Friday, August 3, 2012

FEATURED ROUTE: Longs Peak North Face (Old Cables Route)

the North Face of Longs Peak
The North Face of Longs Peak

Miles: 14
Difficulty: II 5.4 (YDS)
pitches: 2

The North Face of Longs Peak, also known as the Old Cables or just the Cables route, is a good alpine route and the most direct way to reach the summit of Longs Peak from the Boulderfield. The North Face is a technical route of modest difficulty with minimal 5th class terrain. It is often used as a descent route for climbers who have used other technical routes such as Kiener's, the Keyhole Ridge, or any route on the Diamond. With two short rappels it is the quickest way back to the Boulderfield from the summit.

Begin at the Longs Peak trailhead and hike up a winding, good trail through a lush forest. Go left at an intersection at mile .5 and left again at mile 2.5. At mile 3.5 you reach the turnoff for Chasm Lake and a solar-powered toilet. Stay right and continue above treeline to the Boulderfield (12,800') at mile 6. Proceed across the boulderfield past the bivvy sites (permit required) and past two more solar-powered toilets. Longs' North Face now towers above you.

Approaching the Old Cables Route
Keyhole Ridge from the North Face

Veer away from the main trail and head towards the bottom left corner of the north face. Slog up steep talus to the base of the slabs at Chasm View. Take a minute to peak over the edge and get an eagle's view of the Diamond. Find the obvious ramp/dihedral marked by an eyebolt halfway up and begin to climb. While some climbers can free solo (climb without a rope) most climbers will bring a smattering of small cams, nuts, and hexes. You can also sling eyebolts to help protect this pitch. Climb 5.4 climbing to the fourth eyebolt and belay. Remember this spot, this is where you will start your rappel.

the crux of the north face

The Diamond from Chasm View

From the eyebolt, do an ascending traverse to the left up loose, broken class 3. Careful route-finding should avoid any class 4. Arrive on the summit from the opposite side of most of the people you will encounter up there.


Pick your way back down the North Face until you find the fourth eyebolt (as counted from the bottom). Rappel 70' to another eyebolt. Do a second rappel to the bottom of the crux pitch at another eyebolt. Scramble down 4th class terrain or rappel to the talus below.


-Tommy Caldwell Establishes first 5.14 on the Diamond
-National Park Service webcam of Longs Peak

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1 comment:

  1. about 1980 or a few yrs before i climbed the cable rt, it was all snow then & i used an ice ax (push ax into snow till just metal sticking out, kick a step repeat etc. at that time you could camp in the boulder field, the cable had been gone for yrs. there were 8 "campsites" if i remember, visualize an igloo built of rocks in a circle 10 or 12 ft wide & 5ft high (protect from wind), with a narrow entrance. i was in there with my son now 55, it started to rain & lightning: he said "dad could lightning hit us here?" "naw" i said