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Long's Peak: Beta
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By Avalon
From East Longmeadow MA
Jan 4, 2014
Gunks

I'm interested in doing Long's Peak. I wanted to attempt the climb in September 2014 taking the 5.6 or 5.8 routes. I'm new to climbing and even newer to Alpine. I've been reading numerous posts claiming that the rock fall on these climbs is extremely common with some saying they wouldn't do it again for this reason. Anyone have any route advice to minimize the rock fall hazards? Best time of year to climb? Best place to stay and hike in from? Etc... Although I'm new to climbing, my climbing partner is very experienced in both Trad and Alpine.


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By ChefMattThaner
From Lakewood, co
Jan 4, 2014
ducking ropes at Copper

Let me preface this with my warning that Long may not be your best bet for an inaugural foray into Alpine climbing. This is a long hard dangerous mountain with many hazards.

Rockfall is always a problem on Longs especially in the north chimney. Don't even try Longs on a weekend unless you hate yourself. Spring and Fall are usually the most prolific times for rockfall as these coincide with the freeze thaw cycles. Unfortunately being an Alpine environment there can be freeze thaw cycles just about any time of the year. Best way to avoid this is to start very early in the morning before everyone else gets ahead of you and starts knocking shit down and before it starts to warm up/loosen up. There are other approaches to the Diamond that avoid the north chimney but they are just as dangerous/treacherous if not more. I try to stay to the left on the more slabby section in the chimney.

As I am writing this I just realized you said you wanted to do some 5.6-5.8 routes which none of the routes on the diamond are. So I am guessing you are looking at the lower east face. This is still a common area for rockfall and should not be taken lightly. This area doesn't ever really get that much sun causing the freeze thaw cycles to last much longer into the spring/summer. In turn causing this rock to be especially chossy during summer climbing season. Again best way to avoid this is to be the first ones on the wall and never climb behind a group. Some people do but I personally refuse to climb nut to butt on loose alpine rock. Call me a pussy I guess I just never enjoyed that.

Kors Door is your best bet for clean solid granite. It is 5.9 but is in my opinion the cleanest and the best route on the lower east face. not to mention having some pretty decent history behind it making it all the more interesting.

Your descent is easiest if you take the one just below broadway on the crack of delight rap. The descent will most likely be the most dangerous time for rockfall as more parties will be on the wall and this takes you down below a fairly popular area.


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By Philip Magistro
Jan 4, 2014

Hey,

Long's is a big day. If you are new to alpine climbing, I would recommend starting with the North Face (old Cables Route), which is a super classic 5.4 that requires a relatively light rack, and the easiest descent route for any of the more challenging routes.

Lots of folks bivy in the Boulderfield, which makes your summit day really short but leaves you tired from lugging your gear most of the way up the mountain and often the wind keeps you up all night. I recommend camping at Goblin's Forest and getting an alpine start for summit day.

Phil


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By george wilkey
From travelers rest sc
Jan 4, 2014
me

I agree with phillip, the north face route(cables)is a very good first technical climb on long's. I did it a couple years ago with a bivy at the boulder field. he's right, the backpack in was the toughest part by far. don't camp, just get an early start. you only need a few cams to supplement the fixed gear(maybe four, 1/2-1")and a few slings for the eye bolts. leave your gear at the top of the technical pitches and head for the summit.

another excellent route with more of an alpine feel is the kieners route. it has steep snow as well as a few rock pitches and a lot of scrambling. this route is far better than the north face but you should have someone with you that has experience on the route or on routes similar to it.

go through the trip reports on 14ers.com for more in depth info.


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By mark felber
From Frisco, CO,USA
Jan 4, 2014

The cables route is fun, as is Keyhole Ridge, just to the west of the cables route. The boulder field has a lot of drawbacks as a bivy site. Hiking to 12,000 feet with overnight gear will wear you out, if you're coming from sea level it will be hard to sleep at 12,000 ft., and it can get very windy up there. Camp at Goblin's Forest or do it in a day from the parking lot.either way, get a good early start and try to be at the start of your route at sunrise or not too much later.


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By Kevin Craig
Jan 4, 2014
KC on Fields (medium).  Photo (c) Doug Shepherd

My advice is that if your partner is "very experienced in both Trad and Alpine" you do whatever route he thinks is best and listen and follow his lead and advice carefully.


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By Avalon
From East Longmeadow MA
Jan 4, 2014
Gunks

Thank you guys for the advice and info so far, much appreciated.


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By Leo Paik
Administrator
From Westminster, Colorado
Jan 6, 2014

One significant factor to consider is that September can be cold. If it were me, I'd be trying to find a south-facing route on a different peak to do in September if I were bold enough to try an alpine route for the 1st time. Anything on Long's will be east-facing (sun at best to noon) or north-facing (little if any sun). The days are shorter then, too, which makes for less wiggle room on time-eating bumps on the learning curve. Some years, ice smears start coming in during the 2nd half of September. Rockfall on the lower East face is somewhat increased with climbers traversing Broadway to access the Notch Couloir or Kiener's.

If Long's is the goal, consider July or August. June can be okay, but you may find snow on the route, especially during the 1st half.

I know you mentioned Long's...but if you got a weekday, you might try something like the Petit Grepon, 8. It has a relatively easy rappel descending (minor challenges to find the rappel anchors).


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Jan 6, 2014
Bocan

There are a whole handful of really great lower grade alpine climbs in RMNP besides longs as well.


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