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Mt. Elbert

Condition Updates  
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 6/14/2024, By: Kuhlph
Info: What a beautiful climb! Didnt need snowshoes or spikes. A few patches of snow but either firm enough to traverse without snowshoes or easily avoided. Watch out at about 13,500 ft. The trail forks - there is no marking. We took the right fork which left us at a dead end after a sketchy snow traverse. Better to go straight up the mountain. See photo - look for the divergence. We took the better path on the way down. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 6/9/2024, By: AllADream
Info: The trail is almost in summer conditions. Theres some snow near tree line and the upper mountain you still have to get through but some is easily avoidable. Got to the summit in trail runners and no micro spikes, only slipped on a handful of steps. Did not miss them. On the way down I found a snowboard. If its yours and you can describe it, shoot me a message! 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 6/8/2024, By: blonde_dinosaur
Info: Very similar conditions to what catward77 posted on June 5. First of all, this is a delightful trail. Kudos to everyone who did trail work on it because it is awesome. I parked at the lower TH because Im a chicken but was lucky to get a ride up to the upper TH (thank you Jamie!). Im including a photo of the water crossing - it was raging pretty hard this afternoon. There is no snow below treeline, avoidable snow at treeline, and right above treeline is a snow traverse with very low consequence if you fell. Snow this morning was surprisingly good - still was supportive despite the warmth of the last few days. After the traverse, you can avoid the snow if you go off route, except for the last 600 ft or so (second pic). Most people opted to go straight up instead of doing switchbacks. Its a pretty low angle slope. Snow is melting out fast. My snowshoes got a free ride up and down the mountain. Unless you are starting in the legitimate afternoon you do not need them. Even then the snow was mashed potatoes and I dont know how much they would help. Summited at 9:30, started to descend around 10:15 with great plunge stepping conditions. Snow right above treeline was a disaster but cest la vie. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 6/8/2024, By: Jschoneboom
Info: Made the river crossing in my outback w/no issues. stepped off at about 6 and made summit around 9;30. Great snow all morning until the sun did its thing. We just used our yak Trax at about tree line up to the summit. No snowshoes are needed. Some post holing on the way down in short sections. Nothing crazy. Awesome day. 
Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 6/5/2024, By: catward77
Info: Subaru Outback made it just before the stream crossing but did not attempt; saw someone with similar clearance (Toyota something) make it just fine. Main 4WD lot is only 10-ish minutes walking from there. Started around 4:45am from stream crossing. Very little snow on trail until almost out of treeline. Beyond that, you could bypass a lot of the snow until the summit push, but not without leaving the official trail. Above treeline, used spikes to the summit. Some softness but nothing annoying. Summited around 8:45am, began descent at 9:40am. Snow was softening by 10:15 but very minimal postholing. Feet sank 3-4 inches, allowing me to pretty much run down the snow. I brought snowshoes but never used them; if your time-of-day is similar to mine or earlier, I really don't think they're needed anymore on this route unless you're not okay with a couple short stretches of postholing. 
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Route: Northwest Gully
Posted On: 6/5/2024, By: Jcinco
Info: Climbed the West gully and skied the NW gully. Skied at 1pm and conditions were excellent down to about 12k, where conditions deteriorated. The W gully, which terminates just south of the summit, is in pretty fat, although the snow terminates mid-talus at about 14,200ft. The steeper and more varied NW gully, which runs from just north of the summit, is skiable from the summit via a snow tongue that runs along the rib dividing the W and NW gullies (the NW couloir, which joins the NW gully slopes and begins about 100 yards north of the summit, is bare of snow until well below 14,000ft). Excellent 3200 foot descent to South Halfmoon Creek. Halfmoon Creek is currently RAGING, making for an interesting crossing to start the day. Careful scouting will reveal an alternative to wading at the road crossing, although you will still get wet. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 6/4/2024, By: ajpatella
Info: I was able to drive all the way to the 4WD TH in my Honda Pilot with no issues. Below tree line, I didn't use spikes at all since it was perfect except for a few drifts. Above tree line I threw on my spikes for most of it, except one section where I was using my snowshoes. You probably don't need to, but I had a pretty warm day and it hadn't frozen well overnight and I was just annoyed with the post holes. It was super freaking windy and somewhat unpleasant on the summit, but overall it was in pretty good condition for hiking. I kept losing the trail but if you're more diligent than me you could probably keep on it. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 6/2/2024, By: Nick_B
