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Avoiding Lambs Slide for Kiener's
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By Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Aug 16, 2014
Getting up the Great Dihedral on Hallet Peak, RMNP.
Hey all,

I've been on Long's three times now in the past four years, and I have yet to summit (1 successful climb on the Diamond but we didn't have enough time to summit, 1 unsuccessful Diamond climb, and 1 bail at the base of Lambs Slide). I'm thinking about attempting Kiener's again before I just throw my hands up and join the hoards up the Keyhole.

The time we aborted Kiener's was in August two years ago because Lambs Slide was puking rocks and ice at us immediately after the sun hit it. It also was bullet hard ice, so we brought tools but forgot screws. I had read about climbing the "Glacial Rib" to the left of Lambs Slide, but didn't feel comfortable enough venturing up into that terrain without more beta.

I'm thinking the scramble and then crossing of Lambs Slide higher up would be easier for a few reasons. There would be less weight to carry, as we wouldn't have to carry crampons or boots for kicking steps, and maybe just approach shoes with micro-spikes, an ax, and maybe a screw just in case. That would bring my pack weight down to really make car-to-car a lot more feasible for my level of aerobic fitness.

If we didn't have to bivy, then we could avoid having to worry about getting back to Chasm via Camel Couloir or Chasm View Raps. I'm just seeing more wins with this approach.

Does anyone have experience with this alternate approach? Thanks!

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By MikeS
From Boulder, CO
Aug 16, 2014
Tony,
Lamb's Slide is in great shape right now, still plenty of snow and minimal rockfall. I've been up there twice in the last two weeks. Crampons, one tool, no screws necessary. Get an early start, be climbing at sunrise, and you should be good to go.
If you're dead set on avoiding it, don't make things more dangerous by climbing loose rock on the "glacier rib". It's a pile. Climb Stettner's Ledges to Broadway instead.

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By Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Aug 16, 2014
Getting up the Great Dihedral on Hallet Peak, RMNP.
MikeS wrote:
Tony, Lamb's Slide is in great shape right now, still plenty of snow and minimal rockfall. I've been up there twice in the last two weeks. Crampons, one tool, no screws necessary. Get an early start, be climbing at sunrise, and you should be good to go. If you're dead set on avoiding it, don't make things more dangerous by climbing loose rock on the "glacier rib". It's a pile. Climb Stettner's Ledges to Broadway instead.


Crap. That's good beta, but not good beta for my nerves, and not what I was hoping to hear. There doesn't seem to be a ton written on the glacier rib, but from what I could find it seems like an OK alternative. I guess not.

Something in my mind has me dead set on avoiding Lambs because of the last time I attempted it. I really would rather avoid the snow climb and all of it's trappings/gear. I can move faster and climb better if I'm in approach shoes and not lugging around my crampons and ax/or tool. I'm stronger than I was then, but in worse aerobic shape too.

I'm even considering going up North Chimney and traversing Broadway from north to south to get to Kieners. Yes, that dangerous bowling alley of a 400ft low 5th class climb. I've simul'd it twice before, and I know I can get up it (so long as I don't get clobbered by anyone above me).

Climbing anything else to get to Broadway would require a bigger rack than what Kiener's requires, so it doesn't really save much.

I'm definitely having a hard time mentally with this one. Sorry for the verbal diarrhea! I appreciate the beta and I wish I could just be excited and go for it!

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By Amanda Crawford
From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Aug 18, 2014
Flaking rope at Seneca
I'm glad you posted this. I'm heading up Kiener's next weekend and have been paranoid about Lamb's Slide conditions in late August. Thanks for the info Mike!

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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Aug 18, 2014
Lamb's Slide
Hi Tony, the last time I did Kiener's was in mid-August last year, and Lamb's Slide was spitting rocks, so we decided to scramble up that rock rib to the climber's left and had no issues (I don't recall encountering much loose choss that we felt was particularly dangerous). We did use crampons and tools for the traverse across Lamb's Slide, however.

Also, we couldn't believe that another climber choose to start up Lamb's Slide (well after we started) and climb all the way to the Loft -- clearly other folk's risk tolerance is way higher than mine. But certainly that would be a much quicker way to go if conditions are stable.

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By Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Aug 18, 2014
Getting up the Great Dihedral on Hallet Peak, RMNP.
Rocky_Mtn_High wrote:
Hi Tony, the last time I did Kiener's was in mid-August last year, and Lamb's Slide was spitting rocks, so we decided to scramble up that rock rib to the climber's left and had no issues (I don't recall encountering much loose choss that we felt was particularly dangerous). We did use crampons and tools for the traverse across Lamb's Slide, however. Also, we couldn't believe that another climber choose to start up Lamb's Slide (well after we started) and climb all the way to the Loft -- clearly other folk's risk tolerance is way higher than mine. But certainly that would be a much quicker way to go if conditions are stable.


