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Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2012-08-18

Climber: Joe Kuehn

Others in Party:Mike and Ed
Date:Saturday, August 18, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

The day before the hike, we crossed Wolf's Pass and had very heavy downpour with hail. Stayed the night in Buena Vista and the wind was so bad that it literally shook the floor of our hotel room. So we were a bit concerned about what was in store for us on our climb of Mt. Elbert on the South trail.

As it turned out the weather was better than we could have imagined, breezy with some occuasional gusts, but nothing that our windbreakers couldn't over come. Being flatlanders from Phoenix, the altitude was a factor, but just had to crank the speed down. The trail was in good shape and the scenery was beautiful--the views on top spectacular, just some morning haziness down below kept us from getting some postcard shots.

A couple of points:

1. The directions that we got sounded as if you go IN the campground to the trailhead. Not the case--drive PAST the campground to reach the lower trailhead/4wd trail.

2. In Arizona things we call 4 wheel drive trails you need a high clearance vehicle. Apparently in Colorado road where your car might get muddy is a 4 wd trail. Our minivan would have readily made the trip as a 1990's vintage Ford Escort had no problems making it to the upper trailhead, nor did other passenger cars. So, if you want to save 1.8 miles each way--that is a doable option.

3. The trail itself pretty straight forward once you get off the Continental Divide trail and turn up on the actual South Mt. Elbert trail. Not only is it straight forward, it is straight up--in that there are not really any switchbacks to speak of. There's really no elevation loss to speak of and there are plenty of stretches where the grade is flat or just slight gain to allow you to catch your breath.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Route:South Mt. Elbert
    Time Up:4 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics



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