Don’t let the beautiful sunrise fool you — Longs Peak has its dangerous side
Photo by Joe Newman
On a beautiful cloudless morning with the golden glow of sunrise on it, Longs Peak looks rather inviting. But the saga of the two hikers who were stranded on the peak last week is a pretty good reminder about how dangerous the peak can be and how quickly conditions can change at 14,000 feet.
The hikers, who weren’t carrying any cold weather gear with them, were caught in an unexpected white-out snow storm and were forced to hunker down off the trail. One of the two women sent a dramatic text Thursday morning: “”We need help. At top of Longs Peak. 13400 feet. Whiteout snowstorm. No injuries. Iced over risk of hypothermia.”
Actually, it’s pretty amazing that they were able to get a text out since cell phone coverage is pretty spotty inside the Rocky Mountain National Park. The storm blocked any rescue attempt on Thursday but the good news is that the women were able to walk off the mountain safely Friday afternoon.
I took this picture on Aug. 27 during my trip to the park. About two weeks earlier, a hiker fell to his death while trying to ascend Longs Peak. Since 1915, the year Rocky Mountain National Park was created, there have been 60 deaths associated with climbing Longs Peak.
I’ve never climbed Longs Peak but I have been up at 13,000 feet in the Rockies and been caught in a violent storm. It’s a scary thing to be exposed on a mountain with lightning crashing all around. I was lucky that the temperatures only dropped into the 40s but that experience has pretty much assured that I’ll always carry rain gear with me on any outing.
Photo of Longs Peak as seen across Upper Beaver Meadows by Joe Newman. Want to order a print? Click here.
[symple_box color=”gray” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”]
Camera: Olympus E-M5
Lens: Olympus M. Zuiko 17mm (34mm equivalent)
Shutter speed: Five shots bracketed between 1/60th of a second to 1/125th of a second
ISO: 200 – 1600
Processing: Photos were merged in Photomatix and HDR processed with the “painterly 2” presets as the starting point.