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Fairweather

[TR] Mount Elbert, CO - NW Ridge 9/22/2013

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Trip: Mount Elbert, CO - NW Ridge

 

Date: 9/22/2013

 

Trip Report:

Flew down to Colorado to climb Longs Peak with my brother-in-law and nephew, but our plans were foiled by the recent flooding and its aftermath. Rocky Mountain National Park's east side remains closed--even though Boulder is almost back to normal, and Estes Park is on the way to recovery. As a consolation prize, we drove about 3 hours south to Leadville and hiked up the highest peak in Colorado--my first time higher than Rainier by a whopping 23 feet. Basically, a 4800' gain walk-up with nice views across the range, thin air, and beautiful groves of aspen far below just starting to turn golden color. Temps were below freezing, a bit windy, with some new snow on the upper 2000'. More of a hike than a climb; mainly of interest to "state high-point" collectors.

 

Longs Peak:

DSCF05891.jpg

 

Trespassing in a national park: $5000 fine and 6 months in prison:

DSCF0569.jpg

 

 

Trespassing on private property: priceless:

DSCF0584.jpg

 

Mighty Elbert. Trail starts in the forested valley and goes up the center-left ridge facing the camera:

DSCF0551.jpg

 

The morning slog and a false summit:

DSCF0495.jpg

 

Mount Massive:

DSCF0500.jpg

 

Summit ridge:

DSCF0514.jpg

 

Looking north:

DSCF0541.jpg

 

On the top:

DSCF0529.jpg

 

Headed down:

DSCF0537.jpg

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Cool. I should go ski that one of these years. It's not that far from here and it's on my way to A$$pen (if Independence Pass is open).

 

It would be a slightly longer drive but there's better alpine climbing near Crestone on Kit Carson, Crestone Peak or Crestone Needle if you're looking for a more technical experience on more rugged 14ers (when RMNP is closed).

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Thanks! I'll check it out for future dates; this was my first trip to Colorado. I was amazed at the amount of mining/industry along the I-70 mountain passes. Near Loveland Pass it looks like they're taking the top off an entire mountain, and just east of Copper Mountain lies one the largest settlement pond/cofferdams I've ever seen.

 

Anyway, I talked to a guy who skis Elbert in the wintertime. It's a good avalanche-free climb and descent. Pretty tame for a skier of your skills, but I'll bet it would be a great lung trainer for Alaska.

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I talked to a guy who skis Elbert in the wintertime...

While living in CO in the 70s I had a roommate who was bc skiing on Elbert in 60s or early 70s when he came upon a group of skiers all decked out in white - white jackets, white pants, white skis, and... white rifles. Also, they appeared "foreign". I can't recall all the details, but when he got back to the parking lot there was an Air Force Academy bus parked there. He never did figure out what exactly was going on, but I recall the general consensus was that the U.S. was training Tibetans for some special operations somewhere.

 

It's a good avalanche-free climb and descent.

It's true that it's a pretty mellow lump of a mountain with an easy ridge ascent, but it is also surrounded by serious avy terrain. The town of Twin Lakes, at the base of Elbert, was basically wiped off the map by an avalanche in the 60s.

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