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Cable Route 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 41,246
Submitted By: Ben Mottinger on Jan 1, 2001

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BETA PHOTO: Cable Route as seen from Storm Peak on 3-8-08. Tw...

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First of all, so there's no confusion, this route is NOT on the diamond. It is just filed under that rock. I give this route one star, but not because it is a bad route. It is an excellent first technical alpine route for a beginner. After doing the route, however, I would probably not be interested in doing it again unless it was a winter ascent, which would be different.

The history of the route is kinda interesting. I'm not sure of specific dates, but in the early part of the 1900's a thick steel cable was bolted to the rock with huge eye bolts (much like the bolts on the 3rd). Non-technical climbers would use this as an aid to climb up this face of Longs. That is until people started to realize that a 1in. thick cable bolted to the rock for hundreds of feet is a great conductor of electricity. The cable was removed, but a couple of the eye bolts still exist at the belays.

This climb is best started from the boulder field at the base of Long's approaching from the East. From the boulder field, the hike is only about 0.25mi. to the start of the climb and about 1.5mi. descent from the backside (W. side) of Long's. Otherwise, you're looking at a 6 mi. hike just to the boulder field with a full pack of gear. Best climbed mid summer through early fall (unless you bring crampons). I climbed it mid-October in 1998 and it was cold and coated with a nice layer of verglass (thin ice). This changed the grade from easy 5.4 to very contemplative 5.6-7ish.

There is only really one full pitch of technical climbing, then it's very easy 5th and 4th class for a pitch or so. After this, 3rd class get you to the summit, taking the line toward the edge of the diamond, then back to the summit.

The ranger station at the Longs trailhead has a nice 3D model of Longs and a ranger will be happy to show you the exact line. Descent is a downclimb of the same route (raps possible from the eye bolts) or via the standard Keyhole route.


Very minimal rack. A few large stoppers and some hexes or tri-cams. Several shoulder slings. A 50m rope is sufficient.

Photos of Cable Route Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Long's north face, 3-2-11 Climber: Matt Bruton. Ph...
Long's north face, 3-2-11 Climber: Matt Bruton. Ph...
Rock Climbing Photo: Taken March 23, 2002.
BETA PHOTO: Taken March 23, 2002.
Rock Climbing Photo: Charles and Bob 75ft up the techinical section of ...
Charles and Bob 75ft up the techinical section of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Cable Route follows the red line to the summit...
BETA PHOTO: The Cable Route follows the red line to the summit...
Rock Climbing Photo: The clouds came in covering the East Face complete...
The clouds came in covering the East Face complete...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me rapping from the 1st rap station.
Me rapping from the 1st rap station.
Rock Climbing Photo: Me alone above crux of Cable.  Very little and uns...
Me alone above crux of Cable. Very little and uns...
Rock Climbing Photo: Water on the rock taken July 2, 2012.
BETA PHOTO: Water on the rock taken July 2, 2012.
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of the easy, technical stuff.
Top of the easy, technical stuff.
Rock Climbing Photo: 4-13-03   A picture of an April climb just to show...
4-13-03 A picture of an April climb just to show...
Rock Climbing Photo: The descent in early June 03 above the raps.  Cram...
The descent in early June 03 above the raps. Cram...
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down the climb on the Cable route
looking down the climb on the Cable route
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up the climb, the crux is visible at the t...
looking up the climb, the crux is visible at the t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Topmost "fixed" anchor on the Cable Rout...
BETA PHOTO: Topmost "fixed" anchor on the Cable Rout...
Rock Climbing Photo: Old iron loops - cables were removed. Many options...
BETA PHOTO: Old iron loops - cables were removed. Many options...
Rock Climbing Photo: Long's North Face (Cable Route) - January 4, 2013.
Long's North Face (Cable Route) - January 4, 2013.
Rock Climbing Photo: Above the Cable Route, winter 2013.
Above the Cable Route, winter 2013.
Rock Climbing Photo: Black - unroped ascent, blue - roped ascent, red -...
BETA PHOTO: Black - unroped ascent, blue - roped ascent, red -...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Cable Route (a.k.a. North Face of Long's) from...
BETA PHOTO: The Cable Route (a.k.a. North Face of Long's) from...
Rock Climbing Photo: One rappel on the descent.
One rappel on the descent.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ben and Shane on the summit of Longs.
Ben and Shane on the summit of Longs.
Rock Climbing Photo: Traversing to The Cables Route- 1998
Traversing to The Cables Route- 1998
Rock Climbing Photo: Look at the slope angle on the descent above the C...
Look at the slope angle on the descent above the C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Conditions on the Cable Route as of 6/25/2013.  On...
BETA PHOTO: Conditions on the Cable Route as of 6/25/2013. On...

