Tag Archives: 14er

Mount of the Holy Cross

Here is the awesome report of the Mount of the Holy Cross. Enjoy the climb with Anna, Jesse, and Mary!


We left the cabin just before 2 am, bound for Mount of the Holy Cross; it felt early but there was a nice moon when we started. It began raining part way through the drive but by the time we reached the turn for the dirt road, it lightened to a drizzle. That dirt road took us up onto the mountain, and as we climbed, it became clear we had entered a thick cloud.

We arrived at the trailhead around 4:30 am to complete darkness and heavy mist: good thing we brought our lights (just kidding, we always do that). The forecast predicted it to be a beautiful dayclearly, they were just referring to the “day” part of the day.

We started at the wrong trailhead (because us) but followed a social path to the right trail (because GPS). We occupied ourselves with much interesting conversation on the way up, and as the sun rose, we kept expecting (really, “hoping”) the clouds to clear off. The drizzle changed to sleet and then to snow. Even though the sun had risen, the visibility remained minimal. As we climbed above the treeline, the wind grew stronger, and it always felt great when we got to enjoy a switchback where we faced away from the wind.
We had decided to do a variant of the route on the way up. This approach allowed us to do a full circle instead of the standard out and back. The neat thing about the route is that it took us right by the Notch Mountain Shelteran impressive stone hut built in the 1930s for religious groups who made pilgrimages to Notch Mountain in order to see the nearly 1,500’ tall cross couloir on Mount of the Holy Cross (essentially gullies that intersect). Notch Mountain stands opposite the Mount of the Holy Cross and the cross is dazzling when snow lays in the couloir.

Inside the Notch Mountain Shelter

We were a bit chilly by the time (7:45 am) we reached the ridge upon which the shelter was built. We welcomed the reprieve from the wind and snow that it provided. The view, of course, was quite unremarkableonly about 100 yards of ridge which disappeared into clouds racing by. We unsuccessfully attempted to warm up inside the shelter while taking opportunities to look out the large window occasionally.

We hoped the storm would clear and celebrated the signs of sunshine and blue sky that started around 8:30 am. Then the most stunning moment cameone that we were all so awe-struck by we didn’t think to grab any pictures.

The clouds cleared enough that we could see across the bowl to the Mount of the Holy Cross. The cross couloir had a layer of snow in it which dramatically set it off from the dark rock around. A photo wouldn’t have captured half the sight anyway, so perhaps it was ok to just leave in our minds. The vertical gully stretched from near the bottom of the giant face to the top with a slanted shelf appearing like a crossbeam that ran horizontally almost the width of the mountain.

Enjoying our first glimpse of the sun!

The clouds continued to clear until we were at last surrounded by big, open sky. This was more like it. At 9:30, we considered all the conditions and decided we were ready to press on. Let the work begin!

Not limited to the trail which ended at the shelter, we bid it farewell and started the 3-mile trek across the ridge over to the summit. By this time, the snow had melted from the cross couloir, and it was only then that we realized the magnitude of the beautiful gift God gave us in allowing us to see it with snow.

We greatly enjoyed the route across, and the weather stayed nice the rest of the day. It was a bit strenuous due to the terrain and the fact that we only dropped below 13,000’ once the entire ridge. We also crossed two ranked 13ers and an unranked one on the way over so there was good up and down. This traverse offered terrific views of the surrounding region.

Notch Mountain Shelter is the circled in this photo.

Triumphant arrival on the summit
Our summit selfie
Mary and Jesse enjoying the views

By early afternoon we made our final ascent and summited the Mount of the Holy Cross. So far, we had seen no other climbers, and we had the summit to ourselves. The views were spectacular, and we took in every bit of beauty we could during the short time we were on the summit. Looking back across the bowl to our lovely Notch Mountain Shelter was rewarding as it stood as a tiny spec on that giant ridge.

You can barely see the shelter as a bump on the far ridge.

After refueling, we started descending and enjoyed the excellent route and the warm sunshine, while trying not to let the wind knock us over. In the valley, we stopped at a lush mountain stream to refill our water before climbing 1,000’ over Half Moon Pass. This part ended our singularity as we passed a steady stream of other hikers coming in to camp in the lovely valley. Some of them looked well prepared and others didn’t look prepared at allwe hope they all had a good time.

We reached our car late afternoon and celebrated the amazing day and the neat memories we had made together. While it was one of our last 14ers in that range, we decided it was the prettiest. We were so grateful that God cleared the weather off (had it kept snowing we would have turned around) and the amazing opportunity to see the cross couloir with snow it.

Jesse, Anna, and Mary

“Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust,
for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.”
Isaiah 2:10

Mount Belford, Another Great 14er

Mt. Belford was the first 14er we have done on a Saturday in quite a while, because it can mean a lot of hikers on single wide trails. Since Anna, Jesse, and Mary had a long hike on Thursday (watch for that post Monday!), we wanted to give them a rest day on Friday, and we were leaving on Sunday so that left us Saturday. Sarah stayed back at the cabin to edit her book. 

