Overview:

There is only one 14,000 ft. Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park and it is Longs Peak. Being the stand-alone 14,000 ft peak in “The Park”, Longs Peak draws in large crowds on a year-round basis. But, these crowds can be dispersed among the variety of hiking and climbing routes that Longs Peak provides.

Longs Peak has more routes than any other mountain in the country – over 120, from exposed scrambles to cutting-edge difficulty, and pure rock to ice and mixed climbs. The  Longs Peak 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. Its largest aspect, the intimidating East Face or “The Diamond”, rises 1,700 vertical feet from the Mills Glacier to its summit.

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.

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.

Climb Longs Peak with a Professional Mountain Guide

Take comfort in having an experienced mountain guide show you the way. Colorado Mountain School 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.

Colorado Mountain School has been guiding in Rocky Mountain National Park since 1981. Whether you’re interested in hiking The Keyhole or climbing Kieners, Summer or Winter, our guides have experience on 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.

Sample Itinerary:

IN-A-DAY

Hit the trailhead around 1am and hike up to Chasm Junction. Depending on the chosen route, we’ll head toward either Lamb’s Slide or The Keyhole. We’ll be ready to tackle any technical sections after sunrise with the hopes of summiting and descending before any afternoon thunderstorms have moved in.

WITH OVERNIGHT

Day 1: Plan for a multi-day alpine climbing outing. Hike up Longs Peak to The Boulderfield or  bivy site (6+ miles). We’ll pitch camp, eat dinner and prepare for the next day’s climb.
Day 2: Alpine start to climb Longs Peak. After the climb, we’ll head back to the trailhead.

Meeting location:

Colorado Mountain School
341 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517

Details:

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.

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 an

Lodging:

Estes Park Adventure Hostel is upstairs from the Colorado Mountain School office and is open to the public. It is located in downtown Estes Park with a full kitchen, WiFi and hot showers – see availability.

Prerequisites:

Ability to hike 14 miles at altitude with a pack. Additional experience required for technical routes.

Time:

1:00am - 4:00pm

Duration:

1 or 2 Days

Maximum Ratio:

3:1

Minimum Age:

Please call to register participants under age 18.

Includes:

  • Trained and/or certified guide
  • Group climbing gear
    • Technical hardware – climbing protection, carabiners,etc
    • Ropes
    • Technical softgoods – slings, cordellette, etc
  • Personal climbing gear
    • Harness
    • Helmet
    • Rock shoes
  • Group camping gear
    • Bivy sack
    • Water filtration
    • Cook stove

Excludes:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Clothing, backpack and non-technical personal items
  • Park Entrance Fees (where applicable)
  • Rescue Insurance
  • Trip Insurance
  • Gratuity
  • Expenses due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Colorado Mountain School
Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
Backpack: 18-25 liter

This small pack is carries one’s approach shoes, water, food, extra layers, and toilet kit on the route. This pack should close completely so that no items can fall out.

1

CAMP M2 20L

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Backpack: 35-50 liter

Packs smaller than this tend not to be able to carry the necessary amount of equipment and clothing. Large backpacking packs are acceptable, depending on the climb.

1

CAMP M4 40L

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Beanie or Fleece Hat

Should cover the ears and fit under a helmet. Hats with fluff balls on top do not fit under helmets.

1

Rab Logo Beanie

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Belay and Rappel Device

Plaquette style devices with auto-block mode are ideal.

1

CAMP Piu 2

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Belay Gloves

Leather gloves, either full fingered or fingerless. These protect your hands from rope wear when belaying or rappelling and keep your hands warm at belays.

1

CAMP Axion

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Bivy Sack

Bivy sacks are required are required for all overnight bivys.

1

Rab Ascent Bivy

Rab

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Bowl, mug, fork, and spoon

Personal utensils

1

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Chalk Bag

Holds climbing chalk, which is usually made from Magnesium Carbonate. This is the same compound that gymnasts, weightlifters, and other athletes will put on their hands in order to improve friction and grip.

