Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  08/03/2009
Date Climbed:   08/02/2009
Author:  fleetmack

 Mt. Massive - SW Slopes via Halfmoon  

Mt. Massive
Route: Southwest Slopes
Summit Elevation - 14,421
Elevation Gain: 3950
Trip Distance: 8.00 miles
Total Round-Trip Climb Time (including about 45 minutes of rest and summit time): 7:30
4WD Required: you can make it 1.5 miles from Halfmoon Trailhead in 2WD, probably another .75 miles or 1.0 miles in another car, last .5 need high-clearance 4wd
Exhaustion Factor (on scale of 1-10): 6
Scenery Factor (on scale of 1-10): 7.5

Picked up Samantha in Cherry Creek around 3:45am and we were on the road at 4 bells. Tiredly, and after a Shell gas station stop, we made our way to Leadville via I70 and Copper Mountain exit. Just south of Leadville, turn West on State Road 300 for about 3/4 mile to County Road 11. Go South (left) for 1 1/4 miles and take a righty-tighty on a road which has a sign pointing to Mt. Elbert & Mt. Massive TH's. The road was fine in my 2WD Accord for the first 5.5 miles. There was then a sign that said, "High Clearance 4WD Required from this point". So we parked. That sign was a load of bullshit as my car could have easily made it another 3/4 mile or so, but the sign intimidated me. We hitchhiked to to get to the Halfmoon trailhead. A passerby in his red Toyota offered to fold down his tailgate and we could sit on that. We took his advice but got a bit scared. He did nothing wrong, we just didn't realize that this was probably not the safest of choices. After about a mile we banged on the side of the truck and asked to get off as we were scared we were going to fall off. Note: The Roach guide says the trail is .5 miles after road 110A ... this isn't true or has changed since that publication, it is labeled as 110J. We hiked up the rest of the way to the Halfmoon trailhead, registered, and started our climb at around 7:30 (late, I know).

The hike starts out through the trees for the first 1.3 miles (per Roach). The trail is a bit narrow in area with tree branches and bushes rubbing against you. On this particular day, there were many horseshoes on the trail and the trail was very, very muddy in areas. You cross a small stream and enter a meadow, which is a hundred yards long or so. There is a very visible sign which tells you to take a right to head up to Massive. You cannot see the main summit of Massive from here, but make sure you don't miss this sign (not sure how you could miss it, the Roach book says it isn't marked well ... this, too, may be a change).

From here the climb gets steep but the views get incredible.

The trail goes from talus to dirt, back and forth, several times. The trail all the way to the summit is, for the most part, very easily found and maintained. Kudos to the trail makers, they done well. Being on little sleep and having sore legs from both lifting, RAGBRAI, and biking across Illinois last week ... coupled with not having eaten anything for roughly 15 hours, I wasn't being kind to my body. It was pissed at me. My legs and breath, though, maintained, but my mental state just wasn't there today. I needed frequent stops and finally at around 12,500 I had to stop and eat a banana. Yummy. We toasted.

Up, up, up. Swtichbacks. We encountered a guy at around 13,700 who was considering turning around. I would never encourage someone to keep going on a mountain as I don't know their skill level or how they are feeling, but he told me he thought we were at about 13,000 and I assured him my GPS stated 13,700. I think this motivated him to keep going (and we saw him approaching summit as we came down, which was nice). The trail curves around to the NW side of the mountain and you are able to see False Summit City from here. We had no idea which one was the summit of Massive. We kept going and crossed paths with the guy who drove us in his Toyota earlier. I asked him if that (as I pointed) as the summit, and he laughed and said, "I'm not going to ruin the fun of False Summit Mania for you!" We laughed and he headed down. About 30 minutes later we summitted the "real" summit around 12:00, although we couldn't find the summit marker, which was disappointing. Extremely windy up top, hence why I look like the stay-puff marshmallow man from ghostbusters!

Marmots are plentiful and like to summit Massive, as well! Samantha brought cheese & crackers. She rules at 14er food.

Met some cool people on the summit. A guy from Maryland who is climbing several 14ers over 3 weeks, and 2 very nice guys from North Carolina who kindly drove us to our car 1.5 miles down the 4wd road after the climb (thanks again, guys! hope the rest of your trip goes great and leads to safe, successful summits! Also hope your Leadville hotel is as great as it looked like when we drove by it ;) )

We headed down the mountain and crossed numerous people on the way up. The clouds were coming in and we thought we heard thunder so we tried to get moving.

After stopping to listen a bit and debating amongst ourselves, we determined that they were actually gunshots, not thunder. Someone was target practicing somewhere apparently; we heard 20-30 shots over the next 10 minutes or so. I was envious, always enjoy shooting

We met up with the N.C. guys shortly after and headed down with them. Turns out both of their girlfriends knocked out their teeth on road bikes ... I had something in common with them! (as did Samantha as she knocked out her front teeth on a 14er a few years ago). We made it down, uneventfully, at 2:38 (I think). The N.C. guys kindly drove us to our car, and Samantha and I headed back to D-Town. We stopped in Dillon for a Mikky D's milk shake and decided to take Loveland Pass in case traffic to the tunnel was bad. It didn't save us any time but was scenic. At this point, I started to feel like ~complete~ shit. I mean, just terrible. I actually pulled over on Loveland Pass as I thought I was going to yak. I didn't and I started driving again. Took us about an hour to get to Georgetown from the I70 on-ramp at Loveland Resort. Sunday traffic. We stopped at the visitor's center in G-Town and I washed my face and let Samantha take the wheel. I mean, wow, I just felt terrible. Was having stomach cramps (and suggested I might be getting my period) and thought I was going to throw up. What caused this? I wasn't dehydrated. I didn't eat enough, I know that. I did have 2 Rock Stars as I was tired, and I literally ~never~ ~ever~ consume caffeine (no chocolate, no pop, no nothing with caffeine). I think I'm going to blame this on caffeine because I already detest it and don't get how people can "rely" on it; I think it's the devil and the devil took over my body. Samantha drove to her house, I drove home, puked in my parking lot (pretty sure my landlord saw me), crawled to my apartment and went to bed at 8:00. I was illin', but I summitted Mt. Massive and am thrilled about it!


 Comments or Questions

08/03/2009 17:01
I wholeheartedly agree on kudos to the trail makers. SW slope is fantastic!

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