Show All 35 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Cable Route Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 9, 2016
By Andrew Wellman
Jan 1, 2001

As a side note to this description, I would like everyone to know that the North Face, or Cables Route, is the quickest way to descend off the summit of Longs to the Boulder Field. From the summit, walk pretty much NE down the third class slopes which are cairned and almost have a trail. The technical pitch or two at the bottom of the face can be easily downclimbed by a confident climber or rappelled even easier using the fixed eyebolts as anchors. With one or two ropes I believe it is a double rappel either way. This deposits you at Chasm View, where you get a great view of the Diamond, and it is only a short scramble down to the Boulder Field, where you can pick up the trail. I have done this from summit to Boulder Field in less than an hour before, as opposed to three miles of strenuous hiking down the Keyhole.
By Jason Carter
From: Monument, CO
Jul 23, 2001

Fun training hike/climb winter, spring, summer and fall.... Find the first eybolt at the bottom of the slabs and the route follows a plumb line, would be moderate friction climbing if not for the water that runs down the slabs, make mental note of all eyebolts for the winter white out descents!
By David Neckels
Sep 4, 2001

The crux has got to be the step out of the dihedral on the first pitch. You have to teeter from the left to the right in a dynamic move that places your entire weight on one foot at a small (3 inch) wet/icy ledge as you step up and out of the dihedral. At that moment you are above about 30 feet of air and a decent fall.
By Rob Mullen
Sep 25, 2001

Climbed this route in March of 2000 with Chris Cavallaro. Mistakenly not realizing that the technical crux pitch was right after Chasm View, we were not roped up and ending up free soloing the crux pitches with crampons and ice axe. Not the best way to climb it for sure, so my advice rope up early, even before Chasm View if you want. Simul-Climbing is the way to go for the majority of the route. Tons of fun in the winter, some nice mixed climbing, pick the line that looks best to you and enjoy.
By Kevin Craig
Mar 20, 2002

In response to the questions posted to cb-d... the top eyebolt for the rappel can normally be found in the winter though it can be a bit challenging. A double 60m rappel will get you WAY past the "technical" section. One doubled 60m rope should get you to easily down-climbed terrain if not past all difficulties. For pro, it depends, some shoulder-length slings for slinging the eye-bolts, a set of nuts and some mid-size hexes (and a hammer to pound them in if the crack is iced up) should do it. There's normally not enough ice to take a solid screw. A Spectre might work if you trust them.
By Michael Komarnitsky
Founding Father
From: Seattle, WA
Mar 23, 2002

Kevin's comments are right on. There are 3 huge eye bolts (shoulder sling) to a final 4 one at the end of the technical section. They were clear and plain as day to see on a March 22 ascent, and I believe that you'd have no trouble finding them unless the entire ramp was completely covered in snow. I used one additional mid-sized hex between bolts, and the entire technical pitch seemed about 150'.

For descending, a single 50m rope works fine, in two raps, to get you to the base of the technical section.... though it's kind of close, so tie your rope ends together.
By Anonymous Coward
Apr 8, 2002

Just did Cables this weekend (4.6.02). Conditions were great on the North side. The first eye bolt at the base of the 5.4 pitch is gone, but the bolt at the top still seemed solid. Still a little ice in the dihedral, so it was nice to have a tool ready at hand, but easy climbing overall. Made the mistake of descending the Keyhole, which was a crappy mix of hard icy-crusted snow and rock. Definitely go back whence you came in the early season. The "tourist" route is just as exposed, longer and more dangerous until it melts out.

-Brad Hill
By Old Fart aka Dave Bohn
Apr 23, 2002

Not to give away my usual non-technical approach or standard descent off the Diamond but really, the combination of the "Loft" approach and "Clarks Arrow" is by far the fastest, easiest, approach /descent of Long's. I've used it at least 15-20 times and once you have been up/down it once it's a piece of cake. Be warned that you are on your own and there aren't a horde of tourist's to follow and there are route finding problems for the novice "Peak Bagger" but in regards to a the "Fastest/Easiest" route this is the best!
By Anonymous Coward
Apr 24, 2002

