Missouri Mountain
Colorado 14er
14,067 feet, 4289 meter
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I wanted a tougher than normal Colorado 14er as I prepared to leave for Denali in about a month. With my regular climbing partners, Patrick and Robert, we selected Missouri's north face on May 26, 2007. And I was not disappointed.

2007 was a very heavy snow year in the Colorado Rockies so we expected deep snow. However the recent temps had been downright hot so we also expected to post hole a lot - we got both. Knowing it was going to a long day, we camped at the Missouri Gulch trail head on Friday night. After an incredibly clear night and a nice campfire, we got some decent sleep and were on the trail by 6:30 AM.

The trail climbs 2,000 feet in the first two miles. There is a never-ending series of switchbacks that get you warmed up - literally. Upon cresting the mountainside, we entered Missouri Gulch proper. This is a stunning valley about 12,000' high. The popular 14er pair, Belford and Oxford, guard the east side while Missouri proudly defends the south. The first site of Missouri is always impressive.

We continued through the scrub, snow, clear trail and everything else until we reached the sign for Elkhead pass and Missouri. There were some tracks ahead of us created by some skiers. They took the C Coulair and made it look easy. Very impressive. We choose a slightly less vertical climb just to the west of the C.

The snow was now packed and Robert took the lead by kicking in a nice series of steps. We appreciatively followed in his steps for about an hour as we reach the summit ridge of Missouri Mountain. I really enjoyed this climb. It felt like more of an alpine climb than Colorado 14er. The snow was good, the angle steep but manageable and the anticipation exciting.

Once on the ridge we made quick progress along the 14,000 rock top to the summit. As usual the views were awesome especially with the heavy snow year. Patrick, not being able to keep his surprise any longer, decided to tell me that he had helped my training efforts by putting a 3.2 pound rock in my pack before we started the day! Now that is a true friend! Ha!

After a few shots and a video, we backtracked our route. It was a few hundred feet below the summit on the north face that I had a little excitement. In spite of having crampons on my Koflach double plastic boots, I slipped. In an instant the snow bailed under the points creating a super slippery surface. I went to my butt and then downhill - fast. Well at least it was faster than climbing down! Not hurt, I waited for my partners to join me at the bottom of the face.

This was our second 14er of the season after a traverse of Pikes Peak a few weeks earlier. All in all a nice day with some great friends