Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
"South Massive" - 14,132 feet
"Massive Green" - 14,300 feet
"North Massive" - 14,340 feet
Pt 14169 - 14,169 feet
Date Posted:  09/15/2010
Date Climbed:   09/13/2010
Author:  mikemalick
 Tour de Massive  

Start: 6:05 AM
Near Point 12,381: 7:45 AM
Point 13,830: 8:50 AM
South Massive: 9:49 AM
Mount Massive: 10:35 AM
Depart Summit: 11:20 AM (Yes...stayed there a long time. The weather was great!)
Massive Green: 11:34 AM
North Massive: 12:18 PM
Point 14,169: 12:43 PM
Return to Mount Massive: 1:58 PM
Junction of Southeast Ridge Route and Mount Massive/East Slopes Route: 2:25 PM
Junction with Colorado Trail: 3:50 PM
Back at Trailhead: 4:46 PM
Total Time: 10 hours, 41 minutes
Total Distance: 14.70 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 6,041'

The first pic shows the basics: ascent route up Southeast Ridge, several of the high points and the descent route along Mount Massive Trail/East Slopes Route.
General Route

Here is the route profile with some basic captioning:
Route Profile

The 2 AM wakeup call at my house wasn't working too well on me so I hit the snooze till 3 AM. What a difference an hour can make! Grabbed my gear and was on the road from Westminster to the Mount Massive Trailhead around 3:30 AM. Made good time since everyone was still asleep! Was able to get started from the TH around 6:05 AM. I decided to try the ascent up the Southeast Ridge route as mentioned in Roach's "Colorado's Fourteeners 2nd Ed". Didn't have to do too much with my headlamp before there was enough light. Couldn't find a "correct" point to break off the Colorado Trail for the Southeast Ridge so I just picked anything. You can see where I turned off in the route overview image. Of course it was still dark and armed with my headlamp only, I may have missed some obvious junction point. It was a nice hike up through open forest and even startled some deer along the way. Somewhere near treeline I was able to grab this shot of Mount Elbert (which may very well be my destination next week!) and another one southeast to Twin Lakes Reservoir
Mount Elbert

Twin Lakes

Knowing how far I had to go, I was a little lazy early on so I didn't go all the way to Point 12,381'. Given that, here is a shot a little below Point 12,381' looking northwest to the saddle you have to drop into before the long ascent to Point 13,360'. It is a little hard to make out in the picture, but from here you can make out sections of trail in the distance. Once I got to the other side of the saddle, I was able to follow portions of the viewed trail. However, truth be told, I ended up pretty much finding my own way up as the "distinct" trail quite often disappeared.
Point 13,630

It took just over an hour to get there from the previous location, but here is the view atop Point 13,360' looking generally northwest .85 miles to 14,132' South Massive peak. From here there were great views all around. Must not have taken a picture, but after the saddle as you are starting to make your way up South Massive, there is a spot with some very basic ledges. There are dozens of ways to pick your path up them and they do not last for long. Just watch for dirt and scree on some that could make them slippery.
South Massive

Here we have the view from South Massive looking northwest approx .7 miles to the true summit of Mount Massive. About 300' elevation loss into the saddle where my Southeast Ridge route connects with the standard Mount Massive Trail /East Slopes Route.
Mount Massive and Massive Ridge

The next two shots are from along the Mount Massive Ridge looking to the trail's left for my remaining objectives and along the trail to the summit of Mount Massive.
Remaining 14ers

Mount Massive

As I was approaching the true summit, there was something distracting me, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a sliver of something white coming through the rocks. Turns out it was not the summit registry I originally thought it was, but rather this fellow wearing last season's outfit! I never did see a summit register or summit BLM marker on the Mount Massive Summit.
Shaggy friend

The shaggy mountain goat was not the only other "being" up there. He had a friend wearing the latest clothing. I decided to leave the goats alone and get on with my summit lunch. This guy had different ideas! He came right up to within 8 feet of me! And no...I didn't feed him. Shortly after a guy from Portsmouth, NH came up to the summit as well and used more combinations of the "F" word and various adjectives to describe how amazed he was at seeing these mountain goats than I've ever heard before!
Bold and Beautiful

