I will be out in CO sking the last week of March and am thinking about adding a couple days to the trip for a summit of Mt Elbert.
Looking for any info on conditions, route reccomendations camp options, etc (am planning a hike up, high-camp, AM summit and hike down... but none of that is set in stone..)
This'll be my 2nd 14'er - but 1st winter attemp. From what I read on SP - seems the trail is not that rough.. so the main challenge (aside from altitude) would be snow conditions and how much trail I'll need to break.. vs following a well packed route...
Elbert sees a lot of traffic in winter. You basically have two options in terms of trail. 1.) The North Ridge (Cottonwood) which involves some significant walking on the road to reach the trailhead and the 2.) East Slopes. The East Slopes are typically what people take and access to this is easy. It is a short 1.5 mile turn off Hwy 82 by Twin Lakes.
Park at the small parking lot and hike the few miles up the dirt road to the trailhead. This approach is much easier then Cottonwood and easy to follow.
The East Slopes Route on Elbert has almost 0% avy danger. It's pretty tame. There's some camping spots at the actual trailhead you can use or find something further in the forest up the trail a little. There's a lot of snow up there right now.
How's your winter camping skills?
The route once you crest treeline is as straight-forward as they come.
March typically sees a lot of snow but so far, things have been pretty dam warm.
Info from 14ers confirms my thoughts on general conditions.. and my expectation that the 4WD road will be closed... so I'll have a bit more hiking up to the trailhead.
It's the extra distance - and expectation that (as a low-lander) I'll be moving slower than I would preffer... that has me thinking about the camp-out. (Not comfortable w/ committing to a one-day out-n-back... feel I'd be better off allowing myself the extra time to take 'er easy).
My winter camping skills are basic at this point... having spent numerous nights out on trails in the NJ/PA region... It's been a little cold (no colder than +15) and with only modest ground cover of snow (again.. we don't see 'CO-type' quantities of snow on here....)
On these outings.. I've been quite warm - so I am comfortable with the temps to be expected... so that leaves the snow... The thing with winter camping in deep snow is - you gotta get out in 'deep snow' to put into practice everything you ~think~ you know..
But I want to be smart about it... which is why I'm looking at Elbert and the South Elbert trail and not some of the other / more challenging climbs in CO.
At this point - I am still trying to work out the timing to do this.... hopefully it will work out.. and the weather will cooperate....