Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Date Posted:  07/22/2009
Date Climbed:   07/10/2009
Author:  3mtnlabbie

 Mt. Belford & Mt. Oxford via Elkhead pass both ways  


Me (3mtnlabbie)
Andrew (mr3mtnlabbie)
Finnigan (chocolate lab)
Casidy (black lab)

We decided to not do the tent camping or car camping and get a cabin outside of Leadville for the night. We figured it was probably going to be our longest climb so far this season and longest one for sure above tree line we had ever done.

We got around a 5am start from the trail head and cars were starting to pull in. This was the first bit of light we got from the parking lot.

After the beginning of the climb which is simply that a climb, all switch backs in the trees, we finally passed the true creek crossing that now has four trees lying across to pass. They weren't hard as both our girls also just walked across, all patiently waiting their turn. We finally hit the place where the cabin is and there were quite a few tents pitched around this area and it looks like a great place to camp.

After breaking tree-line we finally got our look at Mt. Belford.

We had done a lot of reading and asking of questions as we are the standard route folks to say the least. After hearing about how enjoyable Elkhead Pass is and seeing the never ending switch backs on the ridge of Belford, we decided to take Elkhead pass...

Sun finally hitting our valley and making Missouri just majestic in our immediate view.

I'm glad I was with Andrew because he would have surly gotten lost trying to stay on this trail. You have to cross the creek four times and the first crossing is apparently the easiest one to miss. I took photos of it on the way down. After all four of the crossings and also passing where the trail splits between Missouri's route and continuing on Elkhead pass, it was obvious wildlife like this area too.

After reading the saddle between Missouri and the pass you head to the west along a ridge and then start climbing a bit more than the rest of the climb to reach the saddle between Belford and Oxford. Some say this is the saddle and I would like to say you reach the "false summit of Belford" where Elkhead Pass brings you.

This is the point of "the Belford false summit" where we headed to the right to go to Oxford first. Some folks pitched their packs but the round trip is about 3 miles so we kept our stuff. There is also two trials that initially go over the ridge to the path. The one further to the right is less steep as the entire descend off Belford over to Oxford is just steep as poo.

No photos on the way to Oxford. There is also a really bad false summit to Oxford. But once you are there you have a great view of where you have to get to go back home. This was also the point where I got passed by two folks, one woman who had the LARGEST calf mussels I have EVER seen and the two were jogging UP Oxford!

And looking at the very easy to follow path to get back to Belford.

No photos on the way up Belford as the climb SUCKED! Not kidding. It was steep, loose, and did I say steep!

The very last little bit to the very top required all fours and our pups showed us the best path. And were very proud of their accomplishments. At this point a few folks asked us where we had come from as we were summiting at the same times they were but they didn't see us on the main trail. We told them about Elkhead and where it came and about the added mileage and every single one of the groups ended up taking Elkhead back down!

A look as we dropped back down into the valley via Elkhead pass.

A really cool rock I have named "Pyramid Rock" along the trail.

And a view looking back up from where Missouri and Elkhead split with my husband in the distance and your inability to see much else.

There were wildflowers everywhere and they were stunning.

This is a view coming back down of the rock marker across the river. You would see this when heading up looking for where the trail goes and this is the rock marker that is actually across the marker that you hopefully don't miss... Maybe we should make it a bit larger for those men like mr3mtnlabbie that missed it.

And this is a look across the last of the river crossings going home.

When we were coming back down the dogs decided to take the water route instead of the tree log passing for the river. It was absolutely beautiful with the sunlight poking through.

We finally made it back to the trail head not before both my knees inflamed and I'm guessing because of the distance of the hike as my knees have been doing well the rest of the season.

If any of you are wondering. Elkhead pass adds approximately 2 miles EACH way to the Belford/Oxford Hike.

We Garmined it and it came out to we believe 14.8 miles and we came in just under 10 hours. Probably would have been a bit faster if I wasn't walking on one leg and trecking poles the last two miles. For our first not-standard route - this was awesome!


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