- Photo by: Guide Colin Wann
The Crown Jewel of Rocky Mountain NP, Longs Peak is one of the most coveted summits in the West. At 14,259 feet above sea level and over 7 miles from the trailhead, this summit will make you earn your views. Sometimes attempted in a single day, Longs is more commonly climbed as an overnight.
The most popular route is The Keyhole, an exposed but non-technical passage that spirals around the mountain. Another option, the Cables Route rises directly from The Boulderfield campground. This historic route involves a few technical pitches and offers the most direct line to the summit.
In the 1900s, mountaineers rode horses to The Boulderfield and climbed The North Face with the help from a large steel cable attached to the rock by eye-bolts. These days, climbers hike from the Longs Peak trailhead at 9,500′ themselves, often stopping to camp in The Boulderfield. From there, they wander up talus to the crux of the route — a thirty-meter 5.4 slab often wet or icy. After completing the technical climbing, the route traverses up and left as it tiptoes above The Diamond to the summit. This is a superb introduction to high-altitude mountaineering, with a wide variety of terrain and skill sets to learn.
If attempting this mountain in a day, you should plan on leaving the Trailhead between 2-3am. This timing usually allows you to gain the summit and descend from the upper mountain before any weather develops. At 13 miles and 5,000ft gain/loss The North Face Route is mostly trail hiking, capped by almost 2,000 feet of route finding and a dash of technical climbing. It’s 5.5 miles to The Boulderfield and a view of the summit. After reaching the amazing Chasm View, across from The Diamond, the technical climbing begins. Your day is only half way over at the summit and a long hike out awaits, so after enjoying the summit for a short time, you will reverse the route.
Available Routes: North Face and The Keyhole
If attempting this mountain in 2 days, departure from the trailhead could be as late as 10am. With 3,000 feet of gain over 5.5 miles to camp at 12,500′ you should bring only what you need and come well rested, fed and hydrated. This hike will commonly take people 5-7 hours with overnight packs and needs to be paced effectively so as not to jeopardize your summit day. Camping with the summit in view, at 12,500′ in The Boulderfield is guaranteed to be a memorable night. Getting to sleep as early as possible sets you up for being somewhere amazing at sunrise. In the morning of day 2, all you’ll need to do is get some food a hit the trail, leaving camp set up and going for the summit with a small, lightweight pack.
Available Routes: North Face and The Keyhole
Single Day Longs Peak Climb: Private $575 1:1, $400 per person for 2:1 $350 per person for 3:1
Overnight Longs Peak Climb: Private 1:1 $950, $650 per person for 2:1, $550 per person for 3:1
TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ESTES PARK
Estes Park is located 65 miles northwest of Denver, and about 76 miles from Denver International Airport. Meeting locations vary depending on the time of year and the class/trip, your guide will provide you with this information. There are plenty of accommodations and amenities located in Estes Park, including the Historic Stanley Hotel. Campgrounds are available in the area. If you have any additional questions about your Rocky Mountain National Park adventure, please call (970) 283-7594.
Estes Park is 2 hours from Denver International Airport, via Pena Blvd to I-70 to I-25 to HWY 36. Car rentals, shuttles, taxis, charters/limousines are all available from the airport. Nearly every rental company is represented at DIA. Try to avoid driving during the rush hours around Denver, as significant delays can occur.
If driving to Estes Park from another location, there are numerous routes.
The following are general suggestions to map your route. Ultimately we recommend using Google Maps or GPS:
From the west, going through the mountains on I-70, exit for Golden and continue on CO-93 and on through Boulder to Hwy 36 through Lyons.
From the north, if driving I-25, taking exit 243 for CO-66 W, following signs for Longmont/Lyons.
From eastern Colorado, on I-70, follow I-70 W, to I-270 W, to US-36 W through Boulder and Lyons.
From southern Colorado, if driving I-25, take I-25 N to US-36W through Boulder and Lyons.
Please note that guides cannot provide transportation. Please arrange independent transportation to and from the trailhead. Estes Park Mountain Shuttle is a good option for getting to Estes Park from DIA, Boulder and Denver. There is a limited taxi service in Estes Park to facilitate getting to trailheads, etc. Rental vehicles may be the best option for your Estes Park trip.
A phenomenal number of options exist for lodging in and around Estes Park. Motels from $99 can be found if booked early, luxury accommodation at the historic Stanley Hotel and B&B stays at the Golden Leaf Inn can add a memorable note to your trip. The Trip Adviser list for lodging options is recommended. Air B&B options abound as well, ranging from unique cabins to luxury vacation homes. If booking accommodations late, consider the YMCA of the Rockies with a wide selection of lodging options close to town.
MEETING TIME & PLACE
Our standard meet time for full day climbs and classes is 8:00am. If climbing a high peak in The Park, plan on starting as early as 2am. Weather conditions and route aspect commonly suggest alternate meet times. Please consult with our office for further detail regarding your specific class or objective. Our meeting locations vary depending on the class or climb. We will generally meet at the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center on Moraine Ave, just outside the entrance station.
WEATHER & CLIMATE
If visiting Estes Park in the Summer time, expect dynamic weather ranging from sunny and warm to begin the day, with afternoon storms a common occurrence. Summer temperatures range from the 40’s to 80’s. Spring can be harder to predict with snow and rain possible and temperatures from 30’s to 60’s. Fall in the high country offers the most stable weather but can be colder and afford less daylight with temperatures in the 30’s to 60’s. Winter in the Rockies can be exquisite or harsh with temperatures in the 20’s to 40’s. Fortunately, with 300 days of sunshine, these temperatures are often offset and quite comfortable. During The Summer months especially in Rocky Mountain National Park, even if the day dawns clear, all climbers should pack a rain jacket for the occasional surprise afternoon thundershower. Synthetic or wool clothing is mandatory. Plan on dressing in layers so you can adjust your temperature easily. Comfort levels can vary quite a bit depending on where you’ll be adventuring, so please ask us for our clothing recommendations based on your planned climb/class/ski.VIEW PDF
Conditions can be favorable for climbing at nearly any point during the year, but for most objectives, better climbing conditions occur in spring, summer, and autumn. Spring has a higher likelihood of precipitation. Summer afternoon temperatures can climb into the 90’s and isolated afternoon thunderstorms are common. In the autumn, climbers tend to find the most reliable conditions. Winter has many spells of great climbing weather, but it is difficult to plan in advance, as the Front Range can also receive full Rocky Mountain snowstorms and cold fronts. Because cliffs are dramatically affected by sun and wind exposure (or lack thereof), please refer to your JHMG guide for route or area recommendations. Suggestions are to provide our guests with the most enjoyable experience.
During summer months, even if the day dawns clear, all climbers should pack a rain jacket for the occasional surprise afternoon thundershower. Synthetic clothing is strongly advised at many times of the year, and is almost always preferable to cotton. Comfort levels can vary quite a bit depending on where you are climbing within a given climbing area, so please ask us for our clothing recommendations based on your planned climb/class and if you are unfamiliar with the area. It is common for us to suggest an early start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
Our multi-day trips expand a variety of different types of terrain. If you have questions about footwear, please contact our office and we will answer all of your questions.
Lightweight Mountaineering Boot – Trips in the before mid-July and those including extensive snow climbing (e.g. Gannett, Granite) require a lightweight mountaineering boot NOT a plastic boot.
- Guide Pick: (Early Season) Salewa Crow GTX
- Guide Pick: (Mid-Late Season Gannett or Granite) Salewa Mountain Trainer
- Guide Pick (Mid-Late Season Technical Multi Day) Salewa Firetail 3 GTX and ask if your objective might require technical rock shoes
- 4 pair of wool socks and blister prevention
- Synthetic/Wool Long Underwear Top Guide Pick:Mountain Hardwear Butterman Hooded
- Synthetic T-shirt Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Metonic
- Insulating Jacket: lightweight down or synthetic – Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Dynotherm Jacket
- Soft Shell: fleece or pile Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear A-therm Jacket
- Rain Jacket: waterproof/breathable with hood. Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Quasar Light II Jacket
- Synthetic/Wool Long Underwear Bottom Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Butterman Tight
- Hiking Short or Pant for approach Guide Pick:Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Hike Short
- Synthetic Climbing Pant – Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear- Toren Pant
- Rain Pant – Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Exponent Pant
- Hat: lightweight to medium weight warm hat – sleek enough to be worn under a helmet
- Gloves: 2 Pair – one lightweight pair and to medium weight pair – Synthetic but able to belay and have good dexterity. Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Gloves
- Gaiters: only until mid-July
On the trail
- Large Pack- Internal frame only 70L+ Minumum for 5-6 day trips – Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear- South Col 70 Outdry .
- Medium Pack -Internal frame only, 50L+ for 2-4 day trips. Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Directissima 50
- Small Summit Packs – For 2 and 3 day technical multi-day trips (Grand/Cathedral Traverse) Must be large enough to fit all your personal gear plus ten pounds of food and water. Some trips will require an additional small summit pack for Technical Rock Climbs or summit days – Guide pick: Mountain Harwdwear Summit Rocket 30
- Water Bottles (2-3 L/Qt.) or H2O hydration system
- Water Treatment tablets
- Lightweight Bowl
- Insulated Mug
- Spoon and Fork
- Stuff Sacks: zip lock bags
- Dark Sunglasses
- Extra Contact Lenses
- Sun Hat or Visor
- Sunscreen (35+SPF)
- Lip Balm
- Headlamp and Fresh Batteries
- First Aid – minimal: blister care, analgesic, etc.
- Lunch, snacks & drink mix
- Misc Items: minimal: light knife, camera,
buff, camp suds, wash cloth, etc.
Some trips require (please inquire with JHMG):
- Sleeping Bag: 20 degree – Guide Pick: Mountain Hardwear Extra Lamina +20 Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad: Closed-cell foam or Thermarest
Recommended & Optional Items
- Trekking Poles
- Camera and batteries, spare memory card
- Insoles: custom or after market
- Bear Spray
- Insect Repellent (Ask the office if this is necessary)
- Headnet (Ask the office if this is necessary)
- Camp Shoe – lightweight
Cold Weather Considerations:
Early and late season temperatures require warmer clothing. You may consider additional clothing if you get cold easily or if it is unusually cold or windy.
- Buff or neck gaiter
- Extra down vest or jacket
- Expedition weight long underwear
- Extra gloves
**The Mountain Guides supplies all the rock climbing gear, harnesses, helmets, locking carabiners & belay/rappel devices, crampons, and ice axes. However, you are welcome to bring your own equipment. Please coordinate with our office for gear checks. Backpacks, rock shoes, and boots can all be rented & purchased in our Jackson office.
For your safety and comfort, bring synthetic and or natural fiber clothing for insulation. Cotton
is NOT recommended and down must be kept dry. Clothing should be able to layer without
Talk To Us
Here you’ll find online tools and information about joining us for a trip of a lifetime! To sign up for a trip, or if you have any questions, please call us. Listed on the left side of these pages are links that you may find useful, including printable forms and policies concerning a trip with JHMG. We encourage ALL prospective climbers to read our Preparation advice. Our office can help place you with others who are looking to climb.