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Taking first timers up Mt. Elbert (Northeast Ridge)
Mt. Elbert Northeast Ridge
July 9, 2014
Total elevation gain 5,608 feet
Total distance 10.09 miles
Start time 0620
End time 1620
My son Will (15) and I have climbed 17 14ers, but my wife Karen and daughter Brett (11) have never joined us on any of these mountain hikes, so when they expressed interest in climbing with us, our first family 14er was in the works. We had originally discussed climbing Huron, but when my wife heard that it was just three feet over 14,000 she wasn't too impressed. Instead, we chose Mt. Elbert. You know what they say: go big or go home!
We chose the standard route and left Westcliffe at 0406 and arrived at the North Mount Elbert Trailhead at 0620.
We started hiking at 0645 at an elevation of 10,091 feet. Here is Brett crossing the stream in the beginning of the hike.
We quickly reached the Colorado Trail sign, but we didn't pay any attention at all to the Roach or 14ers.com directions and kept following the trailing heading up. On moments like these, I hear my grandmother say, when I ran out of gas as a sixteen-year-old, "dumb, dumb, dumb." Notice the error on the gpx at the bottom of the report.
Anyway, after our error (and my wife slipping on our descent), we got on the Colorado Trail at 0715 and headed south, reaching the Mt. Elbert sign at 0750 after 1.84 miles at an elevation of 10,574. Here is a picture of the family enjoying the sign.
We reached the clearing with a nice view of the summit at 0855. What a wonderful view of Elbert with the bluest sky in the background.
And then hit treeline at 0910 at 3.46 miles and 11,899 feet. We continued climbing, but we soon let Will go on by himself on the climb. I stayed back with Karen and Brett. We reached the ridge with a wonderful view of the southern eastern ridge at 1020. We saw other hikers, small like ants, working their up that ridge just as we were doing.
At their urging, I left Karen and Brett shortly after and headed up to meet our son at the top. I reached the false summit at 1125 at 4.83 miles and 13,854, and was sorely disappointed in the realization that I still had quite a bit to climb before the top. That false summit is not terribly friendly to hikers. I finally reached the top at 1150 at an elevation of 14,433 feet and mileage of 5.39 miles (Will had already been on the summit for nearly half an hour).
Will and weren't certain if Karen and Brett would summit. We ate our lunch, talked with some of the other people on the summit, and relaxed on the top surrounded by simply beautiful weather. Here we are with Massive in the background.
But around 1230 Karen and Brett come to summit, hand in hand, their first 14er.
Here we are at the top.
And here is Brett celebrating her accomplishment.
The great dog Sadie made it up as well, and she provided a nice resting spot for Brett on the top.
We left the summit at 1300 and began our descent.
We reached treeline at 1500, the Colorado Trail at 1545, the stream near the bottom at 1610 and the trailhead at 1620. Our total mileage was 10.09 miles with total elevation gain of 5,608 feet. Not too bad for a couple of newbies on the mountains. What was a father and son adventure may have turned into a family affair. And there are still many more mountains to climb.
And don't forget K's for a celebration dinner!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Of your wife and daughter reaching their first 14er summit hand in hand! So sweet!
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