Longs Peak is one of the best-known fourteeners in Colorado. This massive mountain can be identified by its enormous flat summit and its sheer vertical east-facing wall, the Diamond, which drops 2000 vertical feet to Chasm Lake at the bottom.
The Keyhole Route, the 3rd-class standard route up Longs, is perhaps the most popular fourteener route in the state. A six-mile trail leads to the Boulderfield, which you cross to get to the Keyhole. The route then passes across the Ledges, up the Trough, along the Narrows and then up the final rock slab, called the Homestretch. Hikers start their seven-mile trip to the summit in the wee hours of the morning to make the summit before thunderheads arrive in the early afternoon.
Aaron, Matt and I went to bed right after work on Friday, waking up at midnight and hitting the trail at 2. Josh and Pat, more athletic and encumbered by less camera gear, started hiking at 4. Pat caught up with me just as I was embarking up the Homestretch.
The camera didn't get much use on this trip, due to weather. We were swallowed by a cloud upon reaching the Keyhole at 5, but pressed onward in hopes that it would lift. It didn't, and once making the summit at 10 we found ourselves in a gradually intensifying rainstorm (there was no wind or lightning). The trip down was wet, cold, and not a lot of fun.
Eventually we made it back to Boulder, where it continued raining for the rest of the weekend. I spent most of that time asleep.
Longs was the fifth and final 14,000ft peak I climbed in 2006.