Jeff and I decided late in the week to join a gathering of 14ers.com members to hike Mount Massive via the Southwest Slopes route. Driving from Denver, we missed the rendezvous in Leadville but met instead at the trailhead. There were seven of us: Jeff, Mike, Britt, Eric, Wes, Steve, and myself. And Cooper the Mountaineering Dog.
Temperature at the trailhead was around 10F, 15 degrees warmer than expected. We started at dawn. Below timberline, the trail meanders through the forest. Here there was a thin layer of sugary powder; while some folks left their snowshoes in their vehicles, I brought mine but hardly needed them. As we emerged from treeline, the morning sun offered incredible views of the surrounding peaks.
unknown rock at moonset another view looking towards the southwest slopes route emerging from timberline
At this point the trail steepens considerably (although we opted to climb more steeply where there was snow cover)--our route gained 3,200' in 1.5 miles. Most of our ascent we bathed in sunshine and gorged on the stunning alpine vistas. Wind was minimal. The snow higher up was reasonably well-consolidated and this we navigated easily.
incredible views taking a rest nice day for a hike! Mount Elbert alpine panorama tackling some loose rock more views South Massive
I had not researched this route beforehand, so around 11:30 I was pleasantly surprised to reach a nice class-2/3 ridge leading to the summit. An hour later the whole group, including Cooper the Mountaineering Dog, stood jubilantly on the peak. Here the winds picked up and the skies began to gray. We took some photos and started back down.
the summit ridge the summit is the far left hump in this photo obstacle a view east from the ridge looking back on the ridge Jeff celebrating.. or threatening? the party nears the summit (L-R) Britt, Mike, Jeff, Wes, Eric (standing), Steve
There were many steep, well-packed snowfields which offered excellent glissading opportunities, and this was the primary means of descent for most of the group. A few hours later all of us had arrived back at the trailhead.
glissading a closer look my route view of Elbert on the descent neat ice formations near treeline
Round-trip for the group was about 8 hours at 5 up and 3 down.
Had a great time. Thanks guys!
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