SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 2012

Best Day: Longs Peak via Clarks Arrow and the Keyhole

Scramble up a 12.7-mile sneak route to the park's highest peak.

by: Kim Phillips



Your goal for the day: Summit 14,259-foot Longs Peak (the Rockies’ northernmost Fourteener) before noon, when thunderheads often charge the Front Range. Get a 3 a.m. start to reach the scrambly off-trail portion by sunrise. Follow East Longs Peak Trail (1) up Alpine Brook to a three-way junction on Mills Moraine (2), where ptarmigans are perfectly camouflaged against the grayish rocks in summer. Bear left on the Chasm Lake Spur Trail toward Longs’s sheer 1,000-foot Diamond Face.

If you’re on pace, dawn will begin to drench the alpine landscape in rosy hues just as the trail ends east of Chasm Lake at mile four (3). Climb a user trail southwest across rocky tundra into the broad, boulder-filled gully below 13,911-foot Mt. Meeker (you’ll scale nearly 1,900 feet in the next .8 mile). Pick the path of least resistance through the stepped cliff bands and rock ramps at mile 4.6 (4). (Tip: If you venture into class 4 terrain, you’re off-route.)

After cresting The Loft (5), a broad, slightly sloping boulder field between Meeker and Longs, connect cairns northwest to the top of a steep, loose class 3 gully (6). Downclimb it nearly 200 feet to a ledge that runs to the base of the Palisades cliffs (look for the faded Clarks Arrow, painted on a west-facing boulder by former park ranger John Clark).

Next, traverse gullies to Keplinger’s Couloir (7) and crawl up scree to a wide ramp that links to the Homestretch (8). Scale airy, cracked slabs of granite for the final 450 vertical feet to the summit. Longs’s blunt, larger-than-a-football-field crown overlooks alpine lakes cupped by glacial rubble and Powell, McHenrys, and Chiefs Head Peaks—a ridgeline of Thirteeners two miles west that form the Continental Divide.

After cautiously crab-walking down the Homestretch, traverse exposed ledges to The Trough couloir (9), which typically holds snow into mid-July. Descend boulders (watch for rockfall), then contour north to the Keyhole’s window-like rock notch (10). After a slow scramble down the 1.2-mile-long Boulderfield, turn right on Granite Pass (11); close the loop a mile later back at Mills Moraine.

GPS data Get free GPS data and print custom maps for this route at backpacker.com/hikes/563530.

BUY THE PRO MAP



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Blood in the streets of DC
Posted On: Jul 31, 2014
Submitted By: double cabin
Trailhead Register
Mile, Mile and a half
Posted On: Jul 31, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions