Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summitting Longs Peak!

We appreciate our summer staff and their experiences! At the end of this summer season, we had a few brave staffers who made the climb and reached Longs Peak. Here are some of their perspectives on that adventure.

A panorama from Longs summit

Climber A:
“SO we woke up at 1:30 and got ready, grabbed some breakfast and realized that [one of our climbers] was not with us (I had a mother intuition that he wasn't awake when we left A-Camp) so I hijacked a golf cart, aroused [that climber] from his slumber and off we went!!
Sunrise behind Mt. Lady Washington
After eating and grabbing lunches and praying we were on the trail by about 2:45. At one point we stopped to admire the sky full of stars, as we looked over towards Longs a SHOOTING STAR HAPPENED OVER LADY WASHINGTON AND IT WAS LITERALLY AMAZING. Anyway we booked it up the first 3 miles in great time and had passed tree line when the sky started to wake up! 
At Boulderfield we took some time to hang in the Mountain couches (which [another one of our climbers] made a song about), annoy some fellow Kansans, and then head up towards the keyhole. Then things got intense. WIND. COLD. ROCKS. NARROWS. ENCOURAGING FRIENDS. AND THEN THE TOP! It was freezing. I called my dad, ate an uncrustable sandwich, and then wanted down. Crazy surreal. My knees hurt forever and I was super excited for what we had just done!”

Climber L:
Climbing Longs Peak was an experience to say the least. We hit the mountain at 2:40 am. It was still completely dark, but surprisingly warm. We hiked quickly through the trees lower on the trail and were at tree line before 4am. The stars up there were incredible! You could also see the city lights from Estes, Boulder, and Denver off in the distance, which lit up the edges of the sky. We sped up the trail and made it to the Boulderfield by sunrise. We were talking loudly and singing and shoving handfuls of trail mix down our throats, which I think scared some of the other people on the trail (oh well).
Longs Peak at sunrise from the Boulderfield
We climbed the Boulderfield up to the Keyhole, a large cutout in the rock that you climb through to get to the summit. Even at a distance, you could hear the fierce winds whip through the Keyhole. I guess it was a super windy day to be summiting Longs, but none of us had ever climbed it before, so we just thought ‘that’s how the wind is on Longs Peak’. We climbed over many boulders and then up the Trough. The Trough was rough. It was a long 60 degree climb in the cold wind above 13,000 ft. After that, we crossed the Narrows and pulled ourselves up the Home stretch to the top. The view from the top of Longs is amazing! It’s a good 1500 ft above anything nearby for miles so you can see forever.
I stood on the top looking out for a while and it was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. I’ve wanted to climb that mountain for years and it was so weird to actually be standing on the summit. I get why God says we’re supposed to proclaim who he is from the mountaintops. I get it. The majesty of God just makes more sense up there. I mean, that mountain nearly kicked my butt. I was coughing, cold and sore for several days and God spoke it into being. Spoke. He spoke into nothingness and created that mountain and everything I could see from it. WHAT?! THAT’S SO CRAZY!

The view out from the shelter at the Keyhole

After my surreal moment on the mountaintop, I was reminded that my fingers were freezing cold and that I wanted to be off that mountain. We snapped some mountain selfies, ate some lunch, and climbed down to the Keyhole as fast as humanly possible given the sore knees and frozen fingers. I was sooo ready to be off that mountain. The hike down from Boulderfield was pretty sweet. We saw some marmots and got down before the rain rolled in. Our whole adventure took 10.5 hours. After getting back to camp, we raided the fridge and feasted on brownies, mac & cheese, and what I’m sure amounts to a few gallons of blue Powerade. Mmmm Powerade. A pretty good day, if I do say so myself.”

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