Camel Route on Longs Peak
(Boulderfield, Camel Gully and Chasm View)

7 Jun 2002 - by Doug Cook

Left Longs Peak TH at 7:30 AM, Friday morning and hiked six miles up to the Boulderfield. The trail is bone dry all the way except for some meltwater and a couple remnants below treeline of snow drifts. The Cable Route appeared to be in good condition with a broad snowfield up to the crux technical climbing section and nearly continuous snow above the route toward the summit. The route to the Keyhole could be skirted on rock to the right side of the snowfield.

From the Boulderfield, I hiked up to the ridge between Chasm View and Mount Lady Washington. Last Fall I had scouted this ridge from below on Mills Glacier trying to find Camel Gully, a descent route from Longs to follow after a rappel down the Cable Route. To pick up bivy gear on Mills Glacier after climbing Kieners or the Notch Couloir, Camel Gully provides a downclimb from Chasm View to Mills Glacier and reduces the hiking distance down the trail from the Boulderfield back to Chasm Meadow, Chasm Lake, and back up to Mills Glacier by about three miles. Some guidebooks describe Camel Gully as connecting with the low point in the ridge between Chasm View and Lady Washington. I climbed that gully last Fall, and it is steep with low 5th Class climbing. The top 30-40 feet of the gully is very steep and would have to be rappelled to enter the gully from the top of the ridge. This gully has been climbed/rappelled by other climbers and is marked with a cairn at the top. The correct Camel Gully is a much easier downclimb route.

The actual Camel Gully is further along and higher on the ridge toward Lady Washington. From the top of the ridge, you will see the most amazing rock formation that very clearly resembles the head and nose of a camel. Dropping down the ridge below the camel's nose, you encounter low angle slopes of boulders and alpine grass ledges. This is a breath taking area - you are level or slightly above Broadway and can gawk at the impossible looking rock climbs on the Diamond and scope out a lot of the Kieners and Notch Couloir routes that ascend alongside the face of the Diamond. Looking back up at the Camel, you not only see the distinctive head, but also the body and sloping back. Hiking and scrambling down and to the left across the broad slopes leads to a constriction in the gully. The route then angles back to the right between smooth rock walls and leads down through the narrows on some loose scree and then back onto stable talus and boulders. The class 3-4 gully ends on the north side of Mills Glacier across the cirque from Lambs Slide. What a great shortcut!

Snow at the base of Lambs Slide varied from soft, unconsolidated knee to waist deep fluff to 4-6 inches of corn snow over well consolidated hard snow. At 1 PM, I headed a short distance up Lambs Slide - the snow was near perfect for climbing and should hold pickets well. Crampons were not needed mid-day, although probably necessary for morning climbs when the snow was harder. Only one climber track traversed back and forth up the snow field, and appeared to cut off at Broadway. Climbing Kieners or the Notch could be miserable - waterfalls and sprays were falling down the routes and wide bands of water were running down the Diamond. There was no evidence of wet snow slides and little dirt or rock debris being shed. Broadway, Kieners, and the Notch Couloir were solid, wide ribbons of snow. Even Lambs Slide Shortcut was filled with snow.

After skirting Chasm Lake, hiking down to Chasm Meadows, and heading back toward the TH, Dreamweaver couloir comes into view. The route appeared to be a continuous ribbon of snow. Talking with two climbers that had completed Dreamweaver that morning, they reported the snow conditions (after some postholing in the loose snow at the bottom of the route) on the climb were excellent with well consolidated snow and some ice and verglass in the narrow sections. Although conditions are great now, they will probably only be good for a few more weeks.

Back at the TH at 4:00 PM, there were still only 12-15 vehicles in the parking lot. The parking lot is being repaved and striped now through June 15, so parking this week will be restricted.


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