Elbert is now my sixth Colorado 14er I've bagged. Six down, 48 to go.
Tough short hike. Only 4.5 miles to the top, but it went up 4500' at an average 18.5% grade. It was so steep that it was hard to talk along the way. We made great time. We were on top in only 2 hrs and 30min. We were expecting it to take about 4 hours due to the steepness. It actually took us longer to drive to/from Elbert than it took to hike it up/down. I was coming from Fraser so I had to cross the Continental Divide three times coming and going (Berthoud Pass on US40, Loveland Pass on I-70, Freemont Pass on Hwy 91). But it was worth it to eat lunch on the highest point near the Continental Divide (i.e., Mt. Elbert; technically, Grays Peak is the highest point *on* the CD).
We laughed about the trail because it went straight up the NE ridge of Elbert. Obviously, the trail cutter didn't know what a switchback was because rarely did the trail curve... it just went straight up. About 12,000', I mentioned to Aaron that at this point last year on Whitney we were starting up the famous 97 switchbacks. Aaron laughed and said, "Yeah, I think we're on the 2 switchbacks here."
The peak had about 30 folks on top... and 5 dogs. It was like a kennel up there. I've seen a dog or two on peaks before, but this was like a dog show.
We had a perfect day. Sunny skies. No thunderstorms. Beautiful views of mountains in all directions. Mount Massive was only 5 miles across the valley from Elbert.
Before heading down, I packed up a snow ball and stuck it in a zip-lock to bring home for my kids. It's now in the freezer (but a little smaller). It's a tradition of mine. It's a simple way to let my kids know I was thinking about them on the peak.