Summary: What happens when an old fraternity brother with only six 14er summits to go returns to Colorado? A great day up Mt. Massive with old friends. We took the Southwest slopes for a relaxed and beautiful day on the peak.
Conditions: I love the fact that no matter how many warm, stunning, clear, beautiful summer days we have in Colorado, they never get old. This was yet another one of those days.
Report: This was Stu's (Marmotman) second peak on his 14er trip. Given that it is a shorter and easier climb, we invited a big crew of old guys to join us on the peak to do Massive's Southwest slopes. On the drive in we passed hundreds on campers along the road, and reached the trail head around 7:00.
As the description says, the first mile or so was a very gradual and nice walk up the valley behind Massive. Typically gorgeous Colorado (but does it ever get old?) with some sweet views of Elbert, La Plata, and Mt. Oklahoma.
It takes a while for eight guys to get all their crap together...
Sunrise over Elbert
Good views all around
Finally reaching the junction, the trail turn right and pretty much goes straight up to the summit. Unfortunately, we had one guy who twisted his ankle pretty bad and it was slow going. But this didn't bother anyone as the views were great and the weather perfect. The slope keeps a steady and consistent path all the way up to Massive's long ridge. The trail is decent, but it is indeed a long and fairly grueling trek up this face.
Warrior poses (photo by Benners)
Nice rock outcropping for this kinda shot (photo by Benners)
This is a great shot (photo by Benners)
Ok, the eght of us may have finished this by 8:30, but hey, it was 5 o'clock somewhere... (photo by Benners)
Benner's dad TJ came along as well. Gotta respect the old guys who can keep up no problem (photo by Benners)
The crux is definitely the slopes up to the ridge. Upon finally reaching the ridge, most of the hard work is over. From here it is a short hop over to the summit. We were rewarded with some sensational views. The sky was crystal clear and we had perfect views of the Elks, and we're pretty sure we even spotted Uncompaghre waaaaay off in the distance. Also, congratulations to John and Stephen for making their first 14er summit. Awesome job you two!
Finally along the ridge, almost there.
Awesome summit shot. Love this one (photo by Benners)
Down into Leadville with the Mosquito range beyond
Crystal clear day offered perfect views of all the Elks.
For whatever reason (most likely it was Ben leading), we basically ran all the way down to the junction. From here we rendezvoused with a few guys who had turned back early, and finished the hike together.
All in all yet another great day in the high places of Colorado. Despite the large number of cars at the lot, we generally felt secluded until we reached the junction with the standard route. My impression is that this is by far the best way up Massive. I've never done the standard route, but I'm glad we avoided the extra 5.5 miles through the trees. If you are in decent shape and okay with some quick vertical gain, my advice would be to do this guy as opposed to the long haul up the other side.
Anyways, thanks to everyone who came along and good work to the entire crew.