Type: Snow, Alpine, 2200 ft, Grade II
FA: a long time aago
Page Views: 4,983 total · 33/month
Shared By: David Harrison on Sep 18, 2006
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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While everyone else on Long's stumbles over the boulderfield and picks his or her way through the Keyhole, the Trough provides a "paved" access to the Narrows on the northwest summit area of the peak. Visible throughout Estes and from any point on the hike after Black Lake, the Trough shines through as the longest snow field of the three or four that form on the NW face. Continuously steep, but without any technical difficulties, the climb eventually becomes monotonous as each crampon step is the same, but with the waterfalls of Glacier Gorge below you and hordes of scramblers with too-big packs clogging the rocks above, you are alone in paradise.

True, this route has some drawbacks. The drive from Denver takes longer to start at Bear lake, you have to pay to enter the park, and it's always possible that rocks will be dislodged from the Keyhole route above. If the snow is dangerous, gone, deep or slushy, it's not as much fun as when the snow has set up into perfect corn. Fortunately, you have a good chance of being alone on one of the busiest peaks in Colorado.

It helps to wear light hiking boots for the approach, change to mountaineering boots with crampons for the ascent, then drop your pack at the top of the snow for the continuation of the climb through the Narrows and the Homestretch of the Keyhole route (follow the dots). The smartest bring skis for the trip back down.


Park at the Glacier Gorge Junction trailhead (a mile below Bear Lake), and follow signs to cliff-ringed Black Lake at 5 miles. Cross the lake at the outlet boulders and follow up the East side. Scramble over talus and ledges up to the snow. The route is the longest finger of snow and reaches up into the NW face of the mountain. Descent is by skis, glissade, or crampons. It is also possible to reverse the Keyhole route through the boulderfield and follow signs back down to your car near Bear Lake.


No protection necessary. Crampons and ice axe are recommended, and avalanche gear is always a good idea. Watch out for rocks from above and funny looks from the people on the Keyhole route when you arrive at the top of the snow.
Denver, CO
lucabrasi   Denver, CO
I'm interested in climbing this on Sunday. What are the conditions? I plan to haul the snowboard up as high as possible...does it go?

Thanks! Jun 29, 2007