Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  05/30/2007
Date Climbed:   05/21/2007
Author:  Meli

 Mt. Elbert- West side from South Halfmoon Campground   

My buddy and I decided to follow the route described in Dawsons guidebook. We parked at South Halfmoon Creek "campground" which is now marked as FS road 110J (not what the book said). Road 110J was VERY easy to find, as it is the only REAL left fork in the road after you pass the Massive Campground 2 miles prior. The road in was completely clear of snow and was not too rutted out. It would definitely be passable in a 2wd with a talented driver. There was plenty of parking at the campground (we were the only ones there) so we just pulled right up next to the creek. Right off the bat there is a really fun crossing of Halfmoon Creek. There is a log bridging it to aid in said crossing. My skis were mounted high on my pack so I opted for the "butt scoot" method to avoid falling in. The creek is trucking right along with plenty of runoff.
After the creek crossing we followed the jeep road for approximately 2 miles as the book said to do. We reached the base of the first couloir and broke left off of the jeep trail. There is a NOTICEABLE break in the timber (as the book also indicated) where we started to climb. This is when the postholing got to be pretty considerable. There is plenty of snow sitting in the bottom of the run out. It is completely rotten and is not worth trying to skin or snowshoe over. We sucked it up and continued up and over to the second couloir. The snow over there was quite a bit better, and appeared to go pretty high up. We figured this would be a nice place to ski. The temps up there were down in the low 30's, and we had had a freeze the night before. The snow seemed pretty stable. We skinned until it got to steep to continue. At that point we bootpacked up the side to the ridge which is almost completely devoid of snow. We left ski gear there and hiked to the summit. It was beautiful on top and we hung out for about a 1/2 hour. It appeared that we were the only ones to summit that day. We had not seen another soul, and there were no fresh bootprints in the snow up top. We could not find the summit register. I am assuming it is still buried in the snow. Our ski descent was back down the route we took up. The snow stayed stable and the ski down was SWEET!!!! here are a few pics of the ski Image Image Definitely a well worth it climb in my book!!!! Can't wait to go ski something else.
Here is a map of the route we took (approximately) The red line is the hiking portion of the trip. The skinning portion is shown in dark blue, the boot pack up to the ridge is shown in light blue, and the final hike to the summit is shown in red again. Image

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

05/06/2008 19:41
I‘m thinking of skiing that route this weekend. Do you know when the road opens from emerald lake to the upper trailhead, where you started from? Any other pieces of advice you have would be great. What was your approx car to car time? we might have to start from the lower trailhead, and travel the 4wd road on skins.

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