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Sky Pond/Longs Peak/Mount Ida Trip Report


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#1 fgrimes

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:08 PM

This report turned out longer than I expectedÖ Try not to fall asleep!

Background
Four of us traveled to RMNP earlier this month, with the sole purpose of summitting Longs Peak. Three of our group had tried Longs last August, but we turned back at the Keyhole, because the route never melted out last year. This was the first time in RMNP for the 4th guy. This was my 3rd trip to the park. Previous hikes Iíve done in the park include: Deer Mountain, Flattop/Hallet, Timberline Falls (snow prevented further progress), Chapin Trail (didnít summit any of CCY - donít ask), Longs Peak Keyhole, and Black Lake. All of us are from SE Minnesota. None of us are in fantastic shape, but we all knew what we were up against, so there was some amount of training. Personally, I walked/jogged for about 30-45 minutes every day for 2 months to prepare, as well as doing some leg lifting at the gym once a week.

I should also say that I had pretty much turned into a Longs Peak junkie over the last year and a half. Iíll bet Iíve read every trip report on Longs Peak that exists on the web. So we all knew exactly what we were getting into.

Day 1 Sky Pond / Andrews Glacier Ė August 18
We got to the Glacier Gorge trailhead a little after 7am, the parking lot was probably half full. We tried out the shortcut around Alberta Falls, which saved us about 0.8 miles each way. The shortcut wasnít a cakewalk Ė you are pretty much gaining elevation the entire path, with few breaks. The Loch was awesome, as usual. The last time I had seen Timberline falls, it was covered in snow. This year it was completely melted out of course. It was fun climbing to the top. Lake of Glass was nice, though it was super windy up there. I was almost knocked over by the wind when I was running the video camera. Soon after Lake of Glass, we ran into some rangers doing some work on the trail. Those guys are hardcore. Sky pond was nice, and a lot less windy than Lake of Glass.

Andrewís Glacier was awesome. To be honest, I guess we only really made it to Andrewís Tarn. Only 2 of us made the trek over to Andrewís, the others were saving their legs for Longs. The trail to Andrewís was pretty tough. We ran into a guy on his way down, and I thought about turning around when he pointed us to how far away it was. I guess its about 0.9 miles from where the trail splits off from the Sky Pond trail. It was super windy up there too. I could of swore I saw people at the top of Andrew's Glacier, but it turned out those were rocks :).

Except for losing the trail on the way down from Andrewís, the hike back was uneventful. We hit some sprinkles in the parking lot on the way back.

Me at the Sharkstooth: Sharkstooth

Jeremy and me at Andrew's: Andrews
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#2 fgrimes

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:12 PM

Day 2 Longs Peak Ė August 19
Set our alarms for 1:00. Compared to last year, I slept really well.

Up to Keyhole
Long long longÖ We started at 1:50am. The guy in front set a blistering pace right away- we passed quite a few people. I was worried that I was going to be out of legs by the time we reached treeline. It was a within a day of a full moon, so it was quite bright while we were hiking. After passing treeline, Iím sure we couldíve hiked without headlamps. We could see Meeker/Longs/Washington the entire time. The wind wasnít too bad most of the time, although it kicked up as we entered the Boulderfield. I think I put my windbreaker on at Chasm Junction. Somewhere along the way, we ran into a woman heading down. Apparently she had already summitted!

The wind was really kicking when we reached the keyhole Ė I would say at least 40mph. We were at the Keyhole for probably 20 minutes waiting for the sun to come up. This was the only time I really got cold. I think we left the keyhole about 6:00. I was pretty nervous about the wind, but about 5 yards into the Ledges, the wind was gone.

Ledges
A friend of mine had summitted Longs a couple weeks prior, and he thought the scariest part was on the Ledges Ė the pipes in particular. So I was a little nervous when I approached them. But it turns out it really wasnít that bad. In fact, nothing on the Ledges was too bad. Once I passed the pipes, I was pretty sure that I was going to make it to the top. There is some elevation gain and loss on the Ledges, and when we got the Trough, our GPS said we were about 150ft above the Keyhole. Beautiful views of Glacier Gorge the entire time.

Trough
The Trough is tough; donít let anyone tell you otherwise. This is where our group separated. The rookie and I got about 15-20 minutes ahead of the other two in the Trough. Like every trip report says, just find your own way to the top. I doubt one path is easier than any other. It seemed like I drifted to the right side most of the time. The chockstone at the top wasnít too bad. I went to the left. One guy in our group went to the right, and apparently had a tougher time.

Narrows
The Narrows didnít bother me at all. Itís pretty flat, with narrow spots at the beginning and the end. When it is narrow, there are really good handholds, so as long I was holding on to those, I wasnít bothered by the exposure at all. I really enjoyed the Hearse, and the great views of Wild Basin.

Homestretch
One thing that no one mentions in trip reports is the 100-150yard section between the Narrows and Homestretch. Itís kind of annoying because as soon as I was done with the Narrows, I expected to be looking at the Homestretch, but there was this section to cross first. The Homestretch itself was shorter than I expected. There was some ice here and there, but easily avoided. I was climbing on all fours most of the time. There werenít many people coming down yet.

