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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-02-20||Route: East Ridge
Info: The mountain Gods were smiling on me today. Pending storm held off long enough for me to summit. Parked at the 2wd trail head and was able to skin all the way to 13,000‘. There was only two spots on the 4wd road that are bare. The rest is packed and sun baked. Trail from the 4wd trailhead to treeline is well established. While it is packed I would recommend some type of flotation to avoid post holing. Snow is 3‘ deep in spots. Above 13,000‘ the East ridge is wind blown and you can pretty much follow the summer trail. No flotation or traction required, only will power and the desire to summit. Overall all it was an excellent day even though the cloud cover limited visibility from summit. Car to car took 7hr 21min, and I was super thankful to have skis for the descent. Even though it was survival skiing at its best. With the new snow falling it should be prime after the storm passes.
|2015-02-15||Route: East Ridge
Info: Conditions on this date required only microspikes/no snowshoes necessary. I started from the 2wd lot off of Rd 24 near Twin Lakes Village. Began hiking up the 4wd road by 0530 hrs. Very little post holing, as trail was broken and packed from weekend prior, and very little new snow had fallen. Snow was soft and slushy on descent, especially last three miles through the trees and on the 4wd road, but no issues.
|2015-02-08||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: trail hard to find and snow is waist deep in most spots. didn‘t make it more than a mile up.
|2015-02-07||Route: East Ridge
Info: Trail was boot-packed all the way until treeline. Snowshoes helpful in the flat meadow shortly before treeline and the ascent to the ridge just after treeline, but not mandatory. I kept microspikes on for the majority of the hike. On the upper mountain, large snowfields present on climbers‘ left (the summer trail starts to cut trough this area). We stuck to the ridge proper and walked up the rocks/tundra. A couple of small snowfields to ascend; spikes mandatory if you don‘t want to walk around them.
|2015-01-25||Route: East Ridge
Info: Mt Elbert sure is a popular mountain lately! Here is yet another conditions report. Trail well boot-packed and I didn‘t use flotation or traction on the way up. I did use spikes on the descent. That said, it was a rather warm day considering it is still January. Coupled with the brilliant sun, the snow was starting to get soft in places particularly nearing tree line and a few places heading up to the ridge start. I did posthole a few times, but it was no biggie. On the way down, spikes helped on the well consolidated steep snow near the summit as well as the steep sections in the trees. Up high the snow was firm enough to get in a few good glissades.
|2015-01-24||Route: East Ridge
Info: Nothing new to report, the previous couple of reports are still accurate, I just wanted to add a couple of photos of the route. I used Microspikes for most of the accent and the entire decent, but many others didn‘t. Snowshoes not required. Winds were really heavy on the east ridge Saturday, but died down to almost nothing once you pass about 14,000.
|2015-01-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Trial by wind on Elbert today. There were a lot of climbers today but most turned around because of brutal wind. In spite of that 6 managed to summit. Oddly enough, between 12,000 and 13,800 it was vicious but from there to the summit it relented to a quite pleasant 10 mph. I think you need flotation between 11000 and the ridge. There was a lot of post holing in that zone today. Skis are just not worth it. The upper mountain is so wind hammered that I left mine at 12000. Some guys had microspikes, some didn‘t. Your call.
|2015-01-21||Route: East Ridge
Info: Yet another E Ridge conditions update: prior reports still valid, only a few inches of fresh snow over the past few days. Trail in perfect condition, feasible with no gear at all though I always advise two poles and the upper portion of the ridge can be (slightly) sketchy with no traction. Of course we‘re all supposed to carry an ice axe for self arrest, it‘s just that I‘m lazy. Sorry no pics of route, fingers kept going numb.
|2015-01-18||Route: East Ridge
Info: Previous two conditions reports are accurate. We decided to not take traction or flotation and were satisfied with our choice (we just had boots, gaiters, and poles). I only postholed a couple of times and had no trouble maintaining traction, even on the steeper wind slabs. Just stick to the path below 12,500 feet and it is completely solid. Above 12,500 feet, you can rockhop/DIY on supportive slabs. We glissaded down quite a ways which was nice.
