Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2014-08-31

Climber: Austin Mueller

Others in Party:Bryan Cloyd
Jacob Peace
Date:Sunday, August 31, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

We woke up in Leadville around 5:15, left the house at 5:50, and arrived at the South Trailhead and started the hike around 6:30. The sky was clear over the Twin Lakes and SE of Mt Elbert, but the peak of Elbert was shrouded in clouds.

The hike from the lower south trailhead to the upper south trailhead was quick and uneventful. We saw a deer on the way, but no other wildlife. The view of the lakes was great as was the view of Rinker Peak and Quail Mountain. After passing the upper south trailhead, the hike started to pick up in elevation. We had a mountain biker descend past us around 8am and then had a runner pass us up. We were told by another hiker later that the runner's nickname is "Running Jesus" and that he'd won the Leadville 100 a few times, but I cannot recall his actual name (possibly Anton Krupicka).

We had a bit of rain before getting above the tree line, but it was mainly scattered showers. At my insistence, we decided to keep going. Up to this point we hadn't seen many other people on the trail, but about 20 minutes before ascending past the tree line, we ran into a few different groups. The first group was a couple who turned around at the treeline because one of them was succumbing to altitude sickness and the second group was a family of four with two young girls. At this point in the hike, ~11,700ft, two members of my group were beginning to have trouble breathing.

Once we were above the tree line, weather turned for the worse. We struggled our way through wind, rain, sleet, and snow and slowly made our way to the top. We could definitely feel the effects of just having flown in Friday for a Sunday 14er, but we remained steadfast in our mission and summitted at 12:30. About 300ft from the top of Elbert, I had a second wind and was able to push through and arrive at the top in good shape. It was a difficult hike with winds up to 45mph and plenty of snow and clouds. However, as we arrived on the summit, the clouds cleared giving spectacular 360 degree views. The summit was very windy which led to us taking a few pictures and then starting our descent.

The hike down was fine. My two friends described their legs as jelly, but mine felt fine. Our hike rounded out around 16 miles in distance ending at the car around 5pm. We decided to forego our plans to visit Cottonwood Hot Springs due to one of our crew getting a really bad elevation headache, and returned to Leadville for dinner and a drink.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4870 ft / 1484 m
    Total Elevation Loss:14419 ft / 4394 m
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4870 ft / 1484 m
    Start Trailhead:Lower South Trailhead  9563 ft / 2914 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:14419 ft / 4394 m
    End Trailhead:Mt Elbert Summit  14 ft / 4 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Austin Mueller
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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