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Longs Peak: Keyhole Ridge Traverse; 5.6

The northwest ridge of Longs Peak, aka Keyhole Ridge, is a must-do classic in Rocky Mountain National Park. This route offers magnificent exposure high above the east and west flanks of the mountain. This is primarily a moderate rock climb, with a few steps up to 5.6, and lots of fun movement across a clean ridgeline. The classic itinerary includes a descent of the North Face Cables Route. 

David Ladd and I had a blast climbing this classic on Saturday, September 5th, 2010. We started at the Longs Peak trailhead at 02:40. We timed our departure to avoid the overnight winds forecast to decline with the sunrise.  After hiking to the Keyhole, we took in the stunning views and ate a good-sized breakfast to fuel us for the adventure that waited ahead.

We scrambled up the ramp to gain the technical rock climbing. Some pleasant climbing gains the ridge.

David and I stepped over the west side of the ridge and completed the short downclimb towards the crux pitch. Several loose blocky holds require careful testing in this spot.

David feeling free on this fun slab pitch looking over the traditional keyhole route on the west side of the ridge.

Below David shows great style climbing through the 5.6 crux in his mountain boots to gain the top of the pitched out climbing.

After all of the spectacular climbing, we popped out on this beautiful 2nd class ridge to the summit of Longs Peak. Once on top, David and I celebrated an amazing September day on the summit of one of Colorado’s best 14ers.

After a bit of lunch on top, we got ready to descend the North Face rappels back to Chasm View.

After our descent we coiled our ropes and started down the Boulderfield trail back to the Longs Peak trailhead. Another amazing day in Rocky Mountain National Park. Thanks David for the great adventure in the high peaks of Colorado.

Joey Thompson

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