| Mt Massive via the Northeast Ridge
I recently had a good friend move to Leadville from Flagstaff, AZ. In order to celebrate, we decided it was time to bag Mt Massive. After some digging around, we decided to use a lesser traveled route, ascent by the northeast ridge of North Massive. I really couldn't find any info on it, other than a map on a previous trip report that showed it was class 2. We planned on a long day as we were estimating between 15 and 17 miles of hiking.
I departed Denver Friday night and arrived in Leadville in time for a delicious pizza dinner prepared by his wife. We reminisced about college in AZ and looked at maps for a while. I finally crawled into bed around 11:30 pm.
The 3:30 am alarm was early and painful. My friend (he's not on here yet, but I'll dub him the Nordic Beast), had already been awake for an hour in excitement for the hike. We left his house and arrived at the trailhead just before 4:30 am. The trailhead was pretty quiet except for one dude (or dudette) in a car waking up and prepping for the day. Sorry if we work you up!
4:30 am start at the trailhead
We hiked for a while in the dark on a well traveled trail, eventually passing the junction to the main Mt Massive trail (3.25 ish miles). Shortly afterward, we were treated to first light, then a beautiful sunrise behind the trees.
Sunlight in the forest
We continued to hike on the continental divide trail for about 2 more miles until we met met the Highline trail and swung a right. So far we hadn't seen a soul except the guy waking up in his car at the trailhead.
Traveled the Highline trail until about 6.75 miles total travel until we reached our spot to depart the trail. The spot we chose was just below a little "double lake" next to the trail about 14-1/2 mile from the ridge. The trail eventually went around the ridge, but it was much lower in elevation and we didn't need to lose any more than we had. With the lack of snow last winter, this double lake was down to just a single lake. We crossed the outflow creek and began the gradual ascent towards the ridge.
We have alot of fun, so we mocked survival shows (will still watch them over and over though ) and practiced our survival skills with the fresh rain water... or was it from the herd of elk we were about to see?
We kept trucking towards the ridge and passed by another gorgeous lake. Again, clearly low from the low snow year.
Relfection of Massive
A few couple hundred yards after the lake, we were on the side of the ridge. There was a well traveled game trail that we hiked along for a another few hundred yard which gradually climbed the side of the ridge. At first glance, I thought this meant the route was more traveled by humans than I originally thought, but then we saw the main users of the trail: elk.
On the side of the ridge
The game trail kind of died out, so we shot straight up to gain the ridge. The view from up on the ridge was incredible. We also got the see what we were in for: nothing technical, but a long trek up the ridge (after having hiked 7.5 mi already).
On the ridge
Ridge to the summit of North Massive
I was really pleased to see how slowly the clouds were forming because we wanted to bag all of Massive, not just North Massive. At around 13k ft, the ridge got alot steeper. The entire ridge was nothing more than class 2. It was steep, but not difficult.
Picture looking at the remaining ridge left. A few small boulder, but no scrambling necessary.
A look back down the ridge
We kept on climbing for a while to the summit of "North Massive". The summit was beautiful. No matter how many summits I climb, it never gets old. We attempted to sign the register, but alas, no pen. Looking over at massive, it looked like an ant hill. It was still a way off and there were many enjoying their summit. They were the first people we has seen since the trail head. We definitely were enjoying our solitude on North Massive. We had a quick snack, snapped a few pictures and began to move on.
North Massive Summit
The trek between "North Massive" and "Massive Green" was the only tricky part. I'm not good on the differences between classes, but I'm guessing it was a difficult class 2 or easy class 3. Nothing too hard, but some route finding, few places you wouldn't want to slip and some scrambling. From a distance, we saw someone come down from "Massive Green". Not sure if the climber was descending via the southwest slopes or was going for "North Massive" and turned around.
Ridge Between "Massive Green" and "North Massive"
We climbed "Massive Green" and took another break. The ants on the anthill were getting larger. Our solitude was about to end. I can't complain though... I am afterall, another one of those ants. Kind of disappointed I didn't take a photo of the crowd on the summit from a distance, it looked kind of cool.
We continued on and bagged Massive Main. I think we got there right around 11:45 - noon. Again, we were really thankful for the weather. Alot of days we could have been chased down the mountain at this point! Got to have our first human contact for the day. People watching is fun, especially among fellow 14er baggers.
We met this little guy somewhere on the summit ridge. I wonder if he takes the view from his home for granted?
We hiked over to "South Massive" and were contemplating the south east ridge as the descent route, but there was a small thunder head over Elbert (which never did anything) and were 11 miles in so opted for the standard Massive trail down. Kind of regretting that we didn't go for "South South Massive", but that just gives me an excuse to do it again.
On the ridge between Massive and "South Massive", I attempted to take my photo for a free sandwich at a local sub shop. Forgot the bag required, so I'll photo shop it in later. It's also not the summit. Shhh...
Uneventful trip down. I was impressed at the great work on the trail. Final mileage was 17.5. Google maps with the final route here. I haven't tried the google maps link before, so if it doesn't work, let me know so I can pull it off.
Loaded up on tacos, burritos and caffeine in Frisco and made the drive back down to the plains where my own bed awaited me. Feel asleep thanking God for the beauty experienced that day, safe travels and good friends.
Time to plan for the next one...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):