1

CAMP Patabang

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Climbing Harness

UIAA or CE approved; With belay loop and gear loops. The waist belt should fit over multiple layers of clothing.

1

CAMP Laser CR

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Double-length Sewn Runner

48" or 120cm. Used for rappelling, making leashes, and improvised rescue.

1-2

CAMP 11mm Express Dyneema

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Food

Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.

1

Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Headlamp

Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a "wicking" layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.

2

Men: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve
Women: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve

Rab Store

Clothing
Lightweight Gloves

Synthetic; Thin gloves used when hiking the early morning approach. Belay gloves can suffice if full-fingered.

1

RAB Power Stretch Pro

Rab Store

Clothing
Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.

1

Men: Rab Merino 160 Hoody
Women: Rab Flux Pull-On

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Midweight Softshell Glove

This is the workhorse glove and is most often worn on warmer days when mountaineering. Softshell gloves are water-resistant and durable. They often have leather palms and fingers.

1

RAB Guide

Rab Store

Clothing
Neck Gaiter

"Buffs" are quite versatile in their uses. They can be used as light beanies, neck warmers, and can offer face protection from the cold wind or sun.

1

CMS Neck Gaiter

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Non-locking Carabiners

Most climbers prefer wire-gated carabiners due to their light weight and low bulk, among other useful characteristics.

2-3

CAMP Nano 22

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Rock Climbing Helmet

UIAA/CE approved; Should be large enough to fit over a beanie. Plastic helmets are more durable, but heavier. Foam helmets are lighter, but more easily damaged when carried in a pack.

1

CAMP Titan

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Rock Climbing Shoes

Technical rock shoes are required. For beginning climbers, having a looser fit is advisable. In this case, loose means that toes are touching the front of the shoes when standing, but are not forced against the front of the shoe. In colder weather, thin socks inside climbing shoes are a great option. On long routes, rock shoes should be comfortable enough to wear for day.

1

La Sportiva TC Pro

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sleeping Bag (10° to 35°)

Down or synthetic sleeping bag is acceptible.

1

Rab Ignition 5

Rab Store

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Sleeping pad

Insulated air mattresses or foam are ideal. Uninsulated air mattresses are not recommended.

1

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Smartphone

Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps - keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Softshell and Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it "breaths," which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.

1

Men: Rab Alpha Direct
Women: Rab Alpha Direct

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Softshell Pants

Softshell material is stretchy, wind-proof, water-resistant, and resists abrasion. Mid-weight is recommended and light-weight pants can work for warm days. Typical thin, nylon "hiking pants" are generally not tough enough.

1

Men: Rab Vapour Rise
Women: Rab Upslope

Rab Store

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the sun at bay during the approach and descent.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sunglasses

"Wrap-Around" style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.

1

Julbo Shield

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Synthetic or Down Puffy Jacket

Fits over all other layers and is worn at breaks and on really cold days. Synthetic puffies are more durable, are easily laundered, and dry out quickly if wet. Down puffies are lighter weight, pack smaller, and provide exceptional warmth, but once wet, they stay wet.

1

Men: Rab Zero G
Women: Rab Electron

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Synthetic or Merino Wool Socks

Wool and synthetic blends are great for long days on the trail. "Ski" and "Snowboard" socks are especially useful when warmth is desired.

2

Point 6 Hiking Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Trekking Poles

Adjustable and without powder basket.

1-2

CAMP Backcountry

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Optional
Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.

2

Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Water Purification Tablets

Iodine or Chlorine-based treatments; To keep packs light in the summer during early morning approaches, your guide may suggest only carrying a liter or two of water, with the plan to refill during the day at a stream.

6 tabs/day

Aquamira, Potable Aqua

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.

1

Men: RAB Latok
Women: RAB Women's Ladakh DV Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing

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