| Northeast Ridge
This was my first Colorado 14er, though I have climbed Mt. Whitney twice.
A synopsis of my climb:
Scouting the trailhead the day before
Conditions, weather and my body, were perfect except for some clouds forming and dissipating at the summit around 10 – 10:30AM.
• 5:30AM – at the trailhead and begin climbing
• 6:20AM – at the junction of the Colorado and Mt. Elbert trails
• 10:30AM – at the summit = 5 hours up
• 11:00AM – begin the descent
• 1:45PM – arrive back at the trailhead = 2 ¾ hours down
I'm not a peak bagger, and at 67, I found the 8 ¼ hour day to be a long strenuous day, though I would have to agree that it was easy from a technical standpoint! Other descriptions that I read in other trip reports such as easy slope to a flat area, relatively moderate terrain, pretty easy route overall, up the easy slope to a flat area, etc.!! obviously reflect the abilities of those writers, and they are beyond me! I realize that some guys run a 5 minute mile, and some guys run a 10 minute mile. I'm more like a 10 minute miler!!!
I arrived at the trailhead ready to hike at 5:30AM. There were several cars already there, and 3 – 4 more pulled in as I got ready. I’d estimate that about 50 cars could fit in the trailhead parking lot. So, I had company from the get go. There were all kinds of people before the day was over, and I probably saw over 100 all together. 5 – 6 members of a boys cross country team jogged by me! A Boy Scout group of about 8 with a leader, and we would leapfrog each other most of the day, til they lost me on the last mile or so to the summit. Coming down I passed them. Their leader had them well disciplined. He made sure everyone kept the pulse down, and didn’t just freight it like a lot of other younger folks. Pleasant group. Two guys pulled up and parked next to me, one from Chicago, and they were going to go for it! We leapfrogged for a couple of hours. I never saw them after the last time I passed them. Another, young fellow, 25 – 30, walked by me early on at a good pace, only for me to slog by him at about the 3 hour mark. I saw him after about 30 minutes on my way down lying against a large cairn. He didn’t have much to say, and I’m thinking he had at least 1 to 1 ½ hours to go at his pace to summit! 3 or 4 groups of 8 – 10 young people went on by me. On the way down I saw some people heading up, so that would be between 11:30 and 1:30, a little late I think.
I purposely walked slowly from the beginning, knowing that I had come from 650’ and was already at 10,000’ at the trailhead in about 24 hours!! Pole-eh pole-eh I repeated to myself ! I continued to remind myself all day, though at times in hours 4 and 5 on the way to the summit, it was pretty easy to remind myself!! I only had 1 occasion where the pulse in my head got high and throbbing. That’s the warning sign that signals the end of the ascent if I couldn’t get the pulse down. I took it easier and didn’t have a reoccurrence. On Humphreys Peak last summer I had this happen to me multiple times, and the max elevation there was “only” 12,633’. I think I pushed it too hard and didn’t pole-eh pole-eh enough on Humphreys.
Some of the neat things:
• pristine forest
• quaking aspen
• panoramas of mountains and snowy peaks everywhere
• picas calling
• very showy tundra-like yellow and purple and lavender and white….flowers
• Mt. Massive – so well named, the girth is unbelievable!
• a Clark’s Nutcracker who landed nearby for a picture
• the false summit that didn’t bother me in that I knew what to expect
• the 15 minutes of complete silence I had on the way down as I saw no one!
I timed it right! The flowers aren’t always there. Thundershowers were predicted in the 40 – 60% range, but I only got about 10 spritzs on me on the way down. The elevation didn’t really adversely affect me. I managed to only go down on my butt twice on the way down!
I had no aches or pains the night of the climb. And, I have had no aches or pains since, due to the climb anyway!
Bottom line: A very successful trip, more than I could have expected. The kind I would like all my climbs to be!!
Some pictures follow.
Colorado & Mt. Elbert Junction
Treeline - Now the real work begins!
The Real SUmmit
View from the top 1
View from the top 2
A new friend
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):