| My First 14er!
Two of my friends (Danielle & Emily) invited me to hike Mt. Elbert with them last weekend. I had never climbed a 14er before, so I was excited for the challenge!
We left the Denver metro area around 4:30 in the morning on Sunday, October 2, and got up to the Mt. Elbert trailhead by around 7:00. No traffic on the roads, so that was a big plus! There were only a few other cars in the parking lot. One group departed shortly after arrival, and they were taking a young toddler up with them! The father and the little girl ended up turning back at the base of the ‘first false summit,’ but I was very impressed—definitely a commitment to make it up that far with someone so young!
We started heading up the Colorado Trail around 7:20 or so. A bit brisk, since after all it was October and the sun hadn’t fully come up yet, but it was a really nice morning! I was actually very surprised as to how quiet it was— it seemed that no one else was on the trail but us! We didn’t run into anyone until around the tree line. We met a nice group of people—one young man was only 9 years old, and this was his 8th 14er! I was sincerely impressed—It had taken me 23 years to even attempt a 14er, and to climb 8 of them by the age of 9… I give him mad props!
When we hit the tree line, I was really surprised as to how clear the sky was! Such a beautiful start to the day! I knew that ‘scattered storms’ was predicted for the afternoon, and we did see more and more clouds develop as the day progressed. We started working our way up; I did know from reading other trip reports to expect false summits, so there were no surprises, but the mountain definitely seemed to stretch upwards for quite a while.
Heading up to the first false summit, there was a bit of snow/mud and slush, so you just had to watch your footing to make sure you didn’t slip. Nothing crazy! But this part definitely felt like the steepest part of the entire climb to me.
Heading up towards the second false summit, the incline didn’t seem to be nearly as bad it was on the first one, but it seemed to stretch onward for a while. I was definitely feeling a bit winded, but arriving at the top and seeing the actual summit on the other side of a short ridgeback was very exciting!
We pushed onwards and we made it!
It felt really awesome to have summited my first 14er, and being at the top of the highest point in Colorado was absolutely icing on the cake! The views from the summit were outstanding. We caught the tail end of the aspen season; they really looked beautiful.
We stayed up there for about 20 minutes—the weather definitely changed quickly. When we first got up there, the sun was still out—but when we were about to head down, the sun had disappeared and it started to snow a little bit! Certainly not fast or hard enough to accumulate, but the temperature definitely dropped.
The downward journey was quicker than going up time wise, but it felt longer for sure. My legs were really feeling tired at this point, so I wanted nothing more than to get back to the car and sit down! After hitting the tree line, the sun came back out, and we were fortunate to have a really nice, warm hike for the remainder of our time on Mt. Elbert.
We got back to the car around 3:00 pm. I’d say that the worst part of the whole trip was the drive back to Denver—I-70 was backed up! I felt a huge sense of accomplishment after climbing my first 14er, and a big desire to do some more—can’t wait until next summer!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):