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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-06-27||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: No need for any special gear. I did Belford-Oxford combo. Nearly summer conditions. Two things to note: (1) The main crossing of Missouri Gulch as shown in the picture guide here is the BETTER option. Take it! I didn‘t like the look of it and wasted over an hour fumbling around the several faint trails that include near-bushwacking on the west side. I turned back, passing two groups, who I couldn‘t convince to take the crossing. I passed them later where I saw them on the other side of the creek, still struggling to find a safe crossing. Take the main crossing; the logs are fairly stable, and I just got one minor splash on the back of my boot. Use trekking poles or a good stick and you‘ll be fine. It‘s not as bad as it looks. (2) There are a couple very small snow crossings, but I didn‘t have any trouble walking over them. There is not enough snow to ski or glissade anywhere on belford or Oxford, in my opinion. Save the weight. Plenty of water in the gulch if you don‘t want to haul it up the grueling switchbacks. There is a good amount of snow still on Missouri.
|2015-06-22||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Hiked up Belford via the standard route through the Missouri Gulch. Because of all the hotter weather this last week, there is a lot of snow melt occuring making the creek that runs through the gulch very swollen and running very fast. The log bridge described by Roach just before you get to the old shack is nearly washed out and the creek is running everywhere. The best way is to proceed through the water along whatever logs are left to the other side and meet up with the trail that way. We saw several people make for random trails along the west side of the creek at that point where they faced glacial-like snow bridges further up running over the creek that made for very sketchy and icy crossings, especially as the weather gets warmer. Along the trail further up just out of the treeline, the trail was essentially a small creek as the snow melt ran down it toward the main creek. I agree with what jpmindle said about the snow fields further up the northwest ridge of Belford along the switchbacks. The trail is covered up in several areas. Best way was to avoid these and skirt along the sides of the snow. We tried to hike through a few of these fields on our descent but postholed up to our hips which made for some funny photos. Oxford looked beautiful with very little snow along the ridge to it from Belford. Most routes to Missouri looked completely covered in snow above 12,500ft. Lots of recent avalanches littered the peak but we did see a few climbers who started early summit Missouri climbing straight up the Northeast face in the snow the entire time. Overall, beautiful hike and a clear sky all day. I‘ll try and get some pictures uploaded a little later. Enjoy!
|2015-06-18||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Arrived at the trailhead at 6:10AM. Clear Creek is raging right now from all the melt. Passing over Missouri Gulch was a little issue but water is really only midshin height so you can walk straight through it if you have hiking poles to maintain balance. The snow in the willows is melting incredibly fast and I didn‘t have a problem either avoiding it or going straight through it with only minimal sinking to shin height. There are a couple spots on the switchbacks near the top that are still snow/ice covered, but all can be avoided by skirting around the outside. Once at the final ridge, stay to the right because the trail is completely covered and on the left you can see the beginnings of an avalanche. I‘d post a picture now but am here on vacation and can‘t upload to this computer. I‘ll update when I get home. Missouri still looks very snowfilled and avalance prone, so I‘d be leary of attempting it. No snowshoes needed, so leave them at home. Just have some boots that go above the ankle or some gaiters and you‘re good to go. I did put microspikes on for a brief moment at the top just for some assurance after seeing that potential avalanche spot.
|2015-06-07||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Started at 6:15 am. Logs at the stream crossing were iced over and extremely slippery. We threw some extra logs in to get across. Creek is running high. We did not hit snow on the trail until the old shack (11,200’). There it was patchy, very firm and iced over from the previous days’ thaw/freeze. Once we hit the willows there was more firm snow. The start of the ridge was snow free. After a short distance up the ridge, there was a lot more snow and the trail is almost completely buried. Here we put on our Microspikes/Crampons to the top. The summit was clear, but the wind was wicked. Coming down the snow on the ridge softened considerably, but we did not posthole, yet. We glissaded down the areas where it was safe enough to. When we got to the willows we started to posthole, a lot. Thank god for gaiters. In hindsight, we could have put our snowshoes on here, but opted to push through it then finally avoiding it by going higher on the hill. If you attempt Mt. Belford anytime soon, I’d strongly suggest you bring traction, axe, and gaiters. Optionally, bring snowshoes, but only for the section through the willows.
|2015-05-02||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Plenty of snow, plenty of postholing. Snowshoes almost all the way. Just ditched them near summit and reused them back at the bottom of the ridge. Snow is very soft, morning is ok though I already postholed a bit. Tree line was cray in the afternoon, was postholing higher than hips with my snowshoes...glad I‘m out.
|2015-04-25||Route: NW bowl
Info: Like the rest of the region, snow coverage is now excellent. Skins on from base of Missouri all the way to summit. NW skiable from summit with only maybe 10‘ of thinness. Beautiful run, beautiful snow. Skis on all the way to the TH.
