I departed the Longs Pk Ranger Station (9405') at 0500, using my headlamp for the first hour - until I broke above treeline.
Twin Sisters greeting the dawn.
Estes Park and the rest of the world were clouded over most of the day - little suspecting how clear it was higher up.
I saw no else for at least an hour, especially surprising as it was Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
The sun seems to always rise just at dawn!
OK - 6:30 and now at junction for trail down to Chasm Lake.
The Loft (saddle between Meeker left and Longs right) is low point on skyline ridge, topped by climbing the prominent gully.
The East (Diamond) face of Longs is kissed at sunrise.
[The prominent notch to the left of the summit is The Notch.]
Trail privy on right.
Good news - as expected: no snow in gully below the Loft.
Leaving the Longs Trail (leading to Boulderfield and Keyhole) behind.
Chasm Lake is hidden behind low wall in center, but it feeds the waterfall below - Columbine Falls.
Notice the white structure on meadow, the emergency Ranger Cabin.
It's only a couple of years old - replacing the old climbers' cabin that was wiped out by an avalanche.
Columbine Falls leads into Peacock Pool.
That prominent cental formation in the sun is the Ships Prow.
We'll climb below and passing it on the left and up the gully.
Looking back at the Twin Sisters.
Cascade on right coming down from Chasm Lake.
Path to Chasm Lake is up rocky gully to left of cabin.
The route up the gully to the Loft is mostly marked by cairns.
The trail down to meadow from the Junction is evident in back.
It will be noticed in many of my later pix.
Note two climbers ahead of me. Then I saw it was four.
Before long it became a party of six guys, who were from Loveland & Ft. Collins.
I'm about the pass the party, as they waited for their last pretty slow guy. They had started from the TH at 3:30.
I'll be ascending to the right of the wet wall in upper left, which turned out to be off-route - but more interesting!
Up this central crack then right and up - keeping it at not above 4th class.
Hanging in there!
Surely this couldn't be the ledge described in a guide.
Waiting for their friend.
It turned out that they followed my path (although they knew the standard route), which I was hoping they would not, as it was pretty exposed.
I would not see them again til the Homestretch - we all survived. :)
Estes Cone poking up back there.
Yes, I had paused earlier to put on my climbing helmet.
I also had a short rope and a little webbing, just in case.
Over the hairy part and just below the Loft. Long's summit showing now - but still far off.
Aha - note the "normal" path leading up to the Loft!
This will be my route down later.
No, you can't just now wander straight up to Longs, as the Palisades and the Notch lie hidden here.