Fast Times on Longs Peak

I would have posted this sooner, but things have been busy. I’ve also been dealing with the loss of a friend, who died while skiing alone in RMNP this past weekend.

Last Friday night, I went to bed extremely early, planning to get up around 11pm. Instead, I was up at 9pm, unable to sleep any longer. I was getting ready for my annual Longs hike, with a much larger group than normal this time – Nate, Matt, Hans, Ryan, Alan, and myself. We all met up and drove to the trailhead, getting started on the hike shortly after 1:30am.

It was incredibly foggy down low, and the six of us had red headlamps, making for a fairly creepy train of hikers in the night. After our break at the bottom of the Boulder Field, we essentially broke in to two groups, the lead group being Nate, Matt, and myself. I started to slow in the Trough, while Nate and Matt, well-recovered but still trained from their race in May, powered on ahead. The four of us (I ran in to a guy named Caleb and we hiked up the rest of the way together) topped out about 5:30am, a good 15 minutes before sunrise.

It really was beautiful up there – moreso than usual, due to the undercast.

I left my DSLR at home, thinking that I’ve done this hike so many times that there aren’t any new photos I’d want to take. I was mistaken, thanks to the weather. Even so, I’m satisfied with the results.

This is Caleb in the distance, setting up to take a shot.

Nate and Matt took their standard summit pose.

And the “Scenic Places to Go” series continues, this time featuring Nate.

We made good time back down to the Keyhole, after an hour on the summit.

This was actually the second time I’ve seen these conditions. Back when I did Meeker and Longs together, this same cloud wall was in the same place.

The three of us ended up at the bottom, done in 8:15 round trip, including a long summit break and a slow descent, far faster than I’d ever considered reasonable. I was unfortunately unable to wait for the other guys to get down and then hit the Dark Horse, as I had to rush back to Denver to pick up my packet for the next day’s New Belgium Urban Assault Ride, which you can read about on Lauren’s blog.

I’m considering going for an all-out speed attempt (probably next year) to see what I can turn out. With shorter breaks and a little more hussle, I should be able to get under 6:30 without too much trouble.

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