A few months back and few friends and I got the crazy idea to climb a mountain over our Spring break. Tired of the typical "Let's go to Florida!" idea that many Michiganders have during this time of the year, we started to plan our trip. We decided on an attempt of Elbert, due to the low avy concern and supposed ease of the route. We have all climbed mountains before... but we knew winter climbing is a different monster. So with our limited avy knowledge we planned South Elbert, hoping to summit with little acclimation time.
We planned on having a 3-day period where we would evaluate the weather and choose the best 12-hour weather window to climb, day or night. We stayed in beautiful Salida, at the wonderful Simple Hostel, which is an excellent starting point for almost any 14er in the Sawatch range. The best period to climb was between midnight and 11am on Wednesday, so that was our plan. We got to the South lower TH at around 5am ready to climb and attempt a summit by 11am, where shortly after it was forcasted to snow (not major snow though... we just wanted to avoid as much weather as possible. We climbed the 4WD road at a steady and quick pace in anticipation for for the upper TH and summit push. After about 30 minutes we reached a clearing where you could clearly see the Twin Lakes and the beautiful La Plata and Belford peaks (I think...)
We got some instant motivation to keep rolling knowing that this was only a fraction of the beauty we would experience today.
We kept climbing and reached the upper TH after about 50 minutes of climbing. It was an easy climb to this point and we hoped that luck would continue as we climbed higher. At around 11,200 we reached a clearing where we got our first look at the summit and southern face of the mountain as a whole. We paused for some pictures and some water.
Elbert summit at top right
Elbert summit at top right
After this short rest we continues to climb. Right after this point I started to experience my first symptoms of AMS. I tried to stay on top of hydration, but would soon find out this was a losing battle. We continued to climb and eventually reached the tree line. I saw up ahead that if I could gain the ridge, we would have a fantastic view of some of God's beautiful creation. As my headache worsened I knew that spot would be the end of the trip for me. My legs felt great, which made the turn that much harder for all of us, so I motored ahead of my group to get to the ridge as soon as possible. And as I suspected, we got an incredible view from the saddle at the bottom of the east ridge. We took about 20 minutes to take pictures and bask in the glory of our Lord. Our final resting place was a still impressive 12,200 ft.
Jumping pic at 12,200...classic, Mosquito's in the background
me with the Mosquito's in the back ground
PBR and tanks-on-tanks... -5 degree windchill... He is crazy!
Great friend! Great beer?
Mt. Massive in the background
me and my bestie with the Mosquito's in the back ground
Though we were not able to reach the summit, we were content with what we were able to experience. I guess in the end I could not have expected much more from a couple boys from MI trying to reach 14,000 ft in under a weeks time. Our safety was placed miles above our pride, which is exactly what we prayed for before the trip started. We must thank God for letting us experience his beauty. We started our descent with heads held high and the prospect of Filet Mignon at Quincy's for dinner.