Welcome to SP!  -
Mt Massive- the wrong way turns out OK
Trip Report

Mt Massive- the wrong way turns out OK

 
Mt Massive- the wrong way turns out OK

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 32.84000°N / 113.91°W

Object Title: Mt Massive- the wrong way turns out OK

Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 1, 2006

Activities: Hiking

Season: Summer

 

Page By: myrone

Created/Edited: Jul 6, 2006 / Jan 26, 2008

Object ID: 205227

Hits: 1921 

Page Score: 71.06%  - 1 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote

 

Mt Massive
From N. Halfmoon TH
Saturday July 1, 2006

I drove to the trailhead late Friday night in order to get an early start the next morning. The night was very dark and just a wink of a crescent moon shown low in the sky briefly before going down in the west. The dirt CR11 wasn’t terribly rough but it seemed endless as I drove deeper into the forest and lost track of my mileage and just couldn’t find the trailhead. I finally stopped and asked some people who were camping and the one guy knew exactly where it was and I arrived there shortly thereafter, and totally relieved.

The night was as dark as I’ve ever known and with no lights, no moon; I quite literally could not see my hand in front of my face. I donned my headlamp and made ready to spend the night in the back of my truck equipped with a topper. There was nobody around and it was rather spooky being so dark, however I was far too tired to scare myself into staying awake and I was soon fast asleep.

I set my watch for 5:00AM and made a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and black coffee. Two guys showed up as I was filing out my Wilderness Permit (free) and they started up the trail before me, another group of people now arrived and I figured I’d better get going before things got too crowded. I started up the trail at 6:00AM sharp.

I followed an excellent trail west along a swift creek and the forest was very pleasant as the weather was ideal; sunny and mild, with blue skies. I was making pretty good time as I climbed higher through the forest and was looking for a clearing where I was supposed to find two large cairns that marked a new CFI (Colorado Fourteeners Initiative) trail section that went off to the right and advanced up the south side of the mountain. I did find a clearing (meadow) but I must have been sleep walking, or had my head down as I kept on going west and never saw the cairns or the new trail.

I stayed on the excellent trail through some trees and bushes as it continued west and then turned right (north) as it began to lose its definition as I crossed a snowy section before climbing higher onto a beautiful green “mesa” now above tree line. Before me was a huge basin still in the morning shadows and far above on the ridge I briefly caught a glimpse of two people making their way across from right to left. I now realized that I had totally missed the CFI trail (duh!!) and now had to figure out how to climb up to the ridge far above the basin.

I picked a spot on the ridge directly in front of me and started making my own way as there was no trail, cairns, or anybody around to follow as a reference. Heading across the mesa and crossing a couple of small snow fields I made a good advance to the bottom of the basin to where I figured I’d start the ascent up to the ridge. I now was in a slow, steep, scree-loose talus filled, climb and I soon learned where to find a good hand and foot hold as I paused often to catch my breath and find the best line up. Although my advance was certainly slow it was steady and every step forward was also a step higher and before long I was making my way around the right side of a large rock outcropping and over one last rise and up out of the shadows of the basin and up onto the sunny summit ridge itself.

I totally lucked-out with my “dead-reckoning” form of navigation and found myself about 100 yards left of the summit proper and I could see lots of people already there and lots of others coming up from the north and east approaches. As I hiked along the ridge towards the summit I looked back down the basin where I had come from and saw two other groups of climbers who had either planned this approach or had simply made the same mistake I had, I’ll never know.

The summit was quite full and getting more crowded by the minute. I was glad when I stepped up to the summit at 9:34 and signed the summit log. I stayed about 20 minutes and took in the marvelous views, took some pix, grabbed a quick bite to eat and drink and started back down the way I was supposed to; on the CFI trail, which is most clearly marked on the summit ridge with a large wooden sign.

On the way back down the CFI trail features a good many switchbacks and steps in the rocks to make things a bit easier as I took my time while enjoying the wildflowers and marmots along the way. From this vantage I could clearly see the trail that I had taken earlier way around the west side of the mountain. It wasn’t long before I was back to tree line and pushed through one last section of bushes where the trail opens in a meadow and there I found the two cairns right where they should be as I turned left back onto the main trail.

The day was warmer and clouds were starting to build as I got back to the trailhead at 12:19PM. Although I had made a mistake and missed the CFI trail, I never felt lost by any means and the basin climb was harder and a bit farther but no less direct to the summit. Anyway......alls well that ends well, my 24th 14’er and another wonderful day in Colorado....sweet!!!

Images

North Halfmoon LakesDistant Snowmass MtMt MassiveMt Elbert & LaPlata Peak

Comments

No comments posted yet.