Mount Elbert Summit Log (#21432)
- Signed By: Darrell Commander of Austin, Texas, USA
- Date Submitted: September 10, 2008
- Date(s) climbed: 9/5/2008
- Number of People Encountered: 0-10 people
- Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
The South Elbert Trail is listed as a 4100-foot ascent over 8 miles (round trip), but that does not include the very rough 4-wheel-drive roads that you have to negotiate to get to the trailhead (including fording a creek that's about 2 feet deep.) If you aren't driving something like a jeep, there's no way to drive to the upper trailhead, so the hike becomes 5000 feet over 12 trail miles (round trip) from the lower trailhead on the 24 Road.
There are also a few tricky turns on the forest service roads. I missed the last turn and ended up on a road ascending Mt. Cosgriff, the 13er adjacent to Elbert. I climbed Cosgriff, not realizing it wasn't Elbert until I was near the summit and could see across to Elbert. I then had to traverse the entire ridge to get to Elbert, which included summitting the south peak of Elbert (also a 14er.) The ascent to Cosgriff was Class 3, and the traverse of the ridge was Class 2 (there was barely a hint of a trail, but it was all on large talus and boulder fields.)
Elevation profile from the traverse is here: http://www.12foothedgehog.com/mt_elbert_traverse.png
Google Earth file is here: http://www.12foothedgehog.com/mt_elbert_traverse.kmz
I descended on the South Elbert Trail, which is Class 1. Started from my car at the lower trailhead around 7:30, reached the summit around 12:30. Met a guy named David from Fort Worth at the summit and hiked down with him. Passed Larry from Dallas and his party and stopped at the intersection of the Colorado Trail to chat with Larry and David.
I would say don't attempt this as your first 14er, and unless you know you're capable of a 5000-foot climb, don't do it as a day hike unless you know someone with a jeep that can drive you to the upper trailhead.
Weather was clear with a few scattered clouds. Extremely windy (felt like 50-60 MPH gusts) and cold (felt like wind chill in lower 30's or upper 20's) on the ridge.