After getting our butts thoroughly kicked on the Diamond six days ago, Charlie and I needed an easy win to keep the Longs Peak Project going. The first time I did the LPP I also failed on the Diamond in March. I then had to recruit Homie to team up with me on the Northwest Couloir route to save March. I once tried to link up climbing Longs Peak with biking up Mt. Evans in the same day. After I failed at this solo, I recruited Homie to team up with me for the Longs ascent. Each time, Homie was the key to success. So, what do you think I did? Yup. Recruited Homie to join us.
|Charlie contemplating the North Face|
Homie's a Colorado 14er legend. He's climbed the 14ers three times over, I think, and done over 300 peak-months of the 14er grid. He tried for the 14er speed record once and stopped due to injury, but not before climbing 41 14ers in just seven days! He's also done 53 14ers in winter. Alas, this ascent would not qualify as a winter ascent, since winter officially ended the day before.
We chose the North Face, as it is the shortest route. We were burning a match that we'd hoped to save for December, but we'll deal with that. Maybe we'll save the Keyhole or Keplinger's Couloir for December. Neither one a gimme at that time of year, but technically pretty easy.
Since I was leaving for Grand Junction the same day, to start Spring Break with my son and nephew, we met early. Homie picked me up at 4:10 a.m. and we met Charlie in north Boulder at 4:30. We were hiking at 5:39 a.m. Snow conditions were good and the weather was nice. I led up through the trees and turned over the leading to Charlie once the postholing began. It wasn't bad, though, says the guy in back. Homie didn't want to taint our ascent, so he said, and therefore didn't break any trail or carry any gear. Hey, you don't get up so many peaks in winter without being wily.
|Traversing above the technical pitch|
|Homie trying to warm his feet on the summit|
Above the technical pitch, I continued leading, breaking trail. There was no sign of climbers on the technical pitch or above it. We learned from another party that despite the great weather last Sunday no one made it up the North Face with at least one party turning around due to fear of avalanche. We felt conditions were safe enough, but continued roped clear to the summit and back. Charlie took over the trail breaking for the last three hundred vertical feet.
We spent a good thirty minutes on the summit so that Homie could re-warm his frozen feet. He went through the very painful process of defrosting while Charlie and I enjoyed perfectly still conditions. Only seven people had made the summit since our February ascent. No one had climbed Longs between our January and February ascents. I know that number will increase each month until probably peaking in August.
|Descending to the rappel anchors|