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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-05-21||Route: West Gulley
Info: Followed Forest Road 110J to the West Gulley/Couloir. Forded Halfmoon Creek in my Land Cruiser with no problem. The second creek crossing at South Halfmoon Creek was easy with exposed rocks to step on, although I still managed to dunk my foot as I found the sneaky slippery rock. As runoff ramps up over the next two weeks, both these crossings will become much more difficult. 110J was a soft breakable crust with rotten corn underneath, resulting in postholing with snowshoes, especially on the descent. If there's a hard freeze overnight, then it won't be so bad, but it'll be work if it's soft. The couloir started as a 6-8" breakable crust with a dry rotted, loose subsurface. We needed snowshoes to ascend the first 1000'. I attempted to put on crampons about 12500' and immediately punched through the surface and began postholing. My partner ascended another 200' and was able to climb with crampons from there. There was evidence of multiple slides in the couloir that were probably two or three days old, but everything appeared solid on our side. The south and east aspects from Mt. Oklahoma to Casco Peak to Bull Hill had multiple wet slides on the steeper sections. The first 2000' of the glissade was FAST, but we had to put our snowshoes back on as the pitch mellowed out and the snow got soft. I considered taking my shovel out and riding that, but didn't really have a good idea of how to juggle the shovel and my axe at the same time. Plus I'd have a hard time explaining to the wife that I got hurt shovel racing in the CO backcountry. The hike out was exhausting. It took three of us taking turns breaking trail two and a half hours to go the 2.5 miles to Halfmoon Creek.
|2016-05-11||Route: East Ridge
Info: Report summary: bring snowshoes. 4WD road clear of snow to the end. Snow is hard packed with little post holing (ankle-deep) to 13K. Well-established track all the way up. No need for traction devices (brought mine and never used them). Stashed my snowshoes at the first false summit. Big mistake! Snow turns soft and post holed the rest of the way up, ankle to knee-deep on every step. Not exactly the best way to conserve energy! Snowshoes were delicious on the way down after the snow had turned rotten and soft. Great day with clear skies early on and stormy after 11 AM, mountains got a good amount of snow but the high winds blew most of it onto Box Creek couloir (Spring in the Rockies!)
|2016-05-09||Route: East Ridge
Info: Started at the Upper South TH. Easy to follow for the first mile but fresh snow higher up made route finding gradually harder. Flotation certainly made it more enjoyable as the majority of the terrain is posthole hell, so I'd highly recommend some snowshoes. Got off trail but made it to about 12,000ft before some ominous clouds and heavier snow lead me to decide to head back. All in all a good hike even if it didn't result in a summit.
|2016-05-04||Route: East Ridge
Info: Started from 4WD trailhead at 5:30AM. Wore micro spikes for the first 2,000', then switched to snowshoes around 12,400'. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Was able to stay in the tracks of the group of two in front of us for most of the hike, which was very helpful as this was my first time climbing Elbert and my first time doing a winter 14er. Snow was pretty well packed for most of the hike, I barely post-holed at all. Took about 5 hours to summit. We had about a half hour of intense wind around 13,000', but very little wind on the summit, which was awesome. Snowboarded down around noon, got some awesome turns in for about 3,000'/right around treeline before I stupidly got us lost in the trees. Had to put snowshoes back on and hike a half mile uphill to get back to the trail. Snow was very soft and slushy below treeline - the earlier you can get up, the better! Overall, this was my first backcountry snowboarding experience and couldn't have asked for better conditions.
|2016-04-24||Route: East Ridge
Info: Initial plan was to hike Massive in two days and camp at treeline. But, couldn't get to that trailhead due to snow on road. Instead did Elbert. 4W drive road was clear enough to get our Subaru Cross Trek all the way up. Camped at treeline on Saturday. Summited by 10AM Sunday. Windy with occasional gusts that stopped us in our tracks. Poor visibility at the summit but clear and sunny when we got back to treeline. We used snow shoes most of the hike. Below treeline slushy down low, feet dipping into snow 4-5 inches closer to treeline. I never post holed with flotation, but most of this hike would be doable without it. Above treeline variable soft snow versus firm wind drifted snow. Visible evidence of other's tracks all the way to the summit despite high winds. With storm 1 week ago there is still plenty of continuous snow coverage from ~11K feet to summit.
