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Rocky Mountain National Park Highpoint - Longs Peak - 14255 ft
Summit NOT reached!!

3 Sep 2005
Back to 2005 Utah Soccer Trip

Continuing my altitude acclimatization regimen, I set out for Rocky Mountain National Park.  I was not aiming for the highpoint, just for a good look at it.  I had my alarm set for 4 am, and Mongo (a.k.a. The Ground Guy) made sure I stuck to it.  I made it to the Longs Peak trailhead around 5:15, finding 100 to 150 cars there, well overflowing the parking lots.  I drove down the road until there was a space at the side of the road.  When I parked the car and got out, it felt cool so I put on an extra layer, put on the headlamp, and headed to the trailhead.  I signed the register and started up the real trail about 5:30. 

The crowd has heading for the summit Longs Peak, the park highpoint, but I just wanted a look.  The east face of Longs is often obscured by 13281 foot Mount Lady Washington, so I aimed for the top of that.  The first part of the hike follows the normal Longs Peak trail, up to the point where the Chasm Lake trail breaks off to the left.  The sun came up about as I passed tree line, so I saw some nice morning colors on Longs and Lady Washington as I hiked up.

At the Chasm Lake / Longs Peak trail junction, I headed right towards Longs, then shortly cut left and started up the Class 2 talus face of Lady Washington.  The angle starts low but gets steeper as you approach the summit ridge.  Every once in a while, I would see signs of foot travel, but the 'trail' would only last a few feet until it disappeared at the next boulder.  At first, I headed directly towards the summit, but on the upper slopes I veered right to the ridgeline.  The ridgeline was much easier ground than the face, and soon after I topped out on the ridge, I reached the summit.

Longs Peak and Mount Lady Washington at sunrise.

Meeker, Longs and Lady Washington (left to right).

Longs and Lady Washington later in the morning.

The view from the trail junction.  Chasm Lake is to the left, the Longs Peak trail is to the right.
The route is mostly straight ahead from here.

The view from the top was as grand as advertised.  The Diamond, the east face of Longs, is spectacular from any viewpoint, but especially from this one.  After a break, I headed back down.  Instead of descending the face I had come up, I went down the other side, generally to the northwest, reaching the Longs Peak trail below the boulderfield.  This was an easier slope than the one I had ascended, for sure.  Finally, I followed the crowd back to the parking lot.  Despite the throng on Longs, while I was on Lady Washington itself, I didn't see anybody else.

Longs Peak, the park highpoint, seen from the summit of Mount Lady Washington.

The Keyhole on Longs Peak, from Lady Washington's summit.


Colorado's Fourteeners, 2nd edition.  Gerry Roach.