Peak:  Pikes Peak (14er)
 Route:  Northwest Slopes
 Range:  Front
 Posted By:  kylerhuss
 Date of Info:  03/11/2013
 Date Posted:  03/15/2013

Even after the heavy snow that fell a few days ago the Northwest slopes from the Crags trailhead is very doable. There is very limited snow for this time of year. The first mile of snow is packed well by cross country skiers and hikers so you donít need anything for flotation or traction. Around 10,700 feet this changes and you will want snow shoes for sure, though this may not be the case for much longer. Whoever set the path for the winter trail did an excellent job as they veered off from the usual summer route along a path that is avy safe and on snow that is supportive enough for snow shoes. Iíve done the North West slopes in March before and even with snow shoes and tails it was miserable going, but that is not the case this year. I started breaking trail at around 12,000 feet where others had turned around, presumably because there was some potential for a small avalanche there. The slope looked well loaded with the snow from a few days ago, but it wasnít very steepómaybe not even steep enough to be of concern. Still, to be safe, we crossed the small area of concern one at a time. Beyond this point the slope is wind scoured, so we ditched our snow shoes and started rock hopping across the deeper snow and followed the areas of shallow snow, which were easy to find as the grass blades were sticking out. Unfortunately at 12,700 feet I had to turn back. My dog and long time partner on the 14ers did not want to continue, so he and I turned back. I was surprised by this, but I guess he is past his prime now. No more long or cold hikes for him. My two friends decided to turn around a short time later. Too bad, we had made tree line in two hours and I think we could have made the summit in 3 to 4 more hours.

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