Summit
I reached the summit right around 7:30, about two minutes after the rookie (figures, first time the guy is in the park, and heís the quickest up the mountain!). The summit really is quite large. Beautiful views all around. Itís funny talking to people up there Ė I think each one of us wound up talking with someone from near their hometown. Itís a nice environment, because everyone is so friendly. I find this to be true everywhere in the park.

One of us was able to get cell phone service on the summit Ė he has Sprint. I called and left a message for my wife letting her know we made it up ok.

All of us at the summit: Longs Summit
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#3 bpv_UW

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:17 PM

Sounds like you had a couple of great hikes. I was planning to do Sky Pond/Andrews when I was there in July, but ran out of gas after lots of hiking the previous 4 days. Planning to hit it next time. Thanks for the reports!

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#4 fgrimes

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:18 PM

The way down
I spent most of my time on my butt while going down the Homestretch. The Trough was pretty tough on my knees on the way down. There was a bit of a wait at the top of the Trough to climb down the chockstone. There were people trying to get up and people trying to get down. We wound up going to the right of the stone and worked our way down. The Narrows and Ledges were about the same difficulty whether on the way up or down, though the Narrows were very windy on the way down.

Looking down the Trough: Trough

Overall, I was nervous that going down to the Keyhole was going to be worse than going up, but I found that not to be the case. Of course the trek from the Keyhole back to the trailhead was pretty awful. Hard on the knees, and it seems to never end. The first two of us were back at the trailhead by 1:00. Not to brag, but I was pretty impressed that we made it that quickly. We had stopped on the way up for 20 mins at the Keyhole, spent probably 35-45 minutes on the summit, and spent another 50 mins in the Boulderfield waiting for the rest of our group to catch up. So we did it in about 11 hours, and could easily have done it 10.

Weather cooperated really well the entire time. Not many clouds and no rain at all. We got back to the cabin, got cleaned up, and headed over to the Brewery. I imagined lots of drinks and lots of laughs, but everyone was just too exhausted. We were there maybe an hour. Everyone slept pretty well that night .

Other Notes
I tried Gu this year for energy food. I really like that stuff, especially the vanilla bean flavor. Iíd eat that stuff at home for a snack. Iím really not sure how much it helps, but itís better than eating pop tarts or nutrigrain bars up there. I also went thru about 2 litres of water, and 40oz of Gatorade. I had brought PowerBars as well, but never tried them. Iíve never heard anyone say that PowerBars are good, so since I like the Gu so much, I just stuck with that.

I donít know why, but the altitude didnít bother me at all. Last year, I felt a little sick in the Boulderfield, but this year I felt great the entire time.

Overall, if itís not evident from the above report, the exposure wasnít nearly as bad as I thought it would be (which provokes an interesting thought Ė if I thought it was going to be bad, why would I set out to do such a thing?). Thatís not to say it was easy Ė it certainly wasnít. But with all the trip reports that detail scary exposure past the Keyhole, I think I had prepared myself for something more than it turned out to be.
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#5 fgrimes

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:22 PM

Day 3 Mount Ida Ė August 20
We were all up by 8:00 the morning after doing Longs. Really, we werenít planning on doing anything all day. But all of us felt pretty decent, so we decided to hit Mount Ida. We didnít get on the trail until about 9:15, which is way later than I wanted to start. Donít let the trailhead sign fool you Ė the sign says 4 miles to Mount Ida. Itís much closer to 5.

The first mile or so is actually pretty challenging. There are some pretty steep sections. The next 3 miles are pretty nice. There are a few steep spots, but most of the time itís a nice gradual incline. The last mile involves lost of boulder hopping, and finding/losing/finding the trail. Actually, I donít know that there is a real trail up there. Every time I thought I had found a trail, it disappeared on 10 yards later. There are very few cairns up there.

The views from the summit are nice. The Gorge lakes are cool, and there are nice views of Longs Peak as well. We hung out on the summit for quite a while.

The hike back was pretty uneventful until near the end. The clouds were really coming in, but it never did rain on us. On the way back, we saw some mountain goats, probably about 15 yards away from us. Also, back below treeline, I turned a corner and found myself staring a quite a large elk. We sat and watched him eat for probably 10 minutes. Iím not sure if I should feel threatened by an elkÖ Probably not, but it was pretty big, so it was pretty unnerving walking by him.

Ida Summit: Ida Summit
Gorge Lakes: Gorge Lakes
Elk:Elk

Well I guess that about wraps up the trip. Hope you enjoyed the report as much as we enjoyed the trip!

BTW I really enjoy this site. Iíve gotten a lot of useful information from you guys, and I really appreciate it.
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#6 bpv_UW

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:32 PM

Sorry for posting in the middle of your report, fgrimes. Once again, thanks for sharing, it was great to read about your hikes.

