Longs Peak's Last Mile

What's your opinion of where the keyhole route is in these photographs?  Mark up a photo and send it to me.  Need help marking up a photo?  Click here for instructions.

Be sure to click on these thumbnail photos for larger versions.

1. This is a telephoto of Longs Peak that was taken from the summit of Hallett Peak with a 300mm lens in September of 1997.  I've often wondered exactly where the Keyhole Route is in this photo.

2. June 2000.  I've marked up this photo with my best guess of where the route is.  What do you think?  Does anyone know more exactly where the actual route is?  If you feel so inclined, you can click on the photo above to download an unmarked copy of this picture.  Mark it up with your best guess, and email it to me.  If you don't mind, I'll display it here for others to see.

3. June 2000.  Ryan advises me that the position of the Keyhole is lower in the saddle.  I've marked up this photo with the updated position that I believe he is describing.

4. Some have suggested that the keyhole is located at the lowest position in the saddle.  This is a telephoto view of the Longs Peak Keyhole from the summit of Estes Cone.  This photo clearly shows (at least to me) that the keyhole is not at the very bottom of the saddle.  If you're hiking the keyhole route, it is a feature that you must hike through on your way to the summit of Longs Peak, and can be seen left of the saddle in this photo.

5. June 2000.  Chris describes another path that I tried to sketch out here.  This is my interpretation of his description.  He believes the keyhole is hidden from this angle.  (Chris has since changed his mind about the position of the keyhole and favors a lower position, but I did receive another response in tentative agreement with this route.)

6. Aug 2002.  I received this picture and description from Troy.

I've attached what my opinion is about the route along the ledges and the trough.  I just climbed it yesterday, so it's pretty clear what the route looks like.  The only question in my mind is where the key hole really is.  However what is clear to me is that once past the key hole the trail had a noticeable increase in altitude (right by a solid slab that goes to the base of the valley) and then drops down quite a ways (about 400-500 vertical feet) to the base of the trough.

I show the trail ascending where I think the solid slab goes to the base of the valley.  If you look closely at your original picture you can see a noticeable line heading from the slab in the middle of the ledges to the trough, which I believe to be the trail.  I also show in yellow a second possibility for the keyhole.  In either case I believe the route I've outlined is pretty accurate.  It's my best guess anyway.  ;-)

7. Aug 2002.  I re-scanned the keyhole area of my original photograph at higher resolution and I believe that the keyhole is located at the point where Troy's gray line ends.  Super Size It!  (199kB).