Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  05/30/2008
Date Climbed:   05/28/2008
Author:  Joonya
 Mt. Massive Ski - Long Trip   

Hi , and thanks for reading my trip report.

This is a tough report for me to write. I don‘t have many photos and the ones I have aren‘t that helpful as beta. I also feel a certain level of failure on this trip and learned a valuable lesson. That lesson is to take time to stop and orient well. An altimeter and possibly a GPS will be added to my kit..... I‘ll explain in the story.
I‘ve been scoping this out and wanting to summit massive for a long time now. I had packed an overnight solo pack and headed up the trail on Tue. Well after a short while wearing the big pack I decided to abort mission and day-trip it with a lighter pack - so I reversed and returned to Leadville.
Wed. 5/28 at 1:45AM I began from the Mt.Masssive/CDT TH on Halfmoon road. The drive to and beyond the TH is clear. Not clear all the way to the N.Halfmoon Lakes TH yet though. A dark but warmish morning at 37 degrees at the TH !! Overall the hike up was long but not problematic. I became slightly confused and trended a little too far left(south) and left the official trail somewhere in the dark timber. I broke out of tree-line just south of the roll that is the trail through the open spots in the timber visible from town ; with a little map work in the cloudy inversion I determined my location and my next moves. I decided to gain the South Summit and traverse across because I was already a great way into the bowl under the S.Summit. I could‘ve gone either way and chose that summit - not a mistake to find myself there. In hindsight I should‘ve gained the trail and ascended the correct route , but am glad to have traversed the ridge , it was beautifull. The wind was intermittent and got gusty to a point of discomfort but not concern a few times. The time was early enough to allow some leisure and the snow was still plenty cold. I arrived at the true Summit just before 11:45AM. 9 hours up !!! I didn‘t hurry and had saved energy for the descent. But I was surprised at the length of time.
The ski from the summit was fine. Although the sun was bright the snow up high was still firm and hadn‘t corned up much yet. Easy , predictable snow on a solid , safe base. as I got to lower elevation the snow got better and was softening up for some really fun turns in the comfort zone. I skied off the summit towards the East/SE down the top bowl and connected to the second lower bowl facing mostly east. The snow was good and safe and the corn wasn‘t deep enough to show the turns in the photos.
The fun skiing was over and it was time to return to the TH. Well , here is where I learned some lessons. I became off-route when I missed the intersection of the CDT and decsended below it. I was also too far North. I made a mistake in thinking a drainage I was using for ID was a perennial stream on the map. It wasn‘t. I soon realized my mistake and decided to go down instead of back up to the CDT. I found myself wallowing around in deep , dark , steep timber in rotten snow and on dy ground. I wouldn‘t say I was lost because it‘s easy to head to the baseline. But I was tired and frustrated and sick of the horrible snow making travel difficult. Ultimately I got out to the valley floor and found myself looking at a barbed wire fence and private property. I knew where I was now and just had to figure my way back to the Willow Creek trail and then back to my truck. I really wish private property lines were marked on the TI topo maps. I didn‘t know there was private propert I had to cross to find the WC trail. Also when I hit the road(FSR152) and turned East - it was marked in such a way at a gate that I thought it was private property and not legal to travel on. I was wrong and I‘m tempted to go back and tear down the signs - but probably won‘t. The signage is very unfriendly and misleading. So I turn around - still pretty sure I‘m on the right road and make my way to the WC TH. I was very tired by now and running low on H2O but very relieved to be at the gate and back into Wilderness lands. Along the WC trail the snow was rotten and slowing my already slow pace so I gained the shoulder above me to the left(south). The travelling was much easier up there and I could reference landmarks down on halfmoon road for progress. I knew the knoll would gain the CDT at about 10,200 and was very glad to arrive at it a short while later. I FINALLY arrived at my truck at 6:40PM. I estimate that my route finding choice on the ridge and my mistake in the timber added 6+ hours. I‘ll admit I stopped frequently and walked back and forth in the woods contemplating whether to trespass or go back up.
I did successfully summit and ski off of it. But I feel somewhat that my mistake was a failure and am humbled by the fatigue and mistakes made. The consequences were low , because when push comes to shove I will trespass to get me out - but prefer to be lawfull and considerate. I also could‘ve spent a night out with my supplies without being in high danger. But it was frustrating to say the least.
So that was my very long day on Mt.Massive. Successfull summit yes , successfull trip? That‘s debatable.....
Thanks and have fun out there. I‘ll be getting an altimeter before my next trip.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

01/31/2009 15:46
planning on hiking massive may 13th. I‘m tring to find someone who can tell me snowshoes would be required then or just crampons.

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