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Elks Logistics Help Please!

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby bj » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:37 pm

Hi folks,

I’m traveling to Colorado this July for my 3 annual 14er climbing week. This year our target is the Elks! I’d like to ask people who have climbed in the area before, or are locals, to help with some logistics, because, as I found on my first trip, logistics’ errors lead to lost climbing days.

My first question is; what order is going to be the most efficient order to climb all the peaks in the range? I was thinking:

Day 1: Pyramid
Day 2: Capitol
Day3: Rest
Day 4: Snowmass
Day 5: The Maroons
Day 6: Castle & Conundrum
Day 7: Your suggestion?

I have a campsite reserved for nights 1-4 (Silver Bar Campground) that I was planning to use as kind of a base camp. Do you think it would be better to bivy at trail heads? Can you suggest a better base camp?

If we finish up the Elks and still have a little energy left what 14er would you suggest we go after on our 7th day? Keep in mind I’d like to save Elbert as my capstone and one of us is a prolific high-pointer.

Where can we get showers and good meals along our route?

Background: Were all experienced technical climbers. On our past two trips we have summited between 7 and 12 14ers. Although we all live sub 300’ feet we haven’t had any acclimation problems in the past. Were driving from California and may, or may not have 4wd. There will be 2 to 4 Californians joined by a couple ex- Californians, Coloradoans. I have climbed Maroon and attempted Pyramid before.

Lastly, if you have any interest in joining us please let me know.

Thank you in advance for your help!

BJ
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby wildlobo71 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:58 pm

If it were me, I'd think about where you're camping and how efficient that will be. I think it's easier to camp at or near each group's trailhead with movement in between as rest and regroup.

Day 1: Castle & Conundrum, drive to Snowmass - get there early and hike to Snowmass Lake, camp.
Day 2: Snowmass, then hike out. Drive to Maroon Bells TH. Camp either at Silver Bar, use night and next morning to rest, hit the town, do whatever.
Day 3: Rest. In the afternoon/early evening, hike into camps about 2 miles.
Day 4: Maroons, either Traverse or separately, return to camp.
Day 5: Pyramid Peak, hike out. Drive to Capitol TH.
Day 6: Hike in to Capitol Lake, camp. (otherwise, do it all but this is a huge long day.)
Day 7: Capitol, hike out... go get a beer or few.

Just my opinion.

Edited too: I will probably just as likely agree with everyone who responds because so far, I am in total agreement with both comments below in regards to weather... Thus I went last summer to do the Bells Traverse, ended up only on North Maroon in a bad rain drencher - just to come back the next week to pick up Maroon... More efficient ways exist.
Last edited by wildlobo71 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby SurfNTurf » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:01 pm

The Elks require good weather, so the forecast should dictate your schedule. Especially if you're planning to daytrip Capitol and Snowmass (extremely long days). You could do the S-Ridge on Snowmass as a more realistic daytrip, but you'll need a good 4WD vehicle to reach the TH.

Personally, I'd cherry pick the two best weather days for the Bells Traverse and a Capitol daytrip. You'll probably want a rest day after Capitol. Castle/Conundrum and Pyramid are the shorter routes and can be accomplished by starting early even if afternoon thunderstorms are a concern. I suggest Pyramid on a weekday to avoid crowds, as that greatly mitigates the rockfall danger.

Your campsite should be fine for everything except the Snowmass S-Ridge. There are good free spots along the road to Castle/Conundrum as well. You can't camp legally at the Bells/Pyramid TH proper, though it's done.
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby Scott P » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:02 pm

Edit: Looks like Surf-n-turf beat me to it on some of this.

Personally, I would take the weather forecast in account and not make a set in stone plan (though thunderstorms can be expected on most afternoons anyway).

Capitol and the Maroons would require the best weather forecast, especially if you are doing the Maroon Bells Traverse. You can get off Pyramid and Castle quicker (I assume Snowmass as well-the one in the Elks I haven't done).

I assume you are doing these all as day climbs? Pyramid and the Bells would be most efficient with a camp and when done together. I don't think you can bivy at the trailhead.

I hope this is useful, but I don't know if it is what you were looking for.
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby Jim Davies » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:07 pm

SurfNTurf wrote:There are good free spots along the road to Castle/Conundrum as well.

