Mount Massive

  • Mount Massive
  • 4395 m.
  • Primary factor 598 m.
  • 2nd Highest in Colorado
  • Climbed August 20, 2000


How to get there: The nearby city of Leadville, highest in the US, is a natural starting point. From there one drives to the trailhead in the valley between Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive. We hiked the direct route, one should then drive the road as far as the vehicle or the driver/owner's nerves can tolerate.
Route description: The trail starts up to the right from the little campground (North Halfmoon) where the road crosses the river. Actually, the bridge was closed to all traffic when we were there, so in this case one just starts hiking when the road ends. As the trail crosses an open field, there is a very easily noticed cairn that signals the turn-off for the trail that goes right and heads straight up the mountain. The trail is steep, but easy to walk. At first, easy to follow, the trail heads up, then slightly to the left until it heads up on what looks like a (horizon) ridge off to the left side. Once there, the trail becomes less distinct, however the hike should continue upwards in good terrain until the next horizon ridge is reached. One then pretty much follow this ridge at an easy angle until the main south-north ridge of Mount Massive is reached. At this point one is significantly higher than the saddle (low point) between Mount Massive and the lower south peak. An easy, but entertaining walk along the ridge with very good views both left and right leads to the proper summit point.
Comments: Pål Jørgen, age 11 hiked from the car to the summit in 2 hours, 15 minutes. We had light rain, but fortunately several periods of sunshine and a wide view from the summit. We subsequently traversed to the North Massive summit, 4371 m (45 minutes, light scrambling).
North Massive seems to be about 70 meter above the lowest col between the two summits (measured by my GPS) and therfore disqualified as a separate peak if a 91 meter minimum primary factor is used for this purpose (that is 300 feet). The map indicates a "Soft Rank", that is, a primary factor of 280 feet (85 m) based on interpolation between contour lines at the col, that is, a maximal uncertainty of about 6 m which would just make the 91 m criterium.
We subsequently returned to the col and descended a not so good scree area (only later noticed that the "trail" indicated in a guide book clearly was a ski descending route). The trail from the upper lakes in the valley and back down to the car park was very nice and is highly recommended. Total round trip time 6 hours.