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Keyhole Ridge Longs Peak
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Sep 24, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.
I had a friend from Chicago in town for a backpacking trip in RMNP that wanted to do a day of climbing. We decided on Keyhole Ridge on Long’s on saturday 9/22. This would be our first alpine climb. I had done a few 14‘ers before this, but nothing harder than 3rd class and he had never been above 12,000’.

I got off work at 7pm friday, went home and packed and headed up. I got to the trailhead parking lot at about 10:30pm and got as much sleep as I could. My alarm went off at 2:30 and Jay was already there. I tried to pack light- our rack consisted of one set of BD stoppers, C3’s from 0-2, and C4’s from .5-2 along with 10 draws. If I were to do it again I’d bring less draws. I brought a full one liter water bottle and an empty camelbak. We left the trailhead at 3am and made pretty good time averaging about 2 miles an hour until we hit the boulderfield. We stopped there to fill up on water, which I later realized was not too far below the privy. Maybe not the best idea but we didn’t get sick.

Rock Climbing Photo: Filling up water at the boulder field
Filling up water at the boulder field


Rock Climbing Photo: Keyhole
Keyhole


Rock Climbing Photo: from the top of the ledge where we roped up, looki...
from the top of the ledge where we roped up, looking down towards the keyhole


We reached the keyhole at 7 and made our way up the ledge. Neither of us had climbed together before so we decided we would belay all 5th class pitches with no simul-climbing. We did 6 pitches total, could have probably done it in 3 but drop drag in places prevented that.

Rock Climbing Photo: 1st pitch dihedral
1st pitch dihedral


I think we ended up going too far left on the ledge, but we decided to rope up at a right facing dihedral with a pin in it about 20’ up. We never saw the warning sign some people talked about. From above the dihedral we went up and left and ended up on the left side of a steep crack, working back up and right a little to the 15’ crack that starts as fists and ends up wider and tops out on the 2nd tower. I’ve read TR’s were people call this 5.8 and didn’t think it was any more difficult than 5.6, no reason to be bring anything larger than a #2.

Rock Climbing Photo: On top of the 2nd tower
On top of the 2nd tower


From there we dropped down the backside of the 2nd tower to the ledge people have written about. There were half ropes here that were fixed on the bottom. We left them in place. From here we traveled further left up the ramp that was full of ice. The right facing dihedral here was also full of ice so we decided to step out left and climb the ledges on the face. This is probably 5.4. From there it was 2 more pitches, generally work up and left. We did pass a nasty refrigerator sized block that was precariously perched at an angle. When I touched it, the whole thing swayed.

Rock Climbing Photo: the west side of the 2nd tower with the small ledg...
the west side of the 2nd tower with the small ledge


Rock Climbing Photo: huge loose block
huge loose block


This last two pitches were low 5th class, or even 4th class scrambling. We stretched our 70m rope out for both of them. We reached the summit at noon, and found about 25 people on top. We were the only ones on the ridge route though which was pretty nice. We had originally planned to rap the cable route but when we reached the summit there was a group of 5 or 6 that were headed that way and didn’t appear to be moving too fast. We checked out the cable descent and it had a decent amount of ice and snow. Not having any ice gear and not wanting to get stuck in line we decided on taking the regular keyhole route down. This was completely dry and worked out as we beat the group that was rapping the cable route to the boulder field. We took our time on the way down, refilling water and relaxing a bit. We reached the car around 5pm. 14 hours car to car for someone basically coming straight off the couch and another guy from sea level.. I figure that’s not too bad for my first alpine climb. Next time I’ll be in better shape though.

Rock Climbing Photo: summit photo
summit photo


Rock Climbing Photo: summit
summit
NickinCO
From colorado
Joined Sep 17, 2010
239 points
Sep 24, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: J TREE
Nice TR........ Jim Amidon
Joined Jun 12, 2001
945 points
Sep 24, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Bocan
Very cool, nice job!

That block is SCARY!!
Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Joined Feb 15, 2006
1,377 points
Sep 24, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: me at the belay of bloody nose i believe
Yeah, two guys straight off the couch. Id say overall a grezt day considering.
From couch at 600' to 14259' is an achievement im proud of!
Thanks Nick
jay durbin
Joined Sep 13, 2010
6 points
Sep 24, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: me at the belay of bloody nose i believe
Yeah, two guys straight off the couch. Id say overall a grezt day considering.
From couch at 600' to 14259' is an achievement im proud of!
Thanks Nick
jay durbin
Joined Sep 13, 2010
6 points
Sep 24, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Lion King with the pup.
Nice work guys, looks like an awesome day. Viva la alpine season! (can't believe it's still here, what a year) SteveZ
From Denver, CO
Joined Sep 7, 2007
496 points
Sep 24, 2012
Awesome report and congrats on a great climb, Nick! Hope to see you around soon.

Wally
Wally
From Denver
Joined Apr 12, 2006
32 points


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