Our Tour de Massive trip report actually started the afternoon before when we finished up Holy Cross and beat a hasty path to Leadville. The road up to North Half Moon pass trail head is a mixture of potholes and washboards for the first 6-7 miles, yuck. The last 3 miles of the road I highly recommend a high clearance vehicle, while we never needed 4wheel drive, the ruts and rocks were large. We found an excellent camping spot not 100 feet from the trailhead and setup camp in the last rays of daylight.
We treated ourselves to buffalo steaks, potatoes, rolls, and some brew. Yum! This is becoming a welcomed habit for us. We had the entire place to ourselves and chatted about the days hike as well as planned for tomorrows hike.
6am we woke up and treated ourselves to hot breakfast burritos containing eggs, potatoes, and cheese before hitting the trail. The path up to the new CFI trail is well maintained and very easy to follow and we stopped often to take photos of the views.
We elected to not take the new trail up to the top of Massive; instead we planned on making a loop from "point" through North Massive, Massive Green, Mt Massive, and South Massive, finally coming back down the new CFI trail. As we climbed higher the trail became less and less defined. We stopped often to consult our topo map.
Eventually we ended up in a bowl with mixed rock cairns. We followed the faint trail that led to the right side of the bowl. In hind site the trail on the left side of the bowl would have been the better choice. We ended up doing some upper class 3 climbing and topping out in the saddle between Massive Green and North Massive, not on the ridge leading to "point" and then to North Massive.
My buddy was in the lead as usual and he was very careful in his route selection and kept us out of the class 4 and above sections which got us to the top without incident. On the plus side of things going up the wrong ridge gave us the assurance that we are both very comfortable with our skill levels and how we climb together.
Knowing that we wanted to do the complete tour, we resigned ourselves to some back tracking and headed off for some more class 3 climbing up to the summit of North Massive the scree slope just before the summit is steep and potentially dangerous if the route had other hikers on it. Fortunately for us we went the entire day without seeing another living sole.
At the top of North Massive we barely stopped as our goal was the comparatively unimpressive "point" not too far off in the distance. All I can say about point is that it's flat and windy.
We quickly regained the summit of North Massive signed the summit log, took some photos and headed over to some impressive rock formations that were just south of the summit. The drop off the back side of these formations gives you a taste of expose, nothing like the Sawtooth but enough to make you think about it. Not to be deterred, we gained the summit of both and took some action shots.
Then it was back down the class three sections into the saddle where we had originally topped out. The downclimbing here looks much worse than it really is, still we were careful to make sure we did not dislodge rocks onto each other.
At the saddle we stopped and grabbed a bite to eat and to look back up at the towering spires we had just been on… scary.
The ridge hopping over to Massive Green was straight forward except for the few detours we made to avoid the snow covered sections of the trail. Massive Green was just a quick photo as it was getting late in the day and we still intended on bagging Massive and South Massive.
The ridge hoping continued as we made our way up to the main goal of the day Mt Massive. Here we broke out the summit sign, setup the timers on our cameras, and gathered our summit rocks.
4 of the 5 peaks were now under our belts, only South Massive remained.
The trip off of Massive down into the saddle between it and South Massive was a maze of trails. We picked the one that suited us best and quickly made the summit of South Massive.
Here we took the last of our photos and kept an eye on our watches as it was already 4:40pm, by far the latest summit we had ever done. The view back down to our trucks was discouraging.
Image #10 (not yet uploaded)
By this time we were both getting pretty tired so the new CFI trail back down to North Half Moon was a welcomed relief as all we had to do was point our feet in the right direction and the well maintained trail did the rest for us. We arrived back at our trucks at exactly 7pm. We had been on the trail for 11 and ˝ hours and above 14,000 ft for over 5 hours of that time. I am unsure of the mileage due to the back tracking we did but for anyone attempting to do "the tour" when visiting Massive believe what you read and get in shape for this one, especially if you try it the day after doing Holy Cross.
Once again this trip provided some lessons, topo maps are invaluable, knowing your climbing partner is critical and finally allowing time for unplanned events are all good ideas.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):