| Pikes from Crags: Winter Summit
-Start at Mennonite Camp
-Mennonite Camp to Crags Campground
-Crags Campground to Pikes Summit via NW slopes
-Elevation Climbed: 4,700'
-Mileage RT: 14.5 miles
Pikes from Highway 24, route is entire right side ridgeline
Prakash woke me up with a phone call as he was standing outside my front door, it was 4am. I was ready in 3 minutes, but we were both delusional tired. After some serious thought to going back to bed and suggesting closer easier routes, we headed out the door destined for Pikes Peak. The drive down there was a struggle to say the least and certainly the crux of the climb. After getting to the point of pulling over for just a few hours of sleep, we realized it was the curtains on the day unless we got some serious Java. Luckily a gas station in Castle Rock had us screaming out lyrics to whatever hard rock Prakash had queued at the time. We overcame the crux and found the Mennonite Camp at 8 am. It was a late start, and a late finish.
Getting to Treeline:
The trail from the parking area at Mennonite is so wide and hard packed we thought it was a recently driven road at first. Backcountry skiers were prepping as we started the day. Apparently there is some good skiing to be had above the crags, I saw it, its there. I skinned and Prakash snowshoed as we followed a skin track for the first 3 miles or so to around 11000' were things opened up a bit.
Following skin tracks up the lower west slopes of Pikes
We had to leave the skin track and as luck would have it, we found sundnstop's snowshoe trail from 3 weeks earlier. To find this track, you have to persevere on the skin track further north and east than the summer route. It was well blown over, but provided easier trail breaking for Prakash on his snowshoes.
Condition of the trail from 11,100' to treeline
The snow at this point looked to be good skiing, to bad I would end up descending it in the dark after it was beat into submission by hellacious winds. The track made efficient choices to tree line, were things really opened up.
Prakash climbs above tree line on Pikes west slopes
The Road Slog Begins:
As we crested the top of the slope, Pikes came into view and the wind began to howl. At first, the route seemed to be much shorter than I expected from this view, but after further inspection I realized how much more slogging was required. It was also clear a storm was engulfing all the surrounding ranges.
Reaching the flats were Pikes first comes into view, the wind is sliding in for a stay. Can you see Prakash?
The first view of Pikes with Prakash beginning the road slog
No snow fell on Pikes the entire day, but the wind was strong enough to create periods of ground blizzard. A steady 40 mph wind was accentuated by 60-70mph gusts. We were both happy the weather was interesting, as this route on a nice day would be rather boring.
Ya, it was windy
Now you see him
Now you dont
This view from a notch in the sandstone really puts the distance to the summit in perspective.
Pikes hiding way behind all its pesky neighbors
'More road' is kind of a reoccurring thought on this route. Battling the hurricane force gusts was probably at least partially to blame for this.
Another road side hill between Sandstone pillers
This is were you meet the main Pikes Peak road. We just cut across this snowfield instead of following the road to the North.
The first glimpse of the main Pikes Peak Road
More ground blizzard road walking/skinning…
We finally stashed the snowshoes and skis were you cut around the north side of point 13,363'.
There is one avalanche path you cross on the north side of point 13,363'. I would guess its usually not going anywhere due to the winds Pikes sees, but in the right conditions it will slide and would take you a long way down the North slopes of the mountain. Here it is…
The lone slide path on this route
The only thing remaining after this is to climb the summit cone along a well cairned trail through talus.
The final 800' of climbing
The gist of the trail through this section
We summited at 3 hoping the snack bar would be open, but it was desolate. The furnace runs constantly up there to keep the pipes from freezing, but no body was home. I could swear there were a bunch of tourists up here last time, were did they go?
The deserted summit rail station
I took a pic of the Bar Trail route from above for beta, but wait you can see this from Colorado Spings. Duh, oh well, it's a pretty good pic, here it is anyway…
Looking toward the east from the summit of Pikes Peak in winter
A nice thermometer...
This is stuck to the roof of the building just in front of the main entrance from the rail depot
We ate some food and enjoyed the windbreak, then noticed the temp had dropped 2-3 degrees in 5 mins…
Time to go, we had 2.5 hours of daylight and 7+ miles to cover. Looks like the headlamps were coming out. Prakash ended up with mild frostbite on his fingers and nose due to the -35 windchill. Thats 0 degrees with 70 mph gusts. Sounds right. He looked like a circus clown the next day. I was able to ski from 13,200' near point 13,363' back to the Jeep, but it did not hold the same joy of the powder experienced in other parts of the state this weekend. 11 hours round trip.