Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  01/20/2012
Date Climbed:   08/28/2011
Author:  soconn
 Climbing Mt. Elbert via Black Cloud Trail  

Climbing Mt. Elbert via Black Cloud Trail in August

My boyfrend and I did a lot of research to determine which mountain we wanted to climb this year. Last year, we conquered Pike's Peak in August which was our first mountain.

I couldn't find many reviews about climbing this mountain on the Black Cloud Trail, and in August, so here you go. (I did read that it was a difficult trail). Whoever wrote that was right!

We stayed at the Mt. Elbert Lodge in Twin Lakes/Leadville, CO. The trailhead is literally right there, about 20 steps from your cabin! We started at 4 a.m. to get a good head start. The lodge owner climbed it before so we had a rough estimate of what to expect.

You cross over the stream a time or two, and hit some VERY steep parts. There is a baby aspen forest (baby as of August 2011) - supposedly, an avalache cleared a huge portion of forest down the mountainside years ago). We found a very old outhouse and what's left from the cabin (outhouse is easy to spot, the cabin - not so much). You keep climbing and climbing. Snow caps were present, but wasn't like snowy weather in Midwest (I was worried it would be freezing if there were snowcaps). You will hit some false summits and finally you get to the top.

It's hard to tell which is the peak when climbing, but you will not see the peak of Mt. Elbert unitl you hit the false summits. Unforanately, we could not find the registry but we did find one on South Mt. Elbert (one of the false peaks of the true Mt. Elbert). The trip down was VERY HARD as the hail was pelting our skin which turned into rain. The trail became VERY SLIPPERY too (and with the steep parts, made it pretty scary).

Since we got soaked before we could get our rain gear on, we stopped at the outhouse during the descent and changed. We only saw one other group the entire time while climbing. And we got to see a marmot (I had read about them). So that made it enjoyable too.

It's a fantastic thing to be where so little people go, to feel on top of the world and see the views in person that a lot of others will only see in books. If you are looking for an easier route - South Mount Elbert trail and North Mount Elbert trail are two good options and take half the time (but don't have nearly the views as Black Cloud Trail).

Hope this helps!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Ammo box?
01/20/2012 19:58
What's up with the ammo box? Someone planning on a last stand up there? Bill? Where do you keep the .30cal machine gun?


01/23/2012 21:00
I found one at the very beginning the crags TH, about 20 feet off trail stashed in some rocks. It had a sticker asking not to be removed??

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