It took us 1.5 hours to drive to the trailhead from our cabin. The last 3 miles the gravel road had the worst washboard we have been on so we drove slowly through there.

This climb was supposed to be 8 miles with 4500 feet elevation gain. We were ready to hike just as it got light so we didn’t need our headlamps.

We began the hike through a pine forest that leveled out a bit in a beautiful aspen grove. Once we had climbed above the trees, it was switchbacks all the way up the mountain. With so many hiking on Saturday, we could see the steady stream of people making their way up.

We worked and worked for the summit, only to find it was a false summit, and we still had further to go. We enjoyed conversations with several others who were hiking up about our pace.

Not long after starting the switchbacks, Jesse, Anna, and Mary moved ahead to summit as they still had a great amount of energy. Steve and I planned to turn around at noon if we hadn’t yet made it to the top. We summited at 11:20 while the others had been enjoying the views for an hour. Jesse, Anna, and Mary (and Sarah and John) had climbed Mt. Belford before when they did a double 14er of Mt. Belford and Oxford.

Jesse and Mary on Belford
Anna on Belford
Steve and me on the summit

From where we rested and ate lunch on top of Mt. Belford, we could see the path on to Oxford and people on it, but our plan was just Mt. Belford.

The trail over to Oxford.

There were two ways down–the way we had come up and another trail that appeared not to have so many switchbacks and was a mile longer. After some discussion, everyone agreed that Steve and I should go back the shorter way we came and the others should check out the alternate route.

Going down, we spotted them on their trail, and they spotted us on ours. They were much further down, so they again rested while we poked our way down. Downhill is much easier than uphill, but Steve and I take it slowly because of loose rocks on the trail and our weak muscles after the climb up.

This is where we joined up with the other three.

Steve and I thanked the Lord that we could make this longer 14er hike with more elevation gain than the one earlier in the week.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city
of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.”
Psalm 48:1

Mount Sherman, A 14er Family Hike

On Mary’s 22nd birthday (last Tuesday), we left the cabin before dawn and drove to the Leadville area. The weather did not seem promising with heavy clouds and even light rain as we arrived at the trailhead. We’ve yet to have to turn around on a 14er due to weather, but I thought this would be our first because we are very cautious especially concerning thunderstorms. These didn’t look like the thunderstorms that typically come up in the afternoons.

Jesse is our master route guide, and he planned for us to take an alternate (shorter) route up Mt. Sherman. We parked near an old abandoned mine and began our trek, in the mist and cold.

We hiked up a beautiful mountainside with a great trail. The weather changed literally by the minute, and so sometimes we took a break to get our rain gear out and other times we stopped to take it off.

On the ridge, the trail joined a popular route, so we gained a lot of company, which is great. The wind was really strong as we did the final ascent.

Enjoy the pictures and journal below of our hike!

Love,
Sarah
PS – We arrived home Monday afternoon, and I’ll be catching you up on the hikes later!

On the way, we saw a herd of elk!

The dirt road we took up to the trailhead was gorgeous.

These sweet sisters of mine, all ready for the hike.

Hiking up at a steady pace.

Take a break to de-layer. As you can see, it was at an angle not terribly conducive for
one’s Camelbak to stay in one’s possession.

Notice the rain in the upper left coming in. You can see it approaching, and then when you don’t see it
approaching, and you feel wet, well, you know it’s now upon you!

As we reached the ridge, the wind picked up and it began sleeting ice pellets,
which thankfully didn’t last too long.

Now this is looking back down the ridge as the family approaches.

The ridge consisted of lots of rocks, and the wind was really strong, and the temperatures cold.

The summit itself was flat and spacious. A SAMS sister picture (Sarah, Anna, Mary).

Awesome picture of Jesse!

Dad and Mom summit!

Here’s a view back down to the valley we climbed out of. I circled where are vehicles parked.

Time on the summit is spent chatting with others, eating snacks, layering or de-layering depending on the temperature, texting friends and family pictures, and enjoying the views.

You want to know my favorite summit food? Junior Mints!

Dad and Mom

Anna found this wrench-shaped rock.

The views going down were gorgeous and the weather on the ridge pleasant compared to the way up.

But by the time we got to the bottom of the ridge, the weather changed
again, and it was time to layer up again!

Mary and Jesse

Another great rock shape

Hiking down (down to short sleeves!)

Jesse and Mary decided to do their hiker’s duty and build a cairn for the benefit of their fellow hikers. You need the perfect rocks, so they worked to select the right ones.

The finished cairn with its builders.

I’ll let you in on a little code word Anna has coined: recliner rock. Here Anna is enjoying a recliner rock–if you can really picture a rock being comfortable? It has to be the right smoothness and angle to be able to lay back on, and surprisingly enough, she finds herself quite a few recliner rocks on hikes.

Mount Sherman (we think) is about in the middle of this picture.

Enjoying a break at the stream.

A selfie at the end of our hike.

What could be better than to grab a coffee in Leadville? So perfect!
Mary enjoyed a birthday phone call AND a caramel latte 🙂

Jesse took the opportunity for good WiFi to plan Thursday’s hike, Mount of the Holy Cross, which just Mary, Anna, and he did. I can’t wait to share on that one!

