A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mt Elbert

This climbed occurred on the weekend of 4/15, so the write up, while not on time, should still not be overlooked.
  • Route: Southeast Ridge
  • Distance: 10.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ~5,000 feet
  • Start time: 7:30 AM
  • Time: 5.0  up, 3.0 down
The Texan came to town for two reasons, to eat and drink his way through Denver and climb a 14er. Given his hospitality a few weeks back, I was determined to succeed on all accounts.
We stayed the night in Dillon, which allowed us to dine at the Dam Brewery. Every trip should be so lucky to begin with extra pale ales, even if there is a price to be paid in dehydration that must be remedied in the morning. We left at 6 AM and reached the trailhead shortly after 8 AM, after my misreading the directions and driving around an extra 30 minutes.
The trail begins in an aspen forest. It was somewhat ghostly as none of the trees had begun to leaf out, but it added a spartan beauty to an already stunning landscape.
Sorry about getting lost, let’s hike!
With a lengthy walk along the road and a fairly gentle grade, at some point there is a price to be paid in terms of elevation gain. One does not summit the highest peak in Colorado without a punishing climb somewhere in the mix. And then we saw it. You gain a ridge right at treeline and then climb ~2600 vertical feet in ~1.5 miles. The steep grade is tough, but it is the elevation that makes it brutal.
At this point we ran into Chris, who was in town for two weeks from Pennsylvania for work training and getting after it by climbing 14ers and snowboarding on his weekends. The elevation was taking a toll on his motivation and immediately decided to climb with us.
David and Chris ascending a snow slope at 12,000 feet.
The climb from this point on was a snowy slog in which the three of us strung out on the slope. All three of us made the summit, just at different times.
Lounging on the summit
Really lounging on the summit!
David abandoning the flex shot in favor of an impromptu dance to celebrate Colorado’s highest point.
The descent was never ending, but ultimately took us back to Denver. Chris met us in town, and Alan and Heather came out to join in a post-climb food tour that included the Green Russell, the Cruise Room, Great Divide Brewery, Vesta Dipping Grill, Biker Jims and Steubens. If a trip should begin with extra pale ales, it should end with gourmet hot dogs, ceviche, pork belly and cocktails.
The physical efforts and caloric rewards continued the next day as David and I knocked out a 5 mile trail run followed by brunch with Heather. We then proceeded to nap the day away until we left for the airport.
Below are a few more pictures from this weekend.
Me climbing up behind David and Chris
One of the Twin Lakes.
View from the summit

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