Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  10/11/2010
Date Climbed:   10/06/2010
Author:  Mooney Pilot

 Clouds, Wind, and Hail on Elbert  

With my calendar cleared for the week, I decided to take a few days off and fly to Colorado and get in one more climb before the winter snows started. My destination this time was Mt. Elbert, the highest point in Colorado.

The first part of the hike was uneventful. The stream crossing presented no problem, despite the absence of a log bridge:


Be sure to turn right when the trail splits:


Yes, there is a cairn in that tree:


As I approached treeline, I met a nice couple that was descending. They said that they had turned back because of the clouds and the high winds above treeline. I decided to press on.

Shortly after passing treeline I looked back and had this view:


Soon thereafter I was in the clouds, so there were no more photo opportunities on my hike.

The weather above treeline was even worse than I had feared. I don't mind hiking in the clouds. I don't mind some wind. But I do mind getting hailed on. The high wind blowing the tiny hail granules horizontally gave me the impression of being sandblasted. I turned back before reaching the ridge. Elbert's summit would have to wait for another time.

Once I got back below treeline I started to hear thunder in the distance. But the weather conditions below treeline were fine, just as they had been on my ascent.

As I was driving away from the trailhead, I looked back and had this view of the conditions on Elbert, confirming my decision to turn back:


As a consolation prize, while driving later that day I had a close encounter with a rainbow:


Despite having to turn back, it was a fun adventure. I always enjoy my mountain climbing trips to Colorado, whether I successfully gain the summit or not.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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