Mount Belford

snow Northwest Gully
Difficulty Class 2 
Snow Steepness: Easy 
Ski/Board: Intermediate, D4 / R2 / II  
Risk FactorsExposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start9,650 feet
Summit14,202 feet
Total Gain4,500 feet
RT Length7.25 miles
SheriffChaffee: 719-539-2596
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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This route should only be climbed with consolidated snow, in spring or early summer. Climbing this route in mid-winter could put you in deadly avalanche conditions.


From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road.
From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.
On the 390 road, drive 7.5 miles to a sign for the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Turn left and drive down into the large parking area. There are restrooms here.


This route is recommended as a snow climb, so avoid it once the snow melts out of the gully. From the parking area, start down the Missouri Gulch Trail. Cross the bridge that spans Clear Creek and continue into the forest. Hike over 1/4 mile and climb a bunch of switchbacks up through the forest. Leave the switchbacks at 10,400' and continue south along Missouri Gulch. At 10,800', turn left and cross to the east side of Missouri Gulch on a make shift log bridge - 1. Hike south along the gulch for 1/3 mile until you reach the remnants of an old shack - 2. Continue a short distance to exit the forest, near 11,300'. Follow the excellent trail south into the gulch as you gradually approach Belford - 3. At 11,600', reach a trail junction. The Elkhead Pass (Missouri Gulch) Trail continues to the right and the Mt. Belford Trail goes left. Turn left and continue on Belford's standard, northwest ridge trail - 4.

Before the base of the northwest ridge, the trail crosses a stream which drains from the northwest gully (your route). Leave the standard trail and start left up the gully - 5. It starts out narrow but soon widens out, above 12,200' - 6 and 7. Above 12,300', the gully turns left - 8 and 9. The snow climbing is easy here but you'll notice steeper lines up to your right. Those lines go to the upper northwest ridge. Continue southwest up the center of the gully ( 10) to reach more convoluted terrain, near 12,900' - 11 and 12. Follow the gully through broken ledges to 13,400', where the terrain opens up - 13. Near 13,600', turn right and follow the shallowing gully south toward the summit - 14 and 15. Walk up to the summit block and climb to the top - 16.


This is usually the best way to ski Belford. Before your descent you can either climb the standard, northwest ridge route or this route.


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