|2015-01-16||Route: East Ridge
Info: CO Native‘s report from January 11 remains valid. I will add the observation that while snowshoes are not absolutely necessary, some of the slabs above timberline are slick in places and unsupportive in others. There is enough trail braiding above timberline that you can easily find yourself in terrain on the way down where snowshoes are appreciated. I know that I‘m glad that I brought mine.
|2015-01-11||Route: East Ridge
Info: The previous comment mentioned the 4wd road was snow packed. We were unclear about the meaning of this. It means the trail is not passable by vehicles (other than snowmobiles) but is nicely packed for hiking. Snowshoes were not necessary on the entire route as the trail was well packed. For those skiing up, continuous snow ends at 13,000 feet. If you‘re up for carrying them about a third of a mile then you can put them back on and skin the rest of the way up. We did see evidence of an avalanche that released on an east facing slope but it was small and that was the only one we saw. Staying on the route will avoid any avalanche terrain, but going off route some you can find continuous snow from the summit back to the trailhead.
|2015-01-08||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: From the S. Mt. Elbert TH near Twin Lakes. 4WD road to the upper TH snow packed. The CT/CD trail from the 4WD TH is a nice snowshoe packed track all the way to the junction with the S. Mt. Elbert Trail. The trench turns left at this trail junction and does not continue northward on the CT/CD trail. The S. Mt. Elbert Trail is trenched all the way to treeline at 11,750‘. The track through the open meadows below treeline are blown in, but still easily findable. Above treeline, the wind scoured snow pack supports you nicely on snowshoes, with soft spots only here and there. There is a pretty lengthy portion of the summer trail, up higher on the east ridge that is exposed to ground. Higher yet, the multiple snowfields are wind pack and will support you without snowshoes. Microspikes really helpful on the upper 1,000‘. Ridge walk to summit for the most part is exposed to ground.
|2014-12-10||Route: East Ridge
Info: There is a well-traveled trench in place all the way to tree line. I didn‘t need flotation though that may soon change with coming storms. From tree line to the ridge, there are a few sections of deeper snow where I postholed a few times. I stayed along the summer trail along the ridge all the way to 13,800. The summer trail that bends around to the southern aspect is more snow-covered, so I took a direct line to the summit. Microspikes may have been helpful in places but I didn‘t use them.
|2014-11-27||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Set out solo late on 11/26 to bivy and shoot to the top early on 11/27 to catch a cloudless day at summit. 4WD trail had some Nordic ski tracks, beside some 4x4 ATV the ski tracks ending shortly before the summer trailhead signs (The guy on skis apparently made it further.) Blazed trail the entire way up... there was basically no sign of trail past the ‘Lily Ponds‘ sign until the ridge - when I went it was fresh and thick, and I postholed in 1.5-3 foot of crunch the whole way to the clearing between the 2 spruce groves, where a deceiving layer of crust covers the same all the way past treeline, several barely avoidable crotch-deep patches. Climbed up to spruce grove and bivouac‘d just a whisper before treeline. Trail picks up pretty nicely around 12,000+ with intermittent snow coverage, but fairly easy to identify especially if you‘ve been up before. Snow shoes if you‘ve got them, but micro spikes with get you all the way to the top considering the trench I got stomped out, and the party that was behind me. Final 500ft has some typical blue-icy spots for this time of year, but mostly windswept crust. *Common sense, but be very vigilant if you have to bivy/camp around the spot I was hunkered down at especially if you have smaller kids or pets - I have never woken up to see as much cougar activity (tracks) within very close proximity as I did this time, stalking my trail and circling my dugout.
|2014-11-02||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Hiked the North Elbert trail on Sunday. There was fresh snow and it was snowing during the entire hike, except for the last hour or so below tree line. Trail from the trailhead was fine and didn‘t require traction devices. Above treeline, there was between 6-18 inches of fresh snow, with icy rocks underneath. Crampons highly recommended. Blowing snow and high winds made for a very short stay on the summit. There was very little visibility on the way down, which made route-finding to the tree-line a little difficult, but not impossible.
