|Trailhead:||South Mt. Elbert (Sawatch)|
|Date of Information:||02/05/2013|
Climbed Mt. Elbert today via the East Ridge. I drive a 1998 4wd Toyota 4Runner with some beefy all-terrain tires and was able to make it within maybe 200 feet of what appeared to be the last parking area (fairly large) before the 4wd trailhead. There's a spot big enough for 1 car right about there, on the right.
Someone came after me in a Jeep Grand Cherokee with cables on the front and made it the last few hundred feet into the last parking area. It looked like they had quite a time with it, but at that point, they really had no choice other than backing out for quite a ways (which I wouldn't recommend at that point).
There were two spots, curves, close to the end where I got a little too far out of the ruts and got stuck for a few seconds, but was able to work my way out. That'd be my #1 caution - the snow outside the ruts is slushy and it doesn't take getting out of them very far before you're sliding or stuck.
The way out was fairly smooth but again, you could get into trouble if you're going too fast and get out of the ruts, especially since you're descending. Dang ole gravity.
Info the the attached pictures:
#1 (IMG_0097) is what the road looks like along the last curve to the final parking area, taken from where I parked (my truck is out of frame to the right). If you look to the left through the trees, you can see the Jeep I mentioned.
#2 (IMG_0098) is a close up of the conditions at the last parking area, where the Jeep is (obviously).
#3 (IMG_0099) shows where I pulled off.
Also note that just beyond the Jeep to the left, there's a trail that goes into the Aspen. I have no idea where it goes. I assume it meets up with the Elbert trail, but it is not the official trailhead. Keep walking up the 4wd road past the final parking area for about 1/5 a mile to get to the 4wd trailhead.
Photos (click for slideshow):