Mt. Elbert

Colorado 14er peak questions, condition requests and other info.
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Fred North
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Mt. Elbert

Postby Fred North » Fri May 29, 2009 1:32 pm

My sons (24 & 22) and I are planning to hike Mt. Elber on June 8 or 9 with two newbies. We've got only two 14ers under our belts. Is it to snowy for a hardy bunch of hikers including the two newbies?
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby CO Native » Fri May 29, 2009 2:00 pm

The snow in the sawatch seems to be mostly gone up to treeline, but quite a bit above that. You can veiw Elbert on this webcam: http://lakecounty-sd.schoolfusion.us/modules/slideshow/org_display_slideshow.php. As long as you don't run into much snow before treeline postholing shouldn't be too big of a problem as the two main routes mostly follow ridges above treeline. If you do run into some post holing you'd better be a hardy group.
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travis_sand
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby travis_sand » Fri May 29, 2009 5:26 pm

The view from Sherman's today was that there is still plenty of snow on Elbert and all the mountains for that matter, but all above the tree line. I would definitely expect snow on the trek for sure, but it should not be much of an issue until the tree line. That being said, I guess it all depends on the exact routes everyone plans to take.
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby COTrekker02 » Fri May 29, 2009 7:06 pm

Read this post from a couple days ago.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=18990

The snow won't be an issue at all.
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby Gaffman » Fri May 29, 2009 11:08 pm

Take the snowshoes!! I climbed Elbert last Wednesday (5-27). Snow shoes were used but not 100 percent necessary right at treeline and further up as well. We did receive a lot of snow on Tuesday though. It has been melting off ever since. If you do not own a pair, get an extra early start and you will still make it up.

Have fun!
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highcomm
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby highcomm » Sun May 31, 2009 6:10 am

I hiked Mt. Massive last Wednesday. Looking over to Elbert I could that there is a ton of snow on it.
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby Dorje1018 » Sun May 31, 2009 9:04 am

It all depends on aspect. Massive's southwest slopes can be climbed by only crossing one or two snowfields and navigating the snowy summit ridge. One can stay dry even without gaiters. Contrary to a previous post, the only snow on the north and west sides of Elbert is above 13,000 feet. Even so, it appears moderate. More like a fall dusting as a result of snow showers, with occasional deeper pockets.
"Climb if you will but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence and that momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step, and from the beginning think what might be the end"
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby Aubrey » Sun May 31, 2009 3:51 pm

Climbed Mt. Elbert's northeast ridge today (5/31).

Just below treeline there were some snow drifts, but they were a non-issue for us (mostly packed down so no postholing, either). In one area it did become slightly tricky, but if you follow the most beaten-down path (and more or less take the higher tracks to the right), you should be fine. In some places you have to walk 50-100 feet on dry ground to regain the trail over snow drifts. Seems like people take different ways. But overall this section wasn't very long. Maybe a half mile or less, I would guess.

Then, above treeline, there's a good stretch that's bone dry. Somewhere around 13k to the top was mostly snow covered, but it wasn't very deep and we didn't need any technical gear. Even though we brought ice axes and crampons, we only used our trekking poles. That said, if it had been icy, I would have donned the crampons.

As far as routefinding goes, it was pretty straightforward ... there were boot tracks to follow and they more or less stuck to the high point of the northeast ridge, as well as the ridge to the summit. Just don't wander off that line; there are some big cornices up there.

When we started back down, I saw some climbers coming up the southeast ridge but I didn't see any tracks from where they were to the summit. The recent snowfall probably covered them up. If you take that route, I'm not exactly sure where the best place to pop up would be. There were some rather large drifts one would need to navigate over and/or around. Had I been coming up that way, the ice axe definitely would be in hand.

I'll get a trip report up soon with pics ...
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby Aubrey » Sun May 31, 2009 3:54 pm

BTW, I also climbed Massive (east slopes) this weekend, on Saturday. We used ice axes and crampons for one snow section up to the ridge and then along the ridge. I'll get that TR up soon, too ...
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Fred North
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby Fred North » Sun May 31, 2009 6:07 pm

Thanks everybody for the input. Sounds like a bit of caution and we should be okay to go. With two total newbies in tow we'll be okay with making the call to go down if it is going to be a problem.

Fred
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Re: Mt. Elbert

Postby kansas » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:28 am

Aubrey wrote:Climbed Mt. Elbert's northeast ridge today (5/31).
When we started back down, I saw some climbers coming up the southeast ridge but I didn't see any tracks from where they were to the summit. The recent snowfall probably covered them up. If you take that route, I'm not exactly sure where the best place to pop up would be. There were some rather large drifts one would need to navigate over and/or around. Had I been coming up that way, the ice axe definitely would be in hand.


I climbed the SW ridge alone on Saturday. As Aubrey said it's a little sketchy in places and loaded with snow and ice. The snow conditions were all over the place, powder, breakable crust, waist deep posthole slush, and ice up the west ridge of Elbert. if anyone is planning to climb this route sometime soon, bring snowshoes, ice axe, and crampons. I spent a total of 4 1/2 hours on the ridge up and back, but had the summit to myself at 11am on a Saturday.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
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