|2015-01-16||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Chaffee County Rd. 390 is maintained in winter to the Clear Creek Ranch. Beyond the ranch, the road is basically a vehicle track through fairly deep snow (in spots). With 4WD, aggressive tires, and some careful driving you can get to within about 1.3mi. of the Missouri Gulch TH, at Vicksburg. It would not be too difficult to get stuck on this non-maintained section if you get pulled out of the track. Beyond where you have to park, the road is snowmobile packed and is easily traveled without snowshoes to the TH. There is a nice trench from the TH all the way to treeline. I did 90% of this section without snowshoes. Snowshoes went on about fifty yards beyond the log bridge that takes you back to the east side of the creek. Above treeline the windpacked slabs generally support you on snowshoes, but there is some postholing. I stayed high (bearing left) out of the trees all the way to where you mount the NW ridge, and cached my snowshoes there. I made it about a third of the way up the ridge before I had to put on microspikes, as there is some water ice on the trail. The switchbacks are sort of hit or miss on blown to ground vs. snowcovered, but can generally be followed all the way to the summit ridge. The trail from Belford over to Oxford is mostly clear enough to follow the summer track. High winds the entire day (not the forecast I saw), made this trip much more difficult that it should have been. Just staying upright was really a challenge when going from Belford to Oxford (and back).
|2015-01-10||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Conditions are about as good as it gets. Can drive to a mile from TH. Packed trench to treeline. Hard packed snow in basin holds weight (at least in the morning). Ridge is very dry.
|2014-12-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: A gorgeous day on Belford/Oxford. The lower trail is all packed snow, once you reach the gulch there‘s a mix of packed snow and dirt, the climb to Belford is the same with only a few icy spots near 13,000, the peak is dry. The descent to Oxford has a few snow areas but can be avoided and the saddle, climb and peak are completely dry. On the descent from Belford I chose the gully just north hoping to glissade down to the gulch, conditions are not ideal to say the least, I was able to do it for ~500-600 yards spread into several short runs, the rest was walking / postholing. Traction: Snowshoes - left them in the car Microspikes - could come in handy in a very few select places but I was too lazy to take them out
|2014-11-08||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: A beautiful day on Mt. Belford. The entire trail is covered in snow; but it‘s generally only a couple inches deep. Traction and gaiters made my hike more enjoyable; but they weren‘t mandatory. I saw someone summit in running shoes. Most of the snow was firm enough to prevent post-holing. The goats had done a good job of keeping the snow packed down.
|2014-10-11||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail above the treeline is covered with snow. I would recommend snowshoes. Traverse to Mt. Oxford also snow covered.
|2014-10-05||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: A nice boot pack and almost continuous snow starting about 500 ft elevation from the Belford turnoff. We did not use any traction for the ascent to Belford, and the traverse to Oxford. Microspikes were very helpful coming down Belford to work our way downwards quickly - probably not essential, though. Given the freeze/thaw cycles, it‘s possible the boot pack may become icy in the next few days, in which case traction may become essential. It was windy and cold, but otherwise posed no problems at all.
|2014-10-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: I did the Belford-Oxford combo on 10/3. There‘s token snow in the trees below 12K, but as soon as you start ascending the steep ridge from 12K-13.9K, there‘s consistently 4-12" of snow on the trail. No postholing, but I strongly recommend gaiters and good traction (boots or microspikes both seemed to be working well). Some enthusiastic plunge-stepping had it pretty well plowed out by the end of 10/3, but it‘s still snowy. Didn‘t seem like it was going to melt fast up high. Also, the Oxford side of the traverse is fairly straightforward, but there‘s enough snow on the steep descent from Belford that poles or an axe might be a nice idea.
|2014-10-01||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: From treeline onwards there are several inches of snow and ice on route, expect to lose the path a few times and just go up. It‘s never deep enough to require flotation, but most people would find traction and poles worth carrying. Same for path to Oxford.
|2014-09-16||Route: Backside via Elkhead Pass
Info: Snow free. Longer approach via Elkhead pass highly recommended. Pleasant trail, good footing. Descent by std route also snow free but considerably steeper.
|2014-09-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Summer conditions still exist. Fall colors are starting to change, next weekend should be better.
|2014-08-31||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Very windy, light snow flurries on and off. The trail is in great condition and very easy to follow.
|2014-07-06||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Left from the trailhead at 5:50am. The trail to Mt. Belford is in very good condition, all dry and no snow. Stream crossings over logs was easy if you have poles or some basic balance. But be careful not to miss the stream crossing (see photo 1 in the trail description), as there also continues a small trail on the right side of the stream! It‘s a steep climb to the summit, and the slower part of our group arrived only after 5 hours. The faster part continued to Mount Oxford, also without problems. Overall a strenuous hike without any technical difficulties and great views!
|2014-06-26||Route: Elkhead Pass
Info: Standard route is clear. Elkhead Pass (easier on old knees, especially downhill) has a few snowfields remaining that can be avoided with little problem
|2014-06-20||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Belford was beautiful today. There are two small snowfields with the summit in sight: probably less than 75 vertical feet from the top. You can go around them, through the trenches which are already established, or over the top (in the morning) as they were very solid at 9:00 AM.