Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Date Posted:  07/27/2014
Date Climbed:   07/24/2014
Author:  The_Flex
 Missouri - East Ridge   

Missouri Mountain - East Ridge

From reading previous reports, I wanted to shortcut the hike from Missouri to Oxford by using the East Ridge from Missouri. I hate having to redo elevation if avoidable. I think there is too little information on this route, so maybe I can be of help. The goal was to get to the Elkhead Pass (a trail that avoids 14ers heading north-south, and is not on this website map), from where starts an excellent trail going directly to Oxford bypassing Belford slightly to the south.

One of the key features to this ridge is a thick slice of creamy yellow rock that slices vertically through the ridge, cutting north-south with a slight tilt to the east. This can be identified coming up from Missouri Gulch on picture 1. On the ridge moving east, when reaching this slice, the ridge soon takes a significant decent.
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Starting from top of Missouri at 10:18AM, I kept to the south side of the ridge. There is no marked trail but a safe path is easy to find, class 2 & 3. A couple early waypoints along the route are (lat 38.94772, Lon -106.377144) and (lat 38.947937, Lon -106.37547). The idea was to traverse keeping elevation or angling slightly down. This worked great getting around the obvious point tops. This section was best described as amazing fun. Below are some pictures from many of the buttresses that I passed while high up. I was with a lady who took the lead and is in most of the pictures (can you find her?) for perspective. Picture 3 looks back at the top of Missouri. Picture 15, you feel so close to Elkhead Pass that you can touch it. This is as far as we could go.

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We reached the end of the fun around 11:15 or 11:30AM. Pictures 12-14 show a sweeping arc view from east to west. Picture 13 gives the best idea how steep and high it is.
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Fun changed to more of a horror. We had gone far enough that turning around was not a great option. After a lot of feeling around, we found what could be a path angling down and to the right, following that yellow rock slice. Picture 16 shows my path down, under the flat rock slightly to the left of the lady. What makes everything so hard is that the solid rock is terrible. Most handholds need to be tested first. This would be the class 4 part of the route.
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Picture 17 looks up at the hardest part (the crux) of the route I came down. I stayed on the left side of the yellow stripe where the plants are growing. After doing that, I got my nerve back.
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The rest going down was slow to avoid any potential of knocking rocks on her. Pictures 18-21 show that. 21 shows a last look up, with the yellow slice cutting to the right behind a mound of rock.
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At this point, about 12:42PM, I realized that I could start traversing along the mostly loose rock to get to the Elkhead Pass instead of going all the way down. I had gotten to the point that either direction was fairly easy. Pictures 22-25 show that.
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Picture 26 at 1:31PM shows the final view down onto the Elkhead Pass looking east, with the trail to Oxford going up the hill on the other side. Oxford may be the mountain on the far right side.
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Final picture 27 is from up that trail looking back west over everything.
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Final Notes: It may be easier to do the hike if I went down earlier starting around the given waypoints, but just a guess. If coming from the east, and you can reach the yellow rock on top of the ridge; then the rest of the route gets only easier and recommended. The standard route down and around to the Elkhead Pass may be faster. This may be the most dangerous hike I have done and do not want to do it again...unexpected loose rocks make it not worthwhile!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27


Comments or Questions
screeman57
User
Thanks
07/27/2014 19:21
for such a detailed report of this route. Roach describes it as the stuff of his worst nightmares. Looks, though, like it would be a little less horrible to ascend.


Brian C
User
Nice!
07/28/2014 03:04
I always wanted to do this route. Great work!


triordie
Good job going down that rock!
02/09/2015 03:19
I did this in reverse with my daughter in 2014 (see my only trip report). I agree with you –– this was my scariest experience in the 14ers by far. However, as screeman57 said, it is easier to go up – you see your options. We ascended and then re–descended that yellow band, but then ascended some class 4 rocks without losing much elevation. I would not want to attempt what Roach is describing.


terrysrunning
User
Yep. Awful.
09/13/2015 00:49
Did this today coming up from the pass. Tried a couple possible routes to gain the ridge earlier, but they got class 5ish, and I was solo, so a bit more adventurous than I needed. Ended up climbing up a horrible talus field right below the summit. One of the worst things I’ve done on a 14er. Looks so tempting though!



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