Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2004-05-30

Climber: Neil Smith

Others in Party:Steven Smith (Cousin)
Eric Smith (Cousin)
Bryan Dusenbury (Cousin)
Jeffrey Winnicki (Friend)
Jason Bray (Friend)
Date:Sunday, May 30, 2004
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Elevation:14200 ft / 4328 m

Ascent Trip Report

My cousins came out to visit us from Buffalo, NY and were uninitiated to Colorado hiking, having mainly had their experience in the Adirondacks (while having weather than is somewhat more predictable, the hiking I believe has a higher degree of difficulty due to overgrown forests and roots that grow all over the trails). It was a clear, yet cool day during Memorial Day weekend. There was a chance of snow for higher eleveations but with the sun being so prominent we expected to have a worry-free hike. Dressed mainly in summer fare we trudged up the ascent. Approx at 14,000 ft. clouds blew quickly over the other side of the peak and we suddenly found ourselves in a spring-time blizzard! Initially we attempted to climb further since we were so close to summit but it became quickly apparent that our very survival would be put into question if we did not descend with the utmost haste. Dressed in light long sleevre shirts, T-shirts, and shorts we in essence ran as fast as we could down the hill trying to avoid frostbite and hypothermia... 20 mins or so later we emerged from the freak storm and found ourselves in blessed sunshine. But the damage had been done and there was no fight in anyone of us to try the peak again without being sufficiently prepared. This was a hard learning experience, but has helped in future ascents.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4150 ft / 1264 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Northeast Ridge
    Trailhead:North Mount Elbert Trailhead  10050 ft / 3063 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Snowing, Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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