|Peak:||Pikes Peak (14er)|
|Route:||Heizer Trail - Barr Trail - Summit - Manitou Spgs|
|Date of Info:||12/22/2020|
Took Heizer Trail to Trail # 638 (Manitou Reservoir Trail) to its junction with Barr Trail at mile 4.5 on Monday. Heizer started off dry through the switchbacks; once trees started thinning out, snow was variable - packed down with icy patches in places, but not bad enough to warrant microspikes going up, and certainly no need for flotation. Continuous snow from where trail goes down to the reservoir, though we still did not feel the need to use traction. Trail up from reservoir had mushy, spring-like snow that was ankle-deep in parts. The snow was deepest and caused the most postholing in the last half mile to the junction with Barr. Barr Trail was well-packed to the Camp (which is open year-round - current hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hosts serve spaghetti dinners five days a week from Wednesday through Sunday and pancake breakfasts every day. If you just want a quick break without a full meal, they are friendly and will offer you hot drinks, and they appreciate knowing who's on the mountain and hearing condition updates).
Less previous foot traffic present above Barr Camp when we went for the summit on Tuesday, but enough that the trail was still decently packed down, enough that we cached snowshoes shortly before the A-Frame (a.k.a. Timberline Shelter). Trail above treeline filled in with wind-drifted snow; others had taken shortcuts directly up the slope, sticking to rocks as much as possible, and we followed suit. Re-joined trail and began traversing at sign 2 miles below summit. This area had enough snow with drifts - ranging from a few inches to six feet in height - to bury the trail completely, and my partner and I wound up making some Class 3 moves on snowy rock to stay on target. Snow eased up where trail starts going SE and even had dry patches almost up to 16 Golden Stairs. Thank you to whoever left bootprints for us to follow up this portion!
Summited after construction workers had finished for the day. Unclear if Summit House or any sort of shelter is available when the road is open to drivers. Descent started off uneventful, then the snow that had originally been in the forecast on Sunday but had been un-forecasted Tuesday morning showed up. Wasn't bad until the winds picked up to ~30 mph, filling in tracks we'd made going up. After having enough fun trying to stay on trail with GPS batteries (including backups) that were not reacting well to the cold, we elected to bushwhack down to and through the uppermost section of trees to regain the trail. Going was much easier back to Barr Camp from here, but previous tracks were already filling in. I'd estimate 1-2" of new snow had fallen by the time we returned to camp.
Hiked all the way back down Barr Trail on Wednesday. First two miles were softer than they had been on Monday with at least one slick patch, but still easy to follow. After that, snow was increasingly intermittent and boot-packed enough, especially after junction with the top of Manitou Incline, that traction was not a necessity.
Never used snowshoes the whole time, but future hikers should likely be prepared for a fair bit of trailbreaking above treeline, as Tuesday's snowstorm probably filled in any tracks that had been present. Spikes might be helpful on continuous snow now as packed parts turn into ice.