Monday, March 09, 2009

Running up Pikes Peak in Winter

I ran up the 12-mile Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak Sunday in calendar winter in running shoes, no crampons, no ice ax. Before you call me crazy let me explain. I have climbed all the 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, many of them in winter and with all the requisite gear. I have also run up Pikes Peak more than fifty times and know the trail like the back of my hand. So in other words, don't follow my example unless you know the mountain, are fast enough to get down off the mountain in extreme weather, and know what you are doing. My fastest ascent time is 2 hours 48 minutes in summer. Yesterday I made it up from Manitou Springs in 4 hours 16 minutes.

Trail conditions to A-Frame were slightly worse than last week with some new drifts. The creek at A-Frame was totally frozen over. Unfortunately I was out of water. Above A-Frame it was hard initially to stay on the trail and I wound up above the G. Inestine B. Roberts memorial before I found the trail again. Even then it was more expedient to just make a beeline to the 2-mile-to-go sign. Above 2-mile-to-go there was a lot of snow and I finally decided to traverse a snow field and then cut up to the long traverse. The long traverse was mostly good, even runnable for most of it. I heard the first train whistle on the summit and knew I was going to miss it. I had half an hour at least to get to the top. The switchbacks above 1-mile-to-go were bare or only slight snow and ice until the first long rightward traverse. I saw all the snow at the switchback and decided to just forge straight up to 16 Golden Stairs.

Above 16 Golden Stairs sign it was not bad at all to the downhill section where it was icy and a hard traverse. The wind was getting stronger and the temps were getting colder. Then I was so happy to see the Fred Barr sign. I was able to mostly stay on the trail all the way to the top where I was greeted by freight train wind. I thought another train was coming but it was the wind. I ducked into the summit house around noon where I learned the next train would leave the summit house at 3:20 PM.

At first I thought I would just go down (the toll road is closed) but when I went back outside I was instantly divested of that notion. Winds had picked up to 50 MPH and the temperature was -30 with wind chill. I was content to wait. I rode down on the Cog for the first time ever. Good trip down. The conductor was local historian Mel McFarland. We had a lot of information to exchange and I had many questions answered.

Slide show of trail conditions to A-Frame, 11,500' from March 1st this year.

Previous years:

Youtube of Running to Barr Camp in Winter Part I
Youtube of Running to Barr Camp in Winter Part II


GZ said...

Always love the recon reports. Nice!

Real Truth Online said...
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