Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  05/30/2009
Date Climbed:   05/29/2009
Author:  James Scott
 “Massive is massive“  

Massive Southwest Slopes
6.2 miles + approx 2 additional from car to trailhead= 8.2 miles
3960 feet + approx 250 car to trailhead= 4210 feet
car 5:22 AM
trailhead 5:47
turnoff 6:27
summit time 9:22-10:14
turnoff 11:27
trailhead 12:21 PM
car 12:50

"Massive is massive." -Gary Roach.

School got out on Thursday, and I was anxious to get up to do my first climb. Snow had been melting until last week, but with all the rain in Denver, I figured the mountains got hammered, and I didn't know if there would be too much to allow me to summit. Still, a failed climb is better than a well done job of mowing the lawn, so my friend Matt and I decided to stay the night before in his cabin in Alma, and try for Massive.

We stopped short of the trailhead because I had read of a dicey spot on the 4x4 road, and added about a mile each way to our climb. There was no snow on the gentle walk in, and we were to the obvious turnoff in just over an hour.
The turnoff:

and the stunning view of Elbert,:

The path was easy to follow, until it started playing hide and seek under snow fields.
At first, it was easy to follow tracks, and we could just kind of guess where the path was going, so we did alright. Eventually, we found ourselves crossing very steep, icy snowfields that made me very uncomfortable. It was hard enough that I couldn't get a very good kick step, and had we slipped and began sliding, it would have been a very fast slide right into some large boulders.
Looking down:
and looking up:

At this point, we decided to forget the path to avoid crossing any snow, and make for the lowest point of the saddle between Massive and South Massive.
This led us to some dreadful scree, and the only thing worse than going up this mix of gravel, loose dirt, and ice was the prospect of going down.
Eventually we made the saddle, and saw the long ridgeline to the Summit. It got me thinking about the Missouri summit ridge, and I was wondering if this would feel as long. It didn't, but it was close. Thankfully, on the ridge the snow had seen some sun and was much softer, so we had good footing, but was not yet soft enough to posthole. Things went much quicker from there.
Looking down at our saddle
A typical stretch on the ridge
Matt on the final stretch
Summit shots

It was one of the best summits. I considered making a run for North Massive, but the weather was too perfect- sunny and not much wind, so I decided I'd rather sit and eat cheese and crackers with summer sausage. We stayed up for about 45 minutes, the summit and the incredible views all to ourselves.

We expected the way down to completely suck with all that scree, but we realized that the trail didn't actually hit the lowest part of the saddle- we had gotten off too far to the south- so we started down a different place. Then, the snow was perfect for glissading- hard enough to speed you down, but soft enough that at any time, you could did in your feet and stop very quickly. We went down several long snow fields this way. It saved us tons of time, but I didn‘t regain feeling in my buttcheeks until we were past Leadville on the way home.
Matt at the end of a glissade:
and looking up at where we'd come:
From the turnoff to the summit took us 3 hours on the way up, and about and hour and ten minutes on the way down. Maybe I should have made my run at North Massive. It was the first mountain of the year for both of us, so our legs were feeling it a bit, but the walk back to the truck was sundrenched and beautiful. I already can't wait for my next mountain.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great Day!
05/31/2009 01:36
We passed you guys on the summit ridge. It was really nice that the rain held off.


05/31/2009 02:35
We were wondering what kind of descent you had - as we passed you on the summit ridge and started pondering your options it looked like you good make a great run down the west ridge, below the north peak.
I was shocked the weather held so long, but yeah, great way to start the climbing season, though looking at your skis got me thinking I need try carrying mine for once and make the really quick descent!
James - thanks for a great climb, really enjoyed the day!

James Scott

Hey Bill
05/31/2009 22:27
I wish I‘d have known it was you on Friday- would have liked to have thanked you in person for running a terrific site. See you on the next one.


06/01/2009 01:23
I may have passed out if I spoke much. We got cooked on that upper face, and with all that extra ski gear weight, I was pretty shot by the time we got to the top! We could have skied it in shorts that day.


06/01/2009 01:25
Nicely done! From the looks of it that route had a lot more snow than when I was up there two weeks ago.


06/01/2009 11:37
Yeah, skiing it shorts would have been nice! My thermometer read 59 degrees at 12,150‘. Nice report!

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.