Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  06/23/2011
Date Climbed:   06/22/2011
Author:  DScott49

 An Elbert Birthday Hike  

My brother Ed is here visiting from MI for a week. We did Sherman for Father’s Day and he had is sights set on Elbert (the highest CO 14er, and second highest point in the continental US) for his 41st birthday on Wednesday, 22 June. We took off on the 21st and took the long way around to get there by going from Colorado Springs, through Estes Park, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and down to Leadville where we spent the night.

Estes Park is always a nice stop and NMNP was awesome. There is still a lot of snow in the higher elevations. Took a nice shot of Long’s Peak to show it’s present conditions (Image
Long's Peak Conditions
). We were lucky enough to see a mom and baby moose on the Sherman hike and got to see a young male in RMNP (Image
Young Male Moose in RMNP

Conditions were great when we arrived in Leadville and I took a couple shots showing a close up of Mt. Elbert’s NE Ridge (Image
Mt. Elbert NE Ridge, The Goal
), and Mt. Massive (Image
Mt. Massive
). We drove to the Trail Head (TH) to check it out the night before and were again lucky enough to see some unusual wild life. As we approached the TH a large brown bear ran out of the woods and across the road very closely followed by a large black bear. Don’t know if it was a fight, game, or mating season; but they were moving out! Disappeared too quickly to get a picture. A family at the TH told us that there was no need for snowshoes, spikes, etc.

We started out the next morning at 4:05 from the TH. The climb through the woods to tree line was uneventful, but as with most of the Elbert climb, it is steep and seemingly never-ending. This was my second summit of Elbert so I knew about the false summits ahead. By the time we cleared tree line the sun had just come over the mountains and it was beautiful (Image
Just above Tree Line
). The only difficulty in following the trail is shortly before reaching tree line. There are many drifts that obscure the trail, but with careful observation, you can keep along the beaten path.

As you climb along the slopes you finally see what you are sure must be the summit; it is not (Image
Toughest Stretch of Hike
). What you are looking at, IMO, is the toughest part of the climb. Once you are over this peak you can see the real summit and the hike is somewhat easier. We made the peak at just over 3 ˝ hours and were treated to majestic views (Image
Peak Views 1
, Image
Peak Views 2
). We were the 4th and 5th to summit that day.

Here is a shot of big and little brother on the summit(Image
Summit Shot of Ed and I
). Ed turned 41 this day (dressed in black), and I turn 51 on the 30th of June (dressed in orange). Here is Ed’s birthday shot, living the dream! (Image
Ed's 41st B-Day, Living the Dream!
). The day was awesome. We spent over 30 minutes on top with very little wind just visiting with people. An adventure group brought up 20-30 young folks while we were there and we ran into several groups on the way down. It took just under 3 hours taking our time to walk back to the jeep.

All in all it was an awesome birthday hike and we could not have asked for it to go smoother. We are now looking at Mt. Princeton for his final summit before he heads back to MI. Thanks for reading. Happy hiking all!

Dr. Dave

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Wish I lived in CO

Nice Photos
06/23/2011 17:18
Esp. the first 2. Looks like your brother is having a good trip - nice tour.


nice report
06/23/2011 20:02
great report and glad it came out that this mountain is climbable without crampons and other equipment like snow shoes, good luck on mt. princeton


saw you there
06/24/2011 00:36
It was a great day to climb, I saw you and your brother yesterday.


That's What I'm Talkin About!!!
06/24/2011 00:38
Thanks for the trip report! I so appreciate these reports and pics. We're looking to summit Elbert on Saturday, Lord willing. Wasn't sure exactly what the conditions were going to be. Now, I'm not bringing the snowshoes, or sweating gators. Also, it gives me an idea of how much time it's going to take

Happy belated B-Day to your brother!


06/25/2011 01:14
great photos and Happy B-day to both. I am doing a 14er (my first) for MY 40th bday this coming week (june 29) and cannot decide which one to do! you make this look easy!!! I am debating between this and Mt Sherman.... your suggestions are welcome.


Happy Birthday to you too!
06/25/2011 14:20
”I am debating between this and Mt Sherman.... your suggestions are welcome.”
Happy birthday to you also! If you have not spent much time at higher altitudes I would suggest you try Sherman first. Sherman has the advantage of a high trailhead so the hike is shorter and it will give you the experience at altitude. It is a very nice hike and the views are awesome. Elbert is awesome but longer and will expose you to altitude for twice as long. I think for a first experience Sherman is the way to go! I took my daughter up this one last summer and she can't wait to do another one. Have a great birthday hike!

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