Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,202 feet
Date Posted:  05/06/2011
Date Climbed:   05/05/2011
Author:  Matt Lemke
 Perfect day on Mt. Belford   

So it was time for me to start getting out and climbing peaks again. The semester for me is winding down and summer is on its way where I'll be hitting the mountains hard. I went out with MountainFever along with a few other of her friends to the Missouri Gulch trailhead. The original plan was to climb Missouri but as you'll see, the plans changed.

We got to the trailhead around 11:00 pm Wednesday night. The road was in great shape although I can't speak for road conditions beyond the Missouri Gulch trailhead.

We camped the night and woke early to start up the trail.

...Sunrise from the trailhead

Very soon after starting up the trail we hit continuous snow. It was nice and hard from the night plus we got to follow some frozen solid ski tracks from a group that skid Missouri a couple days prior. We made great time up the trail and past the old cabin after maybe an hour and a half.

...First views to the north from the trail

Upon breaching treeline we were greeted with great views of the valley, Missouri Mountain and Mt. Belford. The entire gulch was filled with snow but a lot of it was solid as the sun hadn't come over the mountains yet.

...View into Missouri Gulch looking at Missouri and Belford. Belford was a safer and much better choice.

We very quickly noticed how much snow was on Missouri Mountain and wondered how safe it would be. I'm not really the best person regarding avalanches and I tend to play it safe.
So our group split up. MountainFever and I went up Belford which had its standard route nearly completely windblown while the other two in our group attempted Missouri.

From the valley we ditched the snowshoes and started climbing up the west slope.

...View of the snowy Missouri Gulch from the west slope of Belford


...View of the west slope of Belford


...More views breaking out!

This was a beautiful climb and great views were seen the entire way up. It also wasn't too hot or cold however the beating sun reflecting on the snow really took its toll on my face.
It took us about two hours to get up Belford from treeline...not bad for my first hike in mountains since December.

...Final ascent up this summit block

The summit views were spectacular!


...Panorama from the summit looking towards Oxford and Missouri


...Summit panorama looking towards La Plata and the entire Tenmile/Mosquito range


...Me on the summit

We got great looks at Missouri, Oxford, Emerald, Iowa, La Plata, Pikes, and all of the Tenmile/Mosquito range.
We took it pretty easy on the way down knowing the two who attempted Missouri would be a little while. Saw many ptarmigan birds on the way down and noticed them changing color...a sign that summer is fast approaching.

...A ptarmigan changing colors for the summer.

As we descended it got downright hot. It was a little chilly with a slight breeze on the summit but by the time we were halfway down it felt like 100 degrees with all my black clothes on.
In reality it was about 55-60 though.
Great views on the way down. We saw the snow become very shiny throughout the whole valley as it was melting fast. We saw a bunch of slides on the slopes of Missouri that were only a few days to a week old. Just another reason we stayed off that mountain although it was probably pretty stable since it had just been skid by another party not long ago.

When we got back to our snowshoes we put them on as we really needed them. The snow got VERY soft and we actually were able to ski a little with the snowshoes.

...Last view on the descent of Belford


...This was last view we had just before getting back into the trees.

The trail down back to the car didn't seem anywhere near as long than on the way up but I guess with the soft snow we were able to move quicker with snowshoes on. When we got back we were exhausted since we had just climbed James Peak the previous day (See TR to come).

It was a great day and we had great views of the mountains on the drive back. Every slope we saw had shiny reflective snow indicative of fast melting.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Comments or Questions
Cool Report!
05/07/2011 01:52
I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for posting it. Just did Belford about one month ago and loved it. Looks like you all had a great time. The snow is melting fast everywhere it seems!

Very nice!
05/07/2011 02:15
Beautiful shots on a bluebird day! Especially loved image #2 and ptarmigan! Nice to see winter (spring?) views of a route I've only done in the summer. Thanks for posting!

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