Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  10/14/2009
Modified:  11/12/2009
Date Climbed:   10/12/2009
Author:  mountaindude
 Southwest Route  

Drove up to Leadville from Fort Collins early Mon in the am. All dirt roads were clear and free of snow - no troubles getting in, except maybe for cars with low clearance. I started up the SW trailhead around 5:30. Near the beginning the trail was clear of snow and ice, so made very good time for the first mile and a half. The trail remained very clear up till treeline, then I started running into crusty patches of snow. Also I could hear the wind howling across the ridges above me, and knew it would suck.
Wjhile switchbacking across the slope, there was one steep spot where snow covered the trail. It looked like it might be slick, and there was nothing to slow you down if you started to slide. So I tried to circumnavigate this section by climbing the rocks above and around, and wound up losing the trail. Maybe it's time to invest in an ice axe? I actually went a long way out of the way 'till eventually finding the trail again. I suppose you can find any lost trail eventually if you know that it's somewhere up there above you, and you just keep heading upward.
It was very windy past 12000 ft, and my lips were gradually going numb. Also there was more snow up there. Once I made "the top" (which btw is not the actual summit) I had to tromp a fair distance through some fairly deep snow blanketing the ridges and false summits leading to the true summit. The snow definitely added to the experience and made things a little more challenging. On the way down I managed to stay on the trail. It was warming up by now and some of the snow was melting. I peeled off layers of clothing as it got warmer, and was back in the valley in good time.

Massive is an awesome early-winter hike to do.

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