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Early December Ascent of Mt. Elbert

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Colorado Climbing Partners section.
 

Re: Early December Ascent of Mt. Elbert

Postby MarthaP » Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:01 am

anthony72 wrote:I'll be climbing Mt. Elbert on Friday, December 11. I'm asking for partners. Anyone interested? Please let me know.

I also would like anyone's help on ensuring that I stay on path regarding the South route. I understand that it can be tricky recognizing trailmarks with snow covering the ground. Also, is the South route the shortest to take? I understand that the Black Cloud Trail is not the best choice for a winter ascent because of potential avalanche danger.


Anthony - get a topo. Study it. Bring it with you and watch the signs. Know the aspects and consider the avy reports at CAIC. Are you hiking with anyone? Do you have any avy training? Do you know how to read a slope? While the south route is a highly traveled slog, are you willing to break trail in case it snows and no one's packed it down? What equipment are you planning to bring? Snowshoes? Axe? Crampons? Just in case?

You may not need to worry about avy training but we just got dumped on. That's a crap shoot here in CO - it's either going to continue or not. Wish I could offer more concrete stats but that's the way CO is. It's a dynamic place to hike.

anthony72 wrote:Any helpful advice on how to layer for this climb? What can I expect the wind chill to be? It seems like from current weather information I can count on the wind chill being below zero degrees.


We know about as much as you do. All we can guarantee is periods of light followed by periods of dark. Conrad Anker recommends starting cold because you'll warm up on the climb. Bring plenty of extra layers, include the 10 essentials, be prepared for O2 dep. It could warm up to 60F by the time you get here, or it could drop to -35F. Be prepared for ANYTHING, including bailing.

This is mountaineer country. It really doesn't sound as if you're experienced with this kind of stuff. Be prepared to make another choice - just because you say you plan to climb Elbert on the 11th doesn't mean conditions are going to allow it. You'll hike it if the mountain allows it. Have Plan B ready.

I'd personally recommend you hike something a little easier in the Front Range until you get the hang of this. Your profile doesn't indicate any experience and, while you may have lots, we can only assume less.
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Postby Scott » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:40 am

I also would like anyone's help on ensuring that I stay on path regarding the South route.


With a map and compass or GPS is shouldn't be a problem as long as you know how to use them.

Also, is the South route the shortest to take?


If the road to the Halfmoon trailhead is closed, then yes. Even if the road is open, the East Ridge is still the easiest route in that season.

Any helpful advice on how to layer for this climb?

What can I expect the wind chill to be? It seems like from current weather information I can count on the wind chill being below zero degrees.


Likely below zero. Sometimes way below zero. Dress warm. Very warm.

The East Ridge of Elbert is not steep enough to use an ice axe on. It will be dead weight. so unlike other winter ascents, I would say that it's OK to leave it home on this one.

Although the East Ridge of Elbert is one of the safest winter condition routes out there (it may be the safest of all 14er routes), it's best to go with someone experienced. To not underestimate the cold and wind. It will also be a very long day at that time of year. Camping part way up the mountain is a good idea if you have the proper gear.
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