Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2008
Date Climbed:   08/31/2008
Author:  almartin13
 Mt. Belford  

As a long weekend was approaching, my friend Jen and I decided that we were going to spend it in the Great Outdoors. I had just summited my first 14ers, Grays and Torreys, at the beginning of August and Jen had never done one before, but had always wanted to. We also wanted to backpack in somewhere and camp the night before. After some research we decided on Mt. Belford in the Sawatch range.

We rolled out of Denver at noon on Saturday and headed up. It was a beautiful day and by the time we arrived at the Missouri Gulch trailhead at about 1430, strapped on our packs and headed out. The trail started out nice and steep from the start as did the switchbacks I read so much about. We were planning on hiking to where there is an old abandoned log cabin and figured it was about a mile to a mile and a half. With the elevation gain, it was pretty strenuous, not to mention my 50 lb pack. Definitely got more of a workout than I was anticipating! But, the trail is covered by beautiful aspens and pines the whole way up.

We finally made it to the log cabin and were greeted by a handful of other campers already making dinner. We found a nice little spot and pitched our tent. This was my first time backpacking in, and I was loving it. I got to try out my camp stove and had my first dehydrated meal or MRE. Not too bad, I would have to say. Jen and I packed our day packs, filtered water, set our alarm, and were in our bags by 8! We both were convinced we would sleep like rocks, but neither of us did...I got barely any sleep. 515 came pretty early, but we got up and were on the trail by 545.

The trail starts out pretty flat out of the campsite, but the elevation gain picks up right after crossing the stream. The switchbacks were back and never left the whole climb. The weather was pretty overcast and a little chilly. I thought the sun would pop out and warm up, but it never seemed to come out. As we continued to climb, the colder it got. The wind really picked up and was whipping! Jen was pushing herself really hard, but she was not feeling well and her body was just too tired. So, she made the decision to turn around and head back to camp. I was determined to summit, so I continued on.

There are definitely some false summits on Belford as I thought I had made it, only to discover the real summit was over to the left and had to keep going. I finally reached the summit and had the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment yet again. Contrary to my last summits of Grays and Torreys, this summit was clear. The views were absolutely beautiful! You can see so many of the other 14ers in the Sawatch Range. I had a bite to eat and started to head down. I had really wanted to bag both Belford and Oxford, but it took longer than I was anticipating to get up Belford and the weather was rolling in. So, I headed down and met Jen at camp. I made another MRE, packed up, and we headed back out. By the time we got to the car, we were both exhausted! We made it just in time as once we got in the car, the skies opened and it started pouring!

Belford is a great 14er and would recommend it. Just realized that the elevation gain is huge. Especially if you do both Belford and Oxford. From the trailhead, you gain over 4,500 ft. in 3 miles. Also, I heard from many hikers that the trip from the summit of Belford to Oxford is relatively easy, but the hike back from Oxford, you have to "resummit" Belford and the climb back up the Belford‘s summit is grueling. But, definitely worth it!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice job!
09/06/2008 23:27
I do believe I ran into you two just as you were starting your journey up the lower switchbacks on Saturday. I‘m glad you had a great time, and made it to the summit. Too bad for Jen, though. Oh well, you have to go back at least one more time, anyway!

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