|2016-04-23||Route: East Ridge
Info: below tree line was very slushy, used micro spikes for icy parts in the morning. the first mile above tree line was pretty hard packed but spikes were fine, occasionally would post hole to my knees. last mile or two to the summit had a lot more loose, powdery snow -- the other three hikers attempting the summit all switched to snow shoes. very windy at the top but not unbearable. Beautiful views! Storm clouds started to roll in around noon so my partner and I high tailed it down. the snow was VERY SOFT on the decent (top inch or so was pretty wet) and near treeline I started to post hole to my waist...on the hard packed super highway. I even post holed a bit after I put my snowshoes back on.
|2016-04-21||Route: East Ridge
Info: The trench is in, sort of. Variable snow conditions yesterday include the occasional posthole to 16 inches. In the morning the snow below treeline was mostly supportive (in snowshoes) and above treeline there were many longer sections of continuous postholing of 4-8 inches. I left the summit at 11:45 and was back at the car at the lower 2WD TH by 2:00. My phone died so no pics on the descent but I observed many rollerballs and point releases on steeper terrain, and the snow was getting very wet and sloppy. GO GET SOME!
|2016-04-09||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Went to summit mt elbert for my birthday on the 9th. Road to trailhead was snow packed. Had to hike 4 miles just to the trail head. Ended up camping at about 11,200 ft in the treeline due to slow going and loss of light. Trail was packed down for the most part but even with snow shoes it felt like I was post holing in waist deep about every 5 to 10 feet. I hit even deeper snow (at least 4 feet) at about 12,600 ft but carried on determined to hit the summit. By the time I hit the saddle the sun had made the snow even softer and in turn made things that much more difficult, wet, and cold. Had to turn around at about 13,400 ft. It was impossible to move on. I'd definitely wait till June maybe even July to climb elbert.
|2016-04-02||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Summited Elbert with beautiful weather on Saturday, April 2nd. South Trailhead to Summit back to Trailhead was 7 hours total. We probably spent about 85% of the time walking, 15% wearing snowshoes. Took my husky puppy as well - she had no problems summiting either. Trail is pretty packed down at this point - pending good weather, Mt. Elbert is definitely doable right now! Alex & Chris Instagram @ahaler1
|2016-03-20||Route: East Ridge
Info: Early start made for easy going through the areas near treeline where the trail is broken. I was worried it would be soft on the way down, but it was fine - my partner tried to break through off trail for a photo op and couldn't get deeper than his shins. Broke through here and there, but never used snowshoes on the way up or down (others did, but never seemed worth the effort - that may change if it softens up). It was rather slushy and slippery once into the trees on the descent. Above the trees, the snow was largely hardened enough that I didn't break through much at all. This made things easier on the ascent, but interesting on descent, as I'd be trombone down a snowfalls on my heels only to hit a hard patch and nearly go flying. Spikes and poles were quite handy to deal with this and allow a decent pace. Muddy in the afternoon lower on the trail and on the road.
|2016-03-18||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The 7 mile road to get to the trail head/bottom of the mountain is CLOSED. It is snow/iced-over. We tried to get over it and got stuck. After a 14 hour drive we get there and the road to the trail head was closed..We trekked the 7 miles but it tired us out too much to try and summit. I would give it another month at least till all the snow and ice is off the road.
|2016-03-05||Route: East Ridge
Info: Parked at the lower paved parking lot near Lake View Campground. Met a couple other guys and hiked in on the Colorado Trail. Trail is in fine condition all the way up to a flat open area around 11,500 ft where there was a couple hundred yards of postholing. The upper part was fairly snow free. I lost the trail at 13,500 and went straight up the right side and it was fine there.
|2016-03-02||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: It was a little more of a walk from the road block to the trail head than expected, but not too big of a deal, just added some unexpected time. The first section was very packed down with some icy spots here and there, but no biggie- no spikes were needed at all. After about 1.5 hrs the trail stopped a few times, covered with snow. It was easy to lose in many places here. Even with snow shoes on it was past my waist off the trail. I recommend downloading the GPX file with waypoints for this reason to at least locate it here and there till it shows up again. You could definitely tell when you were back on track even though it was covered simply because you weren't sinking 3 feet into the snow. After treeline, snowshoes and crampons were not needed. There are sections of snow from this point on but not large enough to get you too far off track so you can scope the trail down pretty quickly. The top was awesome! I uploaded some pics. Winds were serious up there so be prepared! The walk back to the car from the trailhead seemed much longer than it did in the morning.
