Yes. Your goal should not be to summit, it should be to have a rewarding experience and simultaneously stay safe. While you are at it, snacks and water will provide energy for the trip beyond or your return back to the trailhead. Torreys Peak (14,267 feet) – near Keystone, CO. Torreys Peak is slightly more difficult than Grays … How physically fit you are plays no role in whether you get altitude sickness. Too much focus on the summit can lead to poor decisions! To quickly answer – The risk factors that make Longs Peak hard to climb are often incorrectly perceived. It is important to watch for these symptoms in yourself as well as others in your group. Difficulty: Class 1. Solo travel is never recommended particularly on a high risk activity such as the Keyhole Route. Longs is, well, long. Park employees no longer provide a rating of the Keyhole Route. If you are looking for a 14er to climb in Colorado, Longs Peak is most likely near the top of your list. Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Perhaps the most prominent risk is human error. The symptoms of altitude sickness include: a dull to throbbing headache, loss of appetite, sick to your stomach or nausea, vomiting, and feeling weak or dizzy. Conditions are constantly changing and influenced by altitude, wind and sudden changes in weather. Kaiti Kinshella is a Spanish teacher and freelance writer who lives, works, and plays in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. To quickly answer – The risk factors that make Longs Peak hard to climb are often incorrectly perceived. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Longs Peak is the deadliest mountain in Colorado in terms of the number of fatalities each year, mostly because of the sheer number of people that attempt it. Summiting Longs Peak is an incredible experience and most people who do so do it safely. Make sure that you are not only used to the mileage, but also the altitude. In 2002, a research survey showed over 9,500 people reached the summit of Longs Peak; thousands more turned around at the Boulder Field. Trailandsummit.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries. Description: This is an ascent of the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park (14,259 ft / 4,346 […] For a shorter trip that's also not too exposed, check out the Crags route. DIFFICULTY LEVEL 5 . Many people have fallen while shortcutting or continuing ahead after losing the route. They naturally don’t trust the gear, because they have never used something like it before. A strenuous out and back excursion that will have you transverse 13.5 miles in elevations increasing over 5,140 feet, the Longs Peak Summit — Keyhole Route is the easiest way to reach to Longs Peak Summit. I would like to make the argument that death occurs on Longs Peak due to overpopulation, under preparedness, and overconfidence. From the Longs Peak Trailhead to the summit of Longs Peak along the Keyhole Route is 7.5 miles. While it is not as difficult as the toughest 14er summits (Little Bear Peak, Capitol Peak, Crestone Needle, Sunlight Peak), Longs has plenty of difficult, class 3 scrambling. Contact | Privacy Policy. For most of the year, climbing Longs Peak is in winter conditions, which requires winter mountaineering experience and the knowledge and use of specialized equipment. As with any high altitude mountaineering route you will encounter hazards along the way. Stay left on the East Longs Peak Trail and switchback up and easy slope to reach the north end of the Boulder Field, near 12,400'. However, Longs is no ordinary class 3 fourteener. Keep in mind if the route is in “winter- like” conditions sections of the bull’s-eyes will not be visible. Difficulty: Difficult Elevation range: 9,400-14,259 feet. Climbers wishing to summit Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route will pass through the notch (see photo below) in order to reach the west side of the ridge, which allows them to make the final 1.3-mile approach to the top. Our professional guides will safely lead you on this extremely difficult hike. If you lose the bull’s eyes you are likely off-route and will encounter more difficult climbing with potentially severe consequences. What are the symptoms of high altitude sickness? An under prepared or overconfident person doesn’t look at the weather report the night before and the morning of. Keyhole Route is one of the most popular 14er routes in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. When is the best time of year to try to climb the Keyhole Route? And yet, they are totally preventable. However, this puts the blame on external forces, when, in fact, the cause of human death is just that: it is most often human error. If you are ready, that means you are overcoming the three main problems of overpopulation, under preparedness, and overconfidence. Beta – 14 miles, 5,100 feet elevation gain. But….do not rely on the presence of others if you need help. However, too many people do Longs without having any clue what they are doing, and they end up experiencing irrational fear while not preparing properly for that which can actually cause them harm. And, as one of Colorado’s many “fourteeners,” Longs is well known for its difficulty. If, for any reason, something indicates that you should turn around, you need to do so. Trailhead: From Estes Park, take Colorado Highway 7 south about 9 miles to the Longs Peak … Don’t climb a mountain unless you are ready. It looks imposing from every side, but the “Keyhole” notch allows passage