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Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby sunsoaked33 » Mon May 02, 2011 2:58 pm

Hi all. I am trying to plan a trip to CO to hike Mt. Massive. I have come up with a preliminary itinerary that looks something like this:
1. Fly to Denver from NY on the Sunday
2. Monday: Drive to Aspen.
3. Tuesday: Hike a 13er in the Elk range in preparation for the Mt. Massive hike
4. Wednesday: Hike Mt. Massive

I have the following questions:
1. The issue of most importance, is the timing of this trip. My birthday is on Wed, June 29, which is why i want to summit Mt. Massive on that day, but it appears from the trip reports i have read, that the Southwest slope route is still somewhat covered in snow during that time of year. Visibility and vegetation is important to me as far as the hike goes, so i was wondering if this would be a good time of year to attempt this hike. Also, this will be my first 14er, so i automatically assume that a hike during this time of year, when there is still plenty of snow in the area, will be tougher than a hike during the month of August for instance, when most of the snow has melted. Will August be a better month to hike Mt. Massive as opposed to June?
2. Is hiking a 13er and 14er on consecutive days doable?
3. What 13er would you suggest to get acclimated to the altitude? I require a 13er that's fairly close to Aspen, and that is not too hard, but also not too easy.

I welcome any advice!

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby Kkline91 » Mon May 02, 2011 4:20 pm

This is actually really similar to what im doing from july 16th to the 23rd. I've got elbert and massive planned. My plan was similar to yours and the group recommended sniktau as a good aclimation hike right there at loveland pass. My plan is now to drive from illinois to denver on friday night. Hang out at friends place Saturday day and get to bed early that night. Then hit sniktau's trail no later than 9 am for the 2 hour easy hike to summit and one hour back on sunday. Then off to the elbert creek campground that night for early sleep, then up the next day for elbert. We are giving ourselves that monday a possible mulligan on elbert if we are tired or weather sucks then we'll hit elbert tuesday and then save massive as a two day loop trek for wednesday and thursday. We also have friday available if we decide that massive needs an extra day due to weather or nancy flatlander lung issues.
not sure where you are located in ny but everyone was sure we were going to kill ourselves so I've taken extra steps in planning, acclimitization hike, and harder training for the group to be better prepared. Ill be posting my trip report as soon as I get home.
Last edited by Kkline91 on Mon May 02, 2011 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby RobertPetrowsky » Mon May 02, 2011 4:21 pm

Mount Massive will probably have an abnormally large amount of snow on that route by then. That is a big day for your first one considering you want to climb something else the day before. A more realistic plan would probably spend a day on Independence Pass or Loveland Pass at high altitude so you don't fry your legs going into your first hike of a 14er. There are plenty of smaller peaks there that don't involve climbing an entire peak like the elk range peaks do. You will spend much more time at altitude acclimating that way.

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby peter303 » Mon May 02, 2011 4:38 pm

Leadville and Buena Vista are about an hour's less drive than Aspen.
You should strive to get on the trail at 6AM-dawnish due to thunderstorms.
You are still several days before July 4th crowds, so I would guess rooms would be available
in all three places.

Elbert, which is next to Massive, has somewhat less snow at this time. You can refine your
plans up to the day of the hike because there are several 14ers in the vicinity.

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby Artvandalay » Mon May 02, 2011 7:06 pm

sunsoaked33 wrote:Will August be a better month to hike Mt. Massive as opposed to June?


If you're goal is to avoid snow, yes. But a little snow shouldn't slow you down too much.

sunsoaked33 wrote: Is hiking a 13er and 14er on consecutive days doable?


Yes, but I would take care not to over exert yourself. Also, are you going to be in Aspen anyways? There are other 13ers that I think would be more suitable for a beginner if you're not limited to the Elks. I'm not too familiar with the Elks so I can't give specific recommendations here. Aspen is really inconvenient to drive to and drive from. If youre only going there for the sole purpose of hiking a 13er in the Elks I would suggest finding a different 13er.

