Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  12/27/2007
Date Climbed:   12/24/2007
Author:  jbchalk
 Christmas Eve Mt. Elbert climb  

My girlfriend, Kristine, and I and our dogs, Rainier and Kona, thought what better way to spend Christmas Eve than to climb Mt. Elbert in winter. So, we packed it up and headed down from Vail to the South Elbert Trailhead and started skinning up the 4WD road at 9:15am.

Kristine skinning up the 4WD road:
Rainier ready to hike w/ her boots on:

Despite a few setbacks w/ our skins and a few blisters, we made it almost to treeline on a decent packed path and then broke our own trail from there on.

Kristine breaking trail above treeline:

It got so warm at one point skinning up the east ridge, the shirt had to come off - amazing considering it is winter on CO‘s highest peak:

Then, we left our skis at around 13,000‘ on the east ridge because the remainder of the route was very dry in terms of snow cover and wouldn‘t be very fun rock hopping in our skins and skis. So, we hiked the rest of the way to Elbert‘s summit in our tele boots.

Kristine climbing above 14,000‘:

Rainier climbing to Elbert‘s summit:

Then, around 3pm, we all reached Elbert‘s summit w/ high winds and cold temps, but fairly clear for a winter summit.

Kona and Kristine on Elbert‘s summit:

Me and Kristine on the summit:

All four of us on Elbert‘s summit (Merry Christmas Eve from the top of CO!):

Elbert casts its shadow on the Arkansas Valley below at dusk:

The Box Creek Cirque couloirs on the way down (Gotta come back and ski one of these):

Mt. Massive to the north at dusk:

We got back to the car at the South Elbert Trailhead at 6:15pm (a 9 hr ascent and descent, 11.5 miles and almost 5,000 vertical) and a great way to spend Christmas Eve w/ Kristine and the dogs. We even got a little full moon skinning in at the end of the day back to the car.

Hope everyone has a happy holiday!


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Merry Christmas
12/27/2007 22:49
Very cool way to spend Christmas Eve. Looked like a beautiful day!


Merry Christmas!
12/28/2007 00:20
Looks like you had incredible weather for your holiday climb! Thanks for the TR.


Very Merry Christmas!
12/28/2007 01:38
Incredible weather conditions for this time of the year...I was thinking that such a late start time would really of hindered your chances of summitting. Guess not! Congrats on your summit and Merry Christmas!


Thanks guys
12/28/2007 15:21
Yey, it was a good Christmas climb.


And a Happy New Year!
12/29/2007 10:01
That last picture of Massive is awesome!!


01/03/2008 01:58
What a great way to spend a holiday! I am jealous. I am anxious to try my first Winter hike, looks like fun. Glad you made it down safely and hopefully the rest of your holiday season was at least as nice!

El Oso Raku

01/03/2008 18:22

sweet report! are those hippy‘s you were using for the skin? how were they going up? i would like to use mine in the backcountry, but have shied away b/c of fears regarding the extra weight on a long trip, and have opted to use my old world piste‘s instead. i love the hippy‘s though, and am interested in whether you noticed any additional fatigue that you would attribute to the bulk of the hippy‘s? thanks.


Hippies definitely
01/03/2008 18:39
Yes, love the some new hammerhead bindings on there as well. Its a big, heavy setup and no, is not ideal for lengthy skinning in the backcountry, but heck, it‘ll make your legs stronger, right? I‘ve been meaning to remount my older pocket rockets w/ my G3 targa bindings and that setup is what i will most likely use for these ascents and descents. I mounted some old silveretta 404 AT bings on my rockets this past spring for my Denali trip to be compatible w/ my koflachs so I need to put my G3s back on there.

El Oso Raku

Hippies and Denali
01/03/2008 21:54
hammerheads are sweet. i actually just switched my G3s with rottafellas b/c of the extra stiffness in the binding to help with the added load. those are some sweet skis though! also was thinking about trading my friend my world piste‘s for his sickbirds to use as a backcountry ski, since they are a bit lighter than the hippies.

on another note, and i hate to hijack this trip report, but do you mind pm‘ing me some info regarding your denali trip? i am interested in more specifics, like who you went with (if guided), what route, how many in your group, how was the ski descent, how would you compare the skinning in to the hike in that other folks were doing, etc? anyway, any info would be much appreciated.


Sure man
01/03/2008 22:06
I‘ll pm you in a few minutes and send you my pics on picasa....I hear those sickbirds are sick! haha

El Oso Raku

01/03/2008 22:12
thanks. i really appreciate it. and that is exactly what i hear about the birds too!


saw those dog boots at the store today.
11/26/2009 03:31
any problems with the dog trying to take them off? tough to train them to get used to?

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