| Huron-Missouri-Oxford-Belford from Clohesy Lake
For years I‘ve bypassed these 14ers waiting for the chance to climb them all in one day. I finally got my chance this weekend. After making camp the night before at Clohesy Lake, I set my alarm for 3AM to get an early start on Huron. Although there is a sign for the Huron Peak trail, the trail seems to disappear into a number of different campsites. At least at 4AM in the dark the trail seemed to disappear and I walked circles for about 2 miles. I knew that I was supposed to ford Clear Creek‘s Lake Fork but couldn‘t find anything that looked like a trail on the other side. Finally at 4:30AM with my quadruple summit already looking like a long shot, I forged through the brush and raging rapids. After getting momentarily stuck on a little island I made it across the creek and started heading up the steep slope through the trees. Sunlight began to appear as I reached treeline which was a good thing since I had veered a little too far north and had to adjust my route to stay in the correct basin.
I finally found a faint trail at around 12,500‘ but that soon ended as I hit snow. The snow in the large chute I had to cross was still iced over and too hard to kick steps in with my running shoes. Too bad I left my ice axe in the car. Two sharp rocks worked just fine though but it was tedious. Finally, I reached the Brown‘s Peak / Huron saddle at 13,300‘ and saw a really nice trail on the other side of the ridge.
This shot is looking back down the basin.
Once on the good trail it was a nice half mile jog to the summit. 7AM, 1 down, 3 to go. The lake of clouds was pretty cool.
The climb down was pretty uneventful with a nice glissade and another frigid creek crossing. After a little break, I was off again at 9:20 this time with Mark who planned to at least climb Missouri. There was a good trail up to treeline which went along this former avalanche chute now waterfall. I wouldn‘t see Clohesy Lake again for another 18 or so miles.
The trail disappeared above treeline as we ascended Missouri‘s pretty grass and wildflower covered west ridge. There should be a better trail here since heavy traffic would really cause an erosion problem on what is now a really nice patch of grassy tundra.
This image shows us gaining the long ridge of Missouri with the peak off to the right.
At this point I noticed the clouds already building and decided to cancel the nice stroll and start pushing hard to the summit. The long ridge made for a really cool run at 14000‘ and I hit the summit at about 11AM. 2 down, 2 to go
Looking back at Huron
Looking towards Belford and Oxford
I passed Mark going back down the ridge and told him I was going for it and would see him back at camp. At this point the weather did not look great but the wind was blowing the worst clouds out of the valley so I decided to give it a shot. I descended the ridge into Missouri gulch as fast as possible and picked up the main trail towards Elkhead Pass. There was a good bit of snow in spots and the descent brought me down to 12,600‘. I still had pretty good legs at this point and was able to run at least 50% of the time as I summited Elkhead and continued up towards the Belford-Oxford ridge.
This image is looking back towards Missouri‘s Class 4 East Ridge.
The trail connected with the Belford-Oxford ridge trail at 14,000‘ just below Belford‘s summit. Since I would be going over Belford later, I bypassed it for now and went for Oxford. The saddle was a lot longer and descended a lot farther than I had hoped.
The wildflowers are in full bloom even at 14K.
I kicked in my last good run of the day and summited Oxford at 1PM. A nice couple took my third summit picture with Belford in the background.
The run and climb back up to Belford seemed like forever but at 1:30, I completed the Sawatch range and summited my 37th fourteener. It was an awesome feeling, much better than the feeling of my leg muscles over the next 12 miles.
At this point I had two choices, climb back up the ridge to Missouri and descend the west ridge down to Clohesy lake OR descend Missouri Gulch, run to the Rockdale Trailhead and then go back up to Clohesy lake. With the weather deteriorating, I chose to go down and make my way around. I think it was the right choice even though my legs hated me for it, the weather did get bad with lightening and hail and it was good to be in the valley and not up on the ridge. The run/jog/walk from Missouri Gulch trailhead to Rockdale trailhead pretty much did me in. I dropped off my camelback at the car and headed up to Clohesy lake with just a water bottle. At 4:30PM I arrived back at base camp where Mark had been chilling for a few hours. We packed up and hiked back to the car to complete a long but awesome 26-28 mile quadruple 14er day.
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