| NW Ridge up Belford and over to Oxford
Mountains: Mt. Belford (14,197') and Mt. Oxford (14,153')
Route: Started at Missouri Gulch TH (9669'), climbed the NW Ridge to Belford and over to Oxford
Elevation Gain - 5800' (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 11 miles (approx)
Time - 12 hours
The plan was to meet Chris (cldeck), Andrew and Sherpa at the Missouri Gulch TH. We were going to try and meet Kirk (KirkT) and Shad (Shad) at 11,600' where they'd camped after their summit of Missouri the previous day. I left Boulder at midnight and arrived at the Missouri Gulch TH at around 3:30AM. I found Chris and Andrew packing their tents up as I pulled up to the parking lot. We started hiking with headlamps at 4:05AM carrying snowshoes and plenty of water. We had arranged to meet Kirk and Shad at 5:30. The first 2000 feet went well. True to the route description, Belford and Oxford are no walk in the park. The sub-treeline part of the hike is among the steepest I've done. Most of it was free of snow though and this helped. We reached the log bridge crossing (~10,800') at 4:52AM. It's getting a little creaky and the Memorial Day traffic didn't help any. Here's Andrew and Sherpa crossing the bridge before my camera flash nearly sent them into the creek.
Past the bridge we came across the first snow bank of the day at about 11,000' shortly before the building remnants.
We made it to Kirk and Shad's camp at around 5:45AM and found them still waiting for us. We decided to leave our snowshoes at their camp based on what we'd seen so far. We started hiking up the Belford trail at around 6:15AM. Here's looking back down the ridge
The west-face of the ridge is free of snow, but the gulch to the NE of the summer route, and the basin below still hold some snow. You could still find a continuous line of snow from the Belford summit down to the basin (Scott (Mots010) was able to glissade all the way down to the basin after his climb the following day... glad you made both summits man).
On the standard route however, we were pretty close to summit when snow first appeared.
We summitted Belford at approximately 9AM. It was a beautiful day. We stayed on the summit for a bit and started hiking over to Oxford. Here's a picture of the connecting ridge…
More of the snowblown ridge
And some Harvard beta…
We summitted Oxford at 10:30AM (from L to R below, Chris, Sherpa and Andrew). The first clouds of the day had started forming.
We'd been hiking since 4AM and the thought of hiking all the way back up to Belford's summit was not pleasing. We dragged ourselves back up to the Belford summit at 12:30PM. A cloud rushed passed overhead dropping exactly 5 flakes of snow. We started hiking back down in a bit. Here's one more look up Belford's ridge.
We found isolated snow slopes that could be glissaded. The rest of the standard trail was of the consistency of a slurpy… mud, ice and slush. The rest of the hike down from the basin was painful but quick. We got to the log bridge at 3:20 and were back at the TH by 4PM.
It was a great day with some top class people and dog. I would climb with these folks any time. Sherpa lived up to her name and lead the pack, whining and looking at the weather when someone slowed down. Some very meaty pizza at Buena and we were all set for a run up Missouri the following day. Refer to my report at http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=3053&parmpeak=Missouri+Mountain&cpgm=tripmain for beta on Missouri.