to the summit. Take the time to fairly assess your physical condition and the ever-changing conditions on the mountain before you tackle the most difficult part of the climb ahead. These are the real risks of the mountain. The north and east faces of Longs come into view, as well as Storm Peak (13,326') ahead. The designated, maintained hiking trail ends at the Boulder Field, about five miles from the trailhead. Longs Peak will lie directly towards the south, and in between is the famous notch known as "The Keyhole". If you manage this, you are way more likely to mitigate the danger of a cluster on the mountain, which could lead to a dangerous situation. The day of, make sure you are observing the temperature, and watching the horizon for dark storm clouds. At these elevations storms often produce snow, sleet and hail. Take deep breaths, focus on your steps, and remind yourself that you control your footwork and that you are safe. Your email address will not be published. In the past, some visitors have mistakenly assumed that a “non-technical” rating meant “safe.” Exposure and other risks along the route exist all the time. Look for patterns in the current weather and changes in the weather predictions. We hope the information provided will assist you with planning for a safe and enjoyable experience on Longs Peak. A lot of food and snacks (energy bars, sweets, jerky, granola, a sandwich, etc). Thank you for taking the time to read more about the Keyhole Route. Disregard for the mountain environment any time of year has meant danger, injury and even death. Why it’s good for beginners – It’s not. It is unquestionably the monarch of the Front Range and northern Colorado. Excellent customer service. However, in spite of the Narrows’ reputation, it is actually a straightforward traverse across a ledge that is at least 5 feet wide, with plenty of hand holds and some rock protection on the exposed side. Longs Peak is a high and prominent mountain in the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. If you have a bad feeling in your stomach that you can’t shake, turn around. Let me be clear here - Longs Peak is probably not a good mountain for the novice hiker or climber. When you are in the mountains, it is better to be safe than sorry. In order to find out, we must explore the perceived risk of climbing Longs versus the actual risks that one faces when up on the mountain. I generally try to camp near the mountain and wake up around 2 AM, so I am on trail around 3-3:30 am. Standard Route: East Slopes. Early Spring (late May through June) and Fall (Septe… That means that they either didn’t read the weather report (under prepared) or they continued to try to summit in spite of what the weather was saying to them: TURN AROUND (overconfidence). Longs Peak is the northernmost fourteener in the Rocky Mountains and the highest point in Boulder County and Rocky Mountain National Park. That being said, more than half of the climbers that attempt Longs Peak will never see the summit, making Longs Peak the fourteener that’s got the highest failure rate. I spend as much time in the mountains as possible. You will not find water sources along the Keyhole Route. Be ready to wake up early the morning of the climb. Many of the deaths are the result of falling, lightning, hypothermia, and exhaustion. If you are trying to stay safe while up on the most popular and deadly fourteener in Colorado, the essential question to ask is: What is the cause of these deaths? (970) 586-1206 However, weather and conditions vary so it’s best to check with a ranger or online for current conditions, 970-586-1206 or the park's Conditions & Closure page. Longs Peak (1) 3: Keyhole Route: CO: 14,255' 62. It's 'Diamond Face' is known as one of the best vertical face climbs in the world. Summit fever is dangerous. Safety is your responsibility and our concern. Longs Peak is a true icon of Colorado. On the other hand, what are the actual risks of rock climbing? The Longs Peak trail starts at 9,405 feet. People are falling off Longs Peak. The North Face is a technical route of modest difficulty with minimal 5th class terrain. When approaching the Narrows (or the Ledges, which is another exposed section) remember to keep your head about you. Check the weather daily, up to a week before you climb and the morning of. Let’s use rock climbing as an example. How is cell phone coverage? Pack the appropriate gear in order to avoid hypothermia, exhaustion, and injury. Be sure to adequately plan, prepare for, and manage your climb – don’t take it lightly. There are so many factors that go into preparing oneself for a mountain like Longs. From here you walk and scramble over boulders toward the Keyhole feature. What to Bring: Sent with trip confirmation. At 14,259 feet (4,345 meters), Longs Peak is one of the most popular “Fourteeners” in Colorado. If I'm not training for my next 100 mile trail race then you can probably find me exploring a new trail with my family. Longs Peak (3) 5.4 (Steep Snow) Notch Couloir: CO: 14,255' 64. In general, the most snow-free and ice-free time of year to climb Longs Peak is mid-July through mid-September. They also are unwilling to turn back, even though a giant storm cloud is looming in the distance or the wind is literally bowling them over. Once you are on the narrows, you will be completely exposed on the south side with a drop below you that could make anyone feel light headed. Your guide to outdoor adventure since 2019. Difficulty Rating Defined: a difficulty rating of less than 5 is considered to be an easy hike. The fourteen miles can feel like a lot, especially when rock scrambling is involved near the summit. If a point is named, I will likely add it to my list regardless of difficulty or relief. Meeker and Longs Peak (SE Longs, ‘The Beaver’). Preparedness and self-reliance are essential. The worst danger lies not in the exposure, length, or weather. