Peak(s):  Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Date Posted:  01/25/2015
Modified:  01/28/2015
Date Climbed:   01/25/2015
Author:  fightgravity
Additional Members:   Sanjainthemountains, Wildernessjane
 Mt. Massive via East Ridge   

David in Gale Force Winds

It was Jane's B-day weekend and we ladies wanted to climb a mountain. I happened to be on Elbert last weekend and noticed that Massive was looking pretty good. On Saturday AM, the weather was still holding out-with forecasted winds gusting up to 35mph and a summit high way above 0 dF. So, we did our research (thanks to all prior Mt Massive East Ridge TR posters!!!) and set out for Leadville.

There were at least 60 people who looked at my inquiry regarding the possibility of a pre-existing trench (from the Colorado and Highline Trail intersection) to the East Ridge. Unfortunately, nobody knew the answer to my question, or were in the position to post a helpful reply. It was an unknown that weighed heavily on our minds. Thus, we enlisted Jane's husband, David, and friend Sonja, to join in on the fun!

As an FYI, I wrote up a very lovely and crazy detailed TR on my blog (with some additional hints) check out:
Mt.Massive Trip Report by

Spoiler Alert: We did not summit due to extremely high gale force winds, gusts were well over 80mph. I decided to write this up anyhow as there wasn't any GPS data available for this route. And so, even if my stuff isn't perfect, it's probably going to be helpful!

Mt Massive Sneak Preview

When in Leadville, on Saturday PM, we drove to the Fish Hatchery Trail Head. Since we were starting at oh-dark-thirty on Sunday, we wanted to scope it out in advance as well as check out the conditions on the ridge (it was almost completely scoured!).

Fish Hatchery Trail Head

In daylight, we found the trailhead no problem. The sign is huge and the road is paved and plowed the whole way.

Road Signage

From the TH, one can go along a road, or use the Nature Trail bypass. Both intersect, so both will work. The Nature Trail starts to the right of the road and heads uphill immediately, whereas the road curves gently uphill (but is a tiny bit longer distance-wise). We took the road.

Also, as others have written, you can buy a topo map for a buck, which has the various cross country ski paths marked on it...which might be helpful if you don't have waypoints, want to support the FH, or forgot your map (but theirs doesn't go all the way to Mt.Massive, so be aware!).

Here's my map and also waypoints (I edited them, when I got home, to make sure they were on out track).

Note, just below the final ascent to the East Ridge, there is a circular track near the Marshy area at 11,200 on the map. This is because we went up one way and down a much more direct way. Waypoint 12a, in the waypoint list, would be the exact spot, I would ascend, if doing it again!

Also, we took the road on the way out, but the nature trail on the way back, so that explains the other "loop" on my map.
Massive East Ridge Topo Map

Massive East Ridge GPS Waypoints

~3 miles into the hike (~2 hours of hiking sans snow shoes, with several breaks!), we reached the Highline and Colorado Trail intersection:
Highline and Colorado Trail Intersection

Jane - Hungry for a Summit

~3 hours into our hike, we were south of the Marshy section and ready to start climbing towards Pt 11,827. We probably broke trail for about a mile total, with David and Jane working through the hardest section (the climb from 11,200 to 12,000 ft). There was a trench from our efforts, but not sure how long it will be there. The wind had filled our footsteps with blown snow. So, on the way back, in spots, we had to re-establish the trench.
Breaking Trail South of the Marsh

Sonya Ascending to East Ridge

At 11am, we were attacking the ridge. Got up to ~12,800 ft before calling it quits.
The Mt Massive East Ridge

On the way down:

Climbergirl Post Battle - I'm not smiling!

Happy to have made it back to treeline safely:
David and Jane Post Summit Attempt

The Massive Wilderness Kiosk - Remember to fill out and take your free wilderness permit! This is about 1.25 miles from the TH.
Massive Wilderness Permit Kiosk

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Comments or Questions

Well done.
01/28/2015 23:01
That’s a big day! Good effort.


Gusts over 80 mph
01/29/2015 18:44
wanna know what kind of wind measurement device you used to measure the wind speed.

Sorry that you didn’t make it to the top, but you made a wise decision.


Gusts Over 80 mph – Reply
02/05/2015 00:27
For rpdawes. Excellent question! It is not a precise measurement as I didn’t have a device with me. However, I was on Longs Peak with a buddy who has a weather instrument (not sure the type, but I can find out if ya like!). His instrument said 88 mph; we had trouble staying upright but could walk just barely. The winds on Massive were worse than on Longs; walking was incredibly hard and crawling was more secure. So, I stand by my assessment 80mph+.

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