| Elbert's East Ridge - again
With our trip to Ecuador getting closer, we've been trying to climb as high as we can, as often as we can. Mt. Elbert has been a natural choice because it's easy to access, it's mostly avy free, it has a lot of vert, and it's the highest we can get in Colorado.
(What a difference four weeks can make. The last time we were on Elbert, May 2, it was much snowier: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=7864 )
Even after two days of climbing and drinking, we somehow managed to get to the trailhead by 5:45 a.m.
Winter was not kind to the 4WD road (to the East Ridge trailhead), but other than a few rocky sections, it's not that bad (photo taken later in the day on the drive out).
A small creek flows across the road at one point, but if you have high clearance (the water level came up to the hubs on my 31-inch tires) you shouldn't have any problems (photo taken later in the day):
Being Memorial Day Weekend and all, I expected to see more people, but we only saw one other climber (with skis) at the trailhead.
After climbing in crappy weather for the past couple months, it was really nice to finally climb in pleasant weather:
To our surprise, the open meadow near treeline was completely free of snow:
In fact, there really wasn't any snow to deal with until we got to the trees at the other end of the meadow. And the small patches of snow that we did come across weren't even much of an issue.
The hike to the ridge was mostly dry.
Near the ridge, there was one shallow snowfield and a few farther up the ridge.
The Box chutes:
A look up the ridge:
Some pics of me on the ridge, taken by Jen:
Sometime between 9:30 and 9:45 we made the summit. It was our ninth 14er for May.
Because the weather was so great, albeit a little cold, we decided to hang out on top for a while to acclimatize as much as possible. While there, we enjoyed talking with the solo climber-skier and some other people we met up there.
After an hour or so, we headed down with a beautiful view of Twin Lakes before us.
Some of the snowfields on the lower portion of the ridge had softened just enough to become annoying. We both postholed a few times, but it was only a problem for one or two hundred feet – not nearly enough of a problem to warrant bringing snowshoes.
Remember the open meadow near treeline that I mentioned earlier? I've postholed in that section many times before, most recently in January of this year:
... but thank god I never landed on this thing:
And finally, we saw some signs of warmer, snow-free days to come!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):