With my quest to finish the 14ers within the next year or two (hopefully this year, but with everything going on, who knows?), I’ve been trying to do a 14ers or two every week. Of course with my obsession of finding new outdoor activities to get involved in, it has been somewhat difficult. So when some of my 14er hiking partners were able to go, we decided to hit Missouri despite the potential for stronger winds.
Start Time: 4:30am
Partners: Lindsey, Yinlin, Annie
Route: Standard Route, Northwest Ridge
Success: No, turned back 100 feet or so from the summit.
Missouri Mountain Trip Report
We started off pretty early, getting to treeline right about at sunrise. To our surprise, it had snowed quite a bit the previous night, something that none of us had anticipated. It looked to be a couple inches in places, and unfortunately, none of us had decided to bring traction. Trip reports from the previous day had said snow was avoidable. It definitely was not.
I’ve always heard people jokingly refer to Missouri as “Misery”, and for parts of it, I would label it as type 2.5 fun. The hike itself wasn’t nearly as grueling as Oxford and Belford had been, at least in my opinion. We followed the trail up Elk Pass, crossing the steam several times before splitting off onto the Missouri trail for the standard route. Once we hit the split, we were hiking in the snow for most of the time.
The wind started to pick up at this point too. It originally called for 20 mile/hour winds with 40 mile/hour gusts. It was more like 40 mile/hour winds with 50-60 miles/hour gusts. The only other time I’ve been on a 14er with winds this strong was when I did the DeCaLiBron loop a few years back. We made our way up to a point where we had to ascend a snowfield that was fairly steep.
Up until this point, traction was not necessary, but after it would have been very useful. Once we managed to get up the snowfield, each of us kicking out a little more snow to help on the way back, we made the saddle. The wind here was brutal. We fought it through fresh 6 inch deep snow drifts in areas, before finally coming to the last section of Missouri, which is the hardest part of the hike. Though not usually technically difficult, with the large wind gusts, the snow and ice, we decided to turn back after hunkering down behind a nice rock that shielded us from a lot of the wind.
Since I usually start 14ers so early, I’m usually one of the first people down. I prefer it this way as I have the rest of the day to do stuff, plus I manage to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that Colorado is known for in the high country. The past few times though have hindered my climbing experience though, with the storms being stronger in the morning. Go figure.
This time wasn’t different and as we descended it seemed like the wind start to die down slightly, and all the snow had pretty much melted off in the lower sections. While my partners did not enjoy the high winds, I actually did not mind it as much. It at least made the hike a little more interesting, though slightly more of a suffer-fest. My hands, despite gloves, were freezing, but other than that, I definitely was doing better gear wise.
We were maybe 100 feet or so from the summit when we decided to turn around. A decent amount of people passed us later on our decent and I could make out that most of them made the summit. This was pretty irritating, but oh well, I’ll be back another day to do this mountain. This time to link up Missouri, Belford, and Oxford, so get ready for another Missouri Mountain Trip Report. Because apparently I really do enjoy the suffer-fests.
I brought my Outdoor Research Refuge Hybrid Hooded Jacket with me. It is quickly becoming my absolute favorite piece of gear. Read about why I love this jacket in my Gear Review.
What I wished I would have brought were my Kahtoola Microspikes. After this, I’ll probably bring them on most 14ers. Even if all the trip reports say completely clear.