Mountaineering – Mt. Massive (14,428 ft) via East Ridge, Leadville, CO

Charlie's Angels Summit Mt Massive
Charlie’s Angels on the Summit of Mt. Massive! It was so amazing to be on the summit with these accomplished ladies. What a fantastic day in the Sawatch Mountain Range!

On Saturday, Jane, Sanja, and I climbed to the summit of Mt. Massive via the East Ridge. It was my 2nd attempt on the mountain, having failed back in January due to high winds. With a stable, relatively calm forecast and a known trench, which was previously established to the East Ridge, the chances for success were excellent.

Mt Massive Summit Group Shot
Group Shot (From L-R: Sanja, Clare, Jane, Kevin, and Sarah). We met Kevin and Sarah on the way up to the summit and they were fun to hang out with once we caught up with them. Kevin and Sarah are both excellent mountaineers, in their own right, so there was a great camaraderie on the summit.

Clare and Sanja on Mt Massive
It’s Massive, Baby!

Mt Massive East Ridge Route
Our Route. Rather than going up a steep grade, on the north side of Pt 11,827, we followed a trench which wound it’s way gently around the south side. The route was much less strenuous, but it was 0.5 miles further distance wise, turning a 13 mile day into a 14 mile day. An additional benefit of going around the south side, was the presence of the sun which lightened our mood and made the hike that much more enjoyable.

05:45 am Leave Fish Hatchery
07:15 am Intersection of CO Trail and Highline Trail
09:00 am South of Pt. 11,827 at Treeline
09:30 am On the East Ridge Proper!
10:20 am At 12,500 ft on the ridge
11:00 am Passing through the notch at 13,200 ft
12:00 pm At 14,000 ft and done with scrambling.
12:30 pm Summit!
6:00 pm Back at the Fish Hatchery.

At the end of the day, Jane and Sanja got back to the car 30 minutes before me. A new pair of mountaineering boots were giving me agonizing pain, so the last 3 miles back were excruciating. Probably not a good idea on my part, to try breaking in a new pair of boots on a 14 mile hike, with 4,760 ft of elevation gain!

Mt Massive Winter Panorama
Even the view is Massive!

Sanja Staying Warm
Sanja staying warm on our traverse to the south side of Pt 11,827. It was a very cold morning, with temps well below freezing.

Sanja in the Sawatch Mountains
I can’t tell you how happy we were to be in the sun. Here’s Sanja celebrating the warmth!

Jane Scouting Ahead
Here’s Jane scouting ahead. Thank goodness Jane is so level headed and so helpful in the back country! I know I can count on her whenever we need to problem solve. I’m anal retentive when it comes to staying on course and at first I was uncomfortable when the trench led us to the south side of the ridge.

It felt like an awful long excursion, but it was only an additional 0.5 miles. In any event, Jane scouted out the way, just to make sure it was headed towards the East Ridge and I was thankful for her assistance while I futzed with putting new batteries in my Garmin.

Clare Leaving Treeline
I’m happy we figured it out and can now see the East Ridge!

East Ridge of Mt. Massive
The East Ridge of Mt. Massive (Taken from ~12,000 ft)

Sanja on the East Ridge of Mt. Massive
Sanja gaining the ridge.

At this point, we spent the next several hours chasing Jane up to the summit.

Jane on East Ridge of Mt Massive
Jane waited for us at a few key spots, to keep the group together and I was always happy to see her smiling face peaking out above us!

Clare Enjoying Bluebird Day on Mt Massive
Another advantage of having Jane out in front, is that she takes amazing pictures of me…!!!

Clare and Sanja Climbing East Ridge of Mt Massive
Scrambling on the East Ridge was fun. Jane got this nice shot of me climbing up the ridge.

The Notch Rocks on the East Ridge
The Notch on the East Ridge. Getting to the notch was fun, since the rocks were all covered with snow and a bit slippery. I was happy to have micro-spikes on, to help my feet stick in those spots.

Clare In the Notch
Smiling in the notch.

On the East Ridge, there were a couple of class 3 spots, but for the most part it was class 2. I’m glad we had such beautiful weather as the scrambling was really enjoyable.

Papperson Climbing the East Ridge
It was just after the notch, when I caught sight of “Papperson” which is the name folks call Kevin and Sarah, as a couple. Here they are above me on the East Ridge.

Sanja Approaching the Notch
Looking back at the Notch and Sanja climbing up towards me.

Jane Scrambling on East Ridge
I really like this picture of Jane on the ridge.

Clare on East Ridge of Massive
Here’s the picture Jane took of me…

Upper East Ridge
After the notch, at 13,400 ft, this is what the rest of the ridge looks like…a few more scrambly bits and then a straightforward climb to the final summit.

Jane on the East Ridge of Mt Massive
Jane leading the way.

Sanja Scrambling on the East Ridge
Sanja scrambling on the East Ridge. This was one spot, where there was a bit of climbing involved. About 8 feet of bouldery moves, nothing too hard!

Kicking Steps for Sanja
Here I am kicking steps for Sanja. Jane had gone up before me, so I just made the steps a bit deeper. Papperson decided to go around to the left and traverse this snow bank, rather than climb up and over.

East Ridge of Mt Massive
The final 600 ft of climbing!

Sanja at 13,800 ft
Sanja at 13,800 ft.

East Ridge of Mt Massive from 14,200 ft
Looking back at the East Ridge from 14,200 ft.

Clare on Mt Massive
On the summit, finally, after 6.5 hours of hiking.

After the summit, we made our way back to the car. It was pretty uneventful, except my feet started hurting with about 3 miles left to go. Jane gave me a shot of something which was delicious and I took some painkiller, but my feet were still in agony. I decided to take those boots back to REI the next day and go back to the LaSportiva brand. All in all, we had a great day on the mountain with fantastic weather and fun times.

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