Colorado State Highpoint: Mount Elbert

Yesterday was my 30th birthday and since I was going to be in school I knew I needed to “celebrate” the weekend before. I have been loving my weekend county highpointing adventures with Sprocket but since this was a “special occasion” I decided to go big: Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert.

Way back last winter, Kelly and I had discussed lots of mountain plans but summer got crazy and we hadn’t adventured together since January. Since we’d had so much fun on that desert trip, it had been way too long since we had hiked something!

Kelly found a great camping spot along Halfmoon Road. I met her there after dark on Thursday so I didn’t get a look at it until morning. Wow!

Halfmoon Road camp

We hit the trail on Friday about 7am and started to plug our way up the peak. For the first time in recent memory, I felt terrible heading up the mountain. From the time we hit treeline, I felt pretty terrible. I had a headache and just couldn’t seem to get it together. The weather was fantastic and I couldn’t possibly let this day go to waste so I just kept plugging along and it was all worth it.

Haze in the valley

Mount Massive from Mt. Elbert

Mount Elbert North Ridge

Southwest from Elbert

Once we reached the top, we took a little bit of time to enjoy the view, get a photo, and then make a game plan for the rest of our day.

Mt Elbert Summit

We resolved to go down into Leadville for food but first, we decided to continue an extra mile south to South Elbert, an unranked 14,000′ peak. From the summit of South Elbert, we got a great view back to Elbert. …and of the slope we were going to need to reclimb to get back to our North Ridge trail.

Elbert from South Elbert

The reclimbing of Elbert proper was really tough since my headache only sort of had resolved itself and I was hungry and Kind bars weren’t really taking the edge off. Once we started down, I started to bounce back a bit and really enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.

Sprocket on Elbert's North Ridge

Mount Massive

In Leadville, Kelly stopped in to ask about mountain bike trails at Cycles of Life and we also asked for a food recommendation. The Tennessee Pass Cafe was adorable and the food really hit the spot after the long hike.

Tennessee Pass Cafe

Painting at Tennessee Pass Cafe

Afterwards, we headed back to camp where we enjoyed some Colorado craft brews, some gourmet s’mores, and raspberry-rhubarb pie before calling it a night right after dark.

Thank you so much Kelly for joining Sprocket and I for a special birthday hike!

5 thoughts on “Colorado State Highpoint: Mount Elbert”

  1. Well happy Birthday to you, the outing looked perfect for two friends to get back together. Got to love the smiling picture of all three of you, my favorite.

  2. Wow – we almost overlapped on this hike. We were hoping to do Mt. Elbert this past Thursday or Friday. We were staying in Twin Lakes. But after my partner threw up when hiking down from Mt. Chiquita in RMNP, I couldn’t persuade him to do Mt. Elbert, which was one of our goals for our trip. We live at sea level, so acclimating was tough! Our vacation was for 2 weeks, and we did improve over the 2 weeks, but it was still tough with the headaches, pounding heart, being out of breath, and for my partner vomiting on a couple hikes.

    But we loved Colorado! Next time we figure we need to go for 3 weeks to give us a little extra time for acclimating!

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