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222. Longs Peak-Keyhole Route Frequently Asked Questions (8 1/2 x 11-PDF 162k. This is not a “walk in the park.” This is much more than a hike. Perhaps because they are fatigued, meaning that they weren’t properly prepared for the fourteen mile hike to begin with. But why are they falling? Another perceived risk of hiking Longs is that one will accidentally go the wrong way. There are freak accidents that occur all the time in the outdoors. Level 1: 2-6 miles, less than 500 feet elevation change on good trails; Level 2: 3-8 ... who had several previous ascents of Longs Peak, went up a couple days prior to our hike, to scout the current conditions. How Much Water Should I Carry Backpacking? Or, maybe they got blown off of the mountain due to extreme winds (yes, this does happen). The Narrows section is an exposed ledge that occurs around 6.5 miles into the hike. Is the Keyhole Route a hike or a climb? This one is easy. Between 5 and 10 is moderate, and anything over 10 is considered to be a strenuous hike. Travelling with others provides an added margin of safety with decision making, shared observations of changing conditions, and the ability to assist or go for help in the event of an accident. The most important part of your climb is to plan for a safe return. The factors are human, they are internal. How many miles is the Keyhole Route to Longs Peak? It's close proximity to Denver and its pure majesty make it the most popular climbing mountain in the state. I want to make it clear that I am not saying everyone who has died on Longs was there during an overpopulated situation, under prepared, or overconfident. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The terrain requires route finding skills and the ability to assess and adjust to unexpected or changing weather conditions. This website is where I share all our adventures along with tips and advice to help you get outdoors too! This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Long's Peak stands proudly as Colorado's northernmost fourteener. The route has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs. Your email address will not be published. Note: While this is a Class 1 climb, it's quite long at 26 miles. Be just as focused and alert, or even more so, on the way down! There are many spectacular ways to summit Long's Peak, and this description highlights the "standard" Keyhole Route. For the first six miles, there is a clear, dirt trail that leads you directly to the boulder field just before the Keyhole. Depending upon conditions, you might encounter snow and ice any time of the year. The 9 Best Hikes near Leadville, Colorado, Overland Vehicle on a Budget: Under $7,500 Spent. Your ego is not worth your life. By the end of the day together, we would have easily adopted Tamara into our family. If symptoms develop, don’t wait to turn around. There is no “trail” to the summit of Longs Peak. Increased risk factors include: weather, eventual darkness, and a decline in the ability to see others on the route or to successfully navigate in the late afternoon light. Let us explore this concept. Q: When is it usually climbed? The Keyhole and Longs Peak via Longs Peak Trail is a 14.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Allenspark, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. However, the difficulty of this route is often underestimated. Sometimes attempted in a single day, Longs is more commonly climbed as an overnight. The actual loft area that gives this route its name is the wide-open flat plateau that separates Mt. From the Longs Peak Trailhead to the summit of Longs Peak along the Keyhole Route is 7.5 miles. It is a prized playground for the budding hiker/mountaineer, the intermediate to advanced rock climber, the intermediate to advanced mixed/ice climber, the middle-altitude big wall aid climber; and it even sports a few high-end rock routes. How do you ready yourself to overcome these human faults, you ask? The Keyhole Route crosses enormous vertical rock faces, is exposed to falling rock, and requires scrambling on all fours. People are dying from lightning and hypothermia. The last 1.5 miles is by far the most difficult, exposed and hazardous portion of the route. From the Keyhole, you only have a mile left of scrambling before you reach the top. Make sure you know what you are doing, prepare for the worst, and most importantly: be ready to turn around. Like, almost impossible. The Keyhole rock formation, six miles from the Longs Peak Trailhead, is an ideal spot to stop and assess how you and other members of your group are feeling. Much of this route is above tree-line so give yourself plenty of time to be back below tree-line before afternoon thunderstorms and lightning develop. Remember to enjoy the experience along the way. Weather and conditions can change in a matter of minutes. On Longs, there are many exposed and steep sections that people obsess over because they are afraid of heights and think that they will fall off of the mountain. These factors seem to be completely external. 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