Peak:  Mt. Massive (14er)
 Route:  East Ridge
 Range:  Sawatch
 Posted By:  Chicago Transplant
 Date of Info:  02/11/2012
 Date Posted:  02/14/2012

East Ridge from Fish Hatchery, 14 miles and 5000' vertical round trip. The Highline Trail was well packed, we just needed to "re-break" from the recent snows of Thursday/Friday. If you got off the trail it was much deeper. The trail splits a lot early, so be sure to follow the Highline Trail signs, the signage is good. There is also the Rock Creek trail that gets to the Colorado Trail, but it does so way farther north than you want to be, so be sure to stick to the Highline Trail signs, some of the signs have two sets of arrows, one for each trail that go in different directions.

After a large meadow at roughly 3.5 miles we were wallowing for 2 miles to treeline. We got off route a little bit staying right and above a drainage that we later had to descend to and cross. Lots of hard trenching, but if you get it soon, you can just re-break our trench and be in good shape. Above treeline the route was mainly dry, just be sure to avoid snow loaded slopes, they could potentially slide. We had lots of cracking and whomping on low angle terrain in the trees and some of our cracks propagated more than 15-20' away from us, on steep slopes above treeline it would have triggered an avalanche.

In order to avoid the avy prone snow, we went up a steep class 2+ rock tower with a notch in the middle, and went through the notch. From here we needed to do some class 3 scrambling over a few towers to avoid suspect snow on the face. It was a bit tedious in stiff boots and is the crux of the route right now. Above that (13,700 or so) the terrain was mostly dry and fairly gentle to the summit ridge, the summit is well marked with a cairn with a stick in it just below the true summit. There is a false summit to the north and another to the south that look almost equal, but the one with the sticked cairn is the true summit. Have fun and be safe...

Photos below show the notched 2+ rocks, we went through the notch on the left, and the sketchy snow we avoided on the rocks above it.

The third photo is a general photo of the slopes above 13,700.

The 4th just a general view of the conditions of the ridge above treeline taken from about 12,500.

Photos (click for slideshow):
Image #1Image #2Image #3Image #4

 Comments or Questions

good job
02/15/2012 03:32
how long did it take you RT?

Chicago Transplant

Too long!
02/15/2012 04:48
It ended up being 13 hours round trip. Unfortunately the two miles of trenching were very slow and sapped a lot of our energy for the summit push. Based on the time stamps on my pics, it took 2 1/2 hours to go the 3.5 miles to the meadow, then the two miles of trenching took about 3 hours, another 3 1/2 to the summit from there (2500 vertical, 2 miles). A 1/2 hour summit break and 3 1/2 hours descent (about equally split between above treeline and below).

Almost took 3 times as long to get up as to get down, so hopefully with a broken trail you could shave some of our ascent time.


Nice February Peak...
02/15/2012 15:52
Congrats, Mike. I didn't get your message until after we got back. Let's get something together in March - before or after the equinox.

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