Date: Thursday, January 5, 2012
Ascent party: Jusin, Rob and Jim
Start Time: 6:00 am
End Time: 5:00 pm
Elevation gain: 4,600 ft
RT milage: 10.56
Temp high: 44 degrees
CAIC avalanche forecast: Moderate on N-E-S aspects near and above treeline.
Snow conditions: I am not a expert by any means with avalanche safety, just my observations.
- I did not hear any "Whomphs", during the ascent and descent.
- Plenty of hard slab, but can be avoided. Some of the hard slab had exposed talus anchors.
- Some top loading on the ridge, didn't see any significant side loading.
- I saw one crack across a gully towards the bottom of the basin, looks as if someone crossed it earlier in the week. The gully can be avoided by going higher around it.
After having a miserable few weeks of snowboarding with the snowpack dwindling, and Thursday looking to be bluebird we decided to head up to Missouri Gulch to snag Missouri Mountain.
After the unsuccessful trip to Mount Columbia in November, I was nervous to attempt another mountain in winter conditions even with the conditions being better than normal. After a night of tossing and turning with minimal sleep I awoke at 2:00 am, packed my truck and left the house at 3:15 am. We arrived at the Missouri Gulch trailhead at 5:30 am, donned our jacket, gloves, gaiters, and micro spikes and set off down the trail.
The switchbacks at the beginning are always a wake up for the legs after a long car ridge. The trail up to the gulch is well packed. Micro spikes helped a lot on the steep trail, although my two friends did the whole hike without spikes, one had trekking poles. Soon we came across the the ruins of the old shack, and continued into the basin for a beautiful morning view of Missouri and Belford.
I never get tired of this view
We hiked past the trail junction for Belford and Oxford, and continued towards Elk Head pass. We followed the postholes in which we believe that geojed and his ascent team powered through, THANK YOU! and followed the uncovered alpine tundra to the ridge to the left of Point 13,784', much like the route geojed took in his report
Ridge to Missouri
Rob the adventurer
This was a tough climb to the ridge, very steep and straight up. We noticed at the bottom of the gulch that Jim was hot on our heals, and closing the gap quickly "Must be something in the Colorado Springs water "
Jim caught us about half way up the ridge, and I continued up with him trying to keep up. After gaining the ridge, Jim marked were we had come up with some florescent orange tape. Never thought of that, but it would be a huge help because it looked very different on the way down. Just remember to pick it up on the way back.
Ridge to Missouri "Jim in the foreground"
The ridge was longer than I expected, and above 13,000' +/- the whole way. There is a packed snow trail and sometimes the trail is dry to the summit.
Jim on the Summit
Instead of dropping down below the crux we climbed over, and down climbed onto the ridge. After that it is a quick jaunt to the summit, were I found Jim waiting for me. He snapped some pictures and continued on to climb Belford and Oxford. I opted out of going for the other two because I wanted to wait for my friends and honestly I was very tired, and hungry. After saying goodbye and good luck, I was alone on the summit. It was a beautiful day, and not a cloud in the sky. I ate a turkey sandwich and a sweet and salty bar, and washed it down with some water. Took some pictures from the summit, and soaked in the Colorado beauty.
The cold wind then drove me back down to the crux where I waited for Rob and Justin. Soon I saw Rob making his way up the ridge. We sat and waited on the other side of the summit side of the crux for Justin so we could go to the summit together.
Rob on the ridge
Rob and Justin on the crux
After a few minutes on the summit, we started to descend at 1:00 pm. On the way down is where I saw the crack running across the gully loaded with snow. Here is a picture the light wasn't very good, so it might be hard to see. Most of the terrain up there is very similar, so it would be a safe bet to stay off any loaded terrain.
We made it back to the vehicle by 5:00 pm, and headed back home for some dinner and rest. Rob and Justin said they were glad to complete a winter 14er, but will never do another... We'll see about that. I am glad to be done with all the 14ers in Missouri Gulch but will be back sometime to complete all three in one day. Congratulations to Jim for completing them all, it was good meeting you and I hope we can hike together again.
Thanks for reading, any questions please feel free to message me.
Here are some other pictures I took that day.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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