Long ago, earlier in the year, we, along with the exchangee gang Nash, Liv, Bobby and Sammy had planned to tackle a so called 14er; a mountain 14000 feet or higher above sea level. Here in Colorado there is 50 odd 14ers, some of which you can drive to the summit, some of which you can leisurely hike and some of which you cannot summit without the assistance of climbing equipment.
We selected Longs Peak as our 14er candidate which whilst requires no climbing gear is considered to be one of the most difficult Class 3 scramble 14er’s in the state. The hike to the summit presents a gruelling 16 mile (26km) round trip featuring an ascension of over 5000 feet from trail head to summit. The key hole route is most viable, particularly, during the summer months of June through early September. The most challenging section of the hike does not begin until the Boulder Field some 6 miles (10kms) into the hike which
leads up to a natural notch in the rock face referred to as the Key Hole. Beyond the Key Hole a series of narrow ledges must be negotiated, many of which skirt close to sheer 1000 foot (300m) cliffs. Following this, a painful 600 foot (183m) vertical climb up the Trough over loose rock and patchy ice leads to the most exposed section of the hike, the Narrows. From here the hiker is once more faced with narrow ledges and accompanying sheer cliff face before finally making the sharp climb up the Homestretch to the football field-sized flat summit.
In the beginning (3am) there was 6 of us and some 4 hours later when the sun finally surfaced from behind the horizon only 3 of us remained on track for reaching the summit; Nash, Kosh and myself. By 9.30am that morning we
finally summitted and modestly signed our names on the roll of honour before beginning our long and uncomfortable descent. Returning to the trail head just before 3pm signified the end of our 12 hour adventure and our desire to attempt a feat of such stupidity ever again. In saying that, reaching the summit was definitely high on the list of highlights for the year to date. I should also not discount the noble efforts of Sammy, Bobby and Nat in whom made it all the way up to the Boulder Field.
After doing it the hard way on Saturday we did it in style and without grace on Sunday in the saddle of an ATV, 6 in fact, one each. As you could probably imagine 3 hours of unsupervised ATV’in through 40 or so miles of state forest was plenty of fun not to mention dusty!