A perfect day for a 14er...Mt. Belford

A perfect day for a 14er...Mt. Belford

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 5, 2011
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring

A perfect day

So it was time for me to start getting out and climbing peaks again. The semester for me is winding down and summer is on its way where I'll be hitting the mountains hard. I went out with a friend along with a few other people to the Missouri Gulch trailhead. The original plan was to climb Missouri but as you'll see, the plans changed.

We got to the trailhead around 11:00 pm Wednesday night. The road was in great shape although I can't speak for road conditions beyond the Missouri Gulch trailhead.

We camped the night and woke early to start up the trail.

Sunrise...Sunrise from the Missouri gulch trailhead

Very soon after starting up the trail we hit continuous snow. It was nice and hard from the night plus we got to follow some frozen solid ski tracks from a group that skid Missouri a couple days prior. We made great time up the trail and past the old cabin after maybe an hour and a half.

Missouri GulchFirst views looking down Missouri gulch

Upon breaching treeline we were greeted with great views of the valley, Missouri Mountain and Mt. Belford. The entire gulch was filled with snow but a lot of it was solid as the sun hadn't come over the mountains yet.

Belford and MissouriTreeline in Missouri gulch looking at Belford and Missouri mountains

We very quickly noticed how much snow was on Missouri Mountain and wondered how safe it would be. I'm not really the best person regarding avalanches and I tend to play it safe.
So our group split up. My friend and I went up Belford which had its standard route nearly completely windblown while the other two in our group attempted Missouri.
From the valley we ditched the snowshoes and started climbing up the west slope.

Missouri GulchView of the snowy Missouri Gulch from the west slope of Belford

Mt. BelfordView of the west slope of Belford

Mt. BelfordMore views breaking out!

This was a beautiful climb and great views were seen the entire way up. It also wasn't too hot or cold however the beating sun reflecting on the snow really took its toll on my face.
It took us about two hours to get up Belford from treeline...not bad for my first hike in mountains since December.
Belford summit blockBelford summit block

The summit views were spectacular!
Missouri and OxfordOxford and Missouri from the summit of Belford

Mt. BelfordSummit panorama looking towards La Plata and the entire Tenmile/Mosquito range

Me on the summit...Me on the summit of Belford

We got great looks at Missouri, Oxford, Emerald, Iowa, La Plata, Pikes, and all of the Tenmile/Mosquito range.
We took it pretty easy on the way down knowing the two who attempted Missouri would be a little while. Saw many ptarmigan birds on the way down and noticed them changing color...a sign that summer is fast approaching.
Ptarmigan...A ptarmigan changing colors for the summer

As we descended it got downright hot. It was a little chilly with a slight breeze on the summit but by the time we were halfway down it felt like 100 degrees with all my black clothes on.
In reality it was about 55-60 though.
Great views on the way down. We saw the snow become very shiny throughout the whole valley as it was melting fast. We saw a bunch of slides on the slopes of Missouri that were only a few days to a week old. Just another reason we stayed off that mountain although it was probably pretty stable since it had just been skid by another party not long ago.

When we got back to our snowshoes we put them on as we really needed them. The snow got VERY soft and we actually were able to ski a little with the snowshoes.
Mt. BelfordLast view on the descent of Belford
Missouri GulchThis was last view we had just before getting back into the trees

The trail down back to the car didn't seem anywhere near as long than on the way up but I guess with the soft snow we were able to move quicker with snowshoes on. When we got back we were exhausted since we had just climbed James Peak the previous day.

It was a great day and we had great views of the mountains on the drive back. Every slope we saw had shiny reflective snow indicative of fast melting.


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