Long's Peak (14,255 ft.) via Key Hole Ridge - 5.6 grade III (Free-soloed)
August 26, 2015
5,5000 ft elevation gain
Michael and I seem to never settle for the standard routes up mountains. We decided to attempt the Keyhole Ridge route on Long's Peak to make the outing more interesting. The route (5.6) follows an exposed ridge from the Keyhole area directly to the summit, instead of skirting around the mountain as the standard keyhole route does.
We started our adventure around 5:30 am at the Long's Peak trailhead in the dark. We reached the tree line during sunrise and we reached the keyhole area by 8:30 am. By 9 am, we were on the route making our way towards the summit. We free-soloed the route but we wore our rock climbing shoes and our helmets.
We primarily stayed on the east side of the ridge, following the path of least resistance and avoiding the cold, windy western side of the ridge. Route-finding was challenging but not a problem. The exposure on this ridge is real. We both felt uncomfortable in a couple of spots, but for the most part it was all fun scrambling up Long's Peak and not slogging along with the other hikers on the standard keyhole route.
We reached the summit by 11 am. We descended the Keyhole standard route and reached the car at 2:30 pm. 9 hours round trip.
|Sunrise near tree line|
|The diamond of Long's Peak ahead|
|Diamond on the left, keyhole ridge on the right|
|Keyhole Ridge from the Boulder Field|
|Close up view of Keyhole Ridge|
|Getting started on Keyhole Ridge|
|Our first crux - 5.6 terrain on the second tower of Keyhole Ridge|
|Michael making his way up some cracks on the east side of the 2nd tower on Keyhole Ridge|
|Me on the first crux - exposed 5.6|
|Scoping that route|
|PC: Michael D|
|Michael working his way up Tower 2 on Keyhole Ridge|
|Lots of exposure|
|Steph Davis, what?|
|Looking over to the west side of the mountain. Keyhole standard route traverses below|
|Michael on top of Tower 2|
|Michael traversing on the west side of Tower 2 after a challenging downclimb. This is the only section that we were on the west side of the ridge|
|Working our way up the third and final tower on the route|
|We traversed quite a bit until we found blocky terrain that led us to the ridge crest|
|Working our way up blocky terrain to the ridge crest on the third tower|
|Michael scouting his route ahead|
|On top of the route, Michael looks down the sheer west face|
|Michael takes a rest on the summit ridge|
|The broad plateau summit of Long's Peak, looking south|
|Walking down the trail before the storms moved in|