Part 4 - Belford, Oxford
Once we descended Missouri, the climbs to Belford (14,197 ft) and Oxford (14,173 ft). were straightforward, up easy trail. The most difficult part of this section was the descent from Oxford to Pine Creek at 10,600 ft. in preparation for the ascent to Harvard. There is a one mile long saddle between Belford and Oxford that drops and rises about 700 ft.
Blake Wood ascended Belford at 5:55 AM and Oxford at 6:55 AM on day 2. Eric and I climbed Belford at 2:39 PM and Oxford at 3:49 PM.
The broad, flat summit of Mt. Belford.
Mitchell Rossman traverses the saddle to Oxford on a training run on Aug. 2.
Belford and Oxford seen from Mt. Harvard to the south. Blake Wood descended the southeast route to the far right, which he described as horrible. Eric and I descended the saddle between the mountains, southwest from Oxford, which is steep but has reasonable footing. From there, we picked up a trail just below treeline that heads west for 1/2 mile before descending an avalanche chute to the trail about 1.5 miles west of the Pine Creek aid station.
Blake Wood provided this photo of his route down Oxford in 2000. Our route was off the left side of the picture (and probably better than either of these routes).
The "easy" southwest descent from Oxford.
The southwest descent at treeline, just before picking up the trail.
Simon and Chris Shadowlight at the Pine Creek aid station. They had to hike in at night and camp for two nights to provide aid for three runners. Blake Wood arrived at 8:34 AM. Eric and I arrived at 6:00 PM and waited out a thunderstorm for 75 minutes before our nighttime ascents of Harvard and Columbia.
On to Part 5