The running records for both one-way and round trip on Longs were done via the North Face cables. You may save time higher on the mountain by being over on the Loft, but trailhead to summit it is certainly not the fastest way. I would also think descending the NF is the way to go for most Diamond routes, certainly considering how straight forward this descent is and how quickly one can get to non-technical ground. P.S. I think the running record for trailhead to summit is 1:18, by a Fairview track team member and student of Roger Briggs.
By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
Jul 22, 2002
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Well - with such a dry winter the route is 99% dry right now. Go really light for this thing - every other stopper and hexes from #5-#9 and maybe a few Friends from 1.5 to 2.5 for the timid. Approach shoes that you can climb in - it is slabby 5.4 for the (relatively short) technical part. Slings to tie off the eyebolts. There are two eyebolts during the technical climbing, and one after you step out of the dihedral. Dont belay here if you have a 60m but move up 10 more feet to another eyebolt on much easier ground where you can unrope. From there go left a little ways till a ramp goes right up to another eyebolt next to a cairin. Wander up to the top. This route is quite easy in the summer and a quick but more technical route than the Keyhole route. Significantly more challenging (and more fun) in the winter. Casey Bernal
By Michael Lozon
Sep 27, 2002

Did this route on Monday, 9/23. Weather was great, but the technical part was iced up pretty good. If it wasn't verglas on the slabby portion, there were several little "waterfalls" making things a little difficult (especially when you exit left to get to the upperbolt) - probably more like the 5.6, 7ish feel as previously suggested. Decended the "Clarks Arrow" or Loft route to make a nice Tour de Long's. Another note of interest to us ice climbers as well...looks like the waterice coming off the loft is forming up nicely. The entire route was covered - but obviously still a little thin!
By Nate Christiansen
Mar 24, 2003

Did the Cables in September and for the most part, the route is rather icy or wet. Another variation does exist without the eye bolts just to the left. A small, left facing dihedral falling off the Diamond/Chasm Wall eats up nuts and goes at about 5.5. With this season being a wet one, this route might be the one for the summer for the rock climbers.
By Anonymous Coward
May 4, 2003

Powder, lots of powdery snow, snow up to your waist, up to your ears even! If thats your cup of tea, go get'm. Not yet campers. Be patient and you shall be rewarded. Most routes in this area have been completely shat uppon by the last few storms... go somewhere else.
By Kato Tsosie Dee
May 20, 2003

Me and crazy nut from Kansas City (Chris Johnson), ascended Long's via the Cable Route on May 17, 2003 and found tons of snow and sunshine. We ascended Chasm Lake via The Camel Coulior in which we encountered deep, soft snow to some ice. Snow was encountered all the way up to the base of the rock section which was partially covered with snow! The first and only pitch was 30 feet in length in which three eye bolts were visible. Above the rock pitch was wonderful, wind scoured snow with an approximate maximum angle of 50 degrees all the way to the summit. No eyebolts were noticed though above the rock. We ascended the snowfield unroped since the snow was soft enough to allow you to plant your feet about one foot deep into the snow. Beware of rocks below thin layers of snow that had a layer of ice on them! We descended the same way we came up by using our steps we created during the ascent. I recommend to take advantage of this awesome snow pack on the Cable Route which I heard is rare!
By John Prater
Jul 23, 2003

This webcam can be helpful to get an idea of conditions on the Cables route:
By Pip Fitzsimmons
Oct 13, 2003

Just did Cable Route this weekend (10/11/03). The technical section had some hard packed snow and very little ice. I lead with lots of dry tooling. My partner used ice axes and soft boots to smear the rock face, which seemed to work much better. All eyebolts exposed.
By Pete Fox
From: Boulder, co
Jul 11, 2004

Climbed on 7-3-04. The climbing was entirely on snow. Guess those June storms really add up.
By Kevin Craig
Sep 14, 2004

Climbed on 9/12/04. I've climbed this route twice before (Jan and June '01) and this is the most ice I've ever seen!Bodes well for ice season this year!

Unfortunately, it's enough ice to require crampons but not solid or well-bonded enough for good screws or completely comfy tool sticks. The "normal" exit slab is *covered* in thin ice. Much better to go all the way up to the overlap which has a nice iced-up ledge below it and a relatively easy exit left - ice is pretty thick in the corner for this last 50-60'.

On Sunday, I rated this climb M-Scary though in retrospect probably M4(+?) right now; definitely harder than the several times I've climbed Dreamweaver.Only good news was good rock pro (yellow #2? Friend, mid-sized nut) at the 2 one-move cruxes, but I really didn't want to fall with all the pointy things I had on and in my hands!

