Mounts Elbert and Massive

  • Colorado Rocky Mountain Autumn Beauty   - © TheLightningMan.com flickr user
  • Colorado Rocky Mountain Independence Pass Autumn Pano - © TheLightningMan.com flickr user
  • Elbert and Massive  - © sfgamchick flickr user
  • Massive peak - ©  sfgamchick flickr user
  • Mount Elbert  - © David Herrera flickr user
  • Mount Elbert Hike  - © Greg willis flickr user
  • Mount Elbert Hike  - © Greg willis flickr user
  • Mount Elbert  - © Matt Mordfin flickr user
  • Mount Massive, Colorado  - © David Herrera flickr user

Key information: Mounts Elbert and Massive

    • Towering over the Sawatch Mountain Range, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive are the U.S. Rockies two highest mountains, standing at 4,399m and 4,396m respectively.
      • Exciting walking and superb, all-round views on these two huge mountains.
        • This is tough walking in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient and where altitude can cause real problems. Weather here is very unpredictable, there is no water available on the trails, and in Summer afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. Come prepared.
        • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Walkopedia rating

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  • Note: Negs: altitude, popularity in high season

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,399m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Colorado Rocky Mountain Independence Pass Autumn Pano - © TheLightningMan.com flickr user

WALK SUMMARY

Towering over the Sawatch Mountain Range, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive are the U.S. Rockies' two highest mountains, standing at 4,399m and 4,396m respectively.They are two of the three highest mountains in the contiguous 48 states, dwarfed only by Mount Whitney.

Many feel enough of a sense of achievement from climbing just one of these peaks; climbing both, on consecutive days, is an impressive feat. For those with even higher ambitions (and necessarily very high levels of fitness), it is just about possible to climb both in one day. They can be hiked on a short side trip from the Continental Divide Trail.

This is tough walking in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient and where altitude can cause real problems. Weather here is very unpredictable (you can expect cold and wind, though), there is no water available on the trails, and in Summer afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. Come prepared.

Formed by uplifting along the (Continental) Divide.

Mt Elbert

4,399m

c. 8.75 miles round trip, starting in forest then emerging onto bare rock.

Superb views of twin lakes and Mt Massive.

2nd highest point in the continental US.

c.4,700ft elevation gain.

north Mt Elbert trail = most popular route, starts near Halfmoon campground, which is accessible by road from Leadville. A well-marked trail.

Steep so needs determination.

Chill winds, false summit, altitude.

Mt Massive

4,396m, 2nd highest peak in Colorado and 3rd highest in the 48 states.

Glacial lakes

Lower slopes covered in lodgepole pine forests, higher up Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir.

Designated the Mount Massive Wilderness in 1980.

First ascent 1873.

Very popular on s.ummer weekends

2 primary trails, 2 seldom used trails from north, several seldomly climbed ridgelines and slopes

5 options: 13.6miles, 9miles, 6.2miles, 11.4miles, 11.8miles, 14.2miles, 11.7miles

Best time to climb June-September.

The Leadville 100, a 100 mile high-elevation mountain race with a completion time limit of 30 hours, encompasses both Mount Elbert and Mount Massive.

Some practicalities

Closest airport Denver international; good base = Leadville

Need to acclimatize: you won't get to the top of these high mountains in a happy state if you haven't!

Lightning is a problem.

We have got as far as notes, so far.

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

 

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Massive peak - © sfgamchick flickr user

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Mount Elbert  - ©David Herrera flickr user ...
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