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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-05-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Climbed Belford from Elkhead Pass today after doing N face on Missouri. Descended standard route. I still had my crampons on, but spikes would have been fine for the descent. Snowshoes needed on descent from cabin to creek.
|2016-03-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: The tree blocking the road to the trailhead is easy to drive around, Anything with low clearance will struggle for the last mile before the trailhead. The trail is well packed for the most part, but there are sections which will present you with significant postholing in the afternoons. Flotation isn't necessarily necessary, but is recommended. Keep in mind it's supposed to snow this week so conditions are likely to change significantly. I personally skinned up the Couloir due East of the Northwest ridge. Had some difficulty skinning at times since the windpacked snow was not providing traction while switch backing up the couloir. Ended up climbing the top half of the couloir for that reason.
|2016-02-26||Route: Northwest Gulch
Info: Plan on walking to the trailhead from almost four miles below. The road is icy and snowpacked. A fallen tree partly blocks it 1.1 miles above the ranch. Only one wheeled vehicle had made it past the fallen tree, and that was a Dodge Ram wearing chains; the driver said that the chains were "absolutely" necessary. There is a bit of parking about a quarter mile above the ranch; otherwise there is enough snow that parking options are limited. It appears that there was excellent trench until the storms of the last few weeks. Someone had partly refreshed it prior to the latest dusting of snow, but didn't get past the halfway point between the stream crossing and the cabin. I finished refreshing the trench to timberline. Snowshoes were very useful for this. Above timberline, things are wind-scoured enough that, while the trail is covered in snow, it isn't deep enough to speak of trench (Photo 1). I climbed the Northwest Gulch (Dawson 1.4.4) which parallels the standard Northwest Ridge route. There was plenty of snow for climbing in the lower reaches of the couloir; a few inches of fresh snow sitting on bulletproof slab which made for an excellent plunge-step descent. Closer to the summit ridge, snow is thin to non-existent (Photo 2). The Belford side of the the connecting ridge to Oxford has some snow on it (Photo 3). Some people may appreciate traction, though I did not use it. I was glad for my ice axe. The Oxford side is clean with the exception of a few snowfields (Photo 4).
|2016-01-23||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Definitely not as much snow coverage as I though. Snowshoes are a plus when you get to the cabin around the treeline. Didn‘t make it to the summit, only got about 12,500...just below the outcropping along the ridge. Missouri Mtn, however, has some nice coverage, but signs of avalanche activity.
|2016-01-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail is snow packed from TH to Tree line. No spikes or snowshoes needed, but would suggest spikes just to make it a bit easier. Gets a little softer between the creek and tree line. There is a windblown soft trail from Tree line to the Bel/Miss split. Recommend snowshoes in the valley. Saw no signs of anyone using the trail from the split to Miss. Belford ridge, we skipped the trail, mostly because parts were covered with snow, and we went straight up. Spikes recommended. The ridge was partially windblown.
|2016-01-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Gully: Similar conditions to the report posted on 1/10, maybe just a little more wind blown from summit to about 13.5k but from there it is continuous. I took off my board and hiked over skier‘s left after a little bit to access a more fun looking entrance to the more narrow portion of the gully (this is steeper, would not recommend if there was any signs of instability). Kicked off some wind slab/slough towards the top half of the gully, nothing more than 1-2 inches thick. If you care more about good turns than a summit descent, get it while it‘s still stable! NW Ridge: The trail itself is packed in with soft snow, since we ditched our snowshoes we did not follow it. Bottom 1/2 was good, walked straight up styrofoam snow for a while, then it turned to a mix of soft snow and talus which made it very slow going. It was a completely windless day until about 13.2 or so, winds picked up there and didn‘t let up so don‘t be fooled if you are enjoying yourself on a nice day, keep the wind jacket and facemask close by. Gear: microspikes to treeline made it faster going, there is a great packed trail all the way. From treeline to the gully/ridge, the wind is blowing over the trench, there is a faint skin track going left (likely from 1/10), don‘t follow that. Go straight/right. Snowshoes recommended. Microspikes on the ridge, or skins/snowshoes in the gully.