Also of note, the bottom eye-bolt is gone (someone's new red tri-cam is fixed/frozen here now) as are one or two other eye-bolts up higher. There's still one bolt just above the start, one after the first crux (in current conditions), one after the exit left at the overlap, and one (best belay) about 10 ft above that. There is also at least one more higher up that is useful for rapping on the way down. The N face itself is snow/rock and can be done with either boots or crampons. Go straight up from the belay for about 100 - 200' then traverse left and up avoiding the ice and slabs.
By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
Jan 13, 2005
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c


Hike up to the boulder field and make a judgment call yourself.

By Adrian Hill
Jan 14, 2005


Your response to slithering Carl was spot on.

For current conditions, you can sometimes save a trudge up to the Boulder Field by checking out

which gives a decent view of the route.

By Jonny Vermin
Jan 23, 2005

Is that a real Webcam? Because yesterday's picture looks just like today's, and last night looked just like the night before. I think something funny is going on here. I wonder if it's one of those websites where the take a bunch of pictures and randomly post them as actual webcam shots. And they say it's a webcam just so they can boost their hits. I don't think if that were the case that BC would allow a link to it. I'm going up there tomorrow and try to find it.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 26, 2005

Hey guys. I did this route on 1/22/05, and wanted to post a little beta on the eye-bolt situation. I have never done this route before, so I'm not entirely sure if accurate, but we found one eye bolt at the end of a large snow slope at the start of the technical section. The next pitch had one bolt exposed along the way, and there were two bolts exposed at the first belay station. We used the second, uppermost bolt for the belay anchor because there was a party behind us. We stayed roped up for only one pitch, and my partner found the location of a last eye bolt covered in snow. We dug it out and used it to rap down to the first belay spot. I hope this beta helps anyone attempting this route-which is why I come to this site.
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 13, 2005

As of 2/06, all the eyebolts are exposed and easy to spot. Pretty much no ice.
By Richard Beller
Aug 12, 2005

There was a small stream down this route on August 11. Even with the stream, the route is 5.4 at the hardest. A reasonably experienced leader can easily do this route using only the bolts for protection, though we used one piece between bolts because we brought extra gear.

On the whole, it's a fun and easy route, as well as an easy route to find.
By BWpete
May 5, 2006

Hello, I am not as confident in my alpine rock and snow as I am in traditional rock climbing. Is June a good time to climb this route, or is it better to wait until maybe July? I have climbed quite a bit in the Winds, which has some alpine style climbing, though the highest peak I climbed there was 13000 ish, and not technical. Is this a good one for some one with about my experience? Thanks, Pete.
By Ben Randolph
From: Boulder, CO
May 9, 2006

The North Face is 50 times better than the Keyhole Route. Chasm View is unreal. This was my first real look at the Diamond, and it blew me away.
By Matt Florer
May 15, 2007

Just wondering if anyone has been up the Cables route in the past few weeks. What's it lookin' like?
By Jim Davidson
From: Fort Collins, Colorado
Aug 8, 2007

Climbed it 8/8/07. The one pitch of technical rock was pretty wet, and even running with water in places, but still 5.4. Long hike, but fun climb. Note: a descending climber said there was some ice this morning in the Homestretch of the Keyhole hiking route!
By davebks
From: Louisville, Co
Jul 6, 2009

FYI- I posted some pics and info on here:
By Mikelsons Mikelsons
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 19, 2009

Climbed this as my first climb up Long's yesterday. There was snow and thin ice on much of the route. All the bolts that remain were visible (there are four, I think). Altitude, the approach, and the slick rocks made it feel harder than 5.4.

After the fourth bolt and the cairn we continued straight up, off-route. That was easier than the lower part but still low fifth class. Is there a name for this route, besides mistake?
By DrGonzo
From: Ft. Collins, CO
Jul 3, 2012
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c PG13

Climbed The Cable Route for the first time this morning and loved the change of pace from The Keyhole. We roped up and also placed pro along the way (more for practice of placement than out of necessity). Turned it into a 3-pitch climb due to the water running down the face of the rocks which made it slightly more dangerous for a potential slip. We made quick work of the "technical" portion even though we probably could have free soloed it considering there is practically little snow to be found (patches on the ledges leading into pitches). Spent less than 30 min at the peak before descent and then simul-rapped down to the first bolt in order to speed up our descent. This was a good move as the weather quickly changed by the time we were crossing the boulder field. All things considered, I was very pleased with the "ease" of this route. Don't forget to take a peak over the ledge by the first bolt and you will get a good view of the Diamond. Busy day on the Casual Route :)
Jul 30, 2012

Subjective: Very fun climbing and a great alternative to the mobs on the Keyhole. Pretty quick way up and certainly down the mountain.