|2014-10-30||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Took the Southeast Ridge from the Black Cloud Trailhead on a beautiful, mild fall day. Trail was dry well past treeline until about 12,800‘ where we occasionally came across very small patches of snow on the steep southwest-facing slopes. More snow, maybe up to 6 inches deep at the most, was found along the ridge at ~13,600‘, but there were still large areas of dry ground and the snow was quite hard. From there, the trail up to South Elbert and then further to the saddle at 13,900‘ was probably ~90% dry. Along the south ridge past the saddle, it was quite windy and snow coverage and depth increased significantly. Most of the snow was easy to walk on without sinking in more than a few inches, even into the early afternoon, as long as you follow the packed trail marked by a line of footprints. The summit was 50-75% snow-covered, maybe a foot deep, but with a hard crust. We did not have traction and did not feel as if it was needed at any point.
|2014-10-23||Route: East ridge ascent with Mt Cosgriff descent
Info: Ascended via East Ridge. Once on Mt Elbert, moved south on ridge until we got onto South Elbert (14,134 ft). From there, we moved southeast on the same ridge until we got onto Mt Cosgriff (13,588 ft) We descended along the east face until we hit the 4WD dirt road that switchbacks all along this face. We followed that back down to the Colorado trail, then went north until we were back at the trailhead. Excellent loop route, about 10.5 miles roundtrip. Trail was totally snow free until about 12,400‘. Snow was several inches deep, but with a pretty hard crust. Didn‘t need snowshoes or traction devices. Summit was very windy and snow was about a foot deep, but with a hard crust. The route to South Elbert was tough, ~8 inches deep snow with soft crust, so we sunk into it. Gaitors were very useful for when we did break through the snow. Snow did hide the trail pretty well, so be prepared to just route find.
|2014-10-18||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: It was a beautiful day with very mild conditions! Hardly needed more than a base layer and we were pretty warm most of the hike, cooling off during our breaks. No micro spikes were need although they may have been helpful in a couple areas that were still covered in snow.
|2014-10-18||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: To add to yesterday‘s report, the only parts with real ice are on the Colorado trail, but only for short sections. All snow above treeline is packed and not icy. No traction needed currently if you have good shoes.
|2014-10-17||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Just got back this afternoon and thought I‘d pass on some info. Road to the trailhead is fine for 2WD--just washboardy and potholed with a few mostly avoidable puddles that might be frozen in the morning. The trail all the way up to tree line is almost entirely free of snow. However, on the first few switchbacks up from the trail head (north-facing slope) there are still some sections of ice. These patches were a bit slippery both in the early morning and at 1p.m. or so when I came down. The trail above tree line to the summit is mostly filled in with windblown snow, but it is packed down pretty well by hikers. Even the steeper sections of snow had steps. I never did any postholing unless I strayed from the freeway. I carried MicroSpikes but never used them anywhere--my winter boots gripped just fine (if too warm for today‘s summer-like conditions). Traction might be a good idea if you don‘t think your boots work well on the snowpacked trail or the ice on the first switchbacks--I saw some YakTrak imprints here and there. Bonus info: I also went over to South Elbert, contouring down across the southeast face to the saddle rather than following the snow-covered riidgeline down. It looked mostly snow-free when I started--just a talus and boulder traverse, I thought--but the last half of the downhill traverse (that I couldn‘t see when I started) sucked--snow over boulders and rocks. Coming up it was somewhat easier (except for breathing)--I picked a better line and "rock-hopped" a lot of the snowy sections. Glad I took the poles. Took 50 minutes to get to South Elbert and an hour ten to come back (average hiker). Once you are on the saddle, the route to/from South Elbert is basically snow-free. Weather will change all this very quickly so watch the forecast. Hope that helps someone.