North Face / Cables Route
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Regardless of what the hordes of hikers may think, this is the easiest route to the summit of Longs Peak in late summer. One 160' pitch of 5.4-5.5 is the only difficulty, and an easy snow field leads to it. Approach via the Longs Peak trail and the Boulderfield.
The rest of the season this makes a fine alpine route. Winter ascents are a serious undertaking, and I've heard many stories of epics. I climbed the route in mid-June in a light snow year, and found alpine ice to 50 degrees on the lower snowfield and a great little narrow ribbon of rotten ice to climb in the dihedral, along with some fun mixed climbing to exit it onto the upper snowfield. (Maybe if we'd started hiking before noon the ice would have been better.) Just bring a rope to rap the route, don't make the mistake my partner and I made, and have to suffer the Keyhole grovel in late afternoon sloppy snow conditions.
A light rock rack, including some cams to 2" can be used. A couple of screws can be helpful some seasons, too. There's eyebolts along the dihedral to belay and rap from - I remember two, one at 80', one at the top.
|Photos of North Face / Cables Route Slideshow
BETA PHOTO: PHOTO TAKEN BY GEORGE BARNES ON THE SUMMIT OF STOR...
Thin ice/firm snow made for stellar conditions on ...
BETA PHOTO: The first eyebolt.
BETA PHOTO: View of dihedral above first eyebolt.
View down route, from near the anchor.
Overview of route, from west. Another group at anc...
Long's Cables Route.
Long's Cables Route.
Early morning sunrise.
|Comments on North Face / Cables Route
|By Jeffrey Sall|
Nov 13, 2002
I had trouble locating the bolts on my first time up this route (to close to diamond). I found them on the descent and noted they were at the highest point of snow field on the face. Since then every time i have been over this ground It has always been the same - follow the snow to the highest point and you will be very close to the line of bolts.
Mar 18, 2003
Climbed North Face/Cables route on 12.mar.2003. Snow climb up to first eye bolt. Good belay. All bolts exposed. Verglas, no thick ice. Mixed snow and rock to summit. Used rock pro and fixed bolts for pro. No place to put ice screws, few picket placements. Snow packed on trail, boulder feild half dry. No skis or snowshoes. New snow may change conditions.
Jun 16, 2003
Sunday, June 15. 2 parties ascending. 3 eye bolts visible. Snow soft by 8am. Mixed snow/ice/rock on crux. Rumor has it that the Keyhole is technical this year at this time. This route was the main descent for all summiting parties. Clouds appeared between 11-noon, heavy by 3pm and storming by 3:30.
|By Julian Smith|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 23, 2003
The North Face / Cables Route is not the easiest thing to find from the summit if you are not familiar with it. From the summit, look closely for footprints in the snow or if there is no snow, look for a slight gully or depression on the north face that angles from south to north starting at the summit. If you have climbed up by another route and are looking to come down this way, an axe is useful if there is snow on or below the face.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Jun 23, 2003
Or, if you are in search of a faster way down, just walk due east with your chin held high.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Jul 12, 2003
Just went up the North Face / Cables Route on Long's yesterday (July 11, 2003). Was doing a trail run with unknow destination. Ended up feeling slow and looked for something more fun to do. Scrambled up Storm Peak and was staring at the cables route. Figured this route was at least worth scouting for future reference. Aaahhh, ended up as a nice climb. Don't know how the snow field leading up to the rock route is in typical years. I was a bit surprised how long it was. Weather in Ft Collins had been in the 90s leading up to and on 7/11/2003. So I was dressed for success in shorts, tshirt and adidas running shoes. Probably not the most recommended attire or equipment. Though I had heard people climb the route without rope. I was at about the elevation of the key hole at 10am. Top of Long's at 10:38am. Snow was just soft enough to get some grip at that time. There were decent steps kicked in to the snow field from someone descending in boots. That helped a bunch. Otherwise I would have likely tried for climbing on the rock to the left (east) of the snow field. As I neared the top of the snow field there were rocks on the right. I scooted that direction (went above the