Climbing a Classic: Longs Peak

Longs Peak's Diamond with Chasm Lake
Longs Peak’s Diamond with Chasm Lake

Longs Peak standing at 14, 259 feet/4346m is the highest mountain in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. It is my base for training.

There are over 100 routes on Longs, most on the extremely technical Diamond, which is one of the premier rock climbing faces in the world. However two routes dominate most of the traffic: the Keyhole route and at a distant second, the Loft route.

What makes Longs so special is the opportunity to gain over a mile in vertical altitude and experience a wide variety of conditions.

I summited Longs Peak on June 6th for the 30th time. Climbed up via the Keyhole route and descended using the Loft route. It was spring weather with winter climbing conditions above 12,000′.

This 12 minute video takes you through the climb from start to finish: 10 hours, 5500′ gain, 14 miles roundtrip.

And a few pictures of the climb.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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10 thoughts on “Climbing a Classic: Longs Peak

  1. Alan,
    Thanks for the tour video. A week ago I viewed a bunch of Longs vids and found only one that showed the whole route like yours.

    Last year on 06Oct2012, my brother and I stopped at the bottom of the Trough because we didn’t have the right ice gear. A group of us are trying again on 13Sep this year, and this time I’ll have the Microspikes.

    In the video, it appears that you had crampons on your plastic boots. I don’t expect snow like you saw in June, but I’m just wondering how much better the crampons were for your recent trip compared to the Microspikes.

    Also, for a Sep climb where there may be ice, how do the ice axe and trekking pole compare for self-arrest and general balance and hiking assistance? I’ve never used an ice axe, but could perhaps rent one from REI.

    Thanks much–Dennis

    1. Glad you enjoyed the video Dennis. Obviously I have no way of knowing the conditions so you need to be prepared for anything. A climber fell to his death in mid August on the Narrows. Ice was reported by the Rangers on the Keyhole route – they were not specific as to where.

      In my experience, I use crampons where there is significant snow or ice otherwise microspikes work just fine. I would not have climbed as you saw in the video with spikes.

      An ice axe is good in steep snow or ice conditions and with the knowledge of how to use it. A trekking pole is not sufficient for a true self arrest and as you say, it is good for balance and to help the knees.

      Overall September is a great month for Colorado 14ers but we can get heavy snow. It is common to have a dusting on Longs in mid September or veriglass (thin ice on rock) so you will need to make that call when you see the conditions.

      I would carry spikes and be prepared to turn back if you don’t feel comfortable like you did last year.

      You can see the weather forecast at this link

      Also monitor the forum posts on for Longs conditions as you get closer. It is very popular and people talk about it all the time.

      Best of luck!

  2. Thank you for your time and effort for posting your video of your climb of Long’s Peak. Well done! My wife and I are planning on climbing the keyhole route this summer, so your video is particularly appreciated by us. Don.

  3. Hi Alan, I am going to try to climb Longs Peak at the end of this month (June) as a first time climber. Do you have any suggestions and how much snow do you think will be left? Nice video, thanks for sharing!!


  4. Alan, thanks for the great tour-de-Longs. You really know that mountain inside and out!

  5. Alan, Thank you for the passion in trying educate and raise awareness of this illness. First of all my wife of 36 years is displaying the classic signs of early dementia, her mother is also suffering from the onslaught of this brutal disease.Second of all, I am an alpine climber in southern California, being on any mountain is my therapy, truly it revitalizes my spirit.And thirdly, my employement is in a senior living campus which also has a 52 bed dementia unit.The disease is a heart breaker, but with voices such as yours, it stirs up hope.We will defeat this destroyer. Never having climbed in Colorado,hearing about your recent climb is inspirational.It would truly be an honor to accompany you on any climb.From the bottom of my heart, you are one of my heroes.Bless you for all you do. daniel geertson Midway City,Ca.

    1. Thank you Daniel. My heart goes out to you on your wife’s dementia. It is so difficult for everyone and I’m glad you have your mountains as a way to take care of yourself. Climb On! Alan

  6. Oh, how I have longed (pun intended) for so long to see the route up Long’s Peak. I had heard that it was a pretty good challenge and that some deaths had occurred above the keyhole, especially when it had recently rained. It made me feel a little squeamish just seeing what you traversed. I guess if you have climbed to the top of Everest, however, this is a piece of cake. Thanks so much for taking me on this virtual tour! I’m sure this is the closest I will get to doing it myself. I could see Long’s Peak from my house in Loveland when I lived there. Thanks so much for sharing, Alan!

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