| North Face 07
A spring storm cleared out of Woodland Park, revealing Pikes' north face as I drove from the west.
The toll road was open 7AM to 7PM, and was just closing. It cost $5, and was open 13 of 19 miles. I drove down past Santa's Village to Manitou Springs, and found a steep 4x4 road to camp for the night. The bugs were really bad, so I just slept in the cab, and returned to the North Pole parking lot in the morning. I had some very old memories here from a family vacation with my parents and sisters. We took the train to the summit.
I followed the first Forest Service trucks headed up the road, with a clear view of the north face on the way. It looked really good.
I passed Glen Cove, and a construction crew on the switchbacks to Devils Playground. The road was crusted with thick ice and rime beyond that, and the Forest Service had blocked the road in the vicinity of the Rumdoodle ridge.
I pulled off the road, and put my boots on. I carried a K2 Eldorado with fresh wax, and clean edges. The soft boots were also a luxury. I approached the FS vehicle to exchange some information. It would be ok to park there, but the ranger warned me that a 10th Mountain Division had hit his head in training down there there a few days ago. I enjoyed the last 1,000 ft on this quiet ridge, with exiting views of the Bottomless Pit, and Rumdoodle ridge.
I stopped at Lotave's plaque, and then walked behind the big summit billboard to the railroad terminal.
The entrance to the Railroad couloir was out of condition, but otherwise an attractive route. The chute leaving directly behind the summit sign started out a little better, but ended a short way down the face. What became evident to me from down by Zeb's plaque, was that a snow covered bench created an avenue between the two couloirs.
I was examining some more photos when I heard someone balk from the other side:"A snowboard, are you kidding me?! It's your grave if you slip son!" The train had arrived, and the road was now open again. My spot behind the sign was drifted up to the building, staying relatively private. Some folks climbed over the pile, but then abruptly stepped back from the drop.
I strapped in and made a few turns down to the bench. The board and snow handled predictably, and I was able to make my way over with a hard toeside traverse to squeeze into the RR Couloir. The main chute was filled with a few inches of dry hail on and icy spring layer. This stuff would help keep rocks from getting any momentum, but I went in short fast pitches, to look and listen up slope. The right side was an immense rock wall blocking out the sun, keeping things cool In the main RR. The slope rolled over briefly, and got wider by the confluence with the Y Couloirs.
I lined up on the left of the boulders in Bottomless Pit, and squirmed my way through to the base of the Rumdoodle Ridge at 11,200 feet.
Gaining this ridge was difficult because of very loose dirt and scree, but was completely solid in the huge boulders on the crest. The review of the face was one redeeming quality of the climb out. I also saw baby mountain goats.
Back at the truck, I could not resist driving up to the top for a second look, but the afternoon clouds moved in, and it began to drizzle.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):