Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Date Posted:  08/25/2008
Modified:  08/19/2009
Date Climbed:   08/24/2008
Author:  dcbates80911
 Storms Build Quickly in the Summer  

Hiking Partners - DLCrow (Dave C), Purplepaddler (Lauren), and me (Dave B)
Partner in Thought - BCDave (Dave W)
Distance - 10.5 Miles RT
Trailhead - Missouri Gulch
Class - 2
Elevation Gain - 4500ft

This trip was originally planned by my coworker, Dave W. All four of us were part of a failed Quandary attempt in early February and have not been together, as a group, since. Dave C, Lauren and myself did a successful Quandary climb in March, but without Dave W, and it was the last time we would see Dave C before his multiple trips to China. We wanted to get this good group together again.

Dave W and I had talked about hiking sometime this summer. Dave C had been in contact with Dave W and things started to work out for an overnight camping/climbing adventure. I invited Lauren and the climb was on. Unfortunately, one of Dave W's work projects got delayed 24 hours so he had to bow out.

The other three of us met in Buena Vista at roughly 6:00pm on Saturday night for dinner then headed up Clear Creek searching for a camping spot. One was found about a mile past the TH. We set-up camp, started a fire and BS'd for about 90 minutes before hitting the sack.

Our camp site
Photo by Lauren

Setting sun shines up towards our goal
Photo by Lauren

Our campfire ready for some talking
Photo by Lauren

The next morning, we ate, broke down the camp, and prepared our gear, waiting to start around 6:30 as we wanted some natural light on the first part of this trail. Our ascent was well paced and we reached the cabin ruins just before 7:30. After grabbing some food and making some clothing adjustments, we continued up the trail where we got the first glimpse of Belford and our goal. None of us complained about the awesome weather with very little wind, no clouds, and just warm enough to keep us comfortable.

Gearing Up

Group Photo
Photo by DLCrow

Stop at the cabin


Our Goal - Missouri

Small snowfield from last winter with the red algae growing on top and a cave created by the stream.

We continued up the path towards Elkhead Pass until running into some CMC Denver climbers. Our groups talked until reaching the junction for Missouri and Elkhead Pass where we parted ways. Our ascent up to the ridge wasn't as bad as we anticipated. At the ridge the views hit everyone. We could see as far as Uncompahgre in the San Juans, all the Elks, and Pikes to the east. It really gave us the sense we were away from civilization.

Looking up towards our path to the ridge

Missouri from the trail

Looking down on Elkhead Pass - The tundra is starting to show the fall colors

Dave C on the rocky trail

Lauren over Missouri Gulch

Part of a rocky formation along the trail

After taking in the views, we began to head for the summit. We thought this would be relatively easy, but it turned out to be much more difficult. This last stretch kept our attention as the path dropped about 25ft onto a narrow trail with little room for error. We maneuvered down this part slowly. Lauren was uncomfortable with this part, but faced it like a pro as she looked down the 1000+ feet steep slope. The ridge walk took about 20 minutes.

Dave C and Lauren take in the views from the ridge - notice the clear skies.

The Elks (Maroon Bells, Snow Mass, and Capital)

Huron - once again, notice the clear skies

Photo by DLCrow

Ridge towards the summit

Photo by DLCrow

Photo by DLCrow

Dave C takes it easy on the worst part of the trail - and long fall if you goof
Photo by Lauren

Finally, we made the last 100 yard ascent to the summit where we met other climbers. We talked, took pictures and ate some food. In addition, we gave Dave W a call to see how he was doing and include him in our adventure. During this time, we were very aware that the clear blue sky from less than 20 minutes ago began to cloud up quickly. At first, they were cotton balls all over the place. Then we watched a storm billow in front of us over Princeton. Verga and rain quickly followed. To our west, we began to see the same phenomena just beyond Huron and we began to descend quickly.

Dave C takes in the view on his second 14er summit
Photo by Lauren

Summit Disc

Team Summit Shot

Building clouds and verga near Huron

Dave C moving as Lauren watches approaching storms

We took very few pictures at this point. Our goal was to get off the ridge, then into the valley, and then back to the trees. As we left the ridge, thunder was heard in the distance helping us pick up the pace. We reached the valley and continued to hear thunder, but didn't see the lightning. Looking up, we could see others testing their luck on Belford and Missouri. Upon reaching the trees, we relaxed a little stopping at the cabin again. The rest of the trip down seemed endless, but otherwise uneventful.

Waterfall near the Cabin
Photo by DLCrow

On the trip, we talked about our favorite trip and 14er. This was Dave C's 2nd, Lauren's 5th and my 10th. I still do not know how to answer this question as each experience is very different. I cherish the ones I have done solo, yet I adore the ones I have done with my son. Moreover, I really enjoy the company of different partners. All I can say is this one is up there on the list. The camping, climbing, and camaraderie were awesome. Still, we wish Dave W could have been with us.

 Comments or Questions

Partner in Thought
08/26/2008 15:37
A tear comes to my eye for being thought of, missing out on such a great hike, & meeting up with you all. Thanks for the call from the summit! Hopefully we can get a hike in together in Sept. I‘ll let you know about Long‘s Peak this week.


Forgot to mention...
08/26/2008 15:39
that my favorite pic is The Elks (Maroon Bells, Snow Mass, and Capital) shot since I see two really nice ski lines for this coming spring.

Steve Climber

05/09/2014 12:26
I remember you guys as well. Sorry if I caused you any bother while I was coming down. I tend to descend in a ”controlled fall” style, which has put people out in the past. Congrats on your summit. Was an awesome weekend.


08/26/2008 22:07
So it looks like you guys and gals had a great hike. Wish I could have gone up. I am going to be doing this one on Sunday. Congrats to both Dave‘s and Lauren.


Excellent weekend
08/27/2008 03:48
Looks like a fun trip!


wonderful TR
08/27/2008 17:41
Great pics- those storms are crazy, we were on Oxford the day before and had to run down at noon due to storms and people were still going up. My nerves can‘t take it. I have decided off the last summit by 11 at the earliest. Seems to be the best plan. Great Job, always like to hear what someone‘s favorite 14er was- it def. depends on experience had!

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