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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-11-27||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Set out solo late on 11/26 to bivy and shoot to the top early on 11/27 to catch a cloudless day at summit. 4WD trail had some Nordic ski tracks, beside some 4x4 ATV the ski tracks ending shortly before the summer trailhead signs (The guy on skis apparently made it further.) Blazed trail the entire way up... there was basically no sign of trail past the ‘Lily Ponds‘ sign until the ridge - when I went it was fresh and thick, and I postholed in 1.5-3 foot of crunch the whole way to the clearing between the 2 spruce groves, where a deceiving layer of crust covers the same all the way past treeline, several barely avoidable crotch-deep patches. Climbed up to spruce grove and bivouac‘d just a whisper before treeline. Trail picks up pretty nicely around 12,000+ with intermittent snow coverage, but fairly easy to identify especially if you‘ve been up before. Snow shoes if you‘ve got them, but micro spikes with get you all the way to the top considering the trench I got stomped out, and the party that was behind me. Final 500ft has some typical blue-icy spots for this time of year, but mostly windswept crust. *Common sense, but be very vigilant if you have to bivy/camp around the spot I was hunkered down at especially if you have smaller kids or pets - I have never woken up to see as much cougar activity (tracks) within very close proximity as I did this time, stalking my trail and circling my dugout.
|2014-11-02||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Hiked the North Elbert trail on Sunday. There was fresh snow and it was snowing during the entire hike, except for the last hour or so below tree line. Trail from the trailhead was fine and didn‘t require traction devices. Above treeline, there was between 6-18 inches of fresh snow, with icy rocks underneath. Crampons highly recommended. Blowing snow and high winds made for a very short stay on the summit. There was very little visibility on the way down, which made route-finding to the tree-line a little difficult, but not impossible.
|2014-10-30||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Took the Southeast Ridge from the Black Cloud Trailhead on a beautiful, mild fall day. Trail was dry well past treeline until about 12,800‘ where we occasionally came across very small patches of snow on the steep southwest-facing slopes. More snow, maybe up to 6 inches deep at the most, was found along the ridge at ~13,600‘, but there were still large areas of dry ground and the snow was quite hard. From there, the trail up to South Elbert and then further to the saddle at 13,900‘ was probably ~90% dry. Along the south ridge past the saddle, it was quite windy and snow coverage and depth increased significantly. Most of the snow was easy to walk on without sinking in more than a few inches, even into the early afternoon, as long as you follow the packed trail marked by a line of footprints. The summit was 50-75% snow-covered, maybe a foot deep, but with a hard crust. We did not have traction and did not feel as if it was needed at any point.
|2014-10-23||Route: East ridge ascent with Mt Cosgriff descent
Info: Ascended via East Ridge. Once on Mt Elbert, moved south on ridge until we got onto South Elbert (14,134 ft). From there, we moved southeast on the same ridge until we got onto Mt Cosgriff (13,588 ft) We descended along the east face until we hit the 4WD dirt road that switchbacks all along this face. We followed that back down to the Colorado trail, then went north until we were back at the trailhead. Excellent loop route, about 10.5 miles roundtrip. Trail was totally snow free until about 12,400‘. Snow was several inches deep, but with a pretty hard crust. Didn‘t need snowshoes or traction devices. Summit was very windy and snow was about a foot deep, but with a hard crust. The route to South Elbert was tough, ~8 inches deep snow with soft crust, so we sunk into it. Gaitors were very useful for when we did break through the snow. Snow did hide the trail pretty well, so be prepared to just route find.
|2014-10-18||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: It was a beautiful day with very mild conditions! Hardly needed more than a base layer and we were pretty warm most of the hike, cooling off during our breaks. No micro spikes were need although they may have been helpful in a couple areas that were still covered in snow.
|2014-10-18||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: To add to yesterday‘s report, the only parts with real ice are on the Colorado trail, but only for short sections. All snow above treeline is packed and not icy. No traction needed currently if you have good shoes.
|2014-10-17||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Just got back this afternoon and thought I‘d pass on some info. Road to the trailhead is fine for 2WD--just washboardy and potholed with a few mostly avoidable puddles that might be frozen in the morning. The trail all the way up to tree line is almost entirely free of snow. However, on the first few switchbacks up from the trail head (north-facing slope) there are still some sections of ice. These patches were a bit slippery both in the early morning and at 1p.m. or so when I came down. The trail above tree line to the summit is mostly filled in with windblown snow, but it is packed down pretty well by hikers. Even the steeper sections of snow had steps. I never did any postholing unless I strayed from the freeway. I carried MicroSpikes but never used them anywhere--my winter boots gripped just fine (if too warm for today‘s summer-like conditions). Traction might be a good idea if you don‘t think your boots work well on the snowpacked trail or the ice on the first switchbacks--I saw some YakTrak imprints here and there. Bonus info: I also went over to South Elbert, contouring down across the southeast face to the saddle rather than following the snow-covered riidgeline down. It looked mostly snow-free when I started--just a talus and boulder traverse, I thought--but the last half of the downhill traverse (that I couldn‘t see when I started) sucked--snow over boulders and rocks. Coming up it was somewhat easier (except for breathing)--I picked a better line and "rock-hopped" a lot of the snowy sections. Glad I took the poles. Took 50 minutes to get to South Elbert and an hour ten to come back (average hiker). Once you are on the saddle, the route to/from South Elbert is basically snow-free. Weather will change all this very quickly so watch the forecast. Hope that helps someone.
