In general, the most snow-free and ice-free time of year to climb Longs Peak is mid-July through mid-September. Difficulty: Class 1. This stubbornness is cause for consequence, and all of it comes to a head when the mountain is overpopulated and the route gets bottlenecked. Unfortunately there's not enough data to make any solid conclusions regarding this. An under prepared or overconfident person doesn’t look at the weather report the night before and the morning of. How many miles is the Keyhole Route to Longs Peak? Like, almost impossible. In fact, as of January 2018, 67 deaths have been recorded on Longs Peak, according to data collected by Rocky Mountain National Park. It arguably leads to the largest amount of human error and consequential death in the outdoor industry. Longs Peak-Keyhole Route Frequently Asked Questions (8 1/2 x 11-PDF 162k. Yes. However, for many people, when they hear the name “Longs Peak”, they immediately think of death and disaster. Trailhead: From Estes Park, take Colorado Highway 7 south about 9 miles to the Longs Peak … The North Face is a technical route of modest difficulty with minimal 5th class terrain. Perhaps the most prominent risk is human error. The day of, make sure you are observing the temperature, and watching the horizon for dark storm clouds. I am sure that when the artist decided to depict Longs on the quarter, they were imagining that Longs represents the beauty of our Centennial State and the adventurous spirit of its residents. To quickly answer – The risk factors that make Longs Peak hard to climb are often incorrectly perceived. If you’re considering the trek to the top, you certainly have some careful planning ahead. If you lose the bull’s eyes you are likely off-route and will encounter more difficult climbing with potentially severe consequences. The north and east faces of Longs come into view, as well as Storm Peak (13,326') ahead. On the other hand, what are the actual risks of rock climbing? Testimonials. From the Keyhole, you only have a mile left of scrambling before you reach the top. It is important to retrace your steps back to the bull’s-eyes before continuing. The first time someone steps into a harness and is tied to a rope that is meant to support their life, their heart rate will most likely rise because they are experiencing the fear of falling. If symptoms develop, don’t wait to turn around. Early Spring (late May through June) and Fall (Septe… Your email address will not be published. The North Longs Peak Trail heads off to the right. While it is not as difficult as the toughest 14er summits (Little Bear Peak, Capitol Peak, Crestone Needle, Sunlight Peak), Longs has plenty of difficult, class 3 scrambling. Summit fever is dangerous. Let me be clear here - Longs Peak is probably not a good mountain for the novice hiker or climber. If you are trying to stay safe while up on the most popular and deadly fourteener in Colorado, the essential question to ask is: What is the cause of these deaths? Is the “trail” to the summit of Longs Peak easy to find? If you manage this, you are way more likely to mitigate the danger of a cluster on the mountain, which could lead to a dangerous situation. Depending upon conditions, you might encounter snow and ice any time of the year. Make sure that you are not only used to the mileage, but also the altitude. Do not rely on your cell phone to assist you during an emergency! Here is what you need to do to go into the mountain with stability: Train for the hike. Those who are hesitant to climb Longs and those who injure themselves or die on Longs are actually extremely similar in that they both tend to fixate on the perceived risk of ascending the mountain while ignoring the actual risk. Much of this route is above tree-line so give yourself plenty of time to be back below tree-line before afternoon thunderstorms and lightning develop. Therefore, falling while top roping is a perceived risk. What are the symptoms of high altitude sickness? While you are at it, snacks and water will provide energy for the trip beyond or your return back to the trailhead. She loves to spend her free time backcountry skiing, mountain biking, climbing, and watching Game of Thrones. The decision is yours to make. Elevation Gain: 7,500 feet. Pikes Peak. There are so many factors that go into preparing oneself for a mountain like Longs. Do I really need to start at the trailhead before sunrise? Longs Peak is the pinnacle of mountains here in Rocky Mountain National Park — quite literally. However, this puts the blame on external forces, when, in fact, the cause of human death is just that: it is most often human error. Look for patterns in the current weather and changes in the weather predictions. Longs Peak. As with any high altitude mountaineering route you will encounter hazards along the way. Contact | Privacy Policy. Difficulty Risk Factors ; Longs Peak - Keyhole Route. Between 5 and 10 is moderate, and anything over 10 is considered to be a strenuous hike. Conditions are constantly changing and influenced by altitude, wind and sudden