I started about half a mile from the Crags campground which used to be the old trailhead location. Parking at the campground is no longer allowed for unauthorized vehicles so I parked by the side of the main dirt road and figured I'd save about a mile by starting there versus the new trailhead. Soon I was at the junction that is now marked with a sign showing the route separation, and proceeded to cross the stream on the first log bridge.
Within minutes, I encountered the first snow on the trail as I made my way through the dense pine forest. At this point, I wasn't sure how much of a threat the snow would be as I pressed on.
Snow on the trail
My first challenge was the long steep stretch around 11,000 feet which is steeper than it looks in this picture and a good precursor for the tougher pitches that lay ahead.
First steep stretch
The trail then meanders through the pines making its way up the beautiful hillside strewn with boulders breaking the monotony of the pines.
Trail through the pines
Pines and boulders
Approaching treeline, the trail gradually climbs southeast as it strains to the top of the grassy knoll.
As I neared the top, I caught my first glimpse of the most visited peak in North America, looking like nothing more than a small mound from that perspective!
First glimpse of the peak
As the trail flattened out, I got a much needed respite and enjoyed the lovely views of the valley to the south:
View of the valley to the south
and through the rock towers passageway looking right at the peak.
Pikes view through the towers
The trail doesn't get serious again until past Devil's Playground so I took the opportunity to fortify myself with a snack. In this view taken just past Devil's Playground, you can see Point 13,363 and Pikes Peak in the background.
Point 13,363 and Pikes
While the snow was relatively light and scattered, there were a couple of traverses that required some negotiating like this icy ledge bordering a steep overlook to the east.
The traverse skirting the east side of Point 13,363 also had some snow accumulation on its east face but the snow was packed and posed no real traction issues.
East face of Point 13,363
There were two final pitches to overcome before the saga would be over and the trail from this point was well marked with cairns.
The first of the two was a traverse across a grassy boulder field.
The penultimate pitch
Tundra and rocks
The final pitch starts at 13,400 feet and climbs the Class 2 talus notable for its characteristic pink granite.
Finally, the guard rail just below the summit sprung into view and spurred me on to the summit.
Oh so near!
I took a moment here to bask in the glorious sun and marvel at the spectacular views of the snow-capped Sawatch mountains to the northwest.
View of the Sawatchers
The summit as always was a gaggle of tourists, children and dogs.
But there was one special bushy-tailed visitor worthy of mention.
I wonder which trail he took to the top!
Here is yours truly, tired but triumphant.
This marked my sixth ascent of the peak, the most of any of Colorado's fourteeners. My love affair of these magnificent mountains that started on Barr trail in the fall of 1997 has raged unabated and in its fourteenth year is now stronger than ever. Climbing these mountains and marveling at their beauty up close has given me a joy that I couldn't possibly put in words and in that regard Pikes will always have a special place in my heart.
The Magnificent Sawatch