|2014-10-04||Route: East Ridge
Info: Looks like a lot of snow melted, though some left above 13000. Windy on 10/4... Conditions are still good for hikers who like dry conditions.
|2014-09-28||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Cold and windy. Snowed/Rained from treeline to summit mostly. But nothing that actually stuck to the ground.
|2014-09-26||Route: East Ridge
Info: Dry, clear, very little wind to the top.
|2014-09-20||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 100% dry trail to the top.
|2014-09-19||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Trail is perfect with no snow or ice all the way to the top. Fall color was amazing to see from up high!
|2014-09-08||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Hiked this big guy on 9/8/14. The swarms of mosquitoes from previous reports didn‘t materialize (not complaining here). The temps was a bit chilly but still warm enough to go with just an underlayer and a long sleeve shirt over. I pulled out my light down jacket once at the top for lunch. The snow from previous reports had mostly melted except for a few very very small patches on the top. The trail was 99% dry with a couple wet patches near the snow. The wind was low and the the clouds moved in later in the day. Great hike as the aspens are just about to change over to gold. It‘s not too late to get one more peak in this season :-)
|2014-09-06||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Hiked up there today. Weather was perfect and the trail was in great condition. There was a little snow for the final 100ft, but it was easily avoidable and hardly noticed it.
|2014-08-29||Route: Southwest Ridge over Bull Hill
Info: This is a visual report of the middle Sawatch from driving by and hiking 13ers today. Elbert, Massive and La Plata have snow above 14,000‘ on all aspects. Standard route on Huron looked dry. 14ers to south (Belf/Ox/Mo, Collegiates) looked dry from western aspects but I was rather far away so not 100% certain. All Sawatch 13ers are dry. Typical summer weather pattern today, clouds building around noon, rain starting at 4pm.
|2014-08-28||Route: East Ridge
Info: Snow fell above 12k on Elbert. As of yesterday afternoon, there was a couple of inches all over the mountain, but Northern aspects received more (as I saw once I was on top). There starts to be patches of snow on the trail from 12k up, but nothing too much (maybe 3" in spots) and given the gentle nature of the route, traction not needed, especially if warming continues as expected. South Elbert entire east face was covered with same light snow.
|2014-08-19||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Started from Mt. Elbert Lodge at 0530, reached treeline about 0830, top of ridge about 0930. The route up the side of the ridge is incredibly steep. There is water at multiple places up the side of the ridge, which came in handy on the way back down (purification required). The route on the top of the ridge is pretty difficult to see, so plan to take your time wayfinding. We skirted the edge of two storms as we made our way over South Elbert and up to the summit, arriving at 1230. Conditions were clear, with storms to the northwest. Several people were at the top, having hiked the northern routes, which they reported as much easier. The Black Cloud Trail is definitely the hard way up Mt. Elbert. The way back down is quite a bit faster, but is really, really challenging to keep your footing. On the way down the side of the ridge, we were on all fours, backing down in several spots to keep from sliding off the trail. Trekking poles are highly recommended, I wish I‘d had some. My partner did and used them to great advantage. We reached the Lodge by 1800. Overall, a great route, but really challenging for beginners like us.
|2014-08-16||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Parking lot was full by 7:30am. It was 37 degrees in the morning and around 60 degrees higher up. Dry trail all the way up. No Mosquitos but they don‘t tend to bother me much. Mild breeze above tree line. Clouds but no rain. Trail was busy. More congestion near the top. Perfect day to do our first hike on a 14er.
|2014-07-20||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: A perfect day on Colorado‘s highest peak. Temperatures held between 45 and 60 F at all elevations. No snow present on trail from base to summit, though some patches remain to the sides of the path. As others have noted, mosquitoes are in full force up to (and even just beyond) the tree line, so repellant or long sleeves/zip-off pants may be recommended. Minimal wind on the final 2,000 feet of the ascent. It‘s Elbert in July, so crowds were heavy. Lots of passing, some rockfall loosed by other hikers on steepest portions of the trail. Largest crowds were on summit between 11:30 and 12. Afternoon storms came in on cue at 2pm.
|2014-07-11||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Wonderful morning on Mt. Elbert. with blue skies. (rain and mild thunderstorms rolled through in the pm) Trail was in full summer conditions. Below treeline, there was a bit of mud in sections from recent rains, but after treeline everything was nice and dry. Mosquitos were a problem on this trail until you reach about 13,000 ft. They were swarming us around treeline. No stopping on trail or hundreds will land on you. Summit was nice with minimal wind.