Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  07/08/2019
Date Climbed:   07/07/2019
Author:  naivon
 Skiing Elbert's Box Creek Chutes   

RT Length: 11.5 miles

Time to summit: 4.5 hours

I got to the trailhead around 4 am and was the third car in the lot. I left at about 4:45 am and used a headlamp for maybe 30-45 minutes until the sun started making its way over the mountains. The trail is very easy to follow, and there are 2 signs on the way up to point you in the right direction. I don't fully remember what the first sign says, but I believe it points towards the Colorado trail where you make a left. The second says 'Mt Elbert' and points you to the right. Going up was actually easier than I expected, and by the time I hit treeline, I was surprised I was already halfway there.


There are 2 solid false summits. One is as you're hiking up next to the the box creek chutes, and the other is just after you reach the top of that steeper ascent. The box creek chutes still have a lot of snow on them and I was scouting my line as I was ascending. Nearly the entire hike is snow-free, however there is one small patch of snow maybe 5 feet long that you have to hike through to reach the peak. I hit the summit around 9:30, then strapped my skis on. Elbert is skiable from the summit! There are two separate snow patches at the summit, and the one furthest north connects entirely to the box creek chutes. Unfortunately, the snow was already pretty slushy at 9:30 am, much more so than I was planning for. I should have gotten there an hour earlier as I was sliding an extra 10 feet down with every turn I made.


Some of the sun cups are getting very large here. One sun cup decided to detach my ski as I was making a slow traverse and I slid down maybe 50 feet before being able to stop myself. Climbing back up to the lost ski was quite an endeavor because the slushy snow kept falling out from beneath my feet. This is again why my biggest advice to those looking to ski Elbert is to get there earlier than I did. It was still skiable, but very slushy. The snow runout goes until the small lake at around 12700', but I cut it a bit shorter so I wouldn't have to do as much vertical hiking to get back to the trail. There were 2 snow patches I had to cross to reach the trail again, and post holing was definitely a problem. I stomped the snow several times before taking each step which minimized that issue however.


It's hard to accurately say how long it took me to descend because of the whole ski fiasco, but I arrived back at the trailhead before 1:30 pm. In total, ski fiasco and everything, this trip took me 9 hours top to bottom.

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