Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
Date Posted:  02/29/2012
Date Climbed:   02/19/2012
Author:  AWright
 A Windy Ascent  

I tried hiking Pikes on Feb 4, but didn't make it. The next week, it kept pestering me every time I saw it. I decided to give it another go.

A friend and I headed up to the Crags TH, and started hiking just before 4am. We followed a solid path through the trees all the way up to the tree line. The darkness was much less creepy with another person than it was when I was solo last time. We made pretty good time through the trees, getting to the treeline and then to the ridge just at sunup. We carried snowshoes, but only used them for the climb up the ridge from the treeline - mostly for the crampons. Didn't need them for the rest of the climb. The view of the rising sun over Colorado Springs was beautiful - unfortunately, my camera was not able to do the scene justice.Image
A blurry sunrise over the Springs

The wind picked up as soon as the sun came up. I'm not sure what the wind speeds were, but I do know that if it hadn't been for my poles, I would have gotten knocked over a couple times. We took a break and found some relative shelter from the wind as we passed through Devil's Playground. Our water was fine, but the cliff bars in my pocket were frozen pretty stiff.

We kept slogging on upwards, enduring the spray of snow and ice that the wind threw into our faces - I was very grateful for my goggles!Image
Looking west

We reached the summit at 9:30am, after about 5:45 of hiking. Image
The summit photo!
I was pretty disappointed to find that the gift shop at the top was closed... no hot chocolate for us! I'd been thinking about how awesome that hot chocolate was going to be for the past hour or so. So, we huddled up by the wall trying to find a place relatively sheltered from the wind as we drank some gatorade. After the mandatory summit photo, we started the long trek back down.

Aside from the wind, it was smooth sailing back down the mountain. Image
Heading back down towards Devils Playground
However, as we were passing through Devil's Playground again, my buddy Rob lost one of the lenses from his glasses. After crawling around in the snow in a futile attempt to find the wayward lens, we had to call it a lost cause. So, if you happen to find a lens somewhere among those rocks, let me know! Image
No more glasses!

Just past Devil's Playground, we ran into two guys heading up to the summit. They started at the Crags TH, and were planning on heading down the Barr Trail to meet up with their ride in Manitou Springs. Hope you guys made it successfully!

Finally got back to the car at 1pm, only to find that it wouldn't start! A helpful guy in the parking lot gave us a jump, but the problem wasn't the battery. Someone else stopped by as we were trying to get it started to no avail, and suggested pumping the gas pedal before/while starting it. It did the trick! Apparently some condensation in the gas tank had frozen in the gas line, and was preventing the fuel from getting to the engine. A good trick to keep in the back of your mind.

We stopped at Rudy's on the way back home - great end to an awesome trip!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

03/01/2012 15:22
My wife and I are going to be out there on the 9th and were hoping to do Crags. How bad do you think that area above treeline would be w/o snowshoes? We are driving straight out from KS after work and head straight up, so REI wouldn't be open for us to rent...


RE: Snowshoes?
03/01/2012 18:10
I think that you'll be fine without snowshoes, unless we get a whole bunch of snow late next week. We didn't really need our snowshoes at all.
Plus, even if it does snow a lot, the wind should help blow the snow around enough that you wouldn't run into too much deep snow.


RE: Snowshoes?
03/19/2012 15:44
Do conditions worsen or get better with hiking in April. My wife and I will be out there first week of April and planned on hiking the crags route. We don't have snowshoes. We have Yaktrax only. Should we rent showshoes to be prepared? Is the trail well marked? And lastly, are poles a necessity?


03/20/2012 17:26
The trail is pretty well defined through the treeline. Its a very common route, which definitely helps with keeping it easy to follow.
I don't think that you'll need snowshoes. The snow out here is melting pretty early - you'll still want to keep an eye on the weather reports, but I think you'll be fine with just the yaktrax for any hardpacked snow/ice.
Poles are helpful, but not a necessity. They help you keep your balance when snowshoeing, but also help distribute your weight better when hiking. They can also save your knees some pain while descending.

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