I had a few days off work at the end of last week, and decided to head up into Rocky Mountain National Park, my local mountain playground.
I misjudged the amount of snow present in the high country. I had planned to skip up the trail in my approach shoes before switching to technical climbing boots higher up — I made it about 100 yards up the trail before being forced to put on the heavy-duty boots 😂.
This made my day a bit slower than anticipated.
But hey, it’s good to slow down now and then, right??
Mountain climbers often get overly focused on speed and efficiency. These things give a sense of safety and control, and are understandably prized by alpinists who wish to claim appealing prizes of long challenging routes in scenic places.
But getting lasered in on speed can often lead to missing the moments that are right in front of you.
I was hoping to potentially solo some ice climbs in the cirque but all the fresh snow and sun made for dangerous avalanche conditions, so this expedition ended up being nothing more than a long, scenic walk; all alone under my own power up in the high mountains.
It was perfect.
Small avalanches crossing the path to Chasm Lake.
Some waterfall ice climbs below Chasm Lake — mostly buried under fresh snow.
The famous Diamond face on Longs Peak. Still a bit snowy here in late April, the face usually comes into good, dry shape for rock climbing by July.
Crowds, Covid, and the Casual Route
Climbing the Diamond (5.10a, IV) on Longs Peak, Colorado.
The Notch Couloir, a classic snow/ice climb which goes to the summit of Longs. While it looks impossibly steep from the ground, we climbed it last summer and it’s quite manageable — probably no more than 45 degrees in the steepest sections.
Martha Couloir on Mount Lady Washington. Although it doesn’t look it, there is more than 1,000 feet of relief in this photo!
Tracks in the fresh snow.
I didn’t take a lot of photos — mostly of climbs and relevant aspects which other climbers might be interested in.
But a place like that can’t be captured in photos.
Only in your memory, and your mindful experience of the moment, will the mountain speak to you properly. Try to hear what she has to say.
Chasm Lake is a beautiful hike even in the summer, and offers a great, scenic trainer for hikers who may be afraid of tackling the entire Keyhole Route to Longs Peak’s summit. I recommend it to anyone looking for a moderately challenging hike around the front range of Colorado.