|2016-01-10||Route: Northwest Gully
Info: I made it up to the Missouri Gulch TH on 1/10/16 in my F150 without chains, but it would have been a stretch without a combination of gnarly tires, clearance, and 4wd. There‘s a great, well-packed trench up to treeline and then it pretty much disappears. Conditions in Belford‘s NW Gully were excellent. It‘s mostly 3-4 inches of powder on a stable base with areas of hardpack on some steeper sections. Very nice for skinning. Coverage thins out at about 13.5k where I had to hoof it in crampons to the summit. The ski descent from the summit back down to the gully was sketchy at best. Lots of rock/scree survival skiing just to get back to the main line. Skiing the gully was the tasty stuff that dreams are made of though! I was absolutely confident in the snow stability the entire way up the gully. I took a few photos of some of the flanking slopes that would have the potential for loading, but coverage was still so thin that it was never really an issue. There is one slope leading off the summit area that I was a little weary of, but I avoided it pretty easily. If you‘re looking for a beautiful, long ski descent right now, Belford‘s NW Gully is there for the taking! I was obviously the only one who had been in there, and the trailbreaking was absolutely worth it. Also, I dropped my little Kodak digital camera somewhere right around treeline where the trail leaves the forest just up and to the left of the old shack. If anybody happens to be up there and finds it, maybe you could let me know.
|2015-11-24||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Just reinforcing what dogballs indicated in his 11/14 Oxford conditions - same conditions apply. Still no need for snowshoes at all but with another couple storms I suspect the lower gulch will get more difficult without them. In the woods it‘s packed snow, in the lower gulch there is a small packed trench. The ridge is pockets of snow and dry earth. I wore microspikes from the TH to the summit of Belford and was glad to have them. Left them and the poles on the Belford summit and did Oxford without. As far as weather, 11/24 was a beautiful sunny day.... but the wind was brutal all day.
|2015-09-19||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Hiked the Bel/Ox combo on Saturday. Bone dry but cold and very breezey. We had 50mph wind gusts knocking us off our footing on Belford. Besides that, the weather was great. No rain or snow. The fall colors are amazing right now up the Missouri Gulch.
|2015-09-19||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail is great up to river crossing at 10800‘ where it‘s not very obvious to cross the logs. Main trail is pretty rocky from here to treeline at around 11400‘. I missed the logs and ended up on a pretty nice side trail (red flagged - old trail maybe?) that connected back up with the main just below treeline. From there to the summit the trail is in decent shape; the trail to the summit via Elkhead Pass is braided in 1-2 spots but in great shape otherwise. The trail from Belford to Oxford was a little sketchy because of loose dirt/gravel in places.
|2015-09-19||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: My friend and I left the trailhead at 3am this morning in order to get to the summit by sunrise and made it with minutes to spare. The sunrise was stunning and made the hike well worth it as well as the aspens glowing! The trail itself was in good condition, but a bit confusing by the river crossing. You walk across logs to get to the other side, but are met with some overturned tree limbs. Just know that‘s the right way to go. The only downside this morning was that the wind was quite severe on the switchbacks near the top as well as at the summit. We made a short attempt to go across the ridge to Oxford but the rocks were loose and the wind made me feel as though it was going to knock me down. People on the way down said it usually calms down after the sun has been up for a bit so may need to try that again a bit later in the morning next summer
|2015-08-29||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Road to trailhead had some pothole, but easily passable by 2WD vehicles. Pretty perfect conditions out there right now with no snow or mud on the trail to report. Left trailhead at 6:15 and summited three and a half hours later. Barely needed a jacket.
|2015-08-17||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Access road has washout not far from Cottonwood TH. A high clearance passenger car can make it but my low slung rental car (Hyundai Alantra) couldn‘t . Too bad but the "good" dirt roads are often not passable for rental cars.
|2015-08-01||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Did Belford and Oxford. I left at 6:15, and due to weather couldn‘t do Missouri Mountain. If you leave around 4:30am, being in great condition, you could make all three peaks. I also took a wrong turn Pay attention to splits on path. These were my 17th and 18th 14er peaks of this summer. I plan on climbing 56 peaks this summer. Get more details on this hike and others and follow along on my progress at sunshineof1985.com! GEAR (to bring): GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard, light weight puffy coat, first aid kit, toilet paper, day pack with water (100 oz at least), food (2 cliff bars, 2 granola bars and trailsmix), sunscreen, lip balm. Road Conditions: Minor potholes and a little rough in some parts, but a 2WD should have no problem making it to the trailhead. Trail Conditions: Trail is straighforward, hiking on weekends makes it easy with following people. Make sure you turn LEFT at the fork with the signs to go up Belford first. The other way will take you to Missouri Mountain which can eventually bring you to Belford and Oxford, but this is a much longer route. Slippery in some areas, but never fell on my butt which is saying something.
|2015-07-15||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail is easy to follow except at stream crossing at 10,800‘. First pic shows marker on tree to turn left. Second pic shows where to turn left to access next small crossing. Third pic shows the second crossing.