Info: Started 2:45am, 0.6 mile below East Ridge Trailhead (top of FSR 125B). Early start to ensure firm snow on ascent. Summited 7:20 am, hung out for 40min up top, descended 8am, arrived back at car 10:15am. 4WD road (125B) is totally dry and accessible, no scary or gnarly sections. I drive a stock Honda CRV, never hit or scraped anything. There's a creek 3/4 of the way in, and I was not confident in crossing it so I parked below. Anybody with a decent truck, SUV, or Subaru could shoot across the creek no problem. Weather = Blue Bird skies. Wind was mild, occasional gust that would come through strong but on average it wasn't bad at all. Snow condition = I took an early start to avoid postholes and not have to use snowshoes (yes, I did bring some just in case). Walked on micro spikes all the way to the summit, zero issues. I did notice about 7:30am the crust softened where the first 1-2" would compress which was actually kinda nice. By 8, the snow was definitely softening, but not postholing. 8:15, postholes start happening. 8:30, super frequent post holing and quite annoying. 8:45, I think I invented some new cuss words. 9am, I'd say by this time the snow is garbage. You either need to be back at treeline by 9, or just plan to use snowshoes. Trail notes = don't follow the East Ridge route via OnX app, it is wrong and a bushwhacked winter route. Just stick to the South Elbert trail the whole way. If you want to minimize elevation gain, use South Elbert summer trail all the way to the summit, requiring you to hook a left once you get to the top of Box couloir. At that junction you'll notice a boot trail shooting straight up; Go for it if you've got the cardio... I unfortunately did not, so I hooked left to the switchbacks to lessen the angle of ascent. The boot trail was the perfect descent line, just too steep for me on the uphill portion of the hike. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/28/2024, By: Jkoch
Info: Great day with perfect weather. still a lot of snow up there. We used spikes for the ascent and they were fine. We left at 5am at upper 4wd trailhead. Topped out a little after 10 am. We hung out a little at the summit and headed down a little before 11. It was pretty warm at that time so we did use snow shoes and I found them to be beneficial. One guy from our group did not put his snow shoes on and seemed to get along fine but with lots of poshtoling. Long day for the 7 of us but we all summited. 9 hrs round trip. This was the first 14er for all but one of us. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/27/2024, By: HikesInGeologicTime
Info: There appears to be snow everywhere on this mountain except for the East Ridge from roughly 12,800 feet up to where it meets the summit slope, so if you were hoping to use this as a nice, mellow ski descent to be kind to injured body parts that would already be aggravated from the ascent, current forecasts seem to say better luck next year. Box Creek Couloirs appeared to have decent coverage still, although snow that was soft/punchy much of the time I was on it would likely have made me nervous about that option despite a green CAIC forecast even if I had been thought I would be able to convince my ankle it could totally handle terrain that steep after what I had put it through on the nice, mellow approach. No pics because I climbed in the dark in hopes of a sunrise summit; while the moon was bright enough to give me a good idea that the surprise tundra I found myself hiking was likely to be a feature rather than a bug for a few hundred feet, it probably was not bright enough to convey as much through the limits of my phone camera. While I did have much better view of the mountain that confirmed my earlier impressions in the morning sun as I was driving back north, I was making good time in hopes of beating the rest of the holiday traffic back to I-70, and anyway, my middle finger would have been at least partially blocking the view for most of the shots. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/25/2024, By: ladenedge
Info: Snow starts in patches at about one mile, and we put on microspikes at about two miles. Even starting at 5:30am, we had some postholing in the third mile. Tried snowshoes, but they ended up being more harm than good so we switched back. However, on the upper slopes - where even on a low-wind-forecast day it was pretty brutal - we were slipping pretty badly in microspikes (maybe even dangerously, since you could slide quite a ways if you lost your feet in a gust of wind). Switching to snowshoes for the steep final 1/2 mile made a *huge* difference in both our progress and sense of safety. I should mention again that the upper slopes were pretty rough (cold, windy, slow-going), even on a cloudless, low-wind day. We are somewhat relaxed (read: slow) hikers, and we summited at noon. Glissading down is highly possible right now, as the other hardy climber we summited with proved - looked pretty fun! Snow on the way down in the afternoon was okay until that last mile of snow, when even our showshoes were postholing like crazy and it was pretty miserable. We got back to the 4x4 trailhead at 3:30pm. Highly recommend an early start, of course, but trying to be down around noon would be best. Maybe even earlier as it starts to warm up. Good luck! 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/22/2024, By: gregpeak
Info: The first mile is clear. The second mile is about half clear and half snow. From there to the summit is continuous snow. About 3-4 inches of new snow fell last night. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 5/22/2024, By: Brian Garkie
Info: The trail from TH to treeline was about 90% snow. In the morning it was frozen and easily traveled with traction added to shoes. In the afternoon it was soft where snowshoes were very helpful. The stretch from the Colorado Trail to TH had slushy snow in the afternoon with plenty of exposure. Poles were very helpful. Above treeline there was 100% snow cover that was frozen, but the wind was brutal. I had my two teenagers with me. It was their first 14er attempt. We turned around at 13,000 feet due to cold. A couple of guys made it to the false summit and couldn't handle the wind chill either. Air temp was well below freezing from 12,000 feet up. Without the wind, summitting is doable as long as the snow above treeline stays frozen. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/23/2024, By: noah_kj
Info: Intermittent snow begins roughly 1/2 mile from the trailhead, with complete snow coverage beginning about 11,000ft. Had a good freeze overnight with low temps before and after sunrise (18 degrees at TH when we started at 4:30), so microspikes were the way to go aside from a short snowshoe stretch on the flatter terrain near treeline. Fresh snow the night before and increasing winds throughout the AM contributed to some growing wind slab risk in some areas, but the standard route up the ridge never seemed risky. If you want to get this one in soon, pick a day with a solid overnight freeze throughout the mountain, and start and finish early if you want to avoid slush and wet slide risk. 
Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/19/2024, By: ztweb
Info: Still quite a bit of snow up there. From the trailhead, there were patches of easily crossable snow with longer stretches of dirt and mud between. Beginning around 11,500 feet, there was near-continuous snow all the way to the summit. I began just after 5am, summited at 8:20am, and got back to the trailhead around 11:10 after spending 10-15 minutes on the summit and multiple breaks on the way up and down. Snow was mostly hard and crusty during the ascent until the last 400-500 feet below the summit where I began to posthole to about my knee. I wore microspikes beginning around 12,000 feet. During the descent, the snow had softened considerably, so it was a slick and wet way down with some postholing. I switched to snowshoes on the summit and could not imagine what it would have been like going down without them. Overall, beautiful and pretty easy morning. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/14/2024, By: hexman2
Info: This trail was fully covered with powdery snow starting with about 1 foot deep to about 2 feet. We also put in a path with snowshoes, but it was way too hard to walk. so we turned around at 12,000 feet. The thing that made everything way more difficult was the fact that there was no signs or any visible trail marks. Definitely impossible to use this route to reach the summit. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/11/2024, By: Ssgustafson
Info: Continuous powdery snow on the route. It starts about 5-6" thick and at treeline it increases to about 1 foot. We put in a path with snowshoes, and one other person was skinning up. We turned around at 11,900'. 
Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 5/4/2024, By: brian2018
Info: The approach trail was mostly clear of snow until ~11,000. From there it was fairly well covered to about 12,000. Spotty coverage from 12-13, above 13,000 full snow coverage. Skied from the summit, had to make 4 short boot packs on the way down the East ridge to move between areas where the snow has melted out. Left the summit at ~11am, snow above 13 was still good, snow between 13 and 11,5 was starting to get slushy. Should've been about an hour earlier. Trees on the way down were warm slush, skiable, but melting fast. Summer trail will probably be mostly free of snow below 13 within 2 weeks. 2 or 3 of the Box Creek chutes looked to have slid within the last 48 hours. Wind crust was noticeable on the ridge. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 4/21/2024, By: d_baker
Info: We drove up the road and got within 1/2 mile or so from 4wd TH. No issues, mostly melted out to that point. The quick road walk to TH is a mix of lingering snow/mud, and continuous but shallow snow. TH to treeline, mostly continuous snow, spotty in trees down low in some areas. Skiers kept skis on to the TH though on their descents. Above treeline, mix of thinning snow covered tundra, to deeper pockets of longer stretches of continuous snow. We didn't need/wear snowshoes in the morning and stashed snowshoes on ascent shortly after treeline with no regrets. Wore them down in afternoon from treeline to TH since we were punching through. Snowshoes for us were necessary and useful in the early afternoon hours for the descent from treeline. I didn't use traction at all today. A dozen or more skiers out today, from the summit and skiing the bowls. 
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Route: East Ridge
Posted On: 4/7/2024, By: tjagger
Info: Daniel (15 years old) and I started from the paved parking area at 8:15m and walked 1.8 miles to the summer trailhead. We used micro spikes on firm snow across the Colorado trail to the Mount Elbert trail. We followed a couple of boot prints to treeline. We switched to snow shoes all the way to the summit. The trail was tracked out in a few spots with boot tracks. We found that we should have started earlier with snow shoes as there was 4 or more feet of soft snow in places. The weather was 20 on top with light winds and sunny. We summited at 3:00pm, left at 3:30pm returning to the car 7 miles away at 7pm. The later finish meant that the snow was re consolidating towards sunset and easier to travel on. It was Daniels first winter condition fourteener. See https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/14774662814 for our day 
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