Mount Meeker Trip Report (#20009)
- Signed By: Ray of Loveland, CO
- Date submitted: July 08, 2006
- Number of People Encountered:11-25 people
- Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Mount Meeker via Iron Gates (July)
This is a good climb for someone who wants a good adventure but doesn't like the crowd of other nearby climbs (Longs Peak). It is a fairly long, tiring, steep hike, but is well worth it.
This was my third time up the Longs Peak trailhead, once with a summit of Longs and once with a failed attempt of Meeker via Iron Gates in May (got REALLY cold).
We left the trailhead at 3 AM. There was a full moon, which allowed us to turn off our headlamps occassionally. We followed the familiar trail 3.5 miles up to Chasm Junction, staying to the left at the intersections.Making good time, we were at the junction before it was light, and managed to continue on (left)to Chasm Lake at the bottom of Longs Peak to view the sunrise. The section between Chasm Junction and Chasm Lake has some spetacular waterfall/lakes/rivers, especially in spring. If you go through this area before summer, there is a big "glacier" snow patch crossing which can be rather intimidating, as a slip could send you rolling down a ways and eventually over a waterfall. Also, the side of Mount Lady Washington to the right can be covered in huge icicles which melt in spring and plummet down, making for an even more dangerous crossing. But, in summer, there is usually hardly any snow or ice encountered in the Meeker area at all.
We decided to take a half hour snack break/Longs Peak East face marveling at Chasm Lake since it was still early and cold. Then we headed south across the mixed boulder/wet grassy tundra ground toward Meeker. There are a few up and down bouldery hills to get to the base of Iron Gates. (The Iron Gates are 2 big rock pillars on the North east side of Meeker. There is a long steep boulder scramble going up in between the Iron Gates). There are a lot of crappy loose rocks as well as big boulders here. This is usually the worst part of the day, especially if it is cold or windy. Wind comes into the concave Iron Gates area, which acts like a convection wind tunnel type of thing. Luckily, today was a beautiful day with little wind. We scrambled our way up this exhausting mess to the ridge at the top of this section and took a break, taking in some magnificent views. We thought this lookout was closer to the summit than it actually is. Our friend Ethan decided to stay behind here because of a mixture of altitude sickness and soapy water(dont wash your bottle with soap).
So the other 3 of us continued up west along the ridge. It was a consistently steep slope covered in large boulders. Mount Meeker messes with your mind, because you can't see the summit until you're actually there. There are at least 2 or 3 little places that, as you are going up, look like the summit, but are not. After a long trudge up the ridge, we reached the actual "false" summit, which is just a shade lower than the true summit, which is to the west, across the "knife edge". The knife edge should not be crossed unless conditions are perfect. It is exactly how it sounds, a narrow crossing , a couple hundred feet long, with very steep sides. A fall to the right could send you rolling a ways down and off a cliff of Meeker's north face. A fall to the left sends you tumbling for several thousand feet down a steep rocky hill. We stayed to the right, just because the terrain seemed easier there. There is no real technical climbing, but is just scary, so I went step by step slowly.
At last, the summit. We summited rather early, at 8 AM. There are, in my opinion, better views on the Summit of Meeker than Longs Peak. But, since Meeker isn't as tall, it doesnt give you the same sense of completion as Longs. There was another group at the summit who came up via the Loft route. We contemplated descending the Loft, which is the area in between Meeker and Longs, but decided not to because we were not familiar with it. After a good break and tons of pictures, we began the miserable descent. Once to the middle lower section of Iron Gates, we made a surfing technique of sliding down the steep loose hill. If you get in a good loose section, it really works well. Then, the never ending hike down the trail to the trailhead. This seems longer every time. Then we drove into Estes and celebrated with some fast food. It was worth it.
Round trip time: 8 hours
Technicality: Not much, but very exhausting. Class 3 or 4 scrambling and boulder hopping
Fun to do once, but you probably won't want to do it again