This past weekend, I traveled with a good group of friends to Leadville, Colorado to camp at the base of and climb Mt. Massive, one of Colorado’s 14ers, and the 2nd highest peak in the Rocky Mountains.
Leave the parking area and begin hiking up the Colorado/Mt. Massive trail – Photo #1. Cross South Willow Creek (Photo #2) after 2 miles and continue another mile before crossing Willow Creek (Photo #3), at 11,000‘. Both of these crossings are fairly easy unless the rocks are submerged or icy. Continue northwest up a hill and to reach a trail junction at 11,300‘ – Photo #4. Turn left onto the Mt. Massive Trail. Hike approx. 1/4 mile up a hill and through some small clearings to reach 11,600‘ where the terrain flattens out and you can finally see portions of Massive ahead – Photo #5.
Continue to 11,800‘, zigzag through willows and ascend Point 12,466‘ -Photo #6 and Photo #7. Reach easier ground near 12,400‘ where most of the remaining route is now in view to the west – Photo #8. With 2 miles remaining, the summit is still a long way off. Your next goal is to reach the saddle between “South Massive” and the summit ridge. Continue up the excellent trail as you gradually gain ground and eliminate distance – Photo #9. Keep hauling to reach the 13,900-foot saddle – Photo #10, Photo #11 and Photo #12.
Turn right at the saddle and follow a small trail up toward the summit ridge – Photo #13, Photo #14and Photo #15. The exact line to the ridge depends on snow conditions and/or route finding along the broken trail. Near the ridge, reach a notch and signed (hopefully) trail junction. This is where the Southwest Slopes trail comes up from the south. Photo #16 looks back at the trail junction. Past the junction, stay right of the ridge crest and weave up through the rocks (Photo #17 and Photo #18) to reach easier terrain on the ridge crest near 14,300‘ – Photo #19 and Photo #20. Gain a false summit where you can finally see the summit – Photo #21. Drop to the left, continue to a saddle (Photo #22) and follow the faint trail over to the top. From the summit, Photo #23 looks back on the summit ridge.