|Mount Elbert from
|Estimated net time||6-8 hours|
|Difficulty||No difficulties, except for the high altitude. Be aware of the thunder danger; it's advised to be well below the summit by noon.|
|Drinking water||No stable access to running water except from a stream a little above trail head.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage throughout the route (July 2013).|
|Parking||Room for many cars at trail head car park, where you'll also find toilettes.|
|Start height||3064 metres|
|Vertical metres||1365 metres for the roundtrip.|
|Trip distance||15.0 km|
From the town Leadville, in Colorado, drive road 24 approximately 6 km (3.5 mi) south-west from the centre of the town. Turn right onto road 300, and start measuring from here.
- At 1.3 km (0.8 mi) turn left onto road 11, signed "Halfmoon Road".
- At 3.3 km (2.1 mi) turn right, signed "Halfmoon Creek".
- At 11.6 km (7.2 mi) turn left where signed "Mount Elbert trailhead".
Park at the large car park a few metres from the entrance.
Start your hike by following the path into the forest at the far end of the car park. Turn left after 250 metres when you meet the Colorado Trail. Follow the Colorado Trail 1.6 km to a path junction inside the forest, and make sure you fork right (signed "Mt. Elbert"). From here continue on an obvious path all the way to the summit, where you'll find a couple of stone shelters and a summit registration book.
Descend by reversing your ascent route.
29. July 2013
One of the main objectives during our days in Colorado was to hike Mount Elbert. But because of mixed weather we hadn't really had the opportunity during the first few days, so when the forecast for this Monday showed reasonable conditions we made a decision on Sunday night to get up early Monday morning and have a go if the conditions looked favourable. Adding to the motivation for having a go this Monday was the fact that this was our last full day in Colorado before flying back to the east coast early next morning.
When we woke up early Monday morning it was obvious that the weather was good enough for a go at this ultra prominent mountain, and we were out of our Leadville hotel long before they started serving breakfast.
At trail head there were already a few other cars parked, so we expected to see other hikers throughout the route. But we didn't expect to meet hikers already after a few tens of metres of hiking; two girls coming down the path through the forest. It turned out they hadn't figured out where to go in the first path junction above the trail head, so were happy to take our advise on the correct route.
Hiking from a trail head only tens of metres above 3000 metres means you don't set off at running pace, at least not when living only 100 metres above sea level, so we were very surprised when a guy, dressed in little more than shorts and running shoes, ran past us at 3200 metres. And I was even more surprised when he came running back down to the car park a little after we had completed our hike more than five hours later.
When we got out of the forest, at around 3600 metres, I could see Elisabeth was having some trouble with the pace of Njål, Sigurd and me, and I even told the boys that I was afraid she wouldn't be able to make it to the summit. So I wasn't surprised when she a few minutes later said we should just go ahead and she would continue on her own and see how far she would get. I didn't like this, but with a lot of hikers all along the path I concluded that safety wouldn't be an issue, and there was no way I would be able to stop the boys from going to the summit, including myself. Hence we continued all the way to the summit, where we had a sandwich and signed the summit registration book.
While we descended we met one of the girls we had met down by trail head, and she informed us that the last she had seen of her friend and Elisabeth they were keeping the same pace and were still going uphill. I therefore had a quick look at Sigurd, and we both clearly had the same thought; he would walk back up together with Elisabeth when we met her. And when we met her at 4100 metres she was doing OK and determined to go to the summit. Sigurd therefore took her back pack and the camera, and they made it to the summit while Njål and me continued down to the car.
Elisabeth and Sigurd joined us at trail head less than 30 minutes after we got to the car, and we were all very happy that all four of us made it in fine style.