Friday, July 20, 2007

Trip Report: Keyhole Ridge

Trip Report: Keyhole Ridge, Grade III, 5.6
Longs Peak (14,255 ft), RMNP
Descent via Clark’s Arrow and the Loft
Roundtrip ~13 miles
Vert: 4,800+ feet
Climbers: Jill Salva and Kurt Traskos

Yesterday we started late for an alpine outing given the daily monsoons. We signed in at the trailhead at 3:15 am. Our hike up to the boulderfield under load was quick and easy. We passed about 12 people enroute to the Keyhole.

Neither Kurt nor I had climbed this route before, so we relied on beta from the Mountain Project web site. Most Alpine routes are committing and this one was no exception. After a series of class 2 ledges we roped up for fifth class climbing. Our first and subsequent pitches went fast. We did notice two 2-bolt anchors drilled into the east rock at the end of the first pitch.

At 8:30 am the clouds started to build. We continued to watch the weather closely and moved quickly on the terrain. Luck was on our side, the weather held. Of note on the route are the unique views of the Longs Peak towers, the west face wall and the Chiefs Head cirque.

Below is Guy Humphrey’s route description from the Mountain Project. We found it helpful.

“1.) After scrambling up the 2nd class ramp on the east side, follow low 5th class slabs and ledges to the false keyhole. (190ft)

2.) Climb the right side of the tower to the top. Belay in the sun or continue on. (5.5, 75ft)

3.) Climb down a 10ft step and traverse a ledge system on the west side of the ridge to a step. (5.2, 150ft)

4.) Climb one of the crack systems to the top of the small step, downclimb the baskside and follow ledge systems to the next notch.(5.4, 350ft)

5.) Climb slabs to the base of a large right facing dihedral. (5.2, 100ft)

6.) Follow ledge ststems on the east side, while gaining very little elevation. Cool exposure! (5.5, 180ft)

7.) Follow clean slabs up and then left to the next notch (5.2, 190ft)

8.) Climb through the notch, follow ledge systems on the west side, and find a place to belay in the talus. (5.2, 300ft)

9.) Unrope and follow the classic 3rd class ridge to the summit. (600-700ft)”

On the summit we met up with many climbers. There was much chatting and this summit crowd was the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. One guy was celebrating his 39th birthday so we all gathered around him and sang Happy B-day. After trading food and swaping some stories we were on our way down.

We chose to do a full tour of Longs, descending via the Clarks Arrow route, which skirts the Palisades. It was an awesome tour de Longs!

Click here for pics of the day

Have fun out there! Cheers, ~jilly