Summit Storm Peak and Mount Lady Washington

Colorado Longs Peak Trailhead

Added by Crystal Brindle

  • Approximately 14 miles and 4,500 feet of elevation gain round-trip
  • It is best to attempt this trip in late June or early July to avoid crowds
  • Enjoy spectacular views and photo opportunities from two 13ers via the boulderfield
  • Overnight backpacking – be prepared to camp at 12,760 feet!

This adventure began at the Longs Peak trailhead in southeastern Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. I followed the Longs Peak trail for 6 miles to the Boulderfield backcountry camping area. This is a fairly steep on-trail climb of 3,360 feet.

After setting up camp at 12,760 feet, my partner and I cooked dinner and waited for lingering storm clouds to pass. As late afternoon approached, we decided to try for the summit of Storm Peak in an attempt to photograph the sunset from an ideal vantage point. In late June, snow still lingered at the base of the peak and we had to scramble up a less direct route as a result. After a few sections of intense exposure, we reached the straight-forward class 2 scramble route. We gained the summit just as golden light began to filter through the growing clouds. As we stood on the 13,326 foot summit, clouds from the valleys below began to engulf us – giving us the feeling of being an island in a vast sea. When the clouds broke for a few seconds to reveal the surrounding landscape, we were in awe of the rugged scenery that surrounded us. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I left the summit knowing I had just witnessed one of the most powerful sunsets of my life.

The next morning after a frosty night in camp, I awoke before sunrise and climbed to the 13,281 foot summit of Mount Lady Washington to witness the sunrise illuminate the rugged face of Longs Peak – Rocky Mountain National Park’s famous 14er. The Boulderfield provided an ideal basecamp for these two summits and visiting in the early season allowed for a crowd-free experience.

Tips:

Go in the early season for best photography conditions and limited people. Longs Peak typically becomes snow-free in mid-July and is then a mecca for visitors. Visit in June if possible. A backcountry camping permit is required to camp at the Boulderfield – inquire at the Backcountry Office in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag
  • Warm layers
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Bear canister
  • Tripod
  • Camera
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Fitness, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

14 Miles

Elev. Gain:

4500 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
Groups
Scenic
Wildflowers

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How to Get There

almost 2 years ago

Hike early to see the sunrise

almost 2 years ago

Added by Crystal Brindle

I'm Crystal, a park ranger for the National Park Service in the United States and the Department of Conservation in New Zealand - you'll find me floating between hemispheres as the seasons change. I am an avid landscape photographer and wilderness explorer committed to capturing the scenes and moments that inspire me and require dedication to experience. Living in national parks throughout my life, I've developed a deep appreciation for the natural world. This appreciation drives my passion for protecting wild places today. My first job as a ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park inspired me to spend my time exploring the depths of the park’s wilderness and instilled a sense of adventure that extends into all areas of my life. I now actively seek backcountry recreation that takes me into remote corners of mountainous regions all over the world. I have had the opportunity to live and work in some of the most intriguing places our world has to offer - from the high places of Colorado, to the South Island of New Zealand, to the rugged Alaska Peninsula, and many locations in between. I feel that the only way to truly get to know a place is to meet it on its own terms and to embrace its challenges through which its beauty is revealed. To me this is the definition of wilderness and the foundation of my photography.
 
 Since I began this journey of photography three years ago, I have honed my interests to focus on high-alpine mountain landscapes inaccessible to all except those who travel on foot. These are the landscapes that captivate me. I feel drawn to share their remarkable qualities through the visual narrative of photography and short stories of personal experience. This is a craft that I am refining daily and my photography is only a work-in-progress but I feel that this effort is worthwhile as I strive to let the landscape tell its own story and act as a vector for its message. 
 
 What's next? After a summer of living with brown bears and climbing mountains under the midnight sun in Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula, I'm heading back to New Zealand to further explore the wonders of the South Island and work as a Hut Warden on the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park.

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