| Pike Peak via Barr Trail December 31-January 2
Trip participants were: Janet Farrar, Marilyn Logan, Mark Reis, Roger Wendell, John Broadbooks, Greg German, Frank Roe, Linda Jagger, Tom Jagger, and myself.
I have to admit that Pikes Peak is not a mountain that was on my "must do" list. There is not only a road, but a cog railway to the summit, and it is often crammed with hordes of tourist. In winter, the mountain is much quieter and offers a more interesting experience. I actually thought the climb would be rather dull after seeing the peak several times from Colorado Springs last year.
Pikes was actually chosen because it was a CMC trip and I couldnt find anyone to climb a mountain closer to home. I was pleasently surprised, and it turned out to be a great trip.
December 31, 2004: Today we hiked up to Barr Camp. It was seven miles with 3600 feet elevation gain. The trailhead is at 6600 feet. Usually the route is pretty much an easy walk, but this time it was icy right from the start. Linda and Tom Jagger climb the peak every New Years, and several other times each winter, and said it was the iciest they have ever seen the trail. It was really slippery, so we put on crampons after a few slips. Unfortunately some parts of the trail were also rocky and this really wore down everyones crampons.
The hike up to Barr is scenic with some nice views of Pikes and views of some really interesting granite boulders and formations. After reaching Barr Camp at 10,200 feet, we went to our cabin. I had expected something way more rustic, and had carried way too much gear. My gear did pay off the second night, however (see below). I had no idea we would spend the night in a heated cabin. I should have ask first, and then brought less gear.
We went out side at 9 pm to watch the first fireworks show. The second one was at midnight. I guess Pikes Peak isnt really a wilderness experience, but it is a unique one. Unfortunately, I didnt sleep hardly at all; due to loud snoring. The winds were really gusting during the night.
January 1, 2005: We awoke at 7am and hit the trail by 8. It was a realitively fast walk to the A-frame at 11,950 feet and at timberline. It was fairly windy, but nothing too bad.
To climb to the summit, instead of following the summer trail, we shortcutted straight up the broad gully which was filled with compacted snow, and had good conditions for cramponing. It was a bit windy at first, but the wind died down the higher we went since we were in the "wind shadow" of the peak.
Unfortunately, I broke a crampon on a rock, and the going got a bit more difficult with only one crampon. After a few hours and alot of hard work, we reached the Golden Stairs which we followed to the summit. There were two people and a dog on the summit that had climbed from The Crags. The summit is slightly less crowded in winter than in summer!
On the summit it was 8F degrees (-13C) and the wind speed was 45mph, which put the chill factor at -21F (-30C)--on the new chart. A bit cool perhaps, but not bad at all for 14,110 feet (4301 meters) on January 1st.
Everyone had made it. We spent a very short time on the summit and descended the Golden Stairs to the broad gully. The gully was a great glissade, but unfortuantely, it wasnt a straight shot as there were sections completely blocked by boulders. We had to steer around exposed rocks as well. After a rather quick descent down to the A-frame, we walked back to Barr Camp.
We went to bed at 9 pm, but the snoring was really loud. This time, I had enough of that, and took my sleeping bag and a pad and went and slept under the stars and in the wind. My over-packing had paid off.
January 2, 2005: After actually getting some sleep this night, I felt better. We packed up and quickly walked down to the trailhead. It was surprisingly challenging because the trail was coated with ice and was a bobsled run, and we were carrying overnight packs. We passed someone who had slipped on the ice and busted her elbow good. The rest of the trip down was un-eventful, other than taking a few spills myself (I only had one crampon). It was a good trip.