Ascent of Pikes Peak on 2017-09-16

Climber: Dan Hildebrand

Date:Saturday, September 16, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pikes Peak
    Elevation:14110 ft / 4300 m

Ascent Trip Report

The forecast promised a blustery day, and we had a blustery hike...

After summiting Pikes via the cog railway with my girlfriend and her parents, I was eager to make it up under my own power. Of course, that group had walked down the Barr trail in spring conditions (snow until well below treeline), so I felt like I'd already expended a decent amount of effort on Pikes and had no summit to show for it. It was time to check it off the list.

My girlfriend and started driving from Boulder around 3am and were ready to go at the Crag trailhead around 5:45am. There were still parking spots available, but we got one of the last few non-parallel spots in the lot. Starting in the dark, we following the nice wide trail up until we were met with a pretty morning glow and views of the the Crags. With a bit more light to push us on, we continued up to the treeline and climbed towards Devils Playground. At this point, we noticed that the forecast had not been lying, and we layered up to protect against the 25mph winds for the remainder of our time above treeline. At least the sun was shining amidst the occasional non-threatening cloud, giving us hope for the rest of the day.

Once we reached Devils Playground we continued our trek towards the summit. While we ended up summiting Devils Playground and Little Pikes on the way down, we were very intent on getting our hands around a warm beverage in the visitor's center at the summit. The trail is easy to follow (after crossing the road at Devils Playground) and pretty flat for the miles leading up to the summit climb. After passing Little Pikes, you have the better part of a 1000 feet of gain before topping out, and this is really the only terrain that makes this a class 2 hike. Once you're in the rocks below the summit, it can be a little hard to find the trail, but there are plenty of cairns, and if you can't see the next one, you're likely at the end of one of many switchbacks. After a bit, it levels out and you're faced with a tourist hot spot. It took us a little over 4 hours to make if from 10k to 14.1k over 7 miles.

While it was delightful to warm up after being in the cold wind for so long, it's a little overwhelming being surrounded by train loads of people. My girlfriend and I split a six pack of the "famous donuts" and some warm beverages (I could really make a habit of a hot cup of coffee at the top of mountains :) but I really have to advise against the donuts. It seems like they'd be a great way to replenish your fuel while out on a hike, but they're super oily and sat really heavy on the way down.

After warming up, we started the trundle back down. As previously mentioned, we bagged Little Pikes and Devils Playground on the way down and were back at the car in about 3 hours.
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