|2016-02-27||Route: East Ridge
Info: Began the hike from the paved TH at 6:00am. The trail was well packed and frozen all the way to the summit, so although we packed in snowshoes we never used them. We did wear microspikes for the entire trip, and they were almost necessary for the ascent. Summited at 11:30 with excellent weather, and the snow had become melted and slushy for the descent. Again, microspikes were very helpful but snowshoes were never needed. We did some glissading above treeline but the ridge was mostly wind-scoured, leaving only small snowfields. Still, we managed to return to the car at about 3:00pm. The trail was moderately busy; my partner and I encountered about 20 other people during our hike.
|2016-02-24||Route: East Ridge
Info: Did a solo climb of Elbert yesterday (2/24). Snow pack was very strong if you could follow the trail. It was very cold when I started so that helped (car read -6). After the steep sections in the woods, trail became harder to locate. It looked like I was the first up there since the most recent snow storm. Above tree line it was a mixture of shin high powder, crusted snow and rock. Crampons were perfect. It was very clear but the winds were strong sometimes creating near whiteouts with blowing snow. Started at 5am and made the summit at 2pm (winds definitely slowed me down and had to hunker down a few times). One the way down there was a lot less snow above tree line from the blowing and most of it ended up covering my tracks in open area below tree line. Below tree line snow shoes were necessary, and by the time I reached the 4WD road a lot of the snow had melted around the road, but there was still a good path of frozen snow that didn't need any foot equipment.
|2016-02-21||Route: East Ridge
Info: The snow was crusted over and snowshoes were not needed if you stayed on the trail. Micro spikes helped a lot on the steep stuff. overall the conditions were awesome could not ask for better weather!
|2016-02-13||Route: East Ridge
Info: Just a note. There were about 40 hikers heading up today, Saturday (and, not to forget, six dogs). So, quite busy, and bareboot stampede has butchered the snowshoe track/trench from just above timberline to Colorado Trail turn-off. So, expect a bumpy walk, unlike past couple of weeks.
|2016-02-12||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: The trail was snow covered from the parking lot until we got to about 13,000 where it was mixed snow and rocky terrain. Fortunately, the snow was pretty compacted and crampons were sufficient to ensure a stable hike. There is a long stretch just a short way past the trailhead where the compacted snow is only about 8-12 inches wide and on either side is deep snow that is easy to posthole in... and you will posthole. There were six people on the mountain the whole day (my party of three and another party of three) so it was a great time to hike this otherwise busy trail. Near the summit where there is less snow, the trail is more or less obliterated in spots so you have to pick your way through the rocky tundra carefully to avoid slipping on rocks or damaging the area further. The weather was beautiful the whole day, despite the high winds we experienced above timberline. For the most part, temperatures hovered in the 40‘s and the sun was out the whole day. Be warned, even though the snow isn‘t too tough to cross, there is enough of it that it will slow you down, so be prepared to take longer than you intended to reach the summit. Once you do, its totally worth it though, as the Sawatch range is beautiful covered in snow.
|2016-02-11||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Went into this hike blind, the last post being from January. I wasn‘t sure what to expect after the last snow storm. There were plenty of fresh tracks to follow on the trail keeping most snow packed. Parked at 2wd TH. 4WD trail was deep with snow 11 in to 31 inch drifts. Some skin tracks and one line of packed snow until the 4WD trailhead. Snow shoe tracks are key to follow. The trail should be followed intently, any travel side-to-side will cause you to posthole. Stay on the trail. Great weather, had the entire mountain to ourselves. Three set for summit, one turned around. High winds but great temps.
|2016-01-24||Route: East Ridge
Info: Packed the snowshoes but didn‘t ever think about using them. Micro spikes from the car to summit. Just after upper trailhead signs there is an unmarked split in the trail, doesn‘t matter which way you go, they both meet up to the left. Trail easy to find. Post holes for days if you venture too close to the edge of the trail, but if you stay center you‘re golden. I don‘t feel like the main page description prepares for the false summits....