This event is still a work-in-progress document, but dates/locations/etc are finalized. Start planning and RSVP now.
Mount Elbert is the highest point in the Rocky Mountains at 14440 ft. We did the southeast approach last year—this year, we're doing the northeast approach.
Mount Elbert is only 54 ft less than Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental US. It is, however, 5797 ft lower than the highest point in the entire US, Denali (Alaska). With that in mind, please be aware of the extreme elevation: you can get extremely sick. There are many herbal remedies (e.g., Ginseng tea, start taking it a few days before) that can stave off altitude sickness, as well as prescription medications if you're so inclined. It's important that you drink as much water as you can. We'll also be camping at 10,060 ft to help acclimate.
The plan is to leave Las Cruces on the morning of July 3rd, and make the 9 hour drive to a little southwest of Leadville, CO. We'll find an open campground and make camp, where we'll be staying for the next 2 days. It is unlikely there is any hotels/lodging available in the area other than camping.
The low may hit 40°F, please dress and plan appropriately. When hiking up Elbert, it may be windy so please bring a wind-proof jacket. There will be snow on the ground (which we will walk around). Take the altitude seriously also wear strong sun block and/or long sleeve clothing.
We'll camp there that evening, and begin hiking Mount Elbert no later than 5 am to avoid afternoon thunderstorms (this is extremely important!) from the North Mount Elbert/CDT trail head (location below). Once we summit Mount Elbert, depending on the weather, we may walk an additional 2 mi south to South Mount Elbert (optional, you can say you did two 14k peaks in 1 trip).
Otherwise, we should be down off the mountain by 2 or 3 pm, at latest. That afternoon, we may have showers at the Leadville Hostel ($5/person), or, if we finish early enough, head to a hot spring (~$20/person). That evening, we'll check out the July 4 festivities in either Aspen or Leadville, CO.
Saturday morning (July 5th), you can either head directly to Las Cruces or follow the Extended Week of Hard Stuff folks down to Colorado Springs to do Pike's Peak [more information forthcoming]
It is July 4th weekend, and the area will be very busy. It's imperative you get to the campground as soon as possible to reserve a campsite. A comment with a GPS point will be posted as soon as the Extended Week of Hard Stuff crew (i.e. Samat) find an open camping area earlier in the week, but here are the campgrounds in order of preference (distance to trailhead) for completeness:
• Mount Elbert Campground. Closest to our starting trailhead. $13/night per spot. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)
• Half Moon Creek Campground. You will pass it on the way to the Mount Elbert Campground, as it is further down the mountain. $13/night per spot. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)
To get to these campgrounds, head north from the US 24–Co 82 junction over 10 mi to State Highway 300, take a left and head west. After 0.8 mi, take a left onto County Road 11 heading south. After 1.3 mi, take a right onto Half Moon Road and drive into the canyon until you find the campgrounds.
If these campgrounds are unavailable, we unfortunately will have to drive significantly to the next available campground. We'll head back onto US 24 and head south to CO 82, and head west. Here's a map of the campgrounds in that area, and on that highway in order of preference:
• Dexter Point
• Lakeview: $12/night.
• Whitestar: $18/night.
• Parry Peak.
• Twin Peaks. $18/night
We'll be starting on Friday, July 4 morning at 5 am from the North Mount Elbert trail head, which is down the road (heading west) from the Mount Elbert and Half Moon Creek campgrounds. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)
I am not going to even try to give directions from Las Cruces/elsewhere: please enter the GPS coordinates into your car's GPS, or better yet, click the Google Maps link on your phone to find the best way to navigate to each location. Be aware that as you near the Leadville, CO area there is little to no cell phone service.
If you are a guest of the United States (i.e., non-citizen), there is a US Customs & Border Patrol checkpoint demarcating passage to/from what the ACLU calls a "Constitution-Free Zone". If this bothers you, please donate to the ACLU and harass your congress critters; otherwise please bring appropriate documentation of your entry into the US (passports, visas, etc—you know better what you need than we do). Group hikes are not the place to make a stand for your civil liberties.
DISTANCE is ~11 mi to Mount Elbert's summit and back. ~15 mi for including South Mount Elbert.
ELEVATION GAIN is ~4400 ft gained.
FEES: $13–20/campground site. We'll be staying for 2 nights, so you'll need $40. There may be fees for addtl vehicles ($5?). $5 for showers at Leadville Hostel. BRING CASH and SMALL BILLS. I would bring $100 in cash, just in case.
DURATION: Leaving Las Cruces the morning of Jul 3, and returning either Saturday (Jul 5) or late Sunday (Jul 6).
PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Bring a muzzle (you shouldn't need be told to bring a proper leash), and if you'd like to unleash, ask others before you do so.
SKILL LEVEL is *NOT* beginner friendly, though there is nothing difficult about this hike. Mind the extremely high elevation!
TERRAIN treks through high alpine forest, eventually climbing out of the treeline into mountain tundra. While the ascent and descent is steep, there is no climbing (easier than A Mountain). Mount Elbert is just a really, really big hill.
WEATHER: at trailhead, and on peak.
AFTERWARDS see description for details.
MEET for carpool (figure this out in the comments) at:
• Las Cruces: 8:00 am, east of NMSU's Pan Am Center. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map). It is safe to park your car here overnight.
• El Paso: Please meet in Las Cruces.
• Mount Elbert on Summit Post