N. end of Mt. Massive ridge
(north to south)

29 Jul 2009 - by Patrick Lilly

I set out to attempt the entire summit ridge, having arranged a pickup and shuttle at the south end (the standard Mt. Massive TH). Left the Windsor Lake TH on Lake Co. Hwy. 4 at 5:00 am MST, with pleasantly cool temperature and clear skies. Trail and vegetation was a bit wet (but not bad) from previous day's rain/hail.

Got a bit misdirected above Windsor Lake after the trail faded out, but I just persevered until I finally topped out on the Continental Divide somewhere just south of Rainbow Lakes. Had to completely re-orient myself after getting a visual fix on Mt. Massive to the south. There was some huge bouldering on the way up, but I suspect that it could have been avoided by going up the center of one of the several small drainages.

It got very windy as I approached the Divide. This, plus dodging or clambering over several smaller ridge points resulted in my needing just about five hours to hit Pt. 14,169 (Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness HP)--at least one false summit. Good scrambling all over the place.

Less than an additional half hour netted North Massive, but getting down off its south side was a tricker proposition. Probably the most difficult climbing of the whole route: definite Class 3.

Thus, a slightly longer traverse to Massive Green. Approaching this way, there are multiple climber's trails with different routes to the summit, and it's difficult to tell from below which is best, or easiest, or most direct. I ventured off onto the east side, and then grabbed a steep beeline for the summit, when I feared that I might pass it by and have to backtrack. From there, the true summit is very close and easy to get to. Here I had the best and clearest weather of the day. Found a register on North Massive, but there was none on Massive itself.

Upon reaching the Massive/South Massive saddle, however, I heard the first clap of thunder, and looked west to see a dense graupel storm moving in. Having already climbed South Massive once, I decided not to put myself on another 14K point with electricity potentially rolling in. I tried traversing across the NE face, in hopes of still bagging "South South Massive" and Pt. 12,831 if the storm let up, but I forgot about the branching of the ridge and descended too fast. By the time I could see 12,831, I was already below its saddle, and fresh spates of precipitation were moving in. So I simply sought the fastest way back to the east slopes trail and followed it out.

RT: about 13 miles
Vertical: about 3,800 ft.
Time: 9 hrs., 40min.

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