Ascent of Mount Elbert on 2013-10-19

Climber: Jens Midthun

Others in Party:Tom Schultz
Date:Saturday, October 19, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Elbert
    Elevation:14433 ft / 4399 m

Ascent Trip Report

We had a later start than we had anticipated and got lucky that we found the correct road so quickly. The rental car was just a standard sedan so when we encountered a stream on the way to the trailhead we had to leave the car and continue by foot. It was 8:30 am and 10,390 ft. when we began the hike. Being mid-October, it was quite cold but the snow had melted from the lower parts of the mountain the previous afternoon. At 10,560 ft., our trail split from the Colorado Trail as we continued up the mountain. We passed the tree line at 11,900 ft. and there were clear views of the lakes to the east. By now the ground was covered by snow so the trail itself was harder to follow. The clear view up the wide open ridge gave us the general direction of where to go.

We had lunch at a rocky outcropping around 12,500 ft. The trail became steeper as we moved up and switched back and fourth up against a steep dropoff to our right. We only encountered three people during the entire climb, one runner who passed us on the way up and then back down, and two other men who came down passed us as we ascended, both in street clothes.

The snow got deeper as we moved up and the wind was very strong, blowing up whirlwinds of the dry, snow dust and obscuring recent footprints. We were off of the trail for some of this part, only finding footprints to occasionally tell us we were on the right track. We were experiencing some altitude sickness near the top, mostly in the form of sharp headaches. We submitted at 1:50 pm, much later than all the others on the mountain that day. It was windy at the top but the view was spectacular, with hardly a cloud in the sky. We took a solid ten minutes at the top to enjoy the views before heading back down.

The descent was quicker but it was late enough in the season that it got dark early. We had to use our headlamps and returned to the car at 5:45 pm.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4100 ft / 1249 m
    Trailhead:10333 ft / 3149 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cold, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 0 Minutes

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