Matt Mahoney's 2008 Colorado Vacation
Matt Mahoney's Home Page
Ole from Norway and I climbed Mt. Belford (14,205 ft) and Oxford (14,160 ft) from Missouri Gulch (9640 ft) on June 29, 2008. From Leadville we drove 15 miles south to Clear Creek and took the washboard dirt road 8 miles west to the trailhead. The road goes 4 more miles west to the ghost town of Winfield, from which you can climb two other fourteeners, La Plata and Huron. From our trailhead you can also climb Mt. Missouri. That was our original plan, but after two summits we decided we had a good enough workout.
From the trailhead you immediately cross Clear Creek on a bridge. It is flowing heavily from melting snow. This photo is looking west (upstream).
The trail climbs relentlessly, 4500 ft in 3.5 miles to the Belford summit. The average grade is over 25%.
At 11,300 ft the trail passes an old cabin and winds through 6 ft snowdrifts.
Near treeline Mt. Belford comes into view.
We crossed several hundred yards of firmly packed snow. However the ridge up Belford is dry. Mt. Missouri (right) has a lot of snow.
Ole at the trail junction. The trail to the right goes to Elkhead Pass and Mt. Missouri. The trail ahead goes to Belford.
The trail crosses a creek, then climbs steeply. I filled my water bottles here. There is no more water before the two summits.
Looking back down Missouri Gulch. Ole is taking a rest.
Mt. Belford summit just ahead. Oxford is to the left.
View south from Mt. Belford. The ridge splits ahead. To the left is the saddle to Mt. Oxford. To the right is the trail to Elkhead Pass and Mt. Missouri. Mt Harvard is straight ahead. Mt Harvard is Colorado's third highest peak at 14,420 ft.
Mt. Oxford (left) seen from Belford. We traverse the 1 mile long saddle from the right. The middle of the saddle is about 13,500 ft, or 600 ft below the two summits.
View north from Belford. The second hump on the ridge is Peck's Peak.
A marmot digs for food in a shelter a few feet below the Belford summit.
The Belford-Oxford traverse, looking back toward Belford.
The ridge had one small snowfield as we climbed Oxford.
View east from the Oxford summit.
Me and Ole on Oxford.
Ole climbing the saddle back to Belford. Since we had decided to skip Missouri by now, we traversed the Belford summit again to return.
View west toward Mt. Missouri from near the Belford summit. The direct route would be to follow the ridge to Elkhead Pass at 13,200 ft, then climb the class 4 ridge. (I once attempted this route. I turned back because the rock is dangerously loose. Handholds just break off in your hand). A safer route is to descend into Missouri Gulch from Elkhead Pass to about 12,600 ft and climb the snow covered slopes to the ridge, then north on the ridge to the summit. The snow was another excuse for us to bail.
Descending Belford on steep trails. Mt. La Plata is in the background. This is the 5th highest mountain in Colorado at 14,336 ft.
Water crossing below treeline. We returned to the car at 12:55 PM, or 6:05 after our start.