Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  05/21/2012
Date Climbed:   05/19/2012
Author:  Chinook
 Heading up Missouri Gulch  

7.5 miles RT
4,400 ft elevation gain
1 nice camping spot

I wanted to go camping in a very bad way. So Nate and I decided to head to Missouri Gulch. The last time I was up there was 10 years ago, where I climbed all three peaks in a day. Ahhh I was 21, so young and full of energy... Now I'm 31, with a lot of energy still, but I've lost a step and feel sore after a climb unlike 10 years ago. Ah well, still tons of fun!

Nate and I decided to hang up the skis last month for the rest of the season, but as you will see, Missouri is still in good shape for a ski descent. Belford however is dry as a bone.

We started hiking up at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with perfect weather. I really love the big pine trees along this trail.
Big pine trees along the trail

Beautiful waterfall along the trail

After hiking for about an hour I really started to remember the trail and how much I liked this area. And by the way, the trail is completely snow free. In fact the only snow we encountered was for about 10 ft. near the summit.
View to the North from the trail

Nate hiking into camp

In short time we hit the trail junction near treeline. Here is where we started looking for a good camping spot. We ended up finding a great place just a short ways up the Elk Head trail between some willows and pine trees.
Hmmm... Where to set up camp

From our site we were greeted with nice views of Belford.
Mt. Belford

And Missouri...

At about 9:30 we were about to go to sleep when it started to snow on us. It was at that time that I noticed a head lamp on the ridge near Missouri's summit! I was flashed my light at the person up there to see if they needed help, but the light disappeared after that. Some people pronounce Missouri as "Missourah", but I'm pretty sure that the guys up there in the dark and snow pronounced it "Missery"... Ba dum ching! Anyone? Anyone?

Anyways around midnight we woke up hearing a few guys hiking back from the trail, which we assumed were the guys up there before.

We woke up at 5:15, ate breakfast, and started hiking at 6:15 for Belford.
Morning light on the ridge

After about 20 minutes of hiking I started feeling a little strange. Nate asked me if I was okay, but I started feeling a little dizzy. I realized that I didn't eat enough breakfast, so I stopped and ate a granola bar. After that I felt great and we cruised up to the summit in an hour and 40 minutes from camp.

We knew that weather would be coming and it had been sunny, yet snowing off and on during our climb, so we moved quickly to beat the storms.

View from high on Belford

Looking South into the basin

When we arrived on the summit I saw something very strange. There was an unopened can of Coors Light just sitting there. I almost cracked it open to celebrate the summit, but then I thought, who would carry a can of beer to the summit and not drink it? I then started to imagine the things someone might have done to the can to make them not drink it, so I left the can alone!
Look what I found on the summit

Nate on the summit
Nate on summit with Missouri, Iowa, and Emerald

I really wanted to take Nate over to Oxford since he hasn't climbed these peaks yet, but the storm clouds were coming and it was time to get down. Nate did his best to lift the cloudline though.
Nate lifting the clouds

The hike back down was uneventful, but very cold. Both of our waterlines froze up. We met a few people coming up as we headed down. The first guys we met ended up turning back about 50 hundred feet from the summit due to the incoming weather. We met another group much further down as well.

Then we met 2 guys that just looked defeated as they were breaking camp. I asked, "were you guys up on Missouri at 10 p.m. last night"? It turns out they were! They had a late start and then glissaded down the ridge in the dark, then lost the trail. They did see my light though from the previous night.

As we headed out, the weather directly above us was nice and sunny the whole time, but the peaks were getting socked in with snow. Here are a few shots on the way out.

Marmot keeping a close eye on things

Peck Peak from the Trailhead

Parting shot of Massive from Leadville
Parting shot of Massive from Leadville

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Doctor No

05/22/2012 04:42
That photo of the cloudline is freakin' me out.


Nicely done
05/22/2012 12:19
And awesome photos!


Great Job - nice pics!
05/22/2012 13:13
Did you happen to get a look over toward Oxford and/or Harvard's north side? I'm wondering about the snow conditions as I'm heading for them next week. If you have any shots of those I would love to see them. thanks


Oxford and Harvard
05/22/2012 15:01

Here is a pic of Oxford I took from Belford

And here is Harvard, it was surrounded by the clouds.


Thank you!
05/22/2012 15:07
Much appreciated.


05/22/2012 17:17
Will you post pics? Im interested to see the mountain conditions of both Belford and Oxford and may head out the weekend after your trip.
Chinook: Great report! Thanks for posting


photos look great
04/02/2015 19:45
What camera do you use? The photos are very crisp!


05/22/2012 23:09
Most of the photos were with a Canon Rebel T3 DSLR. The 2 with the washed out sky were with a canon point and shoot.



Elkhead Pass Conditions
05/25/2012 13:54
Any thoughts on the conditions on the pass between Missouri and Belford? Thinking of hiking over it and down the next drainage this weekend. Thanks!

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