scree covered trail, snow and ice up there. Not a technical climb, but I'd take hiking poles and microspikes at the minimum. I think running it would put you at the more technical part of the climb in an exhausted state that might hinder your judgement process. that could get you hurt.

Have you ever ran at that altitude before? Once you get above 12K physical effort gets exponentially more difficult with each 200 feet or so of gain. I'd suggest you try running Flat Top mountain first to see how you do. It is a steady climb from the Bear Lake parking lot and comes out at 12324 feet with a pretty cool view. A bonus is you can look down at Tyndall glacier while you are up there. Run around the back side of the glacier and scramble up Hallets Peak.,12713. If you have a GPS, you can join the CDT up there and come out over the top of Andrews Tarn and then head down that trail to Bear Lake again. Lots of scrambling coming down Andrews and there might be a snow field to contend with as well. Both of these are good stand alone day hikes if started from the bottom. Again, take microspkes and hiking poles in your camelback. You're gonna get cold up there too, so bring a beanie, jacket and wind pants just in case. Ear plugs are a bonus because it is real windy up top. Try those two routes and see how you perform at altitude BEFORE trying to run Longs. Definitely go see Andrews Tarn/Glacier, it is one of the coolest spots in the park IMO.
2015-06-15 8:54 AM
in reply to: Bevie

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Subject: RE: Longs Peak
I climbed Long's with 2 friends back in in mid June 1994 during a fairly snowy year. It is a beautiful mountain and a nice class 4 hike. We did the Keyhole route as an overnight and camped in the boulder field at 12,800. Once through the Keyhole, it is pretty much a scramble with stretches of pretty good exposure. Route finding is easy as there are plenty of cairns and paint markings to follow. The 2 snow chutes were quite icy until the sun hit them. We took our time and were glad someone had cut steps we could follow through the steeper sections.

As we exited the second chute, a runner came up from the south side saying he left at about 4 am from the bottom - no idea from where. Kind of humbling!

It would never enter my mind to run it, so no help there. We had slept in Leadville 2 nights previous and had hiked Mt. Elbert (14,439) the day before, so had some acclimatization in us.
2015-06-15 9:26 AM
in reply to: ejshowers

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Subject: RE: Longs Peak
Originally posted by ejshowers



As we exited the second chute, a runner came up from the south side saying he left at about 4 am from the bottom - no idea from where. Kind of humbling!




  • Hehe. I stepped off the cog train on top of Pike's Peak a few years ago and saw stars for a few seconds. As my vision cleared, here came this guy running up a side trail. He ran over to the water fountain, refilled his Camelback and immediately went back down. Very humbling, this dude want even winded!
    2015-06-15 10:20 AM
    in reply to: mdg2003

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    Subject: RE: Longs Peak

    I'm only talking about running from the trail head up to the start of the boulder field. After that it's going to be picking my way up and of course the sections of scrambling etc. I believe it's a little over 6 miles from the trail head to the boulder field. That would be the sections I would run. I have never been that high up and if I start to feel winded I won't push myself any harder in fears of not being able to summit. I was just looking for anyone else who has ran that stretch of trail going up and then back down. I believe it's around 9k feet at the trail head then over a 1k climb up to the boulder field over those 6+ miles.

     

    I don't plan on pushing myself, and will take it VERY easy once the climbing begins. I don't have any mountain experience for the most part, but really would like to climb this rock! I think as a bonus while we are out there I will be doing the Rocky Mountain half marathon that is going on in Estes Park.

    2015-06-15 11:10 AM
    in reply to: Bevie

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    Subject: RE: Longs Peak
    If you "don't have any mountain experience for the most part", I would say this is not the mountain to start with, ESPECIALLY SOLO! I had a ton of backpacking and off-trail hiking scrambling and some rock climbing experience behind me and had climbed several 14,ers including Whitney and Rainier and am comfortable on snow and ice, and still found Longs fun, but NO cakewalk, and we had excellent weather. Around the Keyhole it is all shade before 11 am or so and usually very windy, so quite cold.

