Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado’s Most Iconic 14er

The trail starts at 9,405 feet. Before long, the trees disappear and the wind-scoured alpine zone starts to feel like another planet, a feeling that only increase the farther you venture toward the 14,259-foot summit. For being so close to town, Longs Peak can seem astronomically removed.

Hiking up Longs Peak

This mountain has more routes than any other in the country – over 120, from exposed scrambles to cutting-edge difficulty, and pure rock to ice and mixed climbs. Its largest aspect, the intimidating East Face, rises 1,700 vertical feet from the Mills Glacier to its summit. The first time you see the Diamond, the sheerest part of this world-renowned face, you’ll understand why it draws climbers from all over the globe.

The best views of Rocky Mountain National Park are from the top.

Even the easiest routes on Longs Peak, Clark’s Arrow and the Keyhole, entail exposed scrambling and climbing, and in adverse conditions require technical ascents. Variations abound, like the spectacular Keyhole Ridge for those interested in a more technical, yet still reasonable, challenge. The North Face and Kiener’s Route offer similar difficulties, though both often require snow and ice climbing. Kiener’s, a true mountaineering classic, ascends the left-hand edge of the Diamond.

On the Diamond itself (below), the easiest route (the Casual Route) gets a relatively modest 5.10 rating, but feels a full grade harder due to altitude, cold and daunting exposure.  It’s a short season to climb the Casual Route (or any other route on The Diamond), so plan ahead.

Climbing The Diamond on the Casual Route in Rocky Mountain National Park

Many of the routes on Longs Peak present classic alpinists’ dilemmas – how light should we go? Too heavy and you move too slow and tire, but too light and you risk the consequences of being unprepared. Storms race in form the west, unseen, so climbers can encounter snow and hail in any month.  After enduring a winter ascent of Longs Peak, the famed British climber Doug Scott once quipped, “The Himalayas are a great place to train for Longs Peak.”

Nothing’s a gimme on Longs Peak, so finding the right strategy involves skill, knowledge, and sometimes a bit of luck. It’s part of the fun, and part of the challenge. It’s no wonder so many climbers become obsessed with Longs Peak, year-in, year-out.

Colorado Mountain School guide Rainbow Weinstock is ready to climb the Casual Route on the Diamond in Rocky Mountain National Park

The North Face

Longs Peak’s North Face is an historic route on Colorado’s most iconic 14er. Around 1925, a steel cable was placed on the North Face to be used as a hand rail to assist hikers in ascending the peak. In 1973, the cable was removed, restoring the North Face to its natural state, minus the large eye bolts that climbers still use as anchors to this day. Also known as “The Cables Route”, this route ascends the the most direct route to the summit of Longs Peak.

Technical climbing up the North Face of Longs Peak

The trail starts at 9,405 feet and winds through sub-alpine and alpine. At the six mile mark climbers arive at Chasm View and the base of the North Face (13,529′). From here, the route moves into 200 feet of moderate, but technical climbing. In the summer months it’s an enjoyable rock climb, rated 5.4. For the rest of the year it’s a mix of ice and rock, rated M2. The route follows a low-angle slab featuring a large right-facing corner system overlooking Chasm Lake and the East Face of Longs (also known as The Diamond). From here, a short section of scrambling leads to the summit of Longs Peak and some of the most spectacular views in the Rockies.

Climb Longs Peak with a Professional Mountain Guide

Get comfort in having an experienced mountain guide show you the way. All of our guides are professionally-trained by the American Mountain Guides Association and have extensive mountaineering and climbing experience. All CMS guides have been First Aid or Wilderness First Responder and CPR certified, and are equipped to handle anything from summer thunderstorms to rolled ankles. Below are our prices for typical Longs routes.

Alpine 2
$Ex: Keyhole, N. Face of Longs, S. Ridge of Longs
  • 1 Person = $599
  • 2 People = $499 each
  • 3 People = $459 each
  • 4 People = Please call
  • 5 People = Please call
  • 6 People = Please call
Alpine 3
$Ex: Kiener's, Diamond, E. Face of Longs Link-Ups
  • 1 Person = $799
  • 2 People = $649 each
  • 3 People = Please call
  • 4 People = Please call
  • 5 People = Please call
  • 6 People = Please call

Whether you’re interested hiking The Keyhole or climbing The Diamond, Summer or Winter, our guides have experience Longs Peak that is unmatched in the guiding industry. For more up-to-date information on current conditions, please call or stop by our office.  Interested in booking a mountain guide for Longs Peak?  Book online or contact us.  We look forward to reaching the summit with you.