Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Post Date:  07/23/2013
Date Climbed:   07/20/2013
Posted By:  a74429

 Mosquitos and an amazing view!   

My first 14er!
After driving through the night, we arrived from Tulsa (elevation 660') to Leadville at 6am local time on Friday morning. The 10,100' elevation was apparent from the minute we stepped out of the car. We quickly discovered that there was no place open to unwind from the long car ride and enjoy a warm breakfast. We unloaded and found an unofficial campsite just west of Elbert Creek Campground site #8. The campground is clean, has vaulted toilets, and a hand-pump for ice cold well water. Its also directly across the road from the Elbert-North Trailhead. Image
South side of Elbert Creek Campground

Saturday morning we got up and hit the trail at 6am. Altitude hit us fairly hard from the start; the air didn't even taste the same as Oklahoma air. Many hikers were easily passing us. I jogger even passed us near 11,000' and met us again on his way back down as we breached the treeline. Needless to say, we pushed on. Image
Leaving the treeline

After the first and second false peaks I began to actually have doubts of making it to the top. It felt like each deep breath I took was only taking in about 1/3 of the oxygen I normally would. The lactic acid was building in my legs and my right quad started to cramp. I unhitched my pack, consumed some electrolytes and water, and took several hits off my portable mini-o2 can that I brought along. The leg pain reduced and I started up the steep part around 13,200'. Image
Standing in front of false summit

Finally the summit came into view. I got a huge burst of adrenaline (my second wind) and pushed quickly forward about 20steps before I realized all my energy had been depleted. Back to taking it step by step. After I reached the top I felt amazing. I stayed on the summit enjoying my accomplishment and the sheer beauty of the view. The summit was rather crowded with people and many dogs of different types. Image
dog playing in the last bit of snow on south side of summit

After about 30minutes on top, I headed back down. Once I got used to the footing on the way down, I realized how much easier this side of the hike was. I stopped once on the way down to hydrate and enjoy a Cliff bar.

The next day I felt like I was in a gang-fight, but I had been the only member of my gang to show up. I was walking like a 90year old man and it hurt to even roll over in bed. Chalk it up to the pains of success.
Proof (for my wife) that I actually made it to the top

One word of caution is that mosquitos were EVERYWHERE. I think I even slapped at a few on the summit. The nights were still chilly (around 40degrees), but daytime was warming up (68-70) just enough for mosquitos to be in full force. Bring your bugspray.
My other word of caution is to be prepared for the wind. On top all was fine, but coming down the wind was so powerful that I actually thought it might blow me over. Bring a wind jacket and some chapstick.
Enjoying the view

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions
James Scott

well done!     07/24/2013 01:27
Not the easiest way to do a peak- one night from sleeping in Tulsa and you're at altitude. Still, you made it! Way to go. Next time spend a couple nights and you'll feel a big difference in acclimation.


agreed     07/24/2013 02:35
I completely agree. I think the diamox helped quite a bit to prevent a lot of the altitude sickness, but it doesnt do much for your body still craving oxygen.

Gary Bjarnason

good job!     07/24/2013 12:55
My family and I hope to do the same hike in 2 weeks. Is the trail easy to follow, ie, does one need a compass or GPS to not get lost? It will be our first 14'er also.


northeast trail     07/24/2013 13:41
The trail is marked fairly well. The only confusion we had was right at the start when the Oklahoma trail intersects with the Elbert trail. It doesn't really matter which path you take, they meet back up after a few hundred feet of elevation. I would probably take the Colorado direction simply because you get to cross this small log walkway across the creek. The grade zigzags instead of the extra long grade of the Elbert trail. You'll see a wooden fence after a few feet and the trails rejoin for a bit. Both trails are well worn and would be difficult to stray from. No GPS or compass needed, just keep walking Up lol. Good Luck and enjoy it!

Gary Bjarnason

thanks     07/24/2013 15:40
Thank you for posting a trip report, and for the reply. Hopefully in about 2 weeks I'll post too. I'll have to remember the ”just keep walking” part.



one foot in front of the other     07/24/2013 15:53
there were a few times that I reminded myself to just look down at my feet and stop looking up the trail. Looking forward to your family's trip report!


congrats     07/26/2013 00:34
congrats! we slept high the first night coming from Houston, TX. we were a bit woosy on independence pass (12kish) but we think sleeping high (11k) helped us.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2015®, 14ers Inc.