Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  07/13/2008
Date Climbed:   07/12/2008
Author:  blacomb

 Early Morning Trio  

Approximately 19 miles and 7,000 ft. elevation gain round-trip

We left Denver at midnight and drove to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead. Nice easy drive without traffic and we arrived at 2:15am and started hiking. The plan was to hike all three and be back in the early afternoon for Saturday evening plans in Denver. After about 30 minutes of hiking up the switchbacks we stopped and were frozen by the sound of a loud growl. After a second loud growl we saw a pair of yellow eyes about 10 feet away. Thoroughly freaked-out we didn't move and didn't talk. After the 3rd growl we saw an outline of a tent and heard someone say, "don't worry, he's harmless". Discovered it was a black lab we had spooked, not a bear as initially thought, so we kept moving along . . . albeit a bit more cautiously.

We were headed to Missouri first and were surprised with three water crossings. We had assumed we could cross without getting wet, but with the current level of water we found we couldn't cross any of the water crossings without the feet getting wet. Crossing the water in the dark was not exactly the excitement we were looking for, but it all worked out and the shoes eventually dried.

As we started climbing up Missouri we had to cross a few small snowfields and luckily it was cold enough that everything was iced over and an easy crossing.

We made it to the top of Missouri at 5:50am. Here is a shot from Missouri of the sun rising behind Oxford with Belford in the foreground. Image

We only stayed on the top of Missouri for 15-20 minutes because it was fairly windy and cold. We thought about glissading down, but we didn't have axes and the snow was too hard. In retrospect we might have reversed our order of peaks so we could glissade down Missouri after the sun would have had time to soften-up the snow. The glissading opportunities will probably only be there for another 2-3 weeks. Here is a picture of the glissading opportunities.

So, we hiked down Missouri and started up towards Elkhead Pass. About halfway up the Elkhead Pass trail we left the trail and started heading up towards Belford. There is no well marked trail this direction but you can see the direction you are heading the entire way. Here is a picture of the terrain heading up. I would recommend this direction to anyone hiking Belford since it is much easier on the knees that the standard route which is steep and rocky.

We arrived on top a little east of Belford and decided to hit Oxford first. The saddle looks much worse than it actually is and we were able to reach Oxford at 9:05am. Here is looking towards Oxford.

We rested and ate some food on Oxford for 20 minutes or so and then set off to Belford. Here is a look at the trail back to Belford.

Made it to Belford at 10:10am. Tired but happy.

Enjoyed the views and the mountain colors.

We took the standard route down Belford which was steep and incredibly rough on the knees. The good part was that the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. Here is a picture of the hike back and a fun tree bridge that was much more fun to cross in the daylight than at 3:00am in the dark.

We arrived back at the trailhead at 12:15pm for a total 10 straight hours of hiking. It was a great hike and I would recommend it to anyone willing to start early.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Sweet Trio
07/13/2008 23:09
Congrats on the awesome trip. Thanks for the heads up on the glissading conditions too.


Nice work
07/13/2008 23:34
I ran into you guys very early on Missouri, you guys rock! And thanks for the beta on Elkhead pass, it took me about 12 1/2hrs for my trifecta finish time. Luckily I didn‘t fall into the river on the way back!


Good times
07/14/2008 01:10
Thanks for writing the report and for the fun day yesterday. Sarah and I ended up going out last night after the dinner so I didn‘t make it to bed until late, but feeling great today. Looking forward to hitting up more climbs this year after I get back from Africa!


07/14/2008 14:27
Brian, Trey..

Nice job! That is a big day.. Great job.. Looks as though you all had a fantastic day.. Looking forward to the Crestones with you guys in a few weeks..



Great Beta
07/18/2008 20:18
Thanks for the TR, nice description of conditions. I‘m planning to try this next week.

And the yellow eyes incident at 230am sounds horrifying. Good to get the adrenaline going early though!

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