Peak(s):  Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Date Posted:  09/30/2018
Date Climbed:   09/28/2018
Author:  aussie
 Oxford and Belford   

After an epic fail of setting my alarm for 3:00pm instead of 3:00am, I was still lucky enough to wake up at 3:20am. I made a quick coffee and headed out from Boulder. I had planned to camp the night before, but my schedule wrecked that.

Passing through Granite I thought I saw signage indicating a prescribed burn. My brain didn't really register it though. I continued on and shortly after that, took a right onto the dirt road to the trailhead. It was still dark out, but I noticed thick smoke to the west. My brain registered that! ð

I carried on and the skies were thankfully clear at the trailhead. I started on the trail at 6:30am. What struck me immediately was the steepness of the trail. Even in the forest, the trail picks up and never really lets up. I pulled out of the forest and had a good view of Missouri and Belford. The basin is really quite spectacular. Looking up at Belford I realized just how steep the ascent would be.

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Moonset
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The ridge to Missouri getting some alpenglow

I worked my way through all the steep switchbacks and arrived atop of Belford just before 9am. The views were stunning and it was so peaceful. I'd only seen one party of three climbers on the trail so far and I had the summit all to myself.

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Mt. Oxford in the distance.

After a snack and some photos I headed down the saddle to Oxford. The trail here was still well defined but there were a few spots with loose dirt and rocks, so you still need to pay attention to foot placements. I passed two other fellow soloists that were headed back to Belford. I summited Oxford just before 10am. The wind and the sun had been strong all morning, so I took this opportunity to hide behind some rocks and get some respite from both of them. With some food and water in my belly and a good 20 minute rest I was feeling energized enough to head back to Belford.

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Mt Oxford's summit marker
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Balance!
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Looking out to Leadville, you can just make out the burn's smoke
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The trail back to Belford from Oxford

I made it back to Belford around 11am and I was feeling pretty spent at this point. I opted to take the same trail back to the trailhead. However, it was really steep and required a lot of concentration and energy to descend quickly and safely. If I do this again I'll try taking the pass to Missouri and descend from there, as it's apparently not as steep.

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Looking down at the basin
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One of several log bridges to cross steams
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A one grave cemetery

Definitely a tough but rewarding climb. I saw less than 10 people on a spectacular Thursday morning. I think the views speak for themself.

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