Also, out of curiousity, why Mt. Massive? Is that set in stone for you too? You may find that having flexible plans may be advantageous. Weather may suck in the Sawatch but may be excellent in the Sangres for example (or Elks for that matter).

You're gonna have a blast no matter what. There's so many options here and they're all awesome. My (limited) experience tells me that being able to change plans at a moments notice always works out for the best.

Brady
Hi. I like to go outside.

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby sunsoaked33 » Tue May 03, 2011 6:37 am

Artvandalay wrote:Also, out of curiousity, why Mt. Massive?


Artvandalay wrote:are you going to be in Aspen anyways?


I chose Mt. Massive for two reasons: 1) it is ranked 2nd, and i want to be challenged, and 2) i did research on all the class 2 14ers, and based on the trip reports, it seemed like the best fit for me, given what i want out of this hike - decent distance and altitude gain, with a very visible and beautiful route. As mentioned, this is my first 14er, so i don't want to go overboard, but also don't want a hike that's too easy. What would you suggest as a good backup for Mt. Massive other than Mt. Elbert?

I chose Aspen as base camp, given that Mt. Massive is only around 2 hrs away. I also thought hiking a 13er in the Elk range would be good, given that it's in Aspen's surrounding area, and that way i get to hike both the Elk and Sawatch ranges.
I have to mention that i don't plan on camping, so i would have to drive to the trailheads on the mornings of every hike.

peter303 wrote:Leadville and Buena Vista are about an hour's less drive than Aspen.


Would these be better to use as base camp instead of Aspen?

leadvilleclimber wrote:A more realistic plan would probably spend a day on Independence Pass or Loveland Pass at high altitude so you don't fry your legs going into your first hike of a 14er. There are plenty of smaller peaks there that don't involve climbing an entire peak like the elk range peaks do.


Where is a good place to lodge in the Independence Pass or Loveland Pass area, since i don't plan on camping? Which peak(s) would you suggest in this area to get acclimated?

Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby gonzalj » Tue May 03, 2011 7:00 am

Ok, here's my 2 cents on this one. My guess is there will still be snow on the SW route of massive when you're thinking of hiking it, but since it is south facing I don't think it will be significant to warrant postholing or that much more difficulty. Now, in terms of the elk range, those mountains are considered some of the most dangerous & difficult mountains in the entire state, so I would personally stay away from hiking a 13er there. In addition, usually after hiking a 14er (of decent elevation gain & miles round trip) my legs feel like jello for a day or two after, so try to do a 13er & 14er in back to back days seems ambitious to me (even though it definitely is possible and obviously everyone's different when it comes to physical condition). There's no places to stay on Independence pass or loveland pass without camping, however to stay somewhere and acclimate I would suggest leadville as it is at 10,000 feet in elevation and that would be a smart move in my mind before doing elbert or massive. I haven't hiked massive yet (but do plan on doing the SW ridge this summer), but did the SW route of elbert last summer from a little below the 4wd trailhead and that was definitely a good hike (I basically did about 8.5 miles round trip and had about 4100' of elevation gain) and there are definitely some great views of the twin lakes, la plata peak & mt massive - so if I were you I wouldn't rule that one out. So, even though you may have heard some people consider elbert to be an "easy" 14er - which it is compared to others in the state - doesn't mean that it is easy (you'll definitely get a challenge out of it). The other options other than elbert or massive is to go a little south and potentially attempt one of the collegiate 14ers like huron (absolutely georgeous hike), missouri, belford, oxford, yale or princeton - but I think either one of your 1st two choices are good.

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby sunsoaked33 » Wed May 04, 2011 8:10 am

Thank you to everyone for your insight and help!

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Re: Planned Mt. Massive hiking trip

Postby Jim Davies » Wed May 04, 2011 4:17 pm

If you make your base in Leadville, you could do Sherman from the west as your warm-up peak. It's a lot shorter distance than Massive, and there's not that much difference between 13K and 14K for that purpose, IMO.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of white blood cells.

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