Thanks for the info! That is exactly what I was hoping to hear. We're going to bring microspikes over our approach shoes and bring a light tool or ax each. It sounds like it's still mostly snow. If anyone posts a conditions report that says it's ice now, we will likely bring boots and pons and a screw or two.

I had a similar experience in early August 2012 with Lambs Slide just puking rocks when we got to it. Like I said in the OP, I didn't have decent beta on the glacier rib, and wasn't really up for the unknown challenge.

Do you happen to have any more beta about the scramble? Where did you start it, any features to look out for, how to spot the exit, etc.? Or was it all pretty straight forward scrambling that will be obvious when we get there?

Thanks again!

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By Rocky_Mtn_High
From Arvada, CO
Aug 18, 2014
Lamb's Slide
Honestly, I don't recall too much detail about the scramble. We got on the rock instead of starting up Lamb's Slide where we could see the runout zone from lots of small rockfall. The climbing was mostly third and fourth class, and we climbed up until we were ready to start the traverse to Broadway, which was ice (or snice) for us (I'd be astonished if it weren't mostly ice this time of year).

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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Aug 18, 2014
Living the High Life.
Kieners is a classic mountaineering route, not a rock route, so avoiding the snow kind of defeats the purpose. If you want to climb easy rock on Longs, go up the Keyhole Ridge, or the Skyline, or a route on the west face, or... Lambslide and that snow is what makes Kieners classic.

If you MUST know, the Rib is 3rd class and a no-brainier. There is no beta on it because...you dont need any beta.

Tony T. wrote:
We're going to bring microspikes over our approach shoes and bring a light tool or ax each. It sounds like it's still mostly snow.


This sounds like a bad idea to me. I've never put on micro spikes so I dont know what kind of purchase they get, but I do know you will be traversing pretty steep snow, in the early morning, in August. I would NOT want to just have tiny micro spikes on that traverse. Plus, bailing because you brought spikes instead of crampons is lame and would really piss me off.

Nut up and carry crampons, or find a route without snow. Seeing as you have written 10 paragraphs on this issue, maybe going up the Keyhole or Clark's is the better option at this point?

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Aug 18, 2014
Peyton Reacts to Joan Lee
Dude, bring crampons and two ice tools and climb Lambs Slide, or bring a few extra pieces and climb Kor's Door up to Broadway. I'm somewhat baffled that you would rather climb the North Chimney and then scramble across a hell hole of loose talus 600+ feet off the deck just to avoid a snow climb. I've been up the Diamond twice in the last week, and not once did I see any appreciable rock fall down Lamb's slide.

If you get an early enough start, you'll find patches of "snow" so consolidated that you could throw in a 19-22 cm ice screw that would catch a sliding fall down the Lambs Slide.

You're cutting off your nose to spite your face by trying to shave ounces from your pack by bringing gear unsuitable to your task at hand. Aluminum strap on crampons aren't that much heavier than micro-spikes, and the extra weight will be more than offset by the ease of travel they provide.

Keener' is a real alpine route requiring proficiency on a variety of mountain terrain, that's why it's worth doing, Lambs Slide is part of the overall experience, and you do yourself a disservice if you avoid it.

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By Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Aug 18, 2014
Getting up the Great Dihedral on Hallet Peak, RMNP.
Thanks for the concern, all. Yes, I'm aware of the risks, but this isn't my first alpine climb, or mixed alpine route, or my first time in the Chasm Lake area. I have experience, and I don't feel like I should need to qualify that to get basic conditions beta.

We can argue all day whether Kiener's starts at Lambs Slide or whether Lambs Slide is simply a different way to approach to gain Broadway and then start Kiener's next to the Notch, but I really don't care and that's not what I was asking. Trust me, there isn't a consensus on it, but regardless, I'm not going for a tick list. I'm going for to enjoy some time on a peak.

I've climbed the Diamond twice, and I've also been turned around at Lambs slide before for dangerous conditions. I don't intend to make the same mistake twice. I was asking for beta on the rib because I've heard *conflicting* reports on it being a choss pile and it being a totally enjoyable scramble (yes, some of us can derive pleasure from 3rd and 4th class, and still pull down on 11s elsewhere). If you don't have beta on it, then fine, don't contribute. However, just because it's 3rd class doesn't mean it doesn't warrant beta. The difference between 3rd class choss and 3rd class stable is vast, and is important to some people.

I am sorry if I can't take the "I was on the Diamond and I didn't see any rock fall in the slide" advice to heart. It takes a rock the size of a softball to kill you, and I sincerely doubt you can judge the rockfall of an area close to 800' away from you.

