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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Climb Longs Peak, Colorado

Despite its forbidding East face and a summit of strewn boulders, Rocky Mountain National Park’s highest peak is climbed by hundreds in the summer months. Spend at least one night at 7,000 to 8,000 feet to adjust to the elevation and then begin this 15-mile round-trip (10 to 15 hours) hike in the wee morning hours. Starting at the East Longs Peak trailhead (9400 feet and a 90-minute drive from Denver), the first six miles is a moderate ascent through a forest of sub-alpine fir, Engelmann spruce, and what the Germans call krummholz (crooked timber). At aptly named Boulder Field (12,760 feet), the path steepens as you begin the Keyhole Route to the top. Here, the above-treeline ledges resemble a cliffside stairway, albeit without handrail. The final “Homestretch” is a scramble atop rocks as the Continental Divide and all the glorious splendor of the Rockies spread out on a carpet of green before you. Try to get off the 14,225-foot summit by noon, when summer thunderstorms often begin its daily light show on the exposed rock. Colorado Mountain School offers guided hikes up the mountain.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/19/12 at 11:59 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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