Peak(s):  Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Date Posted:  10/05/2008
Date Climbed:   10/04/2008
Author:  Andy_Lyon

 Oxford via Elkhead Pass  

In their 1970 book "The Fourteeners", Eberhart and Schmuck describe Oxford as a "family climb." (their quotes). Maybe Colorado families were hardier back then – at least if they did Oxford via Elkhead Pass. My family (then and now) would not have been amused to do the whole long trek.

As of Saturday, October 4, the route was still almost totally snow free – though a storm was predicted to move in last night and it was snowing very, very lightly as I left Missouri Basin. There are a couple short icy spots on the Belford side of the ridge to Oxford where you need to exercise care if you don't want to end up on your backside (or worse since it's pretty rocky there).

I ran into a couple coming down off the standard route of Belford and they referred to Elkhead Pass as "Misery Pass." The misery for me was re-climbing the Belford ridge on the way back. Yes, this route is longer than going over Belford. However if, like me, your body doesn't absorb shocks the way it used to, this is the way to go (or at least the way to go back.) Start early – with two rest stops it was the better part of five hours from car to Oxford's summit. (Yes, I'm more of a tortoise than a hare – when you're over 50 and still hiking 14'ers – call me and we'll compare notes.)

Climbing to Elkhead Pass rewards you with a (insert your own adjective here) view of Harvard. On the way back you can contemplate which bump on the Missouri ridge is the summit, as well as enjoy views of Iowa, Emerald, Huron and everything beyond. Here I agree with Schmuck and Eberhart that Oxford provides "gentle slopes and broad, beautiful vistas." It was a great place to end my season.

Image Harvard peaks out between Mosa and the cairn as you reach Elkhead Pass.
Image Belford and the Belford-Oxford saddle from Oxford's summit.
Image Looking down valley (north) toward Vicksburg from the turn to Missouri Mountain.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Very cool
10/05/2008 18:29
Way to go, Andy! I‘m going back to Oxford one of these days, since my wife missed it the last time, and we will probably take this same route, bypassing Belford, too. Glad you dodged the snow.
BTW, I am over 50, too, and still climbing, so I fully understand your climb time--it‘s very much in line with my own. Hope Mosa had a good time, too!


My Misery
10/06/2008 15:18
Congrats on the hike!!
That was me who referred to it as ”Misery Pass” and it certainly was. Being my very 1st 14ner and unfortunitly bringing a dog with us that was more of a couch potato than a hiker. We ended up make shifting a sling out of our jackets and some walking sticks to carry her (50lbs and all)....ALL THE WAY DOWN! Turning our 2 hour trip down into a miserable 7 hours down......hence the title ”Misery Pass”.
This time around was much better but extremely cold I must say.....didn‘t actually make it to the top due to dangerously frozen fingers but I‘ll get her next season....

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