Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2013-07-27

Climber: Drew Gajan

Date:Saturday, July 27, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

Flew in for a wedding and got the chance to get a 14er in. Left downtown Denver around 3:30am, following US70 W (60 miles), US24 S to Leadville (28 miles), CO 300 less than 1 mile, County Road 11 for 1.2 miles then turning on Halfmoon Road. Take Halfmoon Rd for 5.8 miles, the Mt. Elbert TH parking is on the left. Lot is big enough for about 30 vehicles and folks spill over to Halfmoon Road. FYI - the Mt. Massive TH is 1/2 mile further down Halfmoon Road on the right side. Besides parking, there are 2 toilets (man and woman) that actually had toilet paper.

Left the TH at 6:15am and there were probably already 30 people on trail or leaving on this Saturday morning. The Mt Elbert Northeast Ridge Trail is very well marked, after crossing the creek, you wind your way up and then drop about 200 feet until you reach a trail junction. The right trail is Mt. Elbert and the left (descending) is the continuation of the Colorado Trail. Mile 1 of this route ascends ~800 feet, then levels off for the next mile gaining maybe 200 feet. At mile 2 the trail climbs 1000 feet for 1 mile until you reach the tree line around 12,000 feet. The next mile rises another 1200 feet. The final mile also rises ~1200 feet with the first half being a pretty sharp ascent. This is where you will climb up the first of 3 false summits, the first of which is the steepest. This part of the hike is exposed to the wind and even on a July morning it got pretty cold. Most people had on hard shells, hoods or hats, and a few had gloves. Come prepared, you never know what you will get in terms of weather.

I had to get back to Denver to start the wedding weekend, so snapped a few pictures and left the summit after 10 minutes. The descent was slower than I anticipated because there was a lot of ascending "traffic" and I follow the rules that ascending climbers get the right of way. So my rapid descent came to a halt número use times as there were at least an additional 80 people climbing by late morning. By the time you gave beta and words of encouragement, I think I added 30 minutes to the descent.

This is a relatively easy climb in the Summer months and I could see what could be some really challenging Winter climbs. Don't recommend flying in from near sea level at 10pm, sleeping for 4 hours, driving 2.5 hours, and starting a climb at 10000 feet, but you take the opportunity when provided!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4393 ft / 1338 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:Northeast Ridge
    Trailhead:Mount Elbert Trail Head  10040 ft / 3060 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Clear
42F @ TH, warmed up while within tree line, windy and colder approaching summit
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 12 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 23 Minutes

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