Ascent of Cameron Cone on 2017-11-04

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:AMC Leader J. Carberry: Sam Lawrence (car pool); Tony Eichstadt
Brett Book
and Jay Huang
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, November 4, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Cameron Cone
    Elevation:10707 ft / 3263 m

Ascent Trip Report

AMC hike led by Joe Carberry out of the Pikes Peak Group. Was curious how one finds the unmarked social trails in the area. Joe had us park at memorial park which provides a place to park your car for free where all else in the area is pay for parking. There is a free city bus that shuttles you to the main tourist area where the Barr Trail starts and the cog railroad and other features. The bus leaves ever 20 minutes. We parked and took the 8 AM bus. The bus lets you off pretty far down slope a bus stop at about elevation 6520. This where we started. We hiked up the paved road past all the tourist junk and shops, finally past the old historic hydro power plant where you can pick up the Barr trail to Pikes Peak and further up slope into Englemann Canyon where the maintenance roads end where water is pulled from Ruxton Creek for the power plant. We crossed the creek on a metal maintenance bridge for the plant and into the woods up a social trail that leads you to the cog railroad.

The cog railroad runs during he tourist season and should not be crossed or hiked along during the season that it is in operation. There is an unmarked social trail at around elevation 6900 that is on the other side of the cog railroad that is heavily used by locals. Although the trail is unmarked it well maintained at the bottom of slope with a lots of trees trimmed and out of the way. The slope of this trail is ridiculously steep the entire time. It climbs some 4,000 feet in 4 miles. The mountain is made of a granite that is heavily laden with pink feldspar which erodes into tiny ball bearing sized sand and makes a sandy scree route that is challenging and necessitates the use of poles. The route is the common way to achieve Magog and Gog Rock.

Cautions: first, I tried to hike up the switchbacks without poles for awhile and then pulled them out. The steep loose sandy scree is very difficult without sticking your poles in for balance and to keep you from sliding backwards. Secondly, there are many side social trails along the switch backs and they are not well marked. There is plenty of places to get off route and lost. A GPS and a map are a must unless you know the route well. We only saw three other people all day but they were all well down slope likely on there way to the Magog and Gog features but not going all the way up the Cone. Whoever created the original social trails headed pretty darn straight up and there are sections where the erosion and feldspar sand is so loose you are best to go off trail to find footing where you do not slide around.

Before Butterworth flat you reach an interesting feature in the trail where several boulders the size of small trailers stacked up and made a cave with side creek of Ruxton flowing underneath it. It is about a 25 foot drop down into the cave and pretty interesting. Butterworth flat is part of the shoulder you climb up to see the Gog's and it is all pink feldspar sand with ponderosa pines and fir twisting around. The Magog feature is typical of granitic rock that is comprised primarily of pink feldspar and erodes into crystal rich plates with great hand holds and footholds around the base but is typically rounded and very technical rounded boulders at the top. I have seen these features made of this material many times in many state parks. The only scrambling required on this entire route to the top is a small section of rock where you climb up feature to the base of Magog and although the slab part is a bit slick is never harder than basic class 3. After that you are back to a trip of class 2 steep trails. Magog is the lower and far more technical feature. It looks to be upper class 5 with few places to set any protection. Would be fun to see someone climb it. You can hike up to the base of it but you can not scramble any portion of it to any extent.

The second feature God is more scramble friendly and there are a few places where you can climb class 3 to 4 to get to within about 30 feet of the top but I only saw hard class 5 to the top on that feature as well. There is then a small descent of around 60 feet following some jeep trails that go to Eagle Mountain that cross the side creek that flows to Ruxton Creek and then we attacked the cone from the NE. I would note that the winds from Butterworth Flat up to the Gog features was intense. Gusts easily to 55 MPH hit us many times and a few times the winds were just below the threshold of sit down or "push down" strength. I would guess a much of gusts in the 40 to 50 mph range with an occasional blast of 55 or 60 MPH.

A very steep slog of sandy scree is the final approach and I see on the USGS map the east face we climbed is far steeper than the west and without poles this would be a miserable descent. The summit is treed with fir, spruce and some Limber Pine but on the far side there is some nice clearings where you get a 5000 foot drop view in 180 degrees from Garden of the Gods all across Colorado Springs and on a sunny clear day as today it was actually a very rewarding view. Off the other side you see Pikes Peak nearby and it was surprisingly free of snow by and large. An excellent workout and hard earned views but a great way to spend a day with CMC enthusiasts.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4537 ft / 1382 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4537 ft / 1382 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.2 mi / 13.2 km
    Grade/Class:2,2+, small patches
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Very Windy, Clear
50 F and very windy gust up to 55 or 60mph
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4327 ft / 1318 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4187 ft / 1276 m; Extra: 140 ft / 42m
    Loss on way in:140 ft / 42 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Route:Social Trails very steep
    Start Trailhead:bus stop on paved road  6520 ft / 1987 m
    Time:3 Hours 35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4397 ft / 1340 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4187 ft / 1276 m; Extra: 210 ft / 64m
    Gain on way out:210 ft / 64 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    End Trailhead:6520 ft / 1987 m
    Time:2 Hours 

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