    I think the current death count on Long's is up to 60, but that might be old. Don't take it lightly! Two links to start your research:

    http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/local/2014/06/25/deadly-allure...

    http://www.alanarnette.com/co14ers/longspeakfaq.php



    2015-06-15 5:29 PM
    in reply to: ejshowers

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    Subject: RE: Longs Peak

    No experience with this particular peak but as the others have expressed, mountain running is serious stuff so please be sure to be proactive about your safety.

    Do you have any experience with running at altitude? 

    What are you going to bring with you? No matter how popular the trail is I always bring the 10 essentials when running in the mountains/backcountry.

    2015-06-15 5:33 PM
    in reply to: mdg2003

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    Subject: RE: Longs Peak

    Originally posted by mdg2003 Longs has eluded me three times due to poor weather or other time constraints. You might consider not trying to run the keyhole. Never been up it mind you, but my understanding is that there is considerable rock scrambling, exposed scree covered trail, snow and ice up there. Not a technical climb, but I'd take hiking poles and microspikes at the minimum. I think running it would put you at the more technical part of the climb in an exhausted state that might hinder your judgement process. that could get you hurt. Have you ever ran at that altitude before? Once you get above 12K physical effort gets exponentially more difficult with each 200 feet or so of gain. I'd suggest you try running Flat Top mountain first to see how you do. It is a steady climb from the Bear Lake parking lot and comes out at 12324 feet with a pretty cool view. A bonus is you can look down at Tyndall glacier while you are up there. Run around the back side of the glacier and scramble up Hallets Peak.,12713. If you have a GPS, you can join the CDT up there and come out over the top of Andrews Tarn and then head down that trail to Bear Lake again. Lots of scrambling coming down Andrews and there might be a snow field to contend with as well. Both of these are good stand alone day hikes if started from the bottom. Again, take microspkes and hiking poles in your camelback. You're gonna get cold up there too, so bring a beanie, jacket and wind pants just in case. Ear plugs are a bonus because it is real windy up top. Try those two routes and see how you perform at altitude BEFORE trying to run Longs. Definitely go see Andrews Tarn/Glacier, it is one of the coolest spots in the park IMO.

    Lots of great tips!

    2015-06-16 1:13 PM
    in reply to: Bevie

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    Subject: RE: Longs Peak
    I have summited Long's three times from the standard Keyhole route and once the Keyhole Ridge route.

    Each time on the Keyhole, the round trip took close to 12 hours. I've started around 4AM and finished around 4PM. I wasn't running. This was with about 45 min at the top and several 20 min breaks along the way. The round trip is 14 miles. IMO it really starts at the boulder field about 5 miles in. Try to shuffle those first 5 miles as fast as you can without really spending much energy...and try not to sweat too much.

    If you have a water filter, bring it. There is a good creek crossing (I think) about 3-4 miles from the trailhead. Also you can filter water in the boulder field. This allows you to get plenty of fluids w/out having to carry it all.

    MANY people turn around at the Keyhole. Fatigue, combined with the steep terrain really take their toll on the psyche when the wind through the Keyhole whips you in the face. Keep going, it'll get better in 10 min or so. Once you get through the Trough, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The Narrows and Home stretch are super exciting.

    Weather is a huge factor. If it looks bad at all, just go to Chasm Lake. Cotton kills. Eat lots, drink lots. You will see people in t-shirts or sweatshirts coming down from the summit. Sometimes luck goes their way, but if you are prepared I guarantee you will have a better day. If you can schedule around a full moon it makes a huge difference. If something hurts, take Advil immediately. On the way down if you want a break, take your shoes off and stick your feet in the creek. The rejuvenates me like nothing else!

    I say go for it. Plenty of flatlanders have done it. Check out 14ers.com for more info. Lots of stories from experienced people as well as beginners.

    Ted

    P.S. I have also attempted two other times and turned around. Happens to everyone (who's smart).
    2015-06-25 11:47 AM
    in reply to: 0

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    Subject: RE: Longs Peak
    I have lived in Colorado for 10 years now and have climbed Long's twice. (Total 14er count is 21 at this point.) It is a spectacular mountain and the Keyhole Route is a great trail run. The trail is wide enough to get by without much trouble, and currently the lower portion of the route is in good shape with respect to snow, ice, mud, etc.

