| Brutal Belford - West Slopes II
Our group of 9 had the Belford/Oxford combo in our sights today but our plans changed fairly quickly. It had rained all night at the condo in Frisco and it was still drizzling with some light snow around 7:00 AM when we stopped in Leadville for coffee. The coffee shop was nice and the coffee hot but we soon decided to push on.
At about 8:30 AM we were at the Missouri Gulch Trailhead ready to go. The 9 of us were from diverse backgrounds and locations (TX, KS, NM, CO, NY, MN, RI and AR). We had summitted Huron the day before and were ready for the next challenge. Due to the later start and the weather, we quickly decided to focus on Belford and leave Oxford for another trip.
Once we hit the trail and started up, the rain and snow had slacked off and we had great conditions hiking through the trees.
Although we were still a little early in the fall for the true Aspen colors, there were some stretches and spots of neat colors.
Once we got above treeline the snow became much more prevalent and the wind was already pretty tough in stretches as Doug makes his way up the trail. Temps were probably around freezing or below at this point with the wind being the most discouraging factor.
The view up to the summit was pretty cool and provided a good sense of how cold and windy it most likely was. It looked, and as we later learned, was brutal.
The view behind us was equally as awesome.
The stretch just past what you see in the photo is where several of us turned around. The wind was already bad and the trail was becoming tough to distinguish due to the snow. The rocks were snow covered with some ice and slick.
Another great view looking back down Missouri Gulch.
It was about ¾ of the way up this stretch where several us turned around. Our decision was made much easier after meeting and visiting with Matt ("Brandon's Dad"). Carrying a 35# backpack, Matt indicated the conditions on the ridge were "brutal" and advised that heading back was a wise decision.
A couple of photos looking up towards the cloud covered summit with the swirling snow. You can barely see Stu, Greg, John and Gene from our group in the middle as they continue up the ridge.
This was taken about 45 minutes after we had turned around and started back. Note that some blue skies are appearing!
Good shot of Tim (R) and me (L) as we prepare to head back.
Matt (R) and "The Stranger" (L) back at Clear Creek.
Of our group of 9, 5 of us turned around at around 12,700' while the other 4 were determined to push on to the summit. 2 of the 4 turned around probably less than 30 minutes from the top while the other 2 were within 10-15 minutes of the top. In spite of being so close, the weather was just to cold, windy and brutal to continue on. We were all back at the trailhead by around 2:00 PM and headed back to Frisco.
Along the way we ran into three other small groups, all of whom turned around as well, short of the summit. In spite of the fact that none of us summitted, we all had a great time and looked forward to a Belford/Oxford combo on another day.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):