Friday, February 28, 2014

Pikes Peak Barr Trail Winter Expedition

Route: Barr Trail, East Slopes
Trailhead Elevation: 6,700 ft.
Barr Camp Elevation: 10,200 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,110 ft.
Hike Elevation Total: 7400 ft.
Hike Mileage Total: 22.55 mi. (my GPS)

Trip Report

Thursday, February 27

Start Time: 8:14am
Barr Camp Time: 12:35pm
Mileage: 6.22 miles
Elevation Gain: 3500 ft.

We went through some excellent discussion this winter as to which mountains to tackle during our quick 4-day trip.  In the past we have hiked on some of the easiest winter 14ers: Quandary, Sherman, and Elbert.  One of our initial thoughts this year was to step it up a notch and go after one like La Plata Peak.  Its still relatively safe from avalanche danger if you follow the right route.  But then we stumbled upon this idea of hitting the Barr Trail in winter.  Its a route that rarely has avalanche danger, and though it is long, an overnight stay at Barr Camp in the middle makes it into a manageable hike.  And thus, we settled on Pikes Peak for this year's winter climb.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prepping a Winter Mountain Ascent

Its one thing to go out for a fun hike on a nice summer day.  Its a good thing for us all.  Find a trail, watch for rain, and just go for it.  Heading for a mountain summit is even a fun and very achievable summer objective for the physically fit.  But how about in the middle of winter?  Well, that's a whole different ballgame.

My hiking partners, that is, my father and brother and I asked that question back in 2010.  How about a winter summit?  Why not?  We had already begun to accumulate some of the necessary gear from when we'd encountered snow on our summer hikes and so it came down then to a matter of planning.

This year I'm making plans for my 4th winter ascent and its still just as fun as the first.  As I've worked my way through plans for this year's hike it seemed appropriate to share some of our tips and tidbits of learning. While there are a great many much more learned and experienced individuals than myself in the realm of winter mountaineering, I do have the privilege of having an audience of fellow flatlanders who are curious about what this is all like.  Our experience is we found it is possible to live near sea level and visit the mountains once or twice a year and still make the mountain tops, even in winter, accessible to us.

Using pictures and experience I've gained I want to share with you some of the biggest concerns we deal with when going from your average summer dayhike into a full-blown winter mountain hike.

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