Mt. Meeker

      By Gordon S. Novak Jr.       July 3, 1988

I plan to climb Mt. Meeker via the northeast ridge. After leaving the Longs Peak trailhead toward Chasm Lake, I am passed by a group of Cheley campers, boys roughly 14 years old. They certainly have a lot of pep! When I reach Chasm Lake, I look up toward Meeker with binoculars and am amazed to see what appears to be these same kids on the summit ridge. It blows me away that they have reached the summit in the time I took to get to Chasm Lake, and they are gamely crossing the summit ridge that I will later consider too exposed for me.
After leaving Chasm Lake, I hike around to the left up the long northeast ridge of Meeker. Partway up, I see what appears to be the Cheley climbers descending through the Iron Gates, rock formations guarding a couloir that forms a break in the Meeker ridge. I continue on my route, rounding the corner and hiking back up the south side of the ridge to the front summit of Meeker. There is a unique view of Longs Peak as well as Pagoda and Chief's Head.
The true summit of Meeker is about 200 yards farther west from the east summit (the one seen from the road) along what the guidebooks call a "knife-edge ridge". "Sawtooth ridge" is more like it -- the ridge consists of angular blocks with steep drop-offs on both sides. On the north side, the down-sloping rock leads to sheer cliffs. On the south side, the slope is equally steep but goes on for a very long way. I accidentally dislodge a football-sized rock and am amazed as it bounces down the rock couloir for a mile or more without stopping.
I choose to climb down a bit onto the south side and traverse to the true summit from there. Although it is only a few hundred yards, it takes me an hour to reach the summit. The summit is a bathtub-sized rock; Gerry Roach says the final move onto the summit is "exposed and exciting." I've had enough excitement, and I am content to place my hands on the summit and avoid the exposure. The container of the summit register is there -- a gray PVC pipe attached to the rock by a heavy cable. However, the cable allows it to blow in the wind, and the end cap and contents are long gone.

On the return, I traverse onto the southwest ridge to avoid re-climbing to the front summit, then cross over the front of Meeker. Stormy weather beyond a sunny southwest ridge of Meeker provides dramatic lighting.

I decide to check out the Iron Gates, a break in the northeast ridge and the likely route of the Cheley campers; I can see Chasm Lake below. The route looks okay, so I go down that way. There is lots of loose scree in the couloir, easy to plunge-step into, but it would be frustrating coming up; nevertheless, if I did it again, I would go up via the Iron Gates.

As I near Chasm Lake, I have become dehydrated and feel frantically thirsty. I sweep off the top layer of some snow and fill a ziplock bag with snow, putting it in my shirt to melt next to my stomach; I suck water out of that bag for the rest of the trip. Of course there is lots of water around, but not necessarily pure.

Meeker offers a unique view of Longs and interesting views of most of the Park. It's a long hike but well worth the effort.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks