| North Ridge & Box Creek Cirque
It is defeating how the Colorado Trail, after traversing the vast forest of Mount Massive, crosses the road without pause, and starts all over again up Mount Elbert. The other thought I was confronted with when I saw this sign two days earlier, was that I still had unfinished business on Elbert. I used my old red sled for the bump and grind on the way in, and with the sheer breakneck speeds in excess of 15 mph that old red is capable of, my headlamp had flown off my helmet. I found it a little ways back, and continued. The other thing to know about traveling at such a loud speed, is that you could miss important signage. I left from the trailhead, but was never on the Colorado Trail. I had followed someone out walking their dog on a random poop loop, It followed a mellow ridge, as the CT was shown doing on the map, so when the tracks ended, I simply continued up the ridge. I was stopped by a wall of spruce and old man's beard, and definitely off route. I took a hard traverse for some time to the left to bypass the steeper terrain. As the light improved I could tell I was on the north ridge above Elbert Creek.
This turned out to be a great route, and a challenging finish to the summit. Once again, I can see La Plata's convoluted north cirque, and Twin Lakes.
I rode frozen strugi snow directly off the summit, and trended left to the Box Creek Cirque. The snow softened with the rolling angle. It was 12:00: generally a little late for East Faces, but it was still cold, and partly cloudy skies had delayed the sunhit. This is a big face run with a sustained fall line, I stuck close to a previous set of tracks. They were probably a week old or less.
I was also having a lot of fun carving the long run below the cirque into the trees.
This snow was quite mature, and allowed me to continue through the woods to 10,800.
I split the board for a descending traverse to the Colorado Trail,
and skinned back to the TH to retrieve the sled.
I felt really good all day, which helped me deal with some of the more mentally taxing moments in the forest. This was one of the bests days all year. Those lower bowls were worth going for. I would also recommend the ascent route I stumbled onto.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):