The East Face of Longs Peak
Photo: Tom Dunwiddie

My Favorite
Longs Peak

George Bell

Traversing Broadway in Winter
Photo: George Bell (12/21/97)

Longs Peak is located about 40 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, in Rocky Mountain National Park. At 14,255 feet, it is the northernmost "fourteener" in Colorado, the 15th highest peak in the state, and the 48th highest mountain in North America. Instead of the classic pyramidal shape, Longs is perhaps more akin to a loaf of bread. The summit area is as big as a football field.

Two things distinguish Longs from most other peaks in Colorado: first, it is composed of high quality granite (that has not been broken up into scree). Second, it is a massive and complex peak with many steep walls on all sides (the biggest and most famous being the Diamond). These two factors make for a large number of high quality climbing routes and ensure that there is no easy way to the summit. Although there is a "trail" up the peak it corkscrews around the peak in search of easy terrain, and many places near the top a misstep will plunge you off a cliff.

Richard Rossiter's book, Rock and Ice Climbing Rocky Mountain National Park lists 109 routes for Long's Peak (most, but not all summit routes), which must be a record for a Colorado Peak. In fact, it's hard to think of a mountain world-wide that might have more than 109 routes on it (real mountains, not mile wide cliff bands).

In the summer climbing the peak is extremely popular with 100 people reaching the summit on a busy weekend day, most via the trail. In the winter it is a different story as the peak is often blasted by winds of hurricane force, and there is no terrain more tedious that the boulderfields which surround the peak when covered by a couple feet of snow.

Information Sources

Past Routes

I have climbed Longs 11 times now via 10 different routes. Not that this is any kind of record, I believe Roger Briggs has climbed it several hundred times, at least 80 times via the Diamond! The all time record may be held by the guide Enos Mills, who amassed a lifetime total of 297 ascents (current ranger Jim Detterline reportedly has several hundred ascents). This is a list of my climbs (successful and not) in the area of Longs.

Future Routes

There are tons of routes on Longs!! You could easily climb it 20 times and never repeat a route. Here are some routes I hope to do over the next 10 years. Let me know if you have any beta on them (especially the Diamond routes).

- Last Update 7/2/2006 -

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