Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  02/17/2010
Date Climbed:   02/15/2010
Author:  Boomerang

 Mt. Elbert - East Ridge  

So let's say that I've climbed my share of 14-er's, and that going in mid February to conquer Elbert is almost laughable, and that when it comes to preparation I've got everything down, from packing all the gear, and making sure that we have everything (at least twice), and knowing exactly how to get the proper amount of rest the night before.

Well, if any of those things were true I'd probably have written this report two days ago following a normal climb sometime on Monday night. However, since nearly all of it is not true, and I've only recently regained enough strength to sit down and write this (not really but close). This will be my first 14-er's climb trip report…I hope it turns out ok.

My son, Travis19877, and I quickly put this trip plan together on Sunday, too quickly I'm afraid. Sure we had been talking about it for some time, but only after he had unsuccessfully attempted Yale on the Friday prior did I know that he'd be pressing me hard to get my first summit in. Since Monday was a Holiday anyhow, why not? We slapped our plans together throughout the day, which included sleeping bags and a planned overnight at the paved Trailhead of South Elbert's East Ridge…because that meant we wouldn't have to drive two plus hours at 3 the next morning, right? Ok, well without going into great detail of that unbelievably cold night, I will next time take the drive, the shower, and the hot coffee that goes with getting up and starting from the comforts of home! I'll only entertain thoughts of overnight trips for the Spring and early Summer climbs.

Monday 5:30am, -4 degrees. We stirred and managed to get ourselves moving in a little over 30 minutes. As we started in on the first 1.8 mile 4wd road to the Summer T.H. we certainly found that this path was never an option for my vehicle, even though my trusty Sequoia loves a good adventure, this time he had to stay put on the solid confines of pavement.

Travis in the early morning

We reached the Summer T.H. at 7:30, and were making pretty fair time. The weather was absolutely beautiful, except for the 10-ish degrees of early morn, but the sun had risen, and there wasn't a cloud to be seen. It stayed this way throughout the morning, but the afternoon would bring less than ideal conditions, but hey this is a "winter" climb after all.

At the Summer T.H. starting pt.

If only we had been able to keep our morning pace of almost 2 miles in an hour, but as we started up the trail we encountered heavy snow, fair incline, and the occasional need to go p.h.-ing even with snowshoes and 4" floats.

Snow covered trail

Did I mention that I didn't really double-check our supplies before we left? This is somewhat important, because we managed to leave all the good Cliff Bars behind, like 10 lg. packages worth. We therefore had to ration between us the following packages of: 2 Shot Rocks, 2 Shot Blocks and 2 Shot Gels.

First glimpse of what we're striving for

It's not that cold dad, coming to a sporting event soon.

Ah, rest is good

Fortunately we did bum a "bar" off another climber we met later in the day. All that, and it's probably not surprising that we didn't make the summit until 1430, but there was just no way we were turning back, as long as the weather didn't force us off the mountain, and it did stay relatively nice.

We still have how much farther to go??

Why didn't we climb the 14,001 footer?

Once on the peak, we enjoyed the 30+ mile an hour winds and took many pictures. Did I mention we left the "good" camera sitting on the front seat? We were left with the trusty, and stellar power of my 1.3 MEGA-PIXELS cell phone!! Sorry about that, promise to do better next time ''

Ah, sweet victory!

Nice job T, number 3 - and all Winter climbs

I'd be remiss if I didn't confess that my 16 y.o. took the pack off my back and hauled them both up to the top, so that I could make that final 500 feet. Not sure I would have made it otherwise. Thanks Trav!

Travis needs longer arms.

Fortunately, we did make great time back to the truck (less than 4 hours), and only had to walk in the dark for an hour, or so. I almost didn't take my snowshoes off, as I couldn't wait to get to the Coyote Cantina in Johnson's Village to celebrate the day! As miserable as some parts were there's nothing quite like making that first summit….or so I'm guessing!


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Excellent report....
03/14/2010 17:03
Useful info for my 1st attempt..


Good Job!
02/18/2010 04:28
As your ”basecamp manager” from 14,000ft and 800 miles away, I commend you on a successful summit. Next time, just please remember all the food!

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