Peak:  Pikes Peak (14er)
 Route:  "Y" Couloir
 Range:  Front
 Posted By:  kman
 Date of Info:  05/18/2013
 Date Posted:  05/19/2013

Climbed the mountain with my brother via Barr Trail to Bottomless Pit, up the Y Couloir, then down the East Face. Barr Trail to Bottomless Pit cutoff is free of snow. First mile of Bottomless Pit Trail is free of snow, but used snowshoes for last 1.4 miles to the North side of the mountain. The basin leading up to the Couloir is nicely snow-filled, in fact, the truck that the guy drove off the summit in 1992 is barely visible in the snow. The Y Couloir is nicely snow-filled from top to bottom with lots of snow that will last well into the foreseeable future. Conditions in the Couloir were conducive for a good climb. We descended the mountain via the East Face, where there is some boot-pack on the standard Barr Trail, but most people (including us) are using the prominent snow-filled gulley to ascend/descend the mountain. There is some significant snow on the East Face of the mountain, and boots and gaiters are recommended although we saw people in low-top trail shoes and/or tennis shoes with VERY wet feet. Timberline back to Barr Camp had some sporadic, lengthy snow patches where traction devices would be helpful. Barr Camp to the parking lot is, of course, free of snow. Picture #1 is looking up the Y Couloir, with two climbers (and their snowboards) above us. Picture #2 shows conditions in the Couloir and my brother below me. Picture #3 shows my brother topping out of the Couloir. Picture #4 shows the snow-filled gulley on the East Face that most people are using to ascend/descend the mountain right now.

Photos (click for slideshow):
Image #1Image #2Image #3Image #4

 Comments or Questions

Needing some help
05/19/2013 20:35
I am getting quite confused about all the trail variations up Pikes Peak. I am hoping you can help me. We want to do a basic climb (prefer to keep it to 8 to 13 miles, not the 20+ route), not really looking for a bunch of technical stuff. Would you still recommend the route you took? Can you even start from Barr's camp, or do you have to hike all the way from Manitou Springs to get to either Barr's trail or Bottemless Pit. Is the standard NW slope from Crags Campground an option. I can't tell what is closed and what isn't and what route most people are doing now. We aren't too interested in breaking in a route, if you know what I mean. I would sure appreciate any advice you have. Thanks.


I looked at your 14ers list
05/20/2013 00:27
and saw that you have some experience in the mountains. When you say that you want to do a basic climb on Pikes Peak, are you saying you want something more ”off the grid” than Barr Trail, or the Crags Trail, with some scrambling or snow climbing involved? The route I did involved deviating from the standard Barr Trail (about 7.5 miles up), hiking around to the Bottomless Pit on the North side of the mountain, and ascending the Y Couloir. Once in the Couloir, it became a technical climb with technical gear required (ice axe, crampons and the ability to use those and be proficient in self arrest). I then descended the mountain via the East Face making for a 24+ mile day. The Couloir can be accessed not only from Barr Trail to the Bottomless Pit, but from the Devil's Playground via Rumdoodle Ridge or the Hero's Traverse to the Bottomless Pit, or the Crags Trail. This makes the mileage much shorter. From Barr Trail, the cutoff to the Bottomless Pit is about a mile past Barr Camp indicated by a big yellow metal sign. Most people are still ascending/descending the mountain via the standard Barr Trail in it's entirety, or the Crags Trail in it's entirety. Let me know if you need any further clarification.


05/20/2013 12:35
This does help. Although I think we would be fine in the couloir, just baging the peak is our interest. That is what I wondered, if people were doing the Crags Trail in its entirety (rather than these other technical routes). Thanks again.


Crags route
05/20/2013 15:04
The Crags route is the shortest route up and does not involve the couloir climbs. I have been up it three times this winter, once with dogs 3 weeks ago before the last snow. Check weather reports because that side can get very windy. Have been on the route with 70+ mph winds with a 100+ gust that closed the summit house. In winter once you get near tree line you kinda just follow tracks, this year seems to be off the trail up the north side to devils playground rather than the standard trail in the gully to the south, so once you get to the wind blown elevation head south east. This short section to tree line and just above tree line is the only place you may want shoes, but I seem to always opt for less weight with a little hassle.

FYI, Some people opt for the Crags route to get to the snow climbs because it is far less mileage. However, it requires down climbing to the bottomless pit via Hero's Traverse or Rumdoodle ridge.

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