Matt Mahoney's 2008 Colorado Vacation
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This is Mt. Massive as seen from the Colorado Mountain College in Leadville Colorado where I am uploading these photos. I climbed the south ridge, which approaches from the left, traverses the humps at 12,300 ft, 13,600 ft, and 14,130 ft and finally finishes on the top at 14,421 ft.
I started at 7:13 AM at the Mt. Massive trailhead on Halfmoon road (1/2 mile from the Elbert trailhead). The trailhead is at 10,050 ft. It starts climbing on the Colorado trail going north. (Note: photo timestamps are correct now).
The south ridge is seldom travelled. The route follows the trail to 10,600 ft where it levels out. Then you turn left into the woods and keep going up. There is no trail but the footing is good, just occasional logs to step over.
At 12,000 ft you leave the trees. This is the view from the first hump at 12,300 ft. The hill on the right is your destination. You drop about 200 ft, then climb to 13,600 ft on open tundra. The next peak remains hidden until you reach the top.
At 12,100 ft this was the last water I found until after I descended the summit. I broke through the ice to fill my water bottle. There was snow above, but it wasn't melting.
On top of the 13,600 ft hill the next hill comes into view. This is South Massive, 14,130 ft. The route descends to the saddle on gentle slopes around the right side, but gets rougher as you start going up.
View looking back from the 13,600 ft hill. I had to crawl up about 20 ft of snow at a 30 degree slope.
Climbing South Massive. There is no trail. The route goes around the right side.
Still climbing South Massive.
Mt. Massive appears from the top of South Massive. The saddle below is at 13,900 ft. This is where the main trail on the right joins my route. That is how I descended later.
The main route is more heavily travelled, so there is a trail. However, parts of the trail were covered in snow, so I climbed higher to avoid it. This makes the route a little tougher. Note that the high point in the photo is not the summit. The summit is the hump behind it to the left.
The summit at last. I met 3 other climbers who took the north ridge route (behind me). I was thinking about going to the next 3 humps (all over 14,000 ft) but I was getting tired and decided to descend.
View northeast from the summit. Turquoise Lake is in the middle. Leadville is to the right, at the far side of the valley at 10,152 ft.
View northwest from the summit.
During the descent I stayed on the trail rather than high in the rocks. We had to traverse a couple hundred feet of snow sloped about 30 degrees. It was soft enough to posthole in. Here another climber is going up following my footsteps.
I descended the main trail on the east slopes. The trail was rocky and muddy with patches of snow. This is the view looking back toward Mt. Massive from around 13,500 ft.
Looking down the trail from about 12,500 ft. I got back to my car at 2:02 PM, almost 7 hours. Total distance was 12.5 miles with about 5000 ft of climb. I was really tired afterwards.