rocks) to minimize what would have been a pretty long run out if I slipped. From there, the rock route was about 20 feet away - up & to the left. I climbed to the top edge of the snow field from the rocks, and with hands against the rock slab, traversed left to get to the bottom of the dihedral. It was a good starting point for the rock portion (in years with less snow perhaps the rock route would have started a bit lower? been a harder / steeper start?). Last time I rock climbed several years ago I could lead 5.7 a 5.8s. It felt like nothing on the route was above 5.3/5.4. I stayed mainly in the dihedral but climbed out of it to the left on one "tricky" section. Trickier than I cared to try without a rope anyway. Also went a little bit to the right in one section. There was water coming down the dihedral and in some deeper (2" wide / 2" deep) cracks in the bottom of it. Estimating here, but it seemed like 150' of climbing with 2 sections of maybe 20 feet that were the most difficult. After the rock / climb section I kept ascending the same direction. Started running in to difficulties. Finally realized I should be ascending more to the left, sort of parallel with the top edge of the diamond. Just some rock scrambling and snow fields. Felt like I could have downclimbed the same way if I *had* to. I would have had to be pretty motivated to do so though. Opted for a descent down the keyhole route. Just for reference. The trough was full of snow - even as far as I could see down past the point where you head to the key hole. Crossed some snow fields while heading back to the key hole too. Took almost 1 hour to descend from the top to the key hole. Descended mostly on rock down the first half of the trough. Realized on bottom half that the snow was soft enough to plunge step (plus I was mainly doing that on top of other steps that had been plunged. Round trip from the key hole trail head was 6hr 45min. PaulB email@example.com
|By Anonymous Coward|
May 23, 2005
Climbed the Cables Route on 5/22/05. It was very enjoyable firm snow at 8am when we topped out. We saw others climbing it as late as 4pm on Saturday but I wouldn't recommend it.
There was a thin sliver of ice in a corner to the right of the Cables Route. Would make for about two pitches of difficult mixed climbing. The ramp on the window was just a pile of snow, but there appeared to be ice in Eubank's Chimney.
We met a guy who had just climbed Dreamweaver. He said it was very nice conditions but probably won't stay that way for long and to get a very early start. He said he didn't get a good look at Dark Star but that there was some snow or ice top to bottom.
In general, the late season snows have served to delay the start of the spring alpine ice season and the very warm conditions we encountered may bring a premature end to it. Get out there soon and get an early start.
From: Dysfunctional, CO
Oct 13, 2006
Climbed (most of) this route on 12 Oct 2006. It was very windy early in the morning, but calmed down once we got into the boulder field some time around ~10:00am. Huge clouds were still being whipped across the summit from the west, though. The snow climb up to the 1st Eye-Bolt was straight forward, and less exposed. We found 4 eye-bolts total on the route (in all of the locations mentioned in other posts), and there did not appear to be any more, as there was not a lot of snow in this section. There was no ice aside from some verglas covering the rocks in this section.
I found that the real difficulties (and exposure) began above the 4th/last eye-bolt. At first, there was another easy short snow climb, but then we went too far to the right (don't make this mistake!!) and got off route into steeper mixed climbing (harder than what the route is rated IMHO) on powder cover rock. I would not recommend this, as it takes some time to uncover the terrain to either a) protect the climb or b) help you bail (if you don't feel comfortable downclimbing M-sketch).
All in all, it's a great route for a beginner mountaineer; it has the potential for elements of Peak Bagging, Trad, Ice and Snow. It will test many of your skills. Probably woulda been better had we stayed on route.
|By Jeff Barnow|
From: Boulder Co
Mar 20, 2007
There is somewhere between 4-6 of these eye bolts and they are big, but they get iced over in the winter time and can be impossible to find if you don't know where to look/dig. There is a distinct boulder that is pretty flat and right below this you will find the last bolt for rappelling. It sticks out of a flattish area just below the described boulder and points to the sky.