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Colorado Highpoint - Mount Elbert - 14433 ft
30 May 2003, around 11 am.
Back to 2003 Colorado Highpoint Expedition
On 29 May 2003, Tom Buckley, Jim Buckley and I set out from Keystone for Mount Elbert via the East Ridge route. We drove the 4WD road from Lakeview Campground, not quite all the way to the real parking lot. We put on backpacks with gear for one night, and headed up the steep Mount Elbert trail. At the one point where the trail becomes sort of level, right before tree line, we found a nice campsite for the night. There were a lot of jays that seemed to expect handouts from hikers, but Tom and Jim dissuaded them with some well-thrown rocks. We woke up the next morning, 30 May, around 5:30, and continued towards the top. Somewhere along here I managed to pick up the nickname 'Mackerel-head'. Tom and I had snowshoes with us, but Jim did not. At the point where the trail turns south, off of the ridge proper, the trail was covered in snow for several hundred meters. Not wanting to posthole, we bypassed above this, on the rockier part of the ridge that the trail was avoiding. After the snowfield, we regained the trail, and continued on to the top. We were alone at first, but a pair of hikers soon joined us. The view was fantastic, and the weather was still great. It was also my birthday, for a little extra bonus.
On the way down, when we came to the large snowfield, Tom and I decided to put on the snowshoes, while Jim bypassed below the snow. As we are strapping them on, some lightning and thunder, not all that far away, spurred us on. We continued back to camp, passing some cottoneers heading up into the clouds, packed up camp, and headed back to the car. Distance 8 miles round-trip, elevation gain 4000 ft.
Tom, Jim and I on the summit.
Jim and I on top.
Jim taking in the summit view.
Tom and I on the highpoint.
View from the top.
More views from the top.
Another view from the top.
Me near the summit.
The largest snowfield we had to cross. Some thunder and lightning is not far behind!
Ptarmigan high on Mount Elbert.
As our Ground Guy, Mongo had the final say as to whether we would make the attempt.
(Photos by Tom Buckley)