Anna took a picture of Mary’s gifts.

We celebrated Mary’s birthday that evening.

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought
for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!”
Psalm 31:19

Mount Princeton Hike

Monday morning Jesse, Anna, and Mary left the cabin early. The best way to hike Mount Princeton is to have a 4-WD vehicle, otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of mileage! With Jesse’s rented Jeep, they drove up to the radio towers and parked. After that, it was a total of 6.4 miles and 3,688 feet of elevation gain.

They enjoyed an awesome morning hiking Princeton, made many memories together as siblings, and they were the first people to summit that day!

Enjoy the pictures.

An illuminate with head-lamp selfie in the dark.

The clouds were spectacular.

I was not with them on this hike, and the picture I posted of Anna and Mary the other day Jesse took. He’s an awesome photographer and has an incredible eye for it.

After the sun came up, the clouds disappeared.

The route was easy to follow.

On the saddle

They made their summit at 7:45 am!

Relaxing

Jesse

Lots of wind at the top!

Heading back down.

If you look closely, you can see the faint trail line.

Looking back up the ridge.

Jesse and Mary

They walked on a huge rock field.

Jesse and Anna

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:58

Mount Belford and Oxford, Another Double 14er

Mount Belford and Oxford are located in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. They are close to each other, thus making it feasible to do both back to back.

Because of the importance of summiting early in the day to avoid being caught in a thunderstorm on top, we started out at 2:50 am. 

We hiked in the dark with our headlamps for about 3 hours.

IMG_2139After we got to the meadow, we could see Mount Belford ahead, illuminated by the moon. Gorgeous. We also saw snow on it.

We climbed our way steadily up, one foot in front of the other. As dawn broke, we saw a herd of mountain goats on a far off slope: so pretty (sorry: no pictures: I didn’t have my DSLR camera with me).

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The trail was wonderful. We’re very grateful to the Colorado 14er Initiative for all their work on trails! In fact, we saw a group of them working on part of the Missouri trail.

Anna Maxwell and Mary Maxwell
Anna and Mary
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Sunrise in the mountains
John, Anna, Mary, and I before our final ascent to Belford. It was cold!
John, Anna, Mary, and I before our final ascent to Belford. It was cold!

We summited Belford at 6:50 am. It was so cold (probably a 15 degree windchill) all we could do was layer up and get moving on to Oxford.

Belford's summit
Belford’s summit
Just trying to stay warm.
Just trying to stay warm.

The trek over to Oxford looked snowy but doable.

This is the approximate path up to Oxford.
This is the approximate path up to Oxford.
A panorama Jesse took in a flat spot between the two peaks.
A panorama Jesse took in a flat spot between the two peaks.

So we set off and warmed up as we walked. It took us an hour and a half to summit Belford, in some places finding our own trail through the snow.

Oxford was beautiful and deserted—we were the first and probably only ones to summit it that day. We took time to eat snacks and grabbed pictures. Oxford’s summit was roomy and fairly flat, unlike Belford which was very rocky with steep inclines on several sides.

Jesse on Mount Oxford
Jesse on Mount Oxford
Anna, Jesse, Mary, and John
Anna, Jesse, Mary, and John
The girls
The girls
Jesse pointing out peaks again
Jesse pointing out peaks again

Then, we headed back. We knew this next part would be hard, as we’d lost a lost of elevation coming down from Belford. And it was hard. Two of us weren’t feeling so well, but we kept at it: slowly and steadily.

This shows the approximate trail back to Belford.
This shows the approximate trail back to Belford.
Jesse taking photos or videos or something.
Jesse taking photos or videos or something.

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We re-summited Belford, and the temperatures were warmer, so we took pictures, ate more snacks for energy, and enjoyed spending a little time before making our final descent.

John on Belford
John on Belford
Jesse on Belford.
Jesse on Belford.
Me on Belford
Me on Belford
Anna Maxwell
Anna on Belford
Mary on Belford
Mary on Belford

IMG_8207

Around 11 am, we headed down. We saw a search and rescue helicopter fly around the area, and we found out later that a man died on Harvard (from unknown causes: SARs found him early that morning, but he was missing as of the night before). That was sad.

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We saw people climbing Missouri, a nearby peak, but we only passed a total of three people on our trail. We watched rain clouds gathering and were grateful for our early start.

IMG_8232

You can see Mount Belford peeking out above the trees.
You can see Mount Belford peeking out above the trees.

Around the time we exited the rock fields, it began sleeting little ice pellets. So out came the rain gear! The trail became wet and muddy, and we slipped occasionally but nothing major.

IMG_2342IMG_2346

We made it down to the trail head by a little before 2, making our time from start to finish, and including our summit breaks, to be close to 11 hours. It was an intense hike with wonderful company!

In all, we went almost 10 miles and had 6000 feet of elevation gain.

Love,
Sarah

In front of the Colorado 14ers Initiative Truck
In front of the Colorado 14ers Initiative Truck

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee…”
Psalm 63:1