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Glacier Gorge Area
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For anyone having some familiarity with the Colorado Mountains, Longs Peak is easily recognized from the east, dominated by the Diamond. From the west however, it's not quite so straight forward. This less obvious view of Longs was taken in early September of 2006 from the Glacier Gorge Cirque with the Keyboard of the Winds extending down along its southwest ridge.

Longs Peak, west side with the Keyboard of the Winds to the right

Not long after taking the shot above, I was scanning Longs Peak with my binoculars, and realized that the Keyhole, of the classic Keyhole Route, was visible with summiteers passing through it.

Longs Peaks's Keyhole, as viewed from the Glacier gorge cirque

This shot of Spearhead was actually taken in August of 2007, during a climb Suzy and I did, more or less up the North Ridge Route, which is covered on the web page titled Spearhead. This picture is on that page too; however, I couldn't really cover the Glacier Gorge area without at least mentioning Spearhead, since it dominates the whole interior of the cirque. As noted on the Spreahead page, this is an early morning shot, showing Spearhead emerging from the shadows of the Longs Peak north ridge.

Early morning sun on Spearhead - Rocky Mountain National Park

Once again back to the hike of 2006, I got this shot of two climbers gearing up at the start of Spearhead's Northeast Ridge Route. Pagoda Mountain is partially visible in the background, with the Keyboard of the Winds extending up to the left towards Longs Peak. I was caught off-guard by the high contrast conditions between the morning sky and the shaded cirque, and most of the photos I took on this outing were extremely disappointing. Hopefully, the Graduated ND (Neutral Density) filter I purchased since then will help in the future.

Climbers gearing up on Spearhead's Northeast Ridge Route

This shot of Arrowhead Spire, on the northwest corner of the Glacier Gorge Cirque, was taken from just below Black Lake, as the morning sun hit it.

Arrowhead Spire in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Later afternoon now, and on my way back down out of the cirque, I came across a colony of Ptarmigans. These birds are extremely laid-back and very well camouflaged. Most of the time I'm not even aware of their presence until I nearly step on one. I sat down about 20 feet away to get some shots while they continued feeding in my direction. As I wrapped up the photo shoot, the curious buggers were practically in my lap.

Ptarmigans in the Glacier Gorge Cirque, Rocky Mountain National Park

Glacier Gorge Trail Area Topo Map
Longs Peak Topo Map

RMNP Links

National Park Service - Climbing and Mountaineering in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks

U.S. National Parks Net - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Guide

Area Guide Books

Rocky Mountain National Park: Classic Hikes and Climbs
- Out-of-Print

The Park: Rocky Mountain National Park

Rock and Ice Climbing Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks

Rock and Ice Climbing Rocky Mountain National Park: The Crag Areas

Rocky Mountain National Park The CLIMBER'S Guide Volume # 1: ESTES PARK VALLEY

Rocky Mountain National Park The CLIMBER'S Guide Volume # 2: HIGH PEAKS

Rocky Climbing Colorado

Click for Estes Park, Colorado Forecast