| Massive - The Hardest Summit to Find in CO
A couple of friends had each skied Mt. Elbert the last two days and reported that Massive was still holding good snow. After looking at the weather, it was clear that today was going to be the best of the week. The only weather concern was that there was only a brief overnight freeze in the forecast.
I called Chris and he was in. We met early in Leadville and got a dawn lighted look at the well filled in east face of the peak. The drive from Leadville to the TH was quick. Halfmoon Creek Road, above the 2wd parking, was totally clear of snow and only had two dicey high clearance spots. We rolled up to the trailhead greeted by balmy 35 degree temps. Slightly concerned, but you never know until you get up there.
Now at this point it's important to mention that neither of us had ever been up Massive before. With that said, the North Halfmoon Creek Trail was very obvious and, thanks to the beta provided, we made really good time in approach shoes with skis/boots on our packs.
The team that built and maintains this trail deserves kudos. It was like mall walking at points.
We followed the summer trail without issue to about 12,000ft. Then the snow fields became a little much and we opted to head straight up the southwest ridge, which was totally dry.
We soon topped out on the summit ridge and began the traverse to the main summit. After a few hundred feet it became obvious that the trail shoes needed to be exchanged for ski boots, but at 14,000ft, no complaints.
Weather was still good with warm temps and no wind. To our surprise, the snow appeared to be holding up fairly well as we booted toward the summit.
Now speaking of the summit. This is not an easy summit to identify. A long ridge of minor bumps would be a good description. We did not see any USGS markers, no summit register and a derth of standard 14er summit windblocks. Well there was a stick wedged into the point that we eye-balled as the highest. Finally I decide to climb to all the points that looked probable and see which had the highest altimeter reading. Hmmm….the two highest points were within 5 feet of each other on my barometer driven altimeter. We picked the higher of the two, which also was our original choice and, well, had the stick. One would think that with a gear room full of topos and a nice GPS I would actually bring them, guess not. I did remember that the actual summit was just slightly skier's right of the northeast ridge so that added some confidence.
Anyway, skis went on and off we went. I skied down first and snapped a few pics of Chris's smooth free-heel turns.
We skied down the east slopes and then began the traverse toward the saddle. I was sporting a new Dynafit setup, new being relative. My old bindings from other skis, some boots I have had for a year or two, and a used pair of G3's I picked up for a $100 last week. Put them together and it's new to me. Though this is my first self mounted Dynafit binding, so I may stay off of the steeps for a while.
We traversed over to a snowfield just above the saddle and dropped down to the southwest side of the mountain. The snow was still good and the turns were enjoyed.
The dust layer created some variability, but it still skied well in most areas.
Bonus points for Chris:
Dark clouds were moving in from three sides so we hastened our pace down to 12,000ft. The snow ran out, the shoes went back on, and it was a race to the truck. We made it back just minutes before the rain started to fall.
Another good day in CO.