Overview"McReynolds Peak" is a ranked, obscure 12er in Colorado's Front Range just southwest of Pikes Peak. This little known summit doesn't get the credit it deserves. McReynolds is the highest ranked summit in Teller county, although it is not the highpoint. It has seen probably only a handful of ascents. The mountain resides on the highly inaccurate Pikes Peak quadrangle, which suggests a non-descript, gentle summit. The mountain is unnamed on the USGS quad, and the unofficial name comes from nearby McReynolds Reservoir. It is named on Ormes Pikes Peak Atlas.
The summit is in fact a large boulder perhaps 15 feet high with few handholds. It was climbed in 2001 by Gerry Roach and Chris Haaland and has seen few ascents. It was rated by Roach as a class 5.9 ascent, which was later confirmed by Mike Garratt. The east face of the boulder is the harder side and is pretty much vertical, but is easier to prussik up.
The west face has a 4th class slab which shortens the vertical climbing, but I wasn't able to follow my lead climber by grabbing the pro! The legendary Ken Nolan, who has climbed every ranked summit in Colorado above 12000', rates this summit as the hardest ranked one in CO above 12K in terms of just looking at the single most technical move.
The area on the topo map of the highest boulder is probably missing at least one contour. The highest point on the map has a spot elevation of 12,438 feet, but hand leveling by Gerry Roach confirmed that the middle summit was higher.
Here are some notes from Gerry Roach's website.
"PT 12,438 on the Pikes Peak Quad. The map, despite its unusual 20-foot contour interval, is inaccurate in the vicinity of this peak. It shows three north-to-south summits, with the north having one higher closed contour than the middle and south, and suggests low-angle, uninteresting terrain. Actually, severe granite spires punctuate the rolling tundra. The highest of these is on the middle summit, and is a Class 5.9 ascent."
Getting ThereMcReynolds Peak has some access issues on both sides as it is flanked by some Cripple Creek reservoirs on the west side and the Colorado Springs watershed on the east side. We took the West Fork route from the Gillette townsite. You could drive up the Pikes Peak toll road and start from Devil's Playground, but this would require descending to about 11800'. I don't have any specific beta regarding this route, but it was done by Ken Nolan.
7 miles RT, 2600' gain
From the town of Divide, proceed south on CO-67 to the junction with CR-81, which leads to Victor. The trailhead is on the west side of CR-81 a short distance south of this intersection. This is an alternate route for Pikes Peak and is featured on the Pikes Peak page here The route skirts through private property and may or may not be a right of way to the national forest, so respect the landowners.
From the first or second reservoir, bushwack northeast up moderate slopes to the south ridge of McReynolds. We found a trail along a minor ridge that took us to a large meadow below the s.w. slopes of McReynolds. From here, proceed n.e. on moderate tundra slopes to the summit area.
Red TapeWe did not see any specific signs stating no tresspassing at the trailhead, but there are private property signs. The Colorado Springs Pikes Peak Trails & Recreation map shows the road up the West Fork drainage as an access trail to the national forest, but this is not certain. On our visit we inquired with a police officer and he thought that hiking on the road would be fine.
WeatherThe Pikes Peak area typically sees less snow overall than the rest of the state, but the west side of the peak sees more than the east side. McReynolds can be climbed year round as the summit area will often be wind scoured. The trailhead can be reached year round as it is just off the main state highway to Cripple Creek.
I would recommend a pre-dawn start in the summer as thunderstorms are a common occurrence. You will be spending possibly 2-4 hours on the summit block depending on your level of climbing, so plan accordingly. It took our group of four 3.5 hours to get up and down the summit block. You will be highly exposed to lightning with large boulders serving as easy targets. A customized forecast can be found at the NOAA website here:
Protection Info for Summit BlockHere is some info on the protection that was used by John Prater, our lead climber on McReynolds:
"In aiding the crack on the west side, I placed a "new" #6 Camalot, then an "old" #5 Camalot, then an "old" #4.5 Camalot, then a #2 Camalot. The crack narrows gradually as you climb. My belay at the top consisted of a #3 Camalot, #1 Camalot, and Red Alien. Anything in that range would work for the summit belay. Had I been smarter about aiding the crack (ie, standing in slings/aiders), I probably could have gotten by without the middle big cam (ie, the "old" #5).
The east side crack could also be climbed/aided, although the top out could be interesting as the crack seams up on that side for the last couple feet. Probably at least a few grades harder than the west side as a free route, I'd guess. A variety of pro from, say, Green Alien up to #2 Camalot (maybe a #3) would suffice on the east side.
There was a faded tied sling with the knot wedged in the crack on the summit. I removed this, and we left no anchor on the summit. I rapped down the west side using Kirk as my anchor on the ground on the east side."