Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day: Mount Meeker and Longs Peak via The Loft and Clark's Arrow

Denver is a nice place during Labor Day weekend - a lot of people are gone, and the rest are at Taste of Colorado - traffic is light, and (open) businesses empty.  On Sunday, it was misting in the morning, with brief gaps of sun.  It reminded me of L.A. June Gloom weather.  Great - get some work things done, keep looking for a car, and go get a coffee.  But something felt wrong.  What am I not doing?  What am I forgetting?  The answer was staring me in the face (each morning, in fact):

I had never done the Meeker/Longs traverse, and it was time.

I ended up going far too early, and found the route up to the Loft in the dark:

This meant that I had the summit of Meeker to myself, at dawn:

More photos here.

The traverse over to Longs is fairly interesting, and by 8:30 I shared the summit with five other people.  Time to call it a day, right?  Except that I had forgotten about the endless un-fun rocky descent back to the parking lot.  What a grunt.

The Keyhole Route up Longs Peak is long and I think particularly (unnecessarily?) difficult.  The Homestretch section right at the top is just about the most fun mild 3rd class climbing I've ever done (but can be dangerous).  The rest is frustrating and tedious.  The trail is in terrible shape (double-whammy of low-grade switchbacks and rocky slow going), and generally the deck seems hopelessly stacked against people trying to summit.  I met a few people who hadn't made it on the way down.  On one hand, the mountain is the mountain, and it's not supposed to be easy.  On the other, it's an acknowledged popular tourist route, and some obvious improvements could be made (a few cables/handholds, a real trail through the mud/scree on the back side of the Keyhole, a shelter at treeline for people caught out).  I would definitely climb up to the Loft and Meeker again - I probably won't go back to Longs again unless I get to do a technical route and/or someday Will-J wants to try.      

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