Friday, June 18, 2010

Fourteener Friday

Friday was the first meeting of the Fourteener Fridays Club. My friend, Ann, and I decided that we would attempt some fourteeners on Fridays this summer as I'm not working and as a realtor, she would likely have some free time on Fridays. For our first hike, Mount Massive, Dan came along, too.

We met in South Boulder at 4:30am and drove all the way through Leadville to the trailhead. Dan and I were pleasantly surprised by the roads, as we were on them three years when we hiked our very first fourteener, Mount Elbert. However, we kept going on the dirt road past the standard trailheads to try some 4-wheel driving and get to the North Halfmoon Creek parking lot. We saw one other truck there.

The beginning of trail was absolutely beautiful. It meandered through lush forests and a beautiful meadow. We saw a big rabbit and lots of early season wild flowers. After a mile and a half, we left the main trail and headed straight up for almost three miles.

Though the trail was very well built and maintained, it was steep and large portions were hidden under huge snowfields. Several times we got out the axes and kick-stepped up the slopes. Amazingly, we managed to keep finding the trail and followed up to the very, very long summit ridge.

Mount Massive has many small peaks along this huge ridge that are all above 14,000 (Massive ranks second highest in the state at 14,421 ft). Once we climbed one small peak, there was always another, higher one further along the ridge. We FINALLY reached the true summit at 1:30 and had a leisurely lunch as there was not a cloud in the sky.

On the way down we were determined to speed up our descent by doing some glissading down the large snowfields. After sliding down the summit ridge, we hiked over a saddle to a very steep, rockslide slope. We were actually planting our axes into the loose dirt and scree to safely walk/slide down it. We were able to glissade down several more snowfields before meeting back up with the trail back to the car.

I think Massive is probably the prettiest fourteener we've hiked, but it was also very long and steep. It took us 5:45 to travel 4 miles and ascend 4,000 ft and 3:45 to get back to the car. This coupled with a 6-hour round trip drive, made for a very, very long day.

From the summit we had great views of the Tenmile and Mosquito Ranges. We could even see Pikes Peak! When we got home Dan identified and labeled the peaks. Use the scrollbar below to view the entire panorama, or click for a larger view:

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