Mt. Elbert & Ride the Rockies Days 2&3

Mt. Elbert & Ride the Rockies Days 2&3

Ride the Rockies Days 2 & 3

Day 2: Aspen to Copper Mt., 85 miles, 7,655 Ft. vertical gain

Day 3: Copper Triangle, 79 miles, 6,537 Ft. vertical gain

Mt. Elbert Climb

Day 3; 14,440 Ft., 14 miles, 4,700 Ft. vertical gain

Mt Elbert to use

Mt. Elbert – on the route and in the plan


Ghost Town of Independence on the Day 2 climb

Day 2 Aspen to Copper

Day 2 started the real riding on the tour – with a 20 mile, 4,100 foot climb up Independence Pass. This is a beautiful climb, starting in the outskirts of Aspen, and ending in the snow at the summit. The day started with temperatures around 25°. This is about a 3.5-hour climb, and the road was narrow and crowded. They got a lot of snow this year, and the rivers are raging, including Lincoln Stream beside the road up Independence. We both were pretty careful about the altitude, and rolled over the top without incident.

Aspen to Copper Profile

Day 2 profile


Day 2 map


Plenty of snow on Independence Pass

Steve and I got separated on the climb, we didn’t reconnect until just outside Leadville – about 60 miles into the ride. The descent was really fast – but with a few strong cross winds. We made it down to Twin Lakes in one piece, and headed off to Leadville the highest town in the US at 10,200 feet.


Climbing Independence in the early morning


View across Twin Lakes

This day is really tough, including a 1,400 climb up Fremont Pass, ending at mile 72.5, and through the operations of the Climax Molybdenum Mine. The descant onto Copper is normally one of my favorites, since I first did it with my brother David in the late ‘80’s, but today the cross winds were a bear, and we had to ride the brakes all the way down.


Steve enjoying Fremont Pass


A carnival on the summit of Independence Pass


A great trip up

The end of the day was cold and wet, promising a fresh coating of ice on the bikes in the morning. We were joined by my old friend Stan Spencer, who joined me on the trip up Mt. Elbert today, while Steve did the Copper triangle ride.

Day 3: Copper Triangle & Elbert

Day 3 had Stan and me headed to Mt. Elbert – we rode past it the prior day and I was itching to get another state highpoint. Stan has been a friend since 3rd grade, and the last mountain that we did together was Rainier in 2010. Stan is a terrific guide and mountaineer, despite being (his description) a one lunged, old diabetic. It was wonderful to get back on a hill with Stan after too much time.

Elbert is only slightly higher than its next door neighbor, Mt. Massive (14 feet). It is the highest mountain in Colorado, the Rockies, and the second in the contiguous US. Elbert is a walk up, and we were unexpectedly joined by 11 other Nashville folks, who were part of a church group from the Church of Christ, Franklin. These were really nice guys, who were doing their first 14-er, as part of a bucket list. Also joining us on the hike were a couple of ladies from Colorado, with their dogs – I was frankly very jealous. The circus at the summit included a guy heading down on a snowboard – until he either ran out of snow or mountain.

Stan & Wes on Summit

Stan & Wes on the Summit of Elbert


Stan points out the target


View from the summit

Steve had a solitary day on the Copper Triangle. Most of the riders took a look at the weather, and stayed in bed. The day started out climbing back up Fremont pass, and then heading down through Leadville, up Tennessee Pass, down to Minturn, and ending with a short, steep and painful ride up Vail Pass. He had a great ride, but I would not have missed the day on Elbert for anything.


Steve on Tennessee Pass


Steve on Independence Pass


Battle Mountain – on the way to Vail

Profile Day 3

Profile Day 3

Map Day 3

Map Day 3

Wes on Elbert to use

Adios, from Mt. Elbert

Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

3 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    June 15, 2016

    What an awesome journey!


  2. Avatar
    June 15, 2016

    We’re tired just reading the blog. Good for you Guys! Glad to finally see a photo of you Wes. There was some talk that you just hired Steve to do the ride while you climbed mountains! Safe travels……


  3. Avatar
    June 15, 2016

    Wonderful trip,