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Mount Massive - Standard Route
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17 by photographer avatarazdesertfather
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Mount Massive - Standard RouteSouth Central, CO
South Central, CO
Hiking avatar Jul 16 2014
azdesertfather
Hiking14.72 Miles 5,087 AEG
Hiking14.72 Miles   6 Hrs   38 Mns   2.40 mph
5,087 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
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THIS was an adventure. After you hear this story, you'll know why I am so thrilled to have bagged this one!

Started just before 5:30am. The first portion of Massive reminded me a lot of the top of the Huachucas, with all of the coverage of green plans like flowers and corn lilies. Didn't see anyone until I came out of the treeline at 11,700ft. An older man who had started earlier than me was hiking it on his own, and he told me he was going to the top. I passed him, and said I'd see him on top.

Things seemed to be going fairly well, for a while. By the time I reached 12,000 feet though I knew we might be in for some weather. Storm clouds (at 7am) were already really forming. By the time I hit 12,800 I was in a little trouble. Sleet quickly started up, slamming me in the face with winds so hard that I had a hard time keeping balance (keep in mind, I don't have a lot of body mass!). The thundercloud was building over Massive, and I saw one other group who as about a quarter mile ahead of me (a group of about 8 or so) start coming back down the mountain toward me. They were convinced a summit wasn't possible today.

Totally discouraged, I turned around and started jogging down. I passed the old man, who said "giving up on it?" I said "yeah, it's too dangerous to risk it." He bid me well, but kept going up. I defended 400 feet (nearly a half mile) and noticed that things were clearing up, and I decided to give it another shot. "It's not even 8am yet! Maybe it's still possible." I reached the old man again, and his words were priceless: "So, you planning on hiking this two or three times, are ya?" We talked about the weather, and noted that we only had heard one really distant clap of thunder. The group of 8 come by us and warn us as they go by, but he and I look at each other and keep heading up. I'm booking it, telling myself this is my one and only shot at this today and I've gotta give this my best shot. Storm clouds are everywhere, but they are blowing over very fast, not parking over Massive anymore.

With the group gone, I'm now leading the way up the mountain. When I get to the col, or saddle near the top, though, this mountain goat teenager comes charging past me. I drop my pack for the last 500 foot of climbing, and don't mess with the crampons. There is snow and ice, but not enough to stop me. The first stretch from the col to the peak is on the side of the ridgeline away from the wind, but for the second half as I am on the other side, the wind is whipping me like nobody's business. I kept booking it and made it at 9:30...second to the top, behind skinny teenage mountain goat kid.

I stayed on the top only 10 minutes, knowing I'm playing with fate. Even though there still has been no more thunder or even rain, storm clouds were everywhere. I'm the first down, and there are two dozen who are coming up as I make my way back to the col. Past the col, for about a mile I run into three dozen more people, then I'm by myself the rest of the way to the bottom. I met the old man as I reached the col and my backpack, patted him on the back and told him thanks for the added encouragement to keep on it.

There was some wildlife on the trip, but not a lot. One animal (I want to find out what it was!) looked like an oversized squirrel, brown with black eyes. It was about 2 feet long and probably weighed about as much as a medium-sized dog. Saw another one of these on Mt. Evans, later that afternoon. Only drank about three-fourths of a liter for the day. Cell phone signals good, like Elbert, all the way (except about a mile near each trailhead).
Named place
Named place
Mount Massive
_____________________
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau
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