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Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2016-08-26

Climber: Dave Covill

Others in Party:Cindy Pigott4:40 up
2:30 down
Date:Friday, August 26, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

4:40 up, 2:30 down. Climbed with Seattle area Highpointer Cindy Pigott. It had precipitated all over CO the days prior, but was dry here. I spent the night at the TH in my car, awoke to 2-3" of snow up high on Elbert. Well prepared w cold weather gear, we departed Twin Lakes South Elbert upper 4WD TH about 6:30 AM.

About 60-80 people from the two trails visible during the climb, on a Friday. Crazy, weekends gotta be gross anymore.... Snow melted off largely by 11AM on all slopes and aspects.

I would call the South Elbert TH road a 4 out of 10. Not bad, but a Subaru would get banged up. Modest stream crossing, about 7-9" deep for 15-18' across in late August. Would likely be about 12-16" deep in June. A 2WD pickup could do it easy if the road was dry. Kind of rutted badly, a little steep in 2-3 spots, but overall not bad at all. No brutal rocks on the road. I got 1.8 miles from paved TH to upper 4WD TH, and I observe it is up from about 9,620' to 10,520', saving 900' of vertical, or about 440' higher than 10,080' Halfmoon TH. Yes, if you can't negotiate the road in your vehicle, the Halfmoon TH may be the preferred choice for you.

Trail is a little steep and just loose dirt the first mile up, then very mellow higher up. I strongly prefer this one over the North Elbert Halfmoon Trail from near Mt Massive. Much higher TH, a mile shorter. Longer drive to get there from Leadville, but none of it is on gravel road, all paved to lower TH, versus several miles on good gravel to Halfmoon.

Summit had minor wind, and it warmed to perhaps 60d by 11AM. Sweet....

A rather large Mennonnite/Christian family from back east broke into song upon arrival at the top. Later, they all gathered on the grass at about 12,500' on their way down for a quick break. I of course asked if they could please do a little Sound of Music Number, and the eldest (~20?) daughter Esther busted out The Hills Are Alive, and man she and her siblings were incredible. Several passersby stopped for it. The Von Trapp Family got nothin' on these folks !
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