In honor of the 60th Anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mt Everest, we were selected by Post Grape-Nuts Fit to be a Summit Sampler. On May 29, 1953, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to summit the world’s highest mountain at 29,028 feet. The story goes that Hillary brought along Grape-Nuts as a snack, which provided much needed energy and protein to help him complete this historic climb. As a Summit Sampler, we were “dispatched” by Post Grape-Nuts to celebrate this climbing anniversary by taking our own hike and sharing Grape-Nuts Fit samples. Without hesitation, we selected Colorado’s highest peak, Mt Elbert, which stands at 14,440 feet and is the 2nd highest peak in the contiguous U.S. (Mt Whitney in California is the highest). We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Hillary’s historic climb and Memorial Day weekend than by climbing a Colorado 14er. This was going to be our mountain!
We made a weekend of our Mt Elbert visit, and camped with friends at Lakeview Campground. We set up camp on Saturday, and relaxed before our early rise the next morning. Our Summit Day began with a 5am wake up, cool morning air, and coffee and oatmeal on the camp stove. Once we were packed, we took the Cruiser to the upper trail head of the South Elbert Trail; which was just a short drive via a 4×4 trail. The weather was pristine and we saw a variety of wildlife – beaver, furry eared rabbit, and even ladybugs in the snow. The trail started off clear and dry, but became snow covered and cool a short distance after passing tree line. Being early in the day, the snow was still frozen, so we didn’t need snowshoes, but the micro spikes came in handy for the final steep walk to the peak. At the summit, we paused for a Grape-Nuts snack and enjoyed our snow covered surroundings. The view from the top was breathtaking. And as if the weather couldn’t get better, the air at the summit was completely still. Rarely, will you climb a 14er without a strong breeze greeting you at the summit.
My favorite part of hiking 14ers in the snow is the journey down the mountain. Hiking is fun, but glissading is better! It was exciting to use a technique for the first time that I learned in Wilderness Trekking School. After sliding through the soft snow, the remainder of our hike became slushy and muddy, which slowed our descent time. We finally made our way back to the trail head, exhilarated from the day’s accomplishment. We had conquered our mountain!
To read more about our Mt Elbert summit, check out: