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Routes in West Face

Dialogue on Zen T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Koren's Rain Dance T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Van Diver's West Wall T 5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c
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Mention Long's Peak to a climber and you'll immediately conjure images the Diamond. And with good reason... the East Face of Long's is the most striking alpine wall in Colorado. At some point, every trad climber on the Front Range entertains the notion of climbing it. As amazing as the East Face is though, there are other parts of this mountain that deserve attention. Perhaps the most overlooked of these is the West Face.

The 600-foot West Face of Long's fills a unique niche in Rocky climbing. For starters, the climbing begins above 13,000 feet and tops out on the only Colorado 14er north of I-70. The rock is excellent and low angle, which translates into lots of 3-4 pitch lines in the 5.6-5.9 range. The views are truly sublime and the potential for first ascents is huge. None-the-less, only a handful of documented routes have been established on this quarter mile wide cliff. Why?

The West Face is remote. The easiest approach is via the Keyhole route with translates to a 7-mile hike and an elevation gain of 3,500 feet. This also means that you'll be sharing the trail with the many hikers who are attempting the Keyhole route. These hikers pass directly below West Face on their way to and from the summit so extra care to avoid rockfall is absolutely required! A camp in the Boulderfield turns this wall into a moderate alpine crag but you need to make reservations with the Park Service months in advance.

For what it is, the West Face is a great place. If you're looking for a moderate outing in the high country, and you don't mind hiking, the West Face may be the perfect choice.

Getting There

From the Long's Peak Trailhead, hike the East Long's Peak Trail to the Boulderfield. (Follow the obvious signs.) Continue through the Keyhole and then turn south on the unimproved trail, which will be marked with bull's-eyes painted on the rocks. The West Face is now on your left. You may have to scramble to get to the base of your chosen route. Please be careful not to knock any loose rocks down on the hikers below!

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Though it will cost you more $$ due to having to pay the entrance fee into the park (whereas going in through the Long's Pk Ranger Station is free), an option that avoids all the crowds is to hike up Glacier Gorge and approach the W. Face via The Trough. Rather more scenic than stumbling across the Boulderfield (where you never see the Diamond 'cause you're always looking at your feet in order to keep from tripping over...). Glacier Gorge is a great 'basecamp' for doing a lot of excellent alpine rock routes on a number of peaks (Long's, Spearhead, Pagoda, Chief's Head, McHenry's). Jun 2, 2004
FA of Longs Peak: Byers, Keplinger, Powell. August 23rd 1868. Nov 26, 2004
Correction: that's FRA (First Recorded Ascent) not FA. Groups native to the area had stories of people climbing Longs before Powell and company. I've heard that the Powell party knew this, and found evidence on the summit of previous human visits. Nov 29, 2004

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