After realizing he wasn't getting any of my snacks, I got the cold shoulder. 2 1/2 hours later when I reached this point again on my return, this guy was gone, but his shedding buddy was still up there.
Takin' a break

Few other pics
"Massive Green" looking back southeast to summit of Mount Massive

"Massive Green" view looking northwest to my next goals of North Massive and Point 14,169'

Saddle looking back to "Massive Green"

Same saddle position as previous pic, but looking in other direction where I need to go. I went up the red route.
Rock towers area

Skirted some rock towers on their southwest side looking back to "Massive Green".
Rock towers back to "Massive Green"

Same spot as previous pic, but looking west to next goal of North Massive. Keep in mind points 1, 2, 3 and 4 for future perspective.
Rock Towers to North Massive

Past rock towers now on northeast side of ridge looking towards North Massive. You can see point 2 and point 3 from previous picture where point 3 is along the route I took up North Massive.
North Massive Inspection

Taken from just prior to North Massive summit. This was taken at point 4 down towards point 1 from previous image. When standing at point 1 earlier, I thought this nasty scree gulley was the only way up until I scouted around the other side and saw the much nicer route.
North Massive nasty gulley

Standing near the 14,340' summit of North Massive looking west to my final goal...Point 14,169'. There was a summit register on North Massive. It was the only one I noticed all day.
North Massive to Point 14,169'

"Summit" of Point 14,169' and my final peak for the day. This pic is from that summit looking back to North Massive and the Mount Massive ridge where I'll be heading back. Mount Elbert on right.
Point 14,169' back to "Massive Green" and Mount Massive

On return skirted previously-mentioned rock towers, but this time on their northeast side looking to "Massive Green" and a "shortcut".
Rock Tower area back to "Massive Green"

The "shortcut" is rather just a traverse (point 1) below the summit of Massive Green, but it meant not having to gain all that elevation just to lose it again on the other side.
"Massive Green" shortcut

Return trip was made down the Mount Massive East Slopes Route. This is a shot on that trail looking up to South Massive via the Southeast Ridge Route I came in on earlier in the day.
Trail Junction

Well along the descent looking towards Turquoise Lake.
Turquoise Lake Recreation Area

A shot looking at the area near Point 12,381' where I headed up the Southeast Ridge route. Mount Elbert can be seen towering in the background.
Southeast Ridge Route

Next shots are various images of the route from well down the trail.
Panning right from previous image up to Point 13,630'.

Panning right again to show Point 13,630' to left and South Massive to right

Panning right yet again to show South Massive and then Mount Massive

This really was a great day. The weather worked out very well which was handy when you are going to be above 14,000' for such a long time. I suppose if lightning ever did become an issue once you got northwest beyond Mount Massive, you could descend scree slopes from pretty much any direction (with some exceptions) and make your way to other exit trails in the area. Only other thing I can think of is to bring a lot of water since this is a long hike. I went through all 3 liters I had in my Camelbak. Fortunately I was only a mile from the trailhead at that point so it wasn't a big deal.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Good trip report and congrats...
09/15/2010 19:23
I did this as a point-to-point traverse about 5 years ago (rather then loop). I started off of the Hagerman Pass Road near Native Lake and ended at Half Moon Creek. I didn't include the East Slopes portion and it shaved about 3 miles off (11 miles instead of 14) and was great but still a long day...

That mountain definitely lives up to its name...


Great report...
09/16/2010 20:46
... with excellent beta! Very thorough! Looks like a really fun route! I've only done parts of it, but it would be fun to do it all at once like you did. Beautiful morning shot of Elbert! Thanks for posting!


Nice pics and route tips
11/30/2011 16:59
Nice TR. Thanks for the pics and tips on the N Massive ascent. Those are very useful!!

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