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Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby maxpatch67 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:20 pm

We're planning on doing Pikes Peak on Thursday or Friday this week. Would it take less effort to pack light with a real early morning start and do it in a day or pack camping supplies and do it in two days? Would trail conditions this week make a difference on that?

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby nyker » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:40 pm

If you're fit enough and willing, a daytrip is usually easier if conditions allow, but depends on what you mean when you say "easier";
Doing it in one day will be harder physically, but you can carry lighter loads, and will be easier logistically (just a long dayhike/snowclimb); doing it as an overnighter, you have to pack heavier loads up until camp then lighter loads to the summmit, but then need to setup and take down camp, carry extra food, cooking gear, pack and repack and treat water/melt snow...I'll let others opine on trail/route conditions on the various routes.

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby maxpatch67 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:49 pm

nyker wrote:If you're fit enough and willing, a daytrip is usually easier if conditions allow, but depends on what you mean when you say "easier";
Doing it in one day will be harder physically, but you can carry lighter loads, and will be easier logistically (just a long dayhike/snowclimb); doing it as an overnighter, you have to pack heavier loads up until camp then lighter loads to the summmit, but then need to setup and take down camp, carry extra food, cooking gear, pack and repack and treat water/melt snow...I'll let others opine on trail/route conditions on the various routes.


So you'd say if you're fit enough, it takes less effort over all to do it in a day right?

Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby mrschaible » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:55 pm

We just did the crags to the summit on Friday. You can easily do it in a day. We took 7 hrs round trip. The trail is hard packed and the restaurant on the summit is open for re-supply if you need it. Pack light. Snow shoes and traction devices are not needed. Be ready for the wind. The road to the trail head is messy but doable in a Honda Civic. Have fun!

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby peter303 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:59 pm

The easiest Pike hike is to drive up to Devils Playground above the treeline, park and do the 5-6 mile, 1200-foot hike from there. The first part is fairly flat with a 800 foot talus pile at the end. There may be enough ice and snow on the talus to need microspikes.
The road is open only 6 hours this time of year making it a tighr timeline unless there is a way for late people to escape out of the closed gate. (I dont know).

The next longer hike is the full Craigs Trail hike from the west side of the mountain. (The Devils Playground hike is the last third of this hike). It could take most of the daylight hours assuming there is snow in the trees. Plus you may have to park at the summer camp instead of the trailhead if the road is too muddy or snowy which adds another mile each way. You may want snowshoes in the trees if its fresh powder or warm and soft. There is a recent trip report for that:
http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=13226&parmpeak=Pikes+Peak&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

The longest trial is the 25 mile Barr trail which can be done in very long day or overnight this time of year. There is one trip report of each method for this winter.

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby Jim Davies » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:21 pm

It's probably going to snow Thursday, which can affect access to the Pikes Peak Highway. Plan for winter conditions.

If you're taking Barr Trail, you can stay overnight at Barr Camp without having to carry as much gear or food (instead you pay to be lodged and fed). You can email them to get information about current conditions, etc.
http://www.barrcamp.com/
It's about 7 miles from Manitou Springs to Barr Camp, and 6 more miles to the summit.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby justiner » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:27 pm

Just came back from doing it from Barr yesterday - the conditions past treeline are not ideal - lots of wind slabbed sections that obliterated the trail. I'd take along an ice axe/foot traction and just plan on doing some of your own route finding (or pack a GPS). I lost the trail on the way down within about 20 meters, as a snow storm made an appearance and found myself cliffed out. Pretty funny to be at that position on something as "benign" as the Barr Trail. Anyways, tons of fun. The two women running the cabin right now seem like a fun pair.
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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby maxpatch67 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:15 pm

Hey, thanks. This information helps. Should be fun!

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby MuchosPixels » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:54 am

Hi, I did the Barr trail the last week of March 2011. Trail conditions were pretty easy up to A-Frame. I used Micro Spikes from just below Barr Camp and up. The problem was at A-Frame and above. Snow drifts pretty much erased the trail. I elected to go up the snow gully or next to it. It was easy to see where to go but I had to turn back at 13,000 due to extreme wind gusts coming down the face. Good thing since I later learned the Summit was closed that day due to winds exceeding 90mph. I was knocked down to the ground a few times so I decided to call it. Tried to glissade a few times but the snow was not that supportive. Might be easier later in the year. Nonetheless its fun above treeline. Amazing place.

I think most people agree that from Crags its much easier but the Barr Trail gives you a sense of accomplishment that is unreal since it has a huge amount of vertical, rare in most North American trails.

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby maxpatch67 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:10 pm

Thanks for the advice. We made an attempt via the crags trailhead and turned back at about 13,700ft. We had whiteout conditions for a short time, but the snow didn't slow us much. We were confused coming out of the treeline as the trail through the snow shot straight up the last few hundred feet through the trees and so we never found the trail until it meets up with an old road up higher. Thats still a pretty tough climb. Out of 27 fourteeners so far, I've never come out above treeline so far horizontally from the summit. Our little Civic couldn't make it to the trailhead on the frozen road so he had to walk an extra mile there as well each way.

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Re: Pikes Peak...which option is easiest?

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:27 pm

Have someone pick you up at the summit and ride down. That will make it a bit easier.
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