Peak(s):  Marble Mtn A  -  13,266 feet
Date Posted:  10/20/2014
Modified:  10/21/2014
Date Climbed:   10/18/2014
Author:  SurfNTurf
Additional Members:   BenfromtheEast
 Getting the Band Back Together  

Marble Mountain (13,266')

ROUTE: East Ridge
RT DISTANCE: ~7 miles
RT GAIN: ~3,500'
RT TIME: ~7.5 hours
CLIMBER(S): Dan (dmccool), Ben (BenfromtheEast), Jeff (SurfNTurf)

I've always held the belief that the people with whom you share the trail are the best part about hiking. Lifelong bonds are made in the hills. The common goals, the shared risks, the glorious successes and the crushing defeats -- mountaineering pulls us together in a truly profound way.

I've formed one of those lifelong bonds with Dan. Ben, too, but we used to live together so I've had my fill. Though our priorities have shifted and we're no longer able to meet in the mountains nearly every weekend, when we get together it's always as if nothing has changed. That goes for most of the folks I regularly hiked with in 2011-2012 while we all raced toward the 14er finish line. Unfortunately, as it often does, life has taken us in different directions.

When the idea materialized of a reunion hike on Marble Mountain, I knew it was something not to be missed. Prior commitments and injuries got in the way of it being fully attended, but still, getting out with Ben and Dan is about as perfect a day in the mountains as a man can reasonably expect. It's guaranteed to be a memorable outing.

We arrived at the Rainbow Trail/South Colony Lakes Road junction late Friday night after a necessary pitstop at Phantom Canyon Brewery. Terrified of the swarms of ATV-riding Bubbas in camouflage, Dan and I opted to sleep in the back of his truck. Ben, the bravest of our trio, pitched his bivy sack off to the side of the road. Expecting an easy day, we decided on a gentlemanly start of 7:30 a.m.

Ben in his special hiking gear.

The morning began with a short jaunt in the wrong (...but right...) direction on the Rainbow Trail. It's an odd feeling walking away from the mountain you're trying to summit. Luckily it's less than -mile before you take a right onto a climber's trail and start hiking up Marble's East Ridge.

The trail is strong in places, and impossible to follow in others. The line is pretty obvious, however; as long as you're hiking upward and staying near the ridge crest, you can't go wrong. Good thing, too, as a heinous amount of deadfall had us weaving every which way. We were sporting dozens of new nicks and cuts by the time we finally emerged from treeline. Oh well. Bushwhacking builds character.

Enjoying the morning bushwhack.

Snow was unavoidable for a couple hundred feet after treeline, about six inches over slick tundra and wet rocks. This was the most tedious part of the route. Higher on the ridge the wind had blown it mostly clear, and in many ways it was reminiscent of summer. Dry tundra, T-shirts, sweat and size 14 boys jorts.

The walk to the summit probably took an hour longer than it should have thanks to the copious amount of Crestones photos that needed to be taken. Marble is a benevolent lump of tundra, requiring only a very minor false summit before the ridge ends in the true highpoint. After drooling over the Crestones all morning, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the views in the other directions were just as breathtaking.

It was cool to see Dan reach the top. He hadn't been on a high-altitude summit hike in nearly a year, and he wore a child-like expression of wonder on his face. It was a great reminder not to take these adventures for granted. Going out most weekends, it's easy to lose perspective on what drew us to the hills in the first place. Dan's awe and joy after a lengthy time away were palpable.

We lounged on the summit for about an hour, drinking a couple beers and watching a storm roll in over Kit Carson and the Crestones. If possible, the clouds made the Sangres even more beautiful.

Finally breaking treeline. (Photo by Dan.)

How arousing. (Photo by Dan.)

Looking back down the ridge.

It's longer than it looks.

Me, nearing the minor false summit. (Photo by Dan.)


Final stretch.

Dan topping out.

Crestones and the Kit Carson massif.


View south.

Kit Carson and Columbia Point.


Group summit shot.


Summit selfie. (Photo by Dan.)

We started down the deceptively long ridge just as the first flurries were starting to fly. We stayed well ahead of the full brunt of the storm. Regardless, it was simply a tundra stroll back to treeline and the trail. Many stops were again necessary for even more photos of the Crestones.

With a light mist falling back at the truck, we decided to delay our planned post-hike beers until back in Westcliffe. South Colony Road was much rougher than I remembered, but we made it safely down the 2.5 miles to the 2WD trailhead without incident. We got to-go pizzas from Tony's (the Western is the best BBQ chicken pizza I've ever had) and popped open our beers at an undisclosed and probably illegal location with great views of the Sangres. Great ending to a much-needed jaunt with old friends!

Taking it all in.

Here comes the storm.


This is what I call the "goingup Instagram shot."

Wait, where did the peaks go?

The end. (Photo by Dan.)

Also, Ben's new nickname is Stinky Monster.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

 Comments or Questions

10/21/2014 04:26
I was bored to death until I made a cameo in picture 22 (ironically the other part of my instagram name).

Just kidding. Great trip report. I really dig men in jorts thanks to you.


Colony Baldy
10/21/2014 12:48
If you liked the views from Marble, you'll love the views from Colony Baldy. A longer hike, but the ”in your face views of the Crestones” are wicked nice ! My avatar is from the summit. Short jorts are mandatory.

Brian Thomas

How arousing
10/21/2014 13:52
Ben's jorts? Or the views of the Crestones in pic #4?

Those are some disturbingly short jorts, sir


Wish I had been in town
10/21/2014 16:47
I'm missing the Sangres! Thanks for the report and nice pics.

Also, it doesn't count as a jorts hike unless you let your thighs fly! Leggings completely negate the American manliness of jorts. I expected better...


Stinky Monster!
10/21/2014 18:00
I'm not sure there are many places in CO that rival the views of the South Colony area - regardless of the vantage point. It felt good to get some revenge on Marble after last March. Thanks for all the kind words, Jeffe. It was so great to get out with you usual. Ben, if only you would've used some of the Elk Scent we found along with your jort/tight combo, you'd be unstoppable at the next happy hour. After all, you're now the Stinky Monster. Miles calls 'em like he sees 'em.


A quote for the ages...
10/21/2014 19:17
”Oh well. Bushwhacking builds character.”

That's what I'm talkin' about!

Nice one, Jeff!


Looks like an awesome day
10/21/2014 21:43
Really wish I could have joined you guys for this. If I hadn't been fighting the stomach flu at the end of last week, I would have been definitely been there.

Gotta agree with Teddy on this one. We have high expectations from you let us down.

Nice write-up as always Jeff!


Working on my tan
10/21/2014 23:03
Ummm, not sure what y'all mean. Those are my flying thighs. And that's another good forum name.

Thanks for the great day, guys! Who ended up with the elk scent, anyway?


Oh Ben...
10/22/2014 14:49
”Those are my flying thighs. And that's another good forum name.”


Colony Baldy
04/02/2015 19:45
Actually, I was on Colony Baldy on Saturday. The views of the Crestones and Kit Carson/Challenger group were very nice, but I like the photos Jeff took from Marble too. Without being there, it's hard to tell how much zoom was required, but the close up view of the Arete in photo #8 (and subsequent ones) sure looks nice!

p.s. We had similar weather too - hanged on the summit watching the clouds rolled in, and then everything disappeared for a while on the descent. Base layers on the hike up, down puffy on the hike down - that's October!

p.p.s. Image #17 - what's the compensation? Do they give you a free sandwich in CMC cafeteria?

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