Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  10/03/2020
Modified:  10/04/2020
Date Climbed:   09/26/2020
Author:  jmjr2k
 "Massive" Undertaking...   

As a low-lander who has had a love of the mountains in the summer for many years, you try to get in as many hikes as possible before the really cold weather and snow set-in. So, this 14'er was going to be the last one for me this year. We hiked Mt. Massive on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. It was a last minute decision on this 14’er. We were headed to La Plata Peak out of Leadville, but because of winds and the route to its summit, we decided on Mt. Massive instead. So, we turned around and headed to the N. Half Moon trailhead, and I quickly downloaded the off-line maps on AllTrails for the route before getting out of cell range.
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As others have mentioned, the road to the trailhead is 2WD up past the Mt. Elbert trailhead, but get ready because it gets rougher and you’ll need a high clearance shorter wheelbase vehicle to get up and over the turn to the final parking area. We started at 8:30 am which was a little later than we normally start, but the weather was going to be fine for this day in September. I only had a day to acclimate which was not enough for me, but it would have to do for this hike. I'm an old guy, so I decided to try a can of Boost Oxygen at the top, and I have to tell you that it works. Even if you think it's just you're imagination about sucking in this pure oxygen, it did the trick for me in giving me that extra lift to get to the summit. Usually, I don't need any help if I adjust to the altitude for a few days, but given the time frame, it was good to have the "help".
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It was a cold start at around 34 degrees, and the trail was beautiful at the beginning with the changing Fall colors of Aspens and willows, to the junction. There is a memorial right as you start up at the trailhead that describes the crash of a blackhawk military helicopter in August, 2009 where 4 soldiers died on a practice mission. It's humbling to read the story, and makes you think about the lost pilots and their families, but also about their service to our country. As we proceeded to the junction, the sign was broken and missing to tell you to head right for the Mt. Massive summit. So, be sure to pay attention here! Once you make this turn, it begins to get steep through talus and loose rock, but the trail is well defined. As you gain elevation, the route gets steeper with a number of switchbacks.
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As you approach the first of the three 14,000’ plus summits of Massive, pay attention to the cairns because the trail becomes less defined among all the rock. Summit North Massive, take a few pictures, then head over to Massive Green, take a few pictures here, then head over to Massive Summit. There are two other Summits to Massive Mountain which can make for a long, but rewarding day. I could not find any of the USGS mountain markers, and there was no register or signs at the top, so I just had to "document" our summit with a My Altitude picture and a witness who took our picture.
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The stay at the summit was short-lived as we fueled up with those Smuckers Uncrustables (tasty PB&J's) and a few Shockblocks. We stayed with just the three summits because the wind was gusting to 35 mph, and along with the cold temps in the upper 30’s, made it pretty cold. Remember that you still need to make your way back down which is a tiring exercise because of the steep-ness, talus, and scree. Verizon cell service is good at the top, but non-existent at lower elevation, and certainly not on the road to/from the trailhead. Nonetheless, the views along the way, and at the summit, are just incredible! Another great 14'er for the books, and time to start planning for next year! Thanks for reading!



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