As for the micro-spikes vs crampons debate, if you have never put on micro-spikes (Andy), you're coming from a position of ignorance that nullifies your argument. I have, and I've traversed and climbed alpine snow and ice with them without issue. Yes, the weight is fairly nominal between them and crampons, but the weight between my Trango EVOs and my Boulder X's is significant enough in combination with a tool and screws. If I could wear my BD contact straps with my Boulder X's I would.

Again, if anyone who has actually been up the slide in the last week of this current year would like to contribute, that would be great. If they say it is bullet hard ice, or hard snice, I'll take it into consideration and be appreciative. But, it's not helpful to just say that since it's August, conditions will be "X". I know what they should be like, but someone posted a great photo of Lambs slide looking the whitest I've seen it this late in years. That lead me to believe it might still be on the softer side of snice.

"Nut up" and carry more pounds (really not ounces) might work for you, but your blanket statement is just that and doesn't take any sort of personal story into account. I know my body well enough to know that, given my recovery and current level of fitness, I stand a much greater chance of success if I keep the snow/snice to a minimum, and the equipment that goes with it.

Thanks all!

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Aug 18, 2014
Peyton Reacts to Joan Lee
I don't think anyone on here was trying to insult your ability level. I'm sure we're all super glad that you can "pull down on 11's elsewhere". But you asked for beta to do something that pretty much everyone thinks isn't the best idea, so we gave you alternatives. Feel free to do what you want and let us know how it goes, it seems like you've been around the block enough to not get yourself killed. And you'll probably have one hell of an adventure. So just go do it your way and enjoy the climb.

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By Andy Nelson
From Fort Collins, Colorado
Aug 18, 2014
another day in the park
If considering throwing your hands up for the Keyhole, think about the Cables Route/North Face as well. The route could easily be simul-climbed, and you wouldn't need a whole lot of gear to pull it off.

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By MikeS
From Boulder, CO
Aug 18, 2014
Tony,

I'd like to chime in with some more beta that will hopefully help you safely climb Keiners:

-Lamb's Slide is the fastest approach to the left side of Broadway. Given that multiple climbers have been up in the cirque recently and spoke of very little rockfall activity, that makes me think that the safest + quickest option = minimal risk.

-Glacier Rib is only 3rd/4th cl, and probably not that chossy, but the traverse from the top of Lamb's slide to Broadway holds some steep, hard snow. I think that Microspikes would be insecure and time consuming on this terrain, bring real spikes.

-I'm very familiar with the icy, bowling alley-like conditions in Lamb's Slide that you describe. I've chosen other objectives for the same reason. Conditions are more favorable, right now, IMO.

Have fun up there and let us know if you end up finding a worthwhile alternative.


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By James Bellamy
Aug 18, 2014
The Blueprint Part Dank wrote:
I don't think anyone on here was trying to insult your ability level. I'm sure we're all super glad that you can "pull down on 11's elsewhere". But you asked for beta to do something that pretty much everyone thinks isn't the best idea, so we gave you alternatives. Feel free to do what you want and let us know how it goes, it seems like you've been around the block enough to not get yourself killed. And you'll probably have one hell of an adventure. So just go do it your way and enjoy the climb.


I don't see how you can say that anyone wasn't trying to "insult" the OP - It's one thing to give sound advice in two thirds of your post, but then go on to suggest the keyhole and talk about the poor guy writing 10 paragraphs on the issue. (A. Novak)

That comment is jesting in nature and isn't helpful. I can definitely see how someone might take offense to such an egotistical comment.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Aug 18, 2014
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
Why doesn't anyone do Stetner's Ledges anymore for Kiener's? Or did they ever?

I can attest that microspikes on hard snow are very spooky. I did that when I climbed Sharkstooth once and will never rely on them again. Take the full crampons at the very least.

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Aug 18, 2014
Peyton Reacts to Joan Lee
Stich wrote:
Why doesn't anyone do Stetner's Ledges anymore for Kiener's? Or did they ever? I can attest that microspikes on hard snow are very spooky. I did that when I climbed Sharkstooth once and will never rely on them again. Take the full crampons at the very least.


It's definitely done still. I would imagine that the OP's point about extra trad gear is explanation enough as to why it isn't common. But in my opinion, that's unfortunate, it's a gorgeous route and really spices up the day.

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By J. Serpico
From Saratoga County, NY
Aug 18, 2014
Stich wrote:
Why doesn't anyone do Stetner's Ledges anymore for Kiener's? Or did they ever? I can attest that microspikes on hard snow are very spooky. I did that when I climbed Sharkstooth once and will never rely on them again. Take the full crampons at the very least.



Lambs slide and Keiners are definitely on my tick list, look like incredible mountaineering objectives.

