Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  07/14/2013
Modified:  07/15/2013
Date Climbed:   07/13/2013
Author:  Brokentaco

 A nice day for a hike up Elbert  

Trailhead: Mt Elbert/North Mt Elbert
Route: Northeast Ridge
Departure: 5:30am
Summit: 9:56am
Return to Trailhead/Car: 12:56pm

I drove out to the trailhead Friday evening from Colorado Springs. I arrived to light drizzle that lasted most of the evening. Parking lot had only 2 cars in it when I arrived at 7pm. My plan was to sleep in my car and get up at 5AM to be on the trail by 5:30AM. Meet a couple of people in the parking lot but I’m horrible with names so I apologize up front. The person in the car next to me has hiked his way down from Denver. He took off to find a camping spot about a mile up the trail. I ran into him half way up the first false summit past the tree line. A father/daughter team stopped by. They were from Tennessee (I think) and were planning on doing Elbert tomorrow as well. I also ran into them near the top of the second false summit. I went to bed at 10PM and woke up at 3:45AM. Looked around the parking lot and it was now full. Dozed off again until just before my alarm went off. Was woken up by bunch of vans full of hikers. Turns out it was some corporate climb. They were from some company out of Nebraska and had about 80+ people in their group. So at 5:30AM I headed up the trail. It was cool but not cold. No wind. Very calm. Got to a point where you could start seeing the other peaks.


Made it to the tree line at 06:56AM. A group of 4 young adults I had passed and been passed by several times to this point were taking a break at the tree line and were getting harassed by mosquitos. They asked if I had any bug spray and I did so I shared. I ended up bumping into this group many more times both past tree line and all the way back to the trailhead. A nice group of young folks. They can been seen in this tree line photo


Getting near the first false summit. Weather still cool but not cold. I could see clouds starting to form out east. Trail was packed at this point. You can see a long trail of hikers making their way up to the Northeast Ridge.


Near the top of the Northeast Ridge you get your first view of the second false summit. It started to get cold at this point and I put on my wool cap and gloves. I was also starting to have trouble breathing and had to take a lot of small breaks to catch my breath.


The section from 13,450 and 13,900 was a very steep climb. I think, for me, this was the toughest part of the climb. But then at 14,300 you reach the top of the second false summit. A big cairn with flag was at the top. The summit was just on the other side of the next ridge.


Another 133 more feet up and I finally made the summit. 09:56AM. The summit was packed with people and dogs. I saw a lot of people I had met along the trail. The gentleman from the parking lot can be seen having his photo taken holding up a summit sign. It wasn’t too windy at the top but was cold.


A photo of me on the summit.


I spent a few minutes on the summit before heading back down. Didn’t have a watch on so not sure when I got back to the tree line. Seemed like it took forever to make it back once in the forest. Ran into that same group of young adults. I had by this point ran out of water and they were kind enough to share some. Finally made it back to the trailhead at 12:56PM. The same group of young adults where parked right at the trailhead. I got a couple of high fives from them. I start getting ready to leave and the same group wanted me to take a group photo of them high fiving each other. I did but to be honest my hands were shaking so I think it didn’t turn out. Sorry guys. That happens when you get old.

This was my second 14er. I did Mt Massive 12 Aug 2012.

I posted more photos to my Flickr page. Here is a link to the set.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great work!
07/15/2013 18:00
Sounds like it was pretty crowded up there this weekend! I'm glad you enjoyed the trip up Elbert, the views are fantastic from the top!


Elbert friends
07/15/2013 22:44
Hey! I'm one of the group of 4 that kept crossing paths with you on our Elbert trip.. happy we made it into your post, and nice to meet you along the way!


Elbert friends
07/15/2013 23:16
Hey you kids were great. Sorry if the picture didn't turn out. I think I was a little dehydrated. Ran out of water at the tree line and the water I got from you guys helped out a lot. Memo to self, pack more water next time...


07/16/2013 15:19
hey brokentaco! Im just wondering if maybe you could give me directions as to how to get to the Northeast ridge from Colorado Springs! Im finding directions but I guess they just are not detailed enough for me to be able to figure it out! Im going with friend on Monday! Thank you so much!


07/16/2013 16:48
Well, to be honest it's just as the instructions state on this website. Take U.S. 24 West and just south of Leadville, turn left onto Colorado 300 and cross the railroad tracks. Drive 0.7 mile and turn left onto County Road 11 toward the Halfmoon Creek. After another 1.2 miles, turn right on the road to Halfmoon Creek. Drive on the good dirt road (except for the usual washboard and potholes) for 5 miles to the Mt. Elbert trailhead on the left. There is a large parking area with restrooms. Each trailhead is well signed. You're looking at a solid 3 hour drive.

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