Arrived at Halfmoon Campground around 11 AM (Coincidentally there was a half moon that evening.) The road to Halfmoon was good enough for my '59 Impala, but after Halfmoon it looked too dicey--though easy enough for 4-wheelers. It was only a mile and half walk to the Elbert trailhead, which after setting up my tent, Sam the wolfdog and I headed towards at 1210 PM.
Elbert from Highway 24
Halfmoon Creek Campsite
Knowing that darkness comes this time of year at 5PM I hustled, running the flat stretches--not easy in five pound boots. The trailhead connects with the Colorado Trail for two miles before it climbs steeply to the west. Below timber line the trail is packed snow--I gambled on not bringing snow shoes, but I did bring crampons and ice ax. I didn't even need them.
After an hour plus I came on a fellow aspirant--he worried there wasn't enough daylight to continue the climb--this at 120PM. I offered that there was maybe an hour to the summit--which was in sight (it turned out to be an hour and a half). With a headlight once on the trail the going would be straightforward even after nightfall. He turned around anyway.
Elbert from treeline
Above timberline there was patchy snow, mostly hardpacked--easy going. I reached the summit in just under 3 hours--the last summit apex dragged on in sights interminably--only to prove false. Once on top the wind was intense and the temperature of 16F harsh.
Mt Elbert Summit
Sam on Elbert
I quickly snapped some summit shots of Sam the Wolfdog--always a willing target, after which we quickly retreated, reaching the trailhead at 5PM, just as the "lights" went out. The half moon and stars were enough to light the rest of the way to camp. 14er number 17 in four months.
Sam the Wolfdog on Mt Elbert Summit
Mt Massive Nov 28

We were up by 430AM and hiking up the road to the Mt Massive trailhead by 520AM. Morning temperature at 10,500 feet was 10F.  Unfortunately my grand ambitions of Massive in the morning followed by La Plata in the afternoon (I might add followed by Missouri, Oxford, and Belford on Sunday!) ran into early trouble when I wasted half an hour trying to find the trailhead to Mt Massive in the dark. I had thought the Colorado Trail crossed the road at the Elbert trailhead--in fact it parallels the road for 1/4 mile, where the Massive Trailhead is clearly marked. The trail to Massive follows the Colorado Trail for three miles.

Mt Massive
Once above timberline and climbing up the lower basin below the final saddle the wind was quite strong. Gusts would sandblast me with snow pumice forcing me into a crouch with back turned to the blast. I slowly fought my way against the onslaught--setting small goals--a rock or over a snow patch and ultimately the final saddle itself. Massive from basin
Upon obtaining the final summit ridge I crept along its leeward side--plunging in deep snow below a jumble of granite rocks before angling again up the ridge--the only viable course to the summit. Here the winds were no longer gusts, but sustained. So strong I could not even stand up much less continue on--a freight train howling in my brain. Sam the wolfdog huddled to the lee of me, looking up with baleful eyes. I was forced to turn around within 200 vertical feet of the summit. Regrettable, but I done my utmost. Mt Massive
Sam the Wolfdog on the way up Mt Massive
Staggering back to my car after a total of 8 1/2 hours on the climb, exhausted and defeated, I relaxed with a beer, read an essay by Reg Saner from his thought-provoking book "The Four-Cornered Falcon", cooked up some food, then got in my car and drove home. Final ridge on Massive

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