In the east we use microspikes a lot for approaches in the trees before the climbing. I've worn them up the Fan in mount washington, which is terrain steep and run out enough for people practice self arrest in, but not truly technical in most instances. I then switch to crampons for the real ice and snow climbing, once out of the gullies back to microspikes for the summit, unless we climb another snow field. I use them because they are nimble, save my crampons, and save my knees and ankles. Plus i'm faster with them than people in bare boots or in crampons.

In 2010 a guy fell 1000ft from below the summit of Mt Adams, NH, into the Kings Ravine. Somehow he was concious and not critically injured. He was stranded, though, because he didn't have the tools to climb up or down (regardless of injuries). And frankly, he fell because he was wearing microspikes and using trekking poles on a high snow year with lots of wind blown crust and snice following freeze thaw cycles. Wrong gear for the wrong year. Some years micro spikes or snowshoes are appropriate, others it's an ice axe and crampons.


The point: I'd never wear them anyplace where are long fall is possible, anyplace where crampons might be needed sometimes, or on any sort of technical terrain. They are great for approaches and low angle terrain with snow and rock, but definitely weren't designed and are not safe for any sort of technical terrain. If you can fall 600ft or 1000ft, i'd consider that technical.

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Aug 18, 2014
Peyton Reacts to Joan Lee
James Bellamy wrote:
I don't see how you can say that anyone wasn't trying to "insult" the OP - It's one thing to give sound advice in two thirds of your post, but then go on to suggest the keyhole and talk about the poor guy writing 10 paragraphs on the issue. (A. Novak) That comment is jesting in nature and isn't helpful. I can definitely see how someone might take offense to such an egotistical comment.

It would be insulting if, as he later clarified, he was just "looking for conditions beta" but the question was kind of broad and sweeping, and it seems to have left room for route suggestions.

Also, I'm not entirely sure it's an insult to suggest the Keyhole route. That trail is burly as shit and can really beat the hell out of one's knees, I have mad respect for anyone who makes it up and down Longs by any path. None of them are giveaways.

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By Eli Helmuth
From Estes Park, CO
Aug 19, 2014
Eli on the FA of Grizzly (M9) at the Den.
If you're just looking to avoid the crowds to make the summit of Longs, the North Face or Clark's Arrow route are two good options without snow.

We climbed Kiener's last week and the snow is in good shape this year, no puking rocks or ice and very skiable except for the suncupping.

Crampons are for sure necessary and one ice axe and the snow climbing is 1/2 the fun of doing Kieners.

If you climbed up the rib, you'd still need crampons and an axe for the traverse across Lambslide to Broadway.

Enjoy!

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By Andy Kowles
From Longtuckles
Sep 1, 2014
Lots and lots of words. I would never waste my time reading all of them

....BUT...it's not Kieners without some snow.

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By phil wortmann
From Colorado Springs, Co.
Sep 1, 2014
Shredded by the Center Route.
I climbed Kiener's via the rib early last September in running shoes, to avoid black ice of Lambs slide. I passed another team pitching it out and they were finding plenty of gear. I'd say it went at 4th class, maybe 5.0? and the cruxes were only one move. You'd be fine either way.

The rib starts at the base of Lambs slide and is easy to gain.

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By Steve Levin
From Boulder, CO
Sep 2, 2014
Guiding in RMNP
Eli Helmuth wrote:
If you're just looking to avoid the crowds to make the summit of Longs, the North Face or Clark's Arrow route are two good options without snow. Enjoy!


I've heard a report that the "arrow" of Clark's Arrow fell down sometime since last September floods. That section is now less-straightforward. Any confirmation? (From a report by Bill Briggs.)

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By Steve Levin
From Boulder, CO
Sep 2, 2014
Guiding in RMNP
Micro-spikes are okay for easy, less-exposed terrain like Mills to the base of North Chimney. I agree with most folks here that for something like Lamb's Slide, or crossing the top of LS to Broadway, crampons and an ice axe are warranted. My summer crampons are a lightweight CAMP aluminum model that are a few ounces heavier than micro-spikes and can be strapped on approach shoes; my axe is an aluminum CAMP Corsa that weighs about 8 ounces. Hardly show-stoppers as far as additional weight is concerned.

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By cdmike112
From Port Angeles, WA
Sep 4, 2014
Clark's arrow is more or less unchanged, the loft is a bit looser than prior to the flood last fall, you can still find the painted arrow if you look closely. The route is fairly well marked with cairns.

In terms of getting to broadway, it is possible to climb the loft and then descend a few hundred feet to the top of lamb's slide and then traverse onto broadway. Lamb's slide is however still in good condition (as of Sept 2nd). If you have more questions feel free to send me a message.

FLAG
 


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