For every ten outdoor missions I go on, I will have at least one be a complete failure. I don’t like to talk too much about these attempts, but they do exist. One such failure was earlier this year when Tyler and I tried to squeeze out a dawn patrol attempt of Mt. Massive in early May. Tyler tells the story here, so I’ll let that story stand as is.
But, with my brother Zack in the Square State for the week, I thought it would be sweet to take him up something higher than he is used to up in Montana. With Moose the Dog in tow, it would have been difficult to do anything too technical (even though Moose proved to be an able scrambler during another failed mission a few days before in Vedauvoo). I also didn’t want to deal with Saturday crowds on the Ten Mile/Mosquito peaks, even though they would be closer to our base camp in Breckenridge. In the end, we decided on a peak I hadn’t summitted, but is within reasonable distance to Breck and could be done in a day: Mt. Massive.
We did the Southwest Slopes route, and camped about a mile from the trailhead (much closer than where Tyler and I stayed). Zack got cozy in his tent with Moose while I enjoyed the beautiful starry sky as comfortably as ever on my Exped sleeping pad.
We got up around six with a little extra help from some people driving by, and made quick work of the trail up to 13,000 feet in no time. I still remain in awe of the Mt. Massive wilderness area, even without snow, and cannot believe I have been so close to it so many times, but never experienced it until last May.
Just below the saddle, an army helicopter was flying around super close to where there had been an accident last year. I thought they were running training missions, similar to what the helicopter had been doing last year before it crashed, but when we ran into some army men later, they informed us they were doing one last sweep to make sure that the accident had been cleaned up as best as possible within the past year.
We found the summit soon after the chopper encounter, and evaluated that the weather well enough to make a loop out of the hike by heading over to North Massive peak and then down to Half Moon Lakes. We met a professor living at Copper for the summer named Zach, and he and his dog Lacy joined us for the walk over.
Despite the dogs sledding on their bellies quite a bit, we were able to negotiate the snow still on the trail over to North Massive without issue.
On the way down to Half Moon Lakes, we discovered mountain goats behind and ahead of us, one of which was probably less than a few months old and about as big as Moose. It was accompanied by a few other goats who gave us dirty looks, so we kept our distance and made it down to Half Moon Lakes, my personal favorite area of the Mt. Massive Wilderness area.
We made it back to the car just before 6:30PM (I think?) and headed into Breck for a week of celebration for my ever-involved father and all his crazy principal friends.
Big thanks to Zack and Moose for coming down, Zach for tagging along and the conversations, John for kicking my ass on a bike the next day, Golden Bike Shop for getting me a bike for the week, and Denny for going tit-for-tat on Thursday night, even though I heard Friday morning was a little rougher for him than for me. Last but not least, thanks Mom and Dad for hosting us all and for making it all happen by being awesome.
2 thoughts on “Massive Redemption”
And thanks for letting me tag along, Jon! I’ve been waiting to see when you’d post your trip report. It was a fantastic day and you guys were a lot of fun to hike with. (I’ll send pictures when I get them downloaded in a week or so.) It’s really nice when you take it easy on the lesser talented members of the party!
I’ll keep checking on your adventures and hoping for many safe travels (the ski down the Maroons is most impressive). Due to the rain I haven’t summitted any 14ers this past week, but I’m hoping to go up some of the Missouri basin peaks this week along with some 13ers.
Cheers and best wishes,
PS — Please forgive whatever inane comments I made about DU…I can only blame it on the lack of oxygen…
Second time’s a charm. Good to see at least one of us finally got to the top of Massive this year. I still have nightmares about post-holing those couple miles…