September Snow, via S. Elbert Route

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Trip Report
Colorado, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Sep 7, 2003
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Created On: Sep 18, 2003
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When the rain set in on Friday the 5th, I never thought it would last for the next 3 and a half-days. My girlfriend Debbie and I, both from Athens GA , were here to hike with my parents, Kathy and Paul, also from Georgia, to Elbert's summit. Joining us would be my cousin Adam and his wife Suzie from Denver.

After 2 days in Colorado and a couple short acclimation hikes we awoke to rain on summit day in Twin Lakes. The poor weather made it hard to get motivated at 5:15 am. We were moving slow and finally reached the junction of the S. Mt. Elbert Trail and Colorado Trail at 7:30 am. Simple directions, turn left and go up!

Visibility was a very disappointing 10 to 20 meters, while I had hoped we would hike out of the rain, it turned to snow at about 12, 500 ft. The weather was nasty enough just to make things exciting and we never felt to be in any real danger. A little over 13K ft the wind began to pick up a little more and the temperature dropped.

We took the summit switchbacks nice and slow and we all summitted around 11:30 am. With snow and gusting winds there was no summit picnic or celebration. After a few pictures we kicked back down through 8 to 12 inch drifts. On the way down clouds were breaking up below 13,000 ft and we had great views of Twin Lakes and the cirque to the south of Elbert and canyon to the north. Once again the snowline was just above 12,000 ft.

This was a great hike and an excellent choice for anyone with aspirations to do a high peak with no technical sections. There is also next to no chance of getting lost, however we followed our progress on the Mt. Elbert USGS quad and checked our elevation gains on a hand held GPS. This was a great hike to do with a group of mixed mountain experience. Even on a non-technical route like this, I would still stress the importance of being prepared with proper clothing, food for the day and respect for mother nature and her "independent" spirit. Thanks to John at the Twin Lakes Nordic Inn for his additional mountain advice and great facility.

Congratulations to my parents who both celebrated their fiftieth birthdays and 30th wedding anniversary this year. A special congratulations to my mother who on the one year anniversary of her diagnosis with breast cancer, and subsequent successful treatment, also survived the highest mountain in Colorado! She was the reason for this great family experience and I think it really expanded the horizons as to what she is capable of. I wish her many more great adventures.


Feel free to contact me for any additional information or advice.


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