Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
Date Posted:  01/30/2012
Date Climbed:   01/29/2012
Author:  TheOtherIndian
Additional Members:   climbingbiz, Monte Meals

 Hot Chocolate hike  

Mountain and Route: Pikes via the northwest slopes
Date: 01/29/12
RT Mileage: 14.4 mi
Vertical Gain: 4300ft
Party: Monte Meals, Brian (climbingbiz) and his enthusiastic dog Miles, Karthik (theotherindian)

Two weekends ago, I was turned back 500 feet short of the summit on Ellingwood. It was not meant to be my first winter summit. I wouldn't complain since Pikes rewarded me with a cup of hot chocolate to celebrate!

After plans to hike LaPlata and Decalibron this weekend fell through due to weather and avalanche conditions, I set my eyes of Pikes peak and hooked up with Monte and Brian at the Crags campground. I've never really liked Pikes, probably because a lot of people complain about hiking there only to get into a shop full of tourists. I'd been so disinterested in it that I never bothered to drive up it either. But things are going to change ...

The trail below timberline is snowpacked, icy in places. Once we got closer to the timberline, we had our fair share of route finding to do. The winter variation of the trail ascends straight up from 11200ft. But we took a sharp right to ascend on the right side of the valley and slowly traversed avoiding some snow chutes to rejoin the summer trail. From this point on, there is absolutely no ambiguity in the trail and was as good as hiking in summer!

Monte and Brian gaining the ridge

After spending my summer mostly hiking Sawatch 14ers, it was a welcome sight to see the beautiful rock formations all along the trail and couldnt get enough of taking their photos while keeping pace with Monte. By this time, Brian had shot off to make good time to the summit.


We were keeping a slow but steady pace enjoying the views around. The mild temperatures and the lack of winds made it a perfect day.

Pikes and the road up it

The rest of the way up was mostly following the cairns and figuring out which door of which building to enter for the anticipated treats. Everyone says there is no snow this winter. But I never realized the magnitude of it until this hike. I was appalled to see the complete lack of snow even at altitudes greater than 13000ft. I've seen more snow in my parking lot the last storm than on Pikes peak!

Wheres the snow, you say?

The kitchen was closed, but coffee and hot chocolate awaited us. After getting this guy and taking the customary summit photo, we were on our way down.

Did you hike Pikes? Haha, you know you can drive up it?

Wish all 14ers had such props for summit photos

The westbound sun made for some good colors in the sky and elevated temperatures.


The downclimb was mostly uneventful except it gave ample time for us to talk about random things under the sun. We tried to stick to the summer trail as much as possible but soon found ourselves in knee deep snow and had to walk across the chutes back to trail we came up.

Goodbye Pikes!

In conclusion, it was a great weather day well spent in great company on a hike with gorgeous views.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

: )
01/31/2012 03:16
The ”winter variation” is how one seems to always get lost and refind the trail in winter, right? : )

Nice work getting after it.

Oh, and real cool photos. Leaves me wanting more!


Way to go!
01/31/2012 05:19
Thank you for the trip report.
The A- team is headed up from Barr camp this coming weekend.
We are hoping for some good weather.
And a awesome summit photo : )


01/31/2012 05:32
Nice job on your first winter 14er, Karthik. From the looks of things I assume you didn't have to use your knowledge from the Aspen avalanche class.

Wish I lived in CO

Nice Report
01/31/2012 14:34
I've been like you where Pikes Peak is about the lowest on my 14er radar, but your account stirs up some interest. Good pics and nice short version account.


Thank you all
01/31/2012 17:43
Jim: Guess thats how it usually goes, but I cant complain much when someone else has already made a nice packed trail
fepic1: Cool, good luck to you guys.
Jeff: Nope, not at all. Was bone dry.
Wish I lived in CO: Thanks. Its not all that bad. Enjoyable I'd say!


02/13/2012 01:46
way to go, I'll have to try that route some day.


good stuff
02/21/2012 15:49
Just took this 'winter route' Friday to about 12,200 & turned around to ride back down on my snowboard as the snow was gone at that point. Snow was firm in this specific location. Good resistance with ski pole test. No cracking or whooping. Hopefully this condition holds as I will try to get back in March. Anyone take the summer route lately?

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