Vacation 2011 - Mt. Elbert

July 29, 2011

This is part 1 of my 2011 vacation (see parts [2], [3], and [4]). I left my home on Wednesday morning, July 27, and spent the night in Kearney, Nebreaska. The next morning I drove to Leadville, Colorado, elevation 10,200. I spent the night there, then got up early on the morning of the 29th to drive the short distance to the trailhead. I then climbed Mt. Elbert. This is the highest (but certainly not hardest) peak in Colorado, and the second highest in the lower 48 states. This was all part of my training for my upcoming hike of the High Sierra trail: I wanted to make sure I was ready for Mt. Whitney.

This was my second attempt at Elbert. I had tried it previously in 2005, but had to quit because of threatening weather. See a report of that hike here.

Mt. Elbert is 14,433 feet high. My hike began just 48 hours after leaving Chicago. So how did I fare in the altitude? A story...I had a clear cell signal on the peak, so I called my mom to let her know I was safe. I told her, "This is to make sure I am ready for Mt. Whitney. Whitney is 14,495 and this is 14,433, so the difference is only..." and I couldn't do the math! 95 minus 33. I have a Masters in Math and I couldn't do it! That is when I knew that the altitude was affecting me more than I thought. I got quite a laugh out of that. I hope you do too.

Mt. Elbert as seen from the access road to Half Moon campground. [01]

Mt. Elbert as seen from the trailhead. [03]

Hike begins with a nicely groomed trail through the forest. [05]

Approaching the treeline. [06]

Last tree. [07]

Me. Town of Leadville in the distance. Yes, there are other hikers: this is a popular peak. [08]

Mt. Massive. [11]

False summit. [13]

Gaining altitude, but far to go. [14]

Town of Leadville in the distance. [15]

Town of Leadville in the distance. [16]

False summit. [17]

Towards Mt. Massive. [19]

Mt. Massive. [21]

Marmot among the rocks. [23]

Approaching a very frustrating stretch of scree. [24]

High altitude beauty. [27]

Clouds, but not threatening. [29]

Snow melt. [30]

Snow melt. [31]

As I was going up, a high school cross country team was coming down. Seventy kids plus adults. All were very polite and offered encouragement. [33]

As I rested, this 82 year old gentleman blew past me. I hope I can do this at 82! [34]

After the scree, more discouraging rough terrain, with still no hint of the real summit. [35]

Getting closer. Photos are as nice an excuse as any for resting. [36]

Starting to think I will make it. [37]

Far center, people on the real summit. [38]

Me. [39]

From the summit. [40]

From the summit. [41]

Me on the summit of Mt. Elbert, elevation 14,433 feet. [42]

Towards Mt. Massive from the summit. [44]

Me on the summit of Mt. Elbert, elevation 14,433 feet. [45]

Towards the west, I think. [51]

Another shot of Mt. Massive during the descent (which was almost as difficult as the ascent, given my aged knees.) [54]

Trailside pretties. [57]

Home stretch. [58]

Copyright © 2011 by Bill Qualls. Last updated August 3, 2011.
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