Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2012-08-21

Climber: Jason Reed

Others in Party:Erika K
Barry S
Date:Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

A year ago after the Pikes Peak marathon Erika and I had a failed attempt at climbing Mt. Elbert, due to starting too late and a lightning storm. We went out this year to try again on the same route. We drove to the north Mount Elbert TH using the directions from

We started at 7:36 which was later than we wanted but a good 2h20min earlier than last year. The first 1/3 of the trail is in a pine forest. It starts uphill immediately, flattens out a bit and continues uphill. Sicne we had been there before I was eagerly awaiting the point where we would get above the treeline. Once we got out of the treeline there were excellent views of the mountains around us, especially Mount Massive which was to our right. Erika wanted to take some rest breaks and although I preferred not to I found it helped with the difficulty. I had no difficulty due to the elevation, having run up Pieks Peak both 2 and 3 days earlier. But because of those, I was a little more fatigued than normal.

We passed several other parties on the mountain. Even with our stops no one was moving faster than us. The trail was easy to follow and generally wide and veruy walkable, except for one small section about a mile from the top that was a little rocky and steep (not dangerous). This is around where Erika turned around last year and eventually we got up to and past the point where I turned around last year. From that point it was a fairly easy walk up to the top, where we found a few other parties and dogs.

We anticipated meeting our friend Barry at the top although we estimated he'd start an hour later than us and we didn't know which trail he'd decide to take. After being at the top for an hour along came Barry who had taken the South Mt. Elbert trail. We spent another half hour at the top (1:30 total) and went back down with barry to his car. He offered us a ride back and we liked the idea of the change of scenary after having been up twice and down once the North Mt. Elbert trail.

I liked the scenery of the South trail better. It was a little steeper near the top and more difficult to walk down, although it was the same type of trail - a walkable, well worn trail. Closer to the bottom we went through a couple aspen forests which looked really beautiful. It seemed like we were going a good pace although we stopped for some pictures. My Garmin ran out of juice maybe a half mile from the car but up until that point we spent 5 minutes longer going downhill than it took to go up. The times and distances above reflect the shortened distance/time.

Barry kindly gave us a ride back to our car which I'd like to think was helpful to him since the Mount Massive trailhead is only another half mile up the dirt road in the same valley as the North Mt. Elbert TH. We all agreed that next time we will climb Mount Massive, since it's the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4556 ft / 1388 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4115 ft / 1253 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.9 mi / 14.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4516 ft / 1376 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4356 ft / 1328 m; Extra: 160 ft / 48m
    Loss on way in:160 ft / 48 m
    Distance:4.7 mi / 7.6 km
    Route:North Mount Elbert trail
    Start Trailhead:North Mount Elbert TH  10077 ft / 3071 m
    Time:2 Hours 34 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3955 ft / 1205 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3915 ft / 1194 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Gain on way out:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:4.2 mi / 6.7 km
    Route:South Mt. Elbert trail
    End Trailhead:South Mt. Elbert TH  10518 ft / 3205 m
    Time:2 Hours 39 Minutes

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