• Longs Peak Cirque Ice Climbing – 11.5.12

    Alpine climbing at its finest.  High elevation, wind, little sun, cold temperatures, it all combines to make an epic day on the mountain.  My first day out this season was up to the high alpine of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Longs Peak Cirque.  We started at the Longs Peak Trailhead parking lot at 6:20 am and didn’t return until about 4:30 that afternoon.  The hike was a pretty grueling 4.5 miles up above treeline and into the cirque that is formed by Mount Meeker, Mount Lady Washington and Longs Peak.  I had never been up to Longs Peak and so I did not know what the area was like.  Much of the time I felt like I was heading into an area from Lord of the Rings because of the vast expanses of high alpine tundra and once we turned the corner to enter the cirque I was impressed by the sheer size of Longs Peak and the surrounding mountains.  I went up there to climb The Flying Dutchman with my friend Mike, but after seeing the lack of snow for the walk off we decided to climb some of the shorter and less committing routes in the area.  The hike was strenuous, but the views were amazing and the climbing was incredible.

    I was excited to get out for my first day of the season for a couple reasons.  First is I love ice climbing.  I think it is so exciting to hike into the middle of nowhere, find a beautiful frozen strip of water and hack away at it for a few hours.  The serenity is renewing and being out in the alpine winter with a climbing buddy is exhilarating.  The second reason is that I LOVE outdoor gear.  I cannot get enough of it.  I work in the outdoor industry and I still fawn over gear guides for climbing, biking, snowboarding and hiking every year.  I was really excited to hike into the Longs Peak Cirque because I have recently gotten a couple new pieces of gear (backpack and gloves) and those gear reviews should be published soon.  We first hiked all the way up to Chasm Lake to get a good view of The Flying Dutchman.  After seeing the lack of snow for the approach and the walk off we decided to hit some of the shorter flows below Chasm Lake and bordering Peacock Pool.  The day definitely turned into a ice cragging day, but it was great to get to a part of the Park I had never been to before.  We climbed a pretty simple WI2 M3 (I think) with some meandering broken cracks, a little running water and good plastic ice up high.  We also climbed an amazing smear on the southwest shore of Peacock Pool.  Check out the photos below of the Cirque and the two climbs we did.


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    I also have a My Tracks of the day for the hike into Longs Peak Cirque.  Check it out as it is pretty darn accurate and you can see exactly what the elevation change, terrain and time lapse for this type of hike is.  I think this is a very cool piece of technology to use when hiking into a new place or just wanting to document terrain and time while hiking.  It is really amazing because it just overlays onto Google Maps and is online in my Google Profile.  Very cool.

    Bryan Vernetson

    Originally from Florida, Bryan used to climb all over the Southeast. Since 2006 he has called Fort Collins, CO home and works in the outdoor industry. He rock/ice climbs, boulders, mountain bikes, skis, snowboards, and generally lives the dream out on the Frontrange of Colorado.

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Discussion 3 Responses

  1. November 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Bryan, I just did the keyhole “route” this summer and that place is amazing–it is like hiking into another world. I got engaged on top of the mountain, which is probably totally cliche for people from CO, but seemed cool from a southern dude’s perspective. I never even thought about ice climbing there–thanks for the post and cool pics. 

  2. November 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Very cool Matt.  Getting engaged on top of Longs is memorable either way.  I am from the south originally and completely appreciate it.  Ice climbing is great and if you are ever out this way in the winter give me a shout and we’ll get out.

  3. May 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking have been confirmed in studies.::;’

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    Be well

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