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Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Post Date:  06/20/2011
Date Climbed:   06/19/2011
Posted By:  JMB

 Mt Elbert – NE & NNE Ridges Loop   

Date of Climb : 6/19/11
Peaks Climbed :
1) Mt Elbert – 14433’
Distance : 9.0 miles
Elev Gain : 4539’
Time : ~10 hrs, 7am - 5pm, Ascent 5hrs, Descent 5 hrs
Ascent Party : John B. & Allison B.

I spent the day climbing Colorado’s highest mountain with my youngest daughter on Father’s Day. We drove out that morning leaving home at 4a. The forecast called for snow & rain by 3p and strong winds for the day. Fortunately the weather held beautifully for us all day!

The plan was to climb the NNE ridge per Roach’s NE ridge Class 2 variation & descend the standard NE route. However, given the weather forecast & no real beta (pics) about the non-std route, we opted to ascend the std route, and then check out the new route for descent if the weather was good.

Alli negotiating the only real stream of the day.

Mt Elbert trail turn-off from the CO trail at 10560’.

Winds started gusting near 13000’.

Finally getting around that big bump at 13700’ we’d been staring at for so long. Can see all the way to Turquoise Lake & Leadville.

Stunning views of Massive, Oklahoma, Deer, & K49 at 13850’.

Alli climbing the final ridgeline to the summit.

A look at the NNE ridge. I knew the 1st 1000’ would be the toughest. Would we face scree slides?

Allison on the summit of Colorado. Her 5th 14er and 10th State Highpoint.

Alli & her dad on Mt Elbert’s summit. What a great Father’s Day!

Starting the descent of the NNE ridge. A giant cairn marks the start near 14360’. The slope is somewhat steep, but the scree holds firm, and there seems to be a faint trail mostly here & there.

Looking down the NNE ridge.

Looking up the NNE ridge. Some spots rockier than others. Easy Class 2 if stay on the E side. We ended up on the W side to avoid some snow and got into a little Class 3 section.

At the 13380’ N ridge / NNE ridge saddle. We could now see the storm coming in from the NW.

We decided to traverse the same contour level rather than climb all the bumps along the ridgeline.

Of course we came across a few snow fields we could not avoid – knee deep in most cases (no wonder not melted yet).

Full view of NE, N, & NNE ridges.

Not only did this NNE route provide a bit of off-trail adventure, but also stunning views.

Then there were some fun sections (not like that beautiful CO Trail).

Alli resting & viewing Mt Elbert’s std NE ridge route.

We could see Emerald Lake and the TH from 11800’.

We kept to the NNE ridgeline very well. We came across a lot of old & faint trails, so the travel through the forest was unexpectedly nice.

Topo Plan & Route. The yellow is actual 9 mi & 4539’ elev gain. The green was the plan (not including switchbacks) and only predicted 6.6 mi.

GE view. Red is actual path, Black plan. The CO Trail really takes you way S.

Overall, a fantastic day! Don’t trust the weather forecast (unless >60%).

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Congratulations to you and your daughter!     06/20/2011 22:31
My brother and I are doing the NE route on Wednesday for his 22nd birthday. It does not look like you carried or used snowshoes. Was there a need for them or could we leave the weight behind?

Dr. Dave


no snowshoes     06/20/2011 22:40
We encountered snow piles at 10K along std NE route, but each had stomped paths through them. On the NNE ridge we again encountered snow, but only sloshed thru a few for at most 10 yards. Nice to cool down the feet. No problem w/o snowshoes or gaiters. Actually we saw 1 person going up the std NE route carrying no pack.

Dan England

Thanks!     06/21/2011 15:31
Thanks for the great beta we are headed up there this weekend. I don't know if the snowfall Monday changes anything but it's supposed to be hot later this week so I'm guessing no.


Can't wait for Saturday!!     06/24/2011 00:54
Thanks for the trip report! Heading up to Elbert on Saturday

A fantastic father's day with your youngest! It's about time to get my little ones up to Sherman

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