| Stairmaster to Heaven - or at least Massive
Goal: Mt. Massive
Route: Southwest slopes
Distance: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,000+ ft
Car to Summit: 5 hours
Summit to Car: 3 hours
The distance and elevation gain are estimated from Bill's route description and the fact that I started at the 110J intersection.
For those of you familiar with the Royal Arch trail in Boulder, imagine that one except 400 ft per mile steeper, two and a half times as long, and starting roughly 5,000 ft higher. That's about how Massive's SW slopes route goes from the turn-off in the meadow.
The main reason I wanted to post this one is to steer people away from a particular snowbank. I had left my shiny new ice axe in the car because I had thought that any snow on the route was avoidable. Well, as I was climbing up the ancillary ridge – leading to the summit ridge – the trail disappeared into snow. At that exact point, well-defined and confident-looking tracks going up and across a steep snowbank. As I couldn't see where the trail was, I could only theorize that the trail cut back across to the left once above the snow. So I got across and studied what lay before me – which was nothing but nasty scree. I realized I'd been duped – shoulda known anyway, this was steep snow with runout onto some pointy rocks. So I carefully made my way back down and eventually found the trail where I had expected it – up and to the left. So who's the bigger fool, the one who made the tracks or the one who followed? Well, at least I wasn't the only one who made this mistake. In fact, I think everyone I discussed this with either made the same mistake or would have if someone had not stopped them. One father and son actually stayed over there and picked their way up the scree. Wow!
So this little adventure cost me about half an hour. The descent back across the snow also sapped a lot of anxious energy from me. I imagine that the next couple of weeks will reveal the actual trail. But until that happens, please avoid crossing this snowbank! The tracks fooled us all.
Along the way, I met Tom from Lafayette and Tim & Stephanie from Rifle – among others. I think they all at least refer to 14ers.com – don't know if they post. Good to meet you all!
Approaching the snowbank
A closer look at the tracks
What lies beyond the snowbank (beyond the rise in the foreground was nasty scree)
Hikers on the trail (from same position as above, looking north/northwest)
And a little higher (with more hikers on trail)
Okie's 20th 14er
Don't worry, I'll drive home - THIS time!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):