Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  09/17/2018
Date Climbed:   09/16/2018
Author:  mkdenver1
 Our first Class 2 trip   

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My wife and I did our first hike in three years on September 16. I had wanted to stay more in the Collegiate Peaks region mostly to stay away from the Front Range crowd and get started on our first Class 2 climbs.

I decided on Belford since it appeared to be an easier Class 2 climb, plus, there was the option of two potentially three additional mountains to "bag" on this trip.

We dropped off our kids at my folks' house in Lakewood and arrived at the Super 8 in Buena Vista on Saturday afternoon so that we can get acclimated to the higher altitude. Plus, it avoids having to leave Denver at 4am or before! We explored BV and ended up at The Simple Eatery for dinner. Highly recommend!

Sunday was the hike and it was an absolutely gorgeous morning; little chilly, probably around 40 degrees or so. We started at 7:15am:

Wife with the information stuff at the trailhead. Man that route map is quite sugarcoated!

I love doing hikes at this time of year. There is little to no chance of a thunderstorm chasing you off the mountain, plus the real bonus is the Aspens are at peak! Here are a few pics from early on in the hike.

Shot taken from the bridge near the trailhead looking west.

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At the 2-mile point, which is the junction to go directly to Belford, or go to Missouri Mountain and Elkhead Pass, wife insisted we take the shorter route even though it was steeper. I kept warning her, based on descriptions on this website and the facebook group, that it is nothing but steep and very rocky switchbacks! I guess she didn't heed those warnings!

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The smile didn't last long!

So we finally made it up to the saddle that takes us to the pitch to the summit:

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Looking west toward Missouri and Emerald from the pitch to the summit

Belford Summit on the right with our first view of Oxford on the left.

We finally hit the summit just before 11:00am!

19087_19No, I'm not pregnant, nor do I have a gut that big. I just had my Camelbak on a little too tight! Plus that Dri-fit shirt didn't help any either!
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We spent about 20 minutes on top just taking it all in and contemplating on going over to Oxford. We decided not to this time. People on top were telling us about the very steep and rocky ridge down to the saddle and how we would have had to climb right back up that thing after not being fully recovered from the previous steep and rocky ascent to Belford. Because we started at 7:15 and arrived just before 11:00, we would have gotten back to the trailhead way late and we had to be back home to our 3 kids early enough.

19087_13Here is the final view of Oxford on our descent via the Elkhead Pass Trail toward Missouri Mountain.
19087_14This is zoomed in on Oxford just before it went out of sight on the Elkhead Pass trail.
We got to the Elkhead Pass junction and got a nice view of Missouri Mountain
Looking back at Belford from the Elkhead Pass trail.
Still can't believe we climbed that really steep ridge!
We arrived back at our car at 3:15pm very exhausted. Ideally we had wanted to stay one more night in Buena Vista, but we had to get home to our kids and we needed to be at work on Monday. It was a long drive home!


Folks, this is a beautiful hike, but do not let the maps fool you. It is a very grueling, steep, and rocky trip and you will be feeling it for a while afterwards. If you do want to squeeze in Oxford in addition to Belford, be sure to get a very early start probably no later than 6am. The Aspens do make up for it, though!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
09/19/2018 09:53
That trail doesn't waste any time does it? Guess you'll be back to get Oxford so now you know what to expect. The ridge between the two isn't too bad but does test rubbery thighs on the way back up toward Belford. Good luck.

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