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  1. #1
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    Longs Peak via Keplinger's Couloir 4-27-2008

    Longs Peak was the first 14er that I hiked with my brother, climb2ski, way back in 1998. With our lungs still filled with salt air, fresh from Rhode Island, we hiked the standard Keyhole route and needless to say we were blown away. Over the past 10 years we've spent some time climbing different routes on this peak: Kiener's Route, Stettner's Ledges, Alexander's Chimney, and the North Face. Every time I looked at that list I felt two gnawing chasms, the Diamond and a summit ski descent. We'll save the Diamond for later, today we'll focus on a summit ski descent.

    Deciding on what route to attempt was actually pretty easy, I've wanted to explore the south side of the mountain after getting a good glimpse on a tour up St. Vrain Mountain several years ago, and new ground always refreshes the soul. This route is actually one of the easiest routes up Longs, it is the same route of the first documented ascent in 1868, but it's long on miles and vertical, at 16 miles 6,000 feet round trip.

    After talking with climb2ski for a while, we picked a day and decided to attempt to climb and ski this route in a one day all out blitz. I picked up my brother in Littleton and we drove up to the Wild Basin Trailhead, arriving at 1:30am the ubiquitous time shot needed to be taken.


    After packing up we hit the trail, starting around 8,300 feet we hiked for about 1.5 miles before we reached snowline around 9,200 feet. Here climb2ski enjoys a brisk morning walk with the moon looking on.


    The darkness of the early morning hours has a strange way of disturbing my mind.


    A semblance of a trail winds its way up the valley, after switching over to skins, the trail disappeared and the bushwhack up into the alpine zone began in full earnest. The early morning light revealed a glimpse of the route to come, cold and cloaked in snow, my spirit was renewed.


    climb2ski found a beautiful snow shelter, with no signs of tauntauns(thanks FigureEleven) we decided to take a break after 5 hours of hiking.


    With the first 5 miles and 2,000 feet behind us, refreshed from some morning coffee, we walked some more. From the break cave it's about 3.5 miles and 2,000 feet to the base of the couloir, sublime views are included in your park pass.


    The Keplinger Couloir almost in full view.


    Higher and higher with every step, the sun's rim now well above the horizon.


    7 hours, 7.5 miles, and 4,000 feet into the day our skis begged for a break, we found a snow slope to water them and dined on sweet honey and peanut butter sandwiches.


    We traded in our skins for crampons, our fear for perseverance, and began phase 3 of the day, a 1600 foot snow 40 degree snow climb up to Notch on Longs at 9am. Let's get this done.



    climb2ski starts to make his way up the lower slopes, smiling and enjoying the perfect day.


    Majestic views of the Indian Peaks unfolded to the south as we made steady but slow progress up the couloir. The snow in the couloir was a mixed bag of conditions and somewhat laborious to climb, but stability was good and temperatures were cold.


    A rare view of Ireallyliketoski trailing climb2ski on the ascent.


    It took us about 3 hours to climb up to the notch and we were worked by this point, still 600 feet below the summit, we decided to take another break and recharge the batteries. climb2ski had a delicious chicken sandwich, I had 2 clif shots with caffeine, a starbucks doubleshot, and some caffeinated gum. I felt great so I started breaking trail across the ledge traverse, traversing across some pretty steep and deep snow.


    climb2ski starting on the ledge traverse.


    The ledge traverse eventually meets up with the Homestretch, a series of 3rd class slabs that are part of the standard Keyhole route. To say that I was overjoyed to see these slopes cloaked in so much snow would be an accurate assessment. To say that climb2ski was feeling worked at this point would be accurate as well.


    Perseverance, don't climb Longs without it.


    At 2pm, 12 hours, 8 miles, and 6,000 feet after setting out the summit of Longs was finally ours. 10 years earlier we shared this summit with hundreds of other hikers, today it was ours alone. Did someone say stoked?


    Alright let's get this skiing thing done. The snow was great, our legs were renewed and we dropped into the Homestretch. Here's climb2ski at the top of the snow covered slabs, with the summit just a few feet above him.


    At some point you have to get off the Homestretch and onto the traverse ledge, climbing the route first definitely helped as the route finding wasn't totally obvious.


    climb2ski likes the snow deep and he was most pleased.


    The upper section of the couloir was still well frozen and also the most technical part of the descent. Fortunately both climb2ski and I can side slip with the best of them.


    The snow in the bottom 2/3 of the couloir was simply amazing, climb2ski finally convinced it was all worth it.


    Down, down, down...


    Ready, set, schralp...


    climb2ski makes beautiful turns.


    When it gets steep, he just points them.


    We made it to the bottom of the couloir and took another break around 12,000 feet. Still a long way from the trailhead we started the long ski back to the car around 4pm. Where is everyone?


