Lake County High Point Trip Report

Mount Elbert

Date: August 21-22, 2001
Author: unknown

I drove just below Twin Lakes Campground and camped in a alpine meadow surrounded by pale green aspens turning bright yellow. The view of the Twin Lakes below and the Arkansas River Valley were noteworthy. That night the air was cool and you could definitely tell fall was in the air.

The next morning I started early up the South Mount Elbert Trail in bright sunshine and clear windless skies encountering very few people on the route. Above 13,000 feet, the remnants of a late-night light snow that makes up the long North Mount Elbert Trail to my right - and a bright shiny object on the back of the lead climber kept making me mentally ask "What the hell is he carrying?"

To my great surprise, as the two trails joined near the summit, I could see that the bright shiny object was THE Stanley Cup Trophy - yep, that's right, the National Hockey League's (NHL) Championship Trophy - strapped into a specially made MountainSmith backpack! As we all summited - and not being a avid hockey fan - I learned that the Colorado Avalanche of Denver had just won the NHL Championship and as part of the winning the NHL each team member and representative of the organization get the Stanley Cup for a day to do with as they please. On this occasion, Mark Waggoner, VP of Finance, and a group of his friends, including one of the Stanley Cup's guards who travel everywhere with it, Mike Bolt, decided to carry the Stanley Cup to the top of Colorado (14,443 feet) and reportedly to the highest point on earth the Cup had been outside of a jet.

Needless to say, a VERY strange day in my mountaineering career and a new and strange encounter to say the least, but that did not stop me from joining in the celebration at the summit - hooting and hollering like I was some kinda rabid hockey fan with the rest of these guys, while all of this was being taped and photographed by two circling helicopters news crews! Ha! The views from the summit were incredible and you could not ask for a more beautiful day in the mountains.

The next day I was astonished to see the pictures of it all on the front pages of every Denver newspapers. The descent was uneventful, with the exception of meeting a awesome new friend, Amber Heckler who worked in nearby Leadville, on the way up and down the mountain. We stay in touch, and meeting her made the climb that much more memorable! I returned to my camp later in the day to enjoy another splendid night in the Rockies. Needless to say my summit pictures from Mount Elbert are one for the books and one of my strangest climbs ever.