We spend a lot of time in Colorado, but have yet to attempt Elbert. In an effort to climb all the state high points, we'd have to try it sooner than later, but it scared me a bit. I've referenced my serious lack of lung capacity as we climb higher and higher in elevation, presumably thanks to my pulmonary embolism in 2013. At 14,433 feet, Mount Elbert actually ranks as the 3rd tallest high point in the United States (behind Denali, which I will never attempt, and Mt. Whitney, which I've conquered).
Additionally, Colorado is known for its afternoon storms, so when climbing its mountains, you need to pay very close attention to the weather. For Elbert, you are above treeline starting right around 11,900 feet, meaning you remain highly exposed for a few hours.
Did any of that happen? Of course not. Instead, we drove 3 hrs from Denver to the trailhead, arriving around 5:45am. At this point, we both really just thought we wouldn't make it to the top, given our late start and my snail hiking pace. Plus, this time around, I had a new symptom of altitude ... I was extremely nauseous. So much that I needed to stop and take a break and drink some Powerade every 300 feet or so. J just kept saying we could turn around anytime I wanted.
But, with every painful step, I gained determination and perseverance. We played leapfrog with so many other couples and it was typically the females who were walking like zombies. My lady friends and I would exchange a lot of encouraging glances (not speaking a word thanks to the lack of oxygen).