If you're looking for a difficult, dangerous hike to whet your adventure appetite this year, you can give Longs Peak of Colorado a go. The peak qualifies as a Class 3 climb, which means it's one of the hardest in North America.
As of December 5th, 3 people have died on the mountain this year, and one died in 2013 as well. This might sound scary, but it's not as bad as you might think: the percentage of people who make it to the summit and back safely is much larger than those who do not.
I really shouldn't call this one a hike, but a climb: if you're not an experienced hiker, you should not attempt Longs Peak as your first choice.
One of the most popular routes, the Keyhole Route, is 7.5 miles from trailhead to top--it's the last 1.5 miles that will be the most difficult! But, there are more injuries and problems on the way down, than the way up. The clmb is long, with a lot of exposed areas and zigzags near dropoffs, so you really are in a dangerous situation at many points throughout the climb.
To successfully complete the climb, you're going to have to start early (like, 2 a.m. early) so that you can get off the mountain by 2:30 p.m. before winds pick up or storms roll in! And wait for summer: there can be icy spots as late as May. You won't need mountain climbing gear, but you should have the right amount of food, water and layers.
If you plan on attempting this hike, don't do so without the following:
- a lot of water (at least 7 liters)
- extra socks
- bring plenty of food, whatever you choose to bring
- headlight and flashlight
- good pair of gloves
- crampons (if there is the risk of ice)
For more information about the peak, check out the official site (http://www.longspeak.com/longs-peak-trails.html) and another great resource here (http://www.michaelwsilverman.com/longs-peak-hiking-guide/).