changes in weather. This is not a “walk in the park.” This is much more than a hike. Description: This is an ascent of the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park (14,259 ft / 4,346 […] Longs Peak is the only (“14er”) peak above 14,000 feet located with Rocky Mountain National Park. That being said, more than half of the climbers that attempt Longs Peak will never see the summit, making Longs Peak the fourteener that’s got the highest failure rate. From here you walk and scramble over boulders toward the Keyhole feature. It is common to see hundreds of people along the route and on the summit. If, for any reason, something indicates that you should turn around, you need to do so. To successfully summit Longs Peak - it is in your best interest to spend time acclimating and hiking other lower elevation summits before attempting Longs Peak. Note: While this is a Class 1 climb, it's quite long at 26 miles. The peak dominates the breathtaking landscape with its height topping out at 14,259 feet. Keep in mind if the route is in “winter- like” conditions sections of the bull’s-eyes will not be visible. Check the Longs Peak Conditions page or call the park Information Office at 970-586-1206 to find out the most recent available conditions along the Keyhole Route. It is totally worth the trek. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Your email address will not be published. Thank you for taking the time to read more about the Keyhole Route. Be sure to adequately plan, prepare for, and manage your climb – don’t take it lightly. There is no “trail” to the summit of Longs Peak. These factors seem to be completely external. The fourteen miles can feel like a lot, especially when rock scrambling is involved near the summit. Let’s use rock climbing as an example. How Much Water Should I Carry Backpacking? The factors are human, they are internal. The symptoms of altitude sickness include: a dull to throbbing headache, loss of appetite, sick to your stomach or nausea, vomiting, and feeling weak or dizzy. What a great experience! A strenuous out and back excursion that will have you transverse 13.5 miles in elevations increasing over 5,140 feet, the Longs Peak Summit — Keyhole Route is the easiest way to reach to Longs Peak Summit. Longs Peak Summit- Keyhole Route. Attempting the summit in the afternoon greatly increases your risk – the round-trip from the Longs Peak Trailhead averages 10 to 15 hours. Longs Peak is a high and prominent mountain in the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. A crowded mountain alongside weather continually increasing is a dangerous situation. However, too many people do Longs without having any clue what they are doing, and they end up experiencing irrational fear while not preparing properly for that which can actually cause them harm. The northernmost of Colorado's fourteeners and one of the most accessible to the Denver area, Longs Peak is one of the more difficult of these peaks to climb, owing to challenging route finding, semi-technical and high-consequence scrambling, and the length of the approach trail. Level 1: 2-6 miles, less than 500 feet elevation change on good trails; Level 2: 3-8 ... who had several previous ascents of Longs Peak, went up a couple days prior to our hike, to scout the current conditions. Although there is no trail through the rocks, the entire route contains very obvious yellow and orange bullseyes that will direct you towards the safest and fastest route to the top. However, Longs is no ordinary class 3 fourteener. In the past, some visitors have mistakenly assumed that a “non-technical” rating meant “safe.” Exposure and other risks along the route exist all the time. At 14,259 feet, it’s one of the state’s proudest 14ers, and the only one within Rocky Mountain National Park. People are dying from lightning and hypothermia. We hope the information provided will assist you with planning for a safe and enjoyable experience on Longs Peak. Learn more about me here. On Longs, there are many exposed and steep sections that people obsess over because they are afraid of heights and think that they will fall off of the mountain. Preparedness and self-reliance are essential. This is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. However, the fact that deaths on Longs have become way too common is no accident. There has to be a pattern to the deaths, and the most logical answer is human behavior. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222. But why are they falling? How many people should I expect to see on the Keyhole Route during the summer? The worst danger lies not in the exposure, length, or weather. (970) 586-1206 Upon reading this, it can be easy to blame the deaths on perceived risk: heights (of course), weather, and length of the route. Kaiti Kinshella is a Spanish teacher and freelance writer who lives, works, and plays in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. How physically fit you are plays no role in whether you get altitude sickness. 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