Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Post Date:  01/17/2009
Date Climbed:   01/16/2009
Posted By:  Paul

 Buena Vista Blue  

Spectacular January weather to climb some Colorado 14ers. Coming from sea level (North Carolina) on Thursday, I wasn't quite sure whether I could summit a 14 on each of the next two days...

Friday, 1/16/09 featured Elbert via the Northeast Ridge. Road to Halfmoon Creek Trailhead was closed 4 miles before TH, but the 7 AM start helped. Our calculation was that 17 miles RT would get us to the summit and back.

The gentle giant at first daylight (and last moonlight)....

The hike featured 3 distinct segments: 1) Halfmoon Creek Road, 2) steep trek through trees and unconsolidated snow, 3) steep rocky section above treeline

A shot of Denver Paul on the start of the section above treeline

A forced smile on my face. The tough part is above. The jet lag and altitude are starting to kick in!

Looking back towards Leadville on the climb

Time was going by fast. We were able to climb a couple false summits and get to the true one around 1:45. Paul approaching the top:

The weather was spectacular at the summit: 30 degrees, no wind, and blue as far as the eye could see:

Another shot from the top:

Going down went faster. A cool shot of Paul in front of a steep gully on the NE side of the summit:

The hike out was pretty quick in comparison to going up. The Halfmoon Creek Road 4 miles took a long time but the weather could not have been better for a Friday afternoon walk off the highest peak in the Rocky Mountain State.

Saturday brought a new day with the same great weather. My new hiking partner was Dan from Denver. We wanted to try Huron but the road was closed a long way from the TH. So we opted for Yale from Dennys Creek TH. Conditions were perfect for a snowshoe up towards Yale. Dan on perfect snow below treeline:

and then climbing a steep powdery section close to treeline

Later in the day, and still climbing, we navigated the boulder field to the S of the summit:

We finally got to the top around 1 PM. Me at the top;

Dan's short sleeve (or no sleeve) shirt speaks to the unbelievable weather

Me and the Southern Sawatch in the background:

A nice view to the W on the way back downhill:

Dan approaching the treeline on the descent:

The ascent and descent featured this area seemingly burned many years ago. Nice foreground to the powder blue sky:

The hike out went fast. Gravity was working. Shortly above the TH I snapped an image of a nearby mountain still wrapped in sunlight:

In summary, just a spectacular weekend for hiking in central Colorado. The Sawatch is a beautiful range to explore.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

nice weather
01/18/2009 19:39
I climbed Quandry day before, weather dosen‘t get any better. Nice trip, congrats.


da summit
01/19/2009 04:48
Nice accomplishment for an ocean elevation guy


Closing in on Nepal...
01/20/2009 13:49
Sweet. Didn‘t see any zinc-ox on the pate... Hope you wore a hat!


Great hiking with you
01/24/2009 19:47
That was such a great day, let‘s do some more soon. I‘m going to shoot for doing 5 in March sometime. It would be over 3 days, Friday - Sunday. I‘m planning bringing skis to move faster. I thought you did Quandary on Sunday too? You should put your check list up. Thanks for posting the pics!

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