Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  09/07/2007
Date Climbed:   09/02/2007
Author:  gatorchick

 Elbert - NE Ridge  

Seven or eight years ago I climbed Mt. Sherman. It was kind of cool but I wasn't hooked. Last October J and I made an attempt on Quandary but had to turn around just short of the summit because of ice conditions that we were most certainly not prepared for. This weekend I finally got my second fourteener.

Saturday afternoon the fiance , the dog, and I headed to the mountains to climb Mt. Elbert. We camped outside Leadville (our home away from home) at Halfmoon the night before the climb. It was in the 30s at night but we were nice and toasty in our sleeping bags. That evening after setting up camp I went for a run along the gravel road that leads to the Elbert and Massive trailheads. Leadville is my favorite place to run! We dined on turkey dogs and sweet corn and turned in early, only to be interrupted by the folks at the neighboring campsite who were (quite literally) having an orgy (but that's a story for another post!)!

The alarm went off at 4 a.m. the next morning and we were out of bed by 4:30, stumbling around in the cold early morning air, wishing desperately that we had brought stuff to make hot coffee before our climb. By 5:30 we had gotten our stuff together and were leaving the traihead into the chilly dark morning. The first hour or so would be spent hiking through the woods by headlamp.


We hit treeline right around sunrise and the view was stunning. The sky was absolutely on fire and we stopped for a while to admire the view. Of course, no picture can do it justice.


We were the third group to set off up the trail that morning and quickly passed the two groups in front of us. The hike up was actually not too bad - near the top it started to get steep and rocky and there were places where you would take 10 or 20 steps and then stop to catch your breath. The climb up was hard, but it was the good kind of hard. After two or three false summits we finally reached the final climb up. Because we were the first ones up the mountain we had the summit to ourselves for a good 10 minutes or so before anyone else arrived. The view was absolutely incredible. The fact that we were looking DOWN on Mt. Massive, the second highest peak in Colorado, tells you how high we were. From the top we had an excellent view of nearby La Plata and a whole bunch of other mountains whose names I don't know.

Maddie approaching the summit:


View from the summit:


Josh (jasper9890) and Maddie's first 14ers!


My second 14er summit!


Family photo from the top of Colorado!


Proud little peakbagger at the summit!


After 30 or 40 minutes we headed back down the trail. I could NOT believe the number of people who were on their way up. We probably passed a hundred people who were coming up when we were going down and I was so happy we started early to beat the throngs. The trip down was not nearly as fun as the trip up. 4.5 miles straight up means you have to do 4.5 miles straight down and by the time we got to the bottom my legs were quivering. But I was hooked.

Maddie did GREAT on her first 14er and had far more energy than us when we got back to the trailhead. We have been doing a lot of hiking and running to get her muscles and pads ready for these kind of hikes. We kept her on a leash at all times on the trail. There were plenty of dogs off-leash up there but I think it would make me a little nervous. Knowing Maddie she would probably go to chase a pika and run right off the side of the mountain. We are investing in a stretchy leash for her next hike (which will be Yale, tomorrow!) because the only problem we had with her being on leash was that there were times where she would jump up a step and hit the end of the leash and sort of fall backwards. The stretchy leash should help solve this problem.

I would definitely do this hike again and think it is a pretty good hike for relative beginners. Next time, I would start a little earlier to be able to see sunset from above treeline and to be SURE to beat the crowds. I could NOT believe the number of people coming up the trail ... and I could not believe how many of them looked unprepared (jeans and tshirts anyone?)!

Thanks for reading! Hope to meet some of you in the mountains!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
the other half here.. Great day indeed. What's in store for us this weekend....!

My pictures

GC's pictures


09/08/2007 03:00
Nice trip report! Congrats to Maddie - Beautiful dog!


Great report!!
11/30/2010 17:28
Looks like you had a great time! So proud of Maddie (my dogs name too) Can't wait to hear more of your adventures.


11/30/2010 17:28
Sweet pack on the pupster!!! Go 14'er dogs. PEACE T


new at this thing...
03/25/2008 20:56
you climbed mt. elbert... but what ridge? northeast? east? southwest? west? we are planning a 1st time 14er trip and your pics look great. just wondering where exactly you went!

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