Mount Massive (14,421′)

By BrandonAdventuresLeave a Comment

Distance 11.8 miles (on Strava but should be more like 9 based on our route)
Total Time 7 hr 0 min
Summit Elevation 14,421 feet
Elevation Gain 4,268 feet
Route Southwest Slopes via North Halfmoon Creek
GPS Analysis Strava

Mount Massive

I usually try and hit one 14er each summer with the kids. Reagan somehow got it in her head when we did Elbert that she needed to do Massive next. I wasn’t too pumped because Massive is long and sort of boring. But that would complete her local Leadville 14ers so that made some sense. I then remembered that a lot of runners like to descend the southwest side during Nolan’s attempts. I had never been over there so I cracked open the Roach book and realized this was a better option. Less trail. Fewer miles. The kids are slow at that stuff because they only move one speed.

The weather all week sucked. Thunderstorms every day. I kept watching because we had the luxury of going when we wanted and there is nothing worse than aborting an attempt with kids. So suddenly a window opened for today and we went for it. Even though the trailhead is close, we were still up at 5. Left around 6:15. Hiking by 7 AM.

I chose to take Roach’s advice and park at the junction of the 4WD road. However, I quickly discovered that next 1/2 mile is easily covered in the truck. The road is single lane but nice and wide. Just some rock inclines. Then plenty of parking at the trailhead. Noted for next time.

It had rained the night prior and the low clouds were still hanging when we left for the trailhead. However, within minutes of starting up through the basin, we saw blue sky. It was going to be a good day.

The trail meanders through the basin for a bit then you hit the big right turn to head up to the Massive ridge. The books said it was possible to miss but I found it pretty easy. There are no other right turns before this. It is pretty obvious right at the end of the clearing. Marked with a cairn and a sign as well.

Then you just go up. The footing is good. Better than say, Sherman. Sort of back of Hope Pass switchback-ish at times. We just kept at it. The kids were having a good time but struggling a bit here or there. No training leading up to this so this was the speed for the day.

We kept at it for a few hours and hit the ridge. I knew things would be easy going from there. You just wind along it searching for the high point which is a bit of a distance north on the ridge. We were all alone on the summit. Stayed for maybe 20 minutes and headed out. The clouds were building and the kids are slow on the down so I wanted as much time as possible. Ended up just being a sprinkle with no thunderstorms or danger on the descent.

Overall, a great day and a successful summit. I was glad to help the kids check another one off their list. I will be excited when we get to do one that is new to me someday so we get to increase our totals together.

My Garmin watch was dead today so I just used the Strava iPhone app for the distance. It overshot according to everything out there. The sign at the trailhead said 3.4 mi (I think) to the summit.

The girls make their own videos for their YouTube channel. So I got out of that job!

Here is the story in pictures…

There was an Army helicopter crash near the trailhead in 2009.  Many in Leadville remember it because it occurred just days before the Leadville 100 that year and a portion of the course was closed to the public to work the crash scene.  The race was re-routed that year and has never returned to the original course.

Mount Massive

A shot of me just ahead of the girls.  You can usually spot Reagan in the pink shirt pretty easily.  That furthest mountain in the upper left is Mount Elbert, tallest in Colorado.  Mount Massive is number 2 by only 12 feet.

Mount Massive

We started down in that valley floor along the creek.  You might see if it you zoom in.  Here we are just working our way up 3000 vertical feet of hillside.  Sometimes rock, sometimes grassy.

Mount Massive

Getting up pretty high now.  Somewhere in the 13,000′ range.  Starting to see the peaks to the west.  Lots of good 13ers out there that are not as climbable as our 14ers.

Mount Massive

Random pano from the saddle on the summit.  Massive has five 14,000+ peaks on this ridge.  We are just hitting the highest as that is considered the summit.

Mount Massive

Here we are!  I didn’t realize Reagan was laughing.  Wish we had another shot.

Mount Massive

Sydney wanted to be the 2nd highest person in Colorado so she stood on the rock.  We laughed that a bird had done his business on it.

Mount Massive

My two climbing girls.  Been doing it with me since they were 7 years old.  Kayla, your turn next time.

Mount Massive

Here we are coming across the ridge just off the summit.  The top of a mountain is a weird place.  Doesn’t look like I ever expected they would.

Mount Massive

Ozzy and I were just chilling out on the descent waiting for the slow talkative girls to catch up.

Mount Massive

This is a cool rock formation on the descent.  I was sort of queasy watching Sydney climb up there.  Although the space was huge and not at all scary.

Mount Massive

Until next time.