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Colorado's fourteeners: Mount Oxford

By: Josh Friesema, Special to The Gazette
May 15, 2017 Updated: May 15, 2017 at 8:46 am
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Mount Oxford

Elevation: 14,160 feet

Range: Sawatch

Mount Oxford was the last of the collegiate fourteeners to be named.

It was a forgotten fourteener until Albert Ellingwood and Stephen Hart carried surveying equipment up Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia and proved that Oxford was indeed a 14,000-foot peak. In keeping with tradition, the peak was named after Ellingwood and Hart's alma mater.

Oxford is a mountain that will test your acclimatization. The 11-mile trip includes 4 miles above 13,000 feet. The extended stretch at high altitude is due to the fact that the best way to reach the top of Oxford is to go over Mount Belford, and the best way to get down from Oxford is to go back over Belford.

While the trail between the peaks is fairly easy, it does drop to 13,500 feet. This means that when you reach the top of Belford, you still have more than 1,300 vertical feet of climbing before your trip to Oxford and back is complete.

Oxford is not a beginner mountain even though it is rated class 2. The distance and elevation gain required for this peak are substantial.

Oxford is a great peak in which to push your endurance and find out if you can handle the long mileage and elevation gain required by some of the more difficult mountains. If you can push yourself to complete 11 miles and nearly 6,000 vertical feet, then a vast array of peaks opens up to you.

As Polish mountaineer Wojciech "Voytek" Kurtyka says, "Alpinism is the art of suffering." By this he means that a mountaineer pushes through exhaustion, sore feet, altitude sickness, cold and all of the other climbing difficulties to achieve the goal.

According to Edmund Hillary, "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."

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