    We followed a lone set of tracks through some trees, quickly lost our general path of ascent, and soon found ourselves in some thick trees.


    Trending more towards the river bed for the descent we eventually rejoined the trail on dry ground, taking much longer than I had anticipated. All that was left now was a 1.5 mile walk back to the car, 17 hours later...

    Oh dream of joy,
    Is that my car I see?
    Is that a cooler with a beer?
    Is this mine own country?
    Last edited by Ireallyliketoski; 04-30-2008 at 08:54 AM.

  2. #2
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    Nov 2004
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    Hell yeah, that is a slog. Nice one guys!

  3. #3
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    Apr 2008
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    GWS, CO
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    396
    Really cool TR...props for busting out such a long day

  4. #4
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    Feb 2004
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    Snowmasspen
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    Good stuff... and they are tauntauns BTW.



    They are handy if you forget your sleeping bag while visiting Hoth.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Eagle County
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    wow, mags just gettin it done lately. One hell of a day trip. Nice job.
    ROLL TIDE ROLL

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Boulder
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    Wow, that looks MUCH better than I've heard it described.

    And thats a fucking slog of a day, nice work.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    My armchair
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    4,574
    fuck yes!!! i love it!!! your tr just took the place of the rmnp tr in my soul way to get 'er done boys i thought i was looking in the mirror for a milla-second when i saw i-climb-toskis gear then i saw his face

    still, way to get 'er done and excellente tr; i absolutely love that shot below the huge, gigander, shear rock face; it = $$$$$$$; how do you say money, money, money ???
    "... she'll never need a doctor; 'cause I check her out all day"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Wenatchee, WA
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    748
    Wow, that looks like a lot of effort but you got your rewards. Nice job!
    "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible" -Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Denver
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    love the teener stoke...
    We hold daggers in the side of the Moon...

  10. #10
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    Dec 2003
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    funland
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    cb, co
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    Awesome TR, and a HUGE thanks for the beta I've been looking for.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Alco-Hall of Fame
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    3,098
    big day for rad TRs today!

    Which is to say: yours included goddamn.
    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  13. #13
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    Mar 2006
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    Chamonix/Franconia, NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ireallyliketoski View Post
    When it gets steep, he just points them.
    This is what it is all about!

    Way to slog for turns! Great TR!

  14. #14
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    Apr 2008
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    Raleigh
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    Looks pretty fine! That's a loooong day pardner. I'd be sleepin' with the Tauntauns.
    Pic #22...Can't figure out how you access the upper section of the couloir? Does the pic hide the traverse line in?

  15. #15
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    Nov 2007
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    Syracuse, NY
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    Ver' niiiice!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jm2e View Post
    Looks pretty fine! That's a loooong day pardner. I'd be sleepin' with the Tauntauns.
    Pic #22...Can't figure out how you access the upper section of the couloir? Does the pic hide the traverse line in?


    It is hidden, the traverse was about a foot wide and 30 feet long, climb2ski did a sweet move where he pointed it across the traverse then bounced his tips off the rocks to check his speed. Very technical.

  17. #17
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    I always thought line looked interesting. Nice work.

  18. #18
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    sandy, ut
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    sick work... long day but looked fun

  19. #19
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    Oct 2006
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    The "Right" Coast...
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    Very cool, congrats on a good one!

  20. #20
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    Nov 2004
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    People's Republic of Shitshow
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    Nice TR man, but I don't think time of day has anything to do with how disturbed you are.

  21. #21
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    Sep 2005
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    PRB
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    sweet! I can safely say that I have no interest in doing that.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    the most beautiful place in the whole wide world
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    this time of year kicks major ass. Ski mountaineering stoke off the scale every day on the board!!! thank you.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Just outside the bubble
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    FKNA, I really need to get out! Great TR!
    Have fun or get hurt bad. "MFT" A.K.A. Dr. Doom

    There are but three true sports--bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor-racing. The rest are merely games. "Ernest Hemingway"

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Denver
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    climb2ski's 2 cents

    irl2ski - gets to the top of something that has been on his mind for a long time.



    he loves to hug the summit block - I said it was not a true summit ski decent because he did not huck the block to the rocky landing.



    irl2ski taking his first turn off the top



    turns under large rocks



    lastly - irl2ski making perfect turns on the flats

    Last edited by climb2ski; 04-30-2008 at 03:09 PM.
    We hold daggers in the side of the Moon...

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Where the Butte is Crested
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    That's a long ass day! I guess they call it Long's for a reason Way to persevere though! How was it bushwhacking up from Wild Basin? Annoying? Was the snow supportive?

    Thanks for the stoke and a nice TR
    -
    14erskiers.com

    "Don't be afraid of the spaces between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." - Belva Davis

    "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle"--Albert Einstein

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