| A day on the ridge
On Friday Night, my son Mo and I were driving up for a climb of North Massive and Massive, when I asked myself how crazy I must be to be doing this on a Saturday. I try to never climb on the weekends, and when I do, I choose peaks a little off the beaten path. This was going to feel like a day on the 16th Street Mall.
The thing is, we had chosen the West Slopes, and it turns out, the first half of the day we were completely alone. We didn't see a single person until the summit of North Massive, and until we got to Massive itself, we had encountered only 6 people.
I want to thank Aubrey and smaddogc for their trip reports of the same route. The info I got from them made it easy to find my way, and this is one of those routes I will be returning to someday. Beautiful basin, long, curving ridge, and just enough scrambling to make it interesting.
We woke and took off at 4:30, and were entering the second basin (after the turn off for the Southwest Slopes) when I got this shot of Mo with Elbert in the background.
We made good time up into the basin on a great trail, and when it faded to the occasional cairn, we were able to see the tower on the ridge in the middle of the basin.
There looked to be several ways to get there, so we chose our line and went for it on the right. Mo was complaining about some pain in his knees, but he didn't want to turn back, and soon we were pushing up the talus field toward the ridge.
Mo on the ridge, looking toward North Massive (off to the right, out of the picture):
Looking back at the tower, with the basin spreading out beneath it:
After some bagels and cream cheese, we took off across the basin, and it stretched out in front of us, curving around in a big C, showing us North Massive, Massive Green, and Mount Massive. I had been looking forward to spending the day on this ridge for a while.
By 9:20, we summited North Massive, and spent 20 minutes eating PBJ sandwiches, watching two climbers complete the traverse from Massive. Mo on the summit:
and the two of us with the ridge we were about to tackle in the background:
Mo didn't want to get in over his head, so rather than go down the class 2/3 scramble right in front of the eastern tower, we circled around the east side keeping it at class two. Here's Mo with the tower above him:
There was a stretch in the middle where we had to do a little route finding. It appeared possible to avoid any problems by circling under the east (left) side, but we instead got to the top of the ridge, and twice it cliffed out on us. We tried a third route, and it seemed to do the same, but just before we turned back to drop down farther, Mo said he'd like to try, and he took a solid class 3 move with some exposure like a pro. Before long, we were on our way up to Massive Green, and shortly to Massive at 11:10. The final stretch to Massive:
and the two of us enjoying our second summit of the day:
Up until now the weather had been terriffic, with very little wind, but suddenly we found ourselves shivering and noticing some darker clouds starting to form. A quick snack of summer sausage and cheese, and we began the long descent down the Southwest slopes. Looking all the way down toward our destination
From the moment we hit the summit to the car, we probably saw 50 people, but it didn't really matter. For one thing, we had the basin all to ourselves that morning, and for another, there's something about being above timberline that seems to bring out the best in most people. Everyone is friendly, and nobody sucks.
Here's Mo on a rest, overlooking the Sawatch and the Elks.
What better place to spend a day?
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):