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Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

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Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Yury » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:36 am

How much snow is there in Colorado this year?
What conditions can I expect on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Essentially I am looking for an easy hike and hope not to use snowshoes.
Is it a reasonable expectation?
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Snotel Site Data

Postby MtnHermit » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:01 pm

I use the NRCS Snotel site data to answer such questions. Here's the Colorado link.

Use historical snow depth data to compare to this year from a station near the peak you wish to climb.

Enjoy your hike!
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby chicagotransplant » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:57 pm

Its hard to say if this pattern will continue or not, but our snow is melting off early by probably 4-6 weeks, meaning if it keeps up mid-May will be more like a normal year's mid to late June.

I climbed Elbert on March 17 and I did not use snowshoes, however the trail was snow covered. The snow was so well packed down and firm in the morning, they just weren't necessary. Above treeline there were significant dry sections, but some patchy snow. The climb felt more like a mid to late April climb.

If the pattern holds (warm and dry), then I would say you can expect the hike to be in early summer condition and not require snowshoes. There may be some muddy trail sections and some patchy snow. Waterproof boots and gaiters will help you keep your feet dry.
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby CastillejaMiniata » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:29 am

Potentially heavy snow coming to the state. Keep updated. Monitor the snotel site and weather conditions once in a while.
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby CSUMarmot » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:53 am

Unless we get all the snow we didnt get in Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar, a little snow now isn't going to change much. Elbert is so popular you'd have a nicely packed trail to follow even if there was lingering snow. So I'd say it's a reasonable expectation.
Dammit kid get off mah lawn!!!
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Yury » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:56 pm

CSUMarmot wrote:Elbert is so popular you'd have a nicely packed trail to follow even if there was lingering snow.

What trail would you recommend in case snow is still there and I need to get to a trailhead in a rental car?
Do I really need a 4WD vehicle to get to some of the Mt. Elbert's trailheads?
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Matt Lemke » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:29 pm

I'd recommend the East Ridge from the South Mount Elbert TH. Any car can get there > http://www.summitpost.org/south-mt-elbert-trail/322285

The northeast ridge Route from the Halfmoon Creek TH is also a good route where any car can get to > http://www.summitpost.org/north-mount-elbert-trail-ne-ridge/681916

Both these routes will be very packed down if there is any lingering snow
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby chicagotransplant » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:35 pm

The east ridge from the south Mt Elbert TH is the better choice for early season. That is the standard winter ascent route because they plow the road to the trailhead. This means that the beaten down path through the snow on that route will be very well established with a full winter and spring worth of travel on it.

From that trailhead the first 2 miles of hiking are on a dirt road that can get a little rough in places for lower clearance vehicles. Depending on what you rent, you may be able to drive at least part of it, the beginning of that road isn't that bad, and there are a few campsites on it. If you start from the pavement the route is about 12 miles and 5000' vertical. Its more like 8 and 4k if you can drive the whole road. Sometimes people may pick you up on the way up or down if they have room, but it really doesn't add much to your hike if you do have to walk the whole road.

The NE ridge from Halfmoon Creek TH is 9 miles and 4700', so its shorter but steeper. That road is 2WD passable, but in winter they stop plowing this road 5 miles away from the trailhead. It will probably be melted out by mid-May, but the trail will not have seen as much traffic yet and may not be as well "trenched" out.
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Yury » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:10 am

chicagotransplant wrote:The NE ridge from Halfmoon Creek TH is 9 miles and 4700', so its shorter but steeper. That road is 2WD passable, but in winter they stop plowing this road 5 miles away from the trailhead. It will probably be melted out by mid-May, but the trail will not have seen as much traffic yet and may not be as well "trenched" out.
Thank you guys,

It seems that the most logical in May is to start from South, although I would have preferred to have a shorter hike with a bit smaller elevation gain. :oops:
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby NamebranD » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:19 am

Hi,

I'm new here. My friends and I are going to be in Leadville this week with plans to hike Mt. Elbert on either Wednesday or Thursday. Will the snowfall from this weekend affect our climb in a few days? It'll be my first time summitting a 14er, though one of my companions is familiar with the area and this mountain in particular.

Thanks in advance for the help.
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Matt Lemke » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:41 pm

You will be able to climb Elbert however you will need the following things:
-Waterproof leather hiking boots and gaiters
-Microspikes
-Warm Socks (wool) and mittens/gloves
-Warm clothes
In addition to the standard hiking gear
You may want snowshoes with the fresh snow below treeline however most of the snow above treeline will be blown away/hardened by then.

It will help if you are also in good shape
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby sm0421 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:43 pm

any updates? we are going May 27th Memorial Day weekend via south trail. I was there last year Apr.21st and it was snowstorm knee deep snow.... we got into whiteout @ 13000 and got back down.
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Fletch » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:16 pm

Forecast for May 27th at 14,000 ft on Mt Elbert - Possible snow showers, or heavy accumulated rain in spots. Blustery. Slight to moderate winds from the SW, 15-20 mph, with occasional gusts to 140 mph. There will be aprroximately 6-12 inches of snow on the ground in the shade on E facing slopes and if you weigh less than 160 lbs and were born in September, you will not need snowshoes. If you are over 160lbs, bring an ice axe, crampons, and put $21 in your left pocket.
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby sm0421 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:54 pm

thanks, Fletch!
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Re: Conditions on Mt.Elbert in mid-May?

Postby Yury » Mon May 14, 2012 5:49 am

Thank you guys for your advices. Today I was able to reach Mt. Elbert summit from the South TH and encountered just a bit of snow.

chicagotransplant wrote:The east ridge from the south Mt Elbert TH is the better choice for early season. That is the standard winter ascent route because they plow the road to the trailhead. This means that the beaten down path through the snow on that route will be very well established with a full winter and spring worth of travel on it.
Trail is mostly free of snow.
The first substantial patch of snow on a trail was at 12440 ft.
A few snowfields above 13K still exists but they would not prevent you from following this trail.
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