Only the first two are accessible without a high-clearance vehicle, so get there early if you want one. Driving from the Silver Bar campground to the end of the 2WD part of the Castle road should take about 45 minutes +/-.

Sleeping in your car is allowed at the Maroon Bells overnight lot on a don't-ask-don't-tell basis. The Silver Bar cg would be more comfortable and only a short drive from the trailhead.

The campsites around Crater Lake are restricted in number and first-come-first-serve. I'm not sure you'd gain anything camping there for Pyramid, as the hike in from the trailhead isn't that long. Might help with the Bells. Backcountry camping anywhere around the Bells is a pain because of the restrictions.
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby bj » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:29 pm

Yes, I plan to do the Traverse on the Maroons, and yes we prefer day trips because of better sleep and food opportunities. It also gives us a chance to get a shower. But I like you ideas about cherry picking the good weather days. We are used to 3 to 5 am starts to beat afternoon thunderstorms. I was splitting the Bells and Pyramid because I see them as lighter, restish days.

Please keep them coming..
Last edited by bj on Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby gdthomas » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:56 pm

You may want to consider Snowmass from the Lead King Basin side if you have a high-clearance, short wheelbase, 4wd vehicle and you want to do the approach and climb in one day. The Snowmass Lake approach is as long as any 14er approach and will eat up a day. I've climbed Snowmass from both approaches.

As for climbing a 14er on day 7, the closest is probably La Plata on the east side of Independence Pass. The TH is right off of Hwy 82. It's a class 2 climb by the standard route.

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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby bj » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:24 pm

Any help with showers and places to eat?
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby mtgirl » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:30 pm

bj wrote:Any help with showers and places to eat?


The Aspen Recreation Center, right on Maroon Creek Road leading up to the Bells and Pyramid, has showers if you buy a day pass. Passes are a bit pricey, but if you go during their last hour of daily operation, they are only about $5.

http://www.aspenrecreation.com/aspen-recreation-centers/aspen-recreation-center/
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby Carl » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:42 pm

bj wrote:Any help with showers and places to eat?


The Aspen Rec Center and the Red Brick Rec Center (also in Aspen) offer showers. I think the latter is cheaper unless you catch Aspen Rec during discounted hours. For restaurants in Aspen, Mezzaluna has a good happy hour deal on pepperoni pizza. It's cheaper than the Dominos in town. Grateful Deli is good for sandwiches. I think the best restaurant in Aspen is Pinons if you're looking to splurge one night. If you sit at the bar they've got a fixed price menu. Gisella, Campo, and L'hostaria, in that order, are my favorites for Italian, also all upscale. Hickory House is good and reasonably priced for barbecue. They've also got excellent banana cream pie. Avoid Il Mulino.

edit: looks like mtgirl beat me too it on the showers, I concur

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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:27 pm

I would try to bunch Pyramid and the Bells close to each other. The $10 entrance fee allows you to leave and re-enter for five days, with the date of entrance counting as a day.

Camping at Crater Lake doesn't save a lot of time/distance on Pyramid's summit day, but it does save some. Also you have more solitude. It's not just hikers milling around Maroon Lake before sunrise; photographers arrive early, too.

People dayhike Capitol from the TH all the time, but packing into Capitol Lake has its advantages. First of all, it's gentle. Safety-wise, it affords you more time along and above the knife edge. And after setting up camp in the evening, sitting at the lake and watching the mountain change colors as the setting sun shines upon it is a transcendent experience.
Last edited by TravelingMatt on Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Elks Logistics Help Please!

Postby I Man » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:29 pm

TravelingMatt wrote:People dayhike Capitol from the TH all the time, but packing into Capitol Lake has its advantages. First of all, it's gentle. Safety-wise, it affords you more time along and above the knife edge. And after setting up camp in the evening, sitting at the lake and watching Capitol change colors as the setting sun shines upon it is a transcendent experience.


I agree. Camping at Capitol Lake is certainly worth it even though a dayhike is very attainable for a strong team.

Typically when I am spending a weekend in the Elks I find somewhere to sleep and then dayhike the peaks. Castle/Conundrum is a good place. I have also spent many nights sleeping in my car (or poaching campsites) in the Bells park.
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