| Cyclones on Missouri
Route: NW Ridge, Missouri Gulch
Summit Elevation - 14,067
Elevation Gain: 4500
Trip Distance: 10.50 miles
Total Round-Trip Climb Time (including all breaks): 7:15
4WD Required: nope, '95 accord was fine
Exhaustion Factor (on scale of 1-10): 2
Scenery Factor (on scale of 1-10): 5
Got a late start on the 14er season this year. Longs was my first in 2003, since then I've started the season in either May or June every year. I guess I've placed a larger focus on running & cycling lately, so these 14ers have taken a bit of a back seat. Anyways, still hope to get up 3 or 5 this season.
Anyways, with the GF completing a fellowship in Boston this year, I was in need of a new hiking partner. Chris is a friend of mine from Iowa who moved here 4 or 5 years ago; he had never been up before, and he was interested, and Missouri is a good "beginner" one minus the crowds, so he joined me!
We left around 4:15am from my place in Denver, drove to I70, to Copper, through Leadville, righty-tighty on 390, to the TH, to start hiking around 7:15. The trailhead was in EXCELLENT shape as my car had some company today!
Laetitia with Cyclone sticker
Laetitia's new friend
Started heading up the trail and about 3 minutes into it I felt as though I was in Tanzania again. You have ~got~ to be f'n kidding me. My camebak, which I completely forgot had broken while in Africa (the tube disconnects from the bladder), leaked my delicious water into my backpack. Luckily I noticed it asap and i got everything out of my pack before it got drenched. The only wet thing was my bombproof stash jacket, which dried out in like 2 minutes (pockets were open). Some random girls walking by who were extremely nice and went above generosity offered us a liter water bottle they had. They were heading up Belford and thought they could spare it. I was reluctant to take it but I felt confident in their amount of water they had. If you are them and you are reading this -- THANK YOU!!! I hope you made it atop Belford and had enough water to do so!
So it was going to be conservative water day for me, drink moderately. I am smart enough to turn around should I need to, but I wasn't smart enough to bring my iodine tablets today. Oops. Lesson learned. The camelbak bladder now sits in a dumpster somewhere in Denver, this will not happen again.
We headed up the trail fast, I was impressed at Chris' speed for a first-timer as this trail starts off quite steep until treeline. The stream crossings below treeline were not as solid as they were when I was last here in 2005. The water is practically flowing over the logs of both crossings, and the logs feel like they could give at any time. Use caution here.
We got up past the old log cabin and sheet metal dumpster and made it to the junction, where the arrow is strongly eroded that tells you Belford is left. I assumed Missouri was to the right, but I forgot my paperwork in the car. Yeah, a bit absent-minded today. The only reason for confusion is I believe on Wetterhorn when you feel you're supposed to turn left, you go right. Anyways, we made a wise choice as the best part of the day was soon to come.
Two women approach us heading down, it was only about 9:15 or so so this seemed early, but who knows, maybe they were go-getters! They had turned the wrong way at the junction, they thought Belford was to the right as opposed to the left. This made me feel better about my earlier sign confusion! I asked if it was their Iowa State car at the lot, and this was the best part of the day, one of the women says, "Ha! Iowa! Idiots Out Walking Around." She didn't even finish saying the word "around" before she tripped over her own two feet and feel down. She wasn't hurt, so I can say that her falling down while calling us "idiots out walking around" was the epitome of irony! They were good sports. Here is Chris re-enacting that same moment at the same spot on the way down.
We soon crossed paths with another group and asked if it was their Iowa State car. They said, "No, but we went to Iowa State!" Hell yes! Then the guy says, "There is a big group ahead of 10 or so people, they all went to Iowa State too!" Holy cow, Cyclones on Missouri day!!!
So now comes the stream crossings. These are interesting right now. Lots of water going on here, and you're probably going to get wet. Let's just say I was happy to have brought extra socks. I didn't slip in on the way there, but we had to bushwack a few places to find a crossing. The typical crossing rocks are all covered with fast-flowing water on nearly all of the 3 or 4 stream crossings. Bring.Extra.Socks. Trekking poles were also helpful. Some folks we talked to later in the day said they just took off shoes & socks and walked through it in their skivvies as they thought there was no other way to cross.
Shortly after the next sign telling you you are on the correct trail, there was a snowfield. 10:00ish was the perfect time for this. Not too soft for postholing, not to hard for slipping. No crampons or axe needed, but a trekking pole was nice to have for reassurance. The talus-y area was next and was uneventful, snow free, and stable. Approaching the saddle, there is a another snow filed which you climb vertically rather than laterally. Again, no axe, crampons, or postholing ... but a trekking pole was nice to have.
From the saddle to the summit was uneventful. The one "tricky" move proved to be a cake walk rather than a challenge, as I had expected.
We got to the summit and met all the fellow Cyclones. Chris found one Squakeye in the bunch and threw him off the summit. The world is a better place with less Squakeye fans! I mean, he even went to Iowa State, and he likes them? WTF?!
Stayed on the summit for 30-45, took jumping pictures, got hailed on about 30 minutes after leaving the summit, did some glissading, you know - the typical stuff. Back to the car around 2:30.
Yes, I know I need a haircut, haven't cut it for a year or so so this is longer than since you've last seen me!
Opted to take 285 home vs. I70. Bad idea. Don't do that when semi's hauling gasoline accidentally drive into Turkey Creek and they close 285 so they can have a crane pull the truck out. We sat just east of Conifer for about 1:30 in park. Oops!
Oh well, another one bites the dust. Great day on Missouri!!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):