Longs Keyhole
(Don't underestimate the TROUGH)

24 Jul 2002 - by Deric Shuster

This was definatelty the toughest physical and mental challenge that I have ever accomplished in my life. We did it in 14 hours on our first attempt. Not bad for a couple of Ohio people on our first 14er. Hope this helps anyone. I know I am thankful for all the people that have posted there reports after their attemps.

Planning is essental. I also have to say reading as much as you can about this trip is extremely helpful. We started at 2:15 AM

Larry(Father-in-law 58) and I(27) planned for 6 months to do the climb in late July in the middle of the week. I want to first point out that we did a warm-up to Chasm lake on Monday that was more helpful than I thought. We where able to get a look at the first 5 miles in the daylight and where able to get the some of the butterflys and questions answered before doing the real thing.

Things don't start getting tough until the end of the Boulder Field. When we walked through the Keyhole it is a different climb. Some equipment that I think are necessary during this time of year are wind pants(no jeans) and a shell of some sort. The wind chill up there was in the neighborhood of 30 degrees. Stay warm! Leather gloves or climbing gloves. You won't be sorry. A walking stick was more beneficial than I thought. Walking in the nights and in the boulder field is nice having a third leg and the knees will thank you. Dumped the sticks in the hut at the end of the Boulder Field. Don't worry they will be there when you get back. packed 5 liters of water and had a little less than a liter left at the end.

I was a little scared about the Narrows bewcause I am afraid of heights. But the scariest part was the Trough. There was little difference between the two. Some guy up there said that it was no place for someone afraid of heights. What did he know I was there. It just ment it was more mentally chalenging for me but if you want it bad enough then you can do anything. I had a little background in rock climbing and was probably more experianced at climbing rock than he was. If you know what you are doing and pay attention it isn't that bad. Focus on the markings and keep focused on the next hold. I will have to say I won't climb anything more difficult without rope or cable.

I didn't like the fact that some of the routes and hold where in water that was coming off the mountain but even though they where wet they where ok.

Coming back is a different climb. You have to use more upper body in lowering yourself down. It seems easier but going down face out and on the butt can be just as tough on the body. Once we got back to the Boulder Field it is a matter of mental stamina to get home. Very long and things start to get sore. Make sure you have boots. Tennis shoes are wrong and there where people crying about blisters. What people don't know is that when doing this at this altitude your ankles swell and you need the ankle support more. My neck was burned because I didn't put sunblock on. I knew this was a possibility but I was stubborn and didn't feel like putting it on because I was so cold and determined to keep going. Keep applying the chapstick. The wind is killer.

Keep you head on the path in front of you and pay attention anyone can do this. This climb was just as much a mental challenge as it is physical.

What did I do to get in shape. I run 4 miles about 3 times a week that is it. Don't hit the gym and start bulking up. That is just a waste of time. Hit the stepper or get the cardiovascular up and that is all you need. You will be breathing heavy for a long time. Take breaks. Drink water. Eat. Take pictures when you stop to break.

Final words..Be nice the people ahead of you and behind you. You might be passing them but they will be passing you sometime or they will be there on your way down and there is no reason to be a idiot up there. You would be putting them and yourself at risk. You can die up there. Have fun.


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