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 Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
 Post Date:  09/24/2013
 Date Climbed:   09/21/2013
 Posted By:  Beekman

 Failed moonlight summit   

Got a great group of people together to climb up Mt. Elbert in the full moonlight and see the sun rise over the colorful aspens in the valley.

The first challenge was sleep, I wanted to summit just before sunrise, that meant we needed to hit the trail head at 1am, witch meant we needed to leave the house at 11pm Friday night. I had to work on Friday from 4:30am to noon and only got about an hour nap, so I knew it was going to be mentally exhausting on the limited amount of sleep.

Just north of Leadville we had a close call with a 6x Elk than ran into the road, then a little further down the road was a heard of about 30 Elk with several spikes.

We arrived to the top of the 4WD road with no problems (thank you 14ers.com and Google Earth) and hit the trail. The sky was clear and there was plenty of light to hike with out head lamps.

The climb was steep but not to bad averaging a 17% grade this is one of the steeper trails but it didn't feel like it yet. One of the better marked trails too, this helped since it was dark.

As we broke tree line the wind became terrible, a steady powerful wind with gusts every couple seconds that would nearly knock you off of your feet. It was testing my best winter gear. I had calculated the temperature based on the overnight low of Leadville of 32 deg and subtracted 3 degrees Fahrenheit for every thousand feet we rose above Leadville, so it should have been about 20 just before the sun came up. I have been snowboarding in 30 below wind chill and this was only slightly warmer, any exposed skin was instantly painfully cold. I had heard a report that the wind chill this morning was -19 at the top of Mt. Evans.

At this point 4 of the 9 turned back, the rest of us continued to summit (at 12,800)

After we gained another 300 feet my wife started to have severe nausea from the altitude and I was to the point of mental fatigue where I was hallucinating. I didn't want to get injured so I thought it would be best if we turned back. The other three in the group decided the same (I am sure they could have made it and two of them have never hiked a 14er before). We sat and watched the sunrise, it was amazing.

Once the sun was up the temperature climbed quickly and the hike out was amazing in the Aspens.

We then headed to Dillion for Breakfast / Dinner..... whatever you call your 6th meal of the day at 11:00a.m.

The mountain may have won today, but I will be back.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (1)
LePhantom


Climbing Smart     2013-09-25 17:57:46
Impressive climbing -- and headwork!

When the winds are roaring overhead on high --like a 747 on its takeoff roll -- I too have turned back for timber line. Even when the chill factor was well above the ”death zone” threshold.

Of course, it's all about the memories. How many weekend wake-ups will you remember compared to this early morning outing?!?

Anyway, congrats to all members of your team. While you were on the slopes, I was home a-bed. And, to paraphrase Shakespeare's Henry Five:

”And gentlemen in Denver, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That climbed with us upon the slopes of Mt Elbert that day!”

Congrats and thanks for sharing this inspiring TR!



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