Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2008
Date Climbed:   07/14/2008
Author:  conster

 Massive - wrong and right SW trail  

My friend Snafu has tried Mt. Massive 3 times in the winter and has been unsuccessful. This time he wanted to try Massive again but in the summer. I invited myself for the adventure.

We camped at Elbert Creek campground. The campground is very close to the Mt. Massive Trailhead. We explored the area and found the Half Moon Trailhead which is approximately 3 miles from the Mt. Massive Trailhead. Snafu asked me to decide which trail to take to the summit. I had to decide on the SW trail (short and steep) or the East trail (long and easy). The campground host advice us to hike the East trail because several hikers complained the SW was difficult. Despite the warnings, we decided on the SW trail.

We drove up the next morning but had trouble on one section of the 4WD road. This section is steep and has lots of big rocks piled up to help cars get over. Snafu could not get his car over this steep section so we parked in a small pull-off below. Another car before us, moved the rocks around and were able to drive over the steep section.

Snafu and I were first on the trail but two groups past us quickly. We have bad knees so we were going slow but a steady pace. We were hiking together until we got to the snow bank. I read "Stairmaster to Heaven - or at least Massive" trip report from the 14ers.com website and remembered that the author said to go "up and to the left" from the snow bank. Snafu remembered from the Dawson's guide that the trail goes straight to the saddle where the snow bank laid. I followed Snafu initially to the other side (right side) of the snow bank but I noticed a cairn on the left side. I was worried about the scree that was noted in the Stairmaster trip report so I told Snafu that I wanted to go back to the left side. He said that he would meet me above the snow bank. Turned out that we did not meet above the snow bank. The trail I took, which was the SW trail, wandered near the snow bank at first but later went way left and away from the snow bank and saddle. As I was approaching the junction, the first group that past us just came down from the summit. They mentioned that they went up the wrong way up and wished they found the trail that I was on. Going up the right side of the snow bank was difficult. I was relieved that I was on the SW trail. Snafu and I finally turned on our radios and found out we were only about 10-15 minutes apart. Snafu did not have too much difficulty on the scree but he is a seasoned mountaineer and rock climber. I met Snafu at the summit and we started down the SW trail. I took some pictures on the way down to let people know what to look for near the snow bank. We had fun but I was sore from the Massive stairmaster!

Please note that I think the SW trail was re-routed so Dawson and Roach's guidebooks are incorrect.

The snow bank in question is the one on the right below the saddle.
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Looking at the snow bank
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Looking left from the snow bank. Can you barely see the cairn? It is just left of Snafu.
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Looking back at the cairn and snow bank. The trail is now obvious.
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Snafu at the summit
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Conster at the summit
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The beautiful Mt. Massive
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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


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