Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  08/03/2006
Date Climbed:   07/29/2006
Author:  Rickey Dale Crain

 Mt Elbert - East Ridge  

This trip report has a special significance for me; not because of the mountain but because of the circumstances. In May I had a Total Hip Replacement which was the result of a bone disease, Avascular Necrosis.
I was on a walker (yes fully loaded with tennis balls) for 6 weeks and had been on a walker since early July. So it was pretty much guts and determination (and maybe a little bit of stupidity for trying it anyway) that got me to the top, considering I was in pitiful climbing shape. Coming from 900 foot elevation did not help a whole lot either.

Mount Elbert 14, 433 FT
July 29, 2006 - Saturday
Starting time 6:30 am / Finishing time 3:30 pm (6 hours up / 3 hours down)
Trailhead 10,440 FT – East Ridge
Elevation Gain 4,033 / Trip Length 8 Miles

Hikers - Mikayla Crain, Rickey Dale Crain, Samantha Jo Crain, Randy Lee Crain, Rickey Lee Crain


We left the KOA in Buena Vista about 5am in the morning and after an uneventful ride past the Twin Lakes and up the 4 wheel drive road we arrived at the trailhead of Mount Elbert and started climbing at 6:30 am. My brother, Randy (his first 14'er ascent) and my son Rickey Lee (his 6th 14'er ascent) took off like a couple of banshees and within minutes I had seen the last of them until I met them coming down as I was about 2/3rds of the way up. They got back to the SUV at about 12:30 pm. 3.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down. My daughter Sam and I continued to plug away until she decided dad was holding her back and she took off. I met her coming down as I was nearing the top. My niece Mikayla, made it about 2/3rds of the way up and decided this was probably not her thing in life.

Nothing spectacular happened during the trip except for lots of nice people giving me kudos when they heard I was just off of a Total Hip Replacement. Without this encouragement I would never have made it. It will make next year's trip tame and less exciting most likely. Being a weekend, the mountain had 20-30 people (from each of the 3 main trailheads) coming and going constantly with 10-15 at the top at any one time. There seemed to be very little animal life on the mountain (except for mosquitoes). I only saw a few pica and one marmot. Not much wildlife for a trip of this length. But the trip was nice and the accomplishment of doing something I had been told not to do sort of kept me in a constant psyche to prove everyone wrong. (I did have lots of explaining to do to my wife, mom and aunt).
The weather was perfect and a few clouds during the day helped to cut the very warm temperature down a bit at times. It was great to see no storm clouds coming in so I could take as long as I needed in completing my task. No missteps until within 10 minutes of finishing when I slipped and landed flat on my back and hip…….I was a bit scared for a minute that I had injured my new bionic implants and could just see my doctor now telling me what a fool I was for attempting this, but fortunately nothing but some slight stiffness, which I had soon walked off (so the Doc will never know).
The views are incredible from Mount Elbert in all directions and I envy those who can take advantage of living in Colorado and do this every weekend.
It will make next year's trip seem tame and less exciting most likely. Being on a weekend the mountain had 20-30 people (from each of the 3 main trailheads) coming and going constantly with 10-15 at the top at any one time. Only after coming down and driving back to the KOA in Buena Vista, sitting in the hot tub, eating pizza and ice cream did I realize, all was well with the world.


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