Analysing terrain data
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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.
Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.
Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.
High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.
Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.
4,547' of climbing in less than four miles to stand on top of 14,197' Mt.
Belford is a haul, but be forewarned...
that is just the beginning! Those four miles are comprised of many, many switchbacks, both below treeline and ascending Belford's northwest shoulder.
The trail is a good one, however, and easy to follow all the way up. Gaining Mt.
Belford's summit is much more straightforward than that of most other 14ers as it does not require any talus scrambling.
At the summit, spend a bit of time recovering from the steep switchbacking ascent before beginning the traverse over to 14,153' Mt.
Oxford. The descent to the Bel-Ox saddle is fairly steep and takes some rock-scrambling.
On the way to the rocky ridge descent, take a look at the trail that heads off to the right...
that is the trail used on the loop return via Elkhead Pass. Once past the rocky ridge, the remaining trail to Mt Oxford's summit is visible and uncomplicated.
Be aware that the out-and-back traverse is nearly three-miles roundtrip and is above treeline the entire time.
Before embarking on it, be sure to assess the weather, as well as your energy and strength! Savor the second 14er summit of the day, then return on the same traverse trail to the junction with the trail to Elkhead Pass.
This loop route, descending via Elkhead Pass, is far easier on the knees than reascending Mt.
Belford and descending Belford's shoulder switchbacks.
But the major advantage for a view-junkie is that it is drop-dead gorgeous! At Elkhead Pass, enjoy the view down into Pine Creek Basin, before dropping down into Missouri Gulch for the stroll back to the TH.