| 2 Girls 1 Ridge (Southeast Ridge)
Continuing on point with my love and adoration for deliriously long mountain ridge hikes with mandatory route finding I stumbled across Mount Massive's SE ridge description in Gerry Roach's 14ers book. I have already done Massive via the standard route but Mr. Roach lured me back with lines like "if you are fit and like to wend your way above the trail and its attentive crowds, this route is for you" and "Point 12,381 is one of Massive's least-visited summits, and will reward you with an unobstructed view of Mount Elbert"...........he had me at least visited. He also used the words "hidden alcove" and "petite parlor" but more to come on that later.
Danielle (Lady McClimbsalot) and I have been wanting to hike something together for 2 months now and finally the stars aligned and Sunday funday was under way (with a funtastic 3:00 a.m. wake up call). We left Lakewood under the cover of darkness and arrived at Halfmoon Creek Road around first light allowing me to catch a glimpse at our goal for the day. Now maybe it is my poor intraweb skills but I found little to no information on this route meaning I had no idea how beastly it would be until it was sprawled out in front of my sleepy eyes (although the fact that it had a summit called "South South" should have tipped me off). Another important note: Danielle had climbed Quandry's West ridge on Saturday. Without stealing her thunder (I believe she is writing a trip report about it), she is most badass for completing this loop with me the very next day.
Total Mileage (15 ish, if you read my reports you know I don't use GPS)
Total Elevation (5,200 ish)
And it went a little something like this.....
Taken on the way out this picture shows the South East Ridge. Yellow arrow is the general area of the TH (it's somewhere in there), PT 12,381 can barely be seen poking above tree line, "South South Massive" is clearly an uphill battle, "South Massive" next, and then Massive is the black triangle.
~Colorado Trail from Mount Massive TH
~Miss mysterious left turn off into forest (supposed to happen after 1.0 mile)
~Realize at South Willow Creek of the overshoot and decide to head up a steep densely forested area
~Track left, then a little right, but mostly left, use spidey senses, bushwack, execute perfectly
~Pop out in the sweet spot at tree line (the hidden alcove perhaps?)
~Get blasted by the wind as decisions about which of the 4 visible piles of rocks is PT 12,381 are made
~None of them its hidden behind a hump, a hump...a lovely mountain lump
~Attain PT 12,381, Why hello amazing view of Mount Elbert
~Grunt up the long and steep slopes to "South South Massive" (note: it's hard but the views are amazing)
~From South South Massive truck it on over to "South Massive," force the SE ridge into giving you some scramble time
~From South Massive spot the standard trail, people everywhere, and begin to meticulously pick your way over to your final destination
~Sink in some snow, almost get blown off the mountain, name a new peak (North Capitol) and then summit Mount Massive
~Descend standard trail and jog back to TH once snow and ice subside realizing how far you actually overshot the initial mile "turn off"
After just the right amount of ass dragging we cheerfully began down the Colorado trail around 8 a.m. telling life stories and mostly cracking up. Gerry Roach says to "leave the comfortable trail at 1 mile and climb west 1.1 miles through open trees." From my guestimate we left the comfortable trail around 2.4-2.8 miles and climbed through steep dense trees full of snow for about 1.4-1.7 miles. In the summer when snow is lacking one may occasionally see animal tracks but in fall-winter when snow blankets the quiet forest one can see every animal that has romped through in the last 24-48 hours. We concluded there was a man-deer-bear on the loose and we best be extra vigilant. But seriously, there were big ole' mountain lion tracks, we could even see where it had dragged its prey so that was reassuring. With perfect execution we recovered from our poor idea of what a mile is and poked out of tree line only to be blasted by our first dose of wind.
man-bear-deer is no match for this team
Now Gerry Roach states that we have "paid our dues," sure have. He says to continue west to a "hidden alcove" and then "wend through this petite parlor" until PT 12,381 is attained. We never found a "hidden alcove" but both of us were expecting to find a small bar with those old western wooden swing doors, no dice, what the hell Gerry? You owe me a beer.
Danielle loses her 12er virginity.
PT 12,381 to "South South Massive" (13,630) is 1.2 miles long and a big chunk of elevation gain. A workout with a view! There is a climbers trail for a short period of time but it soon disappears. I don't have much to say about this section except slog on. We reached the summit of "South South Massive" after about 1.5 hours and came across the nicest mason jar summit register. No freakish forearm strength needed to open this one, no stale cheetos or pens that don't work (there was a golf ball however) just a lovely little notepad with a miniature golf sized pencil. We both wrote notes to those who would follow in our foot steps.
