Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  12/18/2011
Date Climbed:   12/17/2011
Author:  zxbraves
 Mt. Elbert East Ridge  

At close to a 3hr drive from the denver area, we arrived at the trailhead about 6:30am. The 4WD forest service road was hard packed snow, and we had very little trouble making it up the narrow 1.8 mile road, but went slow just to be safe.

The weather conditions couldn't have been more perfect. Sunny, and calm winds with a high of 45 in Leadville on this day. We expected to see a few others at some point, never saw anyone else on the trail the whole day.

Our gear:
waterproof boots
Kahtoola microspikes
wool socks and sock liners
snow pants
long underwear
synthetic layers
fleece coat
heavy coat
hiking poles


We got started shortly after 7am, just before sunrise. The first 1.5 miles the trail was well packed down and the microspikes gave excellent traction.


With little to no wind and the sun out, we started getting hot and shedding layers which we picked up on the way back. It was amazing, with no winds, you could hear absolute silence!

We were making good time for the first two miles at about 1mph. But above treeline it started to get tougher. Trudging along about halfway up we started getting tired and winded. The snow was tricky. In parts it was solid and gave good footing. In other places you would sink down to your knees. The most frustrating part of the hike was in areas you would take a step and find no traction and slide right back down because the snow was so powdery.


We reached the summit in almost exactly 5 hrs. I tried taking some pictures, but could not leave my gloves off for more then a couple of minutes before they would get painfully cold. So we stayed about 15 minutes and then headed back.


Coming back down was a completely different story. The same snow that hindered us going up was like a cushion for every step going down and we made good time.

As we got lower and started warming back up, we stopped for lunch, slightly soggy but still tasty Subway footlongs which really hit the spot. And my favorite trail snack those little snickers.

As we continued our way back down, we stopped to take some pictures. The long shadows and the sun shining thru aspens looked great.


A small footbridge crossing a frozen creek where the Elbert trail meets the Continental Divide trail.


We made it back to the trailhead at 2:45. So a total of 7hrs 30mins.


GPS Topo map.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

snow and more snow
12/19/2011 14:22
I took on Elbert Sunday from the Northeast side. I didn't see anyone all day either. Looks like a great trip!


great conditions
12/19/2011 16:11
So where you able to drive all the way up the 4WD road?

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