Pikes Peak (1)/Pt. 13363/Pt. 13070
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  • Statistics:
    • Date Hiked:  January 18, 2004
    • Miles Hiked:  11.4
    • Elevation Gain:  4,370'
    • Hiking Partner(s):  None
  • Description:
    • After reviewing accessibility, rating difficulty, watching the weather, and gathering some information on local forums, I decided to attempt Pikes Peak via the Crags Campground Trailhead.  (I would like to thank anyone who provided me with beta.)  Other than a hot cup of coffee at the summit house (it was closed), I don't think there is more a person could ask for when it comes to a January day in the mountains.  The weather was clear, the trail was empty, and the summit was successfully attained.
    • I was up and 5:00 am and left Highlands Ranch at 5:30 am.  After going through Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, I was at the trailhead by 7:15 am.  The road was plowed all the way through Crags Campground to the actual trailhead.  In reading Roach's book and reading trip reports, I was a bit concerned about route finding as hikers seemed to indicate that it was somewhat difficult.  To mitigate any problems, I loaded up my brand spankin' new GPS with waypoints and photo copied descriptions to assist with this.
    • The trail was well packed and snowshoes were not required.  I hiked a short way up the trail and off to my left were the three pipes described in several trip reports.  Only a few hundred feet later was the creek crossing off to the right.  From here, the trail continued to appear heavily used as I made my way up the southern drainage.  As stated in "Colorado's Fourteeners", the trail crossed to the north side of the creek at 10,900' below a towering block of rock to the north.  I continued east and upon my return, learned that I left the trail to the right earlier than I would have needed to.  Instead of switch backing up and staying on the north side of the basin, I simply followed the bottom of the drainage all the way to the timberline at 11,800'.
    • From timberline to the saddle at 12,730' is where I ran into my first of two difficult sections of the day.  Not only is the distance from the top of the trees to the saddle deceiving and much longer than it initially appears, a light dusting of snow filled the rocks which made progress slow.  I began to post hole a lot and had to work much harder with limited success.  Coupled with this was the fact that my feet were getting extremely cold as I post holed.  The sun had still not risen over the horizon.
    • At this point, I stopped for some water and a snack, loosened the laces on my boots to increase circulation, and then finally reached the 12,730' saddle shortly after seeing the sun for the first time of the day.  I got my first glimpse of Pikes Peak and felt rejuvenated.  I jumped on the abandoned spur road and was at the Devil's Playground in short order.  From the 12,730' saddle to the 12,930' saddle to the base of Pikes Peak was easy going as I followed the route description to the right (west) of Points 13190 and 13250 and to the left (east) of Point 13363.
    • At 13,400', the summit was only a half a mile and approximately 700' away.  The dusting of snow discussed earlier would return to haunt me as this section of the trip proved to be the second crux of my hike.  With snow filling the talus, climbing Pikes' final northwest slope proved to be extremely difficult as I post holed some more and had troubles maintaining my footing.  Not to mention that I was fatigued and running out of gas.  Trying to rock hop on the exposed talus, I struggled to the top after wiping out a couple of times and slipping on the rocks.  This was a perfect example of how the difficulty of a route increases as conditions change.
    • The summit was like a ghost town with not a soul in sight.  The summit house was locked and the peak had a surreal feeling.  I ate and hydrated while taking photos of the surrounding mountains.  The Bottomless Pit, Railroad Couloir, and Y Couloir looked intimidating.  Because of the difficulty I had on the northwest slopes coming up, I opted to hike the road back down although this is illegal.  Because of my physical condition and usual recklessness on descents, the snow filled rocks would be dangerous and a disaster waiting to happen.  Besides, I hadn't seen a car all day and I am assuming this rule is for the safety of hikers and not a result of the damage they cause to the road.
    • Since Point 13363 is the highest assessable point (next to Pikes Peak) on this route, I decided to tag the top and go over it on the way back down.  I also read about Point 13070 being the county highpoint for Teller, so I scurried to the top of it too when I got back to the Devil's Playground.  On the way back out, I picked up a snowshoe trail that led me to the north side of the basin to the switchbacks referred to in Roach's route description.  I think the two different routes I took in and out were six of one and a half dozen of the other.  Not much difference between the two.  On the way out, I only saw a few other people who were within a mile of the trailhead on family outings, other than this, I had the mountain to myself all day.
    • I'll have to admit that I am not really proud of my time statistics and the ascent took much longer than I anticipated.  Despite this, I am pleased that I accomplished it in January.  It took me 5:25 to reach the summit, I spent :40 on the summit, and it took me 2:45 to get back down.  I may have done slightly better on the way up, but I had a couple of episodes of low blood sugar levels (I'm diabetic.) that slowed my progress some.  In addition, I should note that my statistics do not reconcile to Roach's due to giving myself an additional 200' for Point 13363 and 70' for the Teller County Highpoint at 13,070'.  Any mileage changes are nominal so I didn't adjust the distance.
  • Maps:
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