Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2014-09-01

Climber: Rob Anthony

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, September 1, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

Left Windsor with dog around 4 am. Wanted to take the Black Cloud Trail to mitigate Labor Day traffic on the trail with the dog and drove right past it. Asked for directions from some kind folks down the road at the trail head to La Plate. They lady said her husband was trying to Nolan's 14. His friend half joked if I wanted to go with him at a quick pace up Elbert (he still had Elbert and Massive with 9 hours or so left), and when I asked where he was his wife replied with a totally straight face "He's in his tent right now hallucinating." Sign me up!

I ended up parking out of the way by some cabins for rent. I later talked to the owner whom informed me the correct parking for the Black Cloud Trail is another 100 yard or so east. Forgot my camera in the car on the way up and had to run back to get it - added an extra 1/3 of a mile on the way up.The hike consists of 5 or so distinct parts, each about a mile long.

The hike starts out in the woods and immediately starts gaining elevation. It follows a creek, where there are ample opportunities to get water. Then the trail moves into a meadow where the tread is rocky, but seemed less steep. There is an old outhouse right below tree line that would make an excellent place to camp. From here, the trail gradually steepens and the next 1,500 ft are spent ascending the relatively barren sw face. Once the ridge is attained, head west to the South Peak of Elbert. This has some up and down and I would classify it as a class 2. Elbert can be clearly seen from the South Peak, descend about 200 ft and make the final 500 ft push to the summit of Elbert. The ridge was exceptionally windy today with gusts I estimate in excess of 70 mph. Only 5 other people on the trail, although several people were on the summit from one of the "easier" routes.

I circumnavigated the South Peak on the way up, but hit it on the way back, when I knew the weather would hold out. The wind on the 4 mile ridge treck, the elevation (especially after living in Houston all summer), and the scare of fast moving weather made this one of my more challenging summits.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5378 ft / 1638 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5378 ft / 1638 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.2 mi / 18 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2-
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5078 ft / 1547 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4678 ft / 1426 m; Extra: 400 ft / 121m
    Loss on way in:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:Black Cloud Trail
    Start Trailhead:Elbert Canyons Black Cloud TH  9755 ft / 2973 m
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4978 ft / 1517 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4678 ft / 1426 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:5.4 mi / 8.7 km
    Route:Black Cloud Trail
    End Trailhead:Elbert Canyons Black Cloud TH  9755 ft / 2973 m
    Time:3 Hours 27 Minutes

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