Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  06/23/2020
Date Climbed:   06/20/2020
Author:  anjelidoty
 Bluebird day on Mt Massive: first 14er for 2 friends   

Gorgeous day on Mt. Massive.

After a rainy day fishing the Arkansas river, I headed towards the Mt. Massive wilderness with three friends. One was celebrating his birthday, and to commemorate wanted to climb his first 14er. The road into the trailhead/campsites was dry, and the camping area is mostly dispersed with a few payed sites. Most campsites are nearby the road, but a short jaunt up behind our site opened to a fairly flat area with decent privacy. I was hugely disappointed to see a pile of trash leftover from someone's party weeks before. This is wilderness area; we have to protect it.

We planned to leave at 4am, but the guys' sleepy groans of protest and last-minute oatmeal made in the dark had us on the East Slopes route trail at 5am. At that time, there were about 15 other vehicles at the trailhead. We bundled on down jackets and fleece, but within 15 minutes of hiking were sweaty and down to 1-2 synthetic layers. The sun rose as we neared the end of treeline, opening to the view of Mt. Massive in full beaming sunlight. The trail was clearly marked, although I downloaded the GPX file ahead of time and uploaded it to my ONX mapping app, and encouraged the others in my group to do the same. I felt confident about the route, but it was reassuring to have the digital version in my hand and a good mental reminder of progress.

The hike was nearly 100% free of snow, with a few sections with packed-down trails. No gators necessary. The few snow patches on the ridgeline had post-holed footprint tracks, although I avoided the snow altogether by hiking along the top and backside of the ridge (being aware to step intentionally due to the heightened exposure). The temperature varied as we gained elevation, and the 45°F + wind chill had me layered back up. Thankful I brought gloves, as my hands were chilled holding trekking poles. We summited around 10am, just under 5 hours up. There were about 15 other people at the peak and it was windy.

After a celebratory rest we headed back down; about 2hrs, 45 minutes return trip. The bluebird sky held up the whole way, and by treeline I was down to a tanktop. Sunscreen was a must. The guys did great for their first 14er. Stayed together, hydrated, and communicated well.

A few notes:

-I was disappointed how many new social trails were being developed parallel to the main trail. I get it—walking along soft dirt and grass is more appealing than rocky trail. But I encourage my fellow mountain-goers to recognize the impact of this. We are fortunate to have established trails to access these gorgeous peaks. Walking along other areas damages the natural biome and causes erosion. Installed erosion measures exist on the established trails, but over time using social trails leads to unnatural water flow and jeopardizes this gorgeous wilderness area.

-Quick reminder for trail etiquette: offer to let those behind you pass if you're taking your time. This reduces bottlenecks and peak crowding. No shame in taking a breather and letting others pass; the peak isn't going anywhere.

-Saw a few folks who hiked in and camped higher up along the trail near the treeline, taking some miles off the trek. There weren't a ton of flat spots, but it's an option.

-Hiking this trail with additional gear for my crew reminded me just how valuable it is to reduce pack weight. The difference of a few extra radios, a larger first-aid kit, and additional food had a larger affect on my stamina than I anticipated.

It was one for the books. Happy trails to any future climbers.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Very useful trip report
05/01/2021 07:57
Thanks so much for your thorough and thoughtful Mt. Massive trip report. I was looking for a report in the summer timeframe you summited. Good deal that you tool along some novice climbers. Thanks.

Re. Very useful trip report
05/01/2021 08:40
Hi, @Climb1955, thanks for the comment. Glad to hear the report was helpful! Hope you can get out there this summer.

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