July 20, 2003
Camping the night before at the Missouri Gulch trailhead we slept through the alarm at 5 a.m. and didn't get hiking until 6:30, a late start for us. Looks like we wouldn't be the first on the summit this day. We crossed over Clear Creek and trail gets down to business right away. For some reason I didn't remember these switchbacks being so steep last year when I climbed Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford, maybe because that time I climbed them in the dark. Making our way up the trail we passed a couple of parties before we made it to the Missouri Gulch Creek crossing. Once on the east side of the creek the trail chills out a little bit as you make your way up the gulch. Missouri Mountain finally comes into view.
Proceeding up the gulch we crossed the stream again in several spots. The gulch flattens out for awhile, then climbs, then flattens out again as you approach Missouri Mountain. In the photo below the route leaves the trail as it heads east towards Elkhead Pass.
The trail steepens again as it climbs towards a saddle at around 13,700 feet. The photo below shows the standard route in yellow which we used on the ascent. The route in red shows our descent route which trimmed about 20 or 30 minutes off the descent.
We gained the saddle and had some very nice views of Huron Peak and the 3 Apostles to the west. From here it is another 0.5 miles left ridge to get to the summit.
We arrived on the summit at 10 a.m. taking us 3.5 hours for the ascent. The weather was very nice and we had numerous 14ers all around us.
The photo below shows Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia to the south.
To the west were the 3 Apostles looking very commanding.
Staying on the summit for about 30 minutes we decided to descent down the scree midway back across the ridge to the 13,700 foot saddle. The scree wasn't too bad and we rejoined the trail very quickly.
Descending the scree saved us about 20 minutes or more since we were now in front several parties that left the summit well before we did. From here it was a casual stroll back down the gulch to the trailhead. Almost back down to the trailhead we passed 3 people each walking their own mule. Their mules only had a small fanny pack strapped to them, not sure what that was all about. We arrived back at the trailhead around 1 p.m. bringing our total hiking time to about 5.5 hours. I now only have 1 fourteener left in the Sawatch Range, woohoo. This was my 33rd 14er and Amy's 9th.