This week’s Peak of the Week is the aptly named “Mount Massive.” Read on to learn more about the
Mount Massive at 14,428 feet (4,398 m) is a fourteener in the Sawatch Range of the U.S. state of Colorado. It is the second highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, edging out the third highest, Mount Harvard, by 7 feet (2.1 m), and falling short of Mount Elbert by 12 feet (3.7 m). It is the third highest peak in the contiguous United States. It is located in Lake County, approximately 10 miles (16 km) west-southwest of Leadville and 18 miles (29 km) east of Aspen. It lies in the Mount Massive Wilderness, part of the San Isabel National Forest
Mount Massive was first surveyed and climbed in 1873 during the Hayden Survey of the American West; survey member Henry Gannett is credited with the first ascent. Its name comes from its elongated shape: it has five summits, all above 14,000 ft (4,300 m), and a summit ridge over 3 mi (4.8 km) long, resulting in more area above 14,000 ft (4,300 m) than any other mountain in the 48 contiguous states, narrowly edging Mount Rainier in that category.
A matter of some contention after the Great Depression arose over the heights of Massive and its neighbor, Mount Elbert, which have a height difference of only 12 feet (3.7 m). This led to an ongoing dispute which came to a head with the Mount Massive supporters taking it upon themselves to build large piles of stones on the summit to boost its height, only to have the Mount Elbert proponents demolish them.
A class 2 hiking path leads to the peak from the eastern face. The path is 13.6 mi (21.9 km) round trip, with a 4,500 ft (1,400 m) elevation gain.
Among the mountain’s fauna are the American pika, the mountain goat, elk, mule deer, moose, gray jay, martin, and the yellow-bellied marmot.
In popular culture
A fictional asylum built on Mount Massive serves as the setting for the 2013 video game Outlast.