Roped up at the upper ledge. It's easy enough to solo up to here. 1 pitch from the upper ledge. The whole dihedral was soaked, but the climbing is very easy, 5.4 at most. I placed 1 piece in addition to slinging the 4 bolts and that will be more than sufficient for any reasonably experienced leaders. There is a short bolt (4th?) right at the end of the technical section followed closely by a longer bolt (5th?) that is a great belay point.

By downclimbing just a few feet from the long bolt (5th) a single rap on a 70m got us to the upper ledge, just.

Can't wait to do it this winter!
By Ken McVicker
Jul 6, 2013

We did this on the 4th of July 2013. Still a bit snow at the base and above. Had to climb through a small stream descending the route. Lovely way up and down. We went down The Keyhole. I'll never do that again. This is the way to go if you can climb.
By george wilkey
From: travelers rest sc
Nov 7, 2013

Climbed with my son in late august 2012. Fun route. Had it all to ourselves, when the Keyhole must have had a hundred people on it. The small technical part was easy. We climbed in hiking boots and would not have roped up had the route not been running water. Placed one piece of gear other than slinging the eye bolts.
By Gold Plated Rocket Pony
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 18, 2014

Did this on Sunday, and on the way up following my partner, I took the slings off the huge eye bolts thinking to myself bomber! We made it to the top of Long's and came back down the same way, rapping off one of the upper eye bolts for the first rap and rapping off the eye bolt next to the crux for our second rap (I think this is the second eye bolt up that you run into, see pic).

As my partner rapped I checked out the eye bolt and noticed a decent-sized fracture in the shaft. I also watched it flex a bit each time she shifted her weight on the rope. The shaft also appeared to be a hollow cylinder not solid steel throughout which isn't surprising, but I don't think helps with the fracture.

Probably fine but not the bolt I'd pick to rap off next time around. Could be a good idea to chop it (good workout @ 13,000+ feet). I noticed there were a number of other bolts that have either sheared off or were chopped at some point.

Rock Climbing Photo: Eye bolt with fracture.
Eye bolt with fracture.
By Xam
From: Boulder, Co
Aug 26, 2014

As of Sunday 8/24, the route was mostly iced over due to the storm on Saturday. We rolled up w/ a light rack and approach shoes and slipped our way up the thing using some tension traverse shenanigans to get around the the iced up corner just below the top of the 1st mini-pitch (next to the cracked eyebolt referred to above). Group behind us seems to have bailed at this spot (if you want your nut back, let me know). Not much pro on this thing when the cracks are filled with rotten ice and you are forced onto the slab to the right....

It was cool with the tough conditions to get to the top and have no one there. Around noon. On Long's. In August. On a Sunday.
By Dylan Demyanek
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 10, 2015
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

Soloing Cable Route vs. bringing rope and rack:

In good conditions (no water, ice, or snow), there is no reason that a climber comfortable with leading 5.9 cannot solo this route without gear. There are only about 15 feet that could be considered 5th class climbing, and it's right at the beginning. After that, you have roughly 70 feet of slab reminiscent of the final approach on the Keyhole Route (just a bit steeper) before the scramble to the top begins.

In my personal opinion, hauling up a rack and rope to protect those 15 feet is unnecessary for anyone moderately comfortable climbing and scrambling. This route is way more direct, less crowded, and more fun than the Keyhole Route.
By Harrison Laird
From: Davis, CA
Sep 16, 2015

Summited 8/5/15.

I agree with Demyanek, lugging gear is way more of a pain than it's worth. Bringing an 8mm (60m) rappel line is definitely worth it, but leave the rock rack at home if conditions are good.

Not sure what the route's name is, but there is a nice slab w/ a crack all the way up to the left of the Cable Route which might warrant some nuts and hexes, but you could probably get by without much more.
By Chris Reveley
Sep 9, 2016

The Cable Route on the North Face of Long's Peak takes its name from the hardware that was installed circa 1925. When the cables were removed in the early 1970s, a few of the anchors were left in place, and climbers have been using them to belay and rappel ever since. Now, these often-used eye bolts are showing signs of fatigue. For safety sake, it is time to consider alternatives to the regular use of this 90 year old hardware.

As attractive hazards, should the original bolts be removed or left in place as historical curiosities? Should the Cable Route be returned to its original, hardware-free state or would modern anchors, placed at single rope rappel intervals and positioned for year-round access, be the best choice on this frequently visited route?

Thoughtful comments are welcome.

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