Looking South on the slog
One thing I noticed about this ridge was it was rather deceiving. Perhaps it was because I only had a map and Gerry Roach's one paragraph semi odd description but where we could see where we had come from and where we were going it was very difficult to make out features of the ridge which led to some welcomed surprises going from "South South Massive" to "South Massive." After SSM the ridge changes and becomes more interesting, and more windy. We experienced some seriously strong wind, neither of us was bothered by it. Being close to the same size we laughed every time we were nearly blown over.
Heading towards "South Massive"
We had removed our microspikes and put our goggles on at tree line. There was not much snow on the SE Ridge but some pretty deep drifted patches we had to cross. It was okay though because we had on super gators (what a perfect invention (when put on correctly ) they work GREAT). When the opportunity to scramble presented itself we ran to it with open arms.
Oh, hey there Danielle, what did you find?
I am not sure if there is an "easier" way around this, we didn't look, we both just picked the most climby line up. As well there were many high points through this section of ridge that were probably avoidable but we would stop and make a group decision that climbing up them would bring us the most enjoyment.
Why I love ridges....Views every which way.
Another section there may have been another way around (although I did not see one I was not looking very hard).
Danielle coming up.
We began to slowly mentally deteriorate as we couldn't figure out which pile of rocks was the actual summit of "South Massive" (14,132) and while we were playing the identify the Elks game Danielle hallucinated me talking about North Capital, coming soon to a mountain range near you.
Speaking of Capital
North Capital is out there somewhere...
Summit of SM
From South Massive the happiest of girls trotted over to summit the ring leader of this show; Mount Massive, Colorado's second highest peak. We had to put our microspikes back on. There was snow on Massive's standard route, it was thigh deep in some spots, and it made things more interesting. We never used our trekking poles but had a few "Oh shit" moments with our balance, see last paragraph about slight delirium. Altitude doesn't make me sick, it makes me drunk (free buzz!)
The point where gators do nothing.
NO, Thank YOU!
We made the summit around 3 p.m. The Broncos played the Eagles on Sunday and since I am an Eagles fan (sad I know) and Danielle is a Broncos fan it was only fitting we represented.
but we can be normal too.
Gonna send which wich into bankruptcy.
On the descent the wind decided to step it up a notch. We were actually able to lean into it as it supported our weight and we effortlessly floated above the ground. Yes we levitated. Danielle had lugged up an entire jar of pickles and forgot to take a summit photo but as we talked about Grays Peak we simultaneously remembered she had to get the shot. The late afternoon sun + 50 mile an hour winds with Massive in the background should do the trick.
When you spend all day without a trail it does make you appreciate an established one. Danielle called somewhatofaprick who informed us the eagles were getting a spanking (as an eagles fan I stand by my team win or lose but ya I know, they suck). Per usual the standard trail down was lovely except covered in snow, ice, and then very muddy (I bit it). However, once we reached tree line we were able to run back to the TH. We both got a serious second wind. Towards the very end of the day we had another encounter with man-deer-bear as it looked like he had made his way out of the forest and onto the trail.
man-deer-bear print sighting
Now I don't know if at the end of a long day mostly above tree line any other mountain climbers start to hallucinate rocks and trees morphing into animals and inanimate objects but we embraced our crazy and started shouting out everything we saw. Made for a hilarious run out.
We arrived back at the car around 6:30 p.m., put on flippity flops (ahhhhhhhhh), popped some Ibprophen, I spilled crushed potato chips all over myself, and we both got REALLY excited that we had tasty beverages to drink on the drive home (gatorade and coconut water). The timing on a fiery sunset could not have been more perfect. We both had that feeling of satisfaction that only a good day in the mountains can procure.
I learned a few things: I didn't need to wear 3 layers of pants, 2 would have been fine. Same with my top half. Toe warmers and hand warmers were completely unnecessary. I had too much gear with me and it all ended up awkwardly hanging off my bag which is probably how people lose stuff. So I either need a bigger bag or as I progress I will become accustomed to the needs of my body. I think winter climbs are going to be radtastical!
On the drive home we realized that talking all day gave our lungs a serious work out and we both sounded like 60 year old pack a day smokers. We talked of all the food we would eat and the relaxing we would do when we got home and then we were both chanting "no, nO, NO, NOOOOO".....I-70 became a parking lot before Idaho Springs and remained that way tacking an extra hour or two onto our trip I ended up getting home around 10 p.m. and falling asleep sitting up in microeconomics class early the next morning.
We had an amazing day. I don't think I have ever laughed for such an extended period of time. I look forward to many more adventures with Ms. Climbsalot (she's an awesome hiking partner and a great person).
If anyone has any questions for me concerning this route feel free to shoot me a pm. The ridge was too long, too big, and too deceiving for me to post any shots that could accurately depict it. Picture number 1 is the best representation.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):