Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Date Posted:  05/09/2013
Date Climbed:   05/05/2013
Author:  Bean
Additional Members:   XC Snowboarder
 (Bel+Ox)ford fatigued ski   

After skiing the Needle on Friday, Marc was down to only four peaks left to finish his 14er project. Thanks to some photos posted a week prior, we were fairly confident that Belford and Oxford would be in shape for a descent. Early Saturday afternoon Marc sent a text to let me know he was going for it, and I agreed to join him despite still being fatigued from Friday.

It was an early drive down to Winfield, and we were moving along the trail by 5:30am. Worried that the trail would be dry for a few miles, we carried flip flops until we hit mostly-continuous snow and stashed them in a tree.

Marc had some trouble with a pole, but was able to retrieve it thanks to his incredibly useful whippet.

It was fairly warm and humid, without a very good freeze in the valley. Something about Missouri Gulch seems to hold clouds in, as I've dealt with rotten, unsupportive snow every time I've been up there.

We saw evidence of some pretty miserable wallowing by someone on snowshoes, and weren't faring a whole lot better ourselves.

Onward and upward through the "misery trees" we went, switchbacking through trees and breaking trail through unsupportive snow.

Once above treeline, things improved. The snow had frozen, and became quite supportive.

We took the main NW gully direct, going one at a time from safe-zone to safe-zone. We weren't particularly concerned about anything coming down on us, but it's never a bad idea to follow safe travel procedures. We were also both still feeling Friday's effort, so the frequent breaks were welcome. After an hour or so we popped out to Belford's summit ridge.

Oxford looks quite a ways away, especially after having already gained 4,600′ on the day.

We were given some advice to skirt around the summit block on the east for our first pass of Belford. This didn't quite work out, so up and over it was.

We both just put our heads down and tried to keep the pace up. Roughly 80 minutes after leaving Belford, we were on top of Oxford transitioning for the ski.

After skiing to the saddle, we went back to booting up the ridge. Despite being tired, I dropped Marc pretty quickly. I wondered if he was doing alright, and stopped to take a look.

Then I heard him talking, and took a closer look. He was attending to business from roughly 14,000′.

Half an hour later, Marc was back up to the summit block of Belford, and we quickly got ready to go. We again went one at a time through the NW gully, Marc making it look much better than I. My legs were jello after the day's 6,100′ of climbing (and over 11,000′ for the weekend) and I had one of the most exhausting easy ski descents of my life.

Back to the misery trees, we skied out as far as possible. The lower we got the worse the snow was, with near-constant submarining for both of us. Marc had a particularly rough time at this spot.

We started walking a couple miles from the car, and were able to make good time back to the flip flops. Having retrieved them, we pushed on, just carrying the flops in our hands. Marc is now two peaks away from finishing his 14er project, with only Pikes, and the true crux of the 14er ski project, Culebra to go.

 Comments or Questions

05/09/2013 13:56
Only Pikes and Culebra to go. Congratulations! We may be celebrating the second snowboarder to descend all the 14ers soon. Looking forward to following the finishers!


05/09/2013 14:25
Nicely done guys. Definitely that's a big day. Marc, rock on!

I have also appreciated the dexterity of the Whippet at times...


05/09/2013 14:29
Thanks for the early morning laughs, and congrats to both on (yet another) 14er descent.


No rest.....
05/09/2013 18:55
for the weary! Good effort dudes.

How was the coverage looking across the valley (clear creek) on all the south facing stuff?


I really wish I had joined you...
05/10/2013 04:17
so I could have been there to see that face plant in person. Luckily I had swallowed my water before scrolling to that last pic. Quick work on the camera Mike. Or is Marc just doing pushups cause two peaks wasn't enough? Either way, looks like a solid day. 2 more!


05/10/2013 16:20
South facing alpine couloirs were in, almost everything below treeline looked entirely melted out.

I was able to take my time with the camera, Marc was pretty well lodged in the snow and it took some help to get him out from under the crust.

XC Snowboarder

05/11/2013 04:30
Zack/Matt - thanks
Carl - No face plant, just some squirming for the camera trying to free myself
Bean - nice work on the TR - Belford was super fun
SFace lines on Huron and Mizzou were def in phat

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