Sunday, August 30, 2015

Long's Peak via Keyhole Ridge

Long's Peak (14,255 ft.) via Key Hole Ridge - 5.6 grade III (Free-soloed)

August 26, 2015

14 miles
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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Evans and Bierstadt - Tour de'Abyss

Mt. Bierstadt (14,065 ft.)
Mt. Evans (14,265 ft.)

August 25, 2015

Tour de Abyss Loop (Class 3)
5.72 miles
3,377 ft. elevation gain

This route seemed to be the most interesting way to get both peaks in one go. I parked my car at a small pullout at the bottom of the steep switchbacks in the road up to Mt. Evans (see map for starting point). I dropped down into the Abyss Basin and began the loop starting up the East Ridge of Mt. Bierstadt (class 3). I followed the ridge around the entire basin until I reached Mt. Evans and then dropped back down to my car. A fun, quick outing that involved summiting 2 more 14er's.

Sunrise through the inverted smoky haze
Rocks in the Abyss Basin
Sunrise on the Sawtooth
East Ridge of Mt. Bierstadt
Looking down East Ridge from Bierstadt summit ridge
Gray's and Torrey's out there
Shadows of the Sawtooth ridge
Goats on the ridge
Panorama of Bierstadt and Abyss Lake below
A nice view of the parking lot near the summit of Mt. Evans
Bighorn Sheep

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Shoshoni Peak, Colorado

Shoshoni Peak (12,967 ft.) via East Ridge (Class 3)
Indian Peaks Wilderness

A fun weekend in Boulder ended with a fun hike into a mountain range I've never seen - the Indian Peaks. We started this hike on a Sunday morning at 6:30 am. We were one of a couple cars in the parking lot, which was a nice change from my other experiences at trailheads in Colorado. We followed the trail towards Lake Isabelle and Pawnee Pass until we could see a more direct line up the East Ridge. Some minor scrambling up the ridge brought us to the summit in a couple hours. We then followed the trail back to the trail head. 4.5 hours round trip.

9 miles
2,800 ft.

"Lake" Isabelle and Indian Peaks Wilderness
Shoshoni Peak and the east ridge
High on the ridge - Lake Isabelle below 
Isabelle Glacier slowly eroding away Apache Peak - view from Shoshoni summit
Woman meets marmot 
Yellow-bellied marmot be hungry
Hiking out 
Two moose and their calf across the valey

Monday, August 17, 2015

Humboldt - Kit Carson - Challenger Traverse

August 16, 2015

Humboldt Peak - 14,064 ft.
Point 13,290 - 13,290 ft.
Kitty Kat Carson Peak - 13,980 ft.
Kit Carson Peak - 14,165 ft.
Challenger Point - 14,081 ft.

14.8 miles rountrip
5 peaks - three 14er's, two13er's
7,916 ft elevation gain

With the intention of doing the entire Crestone Group in one day, Saturday didn't feel like a huge accomplishment - even though it was a long and fairly successful day. We started at the South Colony Lakes trailhead (9,900 ft.) around 3:40 am and finished 13 hours later, having only climbed 3 of our goal of five 14er's for the day.

We started with Humboldt Peak, which we reached around 6:30 am, and had terrific view of the range during sunrise. We made our way down and across the ridge towards 'Bears Playground' and the Kit Carson summits, but we both slowed down considerably - we straight bonked. We both hit a wall and we moved slowly the rest of the day. We climbed up and over Point 13,290, hiked across the high plateau of 'Bear's Playground' and traversed up and over towards Kitty Kat Carson following cairns the entire way. After summiting Kitty Kat Carson and descending a nasty 3rd class gully, we slowly traversed across the walkway that leads to Challenger Point (intentionally left Kit Carson Peak for the return) and climbed up the short class 2 terrain to the summit. It was already 11 am and we knew we had no shot at getting Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.

We took a much more direct route up Kit Carson Peak via low 5th class terrain on the south wall. We climbed up directly from 'the avenue' that traverses around the south face and onto the east ridge. 4th class terrain at the bottom transitioned to low 5th class and some mid-5th class climbing, all very exposed. It definitely woke us up and made the trip a bit more exciting.

From the summit of Kit Carson we made our way back to the "Bear's Playground' and picked our way down a loose and steep gully into the Colony Lakes basin and back to the trail. We reached the trailhead around 4:30 pm - exactly 13 hours later.

14.8 miles rountrip
7,916 ft elevation gain

Pre-game meal
Sunrise on Crestone Needle - taken from the flanks of Humboldt Peak 
This is what sleep-deprivation at altitude looks like
Panorama - Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak
Sunrise to the east from Humboldt
Chilly and windy ascent of Humboldt
Off route on the north side of Humboldt
Where my pants at?
Still off route
Sunrise summit shot 
Sunrise shadow shot 
Making our way across and over Point 13,290 
'Bear's Playground' - The only flat and non-rocky ground we found all day 
Looking down the ridge on our way up Kitty Kat Carson
Walking across the Avenue on Kit Carson - Kitty Kat Carson summit in the background, Challenger Point ahead
After summiting Challenger Point, we made our way back towards Kit Carson and decided to take a more direct route up 
We didn't anticipate that it would be this direct  
Re-tracing our path towards 'Bears Playground'
Afternoon storms moving in; us moving out
Giving our feet a rest despite the imminent storms 
Our emergency escape exit 
Down climb steep, loose gully or potentially get struck by lightning? 

Back to the valley before the rain started
Good stride by Schlife
Upper South Colony Lake, Humboldt Peak, drizzles
Lower South Colony Lake, helmet, drizzles 
Lightning, flowers, drizzle