Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Date Posted:  08/31/2011
Date Climbed:   07/29/2011
Author:  glodder
 Belford/Oxford - Standard Trail Route  

After our Harvard/Columbia hike on Tuesday and Wednesday and a break day on Thursday, Adam, Gordy, Steve, Tyler and I drove to the Missouri Gulch trailhead for Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford on Thursday evening, July 28th. We parked about 0.2 miles west of the trailhead at a little campsite on the north side of the road, and we set up 3 tents at the campsite. We awoke the next morning at 2:30, and began our hike of Belford/Oxford around 3:00. The trail was pretty defined all the way to the Mt. Belford summit, however, there was a tricky part in the trees where we had to find the correct trail, which went across a creek crossing. As we emerged from the trees, we found the trail junction for the turn-off to Missouri Mountain, which we took note of for when we return to climb Missouri someday. After this trail junction, the trail to Mt. Belford became significantly steeper, and it was pretty much straight up to the ridgeline from here. After a few hours of hiking, we crested the ridge, and there was Mt. Belford's summit staring us in the face. The summit was beautiful, as the final 20 feet was made out of a different-colored, solid conglomerate rock which jetted out of the rocks all around it. The 5 of us all were standing on the Mt. Belford summit at around 6:15. I hit the summit just as the sun had risen and it was a beautiful sight. It was cold on this summit at this time of morning. We snapped some pictures; here is one with all 5 of us in the frame:


We then headed off to our next goal, the Mt. Oxford summit via the connecting ridge. There was a defined trail all along the ridgeline to the Mt. Oxford summit. It took about 1 hour to reach the Mt. Oxford summit. Mt. Oxford had a summit register (interestingly enough, this was the only summit of the whole trip which had a register; no register could be found on Mt. Harvard, Mt. Columbia or Mt. Belford), which we all signed. Here is a pic of us on the Mt. Oxford summit:


We then began our trek back across the ridge to re-summit Mt. Belford, which again took about 1 hour. Here is a pic of me just before the re-summit of Mt. Belford, and in the background you can see the interesting rock formation that is Mt. Belford's summit:


The descent off of Mt. Belford was definitely steep, but it took us no time at all to be down into the trees again, and then all the way back to the trailhead. This was an excellent, but steep, hike on two great mountains. I have often heard discussions between people on which combo is harder: Belford/Oxford or Shavano/Tabeguache. In my humble opinion, I would say Shavano/Tabeguache is slightly harder due to the higher mileage and due to the talus and off-trail hiking on the traverse between Shavano and Tabeguache. The Belford/Oxford hike was all trail with no exceptions, which made for quicker time and easier goings. We had both the Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford summits to ourselves. There were 2 people, a father-son combo, from Mission, KS who were ahead of us for most of the hike. We stopped to talk to them for a few minutes on the connecting ridge to Mt. Oxford. After the re-summit of Mt. Belford, we saw about 60 other people on our descent.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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