Saturday, May 7, 2016

Longs Peak: This will make you nervous just watching it!

So you want to climb Longs Peak - the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. I know that I definitely wanted to when I was younger. I even made an attempt back in the 1990s. However, just a little past the Keyhole, I realized that I was way out of my league, and promptly turned around. Later, as the internet began filling-up with trip reports, photos and videos, I saw that the route was even more dangerous past the point where I turned around.

Back in 2014, Bryan Blalock and friends reached the summit of the 14,259-foot peak. Taking a GoPro with him, he published a series of videos showing what the climb is like. The first section of the route begins at the Longs Peak Trailhead, and travels up to The Keyhole, which is basically a standard day hike although the last quarter-mile through the Boulder Field and up to the Keyhole is a fairly strenuous scramble. Above the Keyhole, however, the route becomes a standard climbing route. The park website states that:
"The Keyhole Route is not a hike. It is a climb that crosses enormous sheer vertical rock faces, often with falling rocks, requiring scrambling, where an unroped fall would likely be fatal. The route has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs."
Rookie climbers should also note that the mountain is statistically one of the deadliest climbs in the United States.

The first video below is relatively tame. It shows the group climbing up the Homestretch to reach the summit. The second video is far more compelling. It shows the group descending through The Narrows. If you have any thoughts on climbing this mountain, and, you're like me - only a hiker, this video will certainly give you some pause before attempting this. Here's the first video:

And here's the descent through The Narrows:

In addition to the hike to The Keyhole, Rocky Mountain National Park has many other outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the park has to offer. If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


No comments: