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Longs Peak via Kor's Door -> Finish Kiener's Route beta questions
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By JayMorse
From Hooksett, New Hampshire
May 18, 2014
I am taking a climbing trip to CO the first week of August with a group of friends. We are definitely going to summit Long's Peak and all want to do it 5th class. I live in NH and spend most of my time below 1000 ft. We plan to do Long's later in the trip to have the chance to acclimate first and scout the best day weather-wise.

So my question - Is summitting Long's via this route too ambitious? I'll be comfortable leading at the grade as long as the altitude isn't effecting me much, but from what I've gathered, it will be a solid 2.5-3 hour approach in the morning, followed by 5-pitches of Kor's Door, the Broadway traverse, then as I understand 4-5 pitches of 4th-easy 5th class climbing to finish Kieners, then the plan would be to rap Cable Route. As someone who has never been to this cliff, would I be biting off more than I could chew by attempting this and all the associate routefinding?

A few other questions - Where does Kor's Door leave you on the Broadway traverse? Is it past the notoriously dangerous move? Would you expect that there will be snow on it the first week of August and would a mountaineering axe be smart? Will it be easy to find the Cable Route descent from the summit without having ever seen the North Face before?

Thanks for the help and suggestions. This looks like an excellent, but committing way to summit Long's.

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By JonW
May 19, 2014
I haven't climbed Kor's Door but last August climbed Stettner's Ledges to Kiener's. It's hard to suggest whether or not your plan is too ambitious without knowing your group's fitness and ability to cope with the altitude. However, given reasonable fitness, an early start, and good forecast, I don't think you're plan is too ambitious. Route finding shouldn't be too much of an issue if you're prepared.

How many in your group? Climbing efficiently in a large group will be key. If you're a group of 3, probably best to climb with a pair of double ropes and have both followers climb simultaneously. If a group of 4, you better start a bit earlier since the 2nd group is basically 2nd in line on the route.

You will have to negotiate traversing the block on Broadway. However, this shouldn't be a problem. You can protect the move (for both leader and follower) but it's not bad at all. Not sure why so many people make it sound like a big deal.

There could be snow on Broadway or maybe not. Hard to say. Though not snow covered, the final approach up to the route was a frozen pebble/dirt slope which was very slippery. Access to Kor's might be similar since it's to climbers left of Stettner's.

I wouldn't recommend pitching out Kiener's. If you're strong enough to climb Kor's Door, you shouldn't have a problem soloing or simul climbing Kiener's.

Finding the rap anchors is easy. Hike/scramble down from the summit of Long's towards the saddle between Long's and Mt. Lady Washington. Then just look for the sizable cairn.

Best of luck and enjoy! The setting is absolutely amazing.

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By ChefMattThaner
From Lakewood, co
May 19, 2014
ducking ropes at Copper
August is usually the only month out of the year I don't expect snow above 14k.

Definitely leave the ice axe at home, it will do you no good on the talus.

You will have to do the "dangerous move" around the block on bbroadway but definitely not something to worry about compared to what you just finished.

Your rap route should be easy to find as long as weather hasn't moved in.

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By Sarah Meiser
From Boulder, Colorado
May 19, 2014
Me hugging the summit block of Snowmass Mountain after a winter ascent, my 2nd attempt
Like Jon says, getting up to the base of the climb can be kind of nasty, 4th class scrambling up muddy/loose crap when I climbed it last August. Short lived though.

Routefinding on Kor's Door is not tricky, the line is pretty obvious.

Broadway will be dry or mostly dry that time of year, no axe needed. You will have to do the notorious move around the bulge, but it is very easy when dry. If you lead 5.9 it probably won't even give you pause unroped.

Routefinding on Kieners isn't as straightforward but there seem to be many, many options that work and don't exceed easy 5th class. Don't expect to pitch all of Kieners out, it'd take a long time. Most of it is easy scrambling, maybe just break out the rope when you get to a tricky couple of moves. I was a noob 5.9 leader at the time and was very comfortable soloing all of Kieners.

Excellent route choice by the way, I loved this combo. If you are interested in seeing more pictures of the route, etc: 13ergirl.com/KorsDoor/KorsDoor...

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By Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
May 19, 2014
This is a great linkup that I used to guide on occasion. If you are competent in moving a party of three or four at this grade, you should be able to do it easily. Here's some beta:

* The altitude will kill you if you are not acclimated. In the OP you didn't mention how long you were going to be in CO but, assuming you'll be in Estes for a week, here's an acclimatization plan.
Day 1- Climb Pear Buttress on the Book. Lumpy Ridge. Besides being one of the best 5.8s on the planet, you'll put a 1 hour approach and 5 pitches of climbing at 9,000 ft under your belt. That night, eat Mexican at Ed's Cantina, drink one margarita and spend the rest of the night drinking Skratch to replace your electrolytes.
Day 2- Drive to the top of Trail Ridge Road (almost 13,000') and spend 4 hours playing in the snow. Just north of the sweeping horseshoe bends, out of sight of the road is a cool snowfield to play on. Then eat Mexican at Ed's Cantina, drink one margarita and spend the rest of the night drinking Skratch to replace your electrolytes.
Day 3- Climb the South Face of the Petit Grepon or Culp Bossier on Hallet's Peak. The 2 hour approach and climbing at 12,000' will do you wonders. Then. eat Mexican at Ed's Cantina, drink one margarita and spend the rest of the night drinking Skratch to replace your electrolytes.
Day 4- Hike to Chasm View Overlook. Practice the Sidewalk descent descent (See below) and bag an amazing view of what you're going to climb in 2 days. Then eat Mexican at Ed's Cantina, drink one margarita and spend the rest of the night drinking Skratch to replace your electrolytes.
Day 5- Rest day. Don't do anything more than maybe clip some bolts at Jurassic Park or the Ironclads. Then eat Mexican at Ed's Cantina, drink one margarita and spend the rest of the night drinking Skratch to replace your electrolytes.
Day 6-7- Climb Kor's Door to Keiner's depending on forecast. Then eat Mexican at Ed's Cantina, drink one margarita and spend the rest of the night drinking Skratch to replace your electrolytes.

Start your Long's day at midnight. If you get to MIll's Glacier before it's too light, there are a bunch of big flat talus blocks you can crash out on for a few hours. Bring a JetBoil and some packets of Miso Soup. Don't drink coffee.

Don't underestimate the glacier. There's not a ton of snow but by August it's likely to be really icy in the morning. A pair of lightweight crampons might be a good idea. You can leave them at the base and retrieve them on the way down. The snow will be soft by then and you can grab them safely.

To get back to the base use the Sidewalk descent from the low point of the Chasm View Traverse.. From the very low point of the Chasm View Ridge, most of the way to the Camel, drop into a class 3-4 chimney. The first 30' is 5th class down climbing or a short rappel. Scramble down this loose chimney until it clearly comes to a choke point, then make a blind traverse to the right (looking out). This will get you on to the sidewalk ledges that will return you to Mill's Glacier at the base of the North Chimney. You can see these ledges clearly in the overview photo of Chasm View Wall.

Read up carefully on the moves that get you on to upper Keiners. Many climbers miss this and end up climbing on harder stuff than they need to.

Read up carefully on the secret passage that gets you off of the Giant Staircase and onto the final slopes to the summit. If you miss this and end up in the summit dihedrals you are fucked.

About 2/3 of the way up the Giant Staircase when you are just below the "billboards" you can sneak out on to Table Ledge on the Diamond. This is a great spot for a snack or lunch and you can hang your feet over the edge of a 1,500' cliff!

August is the season of thunderstorms. Plan to be off the top by noon or 1.

Have a great time.
Malcolm

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By sstrauss
From Denver
May 19, 2014
Dream Weaver in it's death throws
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Fantastic advice, especially the margs!

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By Andy Hansen
From Longmont, Colorado
May 19, 2014
Intruder, 5.11+. Zion National Park. Photo: Matt Kuehl
Damn. Malcolm nailed it.

There are other alternatives for summiting Long's via a 5th Class route that are not as involved as Kor's Door to Kiener's. Take for instance the Keyhole Ridge. Easy route finding, easy descent, 5th class climbing and a great summit.

But for what it's worth, if you follow Malcolm's training plan he laid out for you, you probably won't have much trouble with your initial plan. Loose rock is a hazard on that section of the face (coming from above) but hopefully by August that area will have shed most of it's loose rock.

Good luck!

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By JayMorse
From Hooksett, New Hampshire
May 19, 2014
Thank you all very much for the responses. Extremely helpful. FYI we are a group of at least 6 and everyone is psyched on Keyhole Ridge, but I figured that many people going up the same route is a bad idea when the afternoon thunderstorm clock will be ticking, so I'm hoping to convince someone to join me up this one.

