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North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Trailhead conditions, directions, roads, parking, camping, etc. Trailhead Info/Status
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North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby jchapell » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:48 pm

It's been awhile since a TH update on the North Elbert TH - any ideas if it is still open after this week's snow? We are looking at maybe doing the NE Ridge next weekend (12-15th).

If the North TH is closed, we could also do the East Ridge Route - there is more recent info on the South Elbert TH, so I'm guessing it's limited closer to the parking lot, but I'm all ears if anyone knows anything different. Thanks!

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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby Scott P » Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:33 am

What would be the advantage of using the north trailhead? Personally, I'd suggest the south unless you can confirm that the road conditions are good to the northern route. The East Ridge accessed from the south is easier in winter anyway.

Even if the weather forecast is good, sometimes the north trailhead can be problematic. Back in 2005, me and some others went towards the north trailhead in January, stopping at Willow Creek Road, which is before the NE Ridge TH. The weather forecast was good, but even so, there are areas of the road that get a lot of wind so when we were done with the climb we found out that parts of the road were buried with snowdrifts. It took a lot of time digging with snow shovels and eventually help from a ranger before getting the high clearance 4wd out.

The northern route is doable and a pretty safe line in winter (or near winter), but I still think that the southern route is better in winter. As long as you stay on route, the East Ridge almost always has zero avalanche danger, regardless of conditions, which is another advantage.
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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby jchapell » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:31 am

Thanks! I think the East Ridge is probably our default plan, but given the somewhat shorter distance possible on the northeast route I thought I would check. I think you have me sold though, thanks for the info! I'd love to hear if anyone else attempts it this week for some info on the conditions, but we will plan that.

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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby sunny1 » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:42 am

Scott's advice is solid re: using the E ridge approach in winter conditions.
I'd plan on parking at the paved, 2WD parking area at this point.
We've been getting a lot of snow - you might check out the SNOTEL link, accessed under "links" on the toolbar at the top of the page, to help gather more info re: snow depth and it's effect on TH access.
I see 20-28 inches of snow in the area.

Elbert is a good winter choice using the E ridge. Have fun!

EDIT: here's a helpful page, thanks to Scott, re: winter access for the 14ers: http://www.summitpost.org/colorado-14ers-in-winter/337648
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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby jchapell » Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:33 pm

Great advice, again, thanks! I'm super familiar with the Summit post link - thanks Scott (and others) for your work on it, I've probably half memorized it over the last month or two...we only have a few days this coming weekend while we are out there. Given the poor avalanche conditions, we were thinking maybe Elbert, Massive, and Pikes, but when I saw the additional 10+ inches this week per SNOTEL, I thought breaking through that much snow on higher mileage routes would be painful!!! Now I'm thinking we'll skip Massive and take a rest day or snowshoe around somewhere.

If roads or other planning seems difficult this week, we may just decide just to do the Barr trail as a multi-day option staying at Barr Camp on the way up and down...who knows. Just can't wait to get out there!

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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby Chunkroc » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:35 pm

The North Trail Head was closed when I was up there on 11/30. Had to use the South Elbert Trail Head.

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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby ignaciot » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:58 pm

Is there any regulation against parking at the trailhead at night and sleeping in the car to get a very early start? I'd like to attempt Mt. Elbert in a couple of weeks via the east ridge (winter) route and would like to get there the night before... Thanks for any advice you could provide!

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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby jpenny » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:59 pm

I've done that at many trailheads, including the one you are talking about. I don't know about rules and regs, but I have never been bothered. About 100 yards (or so, it's been a little while) past the trailhead on the left I found a neat camping area that had quite a few trailers set up. I pulled in and asked around and was told it was free, so I found an empty lot and stayed there until the morning. I can't confirm it was free but there were no signs that I could see, but definitely a dirt road and sites. It wasn't full in summer and you had to pass a few campgrounds right before the trailhead that were rather expensive for my taste. (I'm broke) So there are many options.

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Re: North (and/or South) Elbert Trailhead status

Postby ignaciot » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:28 pm

jpenny wrote:I've done that at many trailheads, including the one you are talking about. I don't know about rules and regs, but I have never been bothered. About 100 yards (or so, it's been a little while) past the trailhead on the left I found a neat camping area that had quite a few trailers set up. I pulled in and asked around and was told it was free, so I found an empty lot and stayed there until the morning. I can't confirm it was free but there were no signs that I could see, but definitely a dirt road and sites. It wasn't full in summer and you had to pass a few campgrounds right before the trailhead that were rather expensive for my taste. (I'm broke) So there are many options.


Thanks for the feedback!

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