High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Longs Peak Project (November) -- The North Face

November 3rd—Up/down The North Face with Peter Bakwin

Car-to-car time: 7 hours 48 minutes

With the forecast on November 3rd looking perfect and everything after that in the extended forecast looking like complete shit I decided to use a sick day and try to get a November ascent early in the month. Peter and I decided to finally use The North Face as one of our routes after saving it all year.

We hoped for some decent snow conditions on the Cables section to make for a nice, easy snow climb. Unfortunately, snow conditions were quite terrible. The Cables section was slabby rock covered in a thin layer of shit ice with 1-2 feet of sugar snow on top—not exactly ideal for an easy solo. So, we decided to rope up even though we didn’t have any pro with us. We each had a harness, a personal anchor, and a belay device. I tethered my anchor around the lowest bolt while Peter climbed up a ways without pro. He eventually reached another bolt and tethered in with his anchor. I climbed up to him, continued up through the top of the Cables where I exited the slabs (crux), and tethered into the highest bolt to bring up Peter. After exiting the Cables we easily made our way up to the summit and into the sunlight. 

This would be our last descent of The North Face for the LPP, which was a great feeling. Descending this route had become a chore more than anything over the course of the year. A short descent/traverse over to the eye bolts, two quick raps, and then one last hike back to the Longs Peak Trailhead. The crap conditions on the Cables made this ascent take several hours longer than anticipated. Oh well…

Photo: Peter Bakwin

Photo: Peter Bakwin

Longs Peak Project (October) -- Keyhole

September 4th—Up/down Keyhole Route solo'ish

Car-to-car time: 8 hours 14 minutes

Pretty uneventful day on the mountain. I didn’t really feel like going hard. So, I just decided to hike up-and-down at a casual pace. When I reached the Keyhole I caught up to another hiker; a guy from Canada, I believe. Since I had no agenda I decided to just hang around with him to the summit and back to the Keyhole. This added 1-2 hours to my day, but he was good conversation and he said that if I hadn’t stuck with him that he would have turned around. So, it was a good feeling to help someone get to the top of Longs for their first time.

Conditions were a little snowy, but I was able to get up-and-down in Microspikes and an ax. I had crampons with me just in case, but didn’t really want to mess with them. When we made it back to the Keyhole we parted ways and I began to speed hike/trot back to the trailhead. 

Not a bad day on the mountain at all.