Conditions were perfect
on this fine spring day. On the summit there was no wind and the temperature
a mild 50 degrees. The route is long and arduous though--5900 feet elevation
gain and sixteen miles roundtrip. Snowshoes were required already by 9500
Departing from Sandbeach
Lake I veered too far west, instead of due north, and began ascending the
left ridge of the drainage leading to a basin surrounded by Meeker, Longs
and Pagoda Mountain. I had to lose elevation to get it straight (ugh!) Lost
in the woods now I plodded ever higher in deep snow. Sometimes even snowshoes
won't prevent post holing. High on a ridge to the east I spotted a couple
bighorn sheep likely on "sentry" duty; Sam didn't see them.
To reach the upper basin we had to maintain a steady bearing north. A prominent palisade below Pagoda was to our left as we ascended into the high basin. Last year I mistakenly ascended a saddle to the right of Pagoda. The correct couloir leads directly up to the "notch". As you look up to right you can see the notch, which separates a palisade of cliffs from Longs actual summit. The correct couloir aims directly at the notch. Meeker's summit is not visible from the basin, while Dragon Egg Rock is far to the right, down the ridge.
We spent half an hour
on the Longs' expansive flat summit. Black clouds surrounded us on distant
peaks, while we enjoyed a fine sunny day with nary a trace of wind. The last
person to sign in to the peak register had summited on April 4th, though twelve
people had summited in March and some in January and February. Longs, it seems
is popular any time of year!
Once in the basin I steered
more to the left, keeping Hunter's Creek on my right. I figured that eventually
I would run into the trail and probably save time vis-à-vis trudging
back to Sandbeach Lake. It turned out to be quite a ways though to reach the
trail and the snow was soft and deep. In retrospect I'm not sure this route
was any faster. At any rate we were back to the car by 7:20 P.M. for the two
hour drive back to the Springs. One long(s) day!