Oxford, Mount (Belox Traverse)

elevation: 4,314 m.
height gain: 1,600 m. (includes height loss)
area: Buena Vista,Colorado,USA
map USGS 1:24,000 Mount Harvard,       CO 38106H3 & Winfield, CO 38106H4

Ref: 14ers.com

The sunrise from the Missouri Gulch Trail.
Snowshoe trip: RT 12.0 (includes Mount Belford); 7.0 up. My trip to Colorado was winding down, Tim and I had a big traverse planned for my send off. We intended on climbing Missouri Mountain's north face via the Main Couloir, then tackling a traverse of Mounts Belford and Oxford. It was an ambitious outing but we knew we had the endurance to execute it. We camped at the Missouri trailhead to get an early start. Our way up Missouri Gulch wasn't without hardship as we postholed several places but once we reached the open terrain in the basin, travel greatly improved. Missouri's north face is impressive, I couldn't wait to get closer; while hiking, I was scoping out the steep snow slopes. It did appear some cross-loading had occurred recently, some noticeable pillows caused concern; there was also evidence of new avalanches on adjacent slopes. I mentioned a possible line of ascent but I could tell Tim wasn't willing to risk it; after some discussion and a bit of resistance from my part, we dismissed the climb. Since we we're already well engaged in the back of the draw, we simply continued the gentle ascent towards Elkhead Pass. The view south towards Iowa and Emerald Peaks revealed a promising loop for a future trip. From the pass, we made our way to Mount Belford's south-east ridge, the whole climb there is casual and very scenic. Once on the ridge, we decided to go visit Mount Oxford before walking to Belford's summit which wasn't that far away. The snowy ridge was very pleasant and granted a fast descent to the Belox Col. On the way down, we finally met up with the guy on skis that had been ahead of us all day; we carried on to the top together. It was very nice to gain the summit but it was quite windy and the shallow rock shelter offered little protection. We didn't stay long to enjoy the view, after taking some pictures we elected to leave and seek a wind shadow elsewhere. At the col, the wind seemed to lessen so we sat down for a break. The conversations were lively and funny at times, Allen offered us coffee drinks that he had brought for skiers he was suppose to meet. After a nice break, we picked up our stuff and prepared to re-ascend Belford's snowy ridge. The extension to Oxford was well worth it even though it was windy and climbing back to the summit of Mount Belford didn't take long. To our surprise, there was shelter among the boulders at the top. Tim got some delicious homemade chocolate cake out of his pack and we enjoyed another fine break and respite from the wind.

remnant of a shack

The remnant of a shack.

mount belford

Mount Belford comes into view.

missouri mountain

Further along, Missouri Mountain is also revealed.

a ski tourer ahead

A ski tourer is ahead of us.

north face couloirs

The north face couloirs are easy to pick out.

belford's west aspect

Mount Belford's western aspect.

closer look at missouri

A closer look at the "Main Couloir" and the "C-Couloir" on Missouri Mountain; unfortunately, they appear a little cross-loaded.

snow transport

Evidence of significant snow transport over Missouri's complex east ridge.

hiking to elkhead pass

Hiking to Elkhead Pass.

emerald, iowa and missouri

(L to R) Emerald Peak, Iowa Peak and Missouri Mountain beyond Elkhead Pass.

making our way to belford

Making our way to Mount Belford's south-east ridge.

south-eastern view

South-eastern view.

oxford and buffalo peaks

Mount Oxford and Buffalo Peaks in the distance to the east.

mount oxford

Heading to Mount Oxford before summitting Mount Belford.

looking back

Looking back towards Mount Belford.

at the col

Mount Oxford from the col.

at the top

 In the shallow rock shelter on Mount Oxford.

north-western view

North-western view towards LaPlata Peak.

mounts elbert and massive

Mount Elbert (left center) and Mount Massive (right center) to the north.

connecting ridge

The connecting ridge to Mount Belford.

buffalo peaks

Buffalo Peaks to the east.

mounts harvard and yale

Mount Harvard and Mount Yale (right center) to the south.

break at the col

"You gotta be tough if you're gonna be stupid" -Allen.

Continue on to Mount Belford
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