|2015-07-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: At around 7:45a.m. the clouds were looking a bit suspicious, but sit and watch them. Always be careful, nothing is worth the risk of getting hurt on a mountain. We waited for about 15-20minutes until the clouds seemed to pass. Some people had decided to turn around and go back. But after the clouds passed, it was a gorgeous day! All clear, only a tiny patch of snow which you can go around. The top of the peak was beautiful, barely any wind. Great day for a 14er.
|2015-06-27||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: No need for any special gear. I did Belford-Oxford combo. Nearly summer conditions. Two things to note: (1) The main crossing of Missouri Gulch as shown in the picture guide here is the BETTER option. Take it! I didn‘t like the look of it and wasted over an hour fumbling around the several faint trails that include near-bushwacking on the west side. I turned back, passing two groups, who I couldn‘t convince to take the crossing. I passed them later where I saw them on the other side of the creek, still struggling to find a safe crossing. Take the main crossing; the logs are fairly stable, and I just got one minor splash on the back of my boot. Use trekking poles or a good stick and you‘ll be fine. It‘s not as bad as it looks. (2) There are a couple very small snow crossings, but I didn‘t have any trouble walking over them. There is not enough snow to ski or glissade anywhere on belford or Oxford, in my opinion. Save the weight. Plenty of water in the gulch if you don‘t want to haul it up the grueling switchbacks. There is a good amount of snow still on Missouri.
|2015-06-22||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Hiked up Belford via the standard route through the Missouri Gulch. Because of all the hotter weather this last week, there is a lot of snow melt occuring making the creek that runs through the gulch very swollen and running very fast. The log bridge described by Roach just before you get to the old shack is nearly washed out and the creek is running everywhere. The best way is to proceed through the water along whatever logs are left to the other side and meet up with the trail that way. We saw several people make for random trails along the west side of the creek at that point where they faced glacial-like snow bridges further up running over the creek that made for very sketchy and icy crossings, especially as the weather gets warmer. Along the trail further up just out of the treeline, the trail was essentially a small creek as the snow melt ran down it toward the main creek. I agree with what jpmindle said about the snow fields further up the northwest ridge of Belford along the switchbacks. The trail is covered up in several areas. Best way was to avoid these and skirt along the sides of the snow. We tried to hike through a few of these fields on our descent but postholed up to our hips which made for some funny photos. Oxford looked beautiful with very little snow along the ridge to it from Belford. Most routes to Missouri looked completely covered in snow above 12,500ft. Lots of recent avalanches littered the peak but we did see a few climbers who started early summit Missouri climbing straight up the Northeast face in the snow the entire time. Overall, beautiful hike and a clear sky all day. I‘ll try and get some pictures uploaded a little later. Enjoy!
|2015-06-18||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Arrived at the trailhead at 6:10AM. Clear Creek is raging right now from all the melt. Passing over Missouri Gulch was a little issue but water is really only midshin height so you can walk straight through it if you have hiking poles to maintain balance. The snow in the willows is melting incredibly fast and I didn‘t have a problem either avoiding it or going straight through it with only minimal sinking to shin height. There are a couple spots on the switchbacks near the top that are still snow/ice covered, but all can be avoided by skirting around the outside. Once at the final ridge, stay to the right because the trail is completely covered and on the left you can see the beginnings of an avalanche. I‘d post a picture now but am here on vacation and can‘t upload to this computer. I‘ll update when I get home. Missouri still looks very snowfilled and avalance prone, so I‘d be leary of attempting it. No snowshoes needed, so leave them at home. Just have some boots that go above the ankle or some gaiters and you‘re good to go. I did put microspikes on for a brief moment at the top just for some assurance after seeing that potential avalanche spot.
|2015-06-07||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Started at 6:15 am. Logs at the stream crossing were iced over and extremely slippery. We threw some extra logs in to get across. Creek is running high. We did not hit snow on the trail until the old shack (11,200’). There it was patchy, very firm and iced over from the previous days’ thaw/freeze. Once we hit the willows there was more firm snow. The start of the ridge was snow free. After a short distance up the ridge, there was a lot more snow and the trail is almost completely buried. Here we put on our Microspikes/Crampons to the top. The summit was clear, but the wind was wicked. Coming down the snow on the ridge softened considerably, but we did not posthole, yet. We glissaded down the areas where it was safe enough to. When we got to the willows we started to posthole, a lot. Thank god for gaiters. In hindsight, we could have put our snowshoes on here, but opted to push through it then finally avoiding it by going higher on the hill. If you attempt Mt. Belford anytime soon, I’d strongly suggest you bring traction, axe, and gaiters. Optionally, bring snowshoes, but only for the section through the willows.