Saturday, June 9, 2007

Mt. Elbert, my 6th 14er

Well, I successfully summitted my first 14er of the season! And what an incredible one to start with! Apparently, Leadville and surrounding areas had a little storm the night before we drove out there. Initially, we were worried that there'd be too much snow, but it was nothing we needed to worry about. So Friday, June 8th, Crystal, Aviv and I began the drive out to meet the great, Mt. Elbert!

We were on the trail just a little before 9am and began the climb, and a climb it was. So in all the books I read up to arriving at the trailhead, I got the idea that although Elbert is Colorado's highest peak at 14,433, the hike is steady at a Class 1. Well, steady works when describing it as steadily steep! It helped that we met two other groups of hikers on our way up, and they were all really nice and shared some good conversation. It definitely took my mind off the pain of hiking : )

I only wish this picture did justice to how steep the slope was! Oh, and the "summit" you see in this photo is actually a false summit...the true summit is still about 500 ft higher. The first time we were actually able to see the summit was not until we rounded the ridge to the left, I think.

This is the first view of the summit...oh no wait, that's another false summit! We've definitely got more snow though! Luckily, very little, if any postholing : )

Finally! The summit! For real this time...only about 30 minutes to go! Unfortunately, I was still stopping every 20 steps or so...the altitude was killing me!

WE MADE IT!!! And check out that view! Whatever amount of snow they had had the night before really added to the mountains behind us! The weather up there was great by 1:30pm when we summitted, occasional winds and gusts, but we probably stayed up there for a good half hour at least simply enjoying our victory!
Now it's time to go home! Down, down, down we go! Can you see how steep it is?! We met a couple of little critters on our way down too. We actually saw lots of marmots throughout the whole day, but this one was brave and came right up close to us!
I do have a question, however, does anyone know what kind of bird this is? It was moving really slowly and didn't seem to be able to fly, at least it didn't around us. It totally blended in with the rocks too, I never would have seen it except that it started moving right as we were passing it. Interesting.
Anyway, it was a blast and I would recommend this hike to everyone! Thanks for reading my first blog, and I hope you enjoyed it!


Jennifer said...

Glad you're blogging, Mindy! I can't tell ya on the bird. He's hard to make out in the photo. I started Swimming to Antarctica -- good stuff! Thank you again.

Tara said...

awesome pics and i, too, am glad you also have a blog.

Matt said...

I continue to be amazed at your adventures! Your pictures are beautiful! I love mountains, almost as much as the ocean.

Heather said...

Don't ya love the false summits?! The bird is a Ptarmigan (sp?). In the winter they are all white and in the spring they look like the one in your pic. They can be really hard to find because they blend with the surroundings so well.