3rd Highest State High Point
9th Most Difficult
Mt. Elbert was my first attempt and successful summit of a fourteener. Located just outside Leadville, Colorado, Homeyra & I woke early and drove from Brekenridge, Colorado to the base of Mt. Elbert. We were told typically mid afternoon there are daily thunderstorms in the mountains in the spring and summer and it was best to be off the summit by noon. In talking with friends, they made it to the summit in about two hours, so we had planned for about three hours. We started the trail head at Halfmoon campground and headed down the Colorado Trail to the North Mount Elbert trail. We proceeded up a very strenuous path taking many needed rest breaks. We passed very few people on the trail and eventually made it to the tree line. It already was noticeably colder.
The first of the four false summits still looked a long way away and in passing another hiker on his way down, he claimed we had another hour and half to the summit. Homeyra and I decided to part and she would go back to tree line and I would attempt to continue. Now solo, I drudged upwards. The skies were becoming increasingly cloudy, but no fear yet of a storm threatened. I sometimes could only make it 10 steps before finding a rock to rest and refuel. I got ever more excited each new false summit I reached, only to find another further up the path. Eventually I won over my doubt and made it to the top. I was concerned for Homeyra since it would be likely three hours apart, so I didn't stay long on the summit to socialize with some other hikers that were also there. I found the plastic tube that has the registry, but did not see the USGS marker.
Even the decent took my breath away as I tried to conserve my energy on the way back downwards. I was excited to see Homeyra and learn of her stories of the "camper robbers". I rested again and we started back towards our vehicle. A storm had now rolled in and threatened with a light drizzle. When we finally made it back to Leadville, the top of Mt. Elbert was so black the mountain could hardly be seen. I'm so glad we were not on the mountain at this point. The afternoon wouldn't have been complete without the visit to the Silver Dollar cafe.
Other Colorado 14'ers:
August 19, 2001 - Pikes Peak (14,410)
August 17, 2009 - Mount Evans (14,271)
September 10, 2018 - Longs Peak (14,289)