I’m in this 14er phase and I do love it, but it’s also exhausting. I knew I needed to summit something last Friday so I asked Alex, who was planning on Mount Massive, if we could do Yale. The storm forecast wasn’t looking good and I knew we’d have to start early if we wanted a low risk hike (which is always, always the goal). Neither of us have a high clearance vehicle to make it to the 4wd trail head for Mount Massive, so we’d be relying on other people to take us up there. After some consideration, we decided on Yale.
Mount Yale is in the Sawatch Range, a range I’ve spent most of my summer exploring. It tops out at 14,196 feet. The standard route up Mount Yale is via the Southwest Slopes and makes the hike 9.5 miles round trip with 4,300 feet of elevation gain. That’s a long hike, but not too long, and definitely doable.
When my alarm went off at 1am I just wasn’t ready to wake up and drive 3 hours to hike! But, I got out of bed, took care of the dogs morning routine and then Zainey and I headed out. It was a long drive. I ended up being late but thankfully Alex waited for me at the trail head. I think we ended up leaving the trail head at about 4:50am.
It’s fun to hike in the dark sometimes and the weather was definitely cooperating. It was moderately warm and we both actually got hot quickly. It’s imperative to bring layers because on these 14ers you’ll get hot, cold, freezing, warm. You need to be able to strip down and then bundle up. You’re in the mountains, at very high elevation, and the weather can change drastically as you ascend or descend.
The trees had dew on them and they were putting off a fluorescent glow from the light of our headlamps. It was surreal, and reminded me of Disney’s Maleficent.
Pictured above, one of my favorite movies: Maleficent
Alex had hiked Mount Elbert the day before which actually worked out in my favor because he is faster than me and because of his previous day’s climb, he was slower than usual. I always start out slow as my body adjusts to the incline and altitude and then my pace becomes more steady. I’m getting much faster overall though and that makes me very happy! Hard work is paying off as my body adjusts to the weekly climbs.
We made it up the mountain in 4 hours & 18 minutes which is not bad.
The beginning of the hike is through trees with flat stretches and moderate inclines. There are three streams to cross over using logs. Zainey was a little sketched out, but with some coaxing she made it across the third stream 😉
Once above tree line there are switch backs and one steep section with switchbacks before the ridge.
Of course, the wildflowers were just incredible.
Once on the ridge there is a solid dirt trail and then you reach the boulders. There is a trail and there are cairns, but route finding can be necessary if you miss the cairns. The rocks are stable & easy to navigate on.
And finally – the summit!
We made it back to the car in 2.5 hours from the time we left the summit. Not bad at all.
Yale was so much fun! The varying terrain kept the hike interesting. We had good weather, beautiful views and fun rocks at the top. I loved it!!!!