Early this week, Chris and I cilmbed Mount Massive and Mount Elbert. 14er number 12 and 13 for us, numbers 10 and 11 for Turbo.
After pushing back our plans because of weather, we headed out of town Monday night and parked at the Mount Elbert trailhead outside of Leadville. We got in just after dark and rolled out the Hotelement in fine style. We all slept fairly restlessly, of course until it was time to wake up, so we finally rolled out of the car Tuesday morning around 6. We drove the few extra miles to the Mount Massive pull-off and started our hike around 6:45. Just as we started to walk away from the car, I pulled out the camera to take a picture. Then I realized we didn't charge the battery and it was super dead. Crap! We were both really bummed since it was the beginning of a fun, beautiful, two day adventure that would include two summits. Our favorite thing is to get a picture on the summit so we can put it on our poster in the dining room -- an awesome record of our 14er trips together. Obviously we both stressed a little bit and didn't start the climb out in the best of moods. Quickly, however, we both realized there was nothing we could do about it, and decided to proceed with better attitudes.
Mount Massive was, in my opinion, the most beautiful mountain we have climbed yet. At 14,421 ft, it is the second tallest peak in Colorado. Unlike any other peak that we've climbed, there were spectacular panoramic views the entire way up, not just at the top. With the slowly melting snow giving definition to the ranges surrounding us, the view became even more amazing with each step. This climb and the views actually brought tears to my eyes a few times. I couldn't believe we were actually up there, seeing that. Too bad I didn't have a camera to try to capture the beauty.
We climbed the Southwest Slopes route which ended up being about 10.5 miles and around 4,000 ft elevation gain. Parts were steep, and there was a pretty good boulder field right above treeline, so our legs and lungs were feeling the push right away. As we popped above treeline, the route finding became a bit more difficult, but luckily Chris has eyes like an eagle and can spot cairns a million miles away. About 3/4 of the way up, we began to see some dark clouds far out in the distance. Chris and I both know, and strictly abide by the "be off the summit or the ridge on a mountain by noon during the summer in Colorado" rule. It was only about 10:00 but it was clear this would be an interesting weather day to say the least.
Unable to see the summit, or what weather might be coming over the other side of the summit until you are basically on it, Chris and I put our butts in gear and busted out the last 1200 ft of climbing in around an hour. We spotted the summit, and the clouds building behind it, and decided to tag the summit and quickly head back down to the relative safety of treeline. While we had brought delicious sandwiches, goldfish, and a heath bar to enjoy at 14,421 ft (and both were super hungry and ready for it), we made the choice to put off the snacks until we could get back down to at least treeline. When we got to the summit the weather was fine, it was the coming weather that wasn't looking beautiful.
We crossed the ridge over to the summit, and stood by the summit stick long enough to put on our jackets before heading down.
We decided to give the camera one last try.
I pulled out the battery, warmed it in my hands, and quickly put it back in the camera as Chris held out our summit sign. We turned on the camera, threw it into picture mode and held it out in an attempt to get a picture. There was no click and nothing on the viewfinder screen. Damn. Oh wait, the shutter didn't retract yet. It must be still on! We clicked a few more pictures and realized it was working!! Before it died, and after many screams of glee, I grabbed a few more pictures from the summit and turned it off so we could have the possibility of similar luck on Elbert the next day.
Then we quickly headed back down, hungry but satisfied, and we made it off the summit and ridge in plenty of time. We watched the weather build and move to our left right over Mount Elbert. We had debated whether to do Massive or Elbert first, and now we knew we had definitely made the right choice. We watched rain pelt Elbert and heard a few far off clashes of thunder over that mountain. As for Massive, we got a few spattering of rain drops, but other than that, our weather held off just fine. In an attempt to still expedite the descent, we found a few snow fields and Chris decided it would be fun to glissade/foot ski down them. As he skied down on his feet, I attempted a hiking pole glissade. It was not all that graceful and Chris ended up stopping my out of control slide more than once. Soon I ditched out on the steep slope, Chris helped me kick some steps across the snow and over to the trail, and I proceeded down the safe way as he went the fast way.
The rest of the descent was fairly uneventful, but absolutely beautiful. When we got closer to the car, Turbo decided to jump into a rushing river and Chris had to play superman and pull him out. Chris is our heeeeeeeeeeeero once again :)
Once back at the car, we finally got to eat our delicious sandwiches and treats while fending off millions of mosquitos. A very sleepy Turbo hopped in the back of the car and we drove back to the Mount Elbert trailhead. Once there we spent the rest of the afternoon reading, napping, eating, and watching a movie on the laptop. Chris made and awesome dinner of chicken burritos and we rearranged the car to make for a more comfy sleep in the Hotelement. After more reading we got to sleep about 9:00 so we could get up early for our adventure the next day.
Wednesday would bring us to the summit of the second highest mountain in the lower 48 states!
Would the camera work again?