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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|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.
|2015-05-02||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Plenty of snow, plenty of postholing. Snowshoes almost all the way. Just ditched them near summit and reused them back at the bottom of the ridge. Snow is very soft, morning is ok though I already postholed a bit. Tree line was cray in the afternoon, was postholing higher than hips with my snowshoes...glad I‘m out.
|2015-04-25||Route: NW bowl
Info: Like the rest of the region, snow coverage is now excellent. Skins on from base of Missouri all the way to summit. NW skiable from summit with only maybe 10‘ of thinness. Beautiful run, beautiful snow. Skis on all the way to the TH.
|2015-01-16||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Chaffee County Rd. 390 is maintained in winter to the Clear Creek Ranch. Beyond the ranch, the road is basically a vehicle track through fairly deep snow (in spots). With 4WD, aggressive tires, and some careful driving you can get to within about 1.3mi. of the Missouri Gulch TH, at Vicksburg. It would not be too difficult to get stuck on this non-maintained section if you get pulled out of the track. Beyond where you have to park, the road is snowmobile packed and is easily traveled without snowshoes to the TH. There is a nice trench from the TH all the way to treeline. I did 90% of this section without snowshoes. Snowshoes went on about fifty yards beyond the log bridge that takes you back to the east side of the creek. Above treeline the windpacked slabs generally support you on snowshoes, but there is some postholing. I stayed high (bearing left) out of the trees all the way to where you mount the NW ridge, and cached my snowshoes there. I made it about a third of the way up the ridge before I had to put on microspikes, as there is some water ice on the trail. The switchbacks are sort of hit or miss on blown to ground vs. snowcovered, but can generally be followed all the way to the summit ridge. The trail from Belford over to Oxford is mostly clear enough to follow the summer track. High winds the entire day (not the forecast I saw), made this trip much more difficult that it should have been. Just staying upright was really a challenge when going from Belford to Oxford (and back).
|2015-01-10||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Conditions are about as good as it gets. Can drive to a mile from TH. Packed trench to treeline. Hard packed snow in basin holds weight (at least in the morning). Ridge is very dry.
|2014-12-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: A gorgeous day on Belford/Oxford. The lower trail is all packed snow, once you reach the gulch there‘s a mix of packed snow and dirt, the climb to Belford is the same with only a few icy spots near 13,000, the peak is dry. The descent to Oxford has a few snow areas but can be avoided and the saddle, climb and peak are completely dry. On the descent from Belford I chose the gully just north hoping to glissade down to the gulch, conditions are not ideal to say the least, I was able to do it for ~500-600 yards spread into several short runs, the rest was walking / postholing. Traction: Snowshoes - left them in the car Microspikes - could come in handy in a very few select places but I was too lazy to take them out
|2014-11-08||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: A beautiful day on Mt. Belford. The entire trail is covered in snow; but it‘s generally only a couple inches deep. Traction and gaiters made my hike more enjoyable; but they weren‘t mandatory. I saw someone summit in running shoes. Most of the snow was firm enough to prevent post-holing. The goats had done a good job of keeping the snow packed down.
|2014-10-11||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail above the treeline is covered with snow. I would recommend snowshoes. Traverse to Mt. Oxford also snow covered.
|2014-10-05||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: A nice boot pack and almost continuous snow starting about 500 ft elevation from the Belford turnoff. We did not use any traction for the ascent to Belford, and the traverse to Oxford. Microspikes were very helpful coming down Belford to work our way downwards quickly - probably not essential, though. Given the freeze/thaw cycles, it‘s possible the boot pack may become icy in the next few days, in which case traction may become essential. It was windy and cold, but otherwise posed no problems at all.