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#7 fgrimes

 
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Posted 28 August 2005 - 10:36 PM

QUOTE (bpv_UW @ Aug 28 2005, 11:32 PM)
Sorry for posting in the middle of your report, fgrimes.  Once again, thanks for sharing, it was great to read about your hikes.

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No problem. Glad to hear someone is reading them!
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#8 clickhiker

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 12:33 AM

Great reports! Hey, where are you from?

Seeing the shot of Sharkstooth up close brought back memories from Summer 1973 when I climbed it. I think it took five full two-rope raps to get off. Much quicker than the ascent!

The guy on the summit of Longs far right reminded me of Lance Armstrong in photos I've seen. I'll bet he could do Longs before sunrise!

One minor correction. I think those were probably Bighorn Sheep and not Mountain Goats you saw on Ida. The Elk might eyeball you, but little else. He is more interested in grass right now than you. If you ran into him in a few weeks, the story might change however. Hormones can be a b*tch! The Rut is just around the corner, and he might then think you were after his girlfriends and not take kindly to it.
caribou.gif pileon.gif
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#9 Aaron

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 05:37 AM

Thanks for posting your report! Thanks for the pics too! Looks like you guys had a lot of fun yup.gif

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#10 chipper

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 06:23 AM

QUOTE (fgrimes @ Aug 28 2005, 11:22 PM)
Donít let the trailhead sign fool you Ė the sign says 4 miles to Mount Ida.  Itís much closer to 5.



Another victim falls prey to the great lie that is distance measurement in Colorado!!!!!

Edited by Aaron, 29 August 2005 - 06:24 AM.

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#11 Dolenz

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 06:26 AM

Thanks for the reports!

Seems to be the Summer to summit Longs.

I wish I was going to one of those that got it done this year. Hopefully it will happen in the next year or two.
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#12 druwdowns

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 06:31 AM

Great report! You made really good time.

I like the Mt. Ida Gorge lakes picture.

Congrats on a nice trip!

~Druw~
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#13 fgrimes

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 07:16 AM

QUOTE (clickhiker @ Aug 29 2005, 01:33 AM)
Great reports! Hey, where are you from?

Seeing the shot of Sharkstooth up close brought back memories from Summer 1973 when I climbed it. I think it took five full two-rope raps to get off. Much quicker than the ascent!

The guy on the summit of Longs far right reminded me of Lance Armstrong in photos I've seen. I'll bet he could do Longs before sunrise!

One minor correction. I think those were probably Bighorn Sheep and not Mountain Goats you saw on Ida. The Elk might eyeball you, but little else. He is more interested in grass right now than you. If you ran into him in a few weeks, the story might change however. Hormones can be a b*tch! The Rut is just around the corner, and he might then think you were after his girlfriends and not take kindly to it.
caribou.gif  pileon.gif


We are all from Rochester, MN. Though originally I am from West MI.

Bighorn sheep... Yeah maybe, I really don't know. I expected bigger horns, but perhaps these were young ones.
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#14 weatherbe

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 07:30 AM

Great report!!! Not boring at all!! I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

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#15 junkie

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 08:48 AM

Great report. Glad to know we weren't the only ones who lost the trail coming down from Andrews. Now I know its hard to find if you came up and then went back down and still lost it!

I can't believe how much the glacier has melted out in 3 weeks since we were there.

Congrats on making Longs.
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#16 bpv_UW

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 02:01 PM

QUOTE (fgrimes @ Aug 29 2005, 08:16 AM)
We are all from Rochester, MN.  Though originally I am from West MI.



You're kidding! That's where I'm from as well. How long have you been in Rochester?

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#17 fgrimes

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 07:06 PM

QUOTE (new rmnp junkie @ Aug 29 2005, 09:48 AM)
Great report.  Glad to know we weren't the only ones who lost the trail coming down from Andrews.    Now I know its hard to find if you came up and then went back down and still lost it!

I can't believe how much the glacier has melted out in 3 weeks since we were there.

Congrats on making Longs.


Got any pics of Andrew's from 3 weeks ago?
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#18 fgrimes

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 07:07 PM

QUOTE (bpv_UW @ Aug 29 2005, 03:01 PM)
You're kidding!  That's where I'm from as well.  How long have you been in Rochester?

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I've been in Rochester about 6 years.

Are you IBM or Mayo? :)
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#19 bpv_UW

 
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Posted 29 August 2005 - 11:52 PM

QUOTE (fgrimes @ Aug 29 2005, 08:07 PM)
Are you IBM or Mayo? :)


Haha...I'm a first-year med student at Mayo. I actually grew up in Rochester as well, but have been in Madison, WI for the last 5 years (during most of which I was in college). I am a product of the stereotypical Rochester family, though...Mom at Mayo and Dad at IBM. Are you at one of the "Big 2"?

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#20 junkie

 
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Posted 30 August 2005 - 07:55 AM

fgrimes -

here is a link to my trip report with the pic... now that I compare them, it doesn't look as different as I thought - although the ice is creeping in from the right.

Chris

http://www.rmnpforums.com/forums/index.php...opic=1960&st=15
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