Mountain: Mt Elbert Route: East Ridge (Class II) RT Elevation: 4,100' RT Distance: 8 Miles Travel time: Way too long!
Dan (dmccool) - Spiritual Leader
Bill (wildlobo71) - Group Historian
Nick (MonGoose) - Expedition Photographer
Ben (BenFromtheEast) - Fashion Consultant
Jeff (SurfNTurf) - Human Thermometer
Kris (crossfitter) - Kris lost a bet
Trailhead: We were able to get within 1/4 mile from the summer parking lot of the South Mt Elbert trailhead in a Jeep Rubicon.
Special thanks to the guys in the XTerra for blazing a trail and showing us where not to get stuck.
The Brat Pack is back! (Kris, Jeff, Dan, Ben, Bill and Nick)
This being my 4th 14er since December, I was excited to finally get the opportunity to put on my snowshoes. We started the hike around 8:15am.
It was a warm morning and most of the group started off in their base layers. Upon reaching the summer trailhead, I noticed a bright
light shining behind me. Jeff had removed his shirt.
The Golden Light shines bright!
Ben hasn't seen his roommate shirtless in at least 4 hours.
As the morning continued to warm, Kris was next to shed his base layer. Thinking we all looked as good as Kris, the entire expedition went shirtless.
It was at this point I was beginning to wonder if this group had met on Climbing Connection or perhaps MountainMen.com?
Sun's Out, Guns Out!
As the sausage fest rolled up the hill, I had this strange feeling that we were being followed. Suddenly there was a loud crash and a beautiful
woman broke through the trees, ambushed us and demanded a photograph. Feeling slightly objectified, we agreed to the photo opportunity
because after all, keeping the ladies happy is our top priority! (We also do birthday, bachelorette and private parties.)
Like human solar panels powered by the Colorado sun, we were energized as we trekked onward toward Mt Elbert's imposing summit.
Approaching treeline, it became apparent that the pale Irishman was quickly becoming the glowing Irishman. Let's be honest, 70 SPF
sunscreen can only protect for so long with a last name like McCool. Since mongooses are desert creatures and native to arid environments,
the sun was not a problem but the winter chill was getting to me. I decided to join Dan by adding a base layer. Snowshoeing shirtless
from the Colorado Trail turnoff to treeline was an accomplishment for me.
Treeline and going strong.
Above treeline, Bill and Kris decided to add base layers as the winds began to swirl.
Only the shirtless roommates remained, both determined to hold out longer than the other.
Who will be the last man standing?
A little bit of history.
Back in January, Kris made a bet with Jeff that the Denver Broncos would beat the Baltimore Ravens by at least a touchdown in the
AFC Divisional Playoff game. The price of losing meant spending a day with Jeff on a winter peak of his choosing. With that painful
game still fresh in his memory, Kris reluctantly agreed to join the group for a winter ascent of Colorado's highest peak.
Like Crossfitter, Peyton Manning prefers warmer weather!
A rare winter Crossfitter sighting
Around 12,400', we stopped to ditch the snowshoes. Up until this point they had been a luxury but not a necessity.
The entire hike could have been done in microspikes.
The winds were gusting at this point as Ben reluctantly decided to put his coat on.
Ben throws in the towel.
The official sponsor of 14ers.com happy hours.
All eyes turned to Jeff, the remaining shirtless member of our party. Was this the end? With a look of defiance in
his eye and cold, blue nipples on his chest, Jeff turned towards the mountain and continued on. This was no longer
a man, but a hero trudging on against the forces of nature. As if to say, "bring it on!" Jeff trekked higher towards
Mt Elbert's summit, with only an avalanche beacon and a wooden ice axe for warmth.
One shirtless man remains
I yelled to Jeff, "how can you continue to withstand these brutal conditions?" as the winds increased and the snow
began to swirl around us. He replied, "this icy chill cannot even compare to a cold-hearted woman." It was at this
moment we realized we were witnessing history. Jeff was attempting the first shirtless winter ascent of
As Jeff trudged along with will power, determination and THO, we cheered wholeheartedly from the comfort of our 800-fill goose down puffies.
The snow above treeline was minuscule (including the Box Creek couloirs), dampening our hopes for a ski descent. When reality finally
set in, we realized that the lack of snow coupled with the fact that we didn't bring skis, meant a ski descent would be technically impossible.
The route consisted of a couple hundred feet of snow patches sparsely placed between hundreds of feet of barren rock.
Even the MicroSpikes came off.
Well, so much for a ski descent.
Jeff set a grueling pace up the mountain, which none of us followed. We watched as the Golden Light ascended up the ridge above us. Around
13,200', with the winds increasing to 20 mph and the wind chill hovering around 0 degrees, conditions became unbearable for the shirtless hero.
After weathering 4 hours of exposure to the elements and attaining a ridiculous sunburn, Jeff Golden accepted defeat. The mountain became
quiet as we watched Jeff reluctantly put on his red coat and ascend the remaining 1,200' as a mere mortal man. The group stood silent for a few
minutes, struggling to accept the inevitable. They say that warmth comes from within, but the fire had gone out.
Kill Your Heroes by AWOLNATION
This Class IV crux can easily be avoided by tilting the camera to a reasonable angle.
The final push to reach the summit.
Nick reaching the summit (photo by Jeff Golden)
I like to think that you haven't seen Colorado until you've seen the very top of Colorado. The first members of our group reached the
summit around 1:15. We stayed on the summit for about an hour, enjoying our lunches and looking down on every other peak in the state.
The wind was from the west, blowing at a sustained 25 mph. We also met 14ers.com member nessles on the summit.
Jeff, Dan and Ben on top of Colorado
Dan looks to the West
La Plata Peak can be seen in images #18 and #20.
MonGoose Style - minus all the ladies (photo by Dan McCool)
Shout out to dillonsarnelli - Look at yourself! (Photo by Dan McCool)
Windy on the summit
The official group summit shot (Bill, Kris, Ben, Dan, Jeff and Nick)
On the way down, I commented to Ben that I was feeling really good about myself for keeping up with him all day since he is such a fast hiker.
Ben smiled as he reached down, unstrapped his gaiters and revealed the 5 lb weights on each ankle he had worn the entire day.
I felt inferior.
Ben reveals a 5 lb weight on each leg.
Maybe it will snow next year?
That hat is ridiculously awesome!
We made it back to the Jeep around 4:45pm. The warm temperatures had caused the snow to become slushy, which made for an interesting drive
out. Bill's Jeep made it up the road this morning with no problem but strangely, we had to get out and push twice to get down the hill.
The Jeep never looked so good
Thanks for taking the time to peruse my trip report. I hope you enjoyed my photography and quirky sense of humor.
I would love to meet you on a summit one day or perhaps at a 14ers.com gathering. If you see me around, be sure
to say 'hi'.
To Dan, Bill, Jeff, Ben and Kris: I love guys. Thanks for another awesome day on the mountain!
P.S. If anyone leaves a negative comment about this trip report, I will retaliate by making a Harlem Shake video.
Editor's Note: At the time of the writing of this Trip Report, mountainmen.com is an unregistered website.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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