    Use this page to get a sense of the trail: http://14ers.com/routemain.php?route=long1&peak=Longs+Peak

    I'm not trying to discourage you from coming out and giving it a shot, but rather to prepare you for what awaits you. My words of caution:

    Trailhead starts at ~9,400 feet. If you're coming from Illinois, you're moving up over a mile and half before you even start. You _will_ be oxygen deprived, and no matter how fit you are, not enough blood cells will cause you pain, I promise. You will do best to give yourself some time to acclimate. At least 4 or 5 days, and preferably longer.

    The trail is steeper than you think. It isn't a bad trail by any means, but it is steadily uphill all the way to the Boulder Field. Here's a page with the elevation profile of the route: http://www.localhikes.com/HikeData.ASP?DispType=2&ActiveHike=0&GetH... The first 5 miles will take you to the Boulder Field and into about 13,000 feet, so that's 2,500 feet of elevation in about 5 miles.

    Once you come through the Keyhole, the route becomes a lot more technical. Most people who have never been there or done any mountaineering get freaked out by that step through the Keyhole because it is a steep grade down for about 1,000 feet vertical. Chances of falling are slim at that point, but if you did, you wouldn't stop for a while.

    There are three more technical sections after the Keyhole. The Trough is a rock spill that forces you to do some solid class 3 climbing/scrambling (Pictures #11 and #12 in the link). The Narrows is quite level, but you've got just enough room to pass people. It isn't bad by any means, but a lot of people hug the wall away from the 1,000 foot drop. (Pictures #13 - #16 are quite accurate.) The Homestretch is the steepest and least friendly. (Pictures #17 and #18 - they are a little more dramatic than the reality, but only a little.) It is really very smooth rock at a steep grade for a few hundred feet. At this point you're over 13,000 feet, and you feel perched on the side of a cliff. Not much to hold onto, so many people kind of crawl up using at least one hand, sometimes two. Very doable, but it can be very intimidating, too. Coming down, a lot of people sit down and scoot on their butt rather than walk. Not really necessary if you have good balance and rock skills, but walking down a steep grade with over 1,000 feet of fall in front can make you want to find an alternative.

    So all of that is just to prepare you for the trail, especially that section past the Keyhole. Not for the faint of heart, but totally doable. The last time I did it, we started around 3:00 AM, hit the summit around 7:00 am, and were back down by 1:00 or 2:00 pm, ish. Plan 12 hours, and absolutely do _not_ plan to summit if you can't get on the trail by 3:00 am. July is notorious for thunderstorms and things can change in seconds up there. That is not a scare tactic at all. The last time I hiked to the Boulder Field it was a beautiful blue sky day, not a cloud to be seen the whole way up. Got to the Boulder Field, took a 15 minute food break, and was suddenly surrounded by clouds with lightning and driving rain for the full hike back down.

    That final thing I want to point out is that current conditions are "full on winter" conditions past the Keyhole: http://14ers.com/php14ers/peakstatus_entry.php?recnum=4878 As of yesterday (24 June), the route is considered "winter technical." To me, that means I need to carry an ice axe (can you self belay, glissade, and self arrest?), and a rope in case of rescue. Crampons are probably overkill, but microspikes or YakTraks would be a certainty. Actually, I carry YakTraks all the time when on 14ers because you never know when you're going to need some traction on an ice field. Check out that last picture of the homestretch - steep snow, for sure. Of course, the route may be completely snow free in a month, so I would keep an eye on route conditions through 14ers.com.

    Again, not trying to be negative or shut down your plan. I just want to make sure you're fully informed before jumping in with both feet. And, I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

    -Kirk


    PS - I didn't go into food and water requirements. You'll most certainly want both for the round trip. I typically take about 3-4 liters of water in a CamelBack for an ascent like this, plus plenty of calories in the form of trail mix, cheese sticks, chocolate. Dense calories are a good option for such an endeavour.





    Edited by KirkD 2015-06-25 11:59 AM
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