Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  08/01/2011
Date Climbed:   07/29/2011
Author:  whitesalmon133
 Northeast Ridge  

This was my first Colorado 14er, though I have climbed Mt. Whitney twice.

A synopsis of my climb:

Scouting the trailhead the day before

Conditions, weather and my body, were perfect except for some clouds forming and dissipating at the summit around 10 – 10:30AM.

• 5:30AM – at the trailhead and begin climbing
• 6:20AM – at the junction of the Colorado and Mt. Elbert trails
• 10:30AM – at the summit = 5 hours up
• 11:00AM – begin the descent
• 1:45PM – arrive back at the trailhead = 2 ¾ hours down

I'm not a peak bagger, and at 67, I found the 8 ¼ hour day to be a long strenuous day, though I would have to agree that it was easy from a technical standpoint! Other descriptions that I read in other trip reports such as easy slope to a flat area, relatively moderate terrain, pretty easy route overall, up the easy slope to a flat area, etc.!! obviously reflect the abilities of those writers, and they are beyond me! I realize that some guys run a 5 minute mile, and some guys run a 10 minute mile. I'm more like a 10 minute miler!!!

I arrived at the trailhead ready to hike at 5:30AM. There were several cars already there, and 3 – 4 more pulled in as I got ready. I’d estimate that about 50 cars could fit in the trailhead parking lot. So, I had company from the get go. There were all kinds of people before the day was over, and I probably saw over 100 all together. 5 – 6 members of a boys cross country team jogged by me! A Boy Scout group of about 8 with a leader, and we would leapfrog each other most of the day, til they lost me on the last mile or so to the summit. Coming down I passed them. Their leader had them well disciplined. He made sure everyone kept the pulse down, and didn’t just freight it like a lot of other younger folks. Pleasant group. Two guys pulled up and parked next to me, one from Chicago, and they were going to go for it! We leapfrogged for a couple of hours. I never saw them after the last time I passed them. Another, young fellow, 25 – 30, walked by me early on at a good pace, only for me to slog by him at about the 3 hour mark. I saw him after about 30 minutes on my way down lying against a large cairn. He didn’t have much to say, and I’m thinking he had at least 1 to 1 ½ hours to go at his pace to summit! 3 or 4 groups of 8 – 10 young people went on by me. On the way down I saw some people heading up, so that would be between 11:30 and 1:30, a little late I think.

I purposely walked slowly from the beginning, knowing that I had come from 650’ and was already at 10,000’ at the trailhead in about 24 hours!! Pole-eh pole-eh I repeated to myself ! I continued to remind myself all day, though at times in hours 4 and 5 on the way to the summit, it was pretty easy to remind myself!! I only had 1 occasion where the pulse in my head got high and throbbing. That’s the warning sign that signals the end of the ascent if I couldn’t get the pulse down. I took it easier and didn’t have a reoccurrence. On Humphreys Peak last summer I had this happen to me multiple times, and the max elevation there was “only” 12,633’. I think I pushed it too hard and didn’t pole-eh pole-eh enough on Humphreys.

Some of the neat things:

• pristine forest
• quaking aspen
• panoramas of mountains and snowy peaks everywhere
• picas calling
• very showy tundra-like yellow and purple and lavender and white….flowers
• Mt. Massive – so well named, the girth is unbelievable!
• a Clark’s Nutcracker who landed nearby for a picture
• the false summit that didn’t bother me in that I knew what to expect
• the 15 minutes of complete silence I had on the way down as I saw no one!

I timed it right! The flowers aren’t always there. Thundershowers were predicted in the 40 – 60% range, but I only got about 10 spritzs on me on the way down. The elevation didn’t really adversely affect me. I managed to only go down on my butt twice on the way down!

I had no aches or pains the night of the climb. And, I have had no aches or pains since, due to the climb anyway!

Bottom line: A very successful trip, more than I could have expected. The kind I would like all my climbs to be!!

Some pictures follow.

Colorado & Mt. Elbert Junction
Treeline - Now the real work begins!
False Peak
The Real SUmmit
View from the top 1
View from the top 2
A new friend

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

08/19/2011 15:01
I am hiking Mt. Elbert in Sept and this is my first 14er. Coming from Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and thinking about Elbert on Tues, do you think that is too soon to acclimate? Also, what is pole eh, pole eh? Did you use trekking sticks and do you recommend it? We are in our 50's and need as much advice as we can get. Also, planning to bring 3 liters of water each, what did you bring? I appreciate your input. Thank you.


02/04/2012 22:31
nice report. like your descriptions of people on the trail!

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