Any other opinions on whether the Sidewalk Descent or the Cable Route would be preferable? I'd like to plan to descend in the simplest and safest way possible, just in case we are facing weather at that time. Though am I right in thinking that the Sidewalk Descent would allow us to stash gear at the bottom of the climb and retrieve it after? (Crampons or microspikes for the glacier, maybe stay the night at Chasm Lake and leave camping gear at the base?)

Thanks, all information and opinions are very much appreciated.

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By Xam
From Boulder, Co
May 19, 2014
Malcom Daly's sidewalk descent is not an alternative to the North Face raps...it is means for getting back to your packs in the cirque without going the long way around or sliding down the camel gully. It starts below the North face raps. The question is whether to do the north face raps or walk down the keyhole route...I think most people would say the north face raps are preferable.

Edit: North Face = Cables Route

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By Eliot Augusto
From Boulder, CO
May 19, 2014
I can't speak to Malcom's advice since I haven't done the routes he has mentioned, but it seems like great advice. I can say that acclimating can be really difficult for some, and the exercise at those altitudes would be a stellar training routine. I've had sea level friends come up to climb pikes, and they get trashed. Granted the physically fit ones do a lot better, but they are still really winded. And that's just walking.

Don't underestimate the high altitude. If you question your ability to perform in high altitude, go run a 1/2 mile above tree line as fast as you can(without making yourself pass out). If you make it the full half mile, you are a)in great shape and b)the altitude should be no problem.

Maybe I'm making a big deal of nothing and you are in far better shape than my friends, but the change in altitude you describe is significant enough to me to say that you shouldn't underestimate it. It's better to get back to your car a few hours late than to push it too hard.

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By Kevin Pula
May 19, 2014
Drink at least 2 margs.

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By Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
May 21, 2014
Addendum to my earlier post:

The North Face/Cables descent leaves you at Chasm View Overlook. From CVO, hike down the ridge to the lowest point of that ridge. If you start hiking up you have passed the entrance gully to the Sidewalk. If the gully doesn't look good, you can continue up the ridge a couple hundred yard and cross it under the nose of the Camel. Scramble down the scree and talus to the entrance of the Camel gully and slide down that to lower Mills Glacier.


I highly recommend doing the hike to Chasm View Overlook on one of your acclimatization days so you can get this area sussed out. In fact, a great day would be to hike to CVO, stash some water and whatever, then practice the Sidewalk descent to connect the loop back at Chasm Cutoff. It's an awesome day of techno-hiking that will take you into terrain where you'll not see another person. It will also give you a chance to feel the "atmosphere" of the Diamond in figurative as well as literal ways.

Mal

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By Eli Helmuth
From Estes Park, CO
May 24, 2014
Eli on the FA of Grizzly (M9) at the Den.
Photos and beta here that might be of help in your Longs adventure: climbinglife.com/rmnp-alpine-r...

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By Steve Levin
From Boulder, CO
May 24, 2014
Guiding in RMNP
Malcolm's advice is spot-on, although I would suggest the Culp-Bossier on Hallett's is a more involved outing than Kor's Door, albeit at a slightly lower elevation.

My 2 cents:

If you start hiking at midnight from the TH, you will be sitting in the dark on Mills Glacier below the Diamond for several hours. Not that hanging in the dark up there is a bad thing, but a reasonably fit person with a climbing pack can get to the far end of Chasm Lake and up to the glacier in around 3 to 3.5 hours from the TH.

If you decide to do Kor's Door to Kieners and the rest of your party does Keyhole Ridge, you will part ways on the trail near the outhouse where the Chasm Lake and Boulderfield trails diverge (that is, if you leave the TH together) and not see each other until you are descending, if at all; i.e. you will not be in contact with the rest of your party all day. If the idea is to have a group experience, keep that in mind.

The approach immediately below Kor's Door has some rockfall hazard, so stop and observe before blazing across (maybe good use of your in-the-dark time?). In late season the approach to the Stettner's/Kor's Door staging area can have a short passage of black ice to navigate. This has been a particularly snowy year so far, so no telling what things will look like in August, but usually no need for an ice axe/crampons that late in the summer, although they could help.

Keep a rope handy on Kieners. It is easy to get on exposed 5th Class terrain that might be more serious than the 5.3 grade suggests.

If the weather looks dicey one can forego the summit by traversing above the Diamond to reach the N Face cables. If you are moving well, you can be across and down to Chasm View in an hour or less.

Don't leave anything at the base of Kor's Door or in the East Face cirque, and you have no need to descend